Proverbs in Light of The Cross; We are the Evil People

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Don’t envy evil people. Proverbs 24:1 NLT

While studying the book of James, I wrote an article entitled, “I am the Rich Person James is Talking to.” The article brings our attention to the fact that, we are not the poor but rather the rich who God is talking about. Likewise we should not assume that others are evil and we are righteous.

Something good happens to us, and we flatter ourselves that God must be with us because we are so righteous. Then something good happens to someone “bad” and we marvel, How did that happen? 

We are forgetting a couple of things. One, we are not so good and righteous ourselves. Secondly, rain and sunshine fall on good and bad alike.

No one is righteous- not even one. Romans 3:10 NLT

Most of us have heard of the book, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.” I am sure it is a wonderful book. There is only one problem. There are no good people for bad things to happen to!   

Sometimes the church school where I give Bible studies asks me to substitute teach for the day. One day when I did so I had some trouble with a hyper student. The next time that I subbed, he came up to me and declared that he was not going to cause me any trouble. I could see the sincerity in his eyes, but by lunch time he was being disciplined. Tears were in his eyes. I could sense his frustration of not living up to his promise, and letting me down. While he saw
So, when people ask why bad things happen to good people, I am wondering where all these good people are? Fact is, there are no good people for bad things to happen to. Fact is,good things happen to bad people, like us all the time.himself as a “troubled child” and me as “the righteous Bible teacher” I had to let him know I knew just how he felt! Many times I promised Jesus, I was not going to cause Him any trouble only to be in trouble by lunch time. I too have cried those tears. No, there is none righteous, no, not one.

He [God] gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5:45 NLT

A former pastor decided to go a year without God, and see what happens. A year later he concluded there was no God because He could not see any difference in his life. He forgot one simple thing. While He forgot about God, God did not forget about him! God was still blessing and sustaining him, regardless if he recognized it or not.

Both good and bad things fall on us all, regardless of how good or bad we think we are. I was doing a series of Bible studies with a lady who was extremely bitter towards her ex-husband. She wanted him to die! One day while studying the state of the dead, I told her she did not need to waste time wishing her husband would die. He would die whether she wanted him to or not. We all will. You don’t have to wish for evil to fall on your enemy, because it is going to regardless. And it will happen to you too. Its how we learn. Its how we grow. Its how we wake up and see a God who loves us even though we are not all that, even though we are nothing!

While I have been tempted to see my cause as righteous, and those opposing me as evil, this quote helped me see things as they really are.

 Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they often themselves are quite mistaken as to what their motives are. – C.S. Lewis

All of us who have worked with young people, find that some kids are going to misbehave no matter how much you discipline or bribe them. While we find other kids, who always behave without any bribes or threats. They may even see other kids getting away with bad behavior, but they do not copy them, for the simple reason that is not who they are. They have decided to do what is right simply because it is right. They do not deem themselves more righteous than anyone else, it is just their lives have been touched by God’s amazing grace. Even though they see good and bad falling on obedient and disobedient alike, they choose to obey for one simple reason, Jesus said,

 “If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15 NLT

You can study the Proverbs Sabbath School lessons here.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Group Think

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.Proverbs 15:22 NLT

…..victory depends on having many advisers. Proverbs 24:6 NLT

None of us enjoys getting our ideas shot down by a committee or board. Yet there is safety in numbers only if everyone speaks their mind in a humble and Christlike way. I have talked to new church board members who told me, they aren’t really sure what to do, so they just watch and vote the way everyone else is voting. There is no point in having many advisers if they all think alike. There is also no point in having many advisers if they don’t warn us of the consequences of the board or committee’s choices. Also the board must realize their loyalty must belong to the mission of the group and not just to the leader of the group.

While I was taking a Speech and Communications class, at a local community college, the professor introduced me to the phrase “Group Think.”

According to my professor, group think is a phenomenon, where being a part of the group is actually more important than the mission or beliefs and values of the group itself. It is where you are afraid of disagreeing with the group,           in order to protect the mission of the group, for fear of being separated from the group.

Symptoms of group think are when the group over estimates its power and authority, and becomes close minded. Group members experience pressure to conform, regardless if conforming is actually helping the group accomplish its mission. Membership in the group actually becomes more important than the mission of the group.

My professor gave some examples. In Watergate all the President’s men agree to break in and bug the democratic headquarters. Later many confessed they knew it was wrong, but they complied for fear of no longer being able to work next to the President. Being a part of the group became more important than the mission of the United States government.

As my professor explained, I started thinking of some examples of “group think” in the Bible. The Jews all agreed to crucify Jesus and release Barabbas because that’s what the leaders wanted. This actually brought unity to the group, but at what expense! People were afraid to confess Jesus for fear of being thrown out of the group or synagogue. Yet Jesus was the whole purpose of the synagogue! When this phenomenon occurred the group defeated its purpose of being a

group just in order to be in the group. They may have even thought they were protecting the group from Roman persecution by having Jesus crucified, but without Jesus the group meant nothing.

Having many advisers will keep us focused on our mission only if they are not afraid to speak up.

The greatest want of the world is the want of men– men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. -Ellen White, Education, Page 57.

You may study the Proverbs Sabbath School lesson here.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Let God Pay You Back

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Proverbs 20:22 NLT 

A while back, after a friend had wrongfully taken money from me, I was reading in Romans 12:19,

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

While I had read this many times before, this particular time I saw it in a new light. Yes,  it is true that people will hang on their own gallows, Yet rather than just seeing those who have wronged us getting paid back for their wrong, I saw God was telling me, He would repay me what my friend had wrongfully taken.

In Philemon 1:17-18 NLT Paul is pleading for everyone to give Onesimus a second chance in the ministry. Paul tells them,

So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.  I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!

Likewise I heard God telling me in Romans 12, “if your friend has robbed you, don’t worry. I will pay you back what they owe you. Don’t take it out on him. Leave him alone, and let Me make it right.”

That is exactly what happened. Right after I read Romans 12, another friend called who had bought some new furniture and wanted to give me their old furniture even thought it was still in excellent condition. God has continued to bless me in many other ways. God has more than paid me back for what my friend had stolen from  me.

You can study more Proverbs here. 

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; The Clutch Savior

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. Proverbs 3:25-26 NLT 

This year with the game on the line the Seattle Seahawks needed a clutch play to win   the Super Bowl. The coach called for a questionable play which resulted in disaster. That’s okay. Its just a silly game.

With retirement on the line, a stockbroker makes a bad investment, costing his client millions. That’s okay. Its only paper.

A doctor misdiagnoses an illness costing his patient his life. Now if you are going to get upset about a bad call, here is something to finally get upset about. But even here all is not lost.

Gethsemane was a trillion times a trillion times bigger than any super bowl. Angels were watching intently as Jesus made His way from the garden to the cross. Satan was breathing down Christ’s neck. If He could get Jesus to back out, hesitate, or just make a mistake it was all over, not just for a football team but for the entire world. At any point, one wrong decision would cost not millions of dollars, but millions and millions of lives. Not just in this life, but eternally. The pressure was on. This was infinitely greater than any two minute drill ever seen in football. There was no margin for error and everything went perfect! Yes everything had to be perfect and everything was!

With the team, no the universe on His back Jesus saved the world! Super bowls, bear markets and bull markets are so anti-climactic after the cross. Even a wrong move by a doctor can still be saved in the hereafter. When Gethsemane and Calvary had their clutch moment like no clutch moment the New  England Patriots, New York Yankees or Manchester United has ever seen, Jesus delivered! He delivered us all from disaster. He delivered us from all our failures when the game was on the line for us. No matter what mistakes we have made in the past, we all, through Christ are more than conquerors! We are eternal champions because of Jesus our clutch Savior!

The angel came not to take the cup from Christ’s hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it, with the assurance of the Father’s love. He came to give power to the divine-human suppliant. He pointed Him to the open heavens, telling Him of the souls that would be saved as the result of His sufferings. He assured Him that His Father is greater and more powerful than Satan, that His death would result in the utter discomfiture of Satan, and that the kingdom of this world would be given to the saints of the Most High. He told Him that He would see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied, for He would see a multitude of the human race saved, eternally saved. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 693-94. 

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; I’m Offended!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. Proverbs 18:19 NKJ

In my personal time with God, I am reading through the New Testament and this morning came to this verse,

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Matthew 24:10 NKJV

other versions say, “Will turn away from the truth” while the NKJV says, “will be offended.”

This has me wondering,

Are more people leaving the truth because sound theology offends them?

Is our society becoming more easily offended?

Are offended people telling us they are offended as a way to manipulate us, and make us cater to their every whim?

I heard somebody say the other day, “John Doe has not been called me back. I need to find out if he is mad at me so I can apologize.” Seriously? He was ready to apologize regardless if he actually had anything to apologize for. Is that healthy? If someone is mad at us, the politically correct thing to do now is just automatically say you are sorry? Even if you did not do anything wrong or offensive? This has me concerned because I fear we are becoming a society where we assume the offended person is always right.

So if someone is offended because of the music in our church do we automatically apologize and change it? Same for every other issue? By some of the blog posts I have been reading about “Why people no longer go to church” that is kind of the idea I have been getting. I am not saying the church is always right, or there are not some valid points in these type blog posts that we need to carefully consider. That is why I read them.

A while back my parents came to Florida to visit. I took them to the Columbia restaurant, which is a very nice historic Tampa landmark. My mother complained she was cold and asked if they could turn the a/c down. Instead they brought her out a nice blanket and put it around her. She was satisfied and comfortable. The waiter took care of the issue without apologizing for the cold air and then making everyone else endure hotter temperatures, just because one person was “offended” by the cold.

Having worked in the restaurant business I know the “customer is always right.” However, you can’t run a business successfully just catering to the most offended customer. The waiter did his best to accommodate my mother, and my mother was a good sport and easy to get along with instead of acting offended when they did not jump up and change the air just for her.

Are we letting “offended” people manipulate theological as well are political correctness? How far should we go as a church to reaching out to “offended” people? How far should the church go in letting “offended” people manipulate how the church defines and accomplishes its mission?

You can study more proverbs here.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Holding a Grudge is no fun!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 NLT

Have you wondered what it would be like if Jesus reacted the way we do to people who mistreat us?

What if Jesus had called Judas a backstabber instead of friend? See Matthew 26:50.

What if Jesus had refused to forgive the repentant thief on the cross? What if, instead of promising to remember Him when He came into His kingdom, Jesus had reacted with, “No way! You were mean to me!” But instead of holding a grudge Love prospered. See Luke 23.

What if after the Resurrection, Jesus had sent a message to His disciples that He would be meeting them in Galilee, except for Peter, because of course He denied Him? Instead He told them tell everyone including Peter I will meet them in Galilee. See Mark 16. 

In all three scenarios Jesus let Love prosper. 1 Corinthians 13:5 NLT tells us love

 is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

When 1 Corinthians 13 describes love it is describing God for

God is love. 1 John 4:8 NLT 

In the three scenarios we just examined, Jesus gave us an example of love, and how it prospers.

While love prospers us, its no fun to hold a grudge. It is much more fun to forgive and love. Dwelling on love brings healing. Dwelling on other’s faults only brings pain. Jesus knew this. Don’t you find that forgiving and loving people feels a lot better than holding a grudge?

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson on Proverbs here.

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Compassion For All

I am writing today from the slightly overcast Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the slightly overcast Tampa Bay area.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy. Proverbs 14:10 NLT 

Most everyone knows in elevator etiquette, you allow those exiting to get off the elevator before you get on. Still, one day after visiting my Bible student in the hospital, I was riding the elevator down to the parking level. When the elevator came to a stop, I started to exit when I got stampeded by a family of five. After they were finished walking all over me I quietly exited. I did not recite to them the rules of riding the elevator. Its not that I could not stand up for myself. I can and have. Its just that I finally learned a lesson a while back.

In my adult years, I have learned that some of my schoolmates while growing up were going through some awful situations at home. When I learned of this I wished I had known way back then, so I would have been able to me more kind and compassionate with them. Then I realized I did not need to know what they were going through in order to be kind and compassionate. I could have just been nice no matter what. That would have covered that without even having to know.

So when the people ran over me on the elevator, I just told myself, they may have just heard some terrible news about their sick loved one in the hospital, and are in a hurry to see them or the doctor. Maybe, maybe not. But I didn’t have to know. I could just be nice and wait till they were all in and finished running over me before I exited the elevator, which I did this time.

You can study more about Proverbs here.