Sunday Morning Coffee: Proverbs 28:25

Since I was about 19 years old, I’ve read the chapter of Proverbs that coincides with the day’s date. The amazing thing is that even after all these  years, I still find a verse or a passage that strikes me in a whole new way. Today, it was this:

25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat.Image result for He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife

What it a proud heart? Here’s another translation:

Darby Bible Translation
He that is puffed up in soul exciteth contention; but he that relieth upon Jehovah shall be made fat.

A proud heart is one that thinks more highly of himself than of anything or anyone else. He assumes authority he does not have, and he stirs up enmity  among others. He is often a charismatic person, promising those who follow him position, money, and fame. It was his proud heart that got Satan kicked out of heaven. And still, in his pride, he is doing everything he can to persuade people to follow him. His goal is to  destroy what God loves, and  God loves humankind.

The sad thing is that Satan uses people who also have proud hearts to stir up enmity, contention, hatred, among other people. Such behavior leads to nothing good.

On the other hand, those who trust in the Lord shall be “made fat”–that is, they shall prosper. Maybe not in this life; maybe not  according to the standards of this world.  But those who trust God will have peace in their hearts, rather than pride.   They will have their reward, sometimes in this life but always in heaven.

We need to ask God for wisdom to recognize those who are proud of heart. They are in our government, our schools, our entertainment industry, and yes–even in our churches.  Sometimes, they have a huge following among believers.  We buy their books, donate to their ministries, only to learn that they are teaching a different gospel and actually dividing believers.

May God protect us from allowing proudness in our own hearts, and wisdom to recognize it in others.

 

God Will Prevail

Isaiah 49: 24-26.

24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?

25 But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

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Was there a “lawful captive”?  Looking into the near future for Israel when this question was asked, there were those who would be taken into captivity by Cyrus, under God’s direction. But, looking into the far future, the captives of the Antichrist were among those marked by Antichrist for the complete extermination of the Jews. The Lord will snatch these captives of Antichrist from his hands, those whom Satan will instigate to endeavour to exterminate the Jews.

The assurance is given that the Lord Himself will contend with those that contend with His people.  The passage again points to the time of Armageddon and the Second Advent. With the statement “I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh: and they shall be drunken with their own blood” (Rev. 14:20). All the world will discover and recognize that Jehovah is Israel’s Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

All the efforts of the combined nations to establish “peace and safety” in the earth, however sincere the motive, however good the intention may be, are foredoomed to failure. The world’s last great conflict, in which the Jewish question will be uppermost, will see the fulfilment of the Scriptures which make known that righteousness can be established in the earth only by the Personal Advent of Christ in judgment upon the foes of God and in the deliverance of His people.

 

 

Satan Defeated

Isaiah 24:21-23. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.”

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These three verses speak of the defeat of the enemies of God, and of the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

The high ones on high:  Satan, fallen angels, and demons will be put into the bottomless pit for 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-7) and the Antichrist and false prophet will be sent to the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10).

The kings of the earth upon the earth:  will be sent to sheol like prisoners being gathered into a pit. Sheol (Hades) is the underworld of the dead and the personification of the evil it represents.

After many days: At the end of 1,000 years, Satan and his spirit forces will be liberatedfrom the bottomless pit to deceive the nations during a short season. They will then be cast into the lake of fire prepared for them (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:7-10). The beast and false prophet will remain in the lake of fire during the 1000 years; they will still be there when Satan is put into that eternal hell. The second resurrection will take place at that time and sheol-hades will deliver up the dead who will be judged and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 11-15).

Chapter 25 begins with a description of millennial worship, and blessings to God’s people.

 

Tyre, the Crowning City

Isaiah 23:6-9. “Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of  all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.”

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Tyre is one of the 20 oldest cities in the world.  It has never regained its former position of glory, though. The people of Tyre were proud of their wealth and their “joyous city of  antiquity.” According to Isaiah, the people would walk on their own feet to a far place. They would never again enjoy the luxuries of their own city.

And who had decreed the destruction of Tyre, the home of merchant princes and wealthy traders who were renowned in the whole earth?

The Lord of Hosts had so decreed. And why? Because of their pride in all their glory; to bring to dishonor all those who held themselves high in their own opinion.

In verse 4, the first sentence refers to some of the inhabitants of Tyre fleeing in ships upon hearing that Nebuchadnezzar was about to take the city. They took the wealth with them so that he would find nothing of value.  This flight, and the long 13-year siege, enraged Nebuchadnezzar so much that he totally leveled the city.

Tyre had started several colonies: Tarshish, in Spain, as well as Citium in Cyprus, Carthage in Africa, and others.Trade flourished, and there were those who were truly honorable and known throughout that part of the world.

It was the Chaldeans or Babylonians, a people who had no order or law until they came under the control of Assyria, who destroyed Tyre. They remained under Assyria for centuries, until they again rose to power and overthrew the Assyrian empire.

Always, in a study of the history of the world’s civilizations, the same theme repeats. A city is founded, or a nation; in the beginning, the people work hard and are dedicated to the futherance of their tribe or nation. But as wealth increases, the heart of the people seems to falter. They tend to drift toward entertainment, and away from any semblance of godliness. And then another rising power comes along and defeats them, and the cycle repeats. Over and over.

Even here in America, before any European set foot on the new shores of this land, the warfare among the native tribes was endless as they pushed for more land, new hunting grounds, more territory to control. Because there was no knowledge of God, their treatment of their defeated enemies was barbarous and merciless.

What we need to understand is that there has always been, and always will be, warfare between Satan and all that God loves. Satan’s eternal doom is sealed, and he knows it. But he will create as much hatred, strife, and destruction as he can before he is sent into the Lake of Fire forever.

I hope you’ll give some thought to my little venture into history here. It’s not something I do often, but studying Isaiah really makes you stop and think about the ways of this world.

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: This and That

We spent some time with old friends, family, newer friends last night. My youngest child and only daughter had a birthday last week, and that was the reason for the gathering.  She’s an incredible cook, and the meal was, as usual, a gustatory delight 🙂

As we were visiting, my friend sitting next to me was showing us some photos on her cell that were pictures from many years gone by. She’s been taking pictures of her pictures, using her cell. Now, why haven’t I ever thought of that?  I think this is going to be a lifelong project!

Cancer was with us last night.  Another old friend has been fighting that battle, and he’s just now starting to grow back some hair after finishing his latest round of chemo.  He’s feeling a little better, too.  Also, a young man around 11 years old has been fighting a rare cancer, using experimental drugs.  His mom is concerned because his appetite seems to have dropped off recently.  We’re all hoping, praying that it’s just a normal stage he’s going through.  Cancer is ubiquitous, it seems, touching every family. No one in my immediate family has had it so far, but there’s certainly no guarantee.  Terry’s mom had a very fast-growing glioblastoma in her brain. I have at least one aunt who had breast cancer, although she beat it.  Our heath issues seem to center more around heart disease, diabetes, and general deterioration like my back problems.

The thing is, the body begins to age as soon as we’re born, and the effects of that aging process are unavoidable.  They can be delayed, treated, decreased with medical intervention, a good diet, exercise, and so on; but the process is unavoidable. Our job is to make our years, however many we have, profitable. I’m not talking about money.  I’m talking about using our days in a way that brings glory to God, that brings joy to others, and that makes us look forward to heaven.

Today we’ll be going to a sister church not too far from our home church.  They’re without a pianist, and I’m one of three or four from our own church who rotate monthly to go there and provide that service for them. They also have a small orchestra, with a trumpet, a flute, a euphonium, and one or two violins. Put it all together, and it sounds pretty good. I enjoy being a part of it.

We also participated with this church in producing a really amazing Vacation Bible School. We both used the same theme, and our church held theirs first. Then the props, artwork and so on were sent on over to the other church, and our teens who participated in the nightly skits did it all over again for the other church.  They helped us in the building of the set on our platform, we helped them set it up on theirs.  That’s the way it should be.  One church helping and blessing another, all serving the same Lord.

It’s only early August, but already I can see a difference as I write these early morning rambles. The shadows across the front yard are longer than they were a month ago at this time of morning, and although it was light when I rolled out of bed at 6:45, the sun was very low in the sky.

To finish up this morning, I want to share with you from my Bible reading for the day.  In Genesis 2, the Garden of Eden is described as God created it in the morning of this old world’s history.  For some reason, as I read it this morning it really hit home to me that God took particular delight in creating this amazing place for the people He had created and whom He loved.  Beautiful trees, laden with luscious fruit. Shrubbery, all shades of green, and flowers blooming for the first time ever that would probably take our breath away with their fresh beauty. Rivers flowed from the Garden.  In or near those rivers were gold, bdellium, and onyx stone. No weeds, no thorns, no poison ivy. That would come after Adam and Eve sinned.

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Once the garden was complete, God set Adam in the midst of it and then, knowing that Adam need human companionship, He created the most beautiful flower of all:  Eve, the crowning touch of Creation. Beautiful, sweet, loving, intelligent Eve, who would undoubtedly put the beauties of our time in the shade if she were here today.

So here these two met and loved and enjoyed God’s perfect garden. They had everything they could possibly need, and in the cool of the evening God Himself came and walked and talked with them because He, too, had need of companionship.

Then Satan showed up, and that was that. How did he do it?  How did he convince Eve, then Adam, to disobey God?

He lied. He wrapped his lied around a kernel of truth, as he always does. The lie was one that touched their pride:  Eat the forbidden fruit, and you will become like God.

They took the bait; they did the deed; and they paid the price. They were banned from their first home, the precious, beautiful garden. Of course that was just the beginning, but how sad, and how tragic the results of their disobedience.  They had everything, and they lost it because of deceit. Deceit and pride.

We need to pay attention.

 

Be Strong in the Lord

Ephesians 6:10. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”

This final section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a call to battle.  We are in a spiritual warfare with Satan and his demons, and we need God’s strength in order to fight this battle.

Other scriptures for reference include 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Rom. 6:1-8; Gal. 5:13-26; I Pet. 5:8.

God does not tell us to be strong.  He tells us to be strong in the Lord. My strength won’t get me very far, but His strength has already won the war. Satan knows it, and as the end times approach, he is fighting harder every day to trample Christianity and Christians, convincing unbelievers that it is illegal to pray or mention Jesus Christ in high school graduations; convincing them that all references to Christianity are inappropriate, offensive, and ignorant.

We will either stand in His strength, or we will fall.

The next section of verses is a favorite passage of mine.  I’m looking forward to digging into it.

Call it What it Is!

Ephesians 4: 27. “Neither give place to the devil.”

Verse 27 is the capstone to verse 26.  When we sin in our anger, when we carry wrath from one day to the next, we are giving Satan a foothold in our minds and hearts.

By the way,  why has it become popular to refer to Satan as “The Enemy” and never call him by his name?  It’s not wrong to call him The Enemy, but it seems to me that it’s  an avoidance of naming him and identifying him clearly, and I’m curious as to how and why this came about.  Is it related to our tendency to use euphemisms instead of the word sin?  We say  mistake or poor choice when what we’re really talking about is sin.

Why are we afraid to call it what it is?  Sin, Satan, the Devil—those are strong, clear words that I don’t believe we should soften or sidestep.