Consequences of Faithfulness

Freedom

Having and keeping faith.  Unchanging love and undying devotion.  Forever lasting loyalty and steadfastness.  Complete confidence and trust.  Sounds nice, I know!!  That’s the definition of faithfulness.  We have already been thinking about temptation from the earlier verses in chapter five of Proverbs (read more here: “When Temptation Comes My Way”).  The final verses of this chapter talk about the sanctity of faithfulness.  When we put it all together, I guess we could sum up Proverbs 5 as being about faithfulness even in the midst of temptation or when the odds are against it.  Proverbs 5:15-23 spells out some of the consequences of unfaithfulness and provides a glimpse of the consequences of faithfulness as well.

That said, day eight is Proverbs 5:15-23…

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15DRINK WATER FROM YOUR OWN CISTERN AND FRESH WATER FROM YOUR OWN WELL.  16 SHOULD YOUR SPRINGS BE DISPERSED ABROAD, STREAMS OF WATER IN THE STREETS?  17 LET THEM BE YOURS ALONE AND NOT FOR STRANGERS WITH YOU.  18 LET YOUR FOUNTAIN BE BLESSED, AND REJOICE IN THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH.  19 AS A LOVING HIND AND A GRACEFUL DOE, LET HER BREASTS SATISFY YOU AT ALL TIMES; BE EXHILARATED ALWAYS WITH HER LOVE.  20 FOR WHY SHOULD YOU, MY SON, BE EXHILARATED WITH AN ADULTERESS AND EMBRACE THE BOSOM OF A FOREIGNER?  21 FOR THE WAYS OF A MAN ARE BEFORE THE EYES OF THE LORD, AND HE WATCHES ALL HIS PATHS.  22 HIS OWN INIQUITIES WILL CAPTURE THE WICKED, AND HE WILL BE HELD WITH THE CORDS OF HIS SIN.  23 HE WILL DIE FOR LACK OF INSTRUCTION, AND IN THE GREATNESS OF HIS FOLLY HE WILL GO ASTRAY.”

PROVERBS 5:15-23, NASB

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I could sit here and attempt to extrapolate each iota of this passage, but I am not going to.  I could type up a hellfire and brimstone defense of Biblical, God-ordained, pure and honorable marriage, but I won’t.  (…Even though this passage does lend itself to and significantly adds to such a conversation! That stands as truth regardless.)  I just want to share a little bit of what I am coming to see about faithfulness from these verses.

There is freedom in faithfulness.  This probably seems like the most contradictory thing to say given the context at hand, especially in the 21st Century.  Marriage, and the commitments thereof, are often interpreted as being confining.[1]  Why should you have to be stuck with one someone ’til death do you part?  Yeah, because that’s the dream of every little girl– to be just another one of countless women like a second- (or third- or fourth- or fifth-) rate and forgettable movie sequel or to be tossed around between countless men like a cheap bag of chips at a football game.  NOT!  There is no freedom in a relationship where every waking moment is spent fearing (and or fueling) its disposability.  Newsflash…that’s not love.  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18, NASB).

“When you love someone with real practical deeds, you never hear a warning signal that says, “You’re going to get punished for this.”  Fear is what you feel when you have done something that ought to be punished.  But love is never threatened with punishment.  So there is no fear in love.  On the contrary, when you love each other with “perfect love” (i.e.: with the love of God overflowing and being completed in action)—when you love each other like this, it casts out fear!”[2]

Love is impossible apart from God.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8, NASB).  If we are Christ’s ambassadors (i.e.: having the responsibility of representing Him) and are called to live out His love for us in our relationships, especially marriage, what a fearful thing to think of having to account to God who is enthroned as King and established as Judge for misrepresenting Him!?!

So what does this have to do with Proverbs 5?  “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin” (Proverbs 5:21-22, NASB).  Being held within cords sounds like the exact opposite of freedom to me!

Which brings me to another point…

There is peace in faithfulness.  I am going to go out on a limb and state that peace is something we all crave, and desperately so.  What sense of perfect peace there is in knowing full well that someone shares an unchanging love and undying devotion, forever lasting loyalty and steadfastness, complete confidence and trust with you.

Trust.

Fearless.

Faithful.

Trust.

When it’s broken…that’s not freedom, that’s not peace.

It is all too easy to lose sight of, ignore, and or dispute the scope and severity of the consequences of unfaithfulness in such a sin sick world.  Unfaithfulness is everywhere.  But GOOD NEWS…our unfaithfulness will not nullify the faithfulness of God (Romans 3:3).  This is NOT a license to be unfaithful.  Unfaithfulness will make for one bumpy road on which things of incredible value– like freedom and peace– will be sacrificed.  This IS a reminder of why we need Jesus Christ more and more!  Our ways are already before the eyes of the Lord, He is already watching our paths.  So I pray…may our eyes look to the faithful Lord Jesus, the Maker of heaven and earth; He will not allow our foot to slip, He will keep us and our hearts steadfast in Him and reflecting His love as we ought to (Psalm 121:1-3, Psalm 112:7).

Victoria

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  1. Note that the term “marriage” in this post refers to Bible-defined, God-ordained, pure and honorable marriage.
  2. “Perfect Love Casts Out Fear.” John Piper. Available online at http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/perfect-love-casts-out-fear. May 26, 1985.

 

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The Heart

TheHeart

Yesterday we covered twenty-two verses in what almost qualified for the “list of longest posts.”  Today we will cover just eight verses!  Yes, it’ll be a little breather (so we can continue to digest the better-than-honey sweetness of God’s Word) but let me tell you that these eight verses are packed full of rich truth.

That said, day four is Proverbs 3:1-8…

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(1) MY SON, DO NOT FORGET MY TEACHING, BUT KEEP MY COMMANDS IN YOUR HEART, (2) FOR THEY WILL PROLONG YOUR LIFE MANY YEARS AND BRING YOU PROSPERITY.  (3) LET LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS NEVER LEAVE YOU; BIND THEM AROUND YOUR NECK, WRITE THEM ON THE TABLET OF YOUR HEART.  (4) THEN YOU WILL WIN FAVOR AND A GOOD NAME IN THE SIGHT OF GOD AND MAN.  (5) TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING; (6) IN ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT.  (7) DO NOT BE WISE IN YOUR OWN EYES; FEAR THE LORD AND SHUN EVIL.  (8) THIS WILL BRING HEALTH TO YOUR BODY AND NOURISHMENT TO YOUR BONES.

PROVERBS 3:1-8, NIV84

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My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.  The heart, the heart.  In the Bible, the heart is described as the center of thought and will, the all of a person, the attributes which make him or her him or her.[1]  The heart governs these attributes.  God knows the true heart of men and women.  “[F]or the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9b, NKJV).  So where does that intentional and deliberate seeking stem from?  A pure heart!  What is the outcome for the pure in heart?  They shall see God (Matthew 5:8)!  What is the purpose of pursuing the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God?  To be near to Him!  Prosperity can also be translated as peace.  Where is peace found?  In the Presence and Person of the Lord God, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 2:14, 2 Peter 1:2-11).[2]

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Love, what does that have to do with knowledge?  When it’s the knowledge of Christ we’re talking about: EVERYTHING.  Ephesians 3:17-19 (NASB) says, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God”.  Our pursuit of wisdom must be rooted and grounded in love.  And true and pure love.  We must not be full of ourselves, but rather emptied– broken and contrite– so that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God!  We cannot just “put on” the appearance of wisdom.  It doesn’t work like that.  We have to write it on the tablet of our hearts, meaning our inner motives must be governed by love and faithfulness for wisdom is ROOTED in such things.

Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.  “Favor” can be translated as “grace” and a “good name” can be translated as “reputation”.  This does NOT mean that God will approve of us the times if / when we are “Christian-y” and we will be accepted by and fit in with the world as one-of-them.  A reputation which  is dichotomized doesn’t hold water– it’s not true, it’s not pure.  This means that before both God and the world we hold the same God-fearing, wisdom-pursuing, love-driven, good, honest, and pure reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  These two verses epitomize the denial of self-confidence.  There are no benefits in trusting in oneself and going against God.  Once again, it’s a matter of the heart– the intentions of who we are and what we do.  Later on in the Book of Proverbs we are told that the “why” of our pursuit is “so that [our] trust may be in the Lord”(Proverbs 22:19a, NASB).  But didn’t we already learn that the “why” was to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God?  We did.  Trusting God provides clarification about what the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God consist of.  More deliberate actions and decisions.  Acknowledge in this verse means seek.  What “way” and “path” is this referring to?  The one of victory and success which is characterized by the uprightness, blamelessness, justice, and faithfulness spoken of earlier in Proverbs (2:6-9).

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This is a continuation of the theme of the denial of self-confidence.  “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NASB).[3]  Being wise in one’s own eyes is inconsistent with wisdom– it’s false, it’s sick, it’s sin tainted, and it’s haughty which is the opposite of the humble attitude of the heart indispensable to wisdom.  Even more so, this verse is a explicit tie to the twofold “why”.  Why do we pursue the acquisition and attainment of wisdom and understanding?  (1)To obtain God’s guidance (i.e.: fear the Lord) and (2) to avoid the society and enticements of the wicked (i.e.: shun evil).

This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.  Psalm 32 speaks of the sorrows and sickness of the wicked in contrast to the gladness, joy, and lovingkindess which surround those who trust the Lord and are upright in heart.[4]  (Hmm, another connection between trust and the heart.)  “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away though my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4).  What wasted away, what was drained?  His body and his vitality. (Remember that sin is death. “[I]t takes away the lives of those who get [the ill-gotten gain]” (Proverbs 1:19).  “For [the] house [of the adulteress] leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead” (Proverbs 2:18).)  Why?  Because he failed to trust God.  What happened once he acknowledged his sin and confessed it?  God forgave him.  Did he then continue to express the agonizing, body destroying, and vitality draining sorrows and sickness?  No.  What did he go on to express?  The gladness, joy, and lovingkindess which surround those who trust the Lord and are upright in heart.  That sounds healthful and nourishing to me!

God, please forgive us of our sins.  Help us to deny our self-confidence.  Help us to trust You and be upright in heart so much so our reputation before You and everyone at all times is that we are the God-fearing, wisdom-pursuing, love-driven, good, honest, and pure peculiar people You have called us to be!

Victoria

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  1. The heart, described in the Bible, tends to not be equated with the emotions like it is in today’s society. The emotions are more equated with the bowels (aka lower intestines) of the body.
  2. Second Peter 1:2-11 (NASB) goes so well with this chapter of Proverbs. (2) Grace and peace be multiplied to you inthe knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; (3) seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  (4) For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (5) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge(6) and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in  your perseverance, godliness, (7) and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love(8) For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (9) For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (10) Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; (11) for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”  What a confirmation of the truths we are encountering in our study of the Book of Proverbs!
  3. Keep these verses in Jeremiah tagged. We’ll come back to them as we continue with Proverbs 3.
  4. There is an additional connection in this Psalm with praying to God “in a time when [He] may be found” (Psalm 32:6a). See Proverbs 1:28.

 

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Thank the LORD because HE is good! (Beautiful Day)

“Come to ME when you’re weary and I’LL give you hope when you’re hurting, I’LL give you rest from your burden.  Come to ME when you’re weary and I’LL give you hope when you’re hurting, oh I’M gonna carry your burden” (“Come To Me”, Jamie Grace).

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“Everybody’s going to go through something big.  Everybody’s going to have something difficult in their life.  But the beauty of it is that no matter how big that stuff is GOD IS ALWAYS BIGGER.  AND HE’S ALWAYS IN CONTROL.  AND HE’S ALWAYS THE KING. No matter how difficult life gets and no matter how many things come in your way that you can’t control, we can always choose to go to JESUS…” — Jamie Grace

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1Thank the Lord because HE is good.  HIS love continues forever.  2Let the people of Israel say, “HIS love continues forever.”  3Let the family of Aaron say, “HIS love continues forever.”  4Let those who respect the Lord say, “HIS love continues forever.”  5I was in trouble, so I called to the Lord.  The Lord answered me and set me free.  6I will not be afraid, because the Lord is with me.  People can’t do anything to me.  7The Lord is with me to help me,  so I will see my enemies defeated.  8It is better to trust the Lord than to trust people.  9It is better to trust the Lord than to trust princes.  10All the nations surrounded me, but I defeated them in the name of the Lord.  11They surrounded me on every side, but with the Lord’s power I defeated them. 12They surrounded me like a swarm of bees, but they died as quickly as thorns burn.  By the Lord’s power, I defeated them.  13They chased me until I was almost defeated, but the Lord helped me.  14The Lord gives me strength and a song.  HE has saved me.  15Shouts of joy and victory come from the tents of those who do right: “The Lord has done powerful things.”  16The power of the Lord has won the victory; with HIS power the Lord has done mighty things.  17I will not die, but live, and I will tell what the Lord has done.  18The Lord has taught me a hard lesson,  but HE did not let me die.  19Open for me the Temple gates.  Then I will come in and thank the Lord.  20This is the Lord’s gate; only those who are good may enter through it.  21Lord, I thank YOU for answering me.  YOU have saved me.  22The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.  23The Lord did this, and it is wonderful to us.  24This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad today!  25Please, Lord, save us; please, Lord, give us success.  26God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.  We bless all of you from the Temple of the Lord.  27The Lord is God, and HE has shown kindness to us.  With branches in your hands, join the feast.  Come to the corners of the altar.  28YOU are my God, and I will thank YOU;  YOU are my God, and I will praise YOUR greatness.  29Thank the Lord because HE is good.  HIS love continues forever.” (Psalm 118:1–29, NCV05).

Have A Beautiful Day,

Victoria

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WE EXULT

“The pressure makes us stronger, the struggle makes us hunger, the hard lessons make the difference, and the difference makes it worth it” (“For Those Who Wait”, Fireflight).

Dawn Michele, lead vocalist of Fireflight, explains: “There are so many hard things going on in so many people’s lives that life sometimes can be seen as a giant waiting game.  We’re just waiting for those hard things to teach us something.  Those hard things that happened to you can become the best things that ever happened to you because God can use that pain.  He’ll turn it into power for your life, to help yourself and to help others.  And those will be the cornerstones of your entire life and the basis and the formation of your character”.1

You know, the Apostle Paul talks about something along these lines too.  In his letter to the Romans, he writes: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1-5, NASB95).

What in the world do tribulations have to do with hope?

Well for Christians, a whole lot!  Tribulations are experienced by all– Christians and Nonchristians alike.  As for the exulting hope, that’s experienced by Christians as it’s a result of a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Even though present tribulations may abound, those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ have guaranteed, non-disappointing hope in the midst of them!  The hope is guaranteed and non-disappointing because it’s fixed on God!  “If hope is fixed on God, it embraces at once the three elements of expectation of the future, trust, and the patience of waiting”.2

ExpectTrustWait

Such a hope “rests on the divine act of salvation accomplished in Christ “.3  The Holy Spirit is our guarantee– and with His help we can expect, trust, and wait!  No matter the pressures, the struggles, or the hard lessons we can exult in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that  tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope!

Exulting,

Victoria

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1. Dawn Michele. Story Behind the Song: For Those Who Wait. Available from http://fireflightrock.com/updates/2010/3/5/story-behind-the-song-for-those-who-wait.html.

2. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Edited by Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co.. 1964.

3. Ibid..

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Trusting trouble? Welcome to the club…

Journals

I’m a journaler– have been for nearly ten years.  My journals are filled with many reflections, narrations, questions, resolutions, and lessons.  You know, it’s not too often that I find myself picking up an older journal to read through some of its entries, but this week I did.  I read one of my first ever entries in which I cited Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV82).  The peculiar thing is that a vast majority of my entries could be summed up in that verse!

What do I make of this?  Well, it seems that trusting the Lord has been an enduring lesson for me!  For instance, take a look at a couple excerpts from some of my other entries:

“…I just want to throw up the hands of my heart as I desire for God to do His will, for Him to have His way.  Sometimes in my mind I really have no idea why things are happening the way that they are.  Deep down in my heart, though, I know that my God is in control.  Yes, it would be easier– to a certain degree– to have the specifics laid out right in front of me.  But I have to ask then, where would that leave room for trusting God…?

“…there’s something to be said about trusting God, or rather asked: why do I find it so hard?  I’m coming to understand that it all has to do with perspective!  It’s hard to trust God when I lean on my own understanding, when all I see is my present situation– of which I may add I don’t even see in full–, when I am focused on the things I am uncertain of, when I forget who He is!”

Why do I share this?  Because I don’t think I’m the only one in the club of I-have-trouble-learning-to-fully-trust-God.

In Isaiah 36:5 is the question, “Now in whom do you trust?” (NKJV82)  Concerning this, Charles Haddon Spurgeon has commented:

“Reader, this is an important question.  Listen to the Christian’s answer, and see if it is yours.  “On whom dost thou trust?”  “I trust,” says the Christian, “in a triune God.  I trust the Father, believing that He has chosen me from before the foundations of the world; I trust Him to provide for me in providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to His own house where the many mansions are.  I trust the Son.  Very God of very God is He—the man Christ Jesus.  I trust in Him to take away all my sins by His own sacrifice, and to adorn me with His perfect righteousness.  I trust Him to be my Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before His Father’s throne, and I trust Him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me.  I trust Him for what He is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised yet to do.  And I trust the Holy Spirit—He has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust Him to drive them all out; I trust Him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my passions, to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness; I trust Him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me wholly, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light for ever.”   Oh, blessed trust!  To trust Him whose power will never be exhausted, whose love will never wane, whose kindness will never change, whose faithfulness will never fail, whose wisdom will never be nonplussed, and whose perfect goodness can never know a diminution!  Happy art thou, reader, if this trust is thine!  So trusting, thou shalt enjoy sweet peace now, and glory hereafter, and the foundation of thy trust shall never be removed.” 1

You know, I could just hear the Lord God in His reassuring, fatherly voice ask, “Now Victoria, in whom do you trust?”  I am finding that question to be very helpful in the process of learning to fully trust Him.  It helps me see things from the right perspective, as I am encouraged to remember and acknowledge the certainty of God’s trustworthiness in everything!

So to those of you who also find yourselves in the learning-to-trust club, I ask, “Now (insert your name here), in whom do you trust?”

 Victoria

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1. Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Complete and Unabridged.  New Modern Edition.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. 2006.

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