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Wordless Wednesday

17 Dec

cool-christmas-trees-112

The Savior’s Mission

15 Dec

MissionYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we looked at God’s character and learned that Isaiah called Jesus the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of peace. As we prepare for Christmas this year, we celebrate something that is as old as eternity. On one hand, we celebrate the birth of the Savior, the Son of God, and the One that is able to redeem us from the penalty of sin that was prophesied in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve sinned.

On the other hand, even those that are farthest from God hear the sounds of the Savior through radio, TV, in our shopping malls, and family dinners. Even amid all the commercialism in our culture, the Christmas spirit is alive and well for most people you come into contact with. The influence of the Savior is so powerful because He came with a mission.

Take the time to read Isaiah 61:1-11.

So what’s the work of Christ? The prophets of the O.T. and the Apostles of the N.T. clearly state that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the One that came into this world for a reason. Even before the world was formed, God had a job for Him to do. His objectives are stated throughout the Bible.

Christ came here to do at least three things. First, He came to do the will of God and qualify Himself as our substitute.  Heb. 10:5-7 says, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’” V. 10 goes on to say, “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Second, He came to save His people from their sins. In Matt. 1:21the angel told Joseph in a dream that, [Mary] will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Tit. 2:14 says Jesus, “Gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Finally, He came to gather all that have believed in Him. In John 10:14 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.” In v. 16, He goes on to say, “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”  So there will be one flock, one shepherd. Salvation through Christ is complete and 100% effective. There is no new and improved method, the biblical method is tried and true. Christ came to do these things.           Isaiah called Him the mighty God in 9:6 and He cannot fail. Do you think that anything can dissuade Christ from carrying out His mission? Is. 42:4 says, “He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth.” The night Jesus was betrayed; He confidently said to God, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.”   (John 17:4) While dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, Jesus declared, “It is finished!”  (John 19:30)

Isaiah offers some encouragement. When we try and describe Jesus, we often paint him as this very serious man with long brown hair, a beard, and a flowing robe. Isaiah paints a different picture. He sees a smiling face with joy that overflows to those around Him. Isaiah 61 describes the good news of Jesus the Messiah using words you can almost feel. Look at vs. 1-3. Remember, at the time of this writing, Jesus won’t be born for another 700 years, but Isaiah speaks with such confidence as if he was watching a movie about the future.

Isaiah speaks the words of the Messiah as if these are the very words Jesus will speak. Take a look at the incredible passage in Luke 4:14-22. The words recorded in Isaiah’s prophecy are in fact, the words of Messiah. Put yourself in the synagogue. Jesus reads from Isaiah 61 – what we read earlier, and sits down. There must have been stunned silence in that place. You would think that the people, the religious people in the synagogue would recognize Who was in their midst and rejoice at the arrival of the long awaited Messiah – the One that would save them from their sins. It couldn’t have been clearer than if Jesus had said, “Hey, the Messiah that Isaiah wrote about? That’s me.” Jesus knew who He was. He knew He was sent to deliver mankind from the bondage of sin. He knew He came to set captives free. You’d think the people would fall down and worship the One, but vs. 28-29 tell us that, “All the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city.”

As we look at the mission of the Savior, I want you to see something back in Isaiah 61. V. 1 says, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted.” That is His overarching purpose.  Everything else is included in that statement. It’s also interesting to note the use of the words, Spirit, Lord, and God in this verse – a clear depiction of the Trinity. Christ has good news for those who are poor. The word means humble, lowly, the needy, the afflicted. Luke 19:10 tells us that, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus said in Mark 2:17, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” It’s very difficult for Jesus to save someone that doesn’t think they need saving. Christ comes for those who know they are sick, not for those who think they are well. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus says. There is good news for those who realize just how desperately they need a Savior. Look at how Isaiah says the Messiah would do this. He binds the brokenhearted. Remember the context of this prophecy. The people’s nation is about to come crashing down along with the temple of God. Everything that they hold near and dear is going to be destroyed. You might find yourself in the same situation, everything that you hold near and dear is crashing down around you. Jesus says, “I can help you, I understand, I can fix that.” Ps. 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Jesus came, “To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” The reality of the situation is that Assyria would capture them which meant life as slaves to a Godless, pagan power. In Rom. 6:6, Paul tells us that in Christ we are no longer slaves to sin. You may be physically chained, but it is Christ that breaks the spiritual chains of slavery. Christ has been sent to, “proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” He will restore what has been taken away. According to the Law, every 50th year was the Year of Jubilee. It was during that year that all debts would be erased, all land that had been sold would be returned to the original owner, and all slaves would be set free. For us, it would be like all our mortgages paid off, all our car notes cancelled, all our consumer debt erased. This Year of Jubilee is a picture of what Christ does for us. Our sin debt is paid in full. Our transgressions forgotten and we are set free. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Christ sets us free from the power sin has over us.

Christmas is about the mission of Christ. He came to make a way for everyone to enjoy the freedom found at the foot of the cross. In your current circumstances, you may find it difficult to believe that anything good can come your way, but I’ve got good news for you – Christ came to die just for you. For any of you that are sick and tired of this life Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)

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Wordless Wednesday

10 Dec

Weird Christmas Phots

The Savior’s Character

8 Dec

Savior's NamesYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we were introduced to a man named Ahaz, king of the southern kingdom of Judah. He was on the receiving end of an Assyrian army bent on advancing their country while destroying all that stood in their path. Not only was Judah threatened by this massive Assyrian army, they were threatened by the continuing moral degradation led by their king. They were a nation of God’s people, yet the people were far from God. In Isaiah 7, we saw that Isaiah was sent to remind Ahaz to rest in God with the words, “If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.” (Is. 7:9) God even said there would be a virgin that would conceive a child. That was the sign of the Savior.  This morning we’ll look at the character of the Savior.

Take a look at Isaiah 9:1-7.

 You would think that Ahaz, who by all accounts was raised in a godly home, would seek refuge in the One that can help. Ahaz discarded wise counsel from Isaiah and had to face the music resulting from his disobedience. He went ahead with his alliance with Assyria. Rom. 1:18 describes it this way: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in  unrighteousness.” Ahaz and those that followed him suppressed the truth. Isaiah 8 details how this happened. Despair and gloom descended on Judah.  Ahaz and the majority of the people of Judah had departed from God; so God handed them over to their sin and to their enemies. The northern-most part of Israel was feeling the Assyrian army coming down on them. As it became increasingly apparent that the godless plans of Ahaz were failing, the people began turning to superstition and the occult to find guidance. According to 2 Kings 16:3, king Ahaz even burned his son as an offering to the false gods of the Canaanites. It was a time of moral darkness, frustration, anger, and hopelessness under the judgment of God. Is this to be expected for those who depart from the Lord? Is judgment God’s only response to the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men? As the anti-Christian sentiment grows here and abroad, you might conclude that God is judging us and we ask ourselves as David did in Ps. 94:3, “How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult?”

We are not in an age of despair, but an age of hope. We are warned with judgment to flee from wickedness and immorality. And we are also drawn by the Holy Spirit with love and kindness to turn to God. God has a glorious plan that sufficiently and completely deals with wickedness and sin. It is the good news of grace. Between Chapters 8 and 9, something happens to Isaiah. Isaiah is describing what’s going to happen to the people of Judah because of their rebellion and all of a sudden, he’s talking about things to come for mankind. Instead of war, Isaiah sees the boots of soldiers burned in the fire. Right in the middle of the war, there is something critical for us. V. 2 tells us, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Light will come to those that are in the dark. There is hope. There is still an opportunity to turn to God. That opportunity is available to you as well. In 1741, it was this section of Scripture that moved a man to compose an oratorio with perhaps the greatest chorus of all time.

In Handel’s Messiah, we see God’s character. Look at how Isaiah describes God’s character in vs. 6-7. He says. “A child will be born to us. A son will be given to us.” It is a real, physical birth. The child is human. That child is given to us. Remember who Isaiah is talking to. He is a gift to us.

Jo. 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
2 Cor. 9:15: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
Eph. 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” “And the government will rest on His shoulders.”
In Matt. 28:18 Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Eph. 1:22 tells us that, “He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.”

He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Then Isaiah gives some names to this One that would be born. Call Him wonderful Counselor.  This literally means wonder of a counselor. Wonderful means marvelous, extraordinary, beyond the normal capacity to perform. The counsel of God in the flesh transcends human wisdom. Rom. 11:34 asks the question, “For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?” His ways are unfathomably deep. He is in a category by Himself. He is the supernatural counselor. No matter the situation, no matter the circumstances, no matter the person, He is able to provide perfect counsel and guidance.  He knows exactly what needs to be done. His course of action is perfect. When you are in need, look to the wonderful Counselor. Call Him the mighty God. Literally the heroic, strong God. This child is God’s Son, the second person of the Trinity and possessor of all the power of God. He is omnipotent. When you connect this name with wonderful Counselor, you get the idea that God in the flesh possesses the ability to carry out to completion all that His plans call for. He is able to say, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” (Is. 46:10) We tend to grow weak and weary, God does not. He does not sleep.

Call Him everlasting Father.  He is eternal. This child would be father to you and to me. He is always loving; always planning the best for us. Ps. 103:13-14: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” God knows our limitations and strengths, He knows our time frames, He knows what must be accomplished and what time is available to us. Call Him the Prince of peace.  He is the Prince of peace and according to v. 7, “There will be no end to the increase of His government.”  He will conquer the hearts of His people, He will start something as a child that v. 7 says will never stop growing and He will not do it by force, but with gentleness and with peace. The Lord has all it takes to accomplish His plans and will always do what is right and best for us. He draws us with kindness and unending faithfulness and goodness. Our desire should be to do God’s will.

Isaiah saw Him coming; the One that is God’s answer for sinners like you and me. He saw Jesus, the wonderful Counselor; He came with wisdom and purpose, with a perfect plan. Follow Him. As the mighty God, He will accomplish all His plans. Satan tried everything he could to thwart God’s plan through the baby Immanuel. Trust in Him. Rest in Him. He loves us endlessly. Enter into His presence. He reconciles us while we are still his enemies. Trust Him and welcome His guidance in your life. Rom. 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus is the greatest King; the King of all kings whose kingdom and peace will never stop expanding. He is the Rescuer and the Redeemer. He is Jesus, God with us.

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Wordless Wednesday

3 Dec

Red Neck Repair 2

The Savior’s Sign

1 Dec

Virgin BirthYou can listen to the podcast for this message here.

He is considered one of the greatest men of God from the olden days. He was a counselor to kings and a writer whose O.T. book is quoted more often in the New Testament than any other except the book of Psalms. When Jesus preached His first sermon, He preached out of a passage from this man’s writings. His calling from God is one of the most beautiful pictures in Scripture. “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” (Is. 6:1-4) This man would be inspired to say things about the Lord so incredible that it boggles our mind. is name is Isaiah and he is a prophet.

Isaiah 7:10-17 is a familiar passage to people in and out of the church and I encourage you to get your Bible and read this incredible passage for yourself.

You’ve heard the saying, desperate times call for desperate measures? This passage comes just after Isaiah answers the call of God in 6:1-4. Isaiah finds himself right in the middle of some pretty intense political action. Isaiah 7:1-2 sets the stage for us. At some point in our lives, every one of us will face desperate times. Circumstances present themselves that may bring us to the edge of despair where there seem to be few options and time is running out. In this passage I want you so see some things that put Judah’s king Ahaz on the edge of despair. Ahaz was an unstable man. He had a godly father and grandfather, but he did not follow in their footsteps. Having godly relatives is no guarantee of godly children. Unless a child personally chooses to enter into a biblical relationship with God through Christ, he will leave that home one day without the tools necessary to face the world.

I don’t know everything about Ahaz, but this much is clear. His life can be summed up as recorded in 2 Kings 16:2, “Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done.” He is not in a wilderness period and he is not sowing his wild oats. He did not do what is right in God’s eyes. Ahaz is probably in his early twenties and he is confronted with a very serious national crisis, but he doesn’t possess the life experience or spiritual resources necessary to effectively handle it. To make a really long story short, Assyria and the northern kingdom of Israel joined forces to invade the southern kingdom of Judah. Against the guidance of God’s prophets, Israel formed an alliance with Assyria in an effort to defend against what they knew was coming from Assyria. It was a, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em scenario. It was Assyria’s practice to invade and conquer neighboring countries and take the people prisoner. Assyria’s  goal was to invade Judah and get rid of king Ahaz. Verse 2 tells us “His heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.” So what’s a king to do? Godly kings seek wise counsel from God and then there is Ahaz. Ahaz was foolish. 2 Kings 17 indicate that Ahaz is going to try and form his own alliance independent of Assyria and Israel only his alliance won’t be against Assyria, it would be with Assyria. Ahaz is planning to buy off Assyria to save himself. You can feel the desperation in Ahaz’s reasoning. So it is with this information that we find the prophet Isaiah called to go talk to king Ahaz in 7:3. Let’s see how this is set up in 7:3-9.

The actual reality is that God always comes through. How many times has God used seemingly incidental things to remind us that He is right there? He is involved in our lives even if we can’t see exactly what He is doing. Here is Ahaz looking over the water supply lines of Judah. Isaiah and his son Shear-jashub walk up to Ahaz. Hebrew names carried a lot of significance. Isaiah means Jehovah has saved. Shear-jashub means a remnant shall return. Standing right in front of Ahaz are reminders of who God is and that He will preserve His people. Remember that Ahaz’s father and grandfather were godly men. God is always bigger than your problems and your fears. In the face of certain defeat, look at what God says through Isaiah in v. 4, “Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted.” God is saying don’t look for a way out, but look for a way through your difficult situation. 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Do you believe that no situation is too hard for God? For Ahaz, God was trying to show him that his trust must be placed in the One that can handle the problem. V. 9 says, “If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.” Faith, that strong conviction in what you cannot see often stands in the way of God accomplishing what He wants to accomplish. If you do not stand firm, you will fall. God was trying to get Ahaz to believe. To walk by faith, not by sight. To be a follower of God first, then a king.

This is a good time for a miracle. It is at this moment that something incredible takes place. Vs. 10-11 says, “Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz saying, ‘Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.’” Isaiah was there to speak to the king on behalf of God and Ahaz doesn’t want to listen; all he can think about is the Assyrian army. Ask whatever you want – no limit. “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD.” Now Ahaz gets all spiritual on Isaiah. He is conveniently forgetting what is going on in Judah: idolatry, human sacrifices, asheroth pole worship, Baal worship. The reality is that Ahaz had already made up his mind and nothing Isaiah said or did would convince him to trust God. Are we like that? Do we seek guidance and counsel from the Scriptures, or do we avoid it because we’ve already made up our minds as to what we will do.

Here is the moment set apart for Isaiah. He turns from the king and begins to speak to the crowd that had gathered. The story continues in vs. 13-14, “Then he said, “Listen now O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” It is God that gives the sign. He doesn’t send an angel or a prophet – God Himself sees to it.

What is the meaning of the sign? This sign is meant to get our attention. V. 13 starts with “Listen now.” Pay attention to what is coming. This sign proves that God can do whatever He wants to do. Sign means a signal or a distinguishing mark. It is something that is obvious, something that will stand out. This sign involves the birth of a son after an impossible pregnancy. A virgin will conceive. Isaiah tells everyone that at some point a woman will conceive a child that simply cannot be explained.  When you see that, that is God’s handiwork. This sign means that God is coming in the flesh. His name is Immanuel meaning God with us. God will be with us in the flesh. He will dwell among us. We will see and experience His glory. 700 hundred years later, that sign was realized. A young woman named Mary was engaged to a guy named Joseph. An angel appeared and told her what to expect. Luke 1:31 records the words of the prophet, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.”

If God can cause a woman to conceive in a miraculous manner, why do you doubt that He can take care of you? The birth of Immanuel, God with us, served as a sign for people desperate to see God working. When all seems hopeless to us, God already has a plan in place, has already set the process in motion. Before you even realized you need Him, He is already there. Sometimes it takes being in the pit of despair to see the hope of a Savior. Immanuel means God with us, not God might be here one day if you’re really good.

An All Too Familiar Trap

24 Nov

TrapYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week Solomon reminded his son of the familiar theme to pay attention and listen to his teachings. If he’ll learn to control his body – his ears, his eyes, his mouth, and his heart, then he’ll find health and more accurately, healing for his body. We’re talking eternal healing. Stay on the straight path Solomon says, and all your ways will be established. This morning, Solomon moves into a conversation few parents want to have with their kids, but is desperately needed.

We’ll be in Pro. 5:1-14 and it would be great for you to grab your Bible and follow along.

Solomon warns us to avoid the trap, but before he does that, he covers some very familiar ground. Pay attention to wisdom. Listen and understand. When these two things are done, “You may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge.” This is typical of what the father has told the son in the previous four chapters, but then there’s a total shift. It comes without warning and seems strangely placed here. Before we get to that, I want you to know that everything we need to live a life of holiness and godliness can be found within the 66 books of Scripture. No topic is off limits. Granted, some topics are much clearer as we read them than others. In the area we find ourselves now in, the Bible gives us what I believe is distinct clarity. The person that fails to heed these warnings is in for a rude awakening. Don’t be under the misguided notion that what is done between consenting adults is inconsequential. As a church we need to lovingly confront those false ideas and stick with the truth. Don’t assume that nice, proper Christian people are not inundated with sexual temptations. Don’t think it’s inappropriate for me to talk about. Failing to inform the church about the expectation and importance of sexual purity would be a gross failure on my part as pastor of this church.

Solomon says, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech.” That’s quite the word picture. To be certain, Solomon wants his son to understand the danger this type of woman represents, not only to the son, but to the very foundation of the family. This warning is more descriptive than other Scriptures that simply say don’t commit adultery. God is not shy about telling it like it is and He knows there are strong sexual temptations in the world. I think this is interesting because Solomon takes the time to explain the rationale. That’s why this is so important. Adulteress literally means other woman so she is someone other than the wife. You’ve got to notice the temptation is not only in the sexual arena. She uses her speech to flatter the man. Men, be very wary of women that are quick with a complement, that tell you things that build your ego, that give you the idea that she tells you things your wife doesn’t tell you and somehow your wife is lacking. Before you know it, you’re thinking, “My wife sure doesn’t appreciate me like she does.” There’s a difference in an appropriate compliment and one that falls into the category Solomon is talking about. There’s a difference between, “That’s a nice shirt” and, “That’s a nice shirt, it really shows off your chest and arms.” Men, I submit to you that if any woman tells you something like this, run straight to your wife and tell her. That’s how the adulteress begins. She uses flattering speech to draw you in.

That’s the beginning so where does it end? The end of the road is always the same for the married man that engages in sexual immorality. “But in the end she is bitter wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.” It’s not a good place to be. The word wormwood is used nine times in the Bible – 8 in the O.T. and once in the N.T. in Revelation. Every time the word is used it represents a bitterness or sorrow. What appears to be an exciting secret shared between two people leads to a place no one wants to go. Look at vs. 5-6. That’s hardly the anticipated outcome. It’s not that she’s lost although that may be true. The idea conveyed here is that she is a deceiver; the path she promises will not only not come true, but the very opposite will happen. Remember what was said in Pro. 2:19: “None who go to her return again, nor do they reach the paths of life.” She is a predator, not a victim. It’s not just women, Ps. 55:21 says, “His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” David was referring to the pattern of his enemies, those that sought to destroy him. This woman has no thought to life, has no ambition, no thoughts for tomorrow. She’s unstable and doesn’t even know it.

Repetition is the key so check out Solomon’s reiteration. He gives the familiar repetition when he says, Now then, my sons, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth.” Now for emphasis he says, “Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house.” Take an alternate route. The overarching idea is that if you give in to temptation, if you fulfill the desires of the flesh in this illicit manner, then consequences will come. Read vs. 9-10. The exact people referred to by the terms others, cruel one, strangers, and alien are not known. All the words are masculine so they don’t refer to the adulteress herself. It could refer to any number of men that may or may not include  the adulteress’s husband. You just can’t be sure. What we can be sure about is what’s going to happen to you. Read vs. 11-14. In context, groan is an inarticulate sound conveying deep pain and despair. That’s what’s going to happen at the final end. Is this the end of life when you have to stand before the Judgment Seat? We can’t be certain because Solomon uses the phrase, “flesh and body” rather than refer to the soul too.

As we continue to read, we get a bit more insight. The one that engages in this type of immoral relationship will eventually come to the conclusion that they should have heeded these great instructions. Not just the ones in this passage, but all those that come from the mouth of God. We see some hope though. Verse 14 says, “I was almost in utter ruin in the midst of the assembly and congregation.” We could view this as a public denouncement of behavior. If we identified the adulterers among the church, I’m absolutely certain we would be deemed intolerant, judgmental, cruel, and just plain mean. In the church, we need to be somewhere between The Scarlett Letter and pretending that it doesn’t happen. The Old Testament ruling for this is found in Deut. 22:22, “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.”

If we heed the warnings, cautions, commandments, and instructions of Solomon, we’ll have a far easier time staying on the right path. God never disciplines us for obedience. Maybe you find yourself in the midst of what Solomon is warning us about. There is hope. If you think you can never be forgiven or be used of God, think again. No sin is too great for God to forgive. Confess it and receive cleansing from Christ.

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Wordless Wednesday

19 Nov

Wrench and Tire

Body Control

17 Nov

Body ControlYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week Solomon told his son to hear and accept his sayings. He’s talking about sound teaching because they are the things of God. He spoke of two paths. One path is the road of wisdom while the other is the road of wickedness. The path of wisdom is bright and the path of wickedness is dark. You can see where you’re going on one path, but the other causes you to trip over things you cannot even see. This morning, Solomon tells his son to control his behavior by controlling some keys parts of his body.

I encourage you to take a moment and read Pro. 4:20-27.

We’re on some familiar ground here. If you notice, this chapter is divided into three passages that begin with the same type of phrase encouraging the young man to listen. In 4:1 he says, “Hear O sons, the instruction of a father and give attention that you may gain understanding.” In 4:10 he said, “Hear my son and accept my sayings.” Now in the third passage, Solomon begins by reminding his son of something he’s heard before. “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.” When I hear this, I think of someone telling an incredible story, a story of intrigue that captivates your mind. You’re on the edge of your seat and can barely contain your excitement. That’s the picture I get here. Do we get excited to hear what the Lord has shown someone or do our eyes glaze over and our mind drifts away? “Incline your ear to my sayings.” Remember where these instructions came from. Remember that God took the time to inspire holy men of old to write these incredible truths down. Never take these things for granted. Understand the privilege we have to read and meditate on the words of God.

“Do not let them depart from your sight.” In other words, keep your eyes on right teaching. Don’t surround yourself with people that will tell you what you want to hear, or what is popular or faddish, or what sounds good. Keep your eyes focused on what things are pure and holy and right. Keep your eyes focused squarely on God’s revelation to us. Keep these things in the, “Midst of your heart.” I’m going to skip this phrase and come back to it. Solomon is telling his son these things because, “They are life to those who find them and health to all their body.” God’s wisdom can be found. Solomon has mentioned the life part before, but there’s a word in this verse that is really cool. It is the word health. It comes from the root word that means to heal as in medicine. Solomon is literally saying the teachings of God are medicine for your soul that brings healing. If we really get a hold of this, I think it’ll change our life. There’s not a real parent out there that wouldn’t force their child to take medicine. You’ll get your spouse to help hold their arms and even hold their nose so they’ll open their mouth and you force the medicine down their throat because you know they need that medicine to fight the infection, or cold, or disease or whatever. You know it will bring healing if they’ll just take it. Solomon is telling us the same thing, but we’re too smart to listen. He tells his son pay attention, listen to me, I know what I’m talking about, you need this. Unfortunately, when it comes to the life changing healing of our soul, we think we know better. Well, we don’t know better. The words of God bring healing to your troubled soul; they bring eternal life to you.

Solomon has talked about the kid’s ears, eyes, heart, and body. In v. 23 he continues with the heart by telling his son, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Keep in mind what Solomon said in v. 21 about keeping the instructions in, “the midst of the heart.”  We often speak of the heart. God speaks to your heart, the Holy Spirit leads and guides our heart. We ask Jesus to come into our heart and live there. These are pretty common things we hear in the church, but have you ever thought about how odd that is? In most instances, the use of the word doesn’t have anything to do with the organ that pumps blood, but rather it is the center of your being. The seat of your soul. You’ve heard people say, “Trust your heart.” Or maybe, “Go with your heart.” “My heart is filled with love.” Or even, “You have to follow your heart.” Jeremiah contradicts this sentiment by saying, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”  (Jer. 17:9) Solomon says, “Watch over your heart.” The English translation loses the impact contained in the Hebrew. He’s really saying, above all things, more important than anything else, actively guard your heart. Put up a fence with razor wire, put a moat around it, put infra-red, motion activated cannons around it. Do all these things, “For from it flow the springs of life.” What a beautiful word picture there. It reminds me of John 7:38 when Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” The very same thing Solomon is telling his son.

Solomon shifts from the inner parts of the body to the outward. “Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.” Just so we’re all on the same page, this verse should be taken as one phrase that means twisted or distorted speech; speech that misrepresents what is true. In other words, this is lying. White lies, bold faced lies, lies that protect another’s feelings – they’re all lies. For many of us, the tongue gets us into more trouble than any other part of our body. James wrote about the importance of this when he said, “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (Ja. 3:2) This is one of the greatest reasons to effectively guard your heart because Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matt. 12:34)

Solomon closes this chapter with some great guidelines to live by. Vs. 25-26 say, “Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.” Remember Lot’s wife that did not look straight ahead? “Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.” That’s the bottom line. Don’t let anyone or anything push you off the path God has you on. If you’re not on God’s path, get there now. Remember what Solomon said just a while ago in Pro. 3:7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

Solomon is talking metaphorically and literally in these verses. Keeping your eyes focused on correct, biblical teaching will help your feet stay in the right path. Don’t stretch or twist the truth. Above all this, guard and protect your heart. If Solomon’s son listens, hears, and does these things, the whole body will be healthy. If we do the same thing, our body will also be healed.

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Wordless Wednesday

12 Nov

Red Neck Repair 1

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