If there is one thing I get sad about at a very high level, is when two people who are best of friends develop conflict and cannot resolve it over a stretched out period of time. When conflict arises which in times gone by was worked at and then an amicable solution resulted, but in the present tense is only getting worse, first principles about conflict resolution have been abandoned.

Our pastor in Pittsburgh, Bishop Joseph Garlington, wrote an excellent book years ago called RIGHT OR RECONCILED, and it asks the salient question as to whether we want to be right or reconciled. This goes to the issue of desire as our hearts are the seat of this emotion and Scripture places an urgency on this when it so powerfully states: “Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry and don’t give the devil a chance.” Ephesians 4::26,27 (CEV) Three don’ts in one passage is illustration enough that God’s precious, pure heart is all for reconciliation, particularly for people who have had long-standing issues. My friends, if something about this devotional today is stirring your heart, please enter into the miracle of dialogue immediately. It is precisely what God desires and the devil hates. Do it NOW.

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The 27th chapter of Proverbs has much to say about friendship and I want to outline the characteristics it graphically portrays in these next few lines:

A truly good friend will openly correct you. (v. 5) If you cannot be corrected by a friend, how then can you have the ability to withstand the onslaughts of an enemy?

We also need be so careful about “schmoozers.” (v. 6) People who are always trying to suck up to you in order to get something from you do not make good friends.

When a true friend comes into your presence, it is like a sweet incense blowing through the house. (v. 9) I love it when a person I know I can trust comes into my immediate area of influence. There is comfort and security in that.

Real friends can also become closer than your relatives, and many of us can attest to that. (v. 10) They say blood is thicker than water, but that is not always the case.

A true friendship will always enhance your mental capabilities. ( v. 17 ) I have no desire to be in possession of brain-dead relationships and great friends always sharpen our ability to think properly.

May the overwhelming evidence provide great incentive to the process of bolstering super friendships.

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You might have heard the expression: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Indirectly, this statement comes from the Proverbs, as it declares: “Don’t visit friends too often, or they will get tired of it and start hating you.” (CEV) chapter 25:17 Everybody needs to have space, and sometimes friendships suffer because they are TOO close. This can also become a reality in marriage as well.

 

I have no objection to closeness, but it is to a person’s good mental and spiritual health that one keeps yourself at a certain distance in order to keep your objectivity alert. I never get surprised when people who serve Presidents of countries resign because a good working relationship can become a detestable one if they stayed any longer. I once told a friend of mine that we need to stay in different towns so that we can stay friends. He understood.

 

Have an amazing day.

 

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I am really enjoying this section on friendship and as we finish this week and go into a new month, I want to give some concluding remarks on this all-important theme.

 

A couple of tips I have been made wise about is that if you want to keep your friendships strong, be extremely reluctant to go on offense with them or be aggressively pre-disposed when you disagree. Many of us need to work on this because sometimes we do not even know what impression we are making on people either close to us or even not-so-close.

 

Sobering is this – that Solomon also exhorted about making friends with worthless nobodies. (Proverbs 28:7) As often as this is spoken in God’s word, most of us manage to strike “fools gold” one way or another in this quest and what is encouraging from this is that wisdom is gained for the future. This is also why he also states that being totally obedient to God’s holy word is the pathway to righteous friendships.

 

My wife is very fond of speaking to our children about being easier to fall off a table through false associations than it is to climb on to the table through a rigorous friendship selection process. Enjoy your climb to the top accordingly having established strong and binding friendships in the love of God.

 

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“Stuffed full with your own schemes” is not a phrase that rings any positive bells inside the hearts of anyone I am familiar with, but there it is in black and white for all to see in the first chapter of Proverbs in the thirty-first verse. It comes within the context of reaping and sowing and another expression that rapidly comes to mind is ”sleeping in the bed you make”. Solomon could utter this statement because he had first-hand experience about it.

 

To think, that the antidote to this afflicted state is also amplified many times over in the book of Proverbs which clarifies God’s action plan: “My child, obey the teachings of your parents..”, “you must follow and treasure my teachings and instructions”, “remember my teachings and instructions and obey them completely.” Proverbs 1:8; 2:1; 3:1 etc.

 

In the acquisition of wisdom, how incredibly important it is to be in possession of a heart full of obedience. Most of us have discovered that wisdom is gained through our disobedience, but how much better and more qualitative would it be if we were more obedient as we grew up? More on this tomorrow.

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I started imagining what would happen in all the great capitols of the world if the wisdom of Solomon so infinitesimally recorded in the Proverbs were to be read and acted upon by all the world’s leaders. It would actually start an amazing revolution just by acting on it, but all of us also know that actions without heart transformation results in no change at all because the heart is desperately wicked says the Lord.

 

 

 

We need obedient hearts based upon Jesus’ obedience all the way to the Cross. If I obeyed every jot and tittle of the law but have not bowed my heart before the Lamb of God who sacrificed His precious, sinless life, it really avails nothing. Let us all make it a point to humble ourselves before Jesus today so we can truly take initiatives under the greatest love the world has ever known.

 

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Speaking about obedience, I wanted to share something with you today from out of a book I eventually want to publish and the remainder of this blog gives salient details accordingly.

 

 

My father was raised in a strict German household and was not infected or afflicted with the dread disease of our modern American ideas. He demanded respect from us as children and commanded respect by his consistent Christ-filled behavior.

 

 

 

He also made sure that as children we would honor our mother, and when mom was overwhelmed by our behavior, we were quickly brought into alignment by the knowledge that “dad will deal with you when he gets home.”

 

 

The health of our home was also accentuated by a strong work ethos which was exemplified and executed by both Mom and Dad and therefore was expected to be genetically transferred to their “off-spring.” In a practical sense it didn’t always work that way, but the training we received as children served us well when we became adults and were facing uphill challenges as regards to our work attitudes. The work attitude we adopted was that we would never have an ideal atmosphere to operate in, but if you stayed in obedient adherence to biblical principles and maintained a sweet spirit, God would surely take care of us.

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I want to draw attention to something that is happening in response to these blogs I am daily doing on Facebook. Have you noticed how many people are already doing reading and studies in the Proverbs this year from many different places?

I think it is safe to say that God is trying to get a point across about the necessity for wisdom this year. Another point I want to make relating to that is how important it is to be careful about being deliberately inflammatory in what we say to each other or even in a public concourse like Facebook. Don't get me wrong - I am not saying that controversy is something we can avoid, but to say something that can provoke danger in these critical times is to avoided.

Someone once stated: "Discernment is the better part of wisdom." Let us take heed to that.

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One of the over-riding themes of the Proverbs is THE IMPORTANCE OF TOTAL OBEDIENCE. All of life requires this one steadfast principle called obedience and as such we are not talking about being forced to do anything but rather see the clear-cut choices life has offered us and because we are trained in obedience, we then follow the correct pathway and adopt proper positions.

 

Notice what Solomon states about the temptation of being seduced by a sexually ambitious lady in the 7th chapter of Proverbs, verses 1-5: “My son, keep my words, and TREASURE my commands WITHIN you. Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister, “ and call understanding your nearest kin, that they may keep you from the immoral woman…” (NKJV)

 

This certainly puts paid to the idea that a person cannot help themselves. We will investigate this great theme in greater detail again as we move along this week.

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When you check out the grades of the best students in a class, you discover a certain application to consistent disciplines. They have formed habits recognizing what it takes to make it in this life, and are just the opposite of what Solomon writes in chapter 1 of Proverbs and verse 7:” ... but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Conversely, in that same context it states that “wise people will hear and increase learning, and a person of understanding will attain wise counsel.” Ladies and gentlemen – the best is waiting for people with obedient hearts. Your IQ will automatically increase because you are in touch and compliant with He who has all-knowledge. Let’s go for it!! Amen!

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God wants to raise up mighty children in the land (Psalm 112:2); This is all about a consecutive process and not a "willy nilly" hit or miss kind of approach.

If the following instructions from the Proverbs were to be heeded, can we not bring up a generation fitting the above description? "My child, obey the teachings of your parents (and in the absence of parents, mentors);" 1:8 "My child, remember my teachings and instructions and OBEY THEM COMPLETELY..." 3:1 "My son, if you LISTEN CLOSELY to my wisdom and good sense..." 5:1 "My son, pay close attention and DON'T FORGET what I tell you to do..." 7:1.

I could go further, but that should be enough to stimulate us all for one day.

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We have all heard expressions like “Strength in numbers;” “Repeat something enough times and you can get people to believe what you are saying,” etc. Politicians know the accuracy of that and exercise what is called a ”stump speech” which they repeat with very few alterations wherever they go to get votes.

For many people, it makes no difference if what is spoken be the truth or a lie, because be they false prophet or politician, they know mankind is gullible enough to believe something as many people never question anything. Here is my challenge to you coming out of this. Why is it that the necessity for complete obedience to the authority of parents or God can be repeated 53 times in the first 15 chapters of Proverbs, and for all of that, we seem to struggle so much to grasp the truth of what is being driven into our consciousness by Almighty God Himself? I will look forward to your answers. Have a truly obedient day.

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It is very hard for God to talk about people He does not like in the Bible, but in the Proverbs, He does just that in chapter 6 and verses 16-19. These kind of people have really developed set-in-their-ways kind of behaviour for this to be spoken, and yet for all of that, He still loves the people, but hates the sin in manifestation. This is because His essential nature is LOVE.

Then you need to take notice as to how these kind of people have become what they are and it just amplifies our current theme: "Obey the teaching of your parents - always keep it in mind and never forget it. Their teaching will guide you when you walk, protect you when you sleep, and talk to you when you are awake." Proverbs 6:20-22 (CEV)

There it is again - obedience in sharp focus, and I trust that we can take heed according to the Word of God.

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When we talk about the recurring theme of obedience manifested in the Proverbs, we must always align that with the prevalence of that same message in the New Covenant where we understand that Jesus obeyed all the way to a Cross that was specially designed to provide the way for all of mankind to be delivered from the forces of darkness. We can all give thanks to the Lord Jesus for making it possible for we who have been in darkness to observe this great Light and then take up our own cross and follow after Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.

 

I also capture a contrast here as well, by considering that where people in the Old Covenant obeyed through the stones delivered to Moses with the Ten Commandments written there, in this New Covenant the Old Rugged Cross with the Son of God dying on it becomes the compelling force for obedience. Oh, how understanding is this amazing God who so demonstrates the completeness of His majestic love in such a manner. Let us rejoice in His greatness and goodness today.

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When it comes to obedience, I believe that it must become a core value in our lives. We learn obedience by taking heed according to the Word of God. Literally, developing small steps of obedience we discipline our minds with every day.

I do not give money to a person begging from me on the streets. That would be classified as disobedience, because as a steward of the limited finance I am entrusted with, this would be a step in the wrong direction as the majority of the time, it will end up becoming another step in that person's life causing him or her to disintegrate further into the bondage of some vice they possess.

Conversely, I MIGHT buy them some bread and stay there until they have finished it, because I am also wise enough to know that when I get around the corner, they might pawn off that same food for the fulfillment of their vices again. I trust that you will become wise in simple steps of practical obedience.

 

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There is an indelible connection between obedience and poverty going on from yesterday, and this is particularly accentuated within the context of the book of Proverbs. When you read Proverbs, you realize quite quickly how sensitive and alert the richest man in the world at that time was to the needs of the poorest among us.

This is why, it is wrong to always do a smash job on all the rich in the midst of us, where many wealthy people have the heart of God when it comes to wealth distribution. I want to encourage you to go to my web site because there you will see an icon with a book I finished writing a few years ago called SOARING LIKE EAGLES, and it gives a totally balanced look at this whole issue of poverty elimination with pictures as well. You can electronically purchase it @: www.edenleadership.org

. I am also finished writing another book on this detailing the why's, where's and how's of destroying poverty in our midst. I am actually looking for a publisher for this.

Have an awesome day giving Spirit-filled response to those who are the least among us.

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Solomon tells us to follow the example of good people in the second chapter of Proverbs and of course this alludes to the whole obedience theme as well because following is a mark of discipleship. The Apostle Paul spoke that what was seen in him should be used as an example for others. Ultimately, we need to follow what others do as they operate under the skilful influence of what would Jesus do?

 

I can state (and I have often done this), that the greatest man I have ever known on earth was my Dad, and I am sure many of you could state the same, but the reason for that is almost always because of the shining example they were as a reflection of what our heavenly Father is all about.

 

You might say that you have never had that example in your life and might have had quite the opposite in fact, but surely, there is a godly contrast around that has demonstrated the Lordship of Jesus in their lives in front of you? I see that all the time and you must open your eyes to that as well.

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In an earlier posting a few days ago, I spoke about mighty children in the land, and I started writing a book about this a few years ago, as I have some strong convictions about what it takes to raise up this kind of a scenario. This next paragraph is just a little sample of where I am coming from.

"I believe we are going to be hearing reports of the younger generation in particular, especially those in their teenage years, who are doing exploits for God in the power of the Holy Spirit. These children (youth in particular) have been groomed in the nether world of Satanic emphasis, are versed in the language of the world we live in, have walked through the disillusionment of stale and morbid Christianity, and have fixed ideas on the other side of all that as to how they can make an impact in these the closing days of time as we know it."

The bottom line of all this is that we are facing the reality of a generation who are ready to obey God, no matter how old we are.

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I want to give a few tips today on raising up mighty children in our land. I will so appreciate your return comments.

God takes the material offered up to Him (broken, busted but bold) and starts a veritable revolution with these vessels of clay. It does not take children raised in ideal circumstances to make a difference in society. Jephthah was rejected by his family and became the leader and judge of his people. (Judges 11)

Dream and plan with God in the center and children at the heart of what we do. There will be no great accomplishments unless we then get out of dream mode and start writing down the vision. (Habukkuk 2:2,3) Children must be the emphasis in this day and hour as the best investment we can make is what we put into children from an early age. We cannot allow Satan to invade one more generation, but must sit down with the best inspired minds of our business and church communities who have a total vision and business plan for leveraging children out of the grips of bondage into the fullness of their potential in Christ.

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We talk about the throne of God in very trite and insignificant ways sometimes, but the fact is and reality of life is that there is a literal throne the Bible refers to and Someone sits there with all authority in the heavens and earth who commands and demands obedience from the people he made. Some would find that statement scary. I do not because it is the Father who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son... That Son, named Jesus made it possible for all of mankind to approach the Father, who is full of grace and truth and now boldly we can make entrance into the holy of holies through the precious blood of Jesus who showed us what true love was all about. He obeyed to the cross.

 

Today, I take up my cross gladly and follow Jesus knowing that this pathway is going to be rough and tough but through it all, He is ready to listen to us under any and all circumstances and hold us close to His heart where we can listen to His heartbeat and receive instruction through His word for all of life's exigencies in this day. Let us all then press on in this pilgrim pathway, knowing that He is perfectly aware of who we are and what we go through and will never leave us or forsake us.

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Obedience is like the trigger that activates a gun to discharge its cargo, and I know that is a pretty radical way of looking at it, but it enables us to hit the mark when it comes to the things of God. If I miss the mark God has clearly and unambiguously outlined in His Word, it is because I have disobeyed most of the time and will understand the consequences of that quite well.

See what Clark's commentary on the Bible says about Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go - The Hebrew of this clause is curious: chanoch lannaar al pi darco, "Initiate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path." When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.

May God enable us to all be proper trainers in this life process.

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So far as obedience goes, we all need to be reminded about the age-old Biblical principle called faithfulness and Luke put it this way in his gospel: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much...." 16:10 (NIV) When a person demonstrates a commitment to small matters they can be entrusted with more, but equally, our fulfilment in life is usually not going to be in a far off place but rather in the bedrock of home turf.

You need to listen to my radio program tonight from 8 to 9 pm Central African Time, anywhere in the world because we are going to be touching base on these matters with a topic called ACRES OF DIAMONDS, and it is based upon some teachings given over 100 years ago by a Baptist minister in the USA. Go to the live streaming icon after getting into this web site:

 

 

www.edenfm.co.za.

In all my years of pastoral service, I have adhered to the following cardinal principle: "Never send a person on an overseas or even nearby mission until they have proven themselves faithful on the home front."

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The power and blessing of obedience must never be forgotten among us and we must always remind ourselves of incidents where obedience wins the day, and the following story is a prime example of this.

When my parents moved us from South Saint Paul, Minnesota to Zion, Illinois I was about eight years old, and there was a group of guys in the school who made it their vocation to harass and intimidate me whenever they could. Some of this action resulted in physical damage to me, and I could have stayed quiet, but decided to tell my Dad what was going on. He promptly walked me down the street to the ringleaders home, addressed the parents about what was happening in front of the detractors, and all the oppression became history. Whenever I go back to my home town these days, I try looking them up. Interestingly, both brothers involved in this scenario became policemen. Reconciliation resulted from initiating proper authority. This then results in producing mighty children in the land.

What step of obedience is God impressing on you to do in this day because a friend of mine once stated: "You can never go the next step of obedience until you take the one step God is showing you currently." Go with God folks.

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As we are now in the final days before Good Friday, I wanted to highlight this current emphasis on obedience by the story of a twelve year old boy named Jesus. I am sure you have heard of Him, and it accentuates how keen for knowledge he was but also what He had already learned through that same quality.


Jesus' parents thought He was part of the entourage going back to Nazareth, but was not, and three days after missing Him, they find Him in the temple where Luke's account states He was: "listening to the teachers and asking them questions." But in those same verses in chapter 2:46,47, "Everyone who heard Him was surprised at how much He knew and the answers He gave." There is a point to be made here, that obedience to God's ways requires enquiring minds, and it is not a case of blind faith.

When Jesus is confronted by His earthly parents about His disappearance, an unflappable 12 year old turns to them and simply asks: "Didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?" It then declares He obeyed his earthly parents by going back with them and He became wise and grew strong. Destiny awaits us also as we grow in obedience to He who paved the way so long ago.

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As we celebrate this Palm Sunday, I am reminded of another obedience story which also fulfilled a prophecy (Zechariah 9:9), and as one commentator stated: "Jesus was riding on a donkey to show that He came not as an earthly conqueror, but that the Messiah was demonstrating meekness, which is what true conquering is about."

 

The Gospel Books of Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the story of how Jesus sent two disciples ahead to secure this donkey, and it does not bother to say who those two were, but they obeyed the Lord and did exactly what they were told. There is a condition of heart we need in all of our lives which must respond in like manner when God instructs us to fulfill in a certain task. Remember also that God will sometimes tell not just one but two to bring about His purpose, which is designed to help us understand that working together, demonstrates fusion and unity of purpose.

 

Let us all enjoy this special day knowing that one day soon Jesus will not just be riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, but will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords on a great white horse to rule over this earth. Revelation 19:11-21

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As we grew up from being children into adulthood, there was a chorus that went like this: “Where He leads me, I will follow… I will follow all the way.” We were made to understand that this means we must do whatever to remember that we have a mission in life and that SOMETIMES (not always, even rarely) it even means that God would lead us into another place other than where we live to accomplish a mission in a far-off land. Everything was based upon how much a disciple of Jesus we wanted to be and what kind of sacrifices needed to be made to accomplish that purpose. As you can see, this all relates to obedience.

A political candidate was once approached by his sister about what he was prepared to sacrifice in order to follow Jesus completely, and his reply was: “Everything, except his desire to get to the top.” I am not going further than that with this story for obvious reasons, but the point being made is that we are all called to lay aside what we want to satisfy the our earthly ambitions in order to do what God tells me to do today. A quick question: “What price are you prepared to pay in order to follow Jesus with a WHOLE heart?” I will love to hear your responses to that.

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Obedience to God becomes an intimidating matter when we try to take too many steps at the same time. The songwriter put it this way: "...and step by step He'll lead me and I will follow Him through all of my days."

What step of obedience is God showing you today as you wake up to a new day? Each day, I look at my schedule and determine what is priority and what is not in this day, and at the top of the list is how best I can serve my partner of almost 28 years. But before that, there must be a time where I gain the heavenly atmosphere in my spirit by getting quiet before the Lord and asking Him to empower for every task but also praising and worshiping Him for who is.

Have a glorious day beloved.

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The compelling cry that comes down from the Cross without Jesus ever saying it, is a very clear and cogent call: Follow ME! The great songwriter penned it this way and many millions of people have sung it along with many groups:

All the way to Calvary, He went for me,He went for me, He went for me; All the way to Calvary, He went for me,He died to set me free.

Although I had so many many sins Jesus took them all away And He pardoned me; Although I had so many many sins,Jesus took them all away and He pardoned me.

In 1975, I had the one and only chance in my life to visit the Holy Land and to say that it was a transforming experience was indeed an apt description, but as I walked down the Via Dolorosa and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, there was this strong sense that the passion of Jesus is the greatest incentive we can ever have to obediently come after this amazing Redeemer and please Him while we still have life left in us. We must all remember that it is never too late to reach out to Jesus because over 2000 years later, He is still reaching out to us.

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We can all commemorate this day as the agonizingly significant time when our own personal “Declaration of Independence” was signed, sealed and delivered by none other than the Son of God and man, Jesus Christ Himself as He obeyed all the way to the Cross. The huge impact that this has made turned the course of history around as we know it, and sent out a clarion call loud and clear, near and far that this Man who became the Lamb of God, sacrificing His own life and spilling His blood on that place we call Calvary has once and for all made it possible for all mankind to understand what true liberation is all about. John 8:36

 

Even a most cursory understanding of this great once and for all event should cause us all, small and great, rich and poor, high and low to bow before Almighty God and cry out for mercy recognizing that Jesus’ whole purpose in coming to this earth was for this awesome transaction to become negotiated between God and man. “How we do thank you, blessed Lord Jesus for all that has been made real through Your eternal sacrifice and for providing a prime example of what it means to live this life in the 21st century we now live in.” Thank you Jesus!!!

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As a transition between Good Friday and Resurrection Day, I wanted to encourage you with this report and show you a picture detailing a glimpse of what is being powerfully produced.

 

Part of the vision of LIFE Community Services has been to have a strong educational emphasis, and in that light Happy Feet pre-schools and creches were begun a few years ago. The centre in Parkdene has developed in such a way that a building was needed to house this. Fundraising went forth, the plot was purchased after many setbacks, and eventually the finances accumulated.

 

A week ago Wednesday, the ground-breaking ceremony was celebrated and on Monday of this week, the trenches for the foundation were dug, followed by the foundations laid the next day, and the walls started going up the following two days. Never have a I ever seen such a spirit of working together as in the past few days in this city and the photo shows where the project is currently. To God be the glory for this marvellous opportunity to train our youngest generation in the ways of the Lord Jesus.

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The following paragraph was published yesterday by the PrePaid24 people here in South Africa and because it is so gutsy and bold, I release it today for your perusal and challenge.

To all our friends, followers and clients,
Prepaid24 wishes you a Christ filled Easter.
We believe that Jesus Christ, our saviour, redeemer and Lord was indeed born for every man, to later die for our sins on a cross at Calvary, but He also rose on the 3rd day and ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God, our almighty Father.
This Easter we rejoice with an Angelic host, and repeat the words in our hearts: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth – peace and good will towards all men.”
True Love and Peace for all mankind - Our prayer for each person.
(Should you not celebrate Easter, be assured of our respect and unconditional love, servant hood and assistance – always and in all circumstances)
Prepaid24 – Consistently Exceeding Client Expectations

This is the perfect complement to what has been quoted for hundreds of years by the church from what we call the Nicene Creed: For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

Be totally resurrected in your heart by the Prince of Glory, Jesus Himself.

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Each day, I write this blog and enjoy lacing stories and principles if life which have and do made a difference in my state of life, and hopefully it has a watershed effect upon all who read as well. Incidentally, yesterday on Resurrection Day there were 26 people who responded to this daily blog, the previous day 32, and on Good Friday 24 people. I also store all of these devotions in a special response folder I have created and load it on to my web site @ www.edenleadership.org.

Talking about storing up, I am reminded each day to hide God’s word in my heart that I might not sin against Him, or as the CEV version states: “I treasure Your word above all else; it keeps me from sinning against You.” Psalm 119:11 Every time we treasure (not mock or just be in a passe’ attitude) about God’s word, we are adopting a disposition of obedience to all that comes from the heart of God. Frankly, that is where I want to be in these critical times we live in. Go out and live in a treasured state today.

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When I write, I try to be as balanced as possible, so nobody can say that I have become tangential, which is just another term for stating that a person has gone off the deep end on any given issue. You see, wisdom demands that we look at all angles, aspects of life and allegiances in order to get a more complete understanding of what people are facing.

A man came to me many years ago about some of the distorted struggles he had, and through patient, thorough, consistent and careful implementation of God-inspired principles, was able to not only overcome, but lead people in deep bondages from out of that estate.

This is one of the great reasons why we are ponderously plodding through the Proverbs this year, and in further sessions we will touch down on some controversial topics anticipating that godly results will accrue accordingly.

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The book of Proverbs deals with just about any issue that we contend with while walking this pilgrim pathway. With the world upside down because of an unholy boldness demonstrated (violent spirit and what the Scriptures describe as abominations) and restraints being removed by the day, the whole discussion about respect for God and man comes very sharply into focus.

There are also many references made by Solomon about sexually divergent behavior from God-ordained patterns. This is extremely relevant in an age when with all our educational opportunities, we still act on instinct when it comes to sexuality. This is ignorance of the highest order. I had to sit down well into the evening last evening to explain "guy matters" to my foster sons because of this factor.

We could also go to great length to address the laziness problem which can become a cultural condition as well, but this brings a diligent spirit into sharp detail, and Solomon deals with this at length in the Proverbs.

More on these matters tomorrow, and think deeply about these things today.

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Let me go on from yesterday and give you an abridged list of inspired topics that Solomon addresses just in Proverbs alone without even going into Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon - INVOLVEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT; CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF GODLY ASSOCIATIONS; HARVESTING PRINCIPLES;RESPONSIBILITY TO THE POOR and POVERTY ELIMINATION STEPS; DEVELOPING SOUND JUDGMENT AND MULTIPLE SENSIBILITY; UNDERSTANDING SELF-CONTROL; LIMITLESS CORRECTION; TOTAL INTEGRITY IN BUSINESS; DEBT CONTROL; WHO IS A FOOL AND WHO IS WISE; POWER OF WORDS; NAGGING WOMEN AND GOOD WIVES; BEING RESPECTFUL.

 

I think you can see that much of life that we contend with is represented in that group, and it also speaks of a battleground where there is a straight up debate between what is the will of Satan and the superior will of God. In future blogs, I want to engage in that heated discussion and come back once again as to what God says which will fortify us in these amazingly benchmark days.

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I believe that part of what we should be gifted with is sound judgment, but the Bible never says that it is a gift. Training in the ways and Word of God brings about the ability to exercise sound judgment. The worst decisions I have ever made were when I thought I knew better than God. Fortunately, God in His amazing mercy has wonderful ways of making even the worst judgments into something that accrues for His glory as we walk in humility before Him.

 

The first time Solomon refers to sound judgment and common sense is when he addresses one of his children and strongly admonishes to keep in mind at all times. Proverbs 3:21 I have learned something about this value in life, that in the multitude of counselors there is safety and that I need to keep men and women of wisdom around me in order to keep on the straight and narrow way.

 

We will follow up on this tomorrow.

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A friend of mine from the USA recently stated that he was concerned about the content of what gets written on Facebook, and the essence of his statement was that our topic for the last couple of days is missing, namely SOUND JUDGMENT AND GOOD SENSE.

 

We need to measure our words very carefully, and as one great man of God, Dr. Nicholas Bhengu stated back in the 1970's during a major conference: "What we speak here in Witbank today will be in the President's bedroom tonight in Mozambique." Wise words indeed.

 

God is exercising me in a huge way about being deliberately provocative in what I say as I have that potential and have unwisely used this in the past causing great pain and chaos. As the Scriptures have so perfectly outlined: "Swift to listen and slow to speak.." James 1:19. Just a tip in that regards - from sad experience, we must remember that James spoke that in a context of anger, and if you speak while angry you can cause huge dilemma's for years to come. This is why the Bible is so amazing when it refers in Galatians to the fruit of the Spirit being self-control.

 

Have a truly fruitful day.

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Let's start a new week by going on to other areas Solomon addresses with great vigor, and I want to particularly address the issue of laziness. I have never been able to understand how some people with much higher IQ's than I can also be some of the laziest people on planet earth. Has anyone else experienced this?

 

The 6th chapter of Proverbs, verses 6-11 amplifies the difficulty quite strongly, but several other passages in Proverbs also bring out this issue, which leads me to the conclusion that Solomon could be as profound about this problem, because he faced up to his own dilemma and conquered.

 

You should read stories about many billionaires children to let you understand that the next generation's success came about as the result of their billionaire parent develop a structure where they were not dependent on their own parent's money but on a spirit of diligence in their own lives.

 

Think on these things beloved.

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At the core of laziness is a variety of reasons, some of which I want to outline today. The phrase: “Like parent, like child “quickly comes to mind, and obviously that is not the primary motivation either, but it certainly has some validity.

Another understanding comes from cultural practices embedded in generations of tradition where particularly in this continent of Africa, there are workers who just “plod along “ on a job or even worse feel it is their right to just sit around and do nothing. Once again, I am not generalizing here, as I am more and more finding that there are people who are amazingly astute and living examples of just the opposite. I have seen it recently on the work site where we are building our new education center. They have an astounding ability to get the work done and do it in record time as well.

Another even deeper knowledge comes from years of oppression where no encouragement is given and even treating workers like animals has resulted in no motivation to work whatsoever. I do not have statistics to prove this, but my instinct tells me that in our context at least, a large percentage of people fall into this category.

Whatever has caused laziness, God uses Solomon to say the following: “Work hard and you will be a leader; be lazy and you will end up a slave….Anyone too lazy to cook will starve, but a hard worker is a valuable treasure.” Proverbs 12:24,27

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As frustrating as it is sometimes in the process of raising up children, from time-to-time they come up with statements or ask questions which delineate that they are indeed listening and absorbing some things that you speak. When my foster son came to us last evening and asked how to define the term discernment, I realized that hard labor in emphasizing certain values was indeed sinking in, and he is ONLY fifteen years old. Our discussion points in the home these days quite inevitably are about wisdom and of course as one scholar so clearly stated: “Discernment is the better part of wisdom.”

 

This quality gives you the ability to make sound judgments and when once again this morning a discussion broke out about using too much sugar on the oatmeal; we could refer back once again to this whole matter of discernment. Solomon emphasized this many times over during his treatise called the Proverbs and also brings us to another question about sound judgment, namely: “What would Jesus do?” We always emphasize how Jesus was stumping the scribes and Pharisees at the tender age of 12. Inside of Him was a craving to know more about the ways of His heavenly Father (and He already knew so much about His true Father) and that should be the way it is with us also. Let us strongly crave for greater discernment across all aspects of life in these totally glorious days we are now living in.

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There are many themes in the Proverbs I want to share about, and when my heart tells me to move in certain directions, I will do that but in the interim there is a pushing about training and instruction as meaningful change can only come about when these disciplines are in place.

 

The word assiduous came to me this morning which in essence means the application of great care with perseverance. This also speaks of industriousness, diligence and being studious. You can call these values as the constant reminder over all of our lives is that excellence of heart and purpose can only become a reality through the repeated habits which are applied to our lives constantly.

 

As Solomon again in a sage way encouraged: "Invest in truth and wisdom, discipline and good sense, and don't part with them." Proverbs 23:23 The richest man in the world at that time certainly knew what true investment was all about. It's investment time.

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People often think that transformation is an instant thing, and if you take the word converted that certainly indicates some validation of this sentiment, but even that has come about as a result of processing. We see the picture of Jesus standing at the door knocking and never see the door opening, but eventually after thinking it through the person on the other side says come on in and you can start the development of transformation.

 

I can never get away from the image of the TV program EXTREME MAKEOVER, where what has one shape when the team arrives goes through a complete change and emerges as this amazing building where creativity has gone to work. God does that with us and as pliable as we are is as quick a work as He can do with us. This requires careful attention and application to what He instructs us and that beloved is the key.

 

Let us adopt the attitude Solomon pointed out in Proverbs 23:12 - "Listen to instruction and do your best to learn."

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True transformation requires a good understanding of ourselves and this of course means that in our lives a process of change needs to be negotiated everyday between the Lord Jesus and ourselves. God's desire is to make us stronger each day (2 Corinthians 4:16). This goes back to why we argued a few days ago that transformation requires training. Generally speaking, we do not reach the heights of our capabilities in Christ with an "instant porridge" kind of syndrome. Certain disciplines in our lives each day around the living Word of God bring about supportable and sustainable changes.

 

Transformation in a city complements the above, and we can quickly use the story of Nineveh during Jonah's prophecy to illustrate this vital componentry. Repentance was negotiated from the top down, and their city was spared from wrath. It just goes to show once again, that we can never get around the necessity for "metanoia" (change of mind and heart) in all aspects of life if what we are desiring is true transformation in our lives and cities. As we abide in God's truth, repentance will be lovingly transacted in our hearts bringing about the kind of quality changes we deeply desire.

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As we observed yesterday, transformation in a city is indeed a distinct possibility, and from Jonah’s account, it started from the ruler and in the third chapter, it even says that the animals put on sackcloth. Talk about thorough, and it proclaims that God turned away from the wrath which was a total certainty. Fascinating it is, that Jonah did not even state when prophesying that the people should repent but proclaimed that judgment was a certainty, and when God saw what transpired, He turned that city-state around from what would have most assuredly been another Sodom and Gomorrah type ending.

 

I am watching our city carefully as our mayor here is increasingly calling men and women of God in for prayer, and frankly, I find it quite encouraging as it portends meaningful changes into our context, but we are also praying that this will be manifested at regional and national level as well. Furthermore, the body of Christ is also coming together around the banner of the Cross and a new level of grassroots involvement in the community is accruing as a result. Let us all face up to the reality that cities can be transformed from whatever direction as we all find a shared goal to see our communities become filled with the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Have you ever heard people make cutting remarks, and then in explanation they state: "I was only fooling?" I am absolutely certain that multitudes of you have heard these statement multitudes of times and it does not make those words any more palatable.

Proverbs 26:19 repeats those precise words in reference to cheating, and I was thinking in that regards about how often people get cheated from their dignity when we insensitively spew ill-advised and even nasty words towards individuals. I watched a movie the other day where a crass young man chided another student about the suicide attempt of his brother, and another student came forward and told him in no uncertain manner to keep his mouth shut. I believe we all need to bring this kind of conviction into any situation where cutting remarks are accentuated.

The power of our words can never be under-estimated, which is why one of the main areas for the fruit of self-control is in what we say, and is why the Apostle Paul would say in Colossians 4:6 - "Let your speech be always full of grace.."

Let us watch our words carefully today and every day.

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I was going through my Proverbs reading yesterday and came across the passage in chapter 25:28, little realizing how significant it would be by the time I woke up this morning.

When I heard what happened at the Boston Marathon with the terror attack, my first instinct was of utter incredulity that some cruel, heartless people could actually perpetrate such an attack on innocent civilians, and my second emotion is to trust that justice will come to those who have such mangled hearts that they will be brought before a stringent court of law extremely quickly.

When I see the reactions coming out of this, I am reminded that people often times do not think about what they are saying and it goes back to what we were sharing yesterday about the words we speak. We need to remind ourselves of what Solomon wisely spoke from the above reference: "Losing self-control leaves you as helpless as a city without a wall." May we all stay under the all-pervasive fruit of the Holy Spirit called self-control.

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A South African friend of mine serving the Lord in the USA wrote a most profound commentary on the Boston bombing, so today and tomorrow, I want to share in this blog the contents as it needs to be seen by everybody. Here then is the first section:

I thank the many well wishers who asked if I was at Boston this year. Its an elite race and, this year, I was way off the qualifying time. In fact it was earlier at Boston that I decided it was time to draw to an end my love of marathons. How come? Almost all of my marathons have been between 3hrs 19 and 3 hrs 50s I set a Boston goal and when I came in just over 4 hours it was a sign that my good races were behind me.

4 hours and 9 minutes – that was when the bombs went off. I reflect on the grim reality that I could have been among the runners and spectators killed or injured in the explosions.

There are high moments in most races. At Boston, for me, it was always the left-hand turn into Boylston Street. The noise of the crowd echoes between the buildings. At places they are standing 5 deep. Kids at the barrier wave and smile. The gradient slopes down towards the finish line. Your tired eyes light up with expectation. My races always end with a sprint so as to leave nothing in my legs as I cross the line. It delights the spectators and I enjoy their responses. Like so many athletes, I focused on the electronic clock just above the finish line. Room for no other thoughts than pressing towards the goal! Pounding of tired, but determined feet were all around me.

Into that celebration of endurance came the dastardly events of the bombs, sending flesh-devouring ball bearings in all directions. Joy became sorrow in an instant!

A fellow South African, Ernst van Dyk, said: “I saw a guy have both his legs blown off, lying on the road.” Its not clear if the victim was a runner. No matter – how cruel that, on a day celebrating the endurance of human mobility, this should happen. Of all the stories that pained us, the one that touched me the deepest was that of the 8 year old boy killed while waiting to see his dad finish the race. Evil has reached out and touched our land again.

The older I grow the more I concur with the Bible’s description of the fallen state of our hearts. We are afflicted with the same malady: self-seeking. The only difference is the extent of the evil intentions. Somewhere today there is a person, or group of persons, telling themselves that their terror mission was accomplished in the carnage of Boylston Street. There will be the flush of success fighting with the guilt that rises from a sense of what ought to be. Ideology will contend with justice. No matter how they might outwardly want to hear congratulations; there will be that inner voice of conscience. That too is a bible-taught world view. Speaking against the demands of selfishness there is, also within us, the knowledge of good and evil.

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he three paragraphs you will now see following this one quite poignantly and concisely shares from my friend Andrew Paton what the condition of mankind is and you can see the distinct emotions literally in every word. Be absorbed!!

The older I grow the more I concur with the Bible’s description of the fallen state of our hearts. We are afflicted with the same malady: self-seeking. The only difference is the extent of the evil intentions. Somewhere today there is a person, or group of persons, telling themselves that their terror mission was accomplished in the carnage of Boylston Street. There will be the flush of success fighting with the guilt that rises from a sense of what ought to be. Ideology will contend with justice. No matter how they might outwardly want to hear congratulations, there will be that inner voice of conscience. That too is a bible-taught world view. Speaking against the demands of selfishness there is, also within us, the knowledge of good and evil.

When “do to others as you would have them do to you” is no longer a basic lifestyle, the imagination turns to self-justified evil acts. When “turn the other cheek” is seen as whimpish, there will be extremists who decide that might is right. When the goal of life is no longer considered a journey towards the judgment throne of a holy, loving God, His very best gift, that of free will, is employed for wanton hatred. Into all this comes a prayer from the pained lips of God’s Son: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Some hardened hearts may think they know, but the full extent of sinful deeds only becomes apparent with time. God was, in Christ, experiencing the full extent of what evil bring to bear.

Many will want an answer to: “why would a loving God allow the bombs to hurt any, even though it could have been so much worse?” Even a bible-schooled world view doesn’t ever completely answer the broken heart’s longings on that question. The non-believer’s answer: that there is no meaning to life and that we are at the mercy of pitiless indifference has still less comfort to offer. This is no time for philosophy. This is the time for compassion to reach out to all who have suffered. Pray. Give. Care. Love. Hate answered by hate will only deepen the pool of hatred. Let that which moves your heart be concern for others.

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It is a most challenging thought that whatever or whomever controls you becomes your god. When our pastor so many years ago stated: "God wants to possess His people in righteousness", we once again understood about control. We need to be so filled and possessed with Jesus that when people look at us, it can be stated as reflected in the book of Acts 4:13- "they perceived that they had been with Jesus."

I want to be so in love with Jesus that something emanating from me draws people to see that my background, culture, lifestyle, and actions are incidental to living out Jesus' life from within me. It stands to reason that the more we are in love with Jesus, the more the fruit of self-control becomes a reality in our lives. In these unsettling times, let us recognize that God is in control and that people want to see that control manifested in we His people.

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Anarchy and control are total antonyms of each other. If people grow up governed by their own rules and have been left to their own devices for a protracted period of time, anarchy is going to prevail.

Some people will not go into certain sections of a city because they say that gangs have precedence in those areas without realizing that a person in a spirit of anarchy can cause havoc anywhere. I fully realize that "turf wars" are common, but what about the homes where mom and dad have no influence over their children at all? They have absconded their God-given authority to other people and in so doing have left the training of their children to whatever freedom their children desire, which is just another form of slavery.

A stable society has certain controls built into it and in this beloved country called South Africa where a rape occurs every 17 minutes and the rapist is back on the street within weeks, it is also time to ask how we can get this under control. This is a huge area we are covering ladies and gentleman, and I would love to hear your mature comments in return.

I am going back to Proverbs 25:28: "Losing self-control leaves you as helpless as a city without a wall." Let us commit ourselves to build up the broken walls of our cities and towns everywhere.

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When we embarked on this journey 12 years ago to develop Life Community Services here in George, we observed some of the most heart-wrenching neglect we have ever seen, and this disposed the children towards lawlessness which we addressed yesterday. Many children as they grew up got involved in gangs and we knew we had to address this dilemma forthrightly. This is why we have become somewhat of a mentoring movement here and I want to list the different types of mentoring that have arisen since that time.

Social - many outlets have arisen to minister effectively into their social needs.
Educational - daily ministrations through the Care Centers, Happy Feet daycare/pre-school plus tutoring for a couple hundred children.
Sporting - we have many outlets for their sporting interests.
Business - some have shown a certain business acumen and are being developed to become entrepeneurs.
Emotional - this has become so necessary among the care-givers where there is so much pain and neglect.
Financial - showing the value of money and how to honor God through what God blesses them with.
Spiritual - most importantly, the development in the Word of God, worship and service before the Lord while here on earth.
Musical - we now have the Elvis Blue Music Academy for all aspiring musicians plus a fabulous choir.

This results in children under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit, and it all begins with taking the time and making the sacrifices necessary for mentoring.

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The critical importance of godly associations can never be underestimated as Solomon suggests so many times in his treatise called Proverbs. Hear these distinct and challenging prods to the heart: “It’s a mistake to make evil plans, but you will have loyal friends if you want to do right.” (14:22)

You have often heard the phrase: “Birds of a feather flock together,” and this is a true witness both from an evil and righteousness vantage point. I can never thank God enough for the decision I made so many years ago to walk away from what I knew were people whose intentions were evil continuously. Barry Goldwater’s campaign for President back in the 60’s was hallmarked by the slogan: “In your heart, you know what’s right.” That obviously did not hit the nerve of the American people, because he was defeated in a landslide victory for the Democrats back then. Nevertheless, all of us know in our hearts who it is that we can relate to and who not because evil always pulls down, and righteousness always builds up. This has nothing to do with politics either as there are good or bad people in all walks of life.

Loyalty seems to be the trademark of true associations – people who stay true to one another through thick and thin and look out for the best in each other. I have people around me at all times who are committed to my well-being and are loyal enough to also speak into my life about all matters that relate to sin and righteousness. Scandal comes when that accountability factor goes out the door, but great purposes are accomplished for the Lord when we have strong and faithful people around us who understand the ways of God.

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Let us go a bit deeper into this subject of godly associations. When I speak of godly, reference is being specifically made to people whose primary objective is to live their lives under the constant gaze of Almighty God, and always maintain that the vertical relationship with Him is primary and preferred before the horizontal. This is why I spoke about people who understand the ways of God yesterday. I hang around the most human, mistake-prone, downright salt-of-the-earth kind of people who have discovered that their total dependency is upon the Lord and seek His mind and wisdom each and every day. I have not seen a hidden seed of pride in any of them and if it ever manifested, would be instantly tackled by the others in a loving and gracious kind of way. We say what we need to say to each other and get on with the heavenly vision that God has instilled in each of us.

Godly associations also go a step further when the classical text paraphrased about “iron sharpening iron is how friends sharpen the minds of each other.” Proverbs 27:17 Once again, Clarke’s Commentary gives incisive and penetrating insight into this script:” As hard iron, viz., steel, will bring a knife to a better edge when it is properly whetted against it: so one friend may be the means of exciting another to reflect, dive deeply into, and illustrate a subject, without which whetting or excitement, this had never taken place.” I really like the way that some people keep me sharp because they think before they speak and are not afraid to broach the hardest and most difficult issues that life can produce. While I live here in South Africa, a certain group keep me sharp, and likewise when I travel to the USA, there are certain individuals I keep in constant contact because I have utmost confidence in them. We also keep in touch across the miles and space separating us currently, but it always intensifies when we are closer to each other. We will take this further tomorrow.

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Here is a straightforward question. Does yesterday's reality become today's reality? I had a dream during the night which is also why I am writing this blog early today, but the phrase from out of that dream was: "We so often want to change the current reality into our own reality." So often we live so safely ensconced in our own defined little world that we forget life does not hinge around one door in and out. In these critical times, expansiveness of hearts is the only thing that is going to spare us from becoming jaded and distorted.

Too often, we are in possession of a controlling spirit and we enter life in a totally myopic manner causing people around us to either come into lock step with us or creating chaos in our environment which we in our small world cannot understand. Then we wonder why everything goes haywire from time to time. Don't get me wrong - I believe in loyalty, but not blind loyalty.

If iron sharpens iron, then those around us are designed to get us out of our picayune way of seeing life and bring us into an understanding of what God says when He passionately declared that He so LOVED the world. (John 3:16) We can never get Gods heart for the world unless we are prepared to come out of our limited world. Please accept that reality today beloved. We NEED the compassionate heart of God.

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While we are sharing about iron sharpening iron as it relates to words we speak to each other, I think we must also remember that even with friends, we can over-emphasize something to such a point that we become tangential. There comes a time when we have repeated something so many times that the other person just puts up a mental block, which can in turn jeopardize a good friendship. When our foster sons get a certain look on their faces, I receive an indelible signal that it is time to back off and give them some space.

Conversely, some people are so corrective by nature that they must seek a balance in providing supportive and stimulating encouragement when something right is happening. Too often, the natural tendency is for people to get negative, and as one person stated: “It takes a thousand positive words to undo one negative word.” By the sustainable project room at Life Community Services offices, I make it a point each day top stick my head in to utter some encouraging words to all the young ladies and ladies there about the fine work they are doing in a real way. This is not flattery, but my position is that the more affirmative we are, the easier it becomes to render ounces of correction rather than cleaning up after people whose self-image has been shattered by all they think they are not through volumes of correction. Please tell me if you think this is the correct position to adopt.

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I have always identified to the word balance because it seems that this life as we know it is becoming significantly unbalanced. Positions are taken from the left or right as reactions to each other, and the expression "balance of power" has more punch to it than we can ever imagine due to the shifting of allegiances of traditional friendships among the nations.

We need to be ever-so-careful about becoming radicalized in these amazing times we live in as truth frequently lies in the middle and not on the fringes or perimeters. Let me explain that a little better. If I take a position about any issue based on any form of hatred whatsoever, something inside constrains me to find the middle ground of love. If I rise up in frustration with children's behavior that is out-of-line, I must adopt a peaceful posture to expose their position and thereby make it possible for my child to see the alternative pattern of good conduct.

Let us do everything possible as peacemakers to find a way to compel people into a deeper understanding of God's eternal love for all of mankind that He sent His Son Jesus to die for.

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Solomon projected some amazingly powerful sentiments in short and stimulating statements throughout the book of Proverbs and here is one of them: “It is wise to be patient and show what you are like by forgiving others.” (19:11) What we are really like inside has a tendency to be demonstrated outside, and if we are really patient as the Scripture states, we do not lose our cool when the temperature of our circumstances has risen considerably.

 

This gives us opportunity to be seen for what we really are. When aggression is shown towards me, I must always remember what Paul stated in the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:11 – “When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do, but when we grew up, we quit our childish ways.” An immature reaction to aggression will instantaneously provoke sensitive issues into a boiling cauldron, and for all of us, it is time to show what we are really like in mature and forgiving manner when we are being provoked beyond measure. I have discovered that I have much growing up to do behaviour-wise, and that the more I sit at Jesus’ feet the better my reactions are when being provoked.

 

 

Have a gloriously mature day.

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Some time back, I had a discussion on my radio program about matters sexual, and you should have seen the reaction from people during and after that (I wonder why?). Sexual issues emote great feelings and generate huge discussions about the whole matter of what is right and wrong. What I propose to do is to take the Proverbs as a sending-off point and then utilize other Biblical references to back up what I am stating as anybody worth their salt in the ways of God needs to operate from this stand-point.

Most of what Solomon shared many times in the Proverbs has to do with negative ramifications and repercussions of what happens when people fornicate and adulterate. Interestingly, the world as we know it really does not seem to care whether they indulge in either and have accordingly made our planet just that much more unsafe to live in, as they are driven by animal type lust resulting in a sex-mad society. This in turn leads to rape statistics which in our country is pandemic with people (mainly girls and children) being abused in this manner every 17 minutes.

Solomon also had the advantage of hindsight when he spoke about sexual topics as he had seen among his own brothers and sisters what had been sexual deviance and could share from their experiences what needed to be avoided. Expansion from this will come in further insights during this week.

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Wisdom tells me that I need to be careful what I write on Facebook about a sensitive subject like sexual intimacy, so if it appears that what I am writing is a bit sterile, now you understand why. More unabridged information can be sent upon request but I can also conduct workshops on this matter as well.

Chris van Wyk made an interesting comment on the blog from yesterday and I thought it was quite potent and cogent: “Be sure to contrast the father's perspective in the beginning of the book (Proverbs) and the mother's at the end. He spends much time on warning and little time on advocating the real deal. She does the opposite.” Sexual relations are not the real issue in life, but development of character is. From that springboard come all the blessings that fruitful relationships provide.

If I were to tell you that I have seen no evil and heard no evil, you know as well as I that my pants are going to catch fire because of that flagrant attempt to deceive, but the Bible is quite explicit when it states that we as believers must “flee from evil”. That comes back to character. A prominent friend of mine was invited to a party of someone quite famous and when they opened the door to let him in, he saw that everyone was naked, whereby he made a rapid retreat out of the doorway and the building. That took character, and this is something we need more of in these evil times we live in.

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When I attended Bible School back in the 1960’s, we were given the allegory understanding of the book called Song of Solomon – that it was actually written to give an intimate understanding of the relationship between Christ and His church. When it came time to ask questions about some of the intimate details in that book, the topic was quickly changed. These days, we realize that it was actually written in poetic form to demonstrate the intimate relationship that unquestionably existed between Solomon and his one wife who he even described as his lover and vice versa. Back in those days, we were not talking even in college openly about sexual matters, but the Song of Solomon is certainly super-charged with candid and flagrant sexually charged language.

 

When people ask how an ideal sexual relationship should be inside the marriage bonds, they need look no further than the Song of Solomon. If a person inside the marriage bond feels uncomfortable with this book, then they need to go for counselling to get liberated in a proper manner. You see, sexual intimacy was never JUST meant for procreation which is what many traditionalists used to proudly proclaim because if that were true, then Song of Solomon would have never been written. Good sex was meant to be a celebration inside the marriage covenant of one man and one woman, but sadly enough, the celebration has ceased to exist, and tomorrow I am going to attempt to address this and try to correct this from God’s perspective.

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If a negative circumstance has overwhelmed us, then the introduction and implementation of a positive influence will turn that around. Many people have been bombarded and mesmerized by the so-called sexually-liberated world we live in and for all of that, there are still more bondages and warps sexually than ever, which clearly indicates that the re-introduction of what the Bible says about sexual matters is necessary particularly for a positive marriage revolution. Let us get it straight immediately that the Bible unequivocally declares: “The marriage bed is UNdefiled.” Hebrews 13:4 Sexual matters are clean within the covenant of marriage, and what we put into our marriages wholistically is what will bear fruit.

One other point I want to make in that regards is that we are people who have the power to make great or stupid choices. If we make a choice to be lazy in our total marriage application on a day by day basis, showing no consideration in any way for our marriage partner, then all aspects of a marriage become jaded and not just the marriage bed. True liberation is not about the perfect scheme or romantic interlude we can excite, but is rather about the totality of sacrificial commitment to each other with constant application. We said that the Song of Solomon was charged with sexual expressions, but beyond all that, you see a mutual esteem between this husband and wife. That must be worked at every day.

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It never ceases to intrigue me as to how many times Solomon speaks into the matter of sound judgment and common sense, and yet for all of that it seems to be the componentry that is so missing in critical times. I think an acute investigation into this element is definitely needed as logic seems to be so missing in vital decisions that of necessity must be made.

Wisdom and common sense are kin to each other, and Solomon also speaks about the relationship between this and good governance in Proverbs 8. In that same chapter, it also speaks into a comparison between truth and common sense and in the previous chapter, it relates to saving a man's skin from a flattering woman. This is only the beginning and we will delve intricately into this subject in future installments.

 

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Recently, a friend of mine asked me what the word tangential means, but I want to repeat it again because it relates to our current emphasis on sound judgment and sensibility or good sense. A friend of mine in DC introduced me to this word many years ago, and I will now proceed to the technical definition: Diverging from a previous course or line; erratic: "tangential thoughts". This goes to the heart of our topic because as you can see, sound judgment and good sense are complete opposites of this word.

Mankind has an oftentimes tragic capacity to become tangential, and the truth is we all have tendencies in that direction which is why we need to understand what accountability is all about. We do go off the "deep end" sometimes in our human existence which also explains why so many end up in moral, intellectual, spiritual and social degradation. It is also why we need to become familiar with the Biblical word restoration, because there is hope for everyone.

Here is a challenge. Go through the book of Proverbs and let me know how many times you find the words or synonyms of "sound judgment, sensibility or good sense." Enjoy!!

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We have stated in the past that the Word of God has to do with ALL of life as we know it, and if life as we know it is in chaos and turmoil, then surely God knows how to keep us in perfect peace in the midst of it. This reality goes on in the world and in our lives as we know it because for one reason, it has become very tangential going back to yesterday’s reference as evil becomes well-spoken of and good becomes evil. How else do explain that government people become very diplomatic when they talk about Islamic terrorists (not that all Islamic people are terrorists) who have murdered innocent people at the Boston marathon, but when some Christian athletes celebrate their victory in a Christian way on an athletic field, they are instantaneously disqualified for their stand?

This is also where our principle from the Proverbs comes in about sound judgment and sensibility which must become prevalent because as Christians, it will be easy to negatively react in anger, but a godly response will be in order where deliberately non-threatening legal action must proceed about freedom of religion without inflaming an already exacerbated circumstance. Sound judgment does not sit back and roll over as dead, but uses whatever skills are provided to tackle this inflammation of society in a Christ-like manner.

Please remember also my request from yesterday about the volume of times the words “sound judgment, sensibility and good sense” appear in Proverbs. I look forward to your insights.

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The very first message I ever preached in public was during my second year in Bible School in front of my peers and lecturer, and it was called GOD HAS NOT GIVEN. Of course, it was based upon the reference in 2 Timothy 1:7 about the spirit of fear which should not prevail, but of power, love and self-control or as another translation states, a sound mind.

When I think of a sound mind, I think of an expensive hammer tempered through the fire into an instrument which is going to last a long time because of the extensive process it went through in order to get the price tag it received. In that regards, we must never complain about the process God puts us through in order to come forth as gold as Job stated in his book. The fiery trials God allows in our lives is not to teach us how to escape, but to prepare us for a world where we will need to keep our heads and hearts in touch with God on a day-by-day basis.

This in turn enables us to operate, as Proverbs states, in sensibility and good judgment in these days when it is not very popular to be in explicit and implicit obedience to Almighty God. Incidentally, I was given a B+ on that first message.

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I see the terms "good sense, sensibility, sensible and good judgment mentioned +-86 times in the book of Proverbs. I am allowing for the human factor to come in there, therefore the +-. I would challenge you to see for yourself how much it is emphasized, but suffice to say, this expression along with the word obey or obedience are the preponderant terms used in that part of Holy Scripture, which should get an unambiguous message across that we need to become familiar with what they are referring to and lodge them in our hearts.

You should also check out how many times obedience is used in the same context as good sense. It might surprise you how connected they are, and it should also focus our attention on the fact that in a topsy-turvy world where so much does not make sense, obedience to God DOES make sense. Let us all become increasingly rational beloved by following after the Lord Jesus with a whole heart.

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Something inside us should be stirred mightily after reading the devotional from yesterday when you consider that all these references are intrinsically written in a book which has the main theme of wisdom. I believe it should therefore, be obvious that what contributes to this over-all topic is the matter of sound judgment and obedience. Sound judgment arises from being trained in making good decisions and this requires developing a deeper understanding from early in life that no person is an island unto themselves. Proverbs states that safety comes from a multitude of counsellors. I can hear some of you saying now that I must not take that too far, and my reply is that I will agree with you. However, everybody needs counsel of some kind and in these days sound judgment is not going to come from being a lone ranger.

Obedience is also a matter of being trained in that direction. A child recently stated to me among some very radical statements that she did not have to listen to me, and I began to understand a bit more implicitly how people think these days. That kind of attitude does not provoke wisdom but war, and we all need to say in our households as it was with Joshua, the successor to Moses: “As for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 The will that God has equipped me with is not my enemy but friend, and we must impress that on everyone we come in contact with through our exemplary behaviour.

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This phrase struck me while driving yesterday: THE ABUNDANCE OF WISDOM REQUIRES THE PREPONDERANCE OF PATIENCE. This also gets to the epicentre of why there is so little common sense these days. Let me illustrate by using an example we all face up to everyday when we drive in the different cities we live in (not so much of a problem in smaller areas). If you are prone to road rage, the facts are there for everyone to see, that a certain quality called patience is missing, and if you give expression to your rage, it is guaranteed that another Biblical premise from Proverbs will be violated: “Better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt.” Even worse, you might end up trying to put some “good sense” into other drivers by “nudging” them along their “slow poke” ways. I think you get my original point from this. Wisdom is missing when patience has evacuated the deepness of our existence.

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The indelible connection between different word sets in Scripture can never be treated lightly and must always be sought when studying the Word of God. When God states that people who preach the Word must speak as the oracles of God, a high and holy responsibility falls upon people who have assumed this holy charge and requires spending time researching what is going to be heard by the people receiving the Word. My one foster son told me recently that a guy in his school is telling everybody that the Bible states that dating is wrong. It all turned out to be a language and lack of research difficulty and with patience can be corrected.

We must also look carefully at how the words wisdom, self-control, correction, sound judgment, obedience, common sense, respect, and many other words in the Proverbs are related to each other and just to begin with, it bears to reason that wisdom coming from God requires respect for Him and what He says. If we stand in awe and the related word worship, we will also get a better understanding of wisdom, and a proper understanding of the word fear (awe and respect on the most part) in the Bible will also lend itself mightily to how wisdom comes into our lives. "Respect and obey the Lord! This is the beginning of knowledge. Only a fool rejects wisdom and good advice." Proverbs 1:7

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In sticking with the Proverbs theme on Mother's Day, what could be more appropriate than the final chapter of this great book inspired by Almighty God where it addresses what is popularly known as the virtuous lady. Here are some definitions from the secular world firstly: "Having or showing high moral standards...righteous - honest." The Hebrew word "chayil" means wealth, virtue, valor, strength, and as you go through that whole chapter you see all those characteristics in great display. The Bible character Ruth was described as "chayil", and I just want to take this time to also give recognition to all those ladies we honor today who match this description. Your importance is greater than the First Lady of a nation.

I also want to honor my beautiful, intelligent, warm-hearted and excellent wife of almost 28 years which will we will celebrate this week as well. Maryna matches all aspects of of what virtue is and I honor her accordingly. I also wish to thank God for my mother who was a pillar in the DeVries household, and for my mother-in-law who has been a prime-time example of perseverance.

 

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There is a control mechanism centred in our minds which is referred to by Solomon and let me quote what he says from the book of incredible wisdom, which on the most part, he wrote: ”Wisdom will control your mind, and you will be pleased with knowledge.” Proverbs 2:10 This is mainly about the brain and what saturates our minds. We all know that women and men think differently in a general sense, but for all of us, we must make a choice to gain wisdom which can then become the controlling factor in each of us.

 

You have heard the phrase: “Garbage in – garbage out”, and that should be true enough to stimulate us to pack in our minds all the wisdom we can get so that it can be spoken: “She/he are very wise people.” In other words, they have been exercising their minds to receive the wisdom that comes from above, which is totally described by Wesley’s notes on James 3:17: first pure - From all that is earthly, natural, devilish. Then peaceable - True peace attending purity, it is quiet, inoffensive. Gentle - Soft, mild, yielding, not rigid. Easy to be entreated - To be persuaded, or convinced; not stubborn, sour, or morose. Full of good fruits - Both in the heart and in the life, two of which are immediately specified. Without partiality - Loving all, without respect of persons; embracing all good things, rejecting all evil. And without dissimulation - Frank, open. My prayer is that God will get us into this condition as quickly as possible as we take our stand for our blessed Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

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Anarchy and control are total antonyms of each other as each speaks of influences that affect society, government, family and business. If we do not build structures into our lives in whatever mode, we then become lawless and I note with great interest that the Bible is quite specific about a characteristic of the last days being lawlessness. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 A bit further in Pauls letter to Timothy, he outlines what the abomination of people and nations out of control looks like (2 Timothy 3:1-6) and you can readily understand why certain controls need to be built into our lives.

 

I am all for a democratic society where human rights are protected, but when you see what all these rights are these days, something inside says that certain boundaries have been transcended and legislation needs to be introduced that can cause this to be addressed, but the reality is that not even legislation can change the evil intents of the heart continuously except a total conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. I also observe children who have no structures whatsoever because of dead-beat or non-existent parents who need the love of God to penetrate their precious hearts, which is why we started Life Community Services in our region. To see these little ones grow up with a vibrant and positive faith is something that only time will be able to assess.

 

To finish, Solomon stated it quite perfectly: “The law of the Lord is a lamp, and its teachings shine brightly. Correction and self-control will lead you through life.” Proverbs 6:23

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The relationship between correction and self-control can never be underestimated as true wisdom is to be found where this tandem is activated. Hear what Solomon states again: “Correct your children, and they will be wise; children out of control disgrace their mothers.” Proverbs 29:15 Having clear instructions like, we must also be very quick to encourage discretion, because some people are so didactic, that they over do the use of correction and do not blend their making things right with tenderness and affirmation. Children need both otherwise the controlling instinct has a tendency to repress a child’s personality.

One of the marks of a false prophet is that they refuse to be corrected but when people have been exercised in proper correction and have responded favorably, that false spirit has full potential to be annihilated. I have known great people of God who are so unteachable that pride has taken over, and their end is not pretty at all. We must stay humble before the Lord and man. I must always subject myself to people who keep me in my place while encouraging me to occupy the place reserved for my giftings. It was stated by a humble man of God who visited our home church, the Faith Homes in Zion, Illinois: “No flesh can ever glory in this place.” It was a marvelous atmosphere to be raised in because of all the humble people of God demonstrating the Lordship of Jesus in their lives. “Keep us Lord, in that understanding; in Jesus’ name.”

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The subject of control is quite vast, but self-control is another specialized topic as it goes to the core of individual responsibility. As much as we can set up structures that keep circumstances and people in proper parameters (“the fullest extent of the law” comes to mind), there still remains certain lengths that individuals must rise to in order to reach the heights for which they are capable. Doug Drabek pitched some years back for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was extremely effective all those years for this team, and it was noted that he had certain disciplines built into his life which caused that success to become a reality. We must remember that slothfulness (lack of being alert) will only make us understand what the express ion “miry clay” is about. Another term “stuck in the mud” comes to mind also.

I can never protest the Biblical “fruit of the Spirit called self-control” because I know it is more positive than negative. Of necessity, certain training structures need to be installed in my life whether it is spiritual, physical, financial, social, intellectual, moral, etc. as these all bring about a certain excellence that are important in a time when so much is happening to erode that base. As Solomon stated quite quickly after he opened up the book of Proverbs: “they will teach you wisdom and self-control…You will learn what is right, honest and fair.” Proverbs 1:2,3

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Around our house, as the DeVries family grew up, if we tried our mother to the “enth” degree we were quickly brought into sharp attention about our distorted actions by the following words from her: “If you don’t stop now, I will have to speak about your behaviour to your father when he comes home.” All of us in our household knew that the Dad we loved so much also commanded our respect because he did not tolerate our reckless behaviour. He knew that undisciplined children become liabilities and not assets, and we wonder sometimes why our prisons are so full of cantankerous individuals. Dad had many wonderful methods to bring our behaviour under control, and not just one, if you know what I mean?

We have always stated that children need parameters to operate within, and I thank God every day for those boundaries imposed by a caring mother and father and in this generation by my wife and me. Our children always know where they stand with us, and the wisdom handed down from one generation to the next has assisted in raising up children who glorify the Lord. The timeless injunction from Solomon is so true: “Correct your child before it is too late; if you don’t punish them, you are destroying them.” Proverbs 19:18 More on this tomorrow.

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I want to come back today to the theme of sound judgment and multiple sensibility because it is such a recurring anthem in the book of Proverbs that you get the feeling God was trying to get something drilled into our sometimes very thick skulls. I had a lecturer in college who spoke loudly about the vast amount of people who never learned the value of logic as they grew up and of course, we knew he was referring to us on the most part as well. Something inside all of us must be stirred about day-to-day living that enables us to show how practical and reasonable God is. Yes, we need divine revelation, but we also need to know how to put a plug in a wall, so-to-speak. Some people are so mystical, and even weird that they do not know how to relate to washing and drying the dishes when they stack up in the kitchen.

Seeing that we are so closely removed from Mother’s Day, let me use the virtuous lady as an example of what I am talking about, when it describes her in this manner: “Her words are sensible, and her advice is well-though out; She takes good care of her family and is never lazy.” Proverbs 31: 26,27 Notice the hallmark of this passage is that she is sensible, thoughtful, caring and is not lazy. Give us men and women demonstrating these characteristics in this generation and let it begin early in life.

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Around 80 times in the book of Proverbs alone, we find reference to either sound judgment and sensibility or good sense and they are usually found together in the same context. God is putting stress on understanding this these days just as he did a few thousand years ago. They say that wisdom is ageless and this is particularly true when it comes to this topic. Everything within me takes total agreement with the conviction that we must keep our minds and judgments in proper readiness as all of life’s experiences we are enduring requires soundness and not knee-jerk, reactionary steam-blowing. An old phrase that comes to mind is quite apt at this stage: “Engage your brain before you put your mouth in gear.”

Let me finish off with a passage from the 24th chapter of Proverbs, verses 23-29, which should speak for itself without my comment: “These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judging is not good: Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent, will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.” An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Do not testify against your neighbour without cause—would you use your lips to mislead? Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.”

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There are certain factors that play into the development of good or common sense according to Solomon’s teachings and firstly IT MUST BE LEARNED. This means that it does not come automatically, but requires instruction and systematic teaching. Chapter 4 and verses 1 and 5 state:” …listen closely to my teachings and LEARN common sense..be wise and LEARN good sense; remember my teachings and do what I say.” In that same reference, it proclaims that this must begin when they are children.

We must also understand that “good sense is more important than ANYTHING else.” Proverbs 4:7 This must become top priority. I cannot declare how scary it is to drive on South Africa roads, as children and adults are killed every day due to pedestrian accidents when without looking they will even cross National highways. Nobody seems to train these people in how to cross a road. I am actually taking this issue up with our traffic chief in the near future. This is just to illustrate the importance of good sense.

In that same chapter again, it expresses the high value given to being a good sense role model (v.11). I look to people, even at my age of 65, who “have their heads screwed on the right way.” Rehoboam, the son of Solomon listened to the wrong people and split a nation. 2 Chronicles 10:10,11 When you see nations, companies, churches and organizations fragmenting in a hopeless way, at the core of this is obviously a lack of good sense and wise counsel. I sat with a group yesterday and my extremely tired body was totally invigorated by gathering around a table with such wise people. “So teach us Lord, to understand more and more what is wise and godly.”

 

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Lord Bacon, a noted English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator and author, stated that “knowledge is power, “and becomes spectacularly significant when we consider Solomon’s introduction to Proverbs 8:14: “I am strong.” This is then followed by “I offer sensible advice and sound judgment.” We must ask the question as to what gives significance to this life and what makes us strong making sensibility out of life? Obviously, we are going deep here, but all of us must make that enquiry everyday as we get into our various activity levels, and it begins with what we do first each day.

Disciplines are created for a purpose, but if what Lord Bacon declares is true, my interpretation should be to start with the knowledge of God. All other knowledge must become an underling to that superior understanding. I receive the mind of Christ as the Apostle Paul stated so eloquently in 1 Corinthians 2:16 but this comes about by becoming sensitive and obedient to God’s holy Word.

 

We then take on a further way to be strong because as I sit in God’s presence and absorb His word for today, something gets turned loose inside me which stirs my creative juices resulting in ideas that proceed from the throne of God. These make great sense and when I see some of the ideas and sustainable projects coming forth from the younger generation we work with, it all speaks of common sense and sound judgment. God is so interested in setting free the genius ideas and powerful work concepts which incidentally will not come by waiting for government to do everything for us. Knowledge is indeed power.

 

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Pressing on into this whole theme of sensibility, we must also acknowledge that the knowledge of God does not always make sense to us as human beings. His ways are indeed above our ways. God places filtering mechanisms within each of us which then causes us to understand that there are some things in life which will never come clear because we are not in a state of perfection. The beauty of this is that we DO NOT HAVE TO UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. Somebody once declared this profound utterance: “In the absence of answers, we need godly attitudes.” That is why we go to the Scriptures not just spontaneously, or sporadically, but successively.

The truth of what we are saying above appears once again in Proverbs 8:12 where this awesome statement jumps out at us in simple yet direct clarity: “I am Wisdom – Common Sense is my closest friend; I possess knowledge and sound judgment.” If “Common Sense” is his closest friend, then much time is spent together with that companion. Many of our problems in life are because we also do not spend enough time with our closest friend as well, Jesus Himself, because if we did dwell in His presence, we would be able to endure much more than we do. He could take up His cross for the joy that was set before Him. Some of the greatest common sense we can have is not to protest what we suffer, but absorb it so we can understand more perfectly what Jesus went through to take away our sins. Thanks be to God.

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Sensibility and stupidity are just complete opposites of each other and both receive a considerable amount of attention in the Proverbs. When we get down to reality stupidity actually can gain control of our lives if we do not apply our hearts and minds to sensibility and wisdom. Solomon once again very distinctly and bluntly declared: “Stupidity is reckless, senseless and foolish.” Proverbs 9:13 Further to that he reiterated something similar in this manner: “If you have good sense it will show when you speak. But if you are stupid, you will be beaten with a stick.” Proverbs 10:13

Being raised by godly parents has its own reward, but it also has its pitfalls because Scripture also clearly outlines that to whom much is given, much is required. As a family, we learned early in life what is the difference between right and wrong, ie. what is sensible or stupid and this became abundantly clear when as a 7 year old, while hiding in a trench I let fly a little stone which in turned collected the window of a car passing by causing a massive crack on the front windscreen. To add more to the misery, instead of owning up, I decided to do what was convenient instead of right, and ran away thinking it would disappear by the time I came home. When I got there, the head bridge keeper over the Mississippi River of the bridge near our home in Minnesota, was sitting in our lounge, and my Dad was sitting there also with a very sober look on his face. Needless to say, I knew why they looked at me in this way, and trust me when I say that I learned a very valuable lesson that day about sensibility and stupidity.

 

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Here is another twist on our theme about sensibility and sound judgment and it comes in the form of an original quote: “Discouragement is what happens when common sense has evacuated the premises of our lives.” Think about it – when we get discouraged, are we entertaining God or other world thoughts? If we are in possession of sound judgment (Proverbs 8:12),we have gone from experimental to experience, which then enables us to face up to our negative emotions about ourselves and even others which are all part of the human existence we are part of. The fact is possession comes about by being persistent in the practical realities of the pressures we face while living on this planet. If the Word of God is profitable for correction, it is also able to bring a fit word in season for whatever torrid emotions we might be facing.

We also need to understand that common sense also corrects the error of our ways. “Anyone with common sense loves correction” (my paraphrase) – so says Solomon again. Proverbs 9:8 The cold, hard facts about this life is that none of us are above correction and need course alternatives to be presented to us from time-to-time in order to keep us on track. I never despise someone I trust who coming to me in love states that I need to make adjustments. Sometimes the negative emotions I am enduring are because I have subjected myself to some influences that were just plain bad for me, and when light is disseminated through godly correction, I enter into liberation second-to-none. Blessings beloved.

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I think sometimes that people speak certain words in order to get attention or just to be either deliberately controversial or spectacular. Methinks this is a wrong motivation. God is never against being profoundly oratorical because that is a gift some people have – they can express something in ways that makes great sense and grab people’s attention in the process. My pastor, Bishop Garlington is one of those people and another one is Max Lucado.

What I am expressing here is crafting words appealing to people’s emotions rather than their higher ability to think things through. Case in Biblical point is found among the Berean believers in the book of Acts 17:11 – “…Day after day they studied the Scriptures to see if these things were true.” Too often, public speakers of whatever kind make their pitch to people’s non-intellectual disposition instead of making their hearers search and research what is being stated like the Bereans did. Solomon also encouraged us in this manner: “If you have good sense, you will learn all you can, but foolish talk will soon destroy you.” Proverbs 10:14

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I am going to come back at another stage and give a more thorough analysis of sensibility and good judgment, but today I want to begin a three part series called I AM NOT IMPRESSED. I want to encourage your comments and even corrections if you think I am off-the-wall as I live in a human frame and as the Word states: “I know in part.” 1 Corinthians 13 Let’s go!

It takes a lot to impress me about anything in life because my training in the school of life was not necessarily intellectual, but it was and is thorough. I do not accept premises, statements, teachings and even miracles without asking a few questions first. Don’t get me wrong – I do not have a problem with miracles, because I have experienced a few myself including the transformation from death unto life due to the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit. Neither do I have a problem with genuine healings as I have also been a direct recipient of the powerful hand of God in that regards and I have seen it as well in my family, church and friends.

What does not impress me is how gullible believers can be about the whole aspect of miracles and healings. Because I come from a so-called Pentecostal background does not mean that my main emphasis of Christianity has to do with glossolalia, and the supernatural manifestations revealed in the Holy Scripture. What it does mean is that the personhood of Jesus and His amazing love for mankind and how better I can become a servant under the Lordship of Jesus becomes paramount.

 

Scripture reveals that we need to study to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15), but all too often children of God have no discipline of study in their Christian life at all, and thereby make themselves vulnerable and gullible for anything that comes along which appears to be exciting. Frankly, I am not impressed because we live in a time when so much is available for us and there are far too many people who fall into deceit because they have no development through dynamic study into what truth is about.

 

Let me explain this further. The Berean believers were far more advanced in the ways of God in Acts 17:10-14 because they were able to discern through proper study methods what was true and false. Study starts with the basic and then becomes deeper as we grow in the knowledge and ways of God. More development on this tomorrow.

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Let us now go to installment 2 which we are calling I AM NOT IMPRESSED.

We must also be very careful about people who claim to have healing ministries and through sad insights gained in my early years of life; I have always been a bit sceptical, because miracles were many times so contrived that it completely out-weighed the genuine. Let me balance that out by stating that I was also raised on the most part in a church which saw amazing healings but was never done on anything else than a quiet basis. The flash-in-the-pan type of method has always disturbed my spirit greatly as it just seems to accentuate a personality-driven exercise rather than a totally glorify Jesus type of scenario. People would fly from all over and in fact still do to be prayed for by a “healer”. This also does not impress me beloved.

Anytime we see healing demonstrated or taught in the New Covenant, it was most times in a team atmosphere. Throughout the book of Acts, you see men of God operating in tandem with each other in ministry, and the book of James specifically instructs that if there is sickness among us, not to call on a faith healer, but the elders of a local church. James 5:14,15 The only time in New Covenant theology where healing ministry was demonstrated by a single person was Jesus Himself, and as believers our job is to draw focus to the fact that He is the healer even now through the Holy Spirit’s transactional power here on earth, but the more efficient and practical equation for healing to make that possible is to operate in a team, so no man can get glorified.

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Finishing up today with installment 3, and I want to thank all of you for your valuable insights and trust for more today.

Our pastor’s wife, Pastor Barbara Garlington has a healing ministry as God has given her an incredible love for the deliverance of people who have been afflicted in their bodies in one form or another, but she also operates in a team environment as well. My concern is about the way ignorant people have a tendency to run after healers, but have no mission in life where God has planted them. They believe that God’s power has everything to do with healing bodies, but try and get them to identify to the poor and afflicted in the midst of us and they are nowhere to be found.

I saw the ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman live while she lived, and I know this might sound controversial, but I believe that her effectiveness was due to her operating in what we call the knowledge gifts and not so much the power gifts. Her ability to discern and operate the gifts of knowledge and wisdom was mind-boggling to me and there again, she always had a team around her keeping her grounded at all times.

We must also see that 1 Corinthians 12 when it references giftings narrows down the whole matter of healing to the plural expression “gifts of healings” and not just the gift of healing. Healing operates best in a team atmosphere. That really impresses me because there is no temptation to isolate one person’s gifting and thereby fall into pride and oftentimes devastating sins.

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Common sense has everything to do with values of life which we must all hold precious to us. Solomon for some reason had to have many women around him and for plenty of scholars it provides ammunition for speculation that this turned a wise man into a wasted man. That could all be correct, but listen to the wisdom he speaks into this scenario: ”Let wisdom be your sister and MAKE common sense your closest friend. They will protect you from the flattering words of someone else’s wife.” Proverbs 7:4,5

There are many reasons why Solomon would speak in this manner, but the prevailing attitude in all of us should be that when another person’s wife starts being flirtatious, we need to put the Jezebel and Delilah spirit in its place by running as far away from trouble as we can. Solomon, in my opinion stayed too close to fire too long and as I see it got burned in the process. This is also what happened with Samson and his relationship with Delilah. When good ole common sense evacuates the premises, Armageddon in a person’s personal life becomes a distinct possibility. Quoting from Solomon again: “Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (ISV) To amplify this message to its proper length, go to the next chapter of Proverbs and then you will have much better understanding why he spoke in this manner.

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I want to outline some motivations for sensibility and sound judgment today, all from chapter 10 of Proverbs and it would be a wonderful exercise if after reading, you will commit yourselves to praying these into the core of your spirit.

Firstly, sensible children make parents happy (v.1), but we need to ensure beloved that as parents we are providing a balanced and Biblical perspective as we train them in the ways of God. I hate to say this, but non-sensible children usually embark on the pathway of destruction because of the role models they see in front of them. That is not to say that this is always a parental problem because we know that peer pressure comes in there also, but as parents we need to ask God for a heart of understanding pertaining to our children and for the wisdom that comes from above as Paul outlined to the Colossian believers.

Then, Solomon describes the motivation of doing more listening than talking which leads to annihilation and actually states that good sense gives us the ability to be obedient (v.8). When I think of obedience I always go back to how Jesus obeyed all the way to the Cross. That spurs me into action every time.

The fruit of good sense is demonstrated by how we speak and stupidity is also outlined because it can get us really banged up (v.13). How often have we listened to people talking and without coming out and embarrassing ourselves, we walked out of given places of concourse in order to spare ourselves from more stupidity being proclaimed and listened to. Does anybody know what I am talking about?

I am a researcher by nature, and I always receive great comfort from the fourth motivation which is found in v.14, where it proclaims: “If you have good sense, you will learn all you can.” I want to be an old man with a young brain and that requires certain study disciplines which also leads me to think that maybe at my age, I can actually go on and work for a Master’s degree.

 

Finally, we go right back to our tongue once again (v.19) because if a person can control their tongue they can control their whole body. Many parts of Proverbs speak about the power of the tongue, and I remember the quote spoken to me so many years ago by my dear mother which I believe is totally appropriate at this point: “The tongue being in a wet place is very likely to slip.” Have a totally motivated, sensible day beloved.

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Sometimes, we get so caught up in defining Biblical sensibility that we forget what is totally logical and illogical. In other words, from what we know about God's holy Word, what are some things that do not make any sense at all?

Let me firstly submit the problem of racism. Essentially, at the heart of racism is a principle called fear resulting in people who should be finding each other becoming isolated from one another. Fear is the antithesis of love and love is from God who calls us all to love one another. Beloved, racism makes no sense but we have brought so much judgment upon ourselves and societies we live in when we refuse to obey God in this matter. I could say much more and probably will later, but chew on that for a while.

Another illogical principle is living beyond our means financially. Many people feel it is their right to receive or just give in to their lust for things, and the result is financial chaos in families, businesses and governments around the world. Greediness is sinfulness, and all of us must put a bit on our appetites for more of everything particularly when we cannot afford it. To those who have more-than-enough to live on, generosity will quickly take the spirit of greed right out of you which as you know is a totally Biblical value to abide in.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Another dimension of insensibility is called a spirit of unforgiveness. So many people have a total crisis when it comes to this topic, but does it not make sense that the moods around our homes, businesses and governmental settings will be far more enriched by the prevalence of forgiveness? The problem that many people have with this is that they are in possession of a victim mentality which then absolves them from all responsibility for wrongs committed. It always becomes the other person’s dilemma and not theirs. It also takes away the basic God-given facility called freedom of choice which is what makes the difference between life and death.

Where in God’s name would this beloved country we call South Africa be if it was not for the choice that our former President, Mr. Nelson Mandela made to forgive his captors? In doing that, he went beyond being a normal politician and became the true epitome of what an elder statesman is about. There is no doubt in my mind that he secured a future for this land because he made a firm decision to rise above the maelstrom of existing and past conflict to claim a hope of habitation for all South Africa.

We too secure a future for all generations when we rise above the swirling tide of small-mindedness and experience the mind of Christ who profoundly stated: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Most people I know outside the possession of Jesus’ love struggle with Christianity because of so much bitterness of heart and it needs to be repented of through forgiveness. God forgives us without any strings attached and we also need to forgive others.

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I do not want to labor over another negative word, but one translation of the Bible uses the word stupidity any number of times in the book of Proverbs. This is usually used in the context of another positive word set called common sense which speaks of the fact that common sense demands that stupidity cannot occupy the same space as each other.

I am going to make a radical statement at this stage which I have repeated many times while living in this land called South Africa, but here it is:”The dumbest pedestrians and drivers on the African continent must be accumulated here in this land.” Talk to me people. Do you understand what I mean when I make a blatant declaration like this? Every day, the slaughter continues on our roads with people who insist on crossing busy roads without even looking. We have notified our local traffic department about this and they are now taking action, but we actually saw a sign on one of our national highways encouraging “drivers” to be careful about crossing pedestrians. This is obviously ludicrous.

We also draw reference to our taxi drivers here who drive like they are hell-bound at jet speed, but the flagrant ways that drivers across the board drive aggressively in this land indicates that drivers education companies do not teach the over-riding principle of “defensive driving” which basically means that every driver should be thinking about everyone else on the road and take consideration accordingly. This obviously deals with sound judgment and good sense from a most practical vantage point.

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The absence of common sense is reflected in all of society as we know it in myriads of ways, but entertain this thought: "If you walk into sub-freezing temperatures with a short sleeve shirt on, do you think you are going to stay healthy?" I will not answer that because it is obvious, but so often we approach life in such a dangerous way and expect to not be affected and sometimes even blame God for our reckless behaviour.

 

If you touch fire, you will be burned and it will affect everything you feel from that time onward. I have known religions that claim Scripture for showing supernatural protection from snakes biting until one actually penetrates and the supernatural claims fall away very quickly. The point is - there is something very sane and spiritual about using common sense and this requires being exercised in that dimension. So often people do ignorant things because they have never been instructed otherwise, and it is no using the well-worn argument that some people never change. That is ignorant and smacks of bigotry as well.

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Time and again, God uses Solomon to use words like learn, be instructed, gain wisdom and discretion throughout the book of Solomon and it will be very helpful for all of us to read this book through several times until it gets ingrained in the core of our existence.The absence of common sense is reflected in all of society as we know it in myriads of ways, but entertain this thought: "If you walk into sub-freezing temperatures with a short sleeve shirt on, do you think you are going to stay healthy?" I will not answer that because it is obvious, but so often we approach life in such a dangerous way and expect to not be affected and sometimes even blame God for our reckless behaviour.

 

If you touch fire, you will be burned and it will affect everything you feel from that time onward. I have known religions that claim Scripture for showing supernatural protection from snakes biting until one actually penetrates and the supernatural claims fall away very quickly. The point is - there is something very sane and spiritual about using common sense and this requires being exercised in that dimension. So often people do ignorant things because they have never been instructed otherwise, and it is no using the well-worn argument that some people never change. That is ignorant and smacks of bigotry as well.

 

Time and again, God uses Solomon to use words like learn, be instructed, gain wisdom and discretion throughout the book of Solomon and it will be very helpful for all of us to read this book through several times until it gets ingrained in the core of our existence.

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Another area needing radical common sense attention is in the arena of sleep deprivation. We are abusing ourselves mightily by not getting a proper amount of rest, and if you say that it is difficult to sleep, then change your discipline. I know that sounds extremely judgmental, but something we all must remember is that we cannot be special to others if we do not take care of ourselves.

 

I have never found it easy to get to bed early but I have also had a discipline in my life for decades, which is the practice of power napping during the day. My mind can easily shut down during that time and wake up a few minutes later refreshed. When your brain is active, you can easily get tired but these little methods can keep you alert and ready for whatever challenges come your way.

 

Alternatively, some people as Solomon states have an opposite problem with too much sleep. Proverbs 6 I find that usually happens when something is weighing heavily on my mind, and then I go to a friend and let him help me sift through what is coming down like a blanket on me. Further desire to sleep too much is linked to laziness, and you then need to grab yourself by the bootstraps and find something positive that can make you utilize your time more expeditiously. If that fails get some advice from someone you trust.

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We have been working now for over 12 years with the downtrodden children of our community in what is called Life Community Services, and all of the children have been systematically and compassionately served in order to raise up a new generation who love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts. The reality is that many of these children also go through high harassment in the community as well because they are perceived as charity cases and endure great humiliation because of their identity to LIFE. What these same people do not realize is that they are not just going to get some food for their bellies, but manna from heaven for their souls.

 

This makes not just good sense, but GREAT sense, and the 25 + interventions across the board are indeed causing a new hope in the community for children who are only asking for an opportunity to make something positive out of the ridiculously hard circumstances they are forced to bear every day of their lives. The new educational facility for pre-school to Grade 1 going up in Parkdene in our city is ample proof that there is something happening across the board to bring light, life and hope going forward. This will be opening around the first week in July, and we believe the sky is the limit. Some of you reading this might see the “common sense” of partnering with us in this great venture and feel free to respond in kind to this appeal via return response here on Facebook or even on my web site @: www.edenleadership.org. Have a marvellous day beloved.

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Back in the 1970's, I was attending a minister's meeting the Johannesburg area and sat next to a pastor friend who had and has been instrumental in my life for many years. Different leaders were given opportunity to speak as one of them began to share, I and a number of other including my pastor friend next to me became aware that this particular speaker was out of bounds and was in fact speaking total nonsense. Being as polite as we could possibly be we endured his barrage for a while but I could feel my friends tension next to me was reaching a peak without him saying a word.

This lasted for about five minutes and then the lid blew off the pot when my friend stood up and said: "Sit down brother. You're speaking nonsense and you know it and we have better things to do than listen to your dribble anymore." Knowing my brother leader the way people did back then, he sat down promptly and later issued an apology for his reckless talk. This reminded me of Paul taking on Peter in Galatians 2, but the point being made here is two-fold: 1) The necessity for good judgment and common sense is extremely necessary, and 2) Sometimes, reckless talk must be dealt with publicly. Paul was never afraid to publicly address anything that was out of whack when he wrote letters to the various churches in the new covenant. It is well to remember: "Good sense is a fountain that gives life, but fools are punished by their foolishness." Proverbs 16:22

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Let me make another addition to this theme about things that do not make sense and now I am going to do a little meddling into a topic called morality. Adultery and fornication (I do not think I need to define these two words as our world has heard it many times over) does not make sense and there are myriads of reason why God speaks about these matters all throughout Holy Scripture but frequently in the book of Proverbs also. I believe one of the outstanding reasons has to do with just plain selfishness as these attitudes not dealt with can easily become a fixation and therefore render a person faithless.

Then it can also become bondage because once in its grip, you will desperately need deliverance for it to stop growing and spreading from one to many people. Appetite for the flesh must be annihilated by hunger and thirst for God and His Word.

Another factor is that adultery and fornication take a huge word called trust and makes it extremely difficult to get back. My wife and I have faith and trust in each other that we are not going to be lying around all over the place and we must do everything in our power to ensure that bond on a daily basis.

We live in a wicked world, but when we describe our weaknesses as something we have no control over, we have deceived ourselves. We must do all to fortify and saturate our minds each day with what Paul describes as: “true, pure, right, holy, friendly, proper, worthwhile and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8) This makes ultimate sense.

There are many other reasons I could give, but for the sake of space, I will keep this as short as possible. Maybe you can write back some insights you have about this matter.

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We drew reference the other day about living beyond our means financially, but if you look in Scripture carefully, you will notice that a certain principle for financial security resides is the ageless and timeless mandate for tithing. The crux of this is that a tenth of what we receive belongs to the Lord; therefore it needs to become the firstfruits of anything received. All throughout the Bible, tithing is expressed in different forms, and ultimately makes total sense to keep that discipline active in our lives.

Solomon was the richest man on earth while he lived, and he also stated: “Honor the Lord by giving him your money and the first part of all your crops.” (Proverbs 3:9) There is something about generosity which multiplies and stinginess which stultifies. I wonder which one God is more identified to? People can rationalize all they want to and can run their big theological arguments about tithing not being a New Testament fixation, but I prefer to listen to what Jesus says when he addresses the problem with the Pharisees being tithers but omitting greater matters, and he concludes this fascinating passage with: “These are the important things you should have done, though you should not have left the others undone either.” (Matthew 23:23)

 

It all comes back to dealing with our own selfish instincts and it should lead us to the conclusion that we should obey God when it comes to the financial blessing entrusted to us. I believe that should be a minimum of 10%. Let us then expand in God’s way.

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Our pastor at Hope Church, Paul van Coller gave a very good word on Sunday about things that do not make sense, and he used an illustration about taking a car for a spin before it is bought by the same person. He used this in reference to normal procedure for buying a car, but when it comes to marriage, you do not take it for a sexual ride before you buy. Can I state that this is a perfectly correct attitude to adopt. It also makes Biblical sense. The physical aspect of relationships should be reserved exclusively to within the framework of marriage. We develop the spiritual and intellectual side before we so-to-speak, take the plunge. If we have failed along the way in this understanding, God who is rich in mercy, will also enable us to get on the correct pathway as we humble ourselves before Him and stay in accountability at all times.

 

These are wicked times we live in and it is so easy to slip up and get caught in a web of destruction, but when we get into the type of friendships that build and not destroy, we can then develop a structure enabling us to keep on the path that God has so bounteously supplied for us through brothers and sisters who are relentlessly honest and wise. I thank God every day for the people that God has raised up around me who exercise these qualities as they endeavour to provide Godly counsel and most of all example. Thus far and no further for today. Think on these things.

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How many of us want to be smart? That is a place, the Bible says for ordinary people. I am happy to say that I am of all people most ordinary as when it is used in Proverbs 1:4, it refers to people who are gullible and inclined towards evil. Do you see why we need to get smart. Our heart inclinations make us too wise about worldly matters and too gullible about godliness. I want to be smart when it comes to the wily ways the devil tries to get us off the mark and when it comes to evil and godliness and be more inclined towards not leaning on my own understanding but rather lean upon God and His amazingly appropriate word for us under all circumstances.

 

 

That same verse above indicates that young people can learn correct knowledge and good sense. I have learned over the years that the more the younger generation learn how to obey God through instruction in righteousness and even correction, the more sensible and capable they become, and they mature much earlier when exercised in this direction. Obviously, that also includes tender loving care as well so there is a balance, but a clarion call is gone out these days to rescue our younger generation and it must include everything spoken of in this paragraph. Imagine what can happen when trained in this kind of behaviour?

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There is a total manifestation of limited thinking when it comes to common sense these days when we see what mankind is capable of conceiving, and Solomon states that this quality requires thinking as we start this little instruction today in Proverbs 2:2. I have seen people literally walk in front of fast moving vehicles just to give a case in point, and they were not trying to take their own lives either. Something inside us should say: “ I am skin, flesh and bones and that is a huge amount of steel, and I am not going to win this battle.” For many, that is not how they think.

Oftentimes, we put ourselves in circumstances where we know it is dangerous, but in the deceitfulness of our minds we persuade ourselves that we will be impregnable. Someone who uses a condom might think that they are protected from HIV/AIDS, but later find out that there was something wrong with their thinking and then it is too late. I cannot believe how many people believe that they cannot get AIDS if they use a condom, and in this nation of South Africa these prophylactics are far too available for those who have no control over their drives.

I can never forget the story of Samson who thought he could flirt with the Philistines and get by with his flagrant abrogation of commitment, but ultimately it brought him to his death. That should be a challenge for all of us. Think on these things.

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There is something about common sense that demands a type of desperate attitude for the same in our lives. It does not come automatically by asking but requires adopting a begging-type posture in order to receive what you need so much of. Solomon again puts it this way: “Beg as loud as you can for good common sense….all common sense and understanding comes from the Lord.” Proverbs 2:3,6

I get into this mode from my extensive experience when I have made some very expensive mistakes in my life. In this, I am not just referring to money either, but have suffered whiplash from over-extending myself emotionally as well. How many people understand that you can go too far in this thing called serving mankind? The result is emotional drainage which then causes people around us who need us more to suffer big-time. We must recognize that we only have so many capabilities and if some things do not get done, then too bad.

 

I have also ended up with surgery when I pounded my body beyond where it should go with physical exercise, and these days I am a whole lot wiser when it comes to working out this frame I live in. When we reach the wise modality, another passage kicks in: “Sound judgment and good sense will watch over you.” Proverbs 2:10

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Someone came to our church in the 90’s and proclaimed something that has stuck with me ever since: “Biblical prosperity is having enough wealth to pay the bills and bless others.” Love that statement because God never does anything to make any of us exclusive in our own little world centred around the selfishness of our desires. Hear what the Proverbial writer again states: “God blesses everyone who has wisdom and common sense….In her right hand Wisdom holds a long life, and in her left hand are wealth and honor.” (chapter 3:13,16) We must always remember that wealth is never just for us and our own lifestyle, then we will see blessing.

 

A great baseball player during the 80’s and 90’s is one of the most humble people I have ever met, and in visiting his house, I was instantly struck by the common sense nature and simplicity of his life. I also knew that here was a man who could have had so much more but recognized his God-given responsibility to spread the wealth that God had given him through his magnificent baseball career. I think this should give us a better understanding of using sound judgment and common sense as we obey God from a truly generous heart.

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The benefits derived from sound judgment and common sense are myriad and just to name a few today include: 1 – a long AND beautiful life; 2 – safety and security; 3 – good sleep at night (and in my case, power naps during the day also); 4 – absolute awareness of God’s protection wherever we go. Proverbs 3:22-26

I also want to commend the memory of my father who was a mighty man of God on this special day because he was also a very common sense kind-of-guy who exercised great restraint, discipline, punishment when necessary, tenderness, prayerfulness and calmness even when everything was out of control. We need more men like that today and I pray that these same qualities and more will be manifested in this generation and the next as we pursue God’s best and highest.

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I stated a few days ago that common sense does not come automatically, but rather through a process of instruction and consecutive learning and as all of us know there are many different ways to become wise. Most come through the cauldron of everyday experiences, but something inside of us should readily flee to what we know is going to bring assistance into that set of dire circumstances.

 

I have discovered that the biggest prevention from gaining wisdom is the total lack of obedience on a regular induction basis. Something inside us should register when we are moving in an ungodly manner and bring us back to where we belong. I have learned in the natural to use the mirrors on my car because they give me a perspective I would otherwise miss. Likewise, we must daily use the Word of God to take our stand as we walk this pilgrim journey. It also gives us understanding which not only can prevent damage and disaster, but can also bring us back from the brink of destruction. Dear friend – if you have become a statistic that the world heralds showing the strength of the devil’s work, it is never too late to check the error of your ways and come back into God’s unmerited favour. I urge you to humble yourself today and to walk in humility after so that what Solomon speaks in Proverbs 4:5 can be experienced: “Be wise and learn good sense; remember my teachings and do what I say.”

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My mother once said about me that I always had to have two of everything and when I could rationalize that statement, I used to come back with a remark about qualifying for the double portion. Obviously, she was referring to my capacity for more and more food which made me quite a big baby (over 10 pounds when born) and by the time I was 17 months, weighed 38 pounds. This also meant that over the years, common sense demanded that I carefully watch my diet, and on the most part have managed to do that being a bit overweight as I write.

We must all be careful about the things we ingest that can destroy our minds, bodies and spirits. My brain requires a full diet of information that can build and not destroy as does my body which does not need a whole lot of sugar and things that can add to the destruction of my body. Likewise, our spirits must not get inflamed with attitudes that when taking root will cancel out the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit having His way in us. Bitterness is one such and has taken many men and women of God into becoming totally inept in Christian service. I have found that this is where the great battle is these days as we endeavour to follow the footsteps of Jesus. Pressing in to God’s highest and best as we finished off yesterday, has a necessity for releasing our smallness of mind and heart to God and being open to refreshing stimulation provided by daily discipline in God’s way and Word. Let us go out with the double portion of God’s Holy Spirit, like Elisha of old, into the battlefield where precious people are looking for more of Jesus in us.

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When we are told that good sense is better than anything else, we had better know what goes behind the declaration of that pronouncement. (Proverbs 4:7) At the top of our daily list should be the exercise of common sense. When I drive my car out of the driveway in the morning, I have a carefully laid out plan as to the route I am going to take which is going to be the most economical way to get to my destination. I always think about how many resources can get to where the greatest needs are represented in the community as the result of this discipline. The more miles I can save, the more impoverished children can take that savings for their development in the ways of God.

 

Another perspective on this follows with this understanding from the Easy English Bible commentary. “Wisdom is better than everything else. It is better than money. It is better than beauty. It is better than health. Wisdom is worth more than everything that you own. Remember that these words come from Israel’s royal family. They had great wealth. But wisdom is more important than wealth.” Whatever we prioritize is going to be the driving force of our lives, and as it pertains to wealth, all the way throughout the book of Proverbs, it is readily observed that Solomon had his priorities correct as pertains to social justice. He obviously saw the common sense of this and we will address that directly in another series. Please give deep and prayerful interest in these things.

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It is so easy these days, to get distracted from that which we need to get focused on. We major on minors and minor on majors, when God unambiguously says: “listen closely to my wisdom and good sense.” Proverbs 5:1,2 Our problem in the human race is that we do not spend enough time listening closely to anything or digging deeper to where the truth lies. In this same reference, it speaks into always knowing the right thing to say. We must learn that qualification to speak is dependent on our ability to listen more. Some people must always be seen to be the voice box of whatever type, but those who listen more, learn more.

There must be a holy restlessness in all of us causing us to not become complacent with our particular sphere of life. We must also call in all resources enabling us along the way to exercise sound judgment. Some people are really good at that and can assist us with all aspects of life resulting in wisdom of the highest order.

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Everybody needs guidance as we go through this life. Good and great advice is becoming increasingly hard to come by and the importance of living in the Word of God becomes paramount each passing day. We must take a deep and lasting dip in the pool of God’s wisdom on a constant basis as we recognize that the opposite walk is foolishness and that there is no in between type of existence. Hear these amazing instructions from the heart of God: “I have shown you the way that makes sense; I have guided you along the right way.” Proverbs 4:11

We can never get away from the whole value of being “shown” the right way as words sometimes do not get the job done right, but modelling something does. My Dad was a great role model for me growing up, but so many children do not have these role models like I was privileged to have and the necessity for mentors therefore becomes an extreme priority. Some of the people in our world here are totally out of control because they are only doing what instinct and being left to themselves has taught them. Who among us seeing this word today will accept the challenge to become mentors to an increasingly temperamental generation?

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I am laboring over this matter of good sense and sound judgment because I believe that you cannot separate spirituality from sensibility. Everything I read in Proverbs seems to accentuate the importance of wisdom and good sense which make a dynamic duo you will agree.

 

There are many types of areas, realms and arenas where sensibility comes into play, and let me just name a few to begin with. People talk about what makes political sense, but does not necessarily make spiritual sense because politics of any type is about consensus and compromise while we as Christians are about conscience and conviction.

 

We can also talk about financial sense as well, but while man's way is about developing a more comfortable existence, God's way is about sacrifice and looking out for the welfare of others. God is always about giving while most of mankind is about receiving and taking.

 

We will follow through with this tomorrow.

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Conscience and expediency have a very tight tension between each other because an enlightened conscience will always do what is excellent and not always what is expedient. There is also the thought that all things are permissible (referring to matters of what may offend others) but not all things are expedient as Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians 10. Obviously, this requires having a deep understanding of the context you have entered into. It also goes to the core of selfish behaviour and a good rule of thumb in this regards is to go to v. 33 in that same chapter where we are introduced to a strong principle which should be a great guide in all matters: “I always try to please others instead of myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved. (v. 1) You must follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

In this society I live in, I realize that some things I do can offend others and it is so important that I give deference to that. There was a certain part of the community here that took great umbrage to women wearing slacks to church many years ago, and the choir I was leading at that time had people who were pretty liberal about those kinds of matters, but gladly yielded to the reality that they could cause problems through their liberty. Coming to the present, that same grouping have changed considerably because people patiently dealt with those sensitivities back then and now they understand more thoroughly what permissible and expedient means.

The realm of politics is another area where this dimension of conscience and expediency plays a huge role, and I would strongly suggest that you read a book by the late Senator Mark Hatfield called CONFLICT AND CONSCIENCE to give you an in depth understanding of how this incredible man behaved in this arena.

All the above should give considerable understanding to what makes good sense and lead you into sound judgment.

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On my radio program next week, I will be hosting a man who has some of the most creative sense I have ever seen in my life. He is also a marathon runner, amazing teacher and if you could see some of his paintings, you would also be highly impressed at what he puts together in a short period of time. Additionally, he is also a sculptor and works astounding pottery designs with the greatest of ease. I would encourage you to listen if you are on-line anywhere in the world and it can be found @: www.edenfm.co.za from 8 to 9 pm Central African Time.

Other people have a most pronounced ball sense and the things they do with any kind of a ball blows the imagination. LeBron James with a basketball comes quickly to mind. I reckon that each person must see what they are really good at and pursue that in order to be fulfilled in their vocation. Many people never seem to come to grips with that in their lives, but through proper identification of their gifting and talents opportunity can then come into sharp focus. Solomon states: “A person’s gift makes room for them and brings them before the princes of the people.” (Proverbs 18:16) That really makes sense.

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I had experience once with a fairly substantial organization where the controlling factor was a man of total vision. You might say there is nothing wrong with that, but the key here is “controlling” and if things were not done his way, then it was time to hit the highway. I have found that people with strong visionary DNA frustrate the other people in an organization who also have strong talents to share in many situations, and sometimes need to listen to these other types in order to make “good sense”. Many off-the-cuff mistakes can be avoided accordingly.

 

This also applies to bringing in people on a board who should not be top heavy with visionaries if the leader is a visionary with hormones, but should seek to have men and women of complimentary gifts to balance things out. I would strongly suggest you get hold of a book called LEMON LEADERSHIP written by my friend Brett Johnson in this regards as it will help overhaul everything that needs assistance in your sphere of influence. Into this scenario I would write what God says: “I am Wisdom- Common Sense is my closest friend; I possess knowledge and sound judgment.” Proverbs 8:12

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The term “sound judgment” has specific reference to guarding our thoughts with good reflection, particularly as it applies to Proverbs 5:2. In these vexing times we live in as believers in Jesus Christ, with all the challenges being presented to us about the immorality of the world and with particular mention of the recent Supreme Court judgment in the USA about homosexual marriage, we must really keep our heads about us and not inflame an already boiling cauldron. I will always take my stand in favour of one man and one woman equals marriage in God’s sight, while at the same time keeping the door open in favour of the possibility for even people in the gay lifestyle to see the error of this way of life.

I have worked with many people struggling with this drive and it requires great sensitivity to be released from this quandary in their lives recognizing that at all times God is calling all of us to repent of whatever sin it is we are confronted with. I also believe that as God gave Sodom and Gomorrah opportunity to receive grace, that door in the here and now is still open today, recognizing also that Sodom was not just guilty of sodomy but also as the prophet Ezekiel stated: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. (16:49) That is something all of us can be challenged about and may God help us to keep a godly perspective and lifestyle in these the closing days of time as we know it.

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I read a book many years ago by John Stott called THE CHRISTIAN COUNTER CULTURE, and it was basically an exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount recorded mostly in Matthew and Luke’s gospel writings. What in essence this formidable theologian was expressing is that these writings were given to show what the manifesto for the kingdom of heaven was about, and in so doing was making a powerful case for the church to become an alternative society in the midst of secular society. For instance, when Jesus stated that we must do to others how we want to be treated; His glorious logic takes full issue with the sentiment of spitefulness among other matters as well. Matthew 7:12

 

What remains for us is to take heed according to God’s word and first of all abandon normal Christianity as we know it in favour of this alternative that God so amply expresses through the life of Jesus while living and dwelling among us. This takes issue then with any kind of behaviour that is contradictory or contrary to Biblical norms and we need to become comfortable with that fact. God’s Word should make us squirm when we realize how far we have fallen short of God’s glory, myself included, and it can only serve to comfort us when we realize that “God is not finished with us yet.” The finishing job comes when we are truly in our glorified bodies, but meanwhile, we are in the school of delightful discipline with Almighty God creating masterpieces out of broken vessels. Hallelujah!! How sensible is that?

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“Don’t try to change my culture”, were the words I heard when a man was totally agitated about his sexually diverse behaviour being challenged by a doctor no less. Beloved, I think our cultural norms many times need to be confronted, especially when we see how certain behavioural habits can destroy. The man above had many mistresses and was constantly in and out of a clinic at an industrial environment and did not like it one bit that someone was actually trying to save his life after many STI episodes. It would have been well for this man to remember what Solomon referred to when he spoke: “Stupidity is reckless, senseless and foolish.” Proverbs 9:13

 

Alternatively, there are many parts of cultures which we can defend as well, especially when we observe what has been contributed to society through the arts, engineering, technology, etc., but we need to ask ourselves as to what makes Biblical sense. I love the fact that much of my research in these blogs comes from being familiar with the power of the internet and do have to constantly go get one book after another. Don’t get me wrong – I love to read, but actually I prefer to write, and once again technology gives me that advantage instantaneously.

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We need to ask ourselves a question as to how far we want to go in protecting our cultural make-up, and as a Christian I must always compare that with what Paul said: “Old things have passed away, behold ALL things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17,18 To me, what God says makes the most sense. Paul also stated, going back to a couple of days ago that everything he was in the flesh he counted it as “horse manure”.

I look at the contribution the German people (this was my father’s background) have made in so many disciplines over so many decades and centuries, but I do not look back with pride on what happened in the last century with so many lives lost due to the implementation of a policy which could only speak of stinking pride called Naziism. Likewise, we need to take a close look at our cultural makeup very intricately, and from a Biblical perspective decide what we should take and what we should reject. It is as simple as this: “…everyone with good sense follows a straight path.” (Proverbs 15:21) There is a very real sense that God not only wants us to be converted from our sins, but also from certain aspects of our cultures as well. It will be well to think deeply on these things.

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There is always a tension between how much and how much less pressure you can apply in training a person to become what they need to be in Christ. First of all, they need to show a willingness to learn and then they need an aptitude for learning as well which goes to the core of starting the training early in life. The sooner we start, the more aptitude will increase. We cannot leave for tomorrow what needs to be done in the now. I am also reminded of statements made to me many years ago on consecutive days by two preachers when I expressed the necessity to get involved in a project among the children of our city. The first man said: “You are five years too soon.” The second one said: “You are ten years too late.” The first one lived in luxury and the second one was in dire straits financially. That was all the motivation I needed to get moving immediately.

 

I began to realize that God was imparting wisdom and common sense through these two men by their contrasting statements and we never looked back. When you are on a God-given mission it is always well to get as much advice as possible not for intimidation purposes, but to clarify the conviction in your heart that the pathway for pleasing God requires knowing what is dross and what is from the very heart of God. You can then proceed with confidence always keeping people around you who can assist in fulfilling the vision God has placed within you. I can also say that I am in that same process now even as I write this little epistle. In finishing, I am reminded of Solomon’s words again: “Wise people have enough sense to find their way, but stupid fools lose their way.” Proverbs 14:8

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How many reading this know that not much we look at actually IS what we think it is? You might think that you have read into something and received as much background as you can possibly receive, and then some new evidence shows up contradicting previous findings. Further, you might think you know what the truth is about some people and all their mess ups in life and then someone steps in and gives advanced understanding about them causing you if you have any humility at all, to change your opinion about that same individual. Is anybody out there catching the drift of where I am going with this?

 

 

The full potential for sound judgment in these days becomes so much more meaningful when we begin to adopt an attitude that seeks clarity of mind in who we deal with. You might be surprised at what you find when you refuse to see anybody from a façade rather than reality. A friend of mine once said: “We stayed with a certain individual as long as he was strong, but abandoned him when he became weak.” How many of us can make that same statement and the truth is if we are to walk in love in a Biblical sense, we must erase judgmentalism from our lives and start practicing good judgment. Solomon again states it in this way: “…use common sense and sound judgment! Always keep them in mind.” Proverbs 3:21

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Here is a loaded question. Is it possible to have self-sufficiency and high maintenance all in the same person? You might think they are anomalous, but when you take the term self-sufficiency and plant it into a leader, they are actually synonymous. This is because they expect everyone to come up to their standards which in turn makes them become high maintenance to everyone they are called to lead. Their expectation is high and they feel quite frustrated when people do not get the plot in their environment. Does anybody know what I am talking about and identify with this? This is all about making sense out of this one life we live because we are often so ill-informed about people that we have no concept of what it means to overcome anything in our little world. It takes all types of people to make a complete picture, and Jesus knew that most emphatically when He selected the men who were to be his disciples.

 

In light of the above, it would help us to get a better outlook on the people we have among us by educating ourselves thus equipping and enabling us to be more tolerant and understanding of the people who so desperately need our wisdom and compassion. This is why I recently encouraged you to get hold of a book called LEMON LEADERSHIP by Brett Johnson which gives total clarity to what I am talking about. Bless you mightily in this new day, and remember that wisdom always offers sensible advice – Proverbs 8:14.

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One of the prayers that I have prayed for decades is that God would put a bit on my tongue. This applies to all aspects of life so when I want to give in to my nature and become sarcastic, I remember to apply the bit. Preachers also have a tendency to take great license with time constraints when they are asked to speak a certain amount of time and then they go “evangelastic” with the time code. When I am a guest speaker somewhere and are told to speak a certain amount of time, I try to “cut it short in righteousness” even before the time runs out, and that is not to say I am perfect either, but it is better to make an impression by being shorter than to stretch things out and not get another invitation to come back.

 

 

I have a radio program each Thursday evening at 8 to 9 pm Central African Time which anyone can listen to by going to the live streaming icon at this web site: www.edenfm.co.za. I say that because it is critical that I keep to the time allotted and put in the commercials when it appears on the format list. That just makes good sense and we must always take awareness that the Word says: “If you have good sense, it will show when you speak.” Proverbs 10:13

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Many of us who are exercised in the Holy Scriptures will recognize that for every dynamic found in the Old Covenant, you will find a compliment in the New Covenant as well. So when James epistle references the importance of the tongue, Solomon had already given quite decisive definition to that same principle quite a number of years before that.

 

Case in point – “if all you do is talk, you will destroy yourself” and again “But if you are stupid, you will be beaten with a stick.” Proverbs 10:8,13 How much more graphic could it be than that? I don’t know about you, but when I am around people who just keep rattling their mouths off, I find a way to remove myself for an indefinite amount of time. It just becomes too much, and while I often get accused of being too silent and restrained, I also remember what God has delivered me from by speaking too quickly, caustically and angrily. What is humbling is the potential that still lies in my bosom for all the above and I need the constant visit to my prayer chamber to ask God to keep delivering me from anything that could eventually come back to “beat me up.”

 

In that same reference above, these blessed words are recorded: “ If you have good sense, you will listen and obey…..If you have good sense, it will show when you speak.”

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People talk about “hardening of the arteries” as we get older and of course, this is a medical condition requiring attention or it can lead to some serious physical deficiencies. Another condition causing spiritual, mental and even physical deficiencies is called “hardening of the attitudes” and if we are going to wise and sensible about this we need to be exercised in another Biblical principle called “correction of the pathway”. I fully recognize in saying this that one can go overboard in this because they seem to think that their calling in life is to correct everything in everyone, but one needs to remember that these same people will have their ultimate not-so-nice reward.

 

The fact is, we all need to get steered away from the shoals of life and often in Scripture you see some strong language used encouraging us to move in a direction which first of all requires humility. My father was the most humble man I have ever met and even as he aged, he could take correction from people who were entrusted with caring for him. I love how the Proverbs express the need for correction in this manner: “Those who sneer at others don’t like to be corrected, and they won’t ask help from someone with sense…Too much pride causes trouble. Be sensible and take advise.” 15:12, 13:10

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Difficult people are part of life, but become increasingly lonely and isolated as they grow older because not many people want to hang around people wrapped up in the “gall of bitterness”. The expression “negatively obsessed” has been used to describe some of these people and ultimately they end up in a total mental state which requires institutionalizing. This is a hard way to begin a message, but how much better is it if we determine early in life that we are going to live life to its fullest under the Lordship of Jesus who for the joy that went before him endured the Cross. Beloved, we need a sense of eternity in everything pertaining to this present life we are now exercising.

It is time to start confessing what Scripture declares about the “jazz” that life dishes up to us and it all has to do with making the correct choices each day, which indeed is the totally sensible thing to do. “Though the fig tree does not blossom and there be no fruit on the vine…Yet, will I rejoice in the Lord” was how the prophet Habukkuk stated and Isaiah went to another depth when he declared: “With great joy, you people will get water from the well of victory. At that time you will say, “Oh Lord, we are thankful and we worship only you.” 12:3,4 Let us then get “grooved” in to what we know brings great change to us and delightful honour to the Lord our God.

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Has anyone wondered why it is that the more you learn to be in a disposition of praise in your life, there seem to be so many more distractors as well? We are still dealing with the realm of sensibility when we ask this, so let’s unlock the mystery shall we?

 

From a practical vantage point, what better way can we find out about the principle of overcoming in this life than by using distractors and joyless individuals as an excuse to be more of a praising type person ourselves? You cannot let them make you become more like themselves, so make up your mind quickly that it is better to be an alternative to their condition by the opposite response.

 

 

We must always remember and bear in mind at all times as well that the atmosphere of what we know is the heaven sound must be created here on earth because we also know that the smell and the sound of hell is everywhere striving to pervade and make us as believers to become morose. We are not doing this in the flesh either, because God’s word is spirit and life and if you take the book of Psalms as one example, throughout the entire book is plenty of ways to get ourselves out of the “dumps” so-to-speak. I think you will agree, that this all equates to unambiguous sensibility.

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Today, I want to ask you another question – have you ever done an exercise where the first person whispers a word to their neighbour and then they whisper supposedly the same thing to the person next to them and the next until the tenth person? That person is then asked what the first person whispered and it is a totally different message from what was originally spoken. I can see all of you are smiling even though I cannot see you at all.

 

Herein lays the problem with what the Bible talks about gossip. It is presented as the truth but as it spreads it actually becomes a lie and becomes a powerful force for destruction in our society. Scripture is quite specific that we must be slow to speak and swift to listen (James 1:19). I hang around many people like this because I know they can keep a confidence, are trustworthy, and are wise to the “enth” degree.

 

 

Solomon also speaking under divine revelation uttered the following: “Dishonest people use gossip to destroy their neighbours…..It’s stupid to say bad things about your neighbours. If you are sensible, you will keep quiet.” (Proverbs 11:9,12) I believe you can all perceive the sensibility of the above.

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Many a truth has been spoken by wicked people and none so spectacularly as the well-known atheist Voltaire: “Common sense is not so common.” I don’t think anyone with proper reasoning power would dispute what he said, especially in light of so many breakages we see with common sense each day.

 

It does not make sense to break the law by speeding down a road in your car, but we see it every day. Common sense says that when you cannot see what is ahead of you on a road, you need to slow down if not stop until the way is clear, and if that had been observed a couple of weeks ago here in our city many lives would have saved, but it was full throttle for some and indeed disaster became reality, which I observed with my own eyes.

 

 

Another thing that makes common sense is that if we break God’s moral law, we will bear the consequences also. Whatever we sow there will most certainly have a reaping time also, and yet a man stated these words: “Don’t try to change my way of life.” Surely if you face the prospect of death because of your actions, you might consider negotiating change with Almighty God. It will be very wise for us to think on these things: “Any bragger you correct will only hate you. But if you correct someone who has common sense, you will be loved.” Proverbs 9:8

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Three distinct thoughts come out of Proverbs 12 about good sense, and the first is that it is worthy of praise or as the original puts it – to be commended. (v.8) How much different life would be if we as human beings would do just that. We need to speak up to sensible people when something sensible is orchestrated by them. Too often, servants of God get discouraged because they never get identified as having done something commendable, and I can assure you that they will not get a swelled head of pride if something is spoken in a positive way about them.

 

The second thought takes another step and declares that sensible people listen to advice. (v. 15) The art of listening these days becomes of great significance when we realize how much wisdom is needed to operate in our modern world. An old man in ministry sat on a certain board and would never say a word until there was an impasse, and then he would speak a “word of wisdom” directly from the heart of God breaking the impasse immediately. I am sure many of you have seen this in action multitudes of times.

 

The final sensibility has to do with keeping a certain amount of information “up your sleeve” to be brought into action at the right time. (v. 23) Many people just dump out everything, but we need to be exercised in discernment, which also goes back to the necessity for listening carefully in every context. Have a glorious Lord ’s Day further.

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Two main characters are displayed in total relief for everyone to see in the book of Proverbs and they of course are THE WISE and THE FOOLS. Wise people are skilful and have certain characteristics as seen through the book and the first is to gather information, learn facts, plus to seek and find knowledge. “Wise men store up knowledge,” so it was spoken in chapter 10:14. This takes me back to Solomon’s father who spoke about hiding God’s word in his heart that he would not sin against the Lord.

 

 

The collective wisdom from throughout the ages can never compare to the wisdom coming directly from the throne of God and then becoming flesh within us. Storage capacity must always be worked at so that we can gain God’s wisdom in these critical and closing days of time as we know it. I have come face-to-face with the fact that I need God’s word more and more to abide in me and not just to stimulate me. This is not a cursory glance but a residency issue and all of us are confronted about this necessity as we recognize that God’s wisdom through His word needs to be placed into deep enough soil that it can bear much fruit.

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God always offers alternatives in this life and another description would be antonyms of each other. Therefore, when God says that good sense and stubbornness are opposites of each other, we should be able to readily discern which is the correct and sensible procedure to follow. Proverbs 13:1 Likewise, pride and taking advice bring that truth into further sharp perspective. Proverbs 13:10

 

Let’s go one step further in that same chapter by giving the “as is” version of challenges to our conscience: “Sensible instruction is a life giving fountain that helps you escape all deadly traps. Sound judgment is praised, but people without good sense are on the way to disaster. If you have good sense, you will act sensibly, but fools act like fools.” V. 14-16 It is as simple as that and we will end with this incredibly significant quote: “Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.” ? Joseph Joubert

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One thing we all recognize is that hatred is never a solution to anything and in light of our recent theme on sensibility we can resonate with listening to the voice of reason in these troubling and stirred up times we are living in.

 

As an American living overseas, I watch my home country carefully and the recent case with Trayvon Martin has made me realize how many people directly involved in this tragedy are committed Christians. This in turn makes me so grateful for the glimpses of understanding and even love I hear coming forth which equates from my perspective to the voice of reason.

 

 

Nelson Mandela celebrates his 95th birthday tomorrow, and this country I live in can only thank God for the way that God touched this man’s heart even while he was in prison. I pray that the spark of God’s love emanating from his example will spill over to my beloved home country, the USA during this very trying time when justice is once again crying out for expression. Our prayer is that God-like responses will prevail.

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Today being former President Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday, I would like to do a personal tribute to him. None of us living in South Africa in 1990 can ever forget the strong emotions experienced when we saw him released from a prison in Paarl and walked out with that huge tell-tale smile on his face towards freedom, and it was not so long after that when my wife and I received an invitation to attend a function with he and his former wife Winnie where they were being honoured.

 

I was instantly struck by the warmth and pastoral kind of approach he emanated quite naturally from his persona and there was this magnetism causing him to become a hive of activity and everyone was being received with gentility and openness of heart. When he visited the USA a bit later, a friend of mine in DC who also met him had similar remarks to make.

 

I also took notice that here he was in an extremely public place and there were no security people anywhere near him, obviously at his request. It struck me very deeply that this man has no fear, by contrast to other people in that same crowd who could not walk around without a procession of security people surrounding at all times. I guess there should be a lesson in this for all of us about the necessity for having such a relationship with the Lord Jesus that we also approach life from a loving rather than fearful existence, because perfect love casts out all fear. (1 John 4:18) The most sensible thing you can do is to possess that love so we can also enter perfect peace. Ask Jesus to do that for you today.

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I just want to personally thank all 42 of you who responded to my blog yesterday. It was truly an inspiration to see so many of you from all around the world express yourselves about Nelson Mandela but most of all what he stands for. Somebody once stated: “If we stand for nothing, we fall for everything,” and this is why it is so necessary to unfurl our flag of conviction these days in favour of Biblical truth. Nicolas Krone drew reference to Mandela being a peacemaker which alludes directly to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

 

 

I have also spoken in the past about a book my pastor, Bishop Garlington wrote many years ago called RIGHT OR RECONCILED where we are confronted about this question: “Do we want to be right or reconciled?” I believe the Biblical position is clearly in favour of reconciliation as much as in us is according to our faith. I realize that there are some people who have no desire for reconciliation because at heart they are rebellious but once again, as my boyhood pastor, Rex Andrews used to say: “at least you have done your part to be reconciled.” All of this, as you can see, makes eminent sense and we need to become exercised on a constant basis in reconciliation.

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An expression I heard frequently as I was growing up was: “Engage your brain before you put your mouth in gear.” In essence, this was what Solomon was trying to say when he persuasively wrote this plaintive exhortation: “Proud fools are punished for their stupid talk, but sensible talk can save your life. Proverbs 14:3

 

People tell me that I speak in a vague manner sometimes and it is true because my conviction is that the direct route can cause huge disruption into a given context from my experience. “The tongue being in a wet place is very likely to slip” was another word of wisdom we grew up with, so if a person requires more clarity when I speak, I give it but guard what I say very carefully and strive to use the kind of words that do not deliberately cause offense. The expressions “blunt” and “tell it like it is” I struggle with, not that it is wrong intrinsically, but is many times an excuse used by people who are thoughtless and often cruel in their intentions. Alternatively, some have not put much sifting and sorting of their collection of thoughts before they speak and can also cause damage.

 

A little further, Solomon states the following: “Make your words good – you will be glad you did. Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say.” Proverbs 18:20,21 Sensible indeed.

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How easy it is to divert from a course which is confined and defined but offers delay from what we know we are called to. Every day we are faced with these distractions but the sensible and faithful thing is to “stay the course.” This makes what Solomon proclaimed so applicable: “Stupidity brings happiness to senseless fools, but everyone with good sense follows the straight path.” Proverbs 15:21

 

 

 

Diversions are not just goals disorienting, but are often dangerous as well. Fortunately, God does not say He operates only in the realm of straight paths, but actually in His plentiful mercy follows us where we should not go, and brings correction of the course. Often times, He does that through people who love us so much that they are prepared to march into the grime with us and pull us out and upwards into the place where we need to be. Stupidity then gives way to sensibility. “Thank you Lord Jesus, that you never let us go and we rejoice in your mercy this day and every day of our lives.

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How much wiser to make the right choices and set up godly priorities is strongly suggested by our famous writer Solomon. What makes this more interesting is that the richest man in the world at that time was making the following declaration: “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.” Proverbs 16:16 One of the most sensible things we can do in this world is to stop being obsessed and sometimes even possessed with material gain. If our hope is in God and we are faithfully following his commands, material gain should be extremely low on the totem pole of importance.

 

In the Bible School where my destiny for ministry was clarified, formerly called Zion Bible College and now Northpoint Bible College, we sang with great fervor this amazing chorus by William C Martin : “I trust in God, I know He cares for me; On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea; Though billows roll, He keeps my soul, My heav'nly Father watches over me.” If you know that chorus, sing it all day long today, especially if you are struggling with this issue of serving God or money. It could actually have a strongly transforming effect on your whole being.

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Apologies for missing a few days, but since I last wrote, I have gone from one side of the world to another and no, I am not stranded in Spain as a hacker wrote on my e-mail list recently, because reality states that I am currently enjoying extended family time in the USA. Just a word to the wise – if you ever plan on flying through Dulles airport in Washington DC internationally, allow plenty of time between flights after flying into the international area, because there is no security anywhere in the world from my experience like you find there. It is quite extensive, drawn out and can be intimidating if you let it, but it is for the best ultimately.

 

Just a quick word – speaking sensibly has better value than gold or silver. As much as we esteem the greater mineral of gold or lesser of silver, Scripture is emphatic about the higher estimation we should place upon speaking in a sensible manner- Proverbs 20:15 Once again, how anomalous is it that these words are spoken by the most wealthy man on planet earth back then, and it totally defies the modern natural, mathematical, human reasoning mind today. Yet, it remains the truth of the Bible and we would do ourselves big favours by taking God’s priorities to heart in these amazing days we are a part.

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To understand something sensible, sometimes you need to comprehend some opposite negative things as well. Hear the word of the Lord in this regards: “Those who sneer at others do not like to be corrected, and they won’t ask help from someone who makes sense. “ Proverbs 15:12

 

There is something about pathway correction which all of us need to be humble enough to recognize and embrace to enhance the quality of our lives, but there is a deeper thing challenging us through the passage above which characterizes those in the realm of the sceptical and render themselves incapable of making sensible decisions. They ask help from nobody and follow their own agenda even if they ask for advice, but this is because they want to have the pretext of being democratic. They also make it a point to avoid asking people who they know can actually give sound and wise instruction.

 

 

A final word: “Wisdom is found in the minds of people with good sense, but fools don’t know it.” Proverbs 15:33

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Today I am sitting in Washington DC, our nation’s capital, and being under the weather for the last couple of days here in this city has made me think about the significance of rulers. Solomon obviously thought about that plenty of times during his time as ruler and our sensibility theme takes on further dimensions when he burst out with this absolutely inspired statement: “It sounds strange for a fool to talk sensibly, but it’s even worse for a ruler to tell lies.” Proverbs 17:7

 

I love these news bloggers who publish truth indices on politicians’ speeches, and as much as they do not always indicate an unbiased disposition, some are surprisingly and incredibly accurate because they have not taken a stand about anything but the truth factor. The research they come up with oftentimes represents a high and even a holy standard which we all need to become comfortable with. We must therefore, challenge authority because we know that they can mislead based on giving people what they want to hear rather than what they should be listening to. There is no time left for gullibility in these critical times and we need to get smart.

 

 

The last thing I did before leaving South Africa was to take a call from a friend of mine in George, giving him my permission to publish an article he wrote that could also include my name, only because it represented the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let us then love the truth and become comfortable with the truth in our lives each day.

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When you have no more capacity to learn is when you have entered the realm of total stupidity. People who learn nothing from nobody or from anything have hardening of the attitudes and have become quite obnoxious to others around them, sometimes without realizing it. “Know it all people” are some of the saddest creatures on planet earth but always need to project this image that they know better than anyone else. I don’t know how many of you can understand what I am saying today, but give these same people authority and watch what crumbles all around them.

 

 

Solomon quite simply dealt with this dilemma in this manner: “Everyone with good sense WANTS to learn.” Proverbs 18:15 As for me, I want to be sensible by walking in humility and grace with a disposition of un-offensiveness when people speak up about the necessity for change. My recent illness has indicated that there is something wrong with my lifestyle and I must sensibly make adjustments to live a more healthy life which includes the food I eat and the lack of exercise which can so easily destroy. Have a sensible day further.

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I love the word repository which technically means a place where something of value can be stored. The reason we store something of value is for future benefit on the most part, therefore we accumulate values to assist us going into the future. So many people have never been given these values, or have accepted corrupted values, and even worse, have rejected true values in order to accentuate fleshly or even demonic devices.

 

Here is the challenge again from the living word of God: “Be sensible and store up precious treasures – don’t waste them like a fool.” Proverbs 21:20 This journey we are now on would not be possible if we did not treasure our children and grandbabies by storing up for this time. We would not trade this for anything in the world and trust me when I say that any sacrifice made has been totally well-worth it. Gills exposition of the Bible explains: “For where your treasure is,.... Whether in heaven, or in earth, there will your heart be also: the heart is always set upon the treasure, and as is a man's treasure, such is his heart, that is, set upon it; if his treasure is only here, and he has not the true riches, his heart is only earthly and carnal; but if his treasure is heavenly, his heart and conversation will be in heaven.” This should give us a good perspective on what we call family values today.

 

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If there is one thing I have learned about rich people, it is that they are some of the most fearful people on planet earth. I have also discovered that one of the reasons for that is that they are always looking over their shoulder to see if the tax man is going to come and take their wealth away from them. For some of them, it becomes an obsession and eventually they become paranoid. I always tell them when they ask (which is not very often): “Why don’t you share your wealth where you know it is going to make a positive contribution to the development of our younger generation, namely with good faith groups that are making a difference in the community at the grass roots of life. They can then get a sizeable tax break as well and it becomes a win-win scenario.

 

 

We also remind people what the wise man says in Proverbs 16:16: “It’s much better to be wise and sensible than to be rich.” This is why it becomes so relevant for rich people to become generous where they can give up a little bit of their accustomed lifestyle (which can become idolatry as well), and make a huge contribution towards the future stability of our regions. It is also paramount for them to become involved if only in a small way in the children’s lives by mentoring their experience into this up and coming group of people who only want to have a life where they can stand on their own two feet. This message also applies for everyone else as well who do not consider themselves as rich, but are in possession of a generous heart. Enjoy this glorious day further beloved.

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Back again after taking an amazing break time in the breath-taking wonders of the Grand Canyon here in the USA. I will forward some photos to you as well very soon, but let me ask you a question. Can you please forward reasons to me why gossip and sensibility are opposites based on Proverbs 11:9 & 12?

 

 

I think this can be a very interactive exercise and I look forward to your well-thought out responses. Have an amazing day further.

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Here is some sound Biblical philosophy – powers of persuasion belong to the sensible. When I was a sales executive with a prominent computer company in South Africa many years ago, a particular campaign to win a company to our solution was successful because our presentation as opposed to the competition was the most sensible. How many of you know though, that persuasion takes more than a good presentation but requires positive action? Solomon put it this way: “You can persuade others if you are wise and speak sensibly.” Proverbs 16:23

 

 

This brings up the whole issue of substance as opposed to fluff. You and I need to be exercised in being able to persuade as contrasted to convincing. Too much of what we do is to put our best foot forward and create a powerful impression, but ultimately, what is needed is to be genuine and authentic. The winning factor is based upon performance consistently over a stretched out length of time – this then persuades people to come into our orbit because they can see we are not a fly-by-night operation or person. Let us develop powers of persuasion through being totally real.

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Have you noticed that so many words can be avoided if our eyes were more alert? You might say after hearing that question that I might be going off the rails, but hear me out with this scenario. A person anticipates a question coming from someone and shows remarkable insight and consideration by already cleaning the room or doing the dishes, and as soon as the individual walks in the door, before they even investigate to see what is done, they pop the question and all the hard work going into this kind of life experience goes through a completely deflated emotion. I can certainly identify to this and have used these opportunities to really get sarcastic or alternatively to bite my tongue. We need to remember that some people are always in investigative rather than “eyes awake” mode, and will probably never change because that is just their nature as much as I don’t like to say that.

 

This could create either a revolutionary or a reconciliatory atmosphere, dependent on the maturity of the offended individual. I am sure all of us can see the need for prime time sensibility and good judgment in this scenario and we could list any amount of typical cases where the alternative kinds of climate in similar circumstances can be created. I am curious as to your stories and if you feel led to share, please use this space to “let it all hang out” so we can all learn what God wants in the midst of this mundane world we live in.

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I cannot hesitate to state how important it is to enact correction in a proper way. I used to tell my colleagues at a business I ran that my style of leadership is a “velvet glove on top of a steel hand”. I told them that what you will feel coming from me originally and progressively is the velvet but be very careful about taking advantage of the velvet because then you will understand the steel. Others have a leadership style that is steel first and velvet later, but if I were to exercise that type it would not be me and everything would collapse around me for sure.

 

We must steadfastly remember: “Stupid fools learn good sense by seeing others punished; a sensible person learns by being corrected.” Proverbs 19:25 Once again, the way we correct is the paramount issue, and it behoves all of us to become sensitive and sensible into the context we are a part of as we do not want to be over-bearing . We must learn when to start and stop when to make an entrance and exit and how we can speak the kind of advice that not only seeks to portray what is wrong but provide intelligent and inspired direction into any corrective context.

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My Dad was a man of few words and that does not mean he could not speak, but he chose his words carefully, thereby providing an excellent example for his off-spring. When he spoke people listened because the yardstick of his life measured up to what he was explaining. He was also a man who remained calm even when the fires of affliction were burning 70 times hotter and our lives as children were the richer because of it. He was ordained into ministry because his actions spoke louder than words.

 

This reminded me of the story Dennis Rainey tells about selling things from door –to-door as a child and one man buying something because of the integrity of his father. How much we need to understand the sensibility of this in these critical times and we must take observance again of the wise man in Proverbs 17:27 – “It makes a lot of sense to be a person of few words and to stay calm.” In that regards, I remind you again that “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt.”

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I am a foreign policy student now for several decades, and wish I had done all this research for credit because I think I could have an earned doctorate in this discipline believing that an understanding of our current life requires deeper comprehension of the world we live in. Is it not interesting that the wisest man before Jesus also had extensive foreign policy initiative, and his tenure as king was considered the most peaceful era in the history of the rulers of Israel? What a sensible man and I know this is going to create a controversy about the effect of foreign people on his downfall, but does it not also show the power of choice all of us are confronted with each day of our lives? It should always be remembered that “a city with wise leaders will be kept safe” and it would not be a stretch to have that include the broader station of nation. In light of our modern era of so-called peace-time economies through triple trillions of dollars of “force-time” budgets, it seems quite an anomaly that the greatest peace time era in the history of mankind prior to this was where there was no war being promoted or being risked by outside nations attacking Israel.

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If you are anything like me, you will hear some people on talk radio and just cringe inside and sometimes even visibly because of the absolutely stupid remarks they are making and inevitably you cut them off because your ears just cannot take anymore, shall I say nonsense. Conversely, and rarely I can attest, there are some people who come on with certain insights and you just want to keep listening to them, because they speak with such intelligence, warmth, enthusiasm and common sense.

As a person with a radio program myself, I recognize that it is a sacred responsibility I have disseminating what should be a fountain of life and not a cesspool of death. We cannot allow ourselves to get involved in loose talk these days with all eyes and ears upon us from many different quarters and people searching for the good news of Jesus. Everything we do must be to demonstrate in word and deed what that good news is all about. “..if you listen closely to my wisdom and good sense, you will have sound judgment, and you will always know the right thing to say.” Proverbs 5:1,2If you are anything like me, you will hear some people on talk radio and just cringe inside and sometimes even visibly because of the absolutely stupid remarks they are making and inevitably you cut them off because your ears just cannot take anymore, shall I say nonsense. Conversely, and rarely I can attest, there are some people who come on with certain insights and you just want to keep listening to them, because they speak with such intelligence, warmth, enthusiasm and common sense.

I believe that God has been exercising me about this whole matter of what Solomon describes as good judgment and good sense, but sometimes I think that maybe I am one of the most insensible people around. For instance, is it wrong for me to think that people like to be entertained more than they like to take up their cross and follow Jesus no matter what the price? Also, why is it that what pre-occupies many peoples concept of church is what happens on a Sunday instead of how we are transforming our communities all week long?

 

This also concerns me as well – how healing ministry mainly has to do with bodies instead of minds and hearts. I have nothing against body healing, but there seems to be so much more mentioned in the Scriptures, ie. Jesus words: “they who are whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:12 I have a vision to put less emphasis on candy floss and fluff and more on the substance of impartation and incarnation of Jesus’ love through us His people into the brokenness and strife that pervades our communities. Is that sensible or not?

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I woke up this morning with these four words ringing in head – willingness, workers, worshippers, and winning. Let me flesh that out a bit. In all of us, there must be a WILLINGNESS to change from what I want to what God’s true agenda is about. I know this in an incredibly broad issue to deal with but simplistically, if we are going to bring in the Lord’s harvest, our whole approach about how we conduct ourselves as the church must undergo some meaningful and exhaustive change.

 

 

The second point is about workers. I wrote a book called SOARING LIKE EAGLES which can be electronically purchased online @: www.edenleadership.org, and my favourite chapter is called GET DOWN AND DIRTY. In it, I detail about people who just get stuck in, no matter what the task and accomplish the heart of God. It is not so much how loaded with talent we are, but how willing we are to work at promoting God’s kingdom that will be the most sensible development we can engage in. I will finish this vision tomorrow.

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Yesterday, we briefly addressed the two principles of willingness and workers, but today we must go on to the dynamic of worship and winning. Jesus when speaking to the Samaritan woman, who had some very strong sin issues in her life, spoke to her about the urgent need for worshippers. John 4 When he addressed this topic, he also spoke about truth, and it basically reminds us that God is not looking for us to have worshipping experiences, but is rather seeking for a people who ARE worshippers 24/7. People living in sin often have big problems with believers when we have our elevated worship times one day a week and then act and speak like the devil himself the rest of the week. God seeks for us to become so in love with Him that worship becomes a lifestyle rather than merely a phenomenon.

 

 

We must then take our fourth word of winning and this of course deals with our attitudes. Winning is never a case of mind over matter but has everything to do with adopting a Biblical case of being truly born again. John 14 states because He lives, we also shall live and this should provide great incentive to live the life we are now in with great joy. We must always remember that the choices we make determine our destiny, and somewhere along the way as believers, we must make this choice: “Fig trees may no longer bloom, or vineyards produce grapes; olive trees may be fruitless and harvest time a failure; sheep pens may be empty, and cattle stalls vacant – but I will still celebrate because the Lord God saves me.” Habukkuk 3:17,18 Some of you reading today may understand all the negative stuff Habukkuk was addressing and may feel that it is all overwhelming you, but I encourage you dear friend to take heart by making the choice to rejoice in the Lord. Always keep your eyes on Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross. Surely he will bring you through and out to the other side a better person accordingly. This is what can make life sensible and know that it comes with much love!!!

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Sometimes I think I am off the track (insensible) when it comes to this Christian life because of different reasons. Let me explain. I have no problem with fellowship times in the church, but I keep asking myself, if Jesus’ purpose in coming to this earth was to save the lost, then why are we so reluctant to become soul-winners in whatever way possible? Don’t get me wrong – I am not asking you to find the latest method in soul-manipulation, but does it not seem possible that I have been saved so that the love of God so pervades me resulting in others wanting what I have? I pray that the love of God will so fill my life that people will say that I have been with Jesus. In fact, this about the only way people can come to Christ in persecuted lands because they cannot openly speak about Jesus. I am not saying either, that everyone is an evangelist from a Biblical understanding of that, but do not all of us have a responsibility to win the lost at any cost?

 

 

Another issue that disturbs me in this regards has to do with an attitude which states: “Rather you than me” when all hands are needed on deck. Is it not time for the body of Christ to link hands with other believers in our communities to make an impact across the board from the highest to the lowest and show the world that Jesus Christ is Lord? Is it not time for all of us to hear each other’s stories and then compassionately reach out to the oppressed touching lives and snatching people from the hell of their existence? Oh, how we need as I see it a baptism of love among us. I believe it is time to strategize for the development of God’s kingdom and it seems to make sense to me.

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Since most of life as we know it is by and large illogical, then why do we as humans try to make sense of it anyway? I had this question hit me between the eyes the other day in my quiet time and it certainly begs an answer.

Firstly, we must remember that faith and logic often have a strained relationship, and the choice I have made in life is to place faith before logic because I realize that the substance of life as I know it has been based upon what I can see is Biblical logic and not human logic which from my perspective are often enemies of each other. The more I understand Bible logic, the greater grows my faith in a God who went so far as to send His only begotten Son into this world to save a wretch like me.

 

 

A second principle coming out of this question is to remember that we can make sense out of everything possible and then leave the rest to a merciful God who understands us so much that in the absence of answers, we will still trust Him no matter what. I recognize that in this life we will never have all knowledge, but as we live in His Word, He gives us more real knowledge sometimes than we as humans even know how to contain and we can proclaim: “What God has planned for people who love Him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered their minds.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 This is referring of course to the missing wisdom that the rulers of this world cannot know anything about, and for that matter neither can those exercised in the wisdom of this world. Let us make the sensible choice to seek the full knowledge and wisdom that comes from above.

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The world as we know it today is characterized by a single word called selfishness which in its most basic form believes that everything in our lives must be centred around what is good for the individual. On the most part, it takes no consideration of others and is concerned about one thing which is me, myself and I. I wish people were trained early in life about the necessity of looking out for others, exercising the milk of human kindness, picking up the fallen, and strengthening the oppressed, but that seems to be a rarity rather than a rule in our modern times. As children, my sisters and I knew growing up that Mom and Dad were always laying down their lives for us and provided a sterling example for us to follow, which I cannot say I have always adhered to, but at least their shining light has always been there to stimulate me.

 

Solomon stated it in such a profound way: “ It’s selfish and stupid to think only of yourself and to sneer at people who have sense…Everyone with good sense wants to learn.” Proverbs 18:1,15 I do not expect selfishness to diminish anytime soon and probably the opposite will be the case, but our expectation should be that we who know our God will live in such a manner that Jesus in all of His love will become manifested more and more through those who follow Him and are motivated and compelled by His selfless love.

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Normally, when we think of the term investment, our immediate thinking goes into another word called finances, but as most of us have learned while on this pilgrim pathway from earth to glory, this word means so much more than money. Solomon again shared this invaluable insight into true investment when he stated: “Invest in truth and wisdom, discipline and good sense, and don’t part with them. Make your father truly happy by living right and showing sound judgment.” Proverbs 23:23,24

 

He who is the Truth places full value on this conviction and if we have been liberated through the truth, why then do we think we can live out a lie going into the crevices of deceit? We must all remember that there is more to life than financial security and the more we challenge ourselves to part with security the more equipped we will be to stand in these the closing days of time. Don’t get me wrong by thinking that I am calling people to a hermit existence either, but let us face reality and take stock of where we are and we will surely see that there is much we have which can be shared even more than we do presently. A giving and generous spirit counter-acts the stinginess of the age we live in. Looking out for the needs of others is one of the most sensible, sound judgment things we can perform and we can do it on a regular basis. Surely there is a Father up above looking down in love and He knows how to take care of us His children when we just trust and obey. God bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you!

 

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I do not think anybody would ever be able to say that we have attained to all the principles we espouse, but this is what the faith life is all about. We are always pressing forward into the truth and God, the Holy Spirit enables us to make daily progress as we live in His holy Word. This is why it makes such sense to develop disciplines that bring about the desired results we in fact yearn for in our lives.

 

Let us also recognize that there is new thing arising that has nothing to do with religion at all and as James Gasperowich stated yesterday in response to the blog, souls winners are wise. There is no form or ceremony in soul winning so much anymore, but as one minister friend put it recently, just engaging with people at street level and showing genuine concern by asking a few well-placed questions and you might be amazed at how people can open up to the claims of Christ over their lives. This makes real sense. My daughter Merissa is someone who loves people and everyone knows her in the neighbourhood because of her authentic concern and compassion for all the people she comes in contact with. It also stands her well with the public relations work she does and recently she received her theology degree which became just an acknowledgment of her sweet and beautiful spirit in relating to all people under all circumstances. Let us then go out and show the love of God to everyone and everywhere we go today.

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Here is another investment – TIME. I cannot begin to tell you how many men and women I honor when it comes to this matter. It takes time to ask God to stretch us out ever so slightly when it comes to the topic of mentoring, but it requires that budgeting of our time in order to makes a difference in a young man or ladies life. We used to sing a chorus growing up: “Oh, to be His hand extended, reaching out to the oppressed; Let me touch Him, let me touch Jesus; So that others may know and be blessed.” This song has been attributed to the songwriter Vep Ellis, but it certainly hits the depths of this whole development of mentoring.

 

While here in the USA, I think of Bob Sumpter among other men here who have reached out to so many and have made a difference to them just by committing a little extra time each week and what permanent impact for the kingdom of God has accrued from that stretching out. Back in South Africa, another man of God, Tony Noble is keeping his hand upon my foster sons so that in my absence, Tjay and Aaron know that someone cares and is there to listen to their hearts. Not an easy job, but oh so necessary.

 

My friends, maybe God is speaking to you about this issue of mentoring. Won’t you please, at least pray about it and see if there is not a place in your heart for even a small sliver of time to make a priceless investment in someone who in the most intricate way can be kept from going over the brink, and at the most extravagant kind of thinking could become an amazing leader in their community, just because you cared enough to go the extra mile with them? Sensible indeed.

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I cannot say that I have ever had money to invest in stocks and bonds, money markets and a host of other descriptions that all speak of extras as most of the time, anything extra that comes in goes immediately out to benefit those we work with. But I will say this – I would not trade the faith life away for anything this world has to offer because one of the most sensible word’s from God I heard from my early days was: “Don’t store up treasure on earth.. Your heart will always be where your treasure is.” Matthew 6:19-21 A true friend once warned me about the accumulation of riches and when the time came when I was making mega-bucks, I remembered his sage words and sought other ways to develop my calling in life for which I am eternally grateful.

 

We are all going to have to learn this faith life somewhere along the way as all indications point to even those with so-called financial security will indeed see what they have taken away and economic collapse is a reality of life. We will then perceive what the famous quote from the poet CT Studd states: “Only one life twill soon be past and only what’s done for Christ will last.”

 

Ladies and gentlemen – we need to RESPONSIBLY invest our time, talent, energy and resources towards the development of the kingdom of God and surely when we do that, our Father up above who is looking down in love will sustain and support us in our time of crisis and need.

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Here is some practical good sense advice from Proverbs 27:11-16 and firstly, it will assist you when people are critical of us. Criticism will never change but how we react must always be with wisdom and understanding.

 

We are also told that when facing danger, we are not to throw caution to the wind, and there are some of you reading this that need this most desperately because you do not listen to your bodies or your minds when it is time to stop.

 

Always make sure there are guarantees when making a loan whether it is financial or character (good reputation). This will keep you from many traps.

 

My family is sleeping at the moment and the next word is particularly relevant when it talks about staying quiet and not loud for they need their beloved sleep more than I do.

 

Recognize that a nagging wife is relentless and are not going to change so commit them to the Lord, because any efforts you try to enact change will be misunderstood. In the midst of it, keep building them up by identifying and focusing on their strengths. God will bring divine enablement.

 

Enjoy this beautiful day the Lord has made and rejoice in His plentiful mercy.

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I believe in a God who performs miracles and so did Solomon when he stated something so sensible: “Expecting snow in summer and rain in the dry season makes more sense than honoring a fool. “ Proverbs 26:1 I remember once when in the summer season in South Africa, a freaky snow storm struck Johannesburg, and it was utter chaos for the rest of the day. Many people were not ready in that time and in these days just are not ready for things that upset the balance of nature, but as Christians we must always believe that in impossible circumstances, God can and will do the above and beyond type of intervention. More recently, our friend Susan Smith’s brother was in a motorcycle accident and was seriously injured, and when the people all over the world began to pray, God stepped in and raised him up in ways that even the doctors were in wonder about.

 

I am in a season right now where the miraculous is making sense as so much is developing that nothing but a miracle can make a difference, and I am asking that you stand with me trusting that in your situation currently, God will also do that which no person could ever use whatever stimulation to bring about the necessary changes. If fools can be honored which periodically happens, why do we not think that God is His marvelous mercy cannot intervene on behalf of those who have placed explicit and implicit trust in God and His holy Word? Expand your mind and heart to see God work on your behalf as you are relieved of all scepticism about the nature of God who in His incredible love wants to do so much to bring your life into symmetry with His will.

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This week, I will be winding up this series on common sense and good judgment because there is so much manna in the Book of Proverbs along different lines I want to get into including the topic of laziness, understanding about the necessity for correction, raising godly children, the issue of self-control, what God says about involvement with government, our responsibility to the poor, etc.

 

Today I want to address our response to people with ugly tempers as most of us struggle with this dilemma in all aspects of life. I see how anger responds to anger and often it borders on insanity, but surely as God’s people there is a better response. In my college years, I was playing a basketball game against a group of so called community leaders and the captain of that team had a hot temper. Needless to say, the referee had to step in and remind him of his responsibility to provide a good example and not blow his top. Growing up, I had a quick temper, but God started dealing with me many years ago about this matter and I realized that when it goes out of control it wreaks much destruction in me and around me and also puts my brain on hold, which is not a good thing at all. God wrestled me into a corner with these words: “Don’t be a fool and quickly lose your temper – be sensible and patient.” Proverbs 29:11

 

It is time for all of us to get totally honest about our anger factors and instead of trying to tell people that we were not upset when we actually were, just confess it. Honesty is good for the soul. Many people deceive themselves about this matter and are like alcoholics in that they have exercised denial about their problems in life for so long that they do not even know what they are in possession of. It is time for freedom among us and we must now allow God through His precious son Jesus to change us about all of our bondages in life. Maranatha beloved.

 

You need to make a choice after I ask the following questions: “Which is more important – to read the Word of God or for the Word of God to read you/me/us?” You might call that a trick question and you are so right, but let us face reality – if we read the word and it is not reading us, what value is it to us? I maintain that many people read and study the Word but it means almost nothing to them unless it is actually being read in such a way that this precious, vital, living, breathing Word from God is taking root in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

How then can we read in such a way that is instantly sensible and stimulating? If you have never heard the expression “worship read the Bible”, well now you have. When you take this treasure from God’s heart to yourself in a loving way each day and hold it as sacred and your whole being is in a state of rapture and expectation, you are beginning to get an understanding of what I mean by worship read. Then you start asking God to let that fresh Word take root and in a state of great adoration and simple obedience of heart, you take and imbibe this amazing manna from heaven and even start praying over what you are reading. This then brings you into a state where the Word gets into the core of our existence. God wants to bring us into a place where we can hide the Word in our hearts and thereby enable us to overcome the penchant for sin in our members.

 

So often people do not take God’s word to heart as they have no desire to change and feel justified when they can say that they have read and studied the Bible, but God’s plan is for His Word to be planted in us in such a way that we can make no excuses for our sorry behaviour but simply let God shift and sort out all the hidden sins in us by hiding His living Word into the very depths of our spirits. Even so, let it become our prayer this day Lord as we endeavour to walk in the light of your Word. In Jesus’ name! Amen!!

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Yesterday’s devotional was a true watershed type of insight as God has been heavily exercising me in this whole matter of being and not just reading. Pam Thomas responded with this statement: “Our lives should be the Word in action. Atmosphere changers.” How powerful is that? Don Harker also had this relevant and dynamic insight: “As a literary-minded lot we are far too eager to simply read rather than listening to the small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us while we read. When we are at a place where we allow the Bible to "read" us and judge us this is for me the point at which it becomes the Word of God.”

Something inside us needs to incarnate what God is pressing into us and instead of finding excuses to make God’s word become just what we want to hear, we need to adopt an attitude that states: “I may not like what I am reading, but I need God’s Word as is to change my life for the better.” God’s Word not only comforts and stimulates, but also convicts and conviction is not condemnation, but rather places us on the pathway of righteousness so people can see that as it was spoken about the early apostles: “These men have been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 My heartfelt desire is to be more like Jesus, and as a prod to action, I would strongly suggest that you somehow, some way get hold of a book called IN HIS STEPS, which details how a community was dealt with about the question: WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? It is written by Charles Sheldon. Next to the Bible, I consider this a must. Have a truly sensible and gloriously developmental day in the presence of God.

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As we get near to the time when we finish this series on sensibility, I keep asking myself this question which takes this topic into a global context: “Are we not living in what the Bible calls the last days, when we see what is happening in the Middle East?” I am not an expert on Bible Prophecy although I study it every week of my existence, but logically it seems that what the ancient prophets foretold about the world superpowers in Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew and Revelation is quickly coming into fruition as the war drums are consistently and relentlessly beating each day of our lives, particularly as it relates to Israel.

 

I trust that my nation called the USA gets their hands off the conflict, but deep inside I know that will probably not happen because there are many components at stake especially economic factors. We have stated that the Syrian government, for instance, have used chemical weapons on the population, but do we honestly think that the rebels are any purer when it comes to illegal tactics? Just something we need to think about.

 

As believers, we must be about our Master’s business just as Jesus was about His Father’s business while on earth. We must endeavour to be the hands of God reaching out to the oppressed, enact activities that speak of being totally conscious of our calling to be end-time harvesters, and not to forget to “look up, for our redemption draws ever closer. “ Luke 21:25-28 Hallelujah!!

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For this final take on sensibility and good judgment, I have chosen to tackle the topic of rumours which is defined in this manner: “A currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.” My concern in all this is how do we get to the truth and put to rest the uncertain and doubtful part?

The Bible talks about every word being established by two or by three, in other words make sure that you have sure witnesses and not just one person’s take on something. There are some people who listen too much to stories while never taking stock of facts and substantive material. I say that because we all know what destruction can be wreaked through what is called the “rumour mill.”

I have learned to laugh at some of the stories I have heard about myself because they are so ridiculously false, if I did not have a sense of humour, they would overwhelm me as to the absurdity of it. People like to talk and some people more than others and that is why newspapers hire “gossip columnists”, but the more we spend time in the living Word from God, the less time we will want to spend with that garbage. Proverbs 20:19 states in the NIV: “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.”

Crime scenes are very intricate and painstakingly tough places to be and police have to be very careful about witnesses because it is entirely possible that some people have been planted there to tell stories which could easily lead in the wrong direction.

Rumours require getting facts, however laborious that procedure is, because truth is such a rare commodity these days, that it requires going the extra mile. Something inside us should be repelled when we hear rumours and also stimulate an instant response to the rumour-mongers to get their facts straight before they darken the landscape with lies.

Tomorrow, we start a new short series in the Proverbs called YOU ARE WHO YOU RELATE TO.

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Today marks the beginning of a short series called YOU ARE WHO YOU RELATE TO. I want to state from the outset that I am what I am because of He who has loved me with an everlasting love and still loves me in spite of who I am, and his name is Jesus. Without Him, I can truly say that I am nothing and nobody and through Him, I can face today and tomorrow with this assurance that He will never leave me or forsake me. Oh, how grateful I am because of His changeless and awesome love and I want to spend each day as a living sacrifice expressing that love to a lost generation who so desperately need His love to be demonstrated from we who claim to be His devoted followers.

 

I am reminded of this further word (in my language) from Solomon’s writings in the Proverbs: “It is a good thing to take care of your master”.. 27:18 Attending to relationships has great reward and if you take that a step onward, making certain that our vertical relationship between the Lord Jesus and ourselves is in good standing can only enhance our relationships on a horizontal basis. In this life I want to relate to people, but to be totally effective I must be 100% in love with the One, the Master Himself, Jesus Christ. He is our total focus and in Him we live and move and have our entire being. Acts 17:28 Indeed, we are Who we relate to and more will come forth this week along these lines.

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Many people have a problem with standards these days which also goes back to the expression: “Take a stand for something or you will be led by anything and everything.” When it comes to friendships and who I relate to, I want those people to have high standards, because I know, I can only be better accordingly. When I get into the kind of company that is nasty, crosspatch, ugly, mean and downright cussed people, I take that opportunity to leave their presence because it does not represent a high standard, but alternatively when there are people who are pro-active, positive, solutional and ready to move forward individuals, I find space where I am completely comfortable. That does not mean I am opaque when it comes to problems, but people who have the right mind set have a tendency to know what to do with these challenges of life.

 

The Bible is very specific when it states: “ It is a mistake to walk in evil ways, but if we walk in righteousness, there will be many loyal friends.” Proverbs 14:22 In that same chapter, there is also a challenge about the poor having no friends by contrast to the rich. Somewhere along the way, we need to see that change. I have found many poor people who make amazing friends and the ministry we do in George, South Africa illustrates that many times over. There is incredible loyalty and love in these precious people and I count them among some of the richest friendships I have ever enjoyed. I trust you are beginning to see why we are doing this exercise in we are who we relate to.

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We must never forget that the people we relate to are not set up in our image and are therefore quite capable of offending us from time to time. I can never define friendships and relationships according to the dictates of my ideals because often those ideals are centred in some selfish motive. We must always remember that standards and ideals have two different definitions. I have made a decision to identify to people with high standards, but their ideals and mine need to find a meeting place where we can realistically cooperate and grow in our common love for God. The Merriam Webster dictionary gives one definition of ideals in this manner: “existing as a mental image or in fancy of imagination only; in a broad sense: lacking practicality.”

 

I do not live in an idealistic world if the above is to be believed therefore we need to understand that higher standards are often a result of shedding our idealistic baggage and find common ground with those who can be springboards to heavenly visions becoming fulfilled. Ideals are oftentimes not practical and therefore need to be transformed and God has marvellous ways of making us understand that as we commit ourselves to His high and holy agenda.

 

It must be clearly delineated in our minds that Jesus selected 12 men each with unique characteristics and capabilities and with their own set of ideals and standards, and shaped them (with the exception of Judas) into a mighty force which in one generation had moved the good news of Jesus to what was then known as the uttermost parts of the earth. We must also cogitate on this reality as well that He started with a core of three, spread that out to twelve, extended it to 70 and by the time He was ascended, this group had become 120. “Oh Lord, give us a heart to see this become reality in our generation that we will recognize who we can work with and thereby see the mighty harvest You have promised in these the closing days of time as we know it . In Jesus’ powerful name!!”

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Can you agree with this statement that the more you stay with someone, the more you become like them and they like you? Personally, I want to stick around Jesus and His word so much that the Word Himself Jesus lives out His life in and through me. When that becomes a greater reality each day, we have more ability to get along with our fellow man. Relating to this, I have seen people so much in love with each other that they begin to merge all actions and talk into that confluence.

 

As we all know incense smells quite good, but the Proverbs writer stated that true friendship is even better – Proverbs 27:9 There is something so obvious about genuine camaraderie that everything around us is permeated with the sweetness that comes from the throne of God. The more we become like Jesus, the better chance the world has to be drawn to His claims over their lives as we are epistles read by all men. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 Don’t you want to be more like Jesus and thereby impact this wicked world around us with the good news that Jesus is alive and is concerned about every detail of their precious lives? I affirm that.

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Many people know what it is like to feel like a fool, and this is certainly one of the reasons why it is so important to keep people with sharp minds around us. A commercial many years ago stated: “From sharp minds come sharp products.” This was relating to a company which is labelled SHARP. If you have a desire to get and stay wise, then who you relate to becomes all important and a reference in Proverbs 13: 20 speaks about avoiding fools while surrounding ourselves with friends who make us wise. Furthermore, in chapter 27:17 of that same book, it speaks about iron sharpening iron as an illustration of friends who sharpen the minds of each other. The Bible also records in the book of Hebrews that the Word of God is “sharp”.

 

Beloved, you need to also get people around you that not only give instruction but can take instruction as well. What a sad world we live in when we get people around us who do nothing but try to make us feel good, molly coddle our ego’s and massage our minds so they can manipulate us for self-gain. That does not make us sharp but just caters for the spirit of the world to take us over. I encourage my real friends to speak into my life realistically, and even recently encouraged my youngest son to speak his heart about where he thinks I need some changes. This also opens the door for further totally honest dialogue about other matters of concern. We will never get sharp if we always surround ourselves with “yes men” who never challenge us.

 

David F. Maas offered this powerful commentary: “Godly communication between friends involves sharing common interests, giving and accepting advice, giving and accepting criticism, and giving and accepting encouragement. A healthy relationship requires both giving and receiving, with the primary emphasis on the way of give.” May the Lord help us once again as we resolve in our hearts to be the balance on this earth that God intends for His kingdom to be promoted.

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We are dealing today with another great truth which I suppose some people reading this passage in Proverbs 18:24 would rather see somewhere else, but nevertheless we take it as is: “Some friends don’t help, but a true friend is closer than your own family.”

 

What Solomon seems to be intimating is that we must be quite discriminating about who we select to be close to simply because they drag down rather than build up. In sharing about being sharp yesterday, you need to know who to have in your inner circle of friends and God gives us the ability to discern who is going to help and who is going to drag us down. I thank God for the time when I resisted having someone on my board who was a “critical thinker”. He was an astute businessman and all of that critical stuff in him was perfect for his organization but not for ours. I place people around me who have both the ability to think about the negatives but balance it out with solutions as well.

 

Another disturbing part of that verse is where it shares about friends being closer than family. A different translation speaks about being closer than a brother. I know many people have discovered the truth of that declaration. Family members often do not see the true potential of another part of their family, but an outsider will see something that people close to their lives are oblivious. I want to express thanks to God for all of my family over the years, particularly an amazing wife who sees me as I am, but conversely I praise the Lord for my dear friends who when this poor man cried out for mercy, were there to pick me up after I fell hard. They are treasured in my heart to this day and did not let me stay down when everything within me wanted to give up. They laid down their lives for me and modelled the love of God in magnanimous ways, correcting me, guiding me and just providing for me as well when almost everyone had given up on me. “Thank you Lord, for awesome and amazing friends over all these years who are sterling examples of what your love is all about."

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Loyalty among people has become a litmus test for knowing what is false and what is true. Loyalty among friends is increasingly being tested and severe strains have been recorded among the best of them. All of us are going to need to understand this word in these days when we do not know who we can count on and there are so many who can do so much if they keep their friendships together. Scripture states: “…you will have loyal friends if you want to do what is right.” Proverbs 14:22

 

Having delivered that part of my heart, I also do not believe in blind loyalty where honesty and truth have departed the premises and a fool’s paradise has been entered into. Some friendships are no friendships at all because it is all about scratching people’s backs and not about delivering what people need to hear about their shameful actions. True friendships tackle the devil in the midst of us and when we go out of whack in our behaviour will gently, wisely and forthrightly seek to correct the falseness of our ways. When any organization or person goes through a scandal, it is because the above quality is absent. I know the people I can trust to assist in the correction of my pathways and sometimes they scorch my behind with fiery coals, but ultimately it leads to doing what is right. This also gives me the ability to exercise the same action when they are not walking in a steadfast manner. It is called simple accountability.

 

William Shakespeare, the famous playwright and exquisite philosopher quite poignantly put it this way: “I will follow thee To the last gasp with truth and loyalty.” A great combination you will agree, and is one of the ways we can learn in how to relate to each other.

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I want to start another theme today namely, THE UNDERGIRDING PRINCIPLE OF LIFE which basically comes down to one major league word called OBEDIENCE. In God’s economy, obedience is not a fruit but is of paramount importance for the development of the kingdom of God. I never cease to be amazed at how our Christian walk begins with one small step of obedience where breakthrough has been negotiated by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, and then as we want to grow in the ways of God, the old slewfoot himself comes in and tries to make us disobedient to God and His Word.

 

Hear the word of the Lord: “You rejected my advice and paid no attention when I warned you…But if you listen to me, you will be safe and secure without fear of disaster.” Proverbs 1:30,33 God is faithful to place roadblocks in our way when we are moving towards disaster, but we need to discern and observe these warnings by turning over our lives in simple, steadfast obedience to what He desires and commands. God is asking us to rise up as soldiers of the Cross, and to lift high His royal banner in the earth by following our great Commander, Jesus Christ Himself. Why would we not want to obey Him when He has paved the road and walked the pathway that leads to everlasting life through His sinless life, his unequalled death, triumphant resurrection and ascension on high to make intercession for all who call upon His high and holy name?

 

It is time to take up our cross and go after Jesus with all that is within us as we tread this pilgrim pathway from here to glory.

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So let us press on from yesterday to another insight into this all important aspect called obedience. Has anyone ever considered what would happen to our crime rate if children were raised to be obedient to their parents? The Bible is full of detail about that much needed quality, but as we have all seen when parents disobey the word of God children will emulate what they are immediately exposed to. “My child, follow the teachings of your parents…” is how Solomon stated in the eighth verse of chapter 1 in Proverbs, and as I make that practical, none of us as parents can say that we have been ideal models of obedience either, but it still does not take away from the truth of what the Bible speaks in regards to parental influence. Even if parents have not been ideal, there are always people in the community or relatives who can have a decisive and balancing role to play when it comes to seeing the benefit of obedience.

 

Recently, the USA and the world was shocked into reality when three young men killed a young Australian man here in the country who was developing his skills in a college, and when apprehended one of the killers stated they were bored and just wanted to see what it would be like to kill somebody. Here is how Solomon again provided perspective on this: “Don’t be tempted by sinners or listen when they say, “Come on! Let’s gang up and kill somebody just for the fun of it.” Proverbs 1:10

 

Beloved – it is time once again for a hands on approach in our communities; this is also an act of obedience and I make my appeal to the hearts of lives of everyone reading as to how God would impress on you to become a brothers and sisters keeper however great or small so we can curtail the wave of violent crime gripping our communities. This is certainly one of the reasons we left the comforts of our life in the USA to start Life Community Services in George, South Africa back in 2001 and is also why we come back to our beloved nation, the USA from time to time to try and awaken our brothers and sisters here to what God can do when we dare to step to the plate on behalf of those who need so much from the hand of God.

 

After we had been there for a few years, a newspaper article came out and specifically applauded the work Life has done in the community because it had made a dent on the crime rate caused by gangs who had realized that Jesus is the best friend they can have and had seen the power of that demonstrated and modelled in front of them. I encourage you to keep standing with us my friends.

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I believe that obedience provides the essence of what life is about. Where would we be if Jesus did not obey all the way to the Cross? That thought would be frightening, but because he knew that was what was required, precious Redeemer Jesus Himself, bore our sins in His broken body as He died that agonizing death on Calvary.

 

Let’s take this essence thought one more step as we get extremely practical. What would happen if everyone in the workplace decided to do their own thing with no restraints whatsoever? You and I both know that anarchy would prevail and what needs a spirit of excellence would fall down and disintegrate. People need to have the discipline of obedience in front of them at all times.

 

Homes become destroyed when children are allowed to do just anything they want with no one to say either yes or no. As a parent, I assumed my children had normal intelligence so I would persuade them to be obedient and not try to just force them to do whatever. In the world I live, we operate in an an area where child headed and child run families are becoming more of a rule than an exception and they need to have the strongest and biggest helping hand in the land to give them incentive along the way. In this manner, they can also learn that developing obedient hearts comes about because of how much people care about them.

 

A thing we remind children all the time is: “God gives helpful advice (wisdom) to everyone who obeys him and protects all those who live as they should. “ Proverbs 2:7 As His emissaries, we must dispense that wisdom to a growing and increasingly intellectually charged generation who are looking for our ability to show them the ways of God. I want to be His hand extended and that includes to the oppressed as well, don’t you?

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I have been blessed throughout my life to be constantly exposed to the most generous people this world has ever seen, and in turn the world has been made better wherever that generosity has been proliferated. I have always wondered as to how then, we see so much contrast to that same quality where people are miserable, stingy, recluse, tight-fisted and incredibly selfish? I believe it has something to do with what we call a poverty mentality and I can only state that I want nothing to do with that state of mind wherever I am.

 

Solomon again put it this way: “Do all you can for everyone who DESERVES your help. Don’t tell your neighbour to come back tomorrow if you can help today.” Proverbs 3:27,28 Notice where I placed the emphasis and it just means that your obedience in being generous requires a qualification process oftentimes where strategic questions are put forward in order to ensure that we are good stewards of the manifold grace of God in our lives.

 

Even during our current visit to the USA, the volume of sacrificial and overwhelmingly generous support of our ministry to the children in George, South Africa has been an extremely moving experience for me and I want to honour these people and thank them publicly for their exceedingly precious gifts on behalf of those who need so much. Let us be powerfully stimulated to be deliberately generous.

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I am absolutely certain that 99.9% (really 100% that are part of the human race) of us have discovered that disobedience comes quite naturally and that obedience can be quite difficult. This is why we state that obedience is an integral part of learned behaviour. Anarchy, rebellion and revolution are oftentimes the result of neglect as well. How many children today do we see who have never had a strong hand of influence in their lives leading them into the pathways of righteousness, and are today’s terrorists.

 

When we set out to develop Life Community Services in George, South Africa, we had to remember this as a backdrop to our labours, and the primary emphases is to raise up a generation of children who have learned to number one, obey God, trust in His Word, and to be lead into all truth as compassionate and loving servants of God show them what it means to model Jesus in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. The starting point according to Scripture is when the children are tender and that means before they have learned disobedience. S. Michael Houdmann made this very apt commentary: “In fact, even at a tender age children are able to discern that discipline is rooted in love. That is why children who grow up in homes without discipline often feel unloved and are more likely to disobey authority as they grow older.” The fine art of obedience begins early in life and the development of mighty children in our land is going to take hands on approach from the church of Jesus. Let us become His hands reaching out to these precious little ones just as Jesus did.

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Who do I obey? This is a question that must always be answered by all of us with a clear conscience and naturally there is instruction given about that in God’s holy Word. We can speak into this in myriads of ways, but we must always remember that obedience should be the steady tenor of our lives in all we say, do, go and in our general character of life. The earlier we learn it, the better our lives will be and it all starts by taking heed according to the Word of God.

 

In our reference today, it is quite clear about the role parents play in this and the older I get, the more I realize how important this is. “My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.” Proverbs 6:21,22 The binding and fastening secures them for eternal purposes.

 

If you have been raised in a godly home, most of us have constant reminders carefully inculcated from the time of our childhood that persist with us no matter how old we get. We then need to accept the challenge of those who have never had that privilege by moving in a mentoring way to those who are looking for the way forward. Have an awesome day.

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A life of regrets can often be a sign of someone who has never learned the life of obeying God or the voice of wisdom in their lives. All of us can look back and say that the direction of our lives could and probably would be different if we had been more diligent to obey either our inner voice (conscience) or someone’s voice who loves us deeply. One thing we need to remember in the midst of this is that it is never too late to start obeying as a practice in our lives.

 

I have run into so many people living in the past with morbid fascination about all the mistakes they have made and render themselves quite useless to people around them because they are covered in their pity parties. When are we ever going to accept that old things have passed away and behold all things become new when we truly repent, confess our sins to Almighty God who is powerful enough to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and then smite the devil by walking out of bondage into the glorious light of God? I do not think that is asking too much from us and God is so willing and able to bring us not only out of the darkness of our souls, but actually renew our minds as we regenerate each day before the throne of God, basking in His presence and indulging plus imbibing and then abiding in the Word of God. Come on everybody – lets’ start the first steps of obedience right now.

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Growing up, when my mother was getting overwhelmed with my errant behaviour, before she got really upset, she would say words to this effect: “If you do not straighten up your behaviour immediately, I will have to refer this to your Dad.” Usually, that was enough to put to put me back in and online with Biblical behaviour patterns, because I did not want to mess with my Dad as he could use many multi-faceted ways to make me walk on the straight and narrow way. How I rejoice in all the wonderful methods God used to teach me obedience growing up, and though I have strayed many times since then, that foundation was carefully crafted by parents who loved Jesus with all their hearts and it has kept me through some very tough times.

 

It also implies that obedience is a constant process and that we need to get our daily instruction from pondering and meditating upon God’s ways as outlined in His holy Word in our goings out and coming in wherever we are. David spoke about this in the Psalms and his son Solomon also referenced this relationship between obedience and correction as well: “Children with good sense accept correction from their parents, but stubborn people ignore it completely. “ Proverbs 13:1 It must also be remembered that there is a big difference between strong-willed and stubborn children, and we must bear in mind that a children can be strong-willed without being stubborn, but a stubborn person is always strong-willed. I can mold a strong-willed child, but stubbornness is stupidity. So far for today!

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We must of necessity ask as to how obedience is administered into our lives and of course there are many ways God uses to bring us into a place where He has proper opportunity to utilize us effectively. I believe that the Biblical ideal is found in Proverbs where God states to train up children in the way they should go, and when older they will not depart. But so often, the ideal is just that as many have not had that privilege in life and it is therefore incumbent on those who are followers of Christ to address the reality of taking people fresh into the things of God who in fact have been trained mightily in the ways of the world and develop transformation within that same individual. This obviously takes times and energy, but who said that discipleship was easy?

 

I look at the children we started with back in 2001 in George, and the leaders rising up now in their teens have been trained from scratch in the ways of God and are making a massive impact in the community accordingly. One of those young men was in such a deep valley, but through patience and endurance has emerged as an incredibly sensitive leader and is making huge strides in becoming an example for the younger children now being impacted through Life Community Services. Please check it out @: www.lifecommunity.co.za. You will be mightily stirred – of that I am certain. More on this process tomorrow.

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Following on from yesterday about the practical ways obedience comes our way, we can never forget the value of correction which obviously requires a teachable spirit. It does not take long for Solomon to express himself about this fact when in the first chapter of Proverbs he states: “Listen as I correct you and tell you what I think.” V. 23

 

There are some people I know who are the most didactic correctional people in the world and when you go to correct them, they get totally offended. Where then is the teachable spirit in this scenario? The attitude I have adopted is that if the shoe fits, I must wear it, no matter who the delivery person is. It does not take too long to understand beloved that as much as you wish they would change, you cannot do that, only God can. I must just keep my attitudes up-to-date and my life an open book before God.

 

I have also discovered that correction is a necessity at all levels of life as none of us is perfect and that the Lord is very near to those who are longsuffering. Beloved friend – if you think you are not understood just allow yourself to go through the painful art of longsuffering and in so doing, you will find your best friend Jesus Himself thereto steady you and preserve you and make your pathway straight through the correcting facilities that God raises up to make us mature in the Lord.

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Can you imagine a world where leadership of whatever type listened explicitly and implicitly to the Lord, ie. obedience to God and His holy Word? Unfortunately, the prevailing spirit in our world today is the principle (if you can call it that) of expediency and compromise. Compromise can be good when you get caught up in an angry spirit and need to calm down, but when your values are at stake, it can become an ugly word. I also want to give you something to think about when it comes to expediency as well in the interest of getting your feedback as it does not necessarily register my convictions in these scenarios.

 

What some would call wisdom is actually expediency and vice versa.

 

A person will express that their reserves or even restraints in certain areas are because they do not want to turn off a person from the kingdom of God through bellicose and belligerent dogmatism.

 

What some would call politically unprincipled, another would call wisdom recognising that politics is virtually always about consensus and deal making.

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I think many people have discovered in real life that the distance between the head and heart can often be much further than the physical measurement and of course we know why that is because there is an enemy of our souls who tries his worst to block the truth from lodging. When people intellectually wrap their heads around philosophies of one sort or another, often they try to be so open that they refuse to obey the obvious nature of why we have the Bible in the first place. In this life, as much as I may study until I am blue in the face, I realize that God is looking for straightforward and unadulterated obedience to He and His holy Word.

 

Here is how the beloved Solomon stated it as recorded in the Amplified version of Proverbs 4:4 - “He taught me and said to me, Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.” Notice the emphasis on the heart and he could have also gone back to something his father wrote many years before that when he quoted: “Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You, oh Lord.” Psalm 119:11 “Lord, teach and instruct us in Your ways that we might develop the ability to precisely obey You when we see what your Word is speaking to us today. Amen!”

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I have emphasized generosity in times gone by and even recently, but to me one of the great litmus tests of obedience is how we take what we have been given and distribute it. I was raised under this conviction that nothing I have been given is just for me but to be shared. Therein lays the nub of the hub. Most people on planet earth are intrinsically selfish and therefore self is the motivation behind most everything they do. I am not being self-righteous when I say that either as this instinct must always be addressed and annihilated on a daily basis as I walk this pilgrim pathway from earth to glory.

 

This is why obedience is so important as it deals with my sinful and arbitrary ways of living this life I now enjoy. Hear the word of the Lord again: “Do all you can for everyone who deserves your help. Do not tell your neighbour to come back tomorrow when you can capacitate today.” Proverbs 3:27,28 It gets even more succinct than this a little later: “If you want too much and are too lazy to work, it could be fatal. But people who obey God are ALWAYS generous.” Proverbs 21:25,26 Start your generosity spirit today beloved.

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For obvious reasons, obedience relates to the issue of sexuality as well as Solomon delivers this profound injunction: “Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” He is there urging his son(s) to place a careful guard upon his life when it comes to the whole matter of fornication and adultery.

In this modern day we are living in, we cannot be too careful about this as it is so easy to slip up, but a word to the wise here should be appropriate: “Husbands, ensure that you maintain a deep sensitivity to the over-all emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of your wives, and wives, do not withdraw your body from your husband with the obvious exception of physical handicap.” That is a mouthful and represents a great starting point for obeying God when it comes to sexuality accentuation. The alternative is to open the flood gates to sexual turpitude, which we certainly do not need more of in this generation.

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How many times did Solomon speak about children obeying parents in the book of Proverbs? Plenty, I can assure you and as I grew up I heard that come from both my Mom and Dad on frequent occasions. But it was not what they said that impressed me so much but how they acted which brings me to this point: “Mom and Dad demanded obedience from us through their instruction, but commanded obedience through their godly example.”

 

I can never get away from what Paul stated about this matter and I am certain he took his lead from the writings of Proverbs when he stated: “ Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right when you obey your parents.” Ephesians 6:1 He then went on and spoke about having an extra measure of life added on because of that factor. I see many miserable children and I also see many happy children. The happiest ones are those who have been exercised in obedience. This is also an antidote to spoiling children who grow up demanding their own way. Let us take up the power of living according to what God and His Word provide.

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I find it most stimulating and encouraging that much of what my parents spoke and exemplified as I grew up are still very much a sharp and poignant recollection. The times of prayer we had as a family never leave me and the occasions (more frequent than I like to confess) where I was lovingly disciplined back into good behaviour are always there to beckon my soul when it has tendencies to stray today. I can also recall the every day time where we had to kneel before my Dad and have him lay hands on our heads as he prayed for us before going to school. What a privilege to have an earthly mother and father who actively served Jesus in this manner and thereby provided obedient and loving service to the Lord and to us as children.

 

Proverbs 6:20-22 expresses it so profoundly: “Obey the teaching of your parents-always keep it in mind and never forget it. Their teaching will guide you when you walk, protect you when you sleep, and talk to you when you are awake.” I had that privilege and honor growing up, but so many do not especially in the world I live in. The challenge once again is for godly examples to rise up and help develop those who are not with any huge expectations, but are merely asking for a hand of friendship and compassion. Who will stand and in obedience to God, become His hands reaching out to the oppressed?

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I have arrived on campus here at my alma mater in Haverhill, Massachusetts which in my time was called Zion Bible Institute and is now Northpoint Bible College. I immediately discovered that there is a yearning heart cry for a move of God from the very throne of God. I had heard about this some time back and was most desirous to see what is happening. The hungering and thirsting from members of the student body is tangible and when an invitation was extended to attend a prayer time last night which was most spontaneous, I readily accepted and was so glad I went.

 

I can tell you that there was near a hundred students and some older folk (like me) in attendance and when one of the lady students took the microphone she had in essence this word from the Lord about the necessity for total obedience, thus affirming what God is saying to so many about the necessity for total commitment to God and His holy Word. It also brought into sharp focus what was spoken in Proverbs 2:5,6 – “With ALL your heart you MUST trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow.” Don’t you also yearn for more from God? Then, as the songwriter so distinctly stated: “But we never can prove the delights of His love, until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, and the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey. Chorus: Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

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I listen carefully to people I know I can count on but the disrespect I see from so many people today towards men and women of wisdom alarms me. We need to remove distractions from our lives in every way when speaking to someone we know has something precious from the heart of God, but too often, we do not show the respect they deserve because we are too busy taking phone calls, texting someone, no eye contact with people addressing us and the list can go on. This demonstrates a fundamental lack of ingrained obedience. Don’t worry – I am not being self-righteous when I bring this up because these are things God has worked my case about as well.

 

“Listen, because what I say is worthwhile and correct” was how Solomon stated it in chapter 8 and later “Pay attention, my children! Follow my advice and you will be happy. Listen carefully to my instructions and you will be wise.” In these closing days of time, we are going to need to be doing much careful listening and paying attention to God’s instructions - let us begin immediately.

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People who obey God implicitly and explicitly will never be intimidated by anything and this is what Solomon seems to be overtly driving at when he records this message: “Once the wicked are defeated (speaking of warfare), they are gone forever, but no one who obeys God will be thrown down.” Proverbs 12:7

 

These past few days at my alma mater called Northpoint Bible College, there have been many calls coming forth to simple, straightforward and stimulating obedience, no matter what the cost. Precious believer – if you have been one of those who have succumbed to the discouragement melting pot, I want to encourage you to take one obedient step at a time each day to God and His Word and thereby subdue this emotion. God understands your weaknesses, but He just wants you to take one faith step of obedience at a time as you abide in the provocation coming forth from His Word. Start today and soak in all you can from God’s Word today so you can be His servant to obey. This is not very profound, but it certainly works.

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Many people think that people with huge money reserves have their act together, and I suppose for some that would be the case, but the richest man on earth in his time, King Solomon had a very strange statement to make which all of us need to take heed to today: “It’s better to obey the Lord and have only a little than to be very rich and be terribly confused.” Proverbs 15:23 I once remember speaking with an extremely wealthy person and they described themselves as poor little rich people. Sounds like an anomaly to me, but the description was made about the kind of constant pressure that comes from the IRS to those with immense amounts of wealth. This gave me better understanding about Solomons “terribly confused” statement.

 

To have a little bit and be obedient sounds like the better pathway which uncomplicates many parts of our lives. In our money driven world, I encourage all of us to live simply and to the wealthy do not forget your commission in life to be generous. In these days, there are still great tax breaks for the generous but stinginess can really complicate everyones lives because it is centred in selfishness. My Dad used to describe money as “filthy lucre”, but I can tell you that whenever he received money, his generosity of spirit was in instant manifestation. Let us all fall out of love with our wallets and fall in love with the One, Jesus Himself who urges us to give of ourselves, our time, money and everything that can bless others.

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In Proverbs 15, the strongest language is used to describe obedience by children to parents: “Don’t be a fool and disobey your parents. Be smart! Accept correction.” As a child growing up, I always knew when I was wrong and when corrected I did not always take heed to my parents sage words. This constituted disobedience and required a certain discipline being exerted by the authority in our home. It reminded me of the apostle’s words in the book of Hebrews: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

 

Notice it says “trained in it”. This is not a spasmodic thing, but requires diligence and wisdom and while we utilize this godly weapon of discipline, we also exert affirmation as well so it is blended with all the compentry needed to keep a child from being overwhelmed by what is wrong with them. I am always grateful for the times when my parents showed this kind of wisdom and it is a wisdom we all need as well in all aspects of life.

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This is going to be very short and I am going to ask you a question with no tricks attached at all, so here goes. I look forward to your answers. How is God impressing you about obedience today, and are there some scenarios where obedience is harder than in other settings? Please express yourselves openly and honestly as I am certain that many following this little blog are waiting with bated breath for your timely insights. God bless you in this glorious day.

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I heard something as I was driving around the country the other day and it made me pull over and write it down (I do not have perfect memory). It was spoken by the inimitable Charles Stanley and it simply stated: “You can never know the far-reaching effects of one act of obedience.” The same holds true for disobedience as well, but we can always comfort ourselves with this knowledge that all things do work together for good to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 Make no mistake, there is going to be some deep soul-searching attached to this disobedience and the need for genuine repentance also comes into play; therefore the strong admonition to rather obey and not have to go through all the junk that results from disobedience. We need to learn that early and young and never think that it is too late to start.

 

I would like it very much if some of you could write back about the far-reaching effects of one act of obedience in your life either towards you or from you. Can you do that for me now?

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“Keep them at your fingertips” is how Solomon spoke about obedience in Proverbs 7:3, and it speaks about substance and immediacy. So often, we get so caught up in our own brand of doing things that the substance of our lives is totally wrapped in obeying our selfish instincts instead of what God has outlined in His word. How much better will it be if the will of God becomes our substantiation in life and instead of always searching in the wrong places for meaning, we instantaneously respond to what God is impressing on us in the now.

 

In the same verse “write them on your mind” is also there and we are therefore encouraged not just to catch the drift of what God is stating to us and to obey implicitly and explicitly, but to store it in our minds for future reference. Can you see how important it is to simply obey God? He is worthy to be trusted.

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The word opinionated often has to be defined as the inability to obey God. If God is truth (which He is), and opinions are often just that (not based on researched truth), then there is definitely a dearth of understanding about what it means to obey the Lord. Hear what Solomon states about opinions: “Fools have no desire to learn; they would much rather give their own opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

 

Frankly, I do not trust opinions because usually it does not hold up to the gaze of careful scrutiny. When I hear some of the people who get on talk radio, the words foolish often comes to my mind and I am quick to turn the dial. That is not to say that all talk radio is foolish, but if you listen carefully and have a discerning mind, you will soon realize you are wasting your time listening to such junk. An open mind to God and His holy Word is a gift, but when you label people who are either to the right or left, all of a sudden, you are no longer open-minded. This is why I prefer to be called someone who honors God and His Word which is much more trustworthy than other labels. Let us have some more dialogue about this. Let me hear from you.

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Have you discovered how important it is to train your mind to become obedient? Training is the key and Jane Austen very masterfully put it this way: “There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control!”

 

Obedience does not come natural therefore, and needs to be exercised on a constant basis lest we become disobedient. The Basic English Bible expresses it quite excellently: “If a child is trained up in the right way, even when he is old he will not be turned away from it.” Proverbs 22:6 The commission over all of our lives is to be in obedience to God so those around us will most naturally see what a great thing it is to be in total obedience to our marvellous Redeemer, Jesus Himself.

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I am reminded by Almighty God that fools are impervious to what is right and that we receive the pleasure of God when we do what is right. Proverbs 14:9 In that same chapter it also states that the wicked will come crawling to those who obey God. V.19 I can never forget how old King Nebuchadnezzar was living in a field like an animal after gross manifestations of pride and eventually he came cried out for answers to his dilemma ultimately acknowledging that God is over all the affairs of men and showed his respect for God’s ways from then on.

 

One thing about true Christians is that we have carefully demarcated understandings on what is right and wrong and in a time when everything is becoming lost in translation and tolerance is the name of the game for many while others do the politically correct thing, there is still a Biblical standard to uphold and obey. I want to be on God’s side and do not care one snap about compromising values that I know stem from the very heart of God as revealed in His holy Word. I have learned from sad experience that it gets you nowhere and can bring confusion, heartache and loss. Rather state with Joshua that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and why do we say that? Because no one else is worthy to be praised, served and adored.

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Somebody once stated in a way that was a bit of a mystery to me when I heard it, but it went something like this: “Fill and possess me with your Holy Spirit, but give me Jesus.” That was always something hidden from me until I remembered that Jesus Himself stated while on earth, that the Holy Spirit who is coming will draw attention to Me. John 16:14 That released this little prayer into something that began to take control because the word possess means just that.

 

When you are possessed it becomes fully reasonable then that obedience is not so much what you do as to who you are under the Lordship of Jesus. I am certain that makes a whole lot of sense as you discern this properly. God then possesses these vessels called human beings in His righteousness so we can transact His kingdom business on earth as it is in heaven. Let us make that our prayer today as we go about the multitude of life situations we are walking through.

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I was thinking deeply again today about our topic of possession as it relates to obedience, and four distinct thoughts struck me which I now want to share.

 

Firstly, possession implies control. When we are filled and possessed with the Holy Spirit, our minds, bodies and souls are literally under control. When we think of the opposite ramifications of control, then we are under influence to do what our instincts and emotions dictate. This is why the divine imperative over all of our lives as believers is to live in and obey the living Word of/from God.

 

Another thing about control is that our lives as humans is not our own. Marriage is about two people as partners which if each defends his or herself can cause multitudes of friction and animosity. I live for my wife and she lives for me and we both live for the Lord. We must also remember that our wills must become fused with the will of God as revealed in God’s Word. That would be a good thing for us to remember as we strive to live peacefully in our marriage lives.

 

We also become one with the One possessing us so that division has no part of our lives. We are quite tangibly “sold out” to Jesus Christ who is our all and in all and that includes pursuing and promoting Gods’s teaching on true unity.

 

Finally, everything we do is for the One possessing us. We draw total attention to Him, bow down before Him, worship and adore Him and have our existence from Him. All our activities and schedule are prayerfully researched and we are sensitive to our time as well.

 

Beloved - let us all fall in love with the One who loves us better than even we can imagine.

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How many people have found out when we obey the Lord that even our enemies make friends with us? Proverbs 16:7 I have seen it so many times that I could list several examples of it that I have seen personally in my lifetime but it all comes down as to whether I have a will to be reconciled or not. I hate stubbornness and as I have stated before a strong will and stubbornness are separate issues, but maybe Washington DC should be getting this message right around now with the way sides are being accentuated and heels are being dug in.

 

It would really be great if some of those leaders could come together in prayer and ask the Lord to give His wisdom and get out of this fine fix we are having in our nation’s capitol these days. That is called basic humility, not grandstanding, posturing or politicking. Maybe then God could heal our nation from the way we are getting so polarized and antagonistic. This could also be called profound obedience as well and then enemies can become friends.

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Our home church, Covenant Church of Pittsburgh hosted people from all over the world this week at what has been dubbed the PRESENCE CONFERENCE. This is an annual event attracting some prime time speakers and workshop sessions as well usually around the first to the middle of October. I can say that the purity of the messages were totally stunning but one in particular by Mark Hayes was what hit me between the eyes and made me think quite deeply again. He was addressing the topic of vision and building up to a point about “revision” and then it struck me as he spoke on the need for change that our disobedience blocks us from the changes God so desires to negotiate in our lives.

I began to ask God to once again make me more obedient to what He is striving to get into this thick skull of mine and to make me a vessel that can get everything from the Lord to make me a totally effective harvester for the kingdom of God. Beloved, let us remember that the Lord Jesus made it abundantly clear that this good news of the kingdom shall be preached in all the earth and THEN the end shall come. Matthew 24:14 What an amazing time to be alive as the Lord equips us through His Holy Spirit and Word to take in the harvest which at the moment has too few workers. Set us on fire dear Lord, with a passion and wisdom for the dying souls of mankind that have been entrusted to our care. We pray this, in Jesus’ powerful name. Amen!!

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Scripture records that obedience is indeed a life or death issue (Proverbs 19:16) and even if that does not come naturally, spiritually speaking it stands to reason that obedience to God and His Word brings life and disobedience creates spiritual, mental and ultimately natural death. In our hearts through the exercise of our will and having possession of a conscience, we know what is right and wrong, but we do make choices, some good and some bad.

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We learn obedience as most of us clearly understand that it does not come naturally which is also why we must be of a teachable disposition. If I know I am taking a position which is wrong, then I must be humble enough to confess that. Recently, I heard a man speak something and directly contradicted himself the next evening without blinking an eyelash or apologizing for being so obviously wrong in his spirit. If he had just come out the second evening and stated that he was wrong the first night, he could have redeemed himself. He had opportunity to take the death of the first evening and turn it into life through a humble spirit, but chose to follow the pathway of pride. Help us all, Lord Jesus to recognize what brings life and run away from what brings death.

 

Jet lag is now my middle name as even trying to write this little piece is an incredible challenge. Anyway, I am now back on the ground after starting this journey on Monday, and it is good to be back in George. During the trip, I was challenged by a book written by Richard Stearne who is the current President of World Vision International, and thanks to Marilyn Mulvihill for doing me the huge favour of gifting this amazing book called UNFINISHED to my loving care.

 

Something he wrote in there among many other stimulating prods was this most evocative statement, and it has truly had a life-changing dimension added to my present challenge: “There were specific tasks he wanted them (the disciples) to finish. And they could accept this mission with all of its consequences or they could walk away and return to their previous lives as fishermen, labourers, and tax collectors. He gave them a choice…And they made it. They chose obedience.” (Chapter 3, page 40 of Unfinished)

 

What choice is God requiring total obedience is the Lord bringing to your attention today? Please respond my friends – you could like the disciples of old change your whole world.

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Alan Redpath was a great preacher at the Moody Church in Chicago, Illinois, and when I was young while he was pastor at the church, that I heard the World Vision Children’s Choir from Korea sing there. This goes back to yesterday’s blog from the current President of World Vision. He also made a great statement about obedience: “We are prepared to serve the Lord only by sacrifice. We are fit for the work of God only when we have wept over it, prayed about it, and then we are enabled by Him to tackle the job that needs to be done. May God give to us hearts that bleed, eyes that are wide open to see, minds that are clear to interpret God's purposes, wills that are obedient, and a determination that is utterly unflinching as we set about the tasks He would have us do.”

 

Something inside the hearts of truly converted-to-Jesus mankind yearns for meaningful expression for higher and holy purposes, and as Pastor Redpath so profoundly proclaimed, the way to obedience is an act of the will. If you want to know what the will of God is about, then let God’s will as outlined in His holy Word become your will as you take faith initiatives under His authority in compassionate and transforming service to Him. This way, you can be His hand extended reaching out to those in need of the amazing love of God.

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Years ago, a sage man of God gave me a prophetic warning about someone I had never met and neither had he, but the essence of it was that this individual had a certain characteristic which would boil over at the slightest provocation. I had learned through many experiences with that particular man, that you listen carefully to what he said because he had insight into people near and far, rich and powerful, low and high esteem and I had never seen him be wrong about anyone. As it turned out, his assessment of that man was totally correct as I learned shortly thereafter. Most of all, he knew what I was really like because as much as he knew me, he also knew things about me that I thought only God knew. A unique man you might be saying right now and indeed he was.

 

One thing I knew about that man is that he as the result of many sad and illustrious experiences in his life had learned how to listen to and obey God through thick and thin. This gave him insights that many people could only dream about. People who learn to obey God and His Word qualify for wisdom which in turn gives remarkable ability to see into situations that go beyond the normal intelligence of this life we now live. May God enable us to gain this kind of understanding proceeding from the very heart and mind of Almighty God that we might know how to respond adequately and inspirationally under whatever context we will be.

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I owe a big debt to a man back in the ‘90’s who took me aside and carefully plus professionally like a doctor performed some necessary surgery on me. No, he did not have a doctor’s degree, but the methodical and intricate way he opened up a wound and carefully stitched it back afterwards, figuratively speaking, qualified him for a Doctor’s degree in humanitarian reconstruction of my life. You see, I had developed an extremely bad habit, and to be sure, I still must work at this habit, but it is overwhelmingly better than years ago. You are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about so here it is.

 

Without realizing it, I had developed a very bad habit of looking away from people when they were talking to me, and after he explained what this does to people particularly by making them feel unimportant, I began to realize how many times I had offended people and lost certain opportunities for advancement, growth and even sales through this disturbing behaviour. As I said, I still have to work at this and indeed think about this everyday as I meet with people, but how do you think people feel when you are talking to them and are constantly on your cell phone or engage in other kinds of distracting behaviour? It makes them feel insignificant and even crushed. Let us all go to work in obedient manner over this matter as we consider how necessary it is to dialogue with people on a personal basis.

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I have discovered that it takes more than words to enable someone to obey. Solomon again said as much: “Even when servants are smart, it takes more than words to make them obey.” Proverbs 29:19 Some people are so smart that they force us to become the ones who provide example before they move. Does anyone out there know what I am talking about? Did not some famous person once state: “Don’t tell me how to do it, show me?”

 

The power of a living example can never be underestimated, and thank God for all those practical people who took the time to demonstrate how to do things and not just explain. I am grateful for all the people who showed me how to do things and not just try to hand me a piece of paper and say to do what it said. The best teachers in life are those who demonstrate the lesson they are trying to teach. As a teacher, there is no greater joy than to see a student wrestle with and then grab what is being clarified so they in turn are enabled and empowered. May we always remember that it takes more than words to make someone obey.

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This study into the Proverbs has enriched my life on so many dimensions and levels and now it is getting deeper as well just digging further and not being content to have a cursory look at something which was meant to be searched into. For instance – how many people knew that the word fool in chapter 1 and verse 7 actually means a know-it-all person with a dogmatic opinion about everything, is closed to anything new, resents discipline and absolutely refuses to learn. WOW – that should take us all into a reflect moment and then start asking ourselves howe we can conversely become wise which is the total contradiction to a fool.

 

The wise by blessed contrast respect and honor God, live in awe of His amazing power, and truly live in obedience to His revealed Word. Personally, I want to be among THAT role call and become a reflection of what it means to live godly in this world. When I conceive of the negatives resulting from the fools, it should also be a stimulus to go in an opposite direction as well. My we continue becoming teachable, fullk of divine instruction, hungering and thirsting for more from God and His Word, and also demonstrating the whole counsel of God in this generation.

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When I was in the USA, I had the high honor of attending the 45th reunion of my graduating college class while in the state of Massachusetts. A new campus opened up there a few years ago for the school which used to be called Zion Bible College and is now Northpoint Bible College which was purchased by a generous benefactor – improvements were made also due to his beneficence and the student body was then given a new president as well with his name being Dr. David Arnett. I also had the privilege of meeting him there and was instantly impressed by the depth of his knowledge, the intensity of his love for Jesus, and his fervency for the mission that we all must respond to while we walk this pilgrim pathway. Something he spoke about relating to obedience and disobedience sank deep in my spirit and this now follows with the intensity of heart I believe was profoundly displayed in close observation: "People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated" (D.A. Carson)

 

Dr. Arnett was quoting the above gentleman, and I found myself using this statement as a prayer that God would break, melt, mold and shape me into the kind of person that takes away the tendency for errancy followed by the answer of a consistent walk with the Lord.

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I like to think that when I speak something that there is an audience that can listen at least for a small period of time to what I have to say. I do try to speak sparingly and also do not try to hoard a conversation either because my ears need to listen more than my mouth needs to speak. When I observe something about God, there is something in His nature as well that wants to be heard (He does know what is best for us), therefore the following: “Get wisdom, get understanding: do not forget my words or turn away from them.” Proverbs 4:5 In essence, He is making an appeal to our more noble instincts that have retention capabilities and once retained as a footnote states that we must pursue what He is speaking to us about by not forsaking the collective truth obtained through the understanding gained.

 

This is why we need to be exercised in obedience because often we become hearers and not doers of what God is expressly bringing to our focus. I was engaged in a recent conversation with someone about this very theme, and we were just reflecting on how revolutionized our societies would become if we had more people being the church instead of going to church. Therefore, the emphasis on being proficient in carrying out God’s explicit commands and not just have a happy, clappy, hallelujah time together. Don’t worry, I have no problem with that but don’t you think it is time that we confront our fears and become Jesus to people in our communities who are crying out for the reality of Jesus to be seen?

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For many of us in the human race, it takes not years but sometimes even decades to learn that it is better to obey God and His Word than to trust in our own intellect or understanding. How much better is it to be exercised in obedience from an early age when we are suppler and less hardened to the facts of life? I speak from experience and I can only thank God for the lessons I did learn when I was young particularly from my parents, but the regrets I have pertain mostly to what I did not receive from them when they spoke some very acute wisdom into my life.

 

Children who learn to obey early have a cutting edge in life as they never have to struggle with rebellion and all the accouterments attached to that condition. This is not to say that they are not familiar with that particular state but have made a choice to move away from it because they have a sharp focus on the heartache and sorrow resulting. Some of our teenagers we have worked with since small are becoming mighty children in our land as Psalm 112 speaks about, and are so productive and ambitious in the correct manner that they are going to surprise this nation. They who have had so little and could have become so rebellious are in a state of obeying the Lord in the most infinitesimal detail and true significance is being built into their precious lives accordingly. Let us all recognize the benefits of obeying the Lord. It is NEVER too late to start.

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How many people have learned that God’s wisdom is so vastly different from the wisdom of man? You see, we have got our own worldviews and value systems which God in His holy Word completely disrupts. Let me give you an example: “Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and shun evil.” Proverbs 3:7 Now tie that together with what Paul spoke to the Roman church: “Do not be proud, BUT be willing to associate with people of low position.” Chapter 12:16

 

God’s wisdom calls for obedience and in this instance, we are being told to not just relate to people of high esteem and rankings, but to establish vital links with the least among us. Many people in the pride of their lives do not want to do that and I have found that many people of low esteem who have in their generation become of high esteem often do not even relate to the very people they have escaped from. It hurts to say that and I am not saying it always happens, but to me there is nothing so sad as to forget the roots we have been dug from. As God has brought and is bringing us into a place of blessing, so we MUST bless others who are also looking for the biggest helping hand in our land.

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I want to turn around and walk in the right direction when it comes to remembrance. Is it not interesting that when we become set in our ways, the first thing we cling to, are our selective memories? How important it is to be balanced in this life and Solomon spoke incisively and boldly into this very issue when these important interjections were recorded: “My child, remember my teachings and instructions and obey them completely. They will help you live a long and prosperous life.” Proverbs 3:1,2 When we suffer with selective memory, the obedience factor goes right out the door and often we fill that gap with the excuse that we never heard what was being instructed.

The older I get (66 very soon), the more I ask the Lord to help me repent of selective memory (remembering what I want to hear and not what I need to hear). I need to be like Moses and so many other prophets who kept hearing and responding to the Lord’s commands no matter how old they were, and I have also discovered that a huge step of obedience pertains to keeping my body in shape also. It is so easy to just make excuses and not to become challenged by life, but I always remember that an excuse is “a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” Have a great day precious friends.

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I saw some outstanding quotes on obedience recently and today, I want to share them with you in this blog. The late, great Dwight L. Moody stated: “Obedience means marching right on whether we feel like it or not. Many times we go against our feelings. Faith is one thing, feeling is another.” Bravo on that statement and it hit me just at the right time when everything was on top of me.

 

Once again, Thomas Watson succinctly and cogently put it this way: “A musician is not recommended for playing long, but for playing well; it is obeying God willingly, that is accepted; the Lord hates that which is forced, it is rather a tax than an offering. Cain served God grudgingly; he brought his sacrifice, not his heart.” Let us then move forward with a hilarious attitude knowing that this pleases God and creates the atmosphere of heaven in our hearts.

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I can never forget a friend once telling me that God will never take you on the second step of obedience until you have taken the first. So often, what God brings initially to us is designed to break us of our own will when it comes to things we do not like to do or want to do. I cannot begin to tell you how many dozens of people when they hear what we are doing in this community say to me: “Rather you than me.” They forget the struggle we also went through to eventually surrender what we wanted and had opportunity to do to hear God impressing on us that we needed to bite the bullet and take the first giant step which was the pathway into amazing blessing not so much for us but thousands of children around us raised up and ready to do God’s bidding themselves.

 

I drive children around every day and one of them asked me a question when I sat down at the driver’s seat a couple of days to take them to our Champions AfterCare Centre. He had heard me commend the one child for sacrificing his rightful place in the front seat to another child where upon I stated that this was a very generous thing for him to do. The question of course was to the meaning of generous and after explaining, the little guy was quite satisfied. Here is the crunch of what I am saying: “How often is God asking us to become more generous as that first step we mentioned above and how hard that is for us to become obedient to that first display of suppliance in whatever way? If responded to, it promises a bright future not just for you but countless others who are looking at your godly demonstration.

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In certain translations of the Bible, the expression “tablet of the heart” rises out of Holy Writ, and most definitely in its purest interpretation speaks of hiding something in our inner being that fortifies and protects us. It appears a couple of times in both the Proverbs and Psalms among other passages, but when we delve further the very connotation of the word tablet indicates the usage for educational purposes as well, therefore having our inner being fortified by the ways we not just read the Bible, but how we absorb it into our daily existence to be brought out of our memory bank for instant usage in any vicissitude of life we may face.

 

Solomon voluminously and frequently alludes to this necessity but one of the more distinct passages follows: “My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ears (get wisdom inside you) to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.” Proverbs 5: 1,2 We talk about discretionary spending, but the reference here is to sound moral character which when the Word of God is hidden in our hearts will cause us not to sin against the Lord. Psalm 119:11 May we take heed according to God’s holy Word as we endeavour to walk in His footsteps each and every day. Bless you and keep you.

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If there is one lesson I have been learning throughout my “threescore and ten” (or more if God so desires) years, it is that my selection of who I relate to is of paramount importance. This might sound unbearingly judgmental, but there are certain people I cannot and will not relate to because they have finely developed tendencies to excruciatingly drag down and not build up. Put me in a crowd of “salt of the earth” kind of people and I do not want to leave the premises. I love being around people who have intellectually and inspirationally honed minds that are permeated with God’s holy Word and enjoy nothing better than to see life as a daily adventure no matter what comes their way.

 

I have a friend who is all of the above and more, and I know the hell of what he goes through day in and out, but remains a constant and glorious reminder in front of me of what it means to stay upbeat no matter what his circumstances are and it is like a spur in my side every time I see him as he is truly a model of overcoming in this life. I will not mention his name because he would be embarrassed by that, but I rejoice to see the hand of God upon him as he walks in obedience to the Lord and His astoundingly glorious Word. Move today with the Lord and look up (be encouraged) for your redemption comes ever closer.

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You might think that today’s devotional is a contradiction to yesterdays, but hear me out. As much as I like being around positive and upbeat people, I also enjoy being around people who are intellectually pure and not sterile. This is not the same as being negative and moaning where the whole atmosphere is nothing but darkness, but rather registers an ability to see all spheres and angles of life from a well-balanced perspective. I have been around optimists where their understanding of life is based on mind over matter which is also unrealistic, and pessimists where matter is everything and they respond to this material world from a totally sceptical and critical viewpoint, and recognize that a totally Biblical worldview is the only way that we can get proper and healthy principles making it possible for us to be equipped for all that life itself feeds us.

 

I personally believe that we are living close to the coming of the Lord back to this earth and it is going to require that we who claim to be followers of Christ live wisely and in obedience to what God says for us to do as earth in its current form is certain to change considering what the Apostle John spoke in the Revelation and all of its people get ready to stand before Almighty God either for eternal separation from God or for eternal life. I urge you to commit your life to Jesus as all signs written in Holy Scripture indicate that He is indeed coming very soon.

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The command over our lives to straightforward obedience is carefully and deliberately identified again when God speaking through Solomon declares: “Guard my teachings as the apple of my eye.” Proverbs 7:2 Guard, of course speaks of protecting what is valuable which we know to be the embedded and intrinsic word of God inculcated through the faithful teaching on a constant basis by those who have been mandated to instruct. Herein lays the crunch – that role primarily in Scripture was to be the mothers and fathers of children, but our society has lost that on the most part and it needs to be raised up once again by either the parents themselves or mentors of a motherless and fatherless generation.

 

I had a discussion about this with a man recently who spoke of a culture of non-involvement because of the conviction that it teaches children how to be self-sufficient. Frankly, I think I can buy into a culture of involvement in children’s lives teaching them how to become self-reliant than the opposite of just letting children give in to their natural anarchistic tendencies which as we know produces a generation of lawless individuals. The lack of mentors and parental responsibility is quite a dangerous principle to buy into and it is time for this to change beloved. I celebrated my birthday yesterday waking up early to do my usual morning routine of making breakfast only to find my foster son Tjay already in the kitchen making his Dad breakfast. I rejoiced deeply in my soul that God has given me the privilege of raising him these past 6 years along with Aaron for the past couple of years. Truly, as an older generation, we CAN make a difference.

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I have been exercised this week about the well-known song called Trust and Obey which was thrust into our Christian consciousness by Daniel B. Towner in the year of our Lord, 1887. I believe it encapsulates just about everything we have been bringing to your attention these past few weeks. Please read carefully.

When When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

 

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

 

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

 

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

 

This song says it all in a nutshell about obedience. Let us pursue it with all diligence.

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The expression “guard your heart” has come into play in recent times from some people close to me and it harks back to our devotion of a few days ago in that regards, but another phrase also comes into focus from out of Proverbs 7 as well when it states:”Guard my teachings as the apple of your eye” – v. 2. This speaks as far as I can best see into how centred and special this must become because the eyes are the gate to the soul. In a further sense, that same phrase is mentioned with a word or two changed in two other places in Scripture: Psalm 17:8 and Zechariah 2:8 where both times reference is made to what David and Israel are to God.

 

I hear a lot of anti-Semitism these days coming out from different quarters, and it should be loudly proclaimed that those who raise a hand against Israel as Zechariah stated, shall be plundered because God has never recanted on His word about the people of Israel, but too often, it has become fashionable in fact to speak loosely and sometimes with great vitriol against the Jewish people. God has never relented in His love for Israel, nor has he gone back on His love for all of mankind and He surely has a plan and purpose for everyone in these momentous days while He is calling all men everywhere to repent for the simple fact that “He so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 Let us grasp this today beloved.

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I am totally persuaded that we cannot talk about obedience without drawing reference to the issue of money and generosity. Someone once stated: “The last thing in us to be converted is our wallets.” For many people, that is indeed the reality as they have a “doing-my-bit” mentality, or even worse is to rationalize away the total Biblical principle of tithes and offerings. I have heard all the arguments against it, but the fact remains, you cannot be in obedience to God according to the Bible from Genesis to Revelation unless you are exercising both.

Look at what Solomon states once again in Proverbs 21:26 – “But people who obey God are ALWAYS generous.” This goes to the core of the whole matter of giving because too many people at heart are closed to this vital principle of true prosperity as they are in possession of a poverty mentality which hoards everything instead of distributing where it can be useful. Ephesians 4:28 provides more ammunition for this truth. As an organization, we are going through an exhausting exercise to ensure that people who want to be generous can also get full credit for their sacrifice and thereby bless countless thousands of children in dire straights with desperate needs. Please meditate on this and respond – it is the generous thing to do.

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We will soon be pulling out of this topic of obedience, to delve deeper into some other areas as well, but I did have a question arising from our emphasis of yesterday about generosity as to whether there have ever been studies pertaining to the effect of a withered up attitude about money as it relates to our physical health? I am sure it is out there and it would be interesting in light of the fact that there has been other research indicating that our attitude determines our altitude.

 

I believe that you have a dilemma when your whole disposition is a grumpy one because the more you are filled with the joy of the Lord, the more generous you become. It is impossible to be joyful and stingy at the same time. This is why we say it is an attitude change required. 2 Corinthians 9:7 speaks about God loving a cheerful giver, and the emphasis there is on the cheerful side. How we do something is more important than what we do and the word cheerful actually is a bit weak there as it really means a hilarious giver.

 

One of my first memories in this country of South Africa was of a group of people who had walked dozens of miles to get to a church conference who had no other means of transport and were dancing and singing their way down the road radiant with the glory of God and as they came into the church they brought their sacrifices of praise to the altar when they could have used what they were bringing for their own personal benefit. Beloved, God wants us to come into that kind of place where we give in every possible way (not just money) with the praises of God on our lips and in our hearts.

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One of the most unusual passages of Scripture in the Proverbs speaks about the wicked come crawling to those who obey God. (chapter 14:19) One thing we have learned over the years is that politics can make good people become corrupt because it is mostly about developing consensus and that in turn is about compromise. I once advised a leader in the community to stay as he was and not go into politics, but his ambition was to be mayor, and when he became mayor, people could not wait for his first term to end so they could relieved of the endless corruption he was enabling and even supporting. Do not get me wrong – there are still some people in government who have taken a stand and uphold that, but many if not most do not know how to stay away from compromising their values. Solomon again states: “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

 

Wickedness and corruption has become so prevalent all over in the political machinations world-wide, that in some quarters, righteous men and women of God are being called on to advise on how to get out of the morass caused by the selfish, greedy and anarchistic tendencies of people in power. Another politician I spoke with said the only reason he ran for public office was because it gave him a leg up on new deals coming into the city which he could then invest in for his own nest egg. Is it no wonder then why politics is and has become so corrupt because it only think about what is good for one individual instead of for the people in general? This is why I admire politicians who also do not give in to pressure from lobbying groups who are constantly bombarding them with their requests for votes on certain measures, but take a stand according to what they see in Scripture. All we need for life and true happiness is to be found as we obey the Word of God.

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For some time now, I have deliberately emphasized the Biblical subject of obedience and yesterday, we touched base on the political ramifications of this divine principle. I want to shift a bit by staying on this all-important topic of whether Christians should be engaged in the political process seeing it has so many worldly lures attached to it, and we will once again go to the Book of Proverbs for that undertaking. Many years ago, I asked a United States Senator as to why he never ran for President after being touted as a prime candidate and his reply was that as a Senator he could exercise his conscience in voting but as President, he would always be in a Catch 22 scenario where the pressure would be to do the expedient thing thing rather than the principled action. He further explained that the god of Washington is power and that there were too many politicians who did the convenient thing by showing their civic religion bit for the sake of votes rather than operate according to godly and righteous standards.

 

I say these things because a person approaching the entering into the political scene at any level high or low will always be confronted with this reality. Here is how Solomon in his incredible wisdom called out from the depths of his experience: “By My power kings govern, and rulers make laws that are fair. Every HONEST leader rules with help from Me (God).” Proverbs 8:15,16. At the moment, South Africa’s political process is palpable with the drums of change relentlessly rolling along towards elections next year, and the challenge for the people of this land as it is for every land where democracy exists is to place as Solomon states righteous and honest men and women of God into office where obvious corruption and compromise currently prevail. There is no more time for civic religion either as that is nothing but hypocrisy with a capital emphasis where people put on a good face, but are full of dead men’s bones as Jesus spoke about the Pharisees in His time. Beloved, we need discernment in this time and it requires not listening to the media with their obvious bias oftentimes and reading what a person is really like in character. Amen!

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Imagine, if you will, a city, region, province/state or national scenario with nothing but principled, high character, humble and self-sacrificing men and women leading the people from strength to strength and not from strength into an abyss. You might say that will be impossible, and do not get me wrong, I am not implying perfection either because everyone has their faults. But if there was a majority of God-fearing and respect for the Word of God individuals who were democratically elected to bring this into the public domain, don’t you think there would be a difference in the transactions proceeding from those chambers of authority?

 

I remember when people came to me while in the broadcasting industry in the USA, and requested a political ad for one of the parties there; asking to compose what I felt would swing the elections toward their party. I advised them to ensure that they were proactive about certain key issues and offer an intelligent and inspired alternative to the existing stalemate that had been going on for decades in that region. They grabbed on it and we then filmed what would be a solution in thirty seconds, which turned the election around causing that particular group to become the majority in that council. They were then faithful to implement what had been suggested which in turn gave them credibility among the people going forward. So often, once people are in the driver’s seat in the political realm, the very idea that brought them into a place of authority is abandoned creating the sentiment that the people have been betrayed. Men and women of principle will not allow that to happen and if there is not a majority in authority, there is a necessity for the minority to stand up for godliness.

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In some parts of the world where true transformation is taken seriously,

Government has actually called on united church expressions to assist in the running of strategic regional offices where the roll-outs for the needy are requiring a corruption-free influence. In this instance, the church has indeed become a “kingmaker” as my friend Rick Nowlin referred to yesterday, and I am thinking particularly of the South American country called Colombia. From all reports heard, it is actually working quite well. From this, I think it becomes quite evident what honest leadership in a community can do.

 

When Solomon referenced rulers who value those who speak right in Proverbs 16:13, he was also implying that upright business people and community leaders are not just prepared to listen but give impetus to what they are striving to bring across which adds great upliftment for the citizens in a community. We need the best, most trustworthy minds and people with good business sense to find each other so that when people in authority reach the end of their hoarded resources, we can plunge in with a “thus saith the Lord,” and believe that they will then take the good and wise counsel to heart bringing with it the necessary exaltation of where that wisdom comes from, namely the Lord Jesus himself. More direction will be coming tomorrow on this theme.

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There are those who say that all politicians are corrupt because the rationale is that they only get involved for their own benefit and not for others. I reckon there is a considerable amount of truth in that statement, but I will never forget the words our congressman from Georgia spoke to a group I led to Washington, DC in the early 1970’s: “Not all of us here are corrupt.” I happened to admire him as a person and his actions proved that he was a man of integrity and was indeed in DC not for himself but for the benefit of his constituents.

 

The former and late great chaplain of the Senate in the USA, Dick Halverson once stated that from his experience there were many righteous people in public office, but there were so many corrupted people among their constituents that needed to be led out of their darkened ways. That is why the challenge for public leaders is to provide a godly example as the alternative to the laxity and selfishness of the people. Many people vote on what they want rather than what is good for them, and politicians who cater to that instinct also need to repent. This is why we have government losing touch with reality and becoming followers rather than leaders. People must be lead to a higher understanding rather than be allowed to become lackadaisical – then we will see a better society emerging.

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There are those who say that all politicians are corrupt because the rationale is that they only get involved for their own benefit and not for others. I reckon there is a considerable amount of truth in that statement, but I will never forget the words our congressman from Georgia spoke to a group I led to Washington, DC in the early 1970’s: “Not all of us here are corrupt.” I happened to admire him as a person and his actions proved that he was a man of integrity and was indeed in DC not for himself but for the benefit of his constituents.

 

We are currently having a dilemma with one of the people in authority in our region, and from experience I have learned that the more patient we are with them, the less chance there will be of making the conflict deeper. How we respond to people in power is so important and while many would say that we should use the rod to make them become more responsive, I have learned that the carrot approach usually gets you further than the rod.

 

Scripture seems to imply that as well when it states: “Patience and gentle talk can convince a ruler and overcome any problem.” Proverbs 25:15 I once listened to the wrong advice about this and learned the hard way about how not to get people who have a certain amount of influence in our community to work on our behalf. We must operate in a manner that pleases the Lord, and that generally speaking requires a longsuffering and diligent approach when desiring to move forward with our plans. Getting upset and prodding people with barbs and sometimes even threats is not the best way in any circumstance. I guess this is what the real meaning of diplomacy is about in any event.

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Would you agree with this statement: “If people did more research into who or what party they were voting for, they would change their minds and vote differently?” Here in South Africa, elections will be held next year, which will also be the time when this land celebrates 20 years of democracy. Many people I am talking to indicate that a shift of allegiances is rapidly occurring because where 20 years ago, most people saw the ruling party as the one that brought freedom to this land, that perception twenty years later is proving to be vacuous to many who are voting these days. I have long stated that the group getting their message across to the younger generation are going to be a force to be reckoned with at least a third of the voting constituents below the age of thirty-two.

 

In that regards, I can never forget the story in the Bible when Solomon had passed away and Rehoboam his son was acceding to the throne, where he asked advice from the elders and then the younger generation with the result that he listened wrongly to the younger ones, causing an era of oppression that divided the land irreparably going into the future. (1 Kings 12) Can I say that the terminology in this chapter equates with what we are hearing coming from many revolutionary forces coming from the younger generation today as we look at this scenario here in our beloved land of South Africa, and I want you who read to please pray that this nation will listen to the voice of reason going forward because the alternative is too ghastly to contemplate. We need to listen to godly men and women who will stop polarizing this nation and all the nations where this blog is read because righteousness exalts a nation, but sin brings reproach. Please begin praying today that God will intervene not just here in South Africa but everywhere.

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Marietjie DeKlerk Chase prayed yesterday that fear and hate would be replaced by courage and love. The politics of hate is quite strong and actually demonically controls the epicenter of many people in the political realm. I hate to say that, but it is so true when one considers the kind of opposition that comes from people in the political sphere who have nurtured hate in their hearts over decades and resist those in the community who want nothing more than to see people become more loving and understanding of each other. People then say we must be understanding of the hurts that have come about as a result of oppression, but surely all of us have been hurt in one way or another and need to come to grips with those emotions by accepting the godly principle of forgiveness.

I can never forget the thrilling emotions I felt when Menachem Begin, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt signed a peace agreement causing years and even decades of tension between those two nations suddenly become normalized because they saw the power of forgiveness. Something similar happened between Jordan and Israel some years later. Now, coming forward to 2013, we see people wanting to put enmity between these allies and you must know where that animosity is rooted. Let us abandon any form of hatred and enter into the dialogue that causes miracles to emerge in relationships. We must also form alliances that are not so much reactive but proactive. As Marietjie prayed, it is time for courage and love to replace the politics of fear and hatred. Amen!

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As we sat at the dinner table last evening, my wife and I were impressed by the fact that during our conversation with our 16 and 19 year old foster sons, they manifested an exceptional amount of good sense on the variety of topics we were discussing. We also made the observation that so many people, including adults many years older than them, seem to have no ability to think in that same manner. In fact, sometimes they seem to think with their emotions rather than their brains. This is perilous beloved, especially when it comes to selecting and electing those who are supposed to be representing us in the councils, congresses and parliaments

of our respective cities, regions and countries.

 

Many people think through their own experiences rather than with the ability to be objective, therefore they are governed by their emotions and elect people to govern their areas who appeal to their lower instincts. This by comparison to people who can actually do what is right rather than what is convenient. It is time to take a long and honest look at why we support people in public office whose main appeal is to our selfish instincts. When are we ever going to take what God says to heart when He cries out: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value OTHERS above yourselves, not looking to your OWN interests but each of you to the interests of the others..” Philippians 2:3,4 Imagine what kind of nations and cities we can be in possession of when we are not motivated by our own greediness and self interest.

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In the political world, there are many opportunities for parties and from time to time, the media grab a story about politicians at government (taxpayer) expense over-indulging and get arrested for some DUI related offense or even worse having or causing a serious accident while driving. I believe we can hear the Lord speaking quite distinctly that this type of behaviour has no place among the leaders of our communities and countries. Solomon drew reference to this as well: “…it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.” Proverbs 31:4,5 You will agree that this is strong language, and it goes to the issue of character among our leaders.

 

I want to know that the people who lead our cities, regions and countries are men and women under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit whose private lives are no different than their public lives, and seek the face of God each day for wisdom, knowledge and understanding to lead the people into righteous conduct, and is it not interesting to note that when people are outside that control one of the first things occurring is that they conveniently forget covenants and agreements to assist the oppressed? In essence, they become the oppressors. May God raise up a brand of leaders who are high quality, have an awesome respect for and ability to honor God, who have compassion for the least among us and do everything in their power to indeed be “public servants” and not egomaniacs? So help us Lord.

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Like Solomon, one of the characteristics I look for in a political leader is his/her attitude to the poor among us. In this, I am not looking to see how they seek to enact legislation to give another hand-me-down or entitlement which is opportunistic at best and also structures in an easy way to get a vote at the next election. No, I am referring to structuring legislation that gets people to work and stops making them feel sorry for themselves by initiating skills training plus career displacement being rectified by alternative empowerment in another direction. “If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will be established forever.” Proverbs 29:14 Entitlements only stretch the governmental “kitty” too far, but building in job security has a tendency to bring “life owes me something” into conformity to a higher standard.

People who govern need the ability to make it their goal that all legislation must be enacted which will make it almost impossible to be granted a welfare check. This is not to say that welfare checks are always wrong, but it is my conviction that law making has been crafted to make many people be forever on the take instead of moving them towards a giving status. A case in point is the island of Mauritius where virtually nobody receives anything unless they have found a way to develop their skills in order to make a living. In doing that, unemployment is virtually non-existent and they have become the number one business center and destination in all of Africa. Something to think deeply about.

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Four characteristics of good governance come from the wisdom liberally spewed forth from Solomon in chapter 16 of Proverbs, verses 12 and 13:

First – Good leaders literally detest wrongdoing, which is by marked contrast to what has and is becoming more normal in this era we live in today where so many will do nothing unless they are first bribed.

Then, they believe in and deliberately enact what they know is right under the gaze of God and man – in this regards, they consult with people who are not afraid of getting Almighty God’s perspective on each and every critical decision they are making on behalf of their communities. I remember once speaking to a city council with a devotional designed to assist them with their decisions that day and I can assure you there were no hallelujahs or amen’s coming forth, but at least the door was open to speak.

Thirdly – going on from the last point, they delight in honest lips. This states that what might be difficult to say which stands the distinct possibility of being diplomatically squashed, is actually put forth in the public concourse because people must deal with the ways that following a sinful pathway needs a painful alternative which for many, they cannot tolerate. What is right is not always popular.

Finally – value and honor is given to those who speak what is right. We need to be thanking those and not persecuting the ones who love us so much that they speak what we need to hear. This then shows how humble the hearers are and equips us to make the adjustments necessary to correct our pathways of unrighteousness. I am always grateful for parents who were not afraid of correcting us as children and course corrections are often quite necessary in society as well if there is to be any future at all.

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I am reminded of the statement by God: “Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 In the political realm there is plenty of pride to go around, which makes individuals become enamored to what is really happening around them but rather constricts and compresses a person from being truly a public servant. Throughout the Bible, when leaders went too far in their prideful and haughty (indifferent) behaviour, God taught them some extremely painful lessons which if our own leaders would read about, might encourage them to become more servant-conscious and less self-serving. In the above passage, the word pride speaks of a swelling which interpreted means an exaltation of self above others.

 

I can never forget how my minister as I grew up would speak about pride and at one stage, he actually spoke about a political leader he discerned would be subjugated to extreme humiliation because he had gone into this sense that he was as a god from certain accomplishments, and not so long after that, the same man had to undergo a complete investigation resulting in his early retirement from public office. This took me back to the account in the book of Daniel where King Nebuchadnezzar was exalted in pride and was forcibly removed from office by God for several years grazing out in the fields like an animal until he acknowledged that he was under God’s authority. Don’t be surprised beloved, if we see similar occurrences in these days as we recognize that God’s authority still applies in the world we live in today. I can never forget the end of the story about Nebuchadnezzar where he rightfully declares: “Now I praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right, and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” Daniel 4:37 Our prayer should be that God will give us humble leaders and if they do not stay humble that God will teach them mighty lessons in humility.

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Let me veer away from a Biblical emphasis for one day and express a matter of concern for me based on some history. Because of man’s penchant for gullibility, lack of research ability, undue loyalty to a political party, often times we do not stop and ask some incredibly hard questions. I am registered with a political party in the USA, but let there be no error, that party is not perfect and sometimes I even side with the other party when I see that they are upholding Biblical principles. I remember a man who was a Congressman for many years and in that whole time; he often parted ways with his own political party and listened to his conscience.

 

What concerns me is that history records even people with dictatorial tendencies have been democratically elected to high office, and proven their diabolical behaviour only after being elected. The world in the last one hundred years has been subjected to a vast display of violence accordingly which made the 20th century to be known as the century of death because more people died in war in that century than virtually all previous centuries of recorded history combined. Beloved, I believe in democracy, but we need to to stop being ignorant about who we vote for and start educating ourselves as to what is really going on behind the scenes. Research is so important and gullibility is a deep pit that can only create chaos. Let us who love democracy become resolute in our efforts to become more enlightened about our electoral process and those we choose to lead us before we get landed with another diabolical scenario.

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Back in the 1970’s, there was a man nominated for Vice Presidential candidate in the Democratic Party in the USA named Senator Tom Eagleton, and 18 days later he was asked to step down from that role due to a report that he suffered with bi-polar affliction. It was determined that this would make him a high risk candidate, and a relative of the Kennedy family, Sargent Shriver took his place. I bring this up because who we have as our candidates is all important, and after the incident above, that same man was deemed worthy to run two more terms as Senator from his state and did a great job in that position.

 

Why then do we become so placid when it comes to screening who we have running for political office? There are some people running for political office when you hear them speak that should send shock waves down us due to their rhetoric and content, but seem to have a command base to operate from because their constituents have been totally dumbed down about what that person stands for. This is precisely why I wrote yesterday’s instruction about gullibility and is also why we need to understand both the content of what a person says and the content of their character as well. This could also be one reason why Solomon cries out so frequently in the Proverbs for leaders to be righteous, fair, wise and compassionate, and when you perceive in that same book how much compassion he personally had for the poor, you realize what a remarkable man he was. May God grant unto us that same quality as we look forward to our nations at least being under the influence of His Almighty power.

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We must never forget that “righteousness makes a nation great, but sin diminishes any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 - International Standard Version) Our nations, cities and regions become great when we obey what God says to do, and when we have godly people who have the mind of Christ at the helm of the portals of power, it is not going to make things perfect, but it sure assists in the procedure of doing the business of state in a wholesome and compassionate manner.

 

I would strongly suggest that you write down a list of what is your expectation for the people you want to lead you and base it on qualities you see coming forth from the word of God. These are not times for “dumbing down” in our democratically-controlled nations, but actually wising up and becoming extremely pro-active about the selection of our candidates. A lady was once running for the US Congress from our district where we lived in the USA, and my wife and I were personally quite impressed after some pleasant experiences with her, so when she ran for office again, we opened our home for her to come and we had a neighbourhood gathering just meeting with her and talking through all the major issues we were confronting in that election.

 

In another Senate election during the 1990’s, we met with a man who ran for President in the last elections, also in a house meeting with strategic leaders, and he came across as very bold, decisive and appealing to many people who never knew him before. Similarly, we met here in a house setting with a candidate for public office in Parliament, who made a huge impression to the people gathered. It illustrates that voting just on public image is not a good thing, but candidates cornered in a smaller setting, you will get to know them much better. We must never back down from looking for the “right” people.

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One thing I learned early in life particularly in my college ethics class, was that we need to be more conscious of how we act in front of people and that especially applies to people in power. I had lunch once with a man of considerable influence in the community, and afterwards, he very wisely asked me to make sure I polish my shoes before I meet with people who can make heavy decisions. As a friend, he was telling me that he observed my shoes, and he could overlook it, but others might not.

 

In another context, I was asked once to have lunch with a United States Senator back in the mid 1980’s, and it was extremely necessary to dress properly in the Senator’s Dining Room and make certain that I used proper decorum as I ate, which reminded me of Solomon’s words again: “When you are invited to eat with a king, use your best manners. Don’t go and stuff yourself! That would be just the same as cutting your throat. Don’t be greedy for all that fancy food! It may not be so tasty” Proverbs 23:1-3 We have been talking about what we look for in leaders, but we must also be conscious of how we respond around them as well. That is just plain good policy.

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One thing I really detest is when people who should be objective prove that they are subjective and therefore exercise a bias about someone. As a case in point, an experience I once had illustrates my point. When a reporter from a prominent newspaper in the USA whose responsibility it was to send objective stories back to his market about what was happening in the nations capitol, stated that he could find nothing positive to say about the then President, that is when I realized the American people had better wake up as to how their opinions are shaped by the media.

 

I was taught growing up that we need to find good in all people even with those we might vehemently disagree with, but the vitriol I see displayed between people from disparate viewpoints tells me that an equator of purpose is rapidly becoming vacuous. We are going into camps of opinions and the middle ground is vanishing in front of our eyes. I love a good discussion and even an open debate that does not go over the borders of reason into ugliness, but these days more people are getting increasingly intransigent as they see certain values and principles being eroded. This is not to say that anyone should lower their convictions, but should just lower the heat levels of the same. I thank God for times of dialogue between people with opposite views from each other, but those of us, who name Christ as our Lord, need to also recognize that we are not always going to agree on everything because we are all still human. We need to ask ourselves how we should behave if we can honestly ask “What Would Jesus Do?” It would really give us greater clarity and a more open mind I do believe.

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I want to move away from our political emphasis to move towards another topic of interest in the book of Proverbs, but I was thinking about a time when my life was in danger after an incident in Washington DC. I had been asked to speak at a meeting of Jewish and Christian people where a stance had been taken to meet at the same time in the same neighbourhood of another gathering of American Nazi’s. This was seen as expressing solidarity with each other against the bigotry and hatred stemming from the far right Nazi group.

 

The media were in attendance and when I spoke one of the points I made was that Naziism could be equated with Communism, and it hit the media the next day. A short time later, my car collapsed under me just as I came to a stop at a corner and I shuddered to think what could have happened if that occurred on an open road, but God’s hand was upon me in an obvious manner. Later I was told by authorities that it traced back to my speech a few days earlier. It is now almost 30 years after that event, and I can truly say that life is still just as dangerous today as back then, and the attitude we need to adopt today has not changed as then, which is to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 Whenever we speak the truth, we must always remember that God’s heart is for people to move away from a position of hatred and animosity into God’s love so that even those overwhelmed with hatred can come through to the love represented through Jesus. Blessings abundant beloved.

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I want to begin this part of the series in Proverbs we have been doing by addressing the topic of OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE POOR. In the first chapter of Proverbs verses 20-33, we do not see a reference made about the poor but rather alludes to God’s wisdom and provides the proper base to develop this theme. The first thing stated is that God’s plan is “shouting in the streets” and “at the city wall”. There are some things in life which are inescapably obvious and has much to do with what God proclaims about the poor among us.

 

The passage further speaks into that which requires correction, attentive ears, openness to advice and identification to warnings meant for our safety; this is the way to avoid disaster and open up God’s heart to bless us affording us safety and security. When it comes to the poor, we desperately need corrective action bringing us into alignment with what God states is His mind and heart for those who are the least among us. As this unfolds over the next few weeks, I know you will have attentive ears with openness for God’s advice directly from His heart and mind.

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When we start addressing the issue of our responsibility to the poor, we must take immediate note that this is not being driven by ANYTHING political or systematized whatesoever. Politicians have taken advantage of this situation for far too long and exploited it for their own agendas, and systems like socialism, communism and even capitalism have also taken undue credit and/or cursing from this aggravated scenario. My position on this most devastating condition as a starting base are these words spoken by God Himself about 4000 years ago, and imagine where our world would be currently if back then, people would have listened and obeyed: “There will always be poor people in the land (most people I listen to stop right there). Therefore I COMMAND you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in the land.” Deuteronomy 15:11

 

When God commands something, He wants to be obeyed, honored and given precedence. God further states in that same chapter as above that he is looking for a people who are not hard-hearted and tight-fisted which all too often is the commentary of people who see others in exasperatingly poor conditions. Each day now, we will continue to build from this premise.

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Yesterday, we talked about those who are tight-fisted and hard-hearted, but also made mention of being openhanded. On Thursday of this week, there will be a memorial service here in George for a lady my wife and I met when we came to George in 2001, whose name is Esther Watson. Over the years of knowing and being friends with her and watching her struggle to develop the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge, we saw that openhanded characteristic in this beautiful lady and it earned her a “Woman of the Year” national award a few years back.

 

A couple of weeks ago, this valiant lady hobbled in to a restaurant to have a breakfast with some friends of mine being in the last stages of a debilitating cancer but the shine of God was still in her. In her life, she had learned what it meant to be generous and not tight-fisted, and upon hearing of her passing over this past weekend, I began to pray that God would raise up thousands of Esther Watsons to selflessly commit themselves as she did to take responsibility for our community in many multi-splendored ways causing the lives of countless thousands of others to be liberated by the love of God in manifestation through yielded servants of the Lord. Even so, do it Lord Jesus.

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We are not to withhold from someone to whom doing good is due, ie. when we have the power to give, do not be indiscriminate either is what Solomon is getting at in Proverbs 3:27,28. Further, he shares about being timely when giving as procrastination is not acceptable either. Too many people delay their generosity and valuable people plus good faith faith organizations have suffered needlessly because they have the power to do something but wait too long.

 

All too often, people have unwisely given to people not deserving also because they have not done their research properly. I meet with a man weekly who has an outreach in the streets of our city, and if I do anything for this dilemma, it is through him because I know I can trust him and that it will be registered therefore as good stewardship. We cannot just throw money at something when it is almost certain that it will be abused. That can assuage the conscience temporarily, but can actually encourage a person to become irresponsible and even support certain evil addictions. Something to think about.

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Can you just meditate on the power of this one short word from God for a moment? “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.” Proverbs 9:5 Therein lays an attitude standing out for everyone to see which simply states that there is not one fine ounce of stinginess in the person speaking. Stinginess is defined by Dictionary Now in this manner: “Giving or spending reluctantly; scanty or meagre.” There are many people reading this today who could be described as stingy and one I knew many years ago actually never gave his wife anything more than meagre bits of money to shop with in spite of being in possession of incredible wealth.

 

That can be described as a spirit or disposition of poverty and it must be identified, defied and repented of by anyone caught in this vice. Someone once stated that the last thing to get saved in some people is their wallets, and that is so true of the stingy ones. Saul Bellow had this profound revelation: “I have begun to understand in old age how we are all put together. We are so proud of our autonomy that we seldom if ever realize how generous we are to ourselves, and just how stingy with others. One of the booby traps of freedom which is bordered on all sides by isolation is that we think so well of ourselves. I now see that I have helped myself to the best cuts at lifes banquet.” “Lord, open our hearts to become blessers indeed.”

My Dad never made much money as he was not one of the most highly educated people on earth, but what he lacked in education, he made up in wisdom, and this was amply illustrated by his reference from time-to-time to money being filthy lucre. He knew how money can corrupt us and become a master in our lives and therefore worked hard for what he earned having had a farming background. In that environment, he learned that man lives by the sweat of his brow – Genesis 3:19. He learned early in life that the drive for money can become a controller and is capable of actually separating us from God’s purposes. What Jesus stated my Dad took literally: "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24

 

I am always so grateful to God for being brought up in an environment where we learned early in life to trust in God and not in how many huge volumes of money we can accumulate. If you think having truckloads of money is your goal in life, let me quote from a rich lady I once knew: “Philip, if people only realized how difficult it is to be rich with the tax people constantly bombarding us, they would never let money become their god.” This is quite the challenge, but reminds us in a profound way of how necessary it is to ensure a loving and obedient relationship with the Lord - choose you this day.

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I have heard people openly state that God is for the poor and against the rich, to which I reply that Biblically, there is no justification for that position. Solomon was the richest man of his time and yet as you read the Proverbs, one realizes that this man had incredible wisdom about what to do with money and a huge understanding and heart for the needs of other.

 

God is not against rich people accumulating wealth as that wealth has secured jobs, provided succor in time of need and has blessed other who desperately need but what people do with wealth is important to God as many people have such potential to bless but in the insecurity of their hearts they withdraw and remove themselves from the positive infection called compassion. The devil knows that once people become conscious of the needs of other, his kingdom of darkness is going to suffer. Even so, may God enable us to become vessels of honor by openly participating in the struggle for parity and equality.

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I remember the Donna Summer song from back in the early 1980’s which simply stated SHE WORKS HARD FOR HER MONEY, and it was based allegedly on her experience with a lady giving rides on a lift in a department store in Philadelphia. This lady was said to only receive an income based on tips and the song sort of intimates that as well. What I am getting at through this story is that many people are going to be economically challenged unless we sensitively catch up on their stories and become alert to the needs around us and the criteria we look at is this principle of diligence. Scripture states in Proverbs 12:24 – “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.”

 

The lady the song talks about needed to have people who were alert enough to find out she did not have a salary for what she was doing and generosity to honor her daily labor on that lift.There are two ladies we help when we see them here in George and I never feel led to give them a small bit either but rather give something that challenges me because I know once again, that it is not going to be wasted. They are forced to work in the manner they do because of the absence of jobs commensurate with their skill levels, but they still work extremely hard as car monitors on the streets, and one day they will rise to the place they can excel and be in their full leadership potential.

 

I get really switched on by leaders who have built-in accountability factors which then ensure a less corruptible environment to operate in. The word channel is used in Proverbs 21:1 to describe a king who is responsive to the Lord’s hand which when translated into action usually means that blessing arises for those not in the stream of economic advantage as the result of sensitive action from leadership.

 

The emphasis of that particular passage indicates that this is not a hard decision to make and that it proceeds from a desire to do right which is also expressed in verse 3 of that chapter. When the Holy Spirit works, He gets people to do things that require revelation to individual’s and organizations and this translates into more outreach to the areas where needs are so vast. God wants our communities to come “right” and when there are community leaders whose hearts have been touched by God, it makes for much more contented citizens and a vibrant atmosphere for the good news of Jesus to operate.

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I have seen some very rich people become poor due to bad advice, and it is no wonder they stumble because the wrong people are advising them and they are too blind or too loyal to these people to see what they are doing to them. The necessity of surrounding themselves with wise and candid people cannot be stated too strongly. Wealth retention requires a readiness to spread it in the right places and good advisers assist in that regards. One couple wanted to give some capital to our organization years ago, but very wisely asked many questions from different sources before they released their beneficence. We appreciated their whole approach because we have discerned over the years that people place their wealth into the wrong places.

 

Scripture states in Proverbs 13:7 that: “One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor but has great wealth.” This also deals with lifestyle because there are many people, thank God, who are not so in love with luxury that it actually becomes a god to them and rather seek to bless others when they could easily have accumulated for their own selfish purposes. This is a side we do not hear too much about but it truly exists and I have seen the fruit of that in many places.

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The rich and powerful leaders of the world converged on our country yesterday to give honor and respect to the passing of Nelson Mandela, at a memorial service lasting quite close to four hours. My purpose in writing this is not to eulogize Madiba (his affectionate name), which I could easily do in this context, but to impress on you what came to me while watching for a few minutes towards the end of the service. A Scripture verse hit me square between the eyes from Jesus’ message to his disciples near the end of the book of Matthew, chapter 25:34-36,40:

“Then the King will say to those on His right, come you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.”

 

If there was one focus Madiba had while on this earth, it was the least among us and even though he was a president of this great land of South Africa for a time, what most people remember was what he did with little people who are the least among us. The challenge to us is: “What are we doing to the least on our own doorstop?” Let us think deeply about that in this Christmas season as we approach the New Year also so we can structure activity to those who are the least and not just the most going forward. Amen!!

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Years ago, I used to hear that we must never take money from “unrighteous mammon” as it would then make people living in sin believe that distributing money was a ticket to heaven. I would always argue that a sinner would use any excuse to find a way to assuage their conscience and not just giving money. I can also declare that much “worldly” money has also gone to advance the kingdom of God and Scripture actually supports this in many different contexts, ie.: .. but a sinners wealth is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22 Further proof lies in this poignant declaration: “Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.” Proverbs 28:8 One final evidence is found in another book written by the same man in Ecclesiastes 2:26: “..to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.”

 

We might as well accept that God’s heart for the poor among us requires the wise representation to the world to give up their wealth for all the right reasons. If we go a step further and give tax incentives as well, it also assists in persuading them that they can give even more. I will say more on this tomorrow.

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My friend, David Levandusky wrote as a response to the devotional yesterday about the passage from Luke 16:9 – “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” We have a responsibility to take (not steal) from the world and use it for eternal purposes also and as David also pointed out - when the people of Israel departed Egypt, they took heathen wealth with them.

Isaiah the prophet further stated that the city of Tyre which he described as a prostitute would have her profits and earnings given to the Lord ( and by inference His purposes) including abundant food and beautiful clothes. Isaiah 23:14,15 Remember, God never gives anything to us without making it totally clear that our blessing is for us to bless others. I will finish this tomorrow.

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We are continuing on the theme of OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE POOR, and with this recent understanding about worldly wealth for the righteous, I want to finish off with what God infers and implies about this. Micah stated that the heathen would devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth. Micah 4:13 There is a definite ramification of wealth transfer clearly spoken of here, and knowing the mind and heart of God, He would re-direct that into those who need it most.

 

This is why we strive to be equitable in our employee policies and if one works for a business selling products, a profit-sharing incentive is always a good idea or stimuli for a quota met on a consistent basis in the industrial setting is also a great concept. I think about the extra mile principle and I have seen that work with people who go the extra mile to be helpful and not time-conscious with their hours which requires as I see it extra reward for those in that kind of disposition. Something we need to take consideration of indeed.

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There is coming a time when God’s children will be invited to a very large supper but this time it will be all of God’s people gathered somewhere in the heavenlies for a feast second to none. Revelation 19:6-9 While we wait for that glorious event, when all the people of God enjoy this grand occasion, there remains practical and earthbound activities that can and should make a huge difference in people’s lives.

 

Hear what Almighty God speaks through His servant Solomon: “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.” Proverbs 9:6 Somewhere, there must come a welcome mat provided for us to share what God has given to us, and this is where the deceit comes in at also, as doing our bit will not get the job done that needs to be accomplished in our communities. I can guarantee that if we get so filled with the love of God, there will be a profusion of generosity like this world has never seen before, but we must stop rationalizing how we do help the poor and rather really start asking God what He wants us to do. Usually, that means more and not less.

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Two passages in Proverbs address the over1whelming and overpowering attitude in a general sense possessing people with riches and it is not that all rich people are like this either, but every rich person needs to confronted with the reality of what God says in chapter 18:11, 23 where it quotes Almighty God: “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale…The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answers harshly.”

 

The dilemmas obviously are false security through riches and insensitivity to the poor who can use all the help they can get. I can never forget how what we call “the spirit of poverty” became such a reality after the Great Depression where many rich people lost everything, and if the rich would have actually stopped being insensitive to the poor and rather demonstrated generosity to those worthy of favour, they probably would never have had to face losing everything because God honors those who are generous with what they have been entrusted with. Too often however, the rich think the more close-hearted they are, the more they will protect their assets and that just is not Biblical kind of thinking at all. Thank God for those among the rich who have discovered God’s blessing through their ability to part paths oftentimes with ungodly lifestyles.

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I go back to this from time-to-time, but when you consider the Biblical principle of beneficence, there are many examples that come to mind from the Old through the New Covenant, and to name a few just read the book of Job and you will see many examples of his giving. Add Solomon obviously because he not only illustrates, but gives amazing teaching on it as well in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, and even the prophet Ezekiel gave a sharp reminder that part of the problem with Sodom and Gomorrah was their insensitivity to the poor in their midst, which was designed to alert the people as to where captivity comes from. A holy people will always be warm-hearted and caring to those who are the least among us. All the teachings the Apostle Paul gave plus his taking money from richer churches to give to those without indicates his heart and head were in the right place also.

 

Alternatively, we need to also be re-mindful that people with riches are never going to respond to laziness. They recognize and realize everyday that it takes diligence to the job at hand to accomplish a living on this earth, and will always investigate requests from needy as to whether these same people are proving themselves to be hard working, industrious and faithful to what is in their hands. When you see the sensibility of this, I do not think anyone can blame them for being good stewards of what God has entrusted to them.

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Along the journey of life, course corrections with wealth will be very wise and what is stated in the Proverbs is that the alternative is disgrace – chapter 13:18. Until people know better, they will continue walking the way of the blind and then will be more open and ready for doing things in God’s way. I speak with many people who are constantly in bondage to their constricted giving instincts, and when we ask whether they are ready to listen to an alternative, sometimes they are ready to listen to the righteous way which is always never to hoard and to be hilarious in their giving.

 

Here is another bit of wisdom from that same chapter above and verse 11 – “…whoever gather money little by little makes it grow.” One of the big problems we have in this country is that people who have had nothing want everything now, and are becoming increasingly impatient about what they feel was promised and never has been fulfilled. It is not enough to tell them that people should never listen to political promises when many believe that the sun shines out of certain politicians’ eyes. What we instruct from small is that the best way is to accumulate money gradually and then to let it grow as well. Too often the radical increase from almost nothing to vast amounts of money has made some very nice people into monsters and some honest people corrupt. That should be a sobering reminder for all of us.

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I recently heard that a certain group had mega-amounts of money available but could not find qualified institutions to qualify for their support. I am obviously protecting this statement big-time, but it also makes a statement about how disappointed some large resources are with the quality of people and organizations who have made application for their beneficence. It is actually an illustration of how corruptible mankind has become and is becoming because the reasons for holding resources back is explained by the selfishness of organizations in the past who have taken designated resources and used it for their own lusts and gain.

 

Proverbs speaks about the rich having many friends in different references (14:20, 19:4), but the rich also need to know who their real friends are because they have been taken advantage of so many times that they also become sceptical about where their support can go. Our challenge as benefitters is to satisfy the benefactors that we have all our ducks in a row and that when facing scrutiny, we can show them a pure track record with up-to-date business practices and clear-cut transparency in all aspects of our business life. God expects nothing less.

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In Proverbs 11:24-31, there is some very practical teaching about generosity and poverty, ie: “giving freely – gaining more; withholding yet coming to poverty.” A sharp contrast there you will agree, and still a bit further it speaks about the people loathing those who hoard. I want to focus on that a bit as people in this position often have entered into a spirit of extreme deceit thinking that their holding wealth back is being wise and good stewardship. Not so – as being a good manager of money has to do with the proper distribution of wealth to those who have proven their worth and seeks to make others of character within their influence become a properly productive person.

 

I have long stated that there is nothing wrong with profit, but what we do with our profits can either make us stronger or weaken our business disposition. One of the first things we did when I started the Eden Leadership Foundation was to tithe to a fellow foundation struggling to survive knowing that they needed some capacitating. We could have used those tithe for our own purposes, but realized and recognized that this would be displeasing to God and we have never looked back as a foundation ourselves because it is policy to not only tithe but to go way beyond that. So help us oh Lord, to never look back and keep being a blessing.

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We talk about the season we are in right now and we label it as Christmas time. I am asking you today to expand your definition of season to a much broader and to me more Biblically sound understanding which we call “the last days”. From this vantage point, the last days began over 2000 years ago and much ado has been made about time lines as such which as I see, actually complicate the subject. Suffice it to say, signs are everywhere that as Jesus came the first time, all indications are that we are close to the ending of the last days as God has opened the world to such opportunities for spreading the good news of Jesus, that it will not be long and “this good news of the kingdom will be spread in all the earth – then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

 

Beloved, this is why there is an urgency in everything we do these days that we measure our pace, deliberately make ourselves available for this kingdom to be advanced directly on our doorstep and anywhere else the Lord leads us, and to exercise the greatest of wisdom and discretion knowing that the world as we know it is looking for God’s people to be in vivid demonstration of what God’s love is all about. How will they be able to hear unless they see who Jesus is through us as we reach out to the oppressed being a direct extension of the hand of God?

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This morning I woke up with the song below echoing deep inside my spirit, so instead of placing a Christmas Carol, you will receive a hymn written by a man I would describe as a soul with the same yearning for Jesus so many have, myself inclusive, whose name is Thomas Chisholm. This is also the same man who wrote my favorite hymn called GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS, and as you read this song in the form of a prayer, let it become inscribed on your heart also. It is simply called OH TO BE LIKE THEE.
• O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer;This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Chorus: O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
• O to be like Thee! full of compassion, Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, Seeking the wand’ring sinners to find.
• O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit, Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches, Willing to suffer, others to save.
• O to be like Thee! Lord, I am coming, Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing; Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.
• O to be like Thee! While I am pleading Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love. Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, Fit for a life which Thou wouldst approve.
Make this your prayer and obedience project in this day!

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On this Christmas Day, I cannot shake myself away from the Latin expression, Carpe Diem – seize the day. The Bible states that Jesus arrived on earth in the fullness of time. Every day since that momentous time has never been the same. I say that because the passage described now in Galatians 4:4 has a particular setting which every Jewish person reading could understand. It totally related to being in slavery and crossing over into sonship. God sent His Son Jesus so that we too can cross over from slavery to sonship, but it took more than His birth to accomplish that.

He showed us what it is like to live a life without blemish, but He also had to die on a cruel cross and then after three days to rise again, and ultimately ascend to the heavens so we can make petition to our great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for all of us who call upon Him in total sincerity and simplicity of heart. I want to urge each and every person reading to seize this day because God’s heart to compel the world to His amazing love represented through His death and life is still wide open to all who call upon Him now. Have a truly blessed Christmas to one and all as we come before Jesus now with our humble hearts.

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“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. The rich rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:6,7 When God impressed on Maryna and I to come back to South Africa, He made it abundantly clear that His goal was to raise up a new generation broken from the pattern of the blighted past who can forge their way into the future properly and be systematically changed through the powerful impact of God and His Word. That is why the above Scripture passage is so important because if the rich rule over the poor, then through consecutive inspired training, this younger generation can change that pattern and instead of being the tail would become the head (Deuteronomy 28:13).

This obviously implies a breaking with the damaging and corrupting influences from past generations bringing into full fruition a raised up group of children believing that through God all things are possible to those who believe (Matthew 19:26) and that instead of being a taking generation, they will become a giving generation totally liberated from “stinkin thinkin” as Zig Ziglar used to talk about and ready to be equipped as Scripture declares for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:17 We will go further into this during the remainder part of this week.

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The foundations laid in a person’s life are all important for the structure to be properly developed. What values we grow up with we can either receive or reject, so even if a person has had a bad foundation, it can be laid again if we get there quick enough. That is why we started Life Community Services in this community to take foundation-less children left to their own devices and create a solid base and sturdy structure for them to build upon. When I see all the interventions that are now in place for their progress, it is heart-warming and stimulating to observe their growth in the ways of God in all aspects of life.

 

From the word go, Maryna and I instructed our biological children and foster children that giving takes precedence over receiving – this is a a true value which we can see in the Word of God. If we simply obey what God says to do, He will certainly take care of His children – as basic as that. All of our children can give testimony to the faithfulness of God in our lives as a family, and that same pattern is also inculcated into our Life children as well, so they can go from being “moochers” to “blessers”. “Let it be so, oh Lord in all who read this devotional today.”

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God equips every person with a conscience, and many of us have learned over the years that a tender conscience is a most powerful tool we can be equipped with particularly when it comes to activating our generous instincts. Conversely, we have also observed acutely how mankind becomes impervious, seared and even hardened when it comes to their conscience. It is as if they cannot be moved by the suffering of people in any way, shape or form. The motto of their lives is to “walk on by” and Jesus obviously drew reference to that when he shared the story about the Good Samaritan in Luke 1:25-37.

In that truth, I have also discovered that people who do not have much are often more inclined to share what they have than even many of those who are living in amazing wealth. I can also understand where some of these people come from because they have been taken advantage of so many times, but surely doing proper research into groups working their hearts out on behalf of the communities they labor in can solve that dilemma as well. I want to encourage us to listen carefully to our consciences when it comes to those in need around us. Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of these the least of my brethren, you have done it unto me said the Lord. Matthew 25:40

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People with unlimited access to wealth (even if they have worked hard for it), often think that it has become their guarantee against poverty or a wall of protection around them. Hear what the richest man of his time has to say: “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.” Proverbs 18:11 A person only has to research recent history such as the 1930’s to realize the folly of such thinking, therefore the emphasis on the word imagine. I am currently reading the book called THE HARBINGER, and if you read into it, you will quickly see how and why wealth is a transient thing.

 

Further on in that same chapter in Proverbs (v. 23), this statement strikes deeply into the consciousness of wealthy people as well: “The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly.” I think you can readily understand from this that much poverty materially speaking, has to do with capacity denied and a person’s heart in the coldness thereof places a huge burden on someone who just needs the “biggest, helping hand in the land” in order to get back on their feet again.

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In my Chairmans report for 2013, the first paragraph states these words: “THE HARVEST IS STILL WAITING FOR WORKERS AND TIME IS REQUIRING OUR UTMOST ATTENTION TO THIS DEVELOPMENT.” Scripture declares that this good news of the kingdom will spread to all nations, and then the end of time as we know it will come. Matthew 24:13 In light of this our theme for 2014 is “THIS SEASON CANNOT PASS US BY.” It is time as the vernacular has always stated for all hands to be on deck. Involvement is the key phrase and we are committed to our community. Never have I felt the significance of how urgent our times are and it is time to seize every opportunity extended to us with great skill and wisdom for the season we are in to be realized in total fulfilment.”

 

As we finish this section on the responsibility of those who have to the poor in the next couple of days, I want to share some urgent principles enabling us to make impact in our communities:

1 – Enough is never enough – the task remains and the more that hands get on deck with the ship of life, the easier and less stressful the work develops.

2 – Leaders need to be ever mindful that our job is to keep “motivation motivated”. Many people come with enthusiasm to be helpful, and we often drive that right out of them by over-taxing them with too much responsibility. Just a word to the wise.

3 – We can and must never scare people into taking their place among the poor. Nobody wants to be motivated by a need as much as to be stimulated by a challenge.

 

More on this tomorrow.

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I want to press on from yesterday with some more principles about those who have giving to those who do not, and the next one is that people with generous hearts have a right to expect some kind of accountability from those receiving. When I ran the Operation Blessing office in Pittsburgh, we had to give minuscule detail about where the blessing was going for the benefit of those giving because the Biblical stewardship principle is still active and alive today.

 

Solomon also stated this next principle that people in abandoned obedience to God will ALWAYS be generous. They are in possession of a heart that keeps looking for an opportunity to bless, therefore this word: “…the righteous give without sparing.” Proverbs 21:2 We will gather around this again tomorrow.

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Let me begin this devotional with a radical statement for once – “There are just as many greedy socialists as greedy capitalists.” If this were not so, then you would see socialist nations expanding, but instead they are shrinking and the only ones staying together are the ones with totalitarian rule. So when I hear people flirting in this country of South Africa with getting rid of the “filthy capitalists”, all I am inclined to conclude is that they want to take our parliamentary democracy away from us and introduce another totalitarian existence, because democracy and capitalism have a tendency to work together and have done it quite well over many centuries.

 

What we must realize is that it is not systems that need change, but hearts because the human condition is to do evil continuously which translated into everyday language means that selfishness is still alive and well. That is why we ask for people with generous hearts to apply the principles we have been talking about recently and show what we call “compassionate capitalism” which looks for ways to distribute proper amounts of wealth into worthy causes. This in turn can bring opportunity to those who need it the most.

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Many of the world’s totalitarian socialist states have some of the most heart-wrenching poverty that could ever be imagined, but then the question is begged from us: “What should be our response as nations who have a surplus to give?” This again goes to the issue of those with wealth giving to those without. From a Biblical vantage, Solomon stated this principle in this way: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21,22

 

We must then ask as to when is the right time, and this goes to the part where you look at your own doorstop and make certain you are not over looking what needs to be tended to at home before you look somewhere else. It deeply concerns me that people have compassion for needs in distances far removed from home, but virtually no empathy for the people around the corner. Somewhere, we need to get our priorities straightened out.

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I have been reading a book for some time now (given to me by Marilyn Mulvihill from World Vision in Pittsburgh called UNFINISHED by Richard Stearne – president of World Vision US) and utilizing it as well for study purposes which essentially means that it is taking a whole lot longer to read than normal. Another divine principle which I have discovered there in this study on what we have given to those with needs is wrapped up in a story he shares about his son Andy who was in possession of a respectable job with American Express. God impressed them about giving a considerable amount of money to a World Vision project in Kenya and it was of such import that his father was in a veritable state of shock.

 

The principle is in this statement spoken by Andy to his Dad – “We don’t need this money. We have all we need, and besides, how can we let this money just sit in a bank account when so many kids are in desperate circumstances? We can make more money, but these kids need help NOW.” Would to God we could see more people with that attitude arising in this generation to get behind good faith community actions making permanent changes possible in our precious little jewels entrusted to our care. If you are touched by this in any way, please reply either on Facebook or send me an e-mail @: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I know that I can lead you into ways that you too can make a powerful difference in children’s lives.

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You have probably heard the phrase: “Eat what is set before you.” In our household, this was a policy as we grew up and was enforced by our parents failing which it would be waiting for us at the next meal. I am sure some of you reading can attest to the validity of what I am saying as you were raised in a similar setting. Solomon stated something like this also: “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” Proverbs 27:7

From this perspective, it becomes clear that the phrase “beggars cannot be choosers” also has significance. I can never forget the time when my wife and I were grocery shopping and a lady on welfare ahead of us was buying more expensive food than we were because she could afford it and we could not. The bottom line is that there is definitely a case for responsible giving and not reckless hand-outs, and that recipients of generosity should and most likely do receive with thankfulness whatever is being provided.

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This year in South Africa, we have opportunity to renew our belief in democracy through elections and once again the build up to that period of time has already begun. I am reminded that politicians are going to speaking the most incredible amount of hot air when it comes to poverty alleviation, and on the most part people are going to buy into their non-substantive statements unless they partake of the wisdom of God. Listen to what God says: “remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

 

We need people in office who demonstrate, not genuflect about poverty who believe that other people’s welfare is more important than their own, and have a reputation for being servant leaders. Good leadership is hard to find these days but I listen to people whom I have seen keep their word and show genuine concern and compassion for the constituents in the ambit of their authority. When we talk about those who have giving capacity to those without keep these things in mind beloved.

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The writer Agur in Proverbs 30 had a strange request for God and he put it this way:” …give me neither poverty nor riches… Otherwise, I may own too much and disown You.. ” (Proverbs 30:8,9) Herein lies the dilemma people with money must confront everyday. We can understand more about life when we are well-off and live as though we are not. That comes about through a policy of setting aside what belongs to God and through the Biblical concept of offerings to designate what can responsibly build into our poverty strongholds what it can take to provide infrastructures designed to lead people out of poverty and indeed a poverty mentality.

 

We must also remember that Jesus said it would be easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, and I will give more understanding on that in the devotional tomorrow.

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When I visited Jerusalem in 1975, we came to a gate near the Western Wall which our guide claimed was the living example of Jesus’ words when he spoke in Matthew 19 about “the eye of the needle”. He further stated that each evening the gate closed at around midnight so if a traveller came at that point the only way through the gate was for the camels to unload all their baggage and then literally crawl through the eye of the needle to get inside the city. This was also seen as a security measure as well so hidden bandits could not just rush through the gate.

 

The truth illustrated of course, is that yes, it is possible for rich people to come into the dwelling of God and thereby be safe and secure, but it also declares that riches can be a burden as well, and must be shed in order to accomplish God’s purposes. I have often declared that if rich people in our city could get rid of their fears which cause them to hoard their resources, we would see such an unfolding of God’s purposes that the world would stand amazed. I also stated we will never offend rich people into giving up their riches, but must make proper presentation for them to release themselves from this “baggage”.

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I am going to get a bit strong in this devotional today, because I think too often when God addresses the wealthy among us, we have a tendency sometimes to get a little soft as well as we see a valuable asset in our midst suddenly becoming offended. If what I am now going to say offends (bearing in mind what I said yesterday), then I must bear the consequences of that, but the point I want to make is that the rich must not become cheap. I was recently reminded of an incident where a highly trained individual was offered a “chicken feed” amount of money to render highly important services even though the capacity was there to offer an equitable wage for the amount of work accomplished. Scripture calls this by the term injustice and God is taking note of these things on His throne. It is totally untenable for a highly unskilled worker as well to receive a higher amount of salary than someone who has been properly trained, made huge sacrifices to get to where they are and then to be treated with such indignity by people who should know better. I will finish this section on the ones who have giving capacity to those who need tomorrow.

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Many organizations I know of who are doing critical work in our communities are the people who seem to be least supported, and I want to also give incentive in this devotional today on their behalf. Most of my heroes do not have prominent names, but on the most part stay in the shadows, because they realize that empowerment comes from the Lord and have no desire to receive any glory while they are on this earth by contrast to so many who do so little and then inflate what they do for self-promotion and aggrandizement.

 

Doors are wide open for people with capacity to give to organizations I work with as they have gone the extra mile to ensure that whatever sacrificial giving they can muster will also accrue a considerable tax certificate when tax time comes around. The organism my wife and I started in the USA is going through some legal changes at the moment and should be re-registered with all the necessary documents within the next couple of months, but there is also a group in Great Britain receiving support on behalf of Life Community Services here in South Africa and they also can do transactions anywhere in the European Union. Any enquiries, please do not hesitate to visit my web site @: www.edenleadership.org, and I will be happy to lead you in the right direction.

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This going to be quite basic, but if you desire to be more like someone then you need to spend more time with them. If you want to be more like Jesus, then you must have extra time in His word, and in prayer through Him to our blessed Heavenly Father.

I do not want to be familiar with Jesus, but to become more like Him in everything I say, do and go, but this requires a greater ability also to listen to Him in what He says and then to implicitly and explicitly obey Him. Remember, you become like the people you stay around and if we stay around baseless, vile and filthy minded people, then we are more than likely going to become like them. Let us then remind ourselves at all times that what Jesus wants takes priority over everything and everyone else.

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There are some people who will literally go through surgery to look like some other people and will change their appearance in order to conform to what they believe will make them look better. People will undergo skin grafts, utilize Botox, surgically remove portions of their fat and put tufts of hair in their head just to change their physical frame in order to be what they see is an ideal.

 

How much better would it be if we had the same zeal and made whatever sacrifice in order to become like Jesus in all aspects of life which has little or nothing to do with our cosmetic ways of changing. The early church had a statement made about them which always stirs me because it describes what hostile people felt about those disciples: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 Truly, you become like the One you relate to, and as you develop strong linkages to wonderful Jesus, you too will discover what a marvelous friend He is.

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I have been gleaning from the finest of the wheat these past few weeks while reading the current President of World Vision USA, Richard Stearns book called UNFINISHED. It has completely confirmed what many have been saying for sometime now about the necessity for the church to become proactive in our communities. I have discovered that when God wants to do something supernatural, He first makes us uncomfortable until we resign ourselves to His holy purposes, and this requires that we find ways to challenge and revolutionize our well-established comfort zones.

 

If churches are ensconcing us within our comfort zones in the name of being faithful to our gatherings, then we need to start finding out what our mission is within the context of our local communities. Every person has a mission and it is not going to change our world one iota if we get set in a constant diet of being fed at our local church. I responded to my niece’s (Heidi Hinnenkamp) enquiry about why we go to church on Sunday in this manner a couple of days ago: “Receive incentive to impact our community with the good news of Jesus.” Worship, Bible study and anything else connected to our meeting together should be just an off-shoot of what we are doing the rest of the week anyhow. I look forward to your inspired responses.

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ADAPT OR DIE – The Ivey Business Journal also had this to say: “Dinosaurs are an apt and widely used metaphor today. After all, if a firm can't or won't adapt, it's straight to the dustbin of business oblivion.” Here is the point I am trying to make as well – What or who you adapt to become a critical component in this cauldron we call life.

 

When you adapt which is always a necessity throughout our lives, you must understand that this becomes a cultural makeup as well and you become like those you are hanging out with. I have made a choice in my associations to keep men and women around me who are noted for integrity, candor, compassion and a never-give-up type of attitude. I also remember that defying dictator tendencies in a spirit of humility and servant leadership must always be an integral part of my life, and that Solomon’s words still ring true today some three thousand years after being spoken”: … victory is won through many advisors.” Proverbs 11:14

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We are now starting new section and it is about the WISDOM OF HARVESTING. Being raised in a farmer’s household (even though I never lived on a farm), as children we were taught the importance of proper seeding, watering, weeding but also timing for the harvest. You cannot leave the harvest go beyond a certain point and is why in 2014, the Lord has laid a salient theme upon my heart: THIS SEASON CANNOT PASS US BY. If you go to my web site, you will see all the above on my home page as you observe: www.edenleadership.org.

 

I believe that the wisdom of Solomon includes some special teaching about what we can and should be doing as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:12) During this week and a bit more, I will be giving you insights into how God wants us to become harvesters in God’s vineyard from out of the book of Proverbs. Have a productive day further.

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A man who shares my birthday in November, except he’s one year younger than I, also spent a year or so in Bible School (North Central University after I graduated from Zion Bible College) with me, and became a popular Christian songwriter and recording artist is none other than Dallas Holm. We actually shared the same dormitory as well, and all of us as students were blessed by the sounds coming from his room which indicated that a great future in music was waiting for him.

 

One of the songs he wrote while there from 1968-70 was called SEIZE ME LORD, and it went something like this: “Seize me Lord, get a hold of my heart and make my eyes to see millions Lord, all around this wide world just wanting more from thee; Help me catch a vision of a world that’s lost in sin, searching for the answer just wanting peace within.” What a way to begin this series on WISDOM FROM PROVERBS as it expresses the heart of God and His passion for people among us who are crying out for reality from those who claim to be Christians in this world. Let us move forward in this light as we reach out to our world wherever we are.

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The combine harvester is a machine that harvests grain crops. The name derives from its combining three separate operations comprising harvesting—reaping (cut or gather a crop or harvest); threshing (To beat the stems and husks of (grain or cereal plants) with a machine or flail to separate the grains or seeds from the straw); Winnowing (blow a current of air through (grain) in order to remove the chaff . Among the crops harvested with a combine harvester is wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn (maize), soybeans and flax (linseed).(information mostly taken from Wikipedia)

 

When God goes about bringing in a harvest He also uses some great combinations as well and usually it has to do with the usage of all the great gifts he has placed within the church operating in unity to demonstrate to a lost world that they are loved enough to be shown in totally efficient and unique ways what God’s desire is for them. He also has many methods as well to make an emphatic point that He is going to ensure His good news gets to the four corners of the earth before He arrives in all His matchless glory to set up His kingdom on earth as it is heaven. All the different materials harvested amply illustrate how God has a variety of people ready to come into His rest by committing their lives to our superb Master, Jesus Christ.

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Scripture is quite specific about events occurring in the heavenlies and here on earth, and none more spectacularly than these penetrating and incisive directives from the Apostle John: “… “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” Revelation 14:15 The state of our world indicates that what is described here can actually be an imminent event and that we have no more time remaining than to become part of this harvest mode. “At harvest season it is smart to work hard” was how Solomon expressed himself and what we need to guard against in the body of Christ is to become lazy about what needs to be in manifestation. Proverbs 10:5

 

John 4:35 “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” If that was true 2000 years ago, how much more in our modern life as we anticipate the end of all things as we know it, the coming of the Lord with his saints to rule the earth, a glorious millennial kingdom where Jesus rules over the earth, and the ultimate casting down of our adversary Satan into the abyss called hell when a new heaven and new earth will also be brought into existence. What a day beloved. It is harvest time and let us become part of this glorious development now.

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The whole world is singing and a multi-billion dollar industry around the world is capitalizing on this fact in a plethora of genre’s which are providing extravagant and fashionable ways of life for myriads of artists. Personally, I love the different expressions of music manifested and quite frankly, I only have a problem (because of my age) with the hip-hop and heavy metal scenario (cannot handle the high decibel levels). A precious young man whose mom works with us, Sally Versfeld is the lead guitarist for a top rock band in South Africa. His name is Justin and it is amazing to see how he has developed over the years.

 

It seems to me when we speak about harvesting that the church must also recognize the vast potential among the youth in this season. God is drawing them into a mighty army and they are noted for their love of music. Attached to our development with Life Community Services is the Elvis Blue Music Academy where many of our youth are being trained in guitar, drums, keyboard and in future there will be vocals as well. Here is a man who has taken his platinum winning career to its logical conclusion by becoming inclusive in his desire to reach this generation through music. Think about this beloved as we consider ways to impact the world we live in.

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Over 6 decades of ministry, I have always emphasized the necessity of being faithful in little resulting in being faithful in much. I have also accentuated the prime reality of what we call the Acts 1:8 principles which place our local mission field first and not last. I cannot find any pattern speaking of an alternative to that and this same fact is reiterated in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10.

 

This word is for all believers who love going to church and meeting God’s wonderful people but have no sense of urgency about the mission field on our own doorstop where people are bleeding and dying on the Jericho road and do not need someone coming from afar to care for them but someone near to them right where they are. Our businesses have many hurting and terminally ill people either literally or spiritually, and we need to discover who they are and become the hand of God to them reaching out as unto those who have been extremely oppressed and utterly wasted through the ravages of sin in their lives.

 

The best training ground for missions outside our area is to see how faithful we have been to our local mission. Let us open our eyes to the needs plentifully displayed to us each and every day.

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The nature of harvesting wisdom is wrapped up in a statement from yesterday’s passage in 1 Thessalonians and this was imparted to me by a man who lives one of the most effective witnessing lives the world has ever known and yet he does it quietly. “And so you became a model to….” 1:7. I believe in that message because more people have been won into the kingdom of God through someones example than a thousand sermons or teachings. The prime necessity for consistent Christ-filled behaviour has made made more impressions on the lost and dying than the most eloquent and effective preachers anywhere.

 

People are reading us each and every day and if what they see is not backed up by character development and compassion from us they will not be very prone to receive our Jesus message at all. They want to see how we love one another and the way we blend in order to reach into the crevices and ravines of life where many people have escaped to in their attempt to find reality. The church is not a club where only an exclusive few can be members, but has been described as a mighty army who follow their Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ in total disregard for their own lives and in sacrificial obedience to His awesome will. Let’s get with His agenda beloved.

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Conformity to the image of the world is appealing to people with no built-in character structure, and I am constantly reminded that my actions, words and places I regard as familiar to me are being observed ever so carefully by a world that is looking for alternatives to the immoral imperatives being proliferated in this present world we find ourselves in. There must be something projecting from me that exudes the presence of Jesus in every context I find myself and even if I “blow it”, God has equipped us with a spirit of humility which defines what I have succumbed to and expresses great resolve to find help with those weaknesses.

 

This is all part of what I would call becoming part of harvest wisdom in this time. A friend of mine lived in a section of the world where Jesus could not be mentioned or proclaimed anywhere, but because he saw himself as part of the “salt of the earth” Jesus referenced in the synoptic gospels, people began coming to him and asking him over a lengthy period of time what he had which they did not have? In this way, he began leading many of these people to faith in Jesus Christ in quiet ways, and ultimately I had opportunity in another part of the world to disciple them in preparation for their return to their homeland.

 The following song was written in 1959 and as I grew up, it became a background theme behind just about every action engaged in as I embarked upon this crucial challenge of serving the Lord in our community. The person writing it is named Leon Ellis who in his lifetime has been simply described as a humble servant of the most high God. Please take this message to heart.


“As we look all around us, All the fields are white, they're ripened unto harvest,
Yet so quickly comes the night. Christians must get busy, there's so much work to do. Here's an urgent task awaiting you.

Souls are crying, men are dying, and won’t you lead them to the cross.
Go and find them, please help to win them - Win the lost at any cost.

Check your fold, my christian brother, see if all your children are in.
Are there some still straying in the blackened fields of sin.You must go out and win them, go quickly without delay, soon the trump of God shall end the day.

Go out and win, rescue from sin, days almost done, and the battles almost won.
Souls are crying, men are dying, win the lost at any cost.”

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There was another song we used to sing written by Bennie Triplett  in 1954 when I was young and one of the verses went like this: “How about your heart? Is it right with God that's the thing that counts today; Is it black by sin, is it pure within, could you ask Christ in to stay?  Therein lays the challenge to the unbeliever, but there comes another even deeper searching for those of us who claim to be in love with Jesus.

 

Luke’s account of Jesus standing over Jerusalem and weeping before He uttered this heart-wrenching statement should touch all of us to the core of our existence:  “It is too bad that today your people don’t know what will bring them peace!” 19:42  Beloved – I want that kind of soul-stirring compassion moving inside of me every time I step outside and see someone who needs Jesus. I want to feel Jesus’ love for all of mankind wherever I go and instead of judging people who are involved in perverse, aberrant, distorted and wicked behaviour I want to exercise Jesus’ love to them and feel the pain Jesus had for humanity when he died on the Cross to save people from the grossest of sins. Another song made famous by the Gaither Band put it this way: “Come ye sinners, lost and lonely, Jesus' blood can make you free. For he saved the worst among you when He saved a wretch like me. And I know, yes, I know, Jesus' blood can make the vilest sinner clean.”  Give us that kind of love sweet Jesus as we see a world bleeding and dying on the road of life that you bled and died for! Amen!

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You might be thinking that we started out getting a lesson on wisdom in harvesting but we are just hearing about old-time hymns. Well, you are right to a degree, but harvesting wisdom requires a heart conditioning as well, which some of the older hymns we grew up with lend a depth of meaning into causing us to become conscious of the harvest field we contact each day. We need to ask the Lord to lay someone upon our heart as we go out to our respective places of responsibility and endeavour to somehow touch that life through us without taking away from our company time either, because that is not being a good example either.

 

We need to get an understanding of the full ramifications of being Jesus in our callings and that includes portraying a spirit of excellence in everything we do causing people to notice that we as believers do not believe in or have anything to do with a spirit of mediocrity. Something needs to come out of us in these harvest days which definitively and distinctly states that we are going to go the extra mile like Jesus always did while on earth and display the design of God to this generation. Our work ethic and spirit of servanthood and sacrifice needs to be at top level and may we be enabled in that direction.

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As a boy, I saw a photo of a man standing on the edge of a precipice and he was holding back a wave of people who were clamouring to go over that ridge into certain death. This was seen as a picture of a person who was the lone symbol of resistance to people rushing into eternity without being saved which the prophet Ezekiel capture in these momentous words:And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land…...” 22:30

 

In these days, weeks and months of harvesting, I pray that God will deliver us from a mode of satisfaction with where we are and make us alert to what is being made real in the communities in our areas of living, working and worshipping. All around us, people are depressed, challenged by economic dysfunction, intimidated by insensitive and sometimes even irrational authority figures, smiles on the surface with emptiness inside, hurting psychologically, physically and spiritually, surrounded by immense temptations and seductions, crushed with too many responsibilities, harassed by guilt-complexes, overwhelmed and over-taxed by top-heavy government, and the list could be added to by multiplied factors ad infinitum. Ladies and gentleman, this gives you just a glimpse of our mission field -  take what God has equipped you with and become God’s hand to these dear people.

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Most people of evangelical persuasion will see the signs of the times and will unambiguously state that if we are not at the closing of time as Scripture declares, we are not too far away from what is commonly called the 2nd coming of Jesus to this earth. This important event cannot be predicted accurately but we are given indications to that effect, ie. what is happening in the Middle East, peace negotiations, wars and rumors of wars ( more people died through wars in the 20th century than all previously recorded centuries combined – one dictator responsible for the death of 60 million people alone), etc.

 

Recognizing this, what I find interesting in the light of our theme about harvesting is that Scripture specifically states that there is going to be an enormous harvest at the end of time, which I believe we are experiencing in strongly confirmed ways world-wide, and that this is accompanied by assistance from heaven called angels. Check it out in Matthew 13:39. Billy Graham also refers to this in his excellent book called ANGELS – GOD’S SECRET AGENTS. I strongly recommend beloved that we get into harvest mode. You never know what might come your way when this becomes part of the “warp and woof” (The underlying structure on which something is built; a base or foundation) of your life. We all need to become soul-winners.

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If we are going to be ready to take on the challenge of not only invading but impacting our communities with the kingdom of God emphasis, then we must change the way we do church. Eric Swanson in his excellent and brilliant treatise called TEN PARADIGM SHIFTS TOWARD COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION stated the following: “It’s no longer merely about size, seeker sensitivity, spiritual gifts, church health, nor the number of small groups. It’s about making a significant AND sustainable difference in the lives of people around us – in our communities and in our cities.”

 

Is is not time that we once again began to accumulate fact sheets detailing the dilemma’s people are facing and then offering ourselves without reserve to identify and intelligently with warmth confront these giants through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us? Should we not also be talking with community leaders regularly to find out what burdens they are bearing so we can assist them with the wisdom that comes from the throne of God? What power we can display in these harvesting times when the world both at home and elsewhere are calling out for God’s people to lay aside their lives of ease and demonstrate Jesus’ life in the highways AND in the byways of life. Let us roll up our sleeves and get dirty for God so the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood can bring about real transformation in our communities. More on this tomorrow.

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Our communities are looking for those of us in the church of Jesus Christ to become more engaged with them at the grassroots of life and in order to make that become a reality; we need to be building more bridges and not walls. Every city has successful churches but not every city has churches making impact on all aspects of life in the trenches. People can attend church services because they want to sometimes be submerged in a crowd or nurse a hurt and maybe even to have itching ears to ease their pain and that is alright as far it goes, but the church was meant to be an outreach as much as being an in reach so-to-speak which means we must be directly involved in stopping people from going into a Christ-less eternity. Most people serving the Lord I speak to would see this as the ideal and we could easily be amazed at how God changes our fears of touching the world when we just make ourselves available to be used by God.

 

Frankly, I strongly believe that God is more interested in measuring impact in our community than our burgeoning attendance figures. Are we making an impression on our unemployment rates and do we we get involved with credible groups who are working themselves to a stand-still each and every day while sacrificially laying down their lives for those who need hope? Are we using our mentoring skills to raise up a new generation who would otherwise give up before they receive a decent start in life? These are questions we must answer as we humbly ask God to open our eyes to the harvest waiting on us to respond.

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God’s church has a prime necessity to go from a “serve us” to a service mind-set. In many churches, the whole program is set around getting people involved in one or more of the following manifestations: 1) Teach Sunday School, 2) Work in the nursery, 3) Lead a small group, 4) Be a greeter, or 5) Serve on a committee of some kind. There is nothing wrong with that but it does little or nothing to challenge the world we live in. We must go from an inward to an outward focus, and as Eric Swanson again states: “We need to go from asking the question as to how big our churches are to finding out how big an impact we are having in our community.”

 

We need to understand that the power of the good news of Jesus combines a life-giving message with selfless service, and ask two questions that the Mariner’s Church in Costa Mesa, California were challenged by: “What could we do” and “what should we do?” As the famous phrase from so many contexts states: “This changes everything.” It is of paramount expediency that each day we challenge ourselves with these possibilities as we engage the harvest in our communities.

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If we are going to be effective in our witness to the world, we will need to learn the principle of partnering and even partnerships. Jesus never sent out his disciples to get a job done without linking them wherever they went with someone who would be a compliment to the other as He proved during His tenure on earth with the disciples and as demonstrated in the early church. Solomon again stated: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

 

In our city, we have a food bank run by a friend of mine, and what a testimony it is to people who do not know Christ that this Christian-based service into the community is the result of other Christian organizations banding together not just to feed the hungry but also to lead the same people into the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their best friend. There is no use duplicating anything when the selfless thing to do is to partner.