A Prayer For Your Sunday

A Prayer For Your Sunday

Proverbs 30:7-9Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Proverbs 30:7-9

These three verses could very well be the modern-day Christian’s prayer!

“Remove far from me vanity and lies”

liesWhat are we fighting against more than at any other time in history, on a global scale??? Lies! What are we finding ourselves getting caught up in more and more often on almost a global scale? Vanity! Hedonism! Appearances! The pursuit of happiness and leisure! Here, Solomon is asking God to remove vanity and lies far from him! Could we truthfully, deep within our hearts and souls, make the same prayer? Just how strong a hold on us does hedonism and appearances have? How often would we rather believe a lie than face the sting or hardship of the truth?

“Feed me with food convenient for me”

Fish'n Chips - Songdove BooksThe food that works best for me. The food I need. The food that will benefit me. This isn’t the food of laziness. It isn’t the food at the deli counter or the local salad bar, or delivered by Uber or Skip The Dishes. That is a very superficial definition of “convenience” but one that modern civilization has come to use as the primary definition.

Inconvenient food by Solomon’s definition would be food that isn’t healthy or beneficial to the human body. Much of what we call “convenience” foods today, are by nature, unhealthy and detrimental to the human body. They don’t have to be that way, but they are, in the name of long-term storage, shelf-life extension, flavour-enhancing, etc.  (the attached image here can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on how the food was prepared)

But Scripture uses the word “food” at times to mean far more than what sustains the body and helps it function. Christ said:

John 6:35: And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

We are encouraged: 

Psalms 34:8:
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

We are to feed on the Word of God.

It is interesting to me at times, that wellness coaches on occasion will talk about one’s over-all diet as including things like entertainment, news, media sources, music, books, conversations with people, social atmospheres at work, home, school or recreation, etc. They talk about what we feed our souls and spirits as being just as important as what we feed our bodies. Up to this point in the observation, they are correct.

In the New Testament, Paul and other Apostles used the word “conversation” in reference to how we live out our daily life, how we go about our day, how we interact with others and who we interact with, what we do and how we do it, etc. 

Ephesians 2:3:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Hebrews 13:5:
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I Peter 1:15-19
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

doveBut the secular wellness coach diverges where we touch the spiritual question. As believers, we understand that our spirit was dead until Christ entered into us by his Holy Spirit at the moment of Salvation. We are encouraged to “live by the Spirit” and we will not entertain the “lusts of the flesh”.

Romans 8:13-17
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Galatians 5:16-26
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

“Flesh” in these passages refers to the soulish part of us in general, what some parts of the New Testament call “the old man”, or the sinful nature.  “Flesh” in other places refers to muscle mass, or meat.  It is important to understand the context in which you find the word to understand which definition is being used.  English as well as Hebrew and Greek words have multiple definitions.  The context here, is of how we live, sinful versus Spirit-led.

“Lust” as a word in Scripture, refers to soulish desires that are often emotional and self-focussed. Modern English would use the word “wants”. It’s context in Scripture is often paired with behaviour of an envious bent, wanting what someone else has, or wanting what we don’t have, etc. The weakest use of this word in Scripture is simply what you desire, such as wanting a particular food today and wanting another food tomorrow. The strongest use of this word is when Christ says that if a man lusts after a woman in his heart, he has done it in his heart. The lust here isn’t just the man wanting the woman, but wanting to “know” her as Scripture puts it, or wanting to “lay” her in today’s vernacular. Wants are powerful things and while they can be very mundane such as wanting juice instead of pop at breakfast, they can be rather destructive and damaging too. In Christ’s example of the word, the damage isn’t just done to something or someone outside and apart from us. The damage is also internal to our bodies physically, but also to our mental and emotional health and how we see and interact with the world.

This brings us right back to today’s three verses:

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Proverbs 30:7-9

entertainment“Food that is convenient for me” in the broader context includes what we feed our body, mind, soul, and spirit. This includes our every-day life and what we ingest from the world around us using the other four senses of touch, see, hear, and smell. Of those, what we touch can have a physical impact on our body. What we smell can also have a physical impact on our body, and scientists are sounding alarms that high decibels at concerts, airport tarmacs, and various construction jobs can have harmful effects on our bodies too.

Why does Solomon pray this prayer? He is concerned if he lives the easy life, he will forget God. But he is also concerned if he lives the poor life, he could resort to breaking God’s laws and taking God’s name in vain, known today as cussing, swearing, etc. If we contrast these concerns to how modern society lives in a fair bit of the world, we see a dichotomy where people appear to be living better now than at any other time in history, in larger numbers, but those same people DO cuss and swear, even within the Body of Christ! Some outbursts have been reduced to slurred acronyms or letter combos, but they are still there.

In the book of Revelation, God addresses one of the churches, and later Babylon the Great, as thinking they are rich, wealthy, well-dressed, and living at ease when God sees them as naked, poor, wretched and disease-ridden!

Revelation of John 3:14-19
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Revelation of John 17:3-7
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

Revelation of John 17:15-17
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Truly:

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke has an interesting way of wording this question of Christ’s: 

Luke 9:25:
For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

To the church, Christ urges them to change their ways before He spits them out. To Babylon the Great, God destroys her outright!

It is thoroughly possible to be in both states Solomon writes of, simultaneously. Wealth and easy living on the outside, but inwardly dead and dying.

May we too, join with Solomon in asking God to remove selfish ease and lies from us, and give us provision that is beneficial to us! But remember the admonition in Scripture as well.

James 4:2-8
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

 

Let us not be contradictory in Solomon’s prayer, having selfish motives. We cannot come to God from a place of vanity, asking Him to remove vanity from us. God will not remove what we are holding on to. Come to Him with open hands, with humbleness of heart and mind, prepared to deal with any fallout of what God chooses to remove from our lives so that He can replace it with better things to be spent in the service of others.

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