What Are You Afraid Of?

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Proverbs 29:25 (ESV) The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

Matthew 10:27-28 (ESV) What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Psalm 118:4-8 (ESV) Let those who fear the LORD say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Commentary)

Sometimes, we let fear of disapproval or the implied/open threats of others be what determines our course in life. And it’s not an imaginary struggle, as I don’t think anyone appreciates being actually ostracized, bullied or otherwise mistreated by condescending, angry or pushy acquaintances.

Other times, we can be specifically focused on actively gaining some personal advantage by pleasing the people around us.

Personally, I’ve tended to struggle with speaking my mind around others when conflict appears to be the inevitable end result.
Thus, “keeping the peace” has always been a high priority, regardless of what I think I’d rather do.
Showing respect for the non-sinful interests of others is good. However, remaining silent about a legitimate concern is a sin.

Sometimes, my motive for doing even the right things has been to feel appreciated and useful. That’s an attempt to self-medicate an unhealthy view of self-worth.

Anyway, one of the reasons this type of interaction should be considered a “snare”, is that it enslaves us to doing the will of others. That is dangerous, because

1. The moods, interests, intellectual stability, and desires of people are not static. It’s exhausting to try to figure out which tune they are playing today and how to keep in step with it.
2. Their plans for us may not be as straightforward as they appear, and may not have our best interest anywhere in sight.
3. In order to faithfully follow another individual’s preferred path, one must learn to ignore his/her own conscience before God.

By contrast, God’s plan and intention for us is always good and trustworthy. (Psalm 103:17; Isaiah 54:8, 61:8
His way is the path of love and eternal Life. (Matthew 21:27-30; John 14:6; John 6:67-69; 1 John 4:16)
He even gives us the ability to walk in the direction He instructs us to go. ( Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 28:7-8; Philippians 4:12-13; Romans 14:4)

Hebrews 13:1-6 (ESV) Let brotherly love continue.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

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Rage Against…Everything…

 

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Proverbs 29:22 (ESV) A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Proverbs 15:18 (ESV) A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 19:19 (ESV) A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.

James 1:19-21 (ESV) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

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


My observations:

~Lack of emotional self-control can be a very damaging thing.

~Unrestrained anger especially is warned against in scripture.
~Continually simmering anger that is difficult to contain is not a much better option than the highly-explosive sort, since it always leaves one vulnerable to overreaction to that “last straw” incident that really wasn’t all that offensive when honesty is employed.

~Impulsive reactions to things that irritate or frustrate can have far-reaching, and long-term consequences. But according to scripture, there is little good that comes of them.

~Proverbs 19:19 even indicates that a person with an angry disposition is highly unlikely to learn if he is simply instructed with patience and quickly restored after having allowed their temper to take over.

~By contrast, God’s nature is revealed as:

Psalm 145:8 (ESV) The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He doesn’t pitch childish temper tantrums when we do things He doesn’t like.

~James instructed readers to strive to imitate these qualities instead of give in to our own rising tidal wave of rage.

•My conclusion: Some injustices should be met with anger. Evil should be stopped; and wrong should be corrected, if possible. But Christians are instructed to “be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). So it is important to be thinking clearly about why we are mad and how to respond in a way that honors God.

If I tend to have an unmanageable temper, it suggests that I either don’t know God at all or have not submitted to His earlier, more gentle forms of correction. A stubborn refusal to be turned is a very dangerous response, since it further hardens the heart and fools me into thinking I am in the right.

When You Just Gotta Vent

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*Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV)*

A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.
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It seems this particular warning is always applicable to my own life.
I think it is interesting that the Hebrew word which is translated as “feelings” is ruwach, which can refer to one’s actual spirit, or to their emotional temperament/disposition
BLB lexicon offers both of the following entries (as well as a few others).
In
3.6 disposition (of various kinds), unaccountable or uncontrollable impulse
And
6.
1. as seat or organ of mental acts
2. rarely of the will
3. as seat especially of moral character
In context, I believe these two ideas are the most applicable to the Proverb because they refer to the core essence of who one really is.
In effect, if one is a fool, (s)he will impulsively give vent to ignorance, impatience, arrogance, anger etc when enough pressure is applied to just the right place in his/her life.
It will be a spontaneously childish reaction, rather than a carefully considered, wise response.
This is to be expected because this is who they really are inside.
Regardless, such behavior is neither attractive, nor productive.

Inferno

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*Proverbs 29:8 (NKJV)*
Scoffers set a city aflame, But wise men turn away wrath. 

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Things that come to mind when reading this verse:

1. It is unwise to scoff at the righteousness of God.
2. The destruction of Sodom by God in response to the wickedness of the people. Their irrationally hostile attitude toward their heavenly visitors sealed their fate. (see Genesis 18-19)

*Genesis 18:20-21 (NKJV)* And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,
I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

*Genesis 19:24-25 (NKJV)* Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

3. The mocking, rejection, and crucifixion of Christ Jesus, which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 ad

Matthew 27:27-32, 39-44 (NKJV) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him.
28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.
29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
30 Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head.
31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.

39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads
40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said,
42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.
43 “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.

4. And this:

*Psalm 33:10-12 (NKJV)*
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations.
*12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.*

Confession is Good For Any Soul

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Proverbs 28:13 (ESV) Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

2 Chronicles 6:24-25 (ESV) “If Your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against You, and they turn again and acknowledge Your name and pray and plead with You in this house, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel and bring them again to the land that You gave to them and to their fathers.

Psalm 32:3-5 (ESV) For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

1 John 1:8-9 (ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

My Way….or the High(er) Way?

Proverbs 14:14 (ESV) The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.

Ezekiel 36:31-32 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations,
It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

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Contemplation of the day. Please exercise discretion if you choose to read my thoughts.

So.
When God rescued Israel from subjection to Egyptian slave masters, the people quickly (and repeatedly) began to find fault with their new circumstances.
Many revealed a heart that would have willingly returned to their former state of servitude as they pined for the perks (appealing meals, a house to return to each day, relative security regarding what hazards to expect, etc…).

They were truly freed from oppression in Egypt, yet had developed a strong internal attraction to the few comforts that sustained their miserable physical existence.

Likewise, we have been given the gift of freedom from bondage to sin, yet also can complain or even openly rebel when faced with the difficulty of relocation to God’s promised place of peace.

In response, God sometimes gives us exactly what we demand. Exodus 16 offers an interesting narrative as God sent both a familiar form of sustenance (quail) and a completely “supernatural” one (manna, which came with specific instructions) to the grumblers.

Personally, I see this as illustrative of the choice we are called to make to be nourished by either earthly “food” (which our sin-nature craves) vs God-blessed spiritual enrichment (through faith in Christ Jesus).

It is important to read Numbers 11 (ESP v 13, 18-21 and 31-34) to get a better idea of what happened specifically with the quail. It was NOT good.
The people gorged themselves and literally got sick from indulging their own unbelief-based desires.

(Oh. The song is obnoxiously loud and repetitive. I included it because I think it helps emphasize the point scripture makes regarding how foolish and damaging it is to stubbornly insist on opposing God. The question echoes loudly: Are you finally “fed up” with the results you’ve gotten for yourself?)