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Pastoral 2012

Five Counsels To Growing Spiritually - Part II

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Proverbs 3:1-12


Last week, I discussed two biblical counsels from Proverbs 3:1-12 on how to grow spiritually. Today, we shall continue with three more counsels which I pray will be useful as you work on your spiritual growth.

Thirdly, trust in God’s preventive measures. This is the intent of Proverbs 3:7-8 – “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

The mentality “to see is to believe” is a devilish philosophy that every Christian must avoid. While the sense of sight is certainly a gift from God, we must use it properly. Since God did not design it to perceive the realm of the spirit, we shall do well if we limit its use according to God’s purpose. To try and make sense of God’s doing in the spiritual world with our naked eyes is to commit spiritual suicide.

In this corruptible body, our physical eyes are subject to lust. We must be on our guard always, lest our eyes lead us to great shame. The Bible is filled with such examples of which Eve’s mishap stands out. If you read the account in Genesis 3:6, you will notice that her decision to eat the forbidden fruit was a deliberate act on her part. She disobeyed God because she thought it was a wise thing to do. The Bible says, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).

Think of Lot (cf. Genesis 13:10-13), David (cf. 2 Samuel 11:2-5) and Peter (cf. Matthew 14:30). Every one of them tarnished his Christian testimony because he tried to be wise in his own eyes like Eve.

Dearly beloved, protect yourself by respecting God’s preventive measures. When God stops us by way of his providential working in curtailing our pursuit, or by clear prohibition from His Word, fear Him. Respect His proscriptions. Do not try to beat the biblical system that God has instituted. Do not try to find a loophole in His law. You will never find one. Be warned. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

It is far better to fear the Lord and depart from evil than to challenge God by going against His mandate, and expect to get away with it. No one who wrestles with God’s truth will be blessed. So trust in God’s preventive measure. It is His way of protecting you from the deception of sin, and His way of blessing you abundantly. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life” (Proverbs 22:4). This is because “the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy” (Psalm 33:18).

Fourthly, trust in God’s principles of divine economics. This is God’s command in Proverbs 3:9-10— “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

When God dispenses His provisions, He expects His people to worship Him. God delights in receiving our thanksgiving offerings when we give the best out of what we have received from Him. Thus, we should never borrow money so that we might appear to be a generous giver before the Lord. We must also avoid promising to give to the Lord’s work any money before the Lord sends it. This is the reason why we do not believe in the so-called “faith promise” that is common in most churches. We must learn to wait until God provides, then make sure we give the best out of His provision.

Worshipping the Lord with our substance is not limited to the giving of our tithes and offerings. God expects us to become vessels of His grace. Thus He provides for all our needs and even more, that we may have the strength to support noble causes such as the support of our family and ageing parents, the Lord’s work locally and abroad, and that of needy brethren. Away with the idea that we can do whatever we want with our money. Whatever we have is the Lord’s. He holds us accountable to it and one day He will judge us on how we dispensed it. Think like this and you will think the way God wants you to think. You will learn to live a simple life that you may dispense His blessings to as many areas as possible. Remember what Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b). Until you learn to live economically, you will never feel comfortable giving.

At this time, our church is in need of funds. We are drawing from our little savings. How can we spend lavishly when the church is in need? In Matthew 6, Jesus warns us of being preoccupied with food, drink and raiment. How much money is wasted in all these? God knows. Such preoccupation has distracted us from our responsibility to support the Lord’s work. Only if we take heed to the Lord’s command: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8b). He blesses us with more than what we can consume in our day — not for us to hoard for the next generation, but to spend for the Lord’s work today. As the Lord’s return gets nearer, bear in mind that even after our church’s deficit is reduced or resolved, the needs of the Lord’s work will only increase. Our ministries here and in the mission field are expanding. So let us give generously to His cause.

When we trust in God’s principle of divine economics, God blesses us with more. “So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” It teaches us that God is delighted to provide more and more for those who dispense their wealth for His glory. “But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18). Those among us who do not care for the Lord’s work, be warned. “Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up” (Psalm 28:5).

Fifthly, trust in God’s chastitive will. This is the encouragement of Proverbs 3:11-12 – “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

The Lord has emotions too. He acknowledges that chastisement is never joyous. He chastens because we leave Him with no choice. How can God afford to watch us go along with the Devil and sin? As a loving Father, He will do whatever it takes to protect us from being destroyed. If it means inflicting pain that we may learn our lessons well, He will do just that. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov 29:15). Thus we should never despise the disciplinary actions of the Lord. “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured” (Proverbs 13:18). As God’s people, we must bear God’s chastitive will, knowing that every blow that comes from our Father is a reminder of how important our spiritual growth is to Him. Trust in His chastitive will. You will grow spiritually. “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you” (Proverbs 1:23).

 

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