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Wordless Wednesday

29 Oct

Boat on Truck

Parental Love . . . Again

27 Oct

Dad's LoveYesterday I did something that I rarely do. I preached the same message I preached a couple of week ago. As I’ve studied through the great book of Proverbs, I’m reminded over and over again the importance of teaching and the importance of learning God’s Word. That’s how we connect with God. That’s how we get to know God. That’s how we learn to follow Jesus Christ. That’s how we discover truth. In an age where common sense is no longer common, it seems downright elusive. Biblical sense comes from knowing God through His Son Jesus Christ. Do you want to know God? Get to know Jesus Christ. Do you think there’s another way? According to John 14:6, think again.

The ancient book of Proverbs is exactly what we need today. In it you’ll find guidance on finances, time management, prioritizing our lives, sexual purity, and parenting as well as a host of other topics. Biblical wisdom begins with the realization that Jesus Christ made a way for us to be reconciled to God. That path must go through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. It is the only way.

So are you wondering, how different can the same message be? Perhaps you’ll be as surprised as I was.

I encourage you to listen to the message here.

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Wordless Wednesday

22 Oct

Car and Bridge

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Wordless Wednesday

15 Oct

Hairy Back

Parental Love

13 Oct

Parental LoveYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we looked at some very serious character flaws. A relationship with God through Christ brings true wisdom and as a result, as followers of Christ we should be different than the world. We should have a biblical world view. No matter how imperfect we are, God’s grace is bestowed upon us and because of this, we’re not defined as foolish. This morning, Solomon provides some urgent instructions and reminders that are applicable for parents today.

Take the time to look up and read Proverbs 4:1-9.

Solomon digresses for a moment imploring sons to pay attention. Verses 1-2 give you a sense of urgency in Solomon’s words. Notice that he is talking to sons – plural. Hear is a verb – it’s an action word. This command is reminiscent of the command found in Deut. 6 for parents. Teaching your children is primarily the responsibility of the parents. This is not something that should be outsourced to babysitters, to daycare, or schools and it’s not the responsibility of the grandparents. All of these people can and should help, but as parents, the design is for a father and a mother to raise a child. This is not an indictment against moms that work. I understand all too well how difficult it can be to make ends meet these days. Are there other options available that do not include sending a child to day care at the ripe old age of 6 weeks? Sometime we think there is no other way to make it unless mom works and sometimes that is the case. I knew a woman that worked a part time job that actually cost the family about $20.00 a week for her to work when you factored in fuel and childcare. Solomon tells sons to hear, “The instruction of a father and give attention that you may gain understanding.” The reason for the instructions is clear – to gain understanding. Gain literally translated means to know. This instruction would include day to day things that a father teaches his child. But the more important teaching includes what he would teach that boy about God. It must start at the beginning. Don’t think you can wait until the teenage years to teach your children about God. Don’t leave this important responsibility to others.

Solomon says he gives, “Sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction.” The teaching is right and true and that’s why it shouldn’t be abandoned or left behind. 2 Tim. 3:14 says, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” When you look at Paul’s opening paragraph to his second letter to Timothy, you notice that Paul mentions that Timothy has a sincere faith like that of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. What is missing is his father and grandfather. Timothy is first mentioned in Acts 16:1 that says, “Paul came also to Derbe and Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” Notice the contrast between mother and father. This is significant especially in light of what Solomon is telling us.

If you notice in our main text, Solomon gives credit for what he knows to his father. Look at vs. 3-5. As busy as the king must have been, David took the time to teach Solomon. Solomon had 18 brothers and a sister and I would think that the personal level of instruction was important as more children came into the family. But what if the parents are not involved in active instruction? Remember the warrior Joshua? He was one of the twelve men sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land in Num. 13. Fast forward to the end of Joshua’s life. Jud. 2:10 tells us a horrifying thing: “And there arose a generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work He had done for Israel.” That’s what happens when parents aren’t involved.

Another reminder regarding wisdom. “Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over you.” Don’t take this too lightly. This is conditional, as long as you hold on to her, she’ll guard you. As long as you love her, she’ll watch over you. There’s something obvious in v. 7. “The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom and with your acquiring, get understanding.” The literal translation is, the primary thing is wisdom. Solomon’s thinking if you can get that, the other stuff is easy. Remember we’re talking godly or biblical wisdom here. Those aren’t the only conditions. “Prize her, and she will exalt you.” “She will honor you if you embrace her.”Not only are there eternal rewards, but there are present day rewards too. Verse 9 is rewording 1:9. I like to think of this as a demeanor or attitude. When biblical wisdom is obtained through the knowledge and understanding of the Lord, it should be obvious to those that look at us. Remember it’s the fool that despises wisdom and instruction, but sometimes it seems Christians fall into this category too. We want the promises of God regardless of our actions. We expect God’s blessings when we’re unwilling to follow His principles. We expect a holy and perfect God to turn a blind eye on how we act, what we do, and how we think.

Eph. 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Children are a blessing from the Lord and the best thing you can teach them is to love God. As parents invest in them, but invest the right things into them. Teach them the word of God. If King David took the time with Solomon, shouldn’t we take the time?

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Wordless Wednesday

8 Oct

MA_walmart_47

Character Flaws

6 Oct

CharacterYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week Solomon gave us some wise counsel on dealing with others. We’re not to withhold good from people to whom good is due when we have the power to do good right now. He also said we shouldn’t contend with a man unless we have a reason. This morning, Solomon continues with some commands that deal with character traits that are anything but godly.

Pro. 3:31-35 says, “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways. For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; but He is intimate with the upright. The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted. The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.”

Are these things obvious? Are you wondering why Solomon seems to tell us things that should be obvious, things that should be common sense? The difference in this passage from vs. 27-30 is that those had conditional clauses attached to the do nots. Don’t withhold good when it’s in your power to do good. Don’t tell your neighbor come back tomorrow if you can help him right now. Don’t be scheming against your neighbor while he thinks he’s safe and secure. Don’t contend with someone without cause if he’s done nothing to you. There’s a shift here that doesn’t include a conditional clause, but includes the reason not to do it. “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose his ways.” Does Solomon really have to say that? Ps. 73:3, “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Paul seems pretty clear in Gal. 5:19-21: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” So envying is a deed of the flesh and we’re not to fulfill the deeds of the flesh, but are to be led by the Spirit.

Solomon is specifically talking about envying a man of violence. So we have to figure out what a man of violence is, and we need to understand it in the context of what he just said. Even though this may look random, Solomon is still talking about taking care of your neighbor from the verses we looked at last week. He’s talking about benevolence and justice. He’s talking about a person that uses violence to get ahead in life, to get what he needs to prosper. This person uses whatever force necessary to gain the advantage over someone that has something he wants. That’s why criminals carry weapons; so they have an advantage over you. Don’t envy this type of person. It doesn’t matter how rich they are or seem to be. It doesn’t matter what they have. How could any Christ follower envy someone like this? I cannot answer that, but it seems God knew there would be a draw to ill gotten gains. Have you ever been not totally honest on your tax return? Ever not give back the extra change? Ever play cops and robbers and everybody wants to be the robbers? Ever play Robin Hood? Ps.140:1 says, “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men.” Back in Proverbs, Solomon says, “Do not choose any of his ways.” This gives us an indication that there is a choice. If you were brought up in an environment of criminal activity or other ungodly or unlawful behavior, you don’t have to continue in it. The power of the Gospel can break that cycle.

The conclusion God draws is that, “The devious are an abomination to the Lord.” So the man of violence is also devious. Devious means skillfully using underhanded tactics. This man is dishonest and deceptive. Think about the stereotypical used car salesman. Think about those rent to own places. They are an abomination to the Lord. Is that too harsh? Abomination means inspiring disgust from God. These deceitful, devious, and dishonest people draw God’s disgust. But the contrast is that God, “Is intimate with the upright.” The opposite of the man of violence is the upright, the righteous, the authentic child of God that walks by faith. God has a close relationship, a fellowship, an intimacy with the believer because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Just to make sure you get the separation between God and the unrighteous sinner, Solomon says, “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked.” This is hardly consistent with those people that wrongly conclude that God is a God of love and that we’re all God’s little children. Apart from Christ, there is no possibility for a relationship with God and those that reject Christ have a curse placed squarely on their house. The word curse in this form surprising only occurs five times in the O.T. Why the hard line on this? Deut. 28:20 says, “The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me.” Because you have forsaken God. That’s why you do the anti-God things you do. The flip side is, “He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.”

“Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” He gives back what is given Him. Scoff at God and He scoffs back. Scoff means to speak about something in a derisive or contemptuous manner. But grace is given to the afflicted. I don’t want you confused on this. God’s grace is lavished upon every human being, but you can’t disrespect Him, scoff at Him, curse Him, shake your fist at Him, mock Him, curse Him, and have no use for Him and then expect His judgment to be withheld. That is conditional based on our relationship with God through Christ. The assumption is that if you are an authentic child of God, you’d never do those things. James 4:6 quoting Ps. 138:6 says, “He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Grace will take you to the throne room of God and enable you to be an overcomer. The final contrast is, “The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.” Who is wise? The one that finds understanding. The one that is lowly or afflicted tying in with the preceding verse. Honor is also translated glory. It is given as an inheritance because of who you know. Once again, the foolish are totally opposite.

True wisdom is from God. The one that finds it is blessed. Don’t be envious of people that seem to be getting ahead in the world from ill gotten gains or from cheating, lying, or stealing. Remember Solomon said that wisdom is far greater than riches and more precious than jewels. Don’t sacrifice the eternal for the temporary.

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Wordless Wednesday

1 Oct

MA_walmart_4

Just Do Not

29 Sep

Do NotYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we went back to Genesis and discovered that a fundamental understanding of God’s involvement in creation is essential in our walk with Christ. When wisdom and understanding are found, we can sleep well and be free from anxiety. Remember these are general applications and are not a rule for all in every situation. This morning, Solomon jots down some seemingly random commands that are marked by the phrase, “do not”.

Pro. 3:27-30 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you. Do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives securely beside you. Do not contend with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.”

In reality Solomon is telling us to be good. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Who deserves good? We are to do good to those that are in need when we have the ability to do it. In the Greek translation of the O.T. known as the Septuagint, the verse is translated, “Abstain not from doing good to the needy.” This lines up with what we’ve seen in our studies in stewardship. If you have the ability to help, then help. Several cross references to this verse refer to giving payment to whom payment is due. This could be an employer employee relationship as in James 5:4. It might be to pay your taxes as in Rom. 13:7. If we look in a broader sense in Gal. 6:10 Paul says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” So we do good to whom good is due and we’re ready to do good deeds in the spirit of Tit. 2:14 because we are children of God. Don’t talk about doing good, do good.

Along with doing good, Solomon says, “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” There’s no time like the present. Benjamin Franklin said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Why do we delay in accomplishing something? I think this is a big problem for many people and it raises its head frequently in the church. This verse continues from the previous verse and is really about procrastination. If you can help someone right now, help them. Along with doing good, “Do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives securely beside you.” I found myself wondering about this verse. It’s straight forward enough. There’s no hidden meaning here. It means what it says, but why the need to say something so obvious? Other translations say, “plan evil” so Solomon is saying do not plan evil against your neighbor. Now we’re getting somewhere. You’ve heard the saying that good fences make good neighbors? You may not know that I am serving my 4th term as my neighborhood’s Homeowner’s Association’s President. I often have to get involved with complaints from homeowners and their neighbors. It seems that there are folks that are out to get others in trouble. And the unsuspecting neighbors are thinking they, “live securely beside you.” But this verse isn’t about casual disputes over shrubbery or pets. This verse is dealing with schemes designed to bring pain and suffering to a neighbor. 1 Kings 21 tells the story of Jezebel conspiring to get Naboth’s vineyard for her husband Ahab that resulted in the death of Naboth. There’s also the awesome story in Esther where Haman plotted against Mordecai to kill him and then Haman was hanged on the gallows he built to hang Mordecai. Don’t plot evil against your neighbors, do good to them.

Not only are we to do good to our neighbors, we are to get along. Verse 30 says, “Do not contend with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.” Again we see a seemingly obvious statement. Before you get to thinking Solomon is telling us things we already know, we see this played out over and over again. Our laws are filled with things that should be obvious. Don’t kill anyone. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. You need a driver’s license to drive a car on the streets. Just because it may seem obvious doesn’t mean everyone gets it. If someone has done you no harm, butt out. Some fights are not yours to fight. In our social media age, it seems people are getting in fights they have no business getting into. It typically starts, I don’t normally comment, but . . . You see the back and forth arguing between people that don’t know one another and generally have no idea what they’re talking about. In recent national news, we saw this played out in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Self proclaimed experts in everything from police tactics to social justice are arguing and fighting with one another that does nothing but contribute to the fiasco in Ferguson. This is a theme that we’ll see again.

These commands might seem random, but they actually build on the concept of wisdom and understanding. Be ready to do good to everyone, but especially people that you have opportunity to influence. It’s not wise to get involved where you have no business getting involved. Remember the goal of our walk of faith is to represent Jesus Christ to others to enable you to share the life changing message of salvation that will bring wisdom and understanding.

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Wordless Wednesday

24 Sep

Redneck Limo

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