"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
October 31, 2012
When reading the book of Proverbs, every verse or two are a different proverb and there really is no theme to an entire chapter. This may be how this devotion turns out. A few weeks ago, I read Proverbs chapter 25, and since that time keep going back to it every few days. There are a few proverbs from this chapter that have caught my attention that I would like to write about this week.
Verses 6-7 says, "Do not exalt yourself in the king's presence, and do not claim a place among great men; it is better for him to say to you, 'Come up here,' than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman."
We don't live in a nation where we have kings, noblemen, lords, and titled individuals, so it's easy to overlook verses such as these and think they have no application to us. But we can take the general meaning of the proverb and apply it to ourselves.
Too often, individuals desire recognition. We hear and read about men and women who will say, "I donated so much money to ....." or "I gave of my time to do ......." or "I volunteered and helped ......" They want others to know what they have given or done. We can even be guilty of doing that on a smaller level. We do something for the church or for an individual or for an organization, and when no one makes mention of it we sometimes get our feelings hurt and want someone to know what we have done. So we will tell a family member or friend, "Now I don't want everyone to know about this, but I did this or gave that." We may say that we don't want anyone to know, but deep down we really do.
There even may be times when we don't say anything at the time of our good deed, but later someone else will do or give something and get recognition for it, and we think, "What I did was bigger than that, and no one even mentioned it!" So we will somehow work it into a conversation with someone regarding what we did.
Occasionally, we may not know the whole background story behind someone receiving recognition or a word of thanks. We go by what we hear and guess at the rest, sometimes making false assumptions. And when we do so, there are times when we can make an inappropriate comment, and end up getting our foot in our mouth, then wishing that we had of kept our mouth shut. How much better off we would be to let others thank us or acknowledge our deeds, than to try to exalt ourselves and then end up being embarrassed or humiliated.
Verses 8-10 say, "What you have seen with your eyes, do not bring hastily to court; for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame? If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man's confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation."
We are a people who like to be right, and want to prove to others that we are right, especially if we are in a situation where we feel that we've been wronged. And at times, it's easy to have an argumentative spirit about us, for we feel the need to prove that we are right, and we will argue our case as long and hard as necessary to "win".
Sadly, many times when we become argumentative, we become upset and angry, and then begin to speak without thinking. If we're not careful, we will bring other people into our argument or repeat things that were told to us in confidence. When we betray a confidence that someone has trusted us with, we can end up terminating a relationship and we will be the ones who end up with a bad reputation. Often, the one who was betrayed will tell others, "Don't trust so and so, because they can't keep their mouth shut and will blab anything you tell them; even when they promise not to." And it can take a very long time to ever regain that trust, and sometimes it may never happen.
We need to be careful that we don't rush out to argue our case, especially if we are not aware of all the facts and are only making assumptions, or else it may bring shame upon us and we may lose our reputation.
Verse 14 caught my attention and made me think. "Like clouds and wind without rain, is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give."
I've commented many times that if it's going to be cloudy and windy, I wish it would just go ahead and rain; especially if there have been several days in a row that have been overcast and dreary. My preference is for either the sun to shine and be warm, or for it to rain if the sky is going to be cloudy. I hate those in between days that are just gloomy and dark outside. If it looks like rain, I want it to rain!
A man who boasts of things he does for others or money he gives or time he donates, without actually do so, is like those cloudy, dreary days. He has no purpose and only brings about misery and gloom. He is not benefiting anyone.
We need to pay heed that we don't boast of things that we don't follow through and do. Or if you've done something one time, don't tell others that this is something you do, giving the impression that it is something that is consistent and ongoing.
I'd rather be like the sunshine that brings about happiness and warmth, or like a soaking rain that brings about growth and life to others, than to be like a cloud and wind without rain, serving no purpose.
Verse 17 pretty much speaks for itself and makes me smile. "Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house -- too much of you, and he will hate you."
I don't think I need to comment much on this verse. We've all had those people who have "stopped by for a minute to say hi," then ended up staying for hours, and we sitting there wishing they would leave! There comes a point where we hate to see them come. Or it could be a phone call or them cornering you when you're out and about somewhere, and they will talk on and on and on, and you can't get away from them. Let us make sure that we are never the ones that wear out our welcome where others hate to see us coming and are glad to see us go!
Verse 19 says, "Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble."
Nothing is more irritating and bothersome than having a toothache. The constant ache makes you feel irritable and you just don't feel well. You can't eat, and often, drinking something will irritate it also.
I've sprained my ankle a couple times, and it really hurts. The last time this happened was when Jon and I were dating. We were coming out of the movie theater after dark and I stepped on the edge of a jagged pothole in the asphalt and down I went. I couldn't walk and Jon had to go get the car and drive it up to where I was. For a couple days, I could hardly stand for any weight to be put on that ankle. I remember that night having to get up to go to the bathroom, and it hurt so badly that I had to end up crawling. I couldn't put any weight on that ankle and couldn't depend on it to get me where I needed to go.
When we put confidence in someone, then they let us down when we really need them, they are like that bad tooth or sprained/lame foot. They are of no use and undependable. It's one thing to tell someone to call or let you know if there's anything you can do to help and really mean it; and another to just say the words, hoping that you never actually get asked to do anything.
Are we like a bad tooth or lame foot, or are we faithful, dependable friends in times of trouble?
Verses 21-22 are repeated elsewhere in scripture. "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." These words are repeated in Romans 12:20.
We've all heard the saying: "Kill them with kindness". Does this mean to actually murder someone through our kind acts? No. But we can kill bad attitudes, negativity, hatefulness, and bitterness with kind words and acts. It may not happen immediately, but over time, if we will consistently show kindness, then we will see a change take place. This is not always easy to do when someone is trying to intimidate us or are being spiteful. And we need to make sure we're doing it with the right attitude. If we do so, then it will be as if we are heaping burning coals on our enemy's head, and the Lord will see our kindness and reward us.
The last proverb I'm going to mention is verse 24: "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife."
That verse is pretty much self-explanatory, also! Being quarrelsome can become a habit, if we're not careful. Not only with our spouse, but with our friends and family. I want my husband and family and friends to desire my company, and not want to hide out on the rooftop when they see me coming.
The book of Proverbs is filled with many words of wisdom, if we will only read it and take it to heart and learn from it. I don't ever want to come to a place where I think I know it all and have no room for improvement, but always want to strive to grow and learn and become a better person. God's word is full of scripture to help me, as well as help you, to do so.
Revelation 3:16 says, "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." Just like we don't like rainy days that don't actually provide us any rain, God doesn't like Christians who are half-hearted. There are probably dozens of ways to take the verse (and related verses). You can probably interpret it for yourself much better than I could interpret it for you. I suspect that's why so many verses can be taken different ways: there are different people, who may need different things at different times.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, corn syrup, butter vanilla and pecans; stir well. Pour into pie shell and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
Today is halloween, and although I know that there are some who choose to not participate in activities, which is fine if that is your belief, I honestly have no problem with it. Growing up, we always dressed up and went to neighbors' houses trick-or-treating. We loved it, because it meant a bunch of free candy! I have a lot of fun memories regarding halloween.
I remember a particular year that one of the young ladies in our church hosted a huge party for all the youth and young married couples in the church. Everyone dressed up and we played games and had contests and ate and it was a blast! She had it in her parents' garage and there were a lot of people who came.
I remember my sisters taking me trick-or-treating. I am the youngest sister, so they were able to drive, and my parents were glad to let them take me... and my sisters liked taking me to lots of houses so I'd get plenty of candy for the whole family. Actually, Janie went with me several years, before she got too big. You learn who has the best candy, and which houses you don't want to go to.
There was a particular home where the lady was older and made homemade popcorn balls wrapped in saran wrap. I'm sure she probably spend a lot of time making them and thought that was something the kids would love, but I didn't want a popcorn ball -- I wanted chocolate! This couple had a son who was grown, but had major health issues; although I'm not sure what was wrong with him. But they had to strap him in this frame and turn him upside down to help him breath at times. One year when I went there to trick-or-treat, the lady wanted me to go in the room where her son was so he could see me. Now that I'm an adult, I understand that she wanted him to be able to enjoy seeing all the kids dressed up. But as a little girl, going in to see this man strapped in this contraption was horrifying. I never wanted to go back there again to trick-or-treat, and don't think I ever did.
Another year, the church we were attending had an all-church party. The family who was hosting it had several acres in the country. They had a huge black kettle hanging over a fire and everyone brought ingredients to make stew. We all threw our ingredients in the pot, and it was some of the best stew I've ever had. We went on a hayride and played games and sat by the fire and they had their barn decorated.
I love to reminisce and think back on good memories I have of the past. This past Sunday evening, the church we attend had a trunk-or-treat for the neighborhood kids. My sister and I decorated a vehicle and had a game for the kids and handed out candy. One little boy really stood out to me. He was in a wheelchair and his parents or grandparents had build a small army tank that fit over the wheelchair, so that it looked like the little guy was sitting inside the tank. They had it painted, and had the boy dressed in an army green hardhat and shirt with a name tag sewed on the front. It was the most creative, cute costume I've seen, and they put a lot of work and time into it. He was so excited to play the games and get candy and to be there participating, and he had the biggest smile on his face. His joy made me smile. Someone went to a lot of work and put a lot of time into making sure this little boy could dress up and participate like the other kids, and I'm sure this is a memory that this little guy will never forget; and something those who care for him will never forget. It made an impression on me! As my nephew put it, "Someone sure loves that little boy an awful lot -- and it showed!"
Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon