October 30, 2008

Give Me Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Posted in Devotionals, Prayer Request, Update at 4:52 am by Sarah Bosse

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him….
7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Proverbs 23:4 Do not toil to acquire wealth;
be discerning enough to desist.
5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
for suddenly it sprouts wings,
flying like an eagle toward heaven.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom….
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,
but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.
7 When the wicked dies, his hope will perish,
and the expectation of wealth perishes too….
28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
Proverbs 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
There have been several themes of thought that have been streaming through my mind during the last few weeks.  Tonight I want to briefly explore one of them with the hopes of developing these thoughts in greater detail as time permits.  
In the 30th chapter of Proverbs, the writer says “give me neither poverty nor riches”.  In my mind, I hear the voice of the writer as he says “Two things I ask of you”.  He’s not just saying this quietly.  These are the cries of his heart!  These are emotional and spiritually packed pleas with the Lord, the God of his life!  The writer CLINGS to these pleas with a heart set on God and a desire to know and walk in His ways.  “Two things I ask of you, Lord!!  I desire to seek You and follow after You with all my heart!  Lead me in this way so that I might not bring shame upon the name of my God!”  His heart is overflowing with passion.  “Give me neither poverty nor riches, Lord!  Do not lead me into temptation, but deliver me from evil!”  Do you hear the reflection of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6)?  
Listen to the temptation of which the writer speaks, as described by the Lord.  
Deuteronomy 8:1 “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word [1] that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. 6 So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.
Do you hear the love in the Lord’s voice?  Do you hear the firmness and seriousness of His warning?  Do you hear the repetition of the primary concern of God’s heart?  The primary concern of God’s heart is that His people remember what He has done, that they have humble hearts towards the Lord, that they keep His statutes, and that they continue to trust in and depend upon Him alone rather than themselves and their riches.  Don’t miss the love of the Lord here!  If you miss it, you have missed seeing God.  The Lord disciplines those He loves as a Father disciplines his child, for the child’s safety.  Like the child who would put the scissors in the electrical outlet and face possibly fatal consequences, we too face dreadful consequences when we dabble in sin and, in pride, consider ourselves self-sufficient.  Unlike the child who faces possibly fatal consequences, however, we face certain spiritual death apart from our loving Father’s unfailing desire and ability to save us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is the seriousness of His warning, not to be forgotten.  
Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness….28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, [7] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be [8] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. [9]35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The perfect love that spills over through the Lord’s discipline is magnificent.  Discipline is not a dirty word.  In fact, it is a word that denotes our Lord’s care, sensitivity to the greatest needs (i.e. spiritual) of His creatures, and His desire to see His creatures truly satisfied in Him – in the real Riches that will never spoil or fade or change.  The way He brings about the fruition of His desires is often through the use of hand-crafted circumstances (whether we perceive them as “good” or “bad”) that serve as keys to the human heart.  As John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  By using circumstances to both expose and erradicate sin in our lives, God is helping us to find satisfaction in Him and thereby receiving glory.  Remember God’s four primary concerns?  
God wanted His people to:
* Remember the things He has done
* Have humble hearts towards the Lord
* Keep His statutes/laws
* Continue to trust in and depend on Him alone
God is working all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  “All things” includes both the hard an painful stuff of live along with the fun and happy stuff of life – He is using it all to produce in and for His people the very best.  “All things” accomplish the meeting of God’s primary concerns and desires for each of our lives individually.
Well, must go to bed, but I hope to write more tomorrow.  

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