Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" Proverbs 14:34
We have spent the week considering this Proverb about the power of righteousness. With the turn of events and the rapid decline of our culture it is easy to be overcome and feel helpless.
You don't have to! Let me remind you of the power of righteousness! Righteousness exalts! Solomon understood that and so did our Founders. The Founding Fathers were so sure of it that they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

Let me share three reasons why righteousness is powerful:

Righteousness is powerful because it is a relationship.

Righteousness is being made right with God through a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. Righteousness is making a total surrender to God's unconditional love.

The thing that often keeps one from finding righteousness is an unwillingness to give up his rights. Jesus said if anyone would come after Him he must "deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Him". Putting self and selfish desires ahead of the will of God is the essence of sin.

Until being right with God is more important that having your rioowghts, you will not find righteousness.

Righteousness is powerful because it demands responsibility.

This verse implies that actions have consequences. It says, "Righteousness EXALTS, sin CONDEMNS."  "Exalt" means to "lift" or to "elevate" that sounds like a good consequence! And, it says, "Sin" means to "miss the mark" or "fall short of the glory of God." That sounds like a negative consequence to me!

When you understand you will be rewarded when you do righteously and you will also suffer when you choose to sin.

Human nature is wired for self-destruction and left unchecked or undisciplined it will bring you down. A wise man will put himself under discipline and be accountable so he can resist the temptations of life.

It takes power, supernatural power, to live righteously!

Righteousness is powerful because it has a reward.

The reward of righteousness is MORE righteousness! The reward of righteousness is Jesus!

Psalms says when you "delight yourself in the Lord, He gives you the desires of your heart!"

Solomon, writing in the Proverbs, declares that he believes in the power of righteous living. Do you?

Will you?

Will you enter into an intimate spirirtual relationship with Christ by faith?

Will you discipline yourself under the laws of God so you can live righteously?

Will you sacrifice all for the great rewards righteousness brings?


Friday, June 28, 2013

June 29, 2013

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

This short verse tells us a lot about two radically different ways of living.

Righteousness is right standing with God. It is a result of being in a faith relationship with God. That relationship is made possible through the righteousness of Christ Who made righteousness available to us by taking the penalty for our unrighteousness on the Cross. Righteousness is unconditional surrender to God's unconditional love.
Righteousness exalts because it elevates us above the power of sin and enables us to live in the right way. Righteousness exalts because it allows us to live in God's presence. Righteousness exalts because it lifts us above the shame of sin's condemnation and brings God's peace. Righteousness exalts God because it demonstrates His way is right!
The word used for "righteous" conveys the idea of justice. The word used for "sin" has the notion of vice or corruption.
So, righteousness exalts justice and elevates the nation while sin brings corruption that destroys a nation.
Which nation would you rather live in?
Righteousness exalts because in order to become righteous you have to confess sinfulness and repent of sin. That promotes justice and attacks corruption. Righteousness can lift up what sin has torn down.

Can you see the clear difference between righteousness and sin - aka - unrighteousness?

Can you see the clear difference between the results of righteousness and corruption?

Can you see why righteous people make better citizens than corrupt and sinful people?

Can you see that righteous people are not only better people, they're better patriots?!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 28, 2013

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Proverbs 14:34
What is righteousness?
We established that righteousness is what God says it is!
But in addition, righteousness is Who God is!
Righteousness is not a code or a creed or concepts, righteousness is a PERSON!
The Founders understood that and it was their understanding of righteousness that formed the foundation for this great experiment that became the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth, the United States of America!
You could very properly rephrase this verse, "God exalts a nation, but ignoring God is a reproach to any people."
Our Founders understood that since God was the Righteous Creator, He was the right One to bestow rights on citizens of a nation. And since a Righteous Creator is the source of our individual rights then doesn't it follow that those rights would be preserved by righteous living?
"How do I live righteously?" you ask.
Righteousness is the result of living in a faith relationship with the Righteous God from Whom the rights originate.
So, again you could accurately say, "Right relationship with a Righteous God exalts a nation, but evil is a reproach to any people."
Righteous people make the best citizens of whichever nation they belong to. Their righteousness exalts or elevates that nation because it unleashed the presence, the principles and the power of God into that land.
Do you know the righteousness of God?
Are you living in a faith relationship with Him?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 27, 2013

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people." Proverbs 14:34
If righteousness elevates a nation, the question becomes, "What is right and who should decide what is right (or wrong)?"
Have you ever wondered who decides what is right (or wrong)?
Is it the White House that makes that decision?
Is it the Congress that decides what's right?
Is it the Supreme Court who decides what's right?

Could it be the prevailing public opinion that makes that decision?

How can a nation be exalted by righteousness unless there is a clear understanding and agreement of what is right?
You can't have a card game or a ballgame unless everyone agrees on what rules will guide the game.
When the Founding Fathers faced this big question in the formative days of our nation, the rules were being made by a powerful, arrogant, and greedy King of England. Most of the Colonists felt that intolerable to the point of rebellion and revolution.
In their inspired wisdom, the Founders agreed that the rules by which this new nation would be governed should be the ones given by the God Who created the planet. They phrased it like this: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Doesn't it make sense that the One Who created the race should also create the rules by which that race should live? Shouldn't the One Who has never been wrong and never been less than perfect be the One who makes the rules for His creation to live under?
Obviously, the Founding Fathers felt strongly that God, as Creator and as eventual Judge, should be held as the Sovereign Law-Giver and Judge of mankind.
Sounds right to me!
What do you think?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 26, 2013

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people." Proverbs 14:34

The really big inspired idea that made the founding of America like no other nation that has ever existed is this: Individual human rights are given by God and those rights are protected from the government by a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.
What a bold experiment!
Our Founders clearly knew that what they were doing was Divinely inspired and understood that the rights would be safely only if they were protected by righteous leaders.
I share a few of their quotes:
"Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens." - Daniel Webster
“With a firm reliance on the protection of Almighty God, I shall forwith commence the duties of the high trust to which you have called me.” - James Monroe
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” - Patrick Henry
 “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” - Thomas Jefferson
"Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God [Exodus 18:21]. . . . If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted . . . If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws." - Noah Webster
So, these great wise Founders understood that not only was God the source of our rights, but He was also our Source and our Standard for the righteousness necessary to protect the freedom provided by those rights.
The ancient wisdom of Solomon, "Righteousness exalts a nation" has been proven true these centuries later by the greatness to which American rose when righteous leaders honored the God-given rights that made them free people.
More recently it has also been proven by corrupt and greedy leaders who oppress individual rights because they have no sense of righteousness.
If you think individual righteousness doesn't matter, watch what happens to your presonal rights over the next few years!
Make sure you get it right!

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 25, 2013

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people." Proverbs 14:34

Would you rather have a nation that is exalted or a nation that is condemned?
That sounds like one of those obvious questions the guys asks those precocious kids on those popular A. T. & T. commercials.
Personally, I'll take a nation that is exalted by the righteousness of it's people.
My guess is that you would, too! And we would be in good company! Consider the quotes of some of our exalted Founding Fathers:
“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” - George Washington
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” - George Washington
“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.” - George Washington, Prayer

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports….Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
- George Washington, Farewell Address 1796
These are but a few selected quotes among scores of others recorded from the lips and the writings of our First President and Hero of the Revolutionary War.
After reading those quotes let me ask you, "I your opinion, George Washington exalt American or condemn it?"
If you said that George Washington exalted our nation you would have the evidence of history on your side!
More importantly you would have the truth of Scripture on your side as well!
So, the question becomes, if you know that righteousness exalts a nation is your life exalting or condemning America?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 24, 2013

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39
What do you think is essence of faith?
Why does it matter?
What's the point?
Why bother with it?
Based on the Commandments I would have to say faith is about relationships.
In answer to a question about the Commandments Jesus reduced them to just two: love God and love your neighbors.
That sure sounds like relationships to me!
When you consider all ten of the Commandments you notice each of them have to do with relationships. The first four show how to relate to God, the next six give guidelines for how to relate to others.
Are we to conclude then that pleasing God involves doing relationships well? That would seem to be the case!
God has always existed within relationship. When first introduced to Him in Genesis God is in relationship, "let us make man in Our image". He dwelt in a mystical relationship within the Trinity and together they created another level of relationship when they created Adam and still another with the creation of Eve.
When Adam sin and broke relationship with God, God immediately announced a plan to atone for Adam's sin and restore relationships.
It seems apparent to me that the essence of faith is living in relationship with God and the evidence of faith is the quality of your relationships with others.
Can you relate to that?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 23, 2013

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  Proverbs 27:17
Miss Thompson taught Teddy Stallard in the fourth grade. He was a slow, unkempt student, a loner shunned by his classmates. The previous year his mother died, and what little motivation for school he may have once had was now gone. Miss Thompson didn’t particularly care for Teddy either, but at Christmas time he brought her a small present. Her desk was covered with well-wrapped presents from the other children, but Teddy’s came in a brown sack. When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker but Miss Thompson saw the importance of the moment. She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending Teddy had given her something special. At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to softly say, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother and her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I’m glad you like my presents."

After Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness. She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach these children but to love them as well

She became a new teacher. She lovingly helped students like Teddy, and by the end of the year he had caught up most of the students.

Miss Thompson didn’t hear from Teddy for a long time. Then she received this note: "Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later she got another note: "Dear Miss Thompson, They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later: "Dear Miss Thompson, As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year. Love, Teddy Stallard." Miss Thompson went to the wedding and sat where Teddy’s mother would have sat, because she let God use her as an instrument of encouragement.
That's a wise friend!
She encouraged Teddy!
She exhorted Teddy!
She empowered Teddy!
What sort of friend are you?
What sort of friends do you have?
Do you need to wise up in your friendships?

June 22, 2013

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17
A wise friend is one who "rubs you the right way" and sharpens you as a friend and as a believer.
Friends sharpen one another by encouraging, by exhorting and by empowering.
Here are some ways that empowerment happens:

We typically think of fear as a negative emotion or the antithesis of faith. But fear can create tremendous motivation for you. For example, a healthy fear of disobeying God can motivate you to obey Him.

This humerous story illustrates the power of fear:

Late one night, a man had gone to a party and had too much to drink, so he decided it would be best to walk home. He found a shortcut through a poorly lit cemetery and, in the darkness, stumbled into an open grave. He tried to climb out but the walls were too slippery. Again and again he fell back into the grave.
Finally, in exhaustion, he settled in a corner to wait for sunlight.

A few minutes later, another man in the same condition was cutting through the cemetery and fell victim to the same grave. He, too, tried desperately to climb and claw his way out, and he was equally unsuccessful.

As he was about to give up in hopeless resignation, he heard a voice from the darkness of his pit: "You may as well give up. You’ll never get out of here."
But he did!


Remember learning to ride a bike or the first time you jumped off the diving board? You no doubt found the courage from the coaxing of a parent assuring you, "Come on! You can do it! I'm right here! I will help you!"

The four words, "You can do it!" or "I believe in you!" from a significant person have amazing power in the life of another! By means of your faith you can speak faith into another! You can believe in them and for them until they are able to believe themselves.

Faith is powerful!


You will do things for love that you woudn't do for money. That is the power of love!

Who would ever change a dirty diaper except for love?

Who would ever go to war except for love of country and love of freedom.

Love inspires and emboldens and empowers both the one who loves and the one loved.

Sometimes the love that empowers is tough love!

Recently I had to give my grandson some tough love and call him out in a certain area. Though it was a little hard for him to hear, he received it and made some changes. Later, he even thanked me for challenging him and asked me to continue calling out the best in him.

I will! I love him!

He will continue to receive it! He loves me!

Wisdom forms a firm foundation for friendship because it encourages and it exhorts and it empowers.

Don't settle for less.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 21, 2013

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

Here is a great clip from one of my favorite movies, "HOOSIERS".

What was happening in this clip?
Coach Norman Dale was empowering bench-warmer, Ollie, to deliver for his team at one of the most pivotal moments in the history of Hickory Husker basketball.
Ollie was doubting himself and his ability to sink pressure-packed free throws to get his team into the State Championship game.
"After Ollie makes these two free throws," Coach affirms, and turning to Ollie adds, "You will make them!"
As you saw, Ollie made them!
The third mark of a wise friend is they will empower you! They will believe in you even when you are questioning yourself. A wise friend will be as committed to your success as to his own.
Friends that sharpen you have three prominent positive attributes, they encourage, they exhort and they empower.

Do you have a friend like that? If so, you'd be wise to cherish that friendship.

Do you have a friend who isn't like that? If so, it might be wise to re-evaluate that friendship.

Are you a friend like that? If not, wise up!



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 20, 2013

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

"A friend is someone who tells me the truth about me. I want to know when my work stinks or I’m being hurtful or stupid. I expect my friends to save me from myself."
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend." - Proverbs 27:6 (KJV)

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ."  Ephesians 4:16

What does a good friend look like?

What constitutes a good friendship?

The Christians faith is about relationships. So is life. No wonder that the Proverbs, a primer on wise living, would have much to say about choosing wise friends.

A wise friend encourages you but also, a wise friend exhorts you.

What does it mean to exhort?

It means to admonish. It means to challenge. It means to lovingly confront. It means to call out the best in another person. Some might call it "tough love".

General Ulysses S. Grant had a man who was a true friend to him like this. His name was John A. Rawlins. He was the General’s chief of staff. It was to Rawlins that Grant gave his pledge that he would abstain from alcohol. When he broke his pledge, Rawlins went to Grant and with great earnestness pleaded with him and successfully persuaded him to reaffirm his commitment to turning away from liquor.

Today, in front of the capital building in Washington, D.C., there stands a monument to General Grant, sitting on his horse in dramatic pose. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue and a little to the south, is Rawlins park, where there is another statue. A very ordinary, commonplace looking statue of John A Rawlins, the man responsible for keeping General Grant from falling off his horse!

Dealing with the crippling effects of alcohol abuse in his life was something that Ulysses S. Grant knew he ought to do, but couldn’t find the strength to do on his own. But a true friend named John A. Rawlins came alongside to exhort him and help him find the strength he needed to do what he ought to do, and not only was Grant better for it, but so was the nation

Rawlins proved to be a wise choice as a friend to General Grant. General Grant gave Rawlins permission to hold him accountable and to call out the best in him.

Do you think Grant would have become President without a friend and confidant like Rawlins?

Is there a Rawlins in your life? Have you been wise enough to befriend an exhorter?

If not, wise up!



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 19, 2013

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  Proverbs 27:17

A newspaper in England gave a reward for the best definition of a friend. Thousands answered, and the winning entry was this: "A FRIEND IS ONE THAT COMES WHEN EVERYONE ELSE GOES."
You know you have a wisely chosen a friend when you have a friend who encourages you!
"Real friendship is shown in the time of trouble, prosperity is full of friends." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Encouragement is a powerful life-changing force.
A banker always tossed a coin in the cup of a legless beggar who sat on the street outside the bank. But unlike most people, the banker would always insist on getting one of the pencils the man had beside him. “You are a merchant,” the banker would say, “and I always expect to receive good value from merchants I do business with.” One day the legless man was not on the sidewalk.

Time passed and the banker forgot about him, until he walked into a public building and there in the concessions stand sat the former beggar. He was obviously the owner of his own small business now.

“I have always hoped you might come by someday,” the man said. “You are largely responsible for me being here. You kept telling me that I was a ‘merchant.’ I started thinking of myself that way, instead of a beggar receiving gifts. I started selling pencils—lots of them. You gave me self-respect. You caused me to look at myself differently.” —Quoted by Randy Stanford
Do you have a friend who comes in when others are going away?
Are you a friend like that?


Monday, June 17, 2013

June 18, 2013

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  Proverbs 27:17

This short verse says a lot about friendship.

It not only advises you what to look for in a friend but it also shows you what it means to be a good friend.
Literally it conveys the idea of using your tools to build better friends. You could paraphrase it this way, "Rubs your friends the right way!"
Three tools every friend ought to have in his tool kit are these: encouragement, exhortation and empowerment.
Encourage your friend.
"How do I encourage?" you ask.
One way to begin answering that question is to consider, "What encourages me?" If it encourages you it may also encourage them as well.
To encourage means to "add" or "put in" courage, "to inspire".
Prayer is an effective way of encouragement. By praying for him and praying with him you can pray courage into his spirit.
You may speak words of courage to your friend. Those words may be from Scripture or inscribed on a card.
You may give them the gift of inspirational music.
Perhaps you could encourage through a kind act or by giving a nice gift.
Maybe you could encourage by helping your friend solve the problem that has them discouraged.
By walking with your friend through a fearful experience he can draw on your courage while his is weak.
There have been several extremely painful periods in my life where I literally would not have made it unless a friend our several friends had not encouraged me.
When my faith was weak, they had faith for me and in me.
I had lost my confidence and courage, but they had confidence in me and for me. Their confidence encouraged me.
Praise God for my friends who had the tool of encouragement in their tool box and used it to rub me in the right way!
Because I have benefited from the blessing of encouragement, I am determined to be an encourager to others.
I encourage you to do the same!