Silence the fools

It is God’s will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you. You are not slaves; you are free. But your freedom is not an excuse to do evil. You are free to live as God’s slaves.

1 Peter 2:15-16 (NLT)

The best way to prove a fool wrong is by your actions—not with malicious intent, but by simply living contrary to their foolish accusations.

The church is one of the most accused groups out there. It’s full of hypocrites. They just preach that prosperity stuff. The preachers all holler and spit. It’s only a place where weak people go.

The best way around all of those things is to live the exact opposite. Live with integrity. Preach a balanced message. Whisper and try not to drool. Be strong. Let the way you live exceed the expectations of others.

Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.

1 Peter 2:12 (NLT)

If you’ve ever tried to argue your point with a fool, you know that it is a fruitless waste of time.

Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.

Proverbs 10:23 (NLT)

The best response to a foolish accusation is to live a life above reproach. In living wisely, not only can we find pleasure and honor, but we silence the fools.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 34-35, 1 Peter 2

In conclusion

As we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, some may be left with the idea that, since nothing seems to really matter, we should just live our lives in pursuit of personal pleasure.

“All is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NLT)

There’s nothing like a bit of encouragement from the Teacher (largely presumed to be Solomon) first thing in the morning. If everything still to come is meaningless (11:8), why bother trying to do good? Why should we help other people when we can help ourselves? Because it is our duty—not as Christians, but as human beings.

Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NLT)

As soon as someone tells me that I have to do something, I suddenly don’t want to do it whether it’s good or not. Words like fear and obey are often not see in the best of light and we tend to not want to comply when they’re thrust at us. If you’ve been following along in your daily Bible reading, though, you’ll have already come across hundreds of reasons why fearing God and obeying His commands are really good things.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom…

Proverbs 15:33 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge…

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord leads to life…

Proverbs 19:23 (NLT)

Life. Wisdom. Knowledge. Who doesn’t want those? We should fear the Lord. And not just out of duty, but because we want to.

And what about obedience?

Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT)

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

John 15:10 (NLT)

Joy! Love! We could go on all day about the benefits of fearing God and obeying His commands. It may be our duty, but it is also to our benefit to do so. If the wisest man who ever lived concluded that we should do these things, perhaps there’s something to it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 10-12, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Apply Jesus

Do you ever read through the Bible and skip over all the verses that refer to the law? We know that Jesus came as the one perfect sacrifice, the only person ever to follow the law in its entirety. He then fulfilled the law so that we would no longer have to strive for something we could never attain. So why should we bother reading verses about the law that no longer apply to us?

If Jesus came to replace the law, what if we replaced the law with Jesus? Literally. In Proverbs, for example, let’s look at a few verses. We’ll take out the law and replace it with Jesus.

To reject [Jesus] is to praise the wicked; to obey [Jesus] is to fight them.

Proverbs 28:4 (NLT)

Kind of crazy how it still makes sense, isn’t it?

Young people who obey [Jesus] are wise; those who seek out worthless companions bring shame to their parents.

Proverbs 28:7 (NLT)

The prayers of a person who ignore [Jesus] are despised.

Proverbs 28:9 (NLT)

We see entirely  new meaning in scriptures we may have previously passed over believing they have nothing to do with us today. They have everything to do with us today if we look at them in the light of the new covenant we have with God through Jesus.

So the next time you’re about to skip over the law, apply Jesus instead.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 28-29, 2 Corinthians 7

Digest

Did you know that Jesus talked about the digestive system? It’s one of those topics many may say, “Oh, Jesus would never talk about that.” He did.

Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked him. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body.

Matthew 15:16-17 (NLT)

Yup, Jesus even referred to poop. Who knows, maybe that’s how he even said it to his disciples.

In this case, the disciples were wondering what Jesus meant when he told the Pharisees that you aren’t defiled by what you eat (there were strict Jewish laws regarding food and the eating thereof).

But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you and make you unacceptable to God!

Matthew 15:18-20 (NLT)

How you choose to eat your lunch has no effect on your salvation. But what you allow out of your mouth when it comes to speech can have eternal repercussions.

Those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life.

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

The moral of the story is to worry less about what goes in to your mouth and how it gets there and more about what comes out of your mouth. Whatever goes in your mouth will come out of your body. But what comes out of your mouth is a sign of what is rooted in your heart.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 4-50, Matthew 15:1-20

Buy Truth

Once upon a time, I worked for an insurance and investment firm. Every day I would enter transactions for investors and hope that those investments would pay dividends. The best way for an investment to earn money is not to sell it. The financial market often corrects itself over a period of time. Those who buy and sell, buy and sell (like impatient drivers changing lanes all the time when traffic backs up) don’t really end up ahead of the game, but rather frustrated that they didn’t end up further along than they’d hoped. Those who stuck it out and stayed in their original lane often end up in a more beneficial situation.

How then, does this same theory apply to our lives as Christians?

Buy truth, and do not sell it;
buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

Proverbs 23:23 (ESV)

Truth pays. It is beneficial to have it. It is beneficial to get more of it. The fact that we are being told to purchase it means that we should value it. Buy investing and continuing to add to our initial investment in truth, we stand to gain.

By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.
A wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Proverbs 24:3-6 (ESV)

When you invest in truth, you can count on success. It’s that simple. Put weight in gaining knowledge and understanding and the by-product is victory.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 23-24, 2 Corinthians 5

Honour

Who doesn’t want to be honoured? You may think of being honoured as perhaps being presented an award of merit at a special ceremony. Or receiving a medal for acts of bravery. What about simply being treated with respect?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We all want some. So how do we get it?

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 15:33 (ESV)

Back to this fear of the Lord thing again? Yes.

In Bible school, we spent over two weeks on an in-depth study on honour. It all came back to our approach to God.

When we know our place in reference to God, we not only have a greater understanding of Him, we have a greater understanding of who we are. When God is put in the correct place in our lives, having ourselves in the right place is a beneficial byproduct.

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

Proverbs 16:20 (ESV)

These seemingly unrelated phrases are not lumped together just to fill a page. Over and over again through the Proverbs are verses about trusting in and relying on God with good things to follow.

If you want honour and respect, you have to be able to properly give honour and respect. Honour God. Respect God. Put God in His place and then you will be in a position for Him to put you in your place. Humble yourself and you won’t have to look for honour, it will find you.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 15-16; 2 Corinthians 1

Fruit

It’s that time of year here, on the West Coast, where the trees are offering up their annual bounty – and what a bounty it is this year! The unusual weather we’ve had this year has brought about much fruit.

While we know that the right weather conditions can produce a good harvest of apples, pears, and peaches, do we know what conditions can bring about a bountiful harvest of good fruit in our spiritual lives?

A backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.

Proverbs 14:14 (ESV)

Fruit comes from the heart. And as much as it comes from the heart, it must also be displayed in our actions.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)

Our heart will determine our actions and our actions determine our fruit. If you read through Proverbs 13 and 14 today, take note of how many times it is said in one way or another to be silent. Keep your mouth shut. Let your actions display your wisdom. It is not in words that good fruit is grown, but in what we do in love out of a heart of wisdom. Let all that you do be done in love and you may find yourself with a bumper crop of spiritual fruit.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 13-14, 1 Corinthians 16

Multiply

The world is loud. Really loud.

There are things being shouted at us from all directions at all times.

The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.

Proverbs 9:13 (ESV)

Foolishness is loud. It stands up and shouts an invitation and most people see the appeal in it and will follow the louder voice. But that voice leads nowhere but to shame and destruction.

It is the quiet voice that needs to be lifted up.

Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud.

Proverbs 8:1-3 (ESV)

Where foolishness leads to destruction, wisdom, that quiet voice, leads to so much more.

Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Proverbs 9:9b (ESV)

For by [wisdom] your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.

Proverbs 9:11 (ESV)

A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 10:4 (ESV)

Read through Proverbs 9 and 10 and ponder the words associated with wisdom. These are the things we should be looking for – not the temptation that comes from foolishness, but the enduring benefits of wisdom:

  • increase
  • multiplied
  • glad
  • blessings
  • receive
  • life
  • wealth
  • pleasure
  • joy

I don’t know about you, but that list looks pretty good to me.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-32

Stay Dressed

I work from home. Most days, I roll out of bed and change out of my pyjamas into sweatpants and a t-shirt. I’m not ready for much of anything. If someone were to call me up and ask me out, I’d have to take some time to get myself ready to leave the house.

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home…

Luke 12:35-36a (ESV)

Physically speaking, I’m not ready for action. How then do we stay ready for action spiritually?

My child, pay attention to my words;
    listen closely to what I say.
Don’t ever forget my words;
    keep them always in mind.
 They are the key to life for those who find them;
    they bring health to the whole body.

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NCV)

Our preparation is in our readiness in the Word of God. The more we know His word and hide it in our hearts, the more ready we are for anything that comes our way.

On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.

Ephesians 6:15 (NCV)

The New King James Version talks about the preparation of the gospel of peace. Stand ready. Prepare yourself with the Word of the Lord so that, when the time comes, you are ready to serve your Master.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 4-6; Luke 12:35-59

What Comes Out

You’ve probably heard it said that you should be careful what you allow into your mind and heart. And so you should. But the issue is not so much with what you allow in is as it is with what you allow out.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.”

Mark 7:20 (ESV)

Speaking to his disciples, Jesus went on to say,

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Mark 7:21-23 (ESV)

Wait. What? Hasn’t the media been telling us the evil is all around us? That evil is being done to us? It doesn’t come out of us. Or does it?

Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NCV)

I recently read an article that spoke about how people – here, college students (but it applies to all of us) – are told what to think. It doesn’t take much perusing through news sites to validate the truth of this statement. All around us, we – yes, we Christians – are allowing other people to tell us what to think and how we should think.

While we may not be able to prevent the bad things from going in, we can certainly stop the things that defile us from coming out.

Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.

Romans 12:2 (NCV)

Being inundated with worldly opinions all day every day, I need to ask myself if I am being shaped by the world or if I am shaping the world around me. Do I allow the thoughts being projected at me to shape the way I think or do I daily renew my mind to a new way of thinking – a way that is good and pleasing to God and perfect – so that I can shape the world around me?

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 21-23, Mark 7:14-8:10