Detestable Prayers

Proverbs 28

As Marcia mentioned in yesterday’s devotion, many of us were at Midwest Family Camp last week, where the theme was “Stand Firm”.  In a nutshell, if we don’t have a relationship with the Lord, it is critical that we repent and come into a relationship with Him. If we already have a relationship with the Lord, we need to strengthen that relationship, and stand firm in the faith – no matter what.

In today’s reading in Proverbs 28, there are a few verses that jumped out at me which reinforced that message.  The first is found in Proverbs 28: 9, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”  This proverb tells us that if we’re not doing everything to live the life God called us to live, if we’re not following his rules, then He won’t listen to our prayers.  Since many of our prayers are about asking for God’s help with various things, if we selfishly want Him to answer our prayers, then we need to obey His rules, and live for Him.  As we grow in relationship with Him, we come to long for an even deeper relationship with the Lord. Then we learn that prayer is powerful, and we don’t waste it just asking for superfluous things.

Proverbs 28:13 goes on to say, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”  This is saying if we pretend to be Christians, we won’t prosper (you can’t fool God).  But if we confess and renounce our sins, and turn completely to God, we will receive God’s mercy.  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have His mercy than to have Him holding me back from prospering.

As we continue to read through this chapter, we get to verse 20, which says, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”  I’ll take a detour here and comment on the health and wealth teachings we often hear from people who don’t know better.  The theory goes sort of like this… “if someone follows God, God will bless every aspect of their life.  They will be rich, healthy, and blessed.”  Many people who call themselves Christians subscribe to this false belief.  Jesus told us in John 16:33, “…In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart, I have overcome the world.”  We have to remember this life isn’t our reward.  This life is the test to see what reward we will receive when Jesus returns.  If we are faithful to the Lord now, we will enjoy peace with God now, and eternal life when Jesus returns.  If we are just trying to get rich, we are actually worshiping money, not God — our reward is in this life, and we will forfeit eternal life.  

1 Tim 6:9-11 says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and have pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”

Instead of trying to get rich, we need to follow the advice given in Proverbs 28:27, “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.”  Again, I think the idea is that if I’m greedy, wanting to keep all my money for myself, I’m not trying to please God, I’m just greedy for money, and God will curse me for not following Him.  But if I’m generous with the things God has given me by giving them to the poor — this mimics God’s generosity to me.  When I am imitating God, God loves that.  In fact we’re commanded in Ephesians 5:1, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”

So the bottom line is this.  We need to do everything we can to reconcile ourselves to God.  We need to confess and renounce our sins, obey His laws, be faithful, and be generous.  All these things are required to live in close relationship with God.  And if we live in a close relationship with God, we will have peace with God in this life, and an amazing reward in the life to come.  In Rev 21:4, we’re told, “He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”   Rev 21:7 goes on to say, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

How well are you imitating Dad?

Stand Firm.

–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Chronicles 23-24 and Proverbs 28

Sin Jenga

Proverbs 28

Proverbs 28 14 NIV Jenga

Proverbs 27 was like an onion, or a parfait because everyone likes parfaits. Proverb 28 however is more like a banana. It is more straightforward in its message. It could rightly be summed up as the destiny of good and evil. It is a series of contrasts between those who do what is right and those who do not.

The author calls out those who are well acquainted with poverty and suffering and yet, given the chance, oppress others suffering in the same ways. This sin is greater than those who have never known hunger and are oppressive. For a poor man to be placed in authority who becomes oppressive utterly destroys the hope of the poor. This is like a game of sin Jenga, stacking one sin upon another and hoping that it does not fall down.

In many facets of life we see sinful people praising sinful ways. They promote sin as something to be desired. Truthfully they have great advertising though. Sin is often that which is most physically pleasurable and is easily obtainable. It often helps people to temporarily forget their troubles and sorrows. Temporary is the key to all of this though. Each way that man chooses to sin is fleeting and temporary. The pleasure ends and emptiness is left. The good times come to a close and the pain returns with a vengeance. They believe that the easy way through life is to not care or get involved. But that ultimately leads to a life of loneliness and sinful ways that leave us numb to the good and the bad.

Another point from this passage is that evil men do not understand, or do not want to understand, the judgement of God. Knowing God makes us accountable to someone other than ourselves. It is painful enough for some to deal with their own conscience. It is as inescapable as our shadow after all. Then you add on the thought of God knowing everything that we do. For some people that is just too much. They can numb themselves of their guilt through drugs, alcohol, and other activities but they can never numb themselves from God’s presence. This is why, for some, it is preferable to give in completely to sin and run from God. It is better for the moment but God’s word tells us that it is better to be with Him. All will eventually stand before Him to be judged. At that time they will realize the futility of their efforts to numb themselves in sin’s embrace.

I mentioned earlier that our conscience is unescapable. It is the conscience of the guilty that cages them with bars of fear. A fear that haunts them night and day. They live in fear of being discovered in their sin. Those who are truly bold in their sin are in fear of being proven wrong in their assertions. They make excuses for actions which no one has challenged or questioned. The righteous however are freed from such fears. They can be bold, not because they are without sin, but because they admit their sins and make attempts to remove them from their lives.

I have often been frustrated at people who I know from experience are horrible ungodly people yet they prosper far more than I do. You know who I am talking about. They are the ones that seem to have it all and everything always goes their way. Yet they are the most vile, slimy, loathsome examples of humanity. As my faith and understanding of God’s ways increased, I began to understand that they think that they are successful. Others see them as being successful as well, even I did for a time. But what they are building has no foundation. Everything that they gather around them is perishable. They might as well be gathering bread which will rot and mold. Ultimately, they will be clinging to nothing more than fuzzy green clumps of rotted material. That is what they place their hope in. The righteous however place their hope in God. The one who is eternal, imperishable. I like that image a whole lot more than the image of what the wicked will be holding onto.

To be continued…

 

Jeff Ransom

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