Do not RSVP: A look at Proverbs 23:6-8

So today I had prepared to write a blog on the scripture “for as a man thinketh so is he…” I had all my great points written out, and I was excited about what I had to say. Then something amazingly awful happened. I read the passage and had to start from scratch. The scripture in its proper context did not support the words I wrote, and I had to discard my thoughts because I had no biblical support for them. I soon discovered that all my life I have been paraphrasing  this scripture, and using the misinterpretation of others to interpret it for myself. Here is the passage that I am speaking of Proverbs 23:6-8:

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words. (King James Version)

Every time I have heard verse 7 preached it has always been in the form of encouraging people to watch their thought life. However, this scripture is not encouraging people to watch their thought life. It is a warning for us to be mindful of the character and motives of others. It is encouraging us to consider those we fellowship with and be conscientious of the fact that some people will invite you places and have no desire for your presence. For those who may think I am off my rocker let’s try the same passage in the New Living Translation. It says:

6 Don’t eat with people who are stingy; don’t desire their delicacies.7 They are always thinking about how much it costs.“Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.8 You will throw up what little you’ve eaten,and your compliments will be wasted.

Nowhere in this scripture are we being warned to watch our thoughts, but we are being warned to consider the character of those who request our presence. It is ensuring us that if we eat with people that we know are selfish, we will eventually regret every bite! Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible suggests, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he, He is not the man his mouth speaks or declares him to be, but what his heart thinks; which is discovered by his looks and actions, and by which he is to be judged of, and not by his words. Eat and drink, saith he to thee, but his heart is not with thee; he bids you eat and drink, but he does not desire you should…” Everyone’s table is not worth a visit. We should consider their character before accepting their invitation.

Since the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:1 that “…every fact shall be sustained and confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses,” (AMP) allow me to present one more translation on this text to validate the true meaning of Proverbs 23:6-8. The Douay-Rheims Bible says:

Eat not with an envious man, and desire not his meats: 7 Because like a soothsayer, and diviner, he thinketh that which he knoweth not. Eat and drink, will he say to thee: and his mind is not with thee. 8 The meats which thou hadst eaten, thou shalt vomit up: and shalt loose thy beautiful words. 

For the third time, we see our personal thought life has nothing to do with this scripture; but the text is warning us to be aware of the intent of others. The addition of “because like a soothsayer and diviner” comes from the late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate. I actually wish the modern Bible translations would have kept that in there to make the text more clear. Just like the soothsayer and diviner deceive, bamboozle, and cause great havoc in the lives of those who take their bribes or use their services; so is the envious or selfish person who invites you to dinner. It is best you go without for the day rather than dine with the person you know is never doing good for anyone else except themselves.

So if you are still with me let me conclude with these few points:

  1. Make it your business to find out what the scripture says for yourself.
  2. If you discover that your interpretation was wrong, admit it and adjust your life to the scriptures not your feelings or misinterpretation.
  3. There are scriptures in the Bible that will support the need for us to change our thinking but Proverbs 23:6-8 are not the ones to use.
  4. Do not eat at the table of a person whose character consist of envy, jealousy, and selfishness. If you ignore this warning, you will regret it.
  5. Make it a point to never to be the person described in Point 4. If those words describe you, today is a great day to allow the Lord to change your heart.

 

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope this has encouraged you! Have an awesome day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Firm is Your Faith?

“…Unless your faith is firm I cannot make you stand firm.”-Isaiah 7:9

This was God’s response to King Ahaz in light of the threats that had gone out against Jerusalem. For the sake of time allow me to paraphrase the story. The word on the street was that King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel were plotting to attack Jerusalem. Fear began to consume the hearts of the people and the king of Jerusalem because of what they knew about the two forces that were coming against them. But God sent the prophet Isaiah to give a word to the king. This is what he says in Isaiah 7:4, “Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out-embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah…” God then shares his plans for both of those nations, and he concludes his words to King Ahaz by telling him, “Unless your faith is firm. I cannot make you stand firm.”

In other words, this is my promise to you, but I cannot make you believe it. You now have the option of living in fear because of what “they” said or in faith because of what God said. When the Alpha and Omega declares to you,” Do not worry about your enemies;” you should make it your business not to worry about your enemies. God knows they appear stronger in your sight, but He is greater than those who stand against you.

I also want us to take a moment to consider where the king of Jerusalem was standing when he received the word of the Lord from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 7:3 says,”…you will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool near the road leading to the field where the cloth is washed.” In other words, he was near the royal laundry mat which was symbolic of the enemies he was being threatened by. They were washed up! They were useless. God called them “two burned-out-embers.” They possessed no real power to bring harm to Jerusalem, and their threats were in fact harmless.

Please hear me loud and clear if God has given you a word concerning the defeat of those who rise up against you, BELIEVE IT. If God has given you a word concerning healing, restoration, deliverance, and etc., BELIEVE IT! You can be certain of these two things that God  upholds us in our integrity, and he fights for us. You cannot lose with a word from God, but you can wear yourself out by living in doubt and in fear. Today I pray you  choose faith, stand firm, and rest in the truth of God’s word concerning your life. You win!

 

 

 

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The Love Factor

love factor“For you have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor,’ and hate your enemy. 44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven…”-Matthew 5:43-45

I’m not sure if anyone has taken notice, but in the last few years of preaching there has been a shift towards focusing on our “Haters.” Particularly in the Black Church setting, there seems to be this crazy fixation on “tell your hater this, show your hater that, and blah blah blah.” I personally feel that this Hater Obsession is doing more harm to the Body of Christ than good. I believe it has assisted the enemy in his plot to keep us separated. It has produced competition, suspicion, and mistrust among believers, and it is has moved us further away from what we have been commanded to do (Matthew 22:36-40, 28:18-20)

I also believe it has distracted us from who our real enemies are and none of these enemies are humans. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world; and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” If we aren’t careful, we will have Christians hating one another instead of confronting that spirit working through an individual. Okay we’ll save “Spiritual Warfare” for another date. However, we are doing a grave injustice to the Body of Christ when we spend a whole sermon on How to Handle a Hater, but we fail to help people identify who our enemies truly are.

Oh and let me get this off my chest, most of us do not have enemies like we liked to believe. Many of us do not have enough going on in our lives to give someone a reason to sabotage our success. I include myself in this number, and this is why I do not spend my time worrying about a “hater” or enemy as the Bible calls them. Many of us have not acquired enough to have people plotting to take it. If you want to know how real enemies behave read the book of Judges, I Kings, II Kings, and Psalms to name a few. Real enemies seek your position, your authority, your power, and your life. If you have not had someone to literally try to kill you or sabotage your job, ministry, marriage, and etc. have several seats in the Petty Christian section. Someone stealing your facebook post, hairstyle, or outfit does not count as an attack against you.

Jesus gives us the anecdote to dealing with people who choose to be enemies against us. He tells us to LOVE YOUR ENEMIES! Say it with me, “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES!” By doing this people are able to determine who our God truly is. We are most like our Father when we choose to love those who refuse to love us. Remember Romans 5:10, “since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES..” Surely if God loved us, we can love them. I pray we consider this the next time we are faced with the decision of How to Handle a Hater. Truth be told, we were all once enemies of God and had he not decided to extend His love to us, we would not know the blessing of being his friends (John 15:15).

Here is my point, the actions of others never remove our responsibility to love them as God commanded. Whether the person has decided to be a friend or an enemy against us, we are called to LOVE them both the same. Our feelings and our flesh will never suggest we love someone who continues to mistreat us. However, if we want the world to know that we truly belong to God, we must act like him. He gives us the ability to do it, and he gives us the wisdom to know when this Love should be expressed from a safe distance. Please know that I am continually praying that we as the Body will be found doing what John 15: 17 commands of us and that is to “Love each other!”

 

Have a Magnificent Monday, thanks for reading, and remember LOVE LIVES FREE!!!-Charity Israel

 

Forgive Them!!!

intercessorForgiveness is one of the greatest jewels of the Christian faith. It is what God graciously extends to us through Jesus Christ, and it our Christian response to others. Intercession is also a jewel. God in his kindness was often times willing to forgive a nation because of the prayers of one person (Exo. 32:32, 34:7-9; Deut. 21:8; Ps 79:9; Isa 2:9; Dan. 9:19; Amos 7:2) Throughout the ages, people have selflessly stood in the gap for those who had no desire to please God. They have been a saving grace to our human race, and all their prayers are appreciated.
In the Old Testament, we find that those being persecuted by pagan nations often prayed for the destruction of their enemies. They did not just pray for their destruction, but they fought many battles to ensure it. In the New Testament, however, there is a new response to those being persecuted by their enemies; and that is praying that they are forgiven. Many of us would not consider forgiveness as a form of intercession. We do not consider it intercession because we often focus on the offense instead of the proper response to it. We often let the hurt fester, and we adopt it as a new chip on our shoulder to stay angry at the world. It is the bitterness from unforgiven offenses that operates as a toxin in the Body of Christ (Heb. 12:14, 15). In the New Testament, we discover the proper response of an Intercessor when the offense becomes a physical attack instead of a spiritual one. We must forgive, and that forgiveness becomes an intercession for those who attack us.
There is leader in the Bible who used forgiveness as a form of intercession. This man led a small core group of 12; fed over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread; and he gave up his life so that everyone would have an opportunity to know God. This man is named Jesus. It was Jesus who spent his life exemplifying what it meant to love God and your neighbor only to be, at the end of it, wrongfully accused and sentenced to death. It was Jesus, who while visiting one city, heard the crowd shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna!” one week and chanting “crucify him!” the following week. It was Jesus, the one who healed the withered hand and crippled feet, who had to have his hands and feet secured to a cross by nails. It was Jesus, the one possessing eternal life, with his last breath uttered these words in Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus who had every right to be upset, offended, furious, and betrayed made his last words an intercession. I would assert that if Jesus was praying “Father forgive them,” that he had already forgiven them (us) in his heart. He made an “allowance for our offenses” as Paul admonishes each believer to do in Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Jesus showed us by example how we should respond to those who would love nothing more than to see us dead, FORGIVE THEM.
In the book of Acts chapter 6 and 7, we find the story of a man named Stephen. The bible described him as “a man full of faith, the Holy Spirit, grace, and the power of God. He performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:5, 8) He was loved by the brethren and hated by religious leaders because of his wisdom and the Holy Spirit in him. These men conspired against him and found people to lie on him. Their lies led to Stephen’s arrest and a meeting with the Council (vv. 6:9-7:53). It was during this meeting that he spoke only what the Spirit told him to say. His words of truth made those living a lie furious. Out of their anger, they drugged him outside of the city and began to stone him (vv. 7:54-58) This man who was obedient to what the Holy Spirit asked of him was now facing death by the hands of those claiming to know God. His response to their actions was a prayer. Acts 7:59, 60 says, “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” Stephen like Jesus interceded on behalf of his murderers so that their sins would not be counted against them.
As intercessors it is important that we are found, even in the face of death, interceding for our offenders. It should be the desire of every intercessor that all come to know God, including those who hurt us. The story of Jesus and Stephen proves that we can be completely in the will of God and have to suffer persecution. They show us that the very people we are called to help may bring us the greatest harm; but we must forgive them. In our humanity, holding an offense will always be justified, but our call to “live according to the Spirit” nullifies that human right (Rom. 8:5). The life of an intercessor will present us with moments to be greatly offended; but we have to be wise intercessors and keep “allowances for offenses” in stock. The enemy would love nothing more than to hold you hostage, from you assignment, by the offenses you refuse to let go. Effective intercessions are those wrapped in love, grace, and forgiveness. Reinhold Niebuhr says “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” It is my prayer that if any of us are found having to surrender our life for this great Gospel that our last prayer would be, “Father forgive them!”