November 17

Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV) 7"Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: 8Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

The author of this proverb had a healthy fear of the LORD. Knowing the deceitfulness of his own flesh, he asked for two things. The first was to keep falsehood and lies far from him. The passage does not say whether those lies come from his lips or from another. We can look at it both ways. We can't keep others from deceiving us, which in turn causes us to make wrong judgments. We can ask God to keep others from lying to us. But just as important is to ask God to help us not be tempted to lie. Most of us don't outright plan to lie, but in the heat of a conversation there is a way of putting things that brings you favor or respect through a distortion or exaggeration. We can justify it, but it is lying nonetheless. God protect us from our treacherous self-exaltation.

Then the author asks for daily bread. Jesus echoed this in the LORD's prayer. If I have too much, it may cause my heart to turn from the LORD. I need to have needs that drive me to prayer. I need to see my needs met little by little so that I give Him praise and thanks. If I go hungry I may get desperate enough to steal, and that would dishonor the God who I profess to serve. So, I ask for sufficiency, not abundance or poverty.

Reader, do you recognize how deceitful your flesh can be? Do you dream of hitting it rich, thinking of all the good you would do with the money? The worst thing for many of us is to get what we have asked for. Recognize the power of the flesh, and live to stay free from its power. Live in the power of the Holy Spirit instead.

Prayer: Please give me sufficiency and a healthy fear of the LORD.

November 17

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV) 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Faith, it is a difficult thing to describe. The Bible's definition is to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This chapter in Hebrews goes on to give us numerous examples of faith demonstrated in the lives of people in Scripture. The introduction to the chapter says that the possession of this sureness and certainty is what made the lives of the saints commendable.

We often think that great deeds done are the reason that God would approve of a life, but this passage says it is the source of the deeds, faith. One could have faith and not have opportunity to express it, such as the thief on the cross next to Jesus. In most cases, faith expresses itself in unusual action that the world considers crazy or worthless. What has your faith motivated you to do that made no sense to the world? What is it motivating you to do today?

The first illustration of faith is creation. How was the universe formed? Honest science says there is more than the forces we understand at work. Faith simply reads the Word of God and declares that God said it and it was. Science must declare matter to be eternal for it is a "scientific" fact that nothing comes from nothing. Faith says matter came from the Creator. Which takes more "faith"?

If everything you see was formed at God's command, what does your faith tell you of the hope of sanctification and heaven? Is it any easier for God to speak universes into existence than it is for Him to bring you to heaven perfected in body, soul, and spirit? (1 Thessalonians 5:23) Faith declares, "God said it, and I believe it." It is being sure of our hope, and certain of what we can't see. God can finish the work He started, crowning His creation with purified believers.

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith. Help me have the certainty that You will finish the work You started in me.