Friday, July 8, 2016

"Live as though the Lord is watching ... because He IS!"

Day #191

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 20 - 21 …

The recurring theme of Solomon's proverbs is that a sovereign God rules over the affairs of men and nations, therefore, living in obedience to Him, trusting His Word and living to please Him is the only thing that makes sense.  It is irrational to live your life as though such a God does not exist.  In the end, you will pay a high price for your foolishness.  On the other hand, those who seek God, who desire to live an upright life, and who listen to instruction, will discover that no matter what the circumstances, the "victory rests with the LORD!" (21:31).  This is why it is so important and necessary to be born again by the Spirit of God and to place your faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.  Through the work of His Spirit you become a “new creation” and your spiritual eyes are opened to see the wisdom of choosing to obey God rather than rebelling against Him and facing His judgment.

As Solomon continues to throw out what may be considered by some as "one-liners," general themes continue to reoccur throughout his proverbs. All of these can be placed into categories, but overall it amounts to two choices:  the way of the "wicked" or the way of the "righteous."  Those who are wicked live by their own rules, while those who are righteous live according to God's commands.  "The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him" (20:7).  "To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice" (21:3).  "He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor" (21:21).  "An upright man gives thought to his ways.  There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.  The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD" (21:31).

All of those proverbs point to the truth that seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness is God's desire for those who know and love Him.  That’s what Jesus taught in His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:33).  Those who know God through hearing His Word and being born again by His Spirit believe that He sees and hears and knows everything.  We understand that "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases" (21:1).  This is true of every ruler on earth and of every other person, too.  Because of sin, "All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart" (21:2).  Solomon continually points out very basic truths that when applied to our lives bring God's blessing.  Knowing God leads to trusting God, and trusting God leads to obeying God.  Those who do not know the one true God may live by certain rules or standards set by society, but they are unable to please God by confessing their sin and trusting in the Savior He sent into the world to redeem His chosen ones.  Unless God works, we are all “dead in sin” (Ephesians 2:1) and “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

One of the ways people who do not know God destroy their lives is in drunkenness.  Solomon declares, "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler" (20:1) … why? Because they quickly turn the mind away from God and His ways, leaving people vulnerable to the sinful nature that instinctively wants to go its own way, not God's way.  The old nature is lazy, (20:4).  "Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare" (20:13). Imagine yourself in a canoe on a river.  You have to do absolutely nothing to drift downstream toward a waterfall and certain destruction.  Combatting the desires of the flesh requires instruction from the LORD and a desire to please Him.  Other things Solomon mentions, like unjust scales, taking advantage of others, speaking too quickly, making quick decisions, being proud, cheating others … all of these things are what the wicked pursue.  They are enslaved by their sinful nature.

But those who know the sovereign God seek to avoid strife, to be honest in their dealings with others, to speak knowledge and wisdom (or else be quiet!), to make plans by seeking advice, to wait for the LORD to defend them rather than seeking revenge, and to gladly receive instruction from the Lord.  We who know the Lord know that we NEED Him, that we are dependent on Him and that HIS way is best.  By comparing God’s way to the ways of the world and looking at the consequences of living separated from God, we are enabled by the Spirit of God to make wise choices.  Yes, "an upright man gives thoughts to his ways" (21:29).  Why? ... because those who are upright are being transformed through the work of the Spirit of God within them.  

Contrary to what those who do not know Jesus Christ often think and say about Christians, there is no boasting in knowing you are a child of God.  We who believe know that we have been saved by God’s grace alone and that we live in the presence of a holy God who loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to bear His wrath and judgment against our sin.  Humility is one of the marks of the true believer because anyone who thinks they can offer anything to God that would earn them eternal life is, as Solomon says so often, “a fool!”

Are you living today as though the LORD, the great "I AM," the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the only true God, the Creator of the universe - YOUR Creator ... are you living as though He sees everything you do and hears everything you say?  He is watching over those who draw near to Him in faith through Jesus.  We who so believe don't live in this world as others who have no hope ... as those who seek power and wealth and prestige ... who desire the pleasures of this world rather than the righteousness of God.  We HAVE all we need in HIM!!!  So we live WITH Him and FOR Him, out of love and thanksgiving, for OUR God ... THIS God reigns, and through faith in Jesus we are HIS children.  Serving Him is easy because our love is a response to His.  "We love HIM because He FIRST loved us!" (I John 4:19). 

"O LORD, my God, Your Word speaks truth about every part of life.  As I live in this world every day I ask You to guide me by Your Word and Spirit.  Fill my mind with the knowledge of who You are and how You are at work all around me.  Give me strength to overcome the flesh, to resist the temptation to foolishly seek the pleasures of this world, and grant me wisdom to trust You and to proclaim at all times that YOU, and You alone are God!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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