Sunday, October 8, 2017
"How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
'A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest'--
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
I married an industrious man, one who is a hard-worker. In the last many years, he worked two full-time jobs to provide for his family. We had felt the compelling urge of the necessity of buying our own home instead of continuing to live in a parsonage. God blessed. Now in retirement, we still have a roof over our heads and the $200 a month retirement for twenty-five years of service as a pastor in our previous denomination. Whoopie! It's a good thing he took it upon himself to provide a little more than that. Now in retirement, sleep may elude him as he is so used to get-up-and-get-going (while I am still sleeping). His relished early mornings are still dedicated to studying the Word in Greek and Hebrew and looks for ways to serve.
Then there is me. He runs circles around me. I am definitely the tortoise instead of the hare. Instead of just sleeping, I read and read and read. Please tell me these verses don't apply to that. It would take an armed man to take my books away from me!
When filling out paperwork for my upcoming surgery, I again had to fill out the blanks that ask my employment and hand them over to someone who is gainfully employed. Once again I write, "housewife." That is an archaic foreign language to most of our world which implies laziness. It is not the place to write about my autoimmune-limited lifestyle or to explain what keeps us occupied. Imagine us in our sixties, still having a teenager at home: that is like riding herd on a cat; even with the both of us, at times it's a little exhausting. Instead of working myself to the nubbins to take care of him, my job is to round him up and teach him to do life-tasks that will propel him to independence. Often it would be easier to do it myself instead of being his supervisor.
Matthew Henry writes, "Diligence in business is every man's wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others or a scandal to the church. The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects and be shamed by them. Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people. Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveler; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted. All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls. How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness !...shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?
Gil's Exposition of the Entire Bible says, "It is always high time for the sinner to awake out of sleep, and arise from the dead; and for the drowsy saint to arise out of his lethargy."
at 8:28 AM
Saturday, October 7, 2017
"Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which having no chief, officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest."
"Four things are small on earth
(ants, conies, locusts, lizards),
But they are exceedingly wise:
The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer..."
If you've observed an ant, they at times are the most determined to breach the thresholds in order to have access to that crumb that calls their name. Ants are not my worst nightmare, but at times their presence is not appreciated. Have you fought the ant wars, an invasion? When the rain begins, they will be knocking at my door desiring to come in and feast. Yet, the proverb tells us to observe her ways. Imagine the author of the proverb sitting on his throne watching an ant carrying a crumb upon her back in a steady march like a soldier in a conquering army.
It is a reminder to not be a sluggard. Okay, guilty as charged. I operate on a slow perk and am blessed to have a partner in this life who delights in serving and spoiling me. While I have been typing away, he has swept the floors, and cleaned out the fireplace to make it ready for the fall. Yesterday, he made a mean pot of beans (slow-cooked with onions, chopped tomatoes, green chilies, and bacon) and served it along with cornbread. O, the joys of retirement! He's a keeper.
Another reminder to sluggards...
"if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.
For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life,
doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command
and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread."
(II Thessalonians 3:10-12)
I don't know about your house, but when a child comes home from school,
one of the first things that is said is, "I'm hungry! When will dinner be ready?"
And yes, we have quoted this verse to him as a nudge to get his chores done.
And yes, we have quoted this verse to him as a nudge to get his chores done.
We live in a hunger-driven world. It is an unrelenting motivation to get thee to the kitchen!
The only harvest we will have this year will be one single, lonely tomato grown on a tree-like vine, pomegranates bowing down the limbs of the tree and with perhaps a handful of lemons or oranges as the year winds down. Yet, this time of year is ripe with the image of a harvest.
It's about preparing food. One of our favorite fall dishes is the creamy potato soup (red potatoes, celery, onions slow cooked in a crock pot then topped with cream and grated cheese, sauted chopped ham, sprinkled with chopped green onions). There is nothing like the crisp bite of an apple, sometimes brought to the table as a salad (chopped apples, walnuts or pecans, cran-raisons, chopped celery, a touch of mayo dressing). Another favorite is pea salad (a layer of chopped lettuce, frozen organic petite peas, chopped red onions, spread of a mixture of sour cream and mayo, sprinkled with crumbled bacon). But an absolute favorite is the last of the harvest of okra sliced and coated with cornmeal and fried). Need I go on?
Be like an ant. Prepare your food. Gather ye harvest while ye may.
at 9:37 AM
Friday, October 6, 2017
"My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given (clapped your palms) a pledge for a stranger,
If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand (palm) of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to our eyelids;
Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler."
"Snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth."
Open mouth, put in foot.
Your word is your bond.
Need wiggle room?
Do this then:
importune, beg your neighbor,
Do not sleep, nor slumber.
I think we've all been there before at sometime in our lives. That's why Solomon gives this advice.
Adam Clarke says, "neighbor; i.e. any person...Striking or shaking hands when the mouth had once made the promise, was considered the ratification of the engagement: and thus the man became snared with the words of his mouth...Continue to press him for whom thou art become surety, to pay his creditor; give him no rest till he do it, else thou mayest fully expect to be left to pay the debt...If thou art got into the snare, get out if thou possibly canst; make every struggle and exertion (as the antelope taken in the net, and the bird taken in the snare would) in order to get free from thy captivity."
I ask myself, in what way do we get in this fix? Have we ask for a loan without thinking it significant enough to pay back? Have we borrowed something without bothering to return it? These are good enough reasons to ruin friendships and neighborliness or family ties. Are you a giver or a taker? Have you offered to do something for someone, then neglected to follow through? Who is your neighbor?
Let me take this to what is probably beyond what is meant, but is still meaningful. Have you accepted something from the hand of God, have promised to be faithful yet have not kept your word? Humble yourself. Untangle yourself. Do not sleep, but take care of your debt immediately. Pray. Then let your words be few and your actions the measure of your bond.
God is the One who is always faithful. He keeps His word. Didn't Jesus give the parable of the neighbor who opened the door because of the one who was knocking incessantly? "In Luke 11:5-8, "Then He said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend, and goest to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.'" That is an example of how to not fail in prayer, but to continue to persist asking before the throne.
Yet, then again, He gave another parable about knocking when it was too late. In Luke 13:24-28, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from...I tell, you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me all you evildoers.' In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth..."
But take it to heart, Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
at 10:45 AM