PROVERBS 5

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen closely to my understanding so that you may maintain discretion and your lips safeguard knowledge.
Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol.
She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable.
So now, my sons, listen to me, and don’t turn away from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her. Don’t go near the door of her house.
Otherwise, you will give up your vitality to others and your years to someone cruel; strangers will drain your resources, and your earnings will end up in a foreigner’s house.
At the end of your life, you will lament when your physical body has been consumed, and you will say, “How I hated discipline, and how my heart despised correction. I didn’t obey my teachers or listen closely to my mentors. I am on the verge of complete ruin before the entire community.”
Drink water from your own cistern, water flowing from your own well.
Should your springs flow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares?
They should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers.
Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful fawn — let her breasts always satisfy you; be lost in her love forever.
Why, my son, would you be infatuated with a forbidden woman or embrace the breast of a stranger?
For a man’s ways are before the Lord ’s eyes, and He considers all his paths.
A wicked man’s iniquities entrap him; he is entangled in the ropes of his own sin.
He will die because there is no discipline, and be lost because of his great stupidity. (Proverbs 5:1-23 HCSB)

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BROKENNESS VS. SELFISHNESS

I am selfish, self-centered, self-sufficient, and lazy. None of these character qualities lends itself to brokenness. It is always amazing to me that my wife continues to stand by me, continues to love me, continues to forgive me!

It is all too easy for me to take my eyes off myself and start thinking, “Why am I always the one who has to be wrong? It seems like I am doing all of the apologizing. I thought this relationship was supposed to be equal participation, both giving 100 percent!” Then come the whisperings of our one true enemy, Satan…”You know she doesn’t really love you. She just wants you to fulfill her every desire – you’ll never be good enough.”

Is it really true? Are we both supposed to give 100 percent? Yes! However, is my behavior predicated on my wife doing her part, and am I relieved of my responsibility if my carnal flesh says she doesn’t? Not if I truly love God and love my wife like Christ loves the Church! (Note that I know my wife loves me and honors me, and that she fully gives 100 percent to our marriage. I am the one giving less, and the log in my own eye is what I see projected onto her)

Ephesians 5:28-33 (HCSB)
28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church,
30 since we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.

When I really think about it, I have to look at Jesus Christ during the hours before His crucifixion. He was beaten, the flesh ripped off his bones, ridiculed, vilified, and hung on a cross. At any point during He could have looked around and said, “Forget it! If you’re not going to love me and treat me with respect, I’m not going through with it! You can figure out how to appease God’s wrath on your own, you ungrateful wretches!”

Jesus didn’t give up on His bride. Instead:

Romans 5:6-11 (HCSB)
6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die.
8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.
10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, ⌊then how⌋ much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.

Praise God! How can I, who profess to be a Christian (a “little Christ”), strive to do any less? I am weak, and sinful, and overly ruled by my flesh, but I also have the unlimited power of God’s Holy Spirit living in me! Halleluiah!

So, brothers, never give up the fight. Don’t sit there, staring into your navel, wishing things were better or different. Get up and fight! Love with all God’s strength! Unite with your wife against your common enemy! God will be glorified if you do!

Peace,

George

NANCY LEIGH DeMOSS ON BROKENNESS

Here is a great section on Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ website

“Brokenness is perhaps a word that you’re not very familiar with – but know that brokenness is very near to the heart of God. “True brokenness” says Nancy, “is an ongoing constant way of life. Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will, and the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God” (Brokenness, pg. 53). Pride, so often, is the opposite reflection of brokenness.”

Truth. Lots of it.

George

BROKENNESS IS…TRUSTING GOD

These verses gave me a lot of comfort today:

In You, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, Deliver me speedily; Be my rock of refuge, A fortress of defense to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me. Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. (Psalms 31:1-5 NKJV)

I was reminded that a huge part of brokenness, choosing to obey God’s will rather than my own will, is trusting Him!

May you be encouraged, as I am,

George

BE CONTENT

Philippians 4:10-14 (HCSB)
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity ⌊to show it⌋.
11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret ⌊of being content⌋—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.
13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

It has taken me a couple of months to work up to writing this post. I don’t like to admit how far I still have to go…

So, two months ago or so I had to confess to my wife that I had committed adultery against her by stealing a glance at a woman to check her out. You might say, “What’s the big deal?” The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart before I stole the look and told me not to do it. Then He spoke to me again after, driving home that it was adultery – lusting after a woman in my heart, no matter how briefly.

I confessed to my wife, and she forgave me, much to my relief (Satan had been trying to convince me that it would be the last straw in destroying our marriage). However, she also looked me in the eye and said, “You’re discontent.”

That rocked me back a bit. It shed a new light on the verses above; contentment goes beyond food and money and station in life. It also has to do with delighting in the wife of my youth, and lust, and pornography, and gluttony, and every aspect of my life. When I confessed the adultery to my wife, I was telling her that she is insufficient, that she does not measure up – that I am not content with the wife God gave me. That is huge!

Not long after I was in a group of men, and someone brought up one of the sayings I’ve heard too often. Talking about pornography and his wife, he said something along the lines of, “I told my wife, it’s not about her…” I think someone else agreed, and then I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I was compelled to say something like, “You’re wrong – it is all about her. You’re discontent!” and proceeded to share my recent failure and what my wife said.

It was not something anyone wanted to hear, but we all need to hear anyhow. It is imperative to admit (to ourselves and to God) that when we look at pornography, or other women, or fantasize, or masturbate, we are telling our wives very clearly that they are not good enough, that we want something/someone else. Then we stand back in disbelief that our wives take it so personally…”But, honey, it’s not about you – it’s about my own sin…” Right. Do you seriously believe that drivel?

Discontentment is rejection of God’s provision, a lack of gratefulness! I was struck a few days ago by:

Romans 1:18-23 (HCSB)
18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,
19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.

Did you catch what I never saw before? God’s wrath comes against not just those godless, unrighteous people who suppress the truth and refuse to glorify Him…it is also because they do not show gratitude! That is the very opposite of being content! I am right there in the same passage, by all rights, when I fail to be content with the food on my plate, the money in my pocket, the wife of my youth – whatever He has given me that I set aside to seek for…more.

I hope you take some time to take inventory of your own life. Are you content? Or, are you like me, and inviting the wrath of God with my lack of gratitude? Wake up, and smell the coffee.

In Christ,

George

DOUG SMALL on EPHESIANS 5

Over the last couple of days I have been watching two presentations by Doug Small.  I think they are the best expositions of Ephesians 5 that I have ever heard!

Ten Characteristics of a Godly Husband—Part 1

and

Ten Characteristics of a Godly Husband—Part 2

If you don’t have a subscription to Embassy Institute, it is only $9.00 for a month – hardly more than Netflix, and the content is much more edifying.

The second video includes a definition of πορνεια (fornication) that made me take a step back and see myself in a new light – it nailed me, spot on, as seeing people merely as objects.  I’ve known that to be a big problem with me, but not in the context of fornication.

Husbands, this is a must-see!  If you are already living out the ten characteristics he expounds, God bless you!  As Doug Small says (tongue in cheek), he hopes that before she dies his wife is married to a Christian, and that it doesn’t take his own death to make that happen (they’ve been married almost 40 years).

Young men, this is a must see! If you ever hope to be married, you need these godly, Christ-like characteristics governing your life now, not waiting until 20-plus years into marriage and it’s your last hope of saving the relationship.

Divorced men, this is a must-see!  It will open your eyes to understand how it wasn’t all her fault. If the opportunity is still there, and you really develop these characteristics, you can win her back – it’s not too late!

While you have a subscription, take a look at Chris and Anne Hogan’s How to Rekindle the Love in Your Marriage.  It is impactful!

The grace of God and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

– George

JAMES 1

Jas 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

  • Hello to all who wander this way.  I haven’t written anything in a while, but tonight James Chapter 1 really grabbed me.

Jas 1:2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

  • What is a trial, really?  Is it being away from home for two weeks on a business trip? Perhaps not being able to have my favorite latte arequipe because I’m bleaching my teeth? Waking up at 1:30 a.m. and having a hard time getting back to sleep?  I hardly think so, when I look at the trials Paul lists in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28.

Jas 1:3  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

  • I long for steadfastness in my life.  I have spent too long bouncing along, dreaming dreams, but never becoming the husband and father God created me to be.  Lord, I’m not asking for trials, but do whatever it takes to increase my faith!

Jas 1:4  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

  • What might it be like to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing?  In one sense, I really am lacking in nothing – I have food, shelter, clothing, a car, a caring, beautiful wife who loves me, four wonderful children, an excellent job, and much more.  On the other hand, I am far from perfect and complete; I am not holy, as God is holy, set apart completely for Him.  I was listening to a Doug Small message tonight, and he talked about how the Industrial Revolution took men out of the home, and 200 years later we hardly exist in the home.  That’s me!  I live and breathe work, while my family is left effectively fatherless and leaderless! Not that I must quit work – they need to eat – but I must make my relationship with God, and my relationship with Marla, and my relationship with my children become my focus.  If I do that, work will take care of itself, in the right time and the right perspective.

Jas 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Jas 1:6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Jas 1:7  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
Jas 1:8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

  • Wow.  This section hits hard.  I am reminded of the “Lies We Believe” portion of the WIT conferences.  For a long time I would say that one of the lies I have believed is that I am not capable of making a good decision.  Marla has given me a different perspective on some things, however: Mat 5:25  “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” The idea is that sometimes the enemy tries to bind me up with the truth, to get me to wallow in the prison of self-pity.  However, in my agreement with him (yes, I am rotten at making decisions) I can be set free to seek a solution – God’s wisdom.  My problem is that I still waver.  I don’t have single-minded faith when I ask for God’s wisdom.  I live in the fear that I’m just going to mess up again, and it paralyzes me – I am unstable at work, and at home, and I can only keep up the façade for so long.  Mar 9:24  “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’”

Jas 1:9  Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
Jas 1:10  and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.
Jas 1:11  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

  • My family and I started reading and praying through Operation World two or three weeks ago.  It lists the average yearly income for various countries, and we read of a couple with that number below $200 yearly.  I am rich beyond imagination for some folks, yet I take it for granted.  I am going to fade away in the midst of all my pursuits if I don’t get the right focus.  My children are growing and soon to be gone.  My wife needs my attention and leadership.  I need to see these riches with humility, as a gift of stewardship from God, a tool not to be taken for granted, not merely a means to gratify my desires and fill me with pleasure.

Jas 1:12  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

  • Rev 4:10,11  “the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”
  • I just have to soak that verse in. What kind of crown will I have to cast at the feet of God in worship?

Jas 1:13  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
Jas 1:14  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Jas 1:15  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  • My flesh seeks to devour me.
    • Rom 7:17-24  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
  • God is my salvation!
    • Rom 7:25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
    • Rom 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
    • Tit 3:4-7  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Jas 1:16  Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

  • I know this connects the next verse, but I just have to sit and say, “Amen!” Please don’t fall prey to the deceptions of the Enemy. Satan is roaming the earth looking for brethren to devour.

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

  • This verse is so sticky sweet that I often miss its power.  I want to dwell on the part about receiving gifts, but miss the part about NO VARIATION.  God is changeless – He will never go back on his nature, we can always trust Him!  Period!

Jas 1:18  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

  • It is by the very will of God that we exist!  I am not the accidental result of some combination between primordial scum and a bolt of lightning!  Rather, I was spoken into existence by God’s intentional word, just like the rest of creation.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me life!

Jas 1:19  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

  • Hard.  Hard, hard, hard.  Very hard, but oh! so fruitful when I am.  My kids know me as quick to anger, quick to speak, and they hardly bother coming to me any more. What a condemnation! Lord, change me!

Jas 1:20  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

  • Exactly. Point taken.

Jas 1:21  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

  • This is the concept of “put off” that I have heard so often.  I am still putting off, and it seems like it will never end, but I know that God is faithfully at work in my heart and mind to will and to do His good pleasure.

Jas 1:22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

  • “Put on”.  It’s what I have to do after I put off, or else I will go nowhere, until I just slide back into the filthy slime.

Jas 1:23  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
Jas 1:24  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

  • Lord, don’t let me ever forget! Break my pride!

Jas 1:25  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

  • The law of liberty.  Not freedom to do whatever I feel like – it is not the “freedom in Christ” I have heard so often through the years that “allows” me to get drunk, or look at pornography, or live in slothfulness because now I am set free from the Law.  No, this liberty is the perfect law, the law of loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and doing my utmost to do His will until the day I die.

Jas 1:26  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

  • I have lived the outwardly religious life while filled with death and corruption hidden within.  It was a miserable life, and I thank God for setting me free!

Jas 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

  • What a picture, along with a responsibility.  I can’t afford to miss that “keep oneself unstained” at the end.  I have no part in my salvation – God has given me salvation as a free gift by His grace. However, as part of my Christian life, my sanctification, I am responsible to cognizantly seek to live a pure, holy, unsullied life through the power of the Holy Spirit living within me.  I must choose to serve God, not my flesh, not the world around me, not the whisperings of the one who tempted Adam and Eve into bringing death and destruction into this world.

Well, that’s a long dissertation, but I needed to write it down more for my own sake, to see it in print, to remind myself again and again as I revisit this post in the years to come.

May God’s grace and peace be with you all!

– George