Wisdom Seeker: Day 30

Proverbs 30

Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:8-9

Have you ever thanked God for affliction and trouble?

It’s a sincere question. Think about verses 8-9 of today’s reading. The author asks God to keep him in a state of in-between. He asks for neither enough wealth that he has no worries nor poverty where he has nothing but worries.

Not many of us in America fall into the second category. Oh, we may have our share of bills and not quite enough to pay them, true. But few of us have ever been tempted to steal just to fill our empty bellies.

To get to that point of need you’ll have no electric bill nor water bill to trouble your mind. No cell phone or internet service to speak of, so if you’re reading this, you’re not that poor. To face starvation, it’s doubtful you’ll have rent or a mortgage. If you have any of those things, you have something you can trade in or sell that would purchase a few decent meals at least.

It may seem counter-intuitive to actually thank God for hardship, though. After all, would you rather thank Him from a position of unshakable financial security?

I’m sure. Yet for one thing, there is no such thing as unshakable financial security. Not to mention I know of no soul so pious that it isn’t prone to relying more on it’s bank account than on God.

But that, my friends, is a dangerous place.

It’s best if we have enough difficulty in life to remind us of our need for God. The problem with wealth is that, too often, it begins to own us. Like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22, we feel so secure in our stuff that we hesitate to leave it behind for the lasting riches found in Christ.

When I think of this thing in terms of eternity – of the fleeting nature of health and wealth in my present state, of the rapidity with which all my earthly security can come crashing down due to an accident, diagnosis, or natural disaster – then yes, I can thank God for adversity.

For me, chronic pain has taught me more about His goodness and mercy than life as a healthy billionaire ever could. And I am thankful.

Lord, thank You for loving us enough to keep us dependent on You. No matter what life may bring, keep our eyes turned to You and our hearts inclined to loving obedience to You, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 28

Proverbs 28

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper…

It doesn’t always seem like that, does it? There are times when it seems like people who hide their junk get away scot-free and go on to do just fine. Especially if they are already wealthy.

The thing is, though, it just isn’t true. Who knows the destruction a single secret sin can wage within the human heart? Even if outwardly they do seem to be all smiles and handshakes, what darkness eats at them inside like a cancer? What is it like to be all alone in the dark of night with nothing but self and sin?

Well, I’ve been there, and it wasn’t pretty in my case. It drove me to greater depths of escapism until I finally realized there is no escaping – only continuing to hide ineffectively or facing my sin head-on and confessing.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

I chose confession, and as scary as it was at first, it was freeing. Truly, honestly freeing.

No secrets means no foothold for the accuser to hook his stupid little chains of guilt and shame to. No secrets leads to genuine repentance and to humility – to understanding that I am no better than the most vile sinner alive, possibly much worse.

And best of all, no secrets means no sin can keep its grip on me. It’s public, it’s exposed, and it’s days are numbered.

But what about those whose consciences are seared, who seem to feel no guilt or shame and hid their sin only because it’s not – yet- socially acceptable? Especially those who are rich beyond imagination and live seedy, secret lives behind closed doors. Aren’t they prospering?

Well, in a sense. But would you believe it if I told you that all the wealth of this world is illusory at best? It’s insubstantial. Transitory. It can be gone in a flash.

And some day, sooner or later, the grave will claim the wealthiest and most powerful members of humanity. At that point, their fame, fortune, and power will mean exactly squat. Not a single penny can pass from this life to what lies beyond the grave.

If that person has left their lives in the mastery of a secret sin rather than surrendered to the Lordship of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ), I’m afraid they will not prosper. Over the unfathomable stretch of eternity, all thoughts earthly prosperity will fade from even the strongest memory.

So if some secret sin has possession over you, friend, confess it. Certainly confess it to God, if possible, confess it to a friend you can trust to help you and hold you accountable not to fall back into it. Then pick up a Bible, explore the Scriptures, see what true prosperity looks like.

It will blow your mind – that I promise. In Christ, we don’t find a comfortable and easy life on earth. We find something better!

Joy – real joy that no circumstance or suffering can steal away.

Hope – a hope for future prosperity that makes this world’s wealth look like cheap, tarnished gold paint.

Peace – the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding.

Love – the breathtaking and undeserved love of the Creator God, more fulfilling than any created thing, more intoxicating than any substance, more profound than the most powerful human emotion.

And God. Best of all, you will find God and discover that He truly is enough.
You’ll find genuine satisfaction and rest for your soul.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:17

Wisdom Seeker: Day 23

Proverbs 23

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17-18

Perhaps because I’ve recently been thinking, reading, and studying about eternity and the end times, these two verses were what grabbed my attention today. Really, just one word caught me: future.

My initial reading was the ESV. But my habit lately has been to to grab my Hebrew Bible and take a peek at anything that stands out, and today I needed to satisfy my curiosity about the word translated as “a future” in the ESV.

Glad I did. A more literal translation is below:

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but only be in the fear of Jehovah all the day. For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope shall not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17-18 (LITV)

That word rendered as future in several translations is a Hebrew word meaning, “end, outcome, outcome of a matter, future, posterity, or descendants,” according to Holladay’s lexicon. The root of the word comes from a preposition meaning after, behind, after death, etc.

Take a breath. Now think: As the Body of Christ, where does our hope lie? In the wealth of this world or the wealth of God in Christ? In the here and now or in eternity? What is more real – this life that seems so concrete and long to us at the moment, or forever and ever and ever, time out of mind?

Which will matter more in the long run?

Believer, do you understand that your hope is in Christ alone; that you have died and your life is tied up in Him now and forevermore? Do you honestly believe that after death is when your life truly begins?

Do your daily actions and priorities demonstrate this belief? Or is it lip service?

It’s a humbling and important question.

It’s tempting to envy those who have all the world’s pleasures at their fingertips and for whom financial woes are not a reality. But dear one, if they do not have Christ, then they are still in their sins and soon enough all that material goodness and gain will be a distant memory.

Stuff will not affect our eternity, but only what we do with it. Am I using the stuff God’s entrusted to me to bring glory to Him and aid to others who are suffering? Am I wasting time envying those who have lots of stuff – trips, nice cars, etc. – and forgetting that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow?

The richest and most powerful among us is still subject to the same bodily failures or catastrophic accidents you and I are. All the world’s goods cannot keep a person whose heart fails out of eternity. An earthly lifetime without a single moment of need will do nothing to protect a body if a car is crushed while it sits inside.

And if the Lord comes again later today or in the morning, then what? For He is coming again, and who knows when? Am I ready for that eventuality? Are you?

Let’s not bother with worrying about what the rich and powerful do. Our hope, if it is in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ), will never be cut off. Never.

But if our hope is in a comfortable lifestyle, an annual vacation, financial stability, good health, or any other earthly circumstance, well… no promises there. All circumstances can change in the twinkling of an eye.

That’s a lesson I learned the day I woke up at 4:00 am with meningitis. It changed my physical circumstance for the rest of this life, and not in a good way.

But you know what? My hope isn’t in an earthly future but a heavenly one. And it will never be cut off. Thanks be to God!!

For further thoughts on stuff and earthly luxuries (like breathing), check out Bill Sweeney’s blog: https://unshakablehope.com/2019/08/23/breathing-and-other-luxuries/

Wisdom Seeker: Day 14

Proverbs 14

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 14:23

As usual, plenty of good stuff in the proverbs reading today, but of course time constraints mean I have to be prayerfully selective. Today, as I prayed through the reading, this is the one which grabbed me.

It may be a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to working for a living. After all, it takes work to make a profit. No one gets paid to watch Netflix all day.

But… until God brought my eyes again and again to this verse, even as I tried to skip over it, I’d never considered it in a spiritual sense.

Today it occurred to me that we have a bad habit in the church in America of doing lots and lots and lots of talking. We talk about the Word, we talk about the teachers we love, we talk about being a light and all of that.

But what do we do about it?

Are we good about confessing our sin and exhibiting genuine repentance? Do we really “put our money where our mouth is” and demonstrate our love of Christ by our lifestyles and choices? Is our entertainment glorifying to Him?

Do we behave with Christlike love and patience when someone wrongs us? Are we open and honest when we wrong someone else?

I know we say we truly love the Lord, but do we live as though we truly love Him? Do we live as though eternity is real and that our time with God in listening, serving, and obeying Him is the most important thing we do each day?

Some food for thought. Let’s live in such a way as to profit the Kingdom by our work. Our labor of love for Christ. Even our sacrificial toil in humility and in doing justice and loving kindness as we walk before Him each day.

Father, show us where we need to make our walk line up with our talk, then don’t let us feel comfortable until we are doing it. Teach us to be consistent in word and in deed, and incline our hearts to loving obedience of Your commands in all things, amen.

Tuesday Prayer: Conquered

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:31, 37

Lord of Hosts, Your might is greater than anything in the heavens above or on earth beneath. You are truly Almighty – powerful beyond measure, capable of all things, able to overcome. There is no person or situation too far for Your reach or too broken for You to use. Praise be to You, our Conqueror and King!

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1 John 4:4

Thank You, Lord, that by Your grace, we share in the victory won by Your Son on the cross! In Him, bought by His blood, we are more than conquerors, no longer held captive by sin nor defeated by any evil from without or temptation within.

Our enemy, however, would like us to believe otherwise. He calls our attention to the broken chains lying at our feet, reminding us of how they bit into our flesh when we were in bondage to sin. He exploits those tender spots and whispers to us that we will never be free.

…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44b

But he is a liar; the accuser of both God and man and the father of lies.

When that old snake sends cold coils of dread around our hearts, tempting us to despair of escaping some besetting sin or to doubt Your goodness, Lord, remind us of our victory in Jesus. Remind us of Your favor, of the Throne of Grace where we may find help, and of Your armor by which we can stand firm and resist the devil’s schemes.

Then, Lord, strengthen our faith. Help us to stand when we feel weakened and frail. Give us the heart to continue in battle, not growing weary but believing that You are able to keep us in the right way. Remind us to be diligent in Your Word, steadfast in prayer, humble in heart, and walking in trusting obedience to You in all things.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:10-11

And when our circumstances seem dismal or we are in fear for the souls of some lost loved one, remind us that You truly do work all things for the good of those who love you. May our obedience, joy, and trust be a light that guides others to share in the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday Prayer: Abba

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

Ephesians 5:1-2

Abba, with all sincerity of heart we declare today that You are our hero. No fictional superhero, no movie or social media personality, and no athlete of any caliber can ever come close to matching Your splendor and perfection.

Indeed, the brightest star among us would show up as a dark blotch against Your pure radiance and glory. Just imagining it, Lord, I want to fall to my knees in worship! You are so, so good! Thank You that in all Your omnipotence, You deign to let us call you “Abba.” Thank You for loving us even when we were poor, blind, and wretched in our sins.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:15

And You do truly love us, God – let that just resonate in our minds for a moment. Let us simply try to comprehend that the Most High, the Almighty loves us. We can only touch the surface of it and already we are swallowed in awe.

Oh Abba, help us to get our minds around this to the extent that a mortal, created thing can comprehend the infinite wonder of Your love. Pierce us with the beauty of it so that every earthly hero we’ve ever held dear pales and withers in our imaginations. Align our hearts with Your perfect purpose so that our honest and heartfelt desire is to imitate You – our Lord, our King, our loving Creator. 

Then as our tender Father, hold our hands as we wobble and teeter in our efforts to walk in Your footsteps. Strengthen our weak knees and guide us into greater accuracy as we grow in Christ. Help us to put aside childish things and learn to truly walk as You walk, emulating You in our words, our deeds, our thoughts, and our desires.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

1 Corinthians 13:11

In short, help us, Lord, to grow up to be men and women of the Book; a people who are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us and hold fast to Your unerring and eternal Truth.

It is for freedom that our Lord Yeshua Messiah has set us free; let us move in this dark world as freed children of the Light, no longer submitting ourselves to sin’s slavery. May this be done in us so that Your name is honored, amen.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness … But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

1 Thessalonians 5:5, 8

Tuesday Prayer: Save

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

Revelation 22:12-14


Mighty Savior, it is by Your grace alone that any of us can be saved. And yet, so great is Your grace and so all-encompassing is Your power that even the most vile sins, the most detestable acts, and the most horrendous rebellion can be washed clean by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We praise Your name that Your power extends far beyond even the deepest roots of sin in our lives and hearts!

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Mark 10:26-27

This week, Lord, we ask for You to give us compassion for those who have not submitted their lives to Your Lordship. Please also give us a powerful desire to share about the redemption purchased for all mankind by the sacrifice of Your only and unique Son as well as praying earnestly that those who are lost may be found and saved.

In the present age, the concept of sin has been watered down into something meaningless, bland, and perhaps even quaint. As a people, we’ve lost sight of the heinousness of sin and of the certainty of destruction for the unregenerate.

Forgive us, Lord, for if we truly understood the wrath to come for those who are not in Christ, how much more desperately would we pray for them and share the truth with them? If we truly understood the gravity of sin, how much less would we be lulled into complacency by it? Give us this desperation and this understanding. Please realign our priorities so that we are not only speaking Your truth, we are living for it and in it.

Let us be honest about what You have saved us from and honest about where You are still at work in us. Where we struggle, let us be equally bold in confessing our sin and asking others to pray with us, that we may be released from it. Teach us what it means for us to be a people set apart for Your glory, and show us how to live for You in any and all circumstances.

And Lord, please save our lost friends and loved ones. Open their eyes to the truth, open their hearts to Your word, and work in them the redemption and the spiritual healing You continually work in us. Continue the work of sanctification in our hearts, too, and on each day, draw us nearer to Yourself and further from the grasp of this world system, amen. 

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

2 Timothy 2:21-22