Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

ABOUT

HIDDEN TREASURES

In Proverbs 2 the wisdom from God’s Word is portrayed  as Hidden Treasures. The more time we spend in His Word, the more treasures we find.

The greatest treasure we can find is a personal knowledge of Jesus Himself, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3

Here is a link to purchase my recently written autobiography, “Gentle Warrior”. The cost of the book is $12.12. Here is the link: “Gentle Warrior”.

DISCLAIMER

I Corinthians 13:9-13 teaches  no one has a perfect and complete understanding of the Bible just as I John 1:8 teaches  no one is sinlessly  perfect.

Understand that I am not claiming my thoughts and ideas are God’s Hidden Treasures. My desire is to simply help you mine them from God’s Word.

As one must sift through placer deposits of sand and gravel to find true gold; so I invite you to sift through these studies which will lead you into the true gold of God’s Truth which according to John 14:6 can only be found in a personal, intimate, saving knowledge of Christ Jesus.

Without that saving knowledge of Christ, we are, as Paul described in I Corinthians 2:14, natural men and women; and as such, unable to grasp and appreciate the spiritual truths of God’s Word.

HOW TO FIND TOPICS

On my Hidden Treasures site which I began in 2006 you will find over 700 practical, Biblically-based topics under 155 categories, dealing with  life; the distillation and essence of 55 years of pastoral ministry.

At 78, I retired from the pastorate Nov. 6, 2011. Though retired, I am adding to this site as God enables.

PIANO CONCERTS

The summer of 2009 our grandson, Andrew, video taped my unrehearsed piano playing from our living room. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8AbzBQdHJs

A piano concert I presented at our church Oct. 9, 2011
My Concert 10/9/11

Here’s a link to The Old Fashioned Revival Hour.  Loved to hear this radio program as a boy.  Rudy Atwood was my piano hero.  Loved to here Charles Fuller preach. http://www.biblebelievers.com/OFRH/mp3_archive.html

 

HOW TO GAIN THE MOST FROM THESE STUDIES

Approach these studies prayerfully, as you should studies from any preacher or Bible teacher, asking God for discernment to distinguish truth from error. Use your Bible as you check the references scattered throughout these articles.

You may not agree with everything I have written. That’s fine. I don’t totally agree with every preacher I read; however, I have found that those who hold to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and to the deity of The Lord Jesus Christ and love Christ and His spiritual Body, the Church, and are intent on building up the Body of Christ and not seeking to divide it; usually have something worthwhile to share.

Sincerely Mal Bicker

Albuquerque, NM USA

April 13, 2013 Posted by | About | Comments Off

Adventuring With Jesus

Young man, Looking for Adventure?

I have recently completed fifty-five years of active duty standing, as it were, at the edge of the cliff of  the Grand Canyon of life, warning lost souls of plunging over the edge to their eternal destruction in Hell and teaching God’s people the Word of God.  It has been one adventure after another. There is nothing boring about serving God.  As God gives me strength in my old age, I will continue to do whatever I can to continue this life-long endeavor.

Young man, if you are saved and serious about being used of God, perhaps as a pastor, I challenge you to take some time to read through the over 600 Bible studies on this HIDDEN TREASURES web site.  Read with an open Bible, checking the references to guard yourself from being led astray. I recommend you start with the SALVATION category and then read through the series on SERVICE  and  on SEPARATION.

By the time you finish this assignment, you will have a much clearer understanding of  the basic truths of Scripture and the issues you will face in this present evil world. It will also give you a head-start on the truths you are going to learn in college and/or seminary. God will protect you from going down some dead-end road attending some so-called ChristianSchool which has compromised Biblical principles to appear more academic. Such a school has led many would-be Christian workers astray and could lead you astray. By reading through Hidden Treasures, you will have a better idea of the further education you will need and you will be more aware of the dangerous so-called Christian schools which could ship-wreck your faith.   Four to seven years from now you could be ready for your first pastorate, perhaps as an Associate pastor.  Some of you may be called to a foreign country as a missionary.  You can discover more about this by reaching out in friendship and with the Gospel to foreigners living in your city or community.

Don’t think that pastoring a church is going to offer  you a chance to be a big shot and run things your way. Every church has their leaders. You may or may not be a leader. I’m not and never was.  I do not have the gift of administration. If God calls you to be a pastor it is a calling to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. That is the highest privilege I can imagine. Listen to what Paul said about it in Ephesians 3:8-21

Enter the open doors of opportunity God gives you now, whether sharing your testimony or preaching in jail, or in a rescue mission or filling in wherever God opens a door for you to teach or preach.   Pray earnestly for God’s direction and His provision in your life.  If you are seeking God’s will concerning marriage, He will lead you to the one who is best fitted to join you in this adventure.

Ask God to break you and teach you humility. C.S. Lewis write,  “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

I think of a deacon, Al, in the Baptist Church where Pat and I were married in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.  He was a  mechanic who worked on my car.  He had the nerve to tell me, a young preacher who was going to set the world on fire, that I was like a young colt that needed to be broken.  He told me that when I was broken God would use me.  I thank God for using Al  for telling me what I needed to hear and I thank God for the many crushing experiences that God has enabled me to bear through the years. Though I’ve never pastored a church of  much over 150 members, I’m thankful for the many lives God has allowed me to touch and shape for Him over the years. Only in Heaven will my wife and I  know the full extent of our ministry.

YOUNG LADY!

 

Young lady, follow the same instructions and watch God direct in your life. Young pastors and missionaries are looking for a wife.  Christian schools are seeking godly, well trained teachers or God may lead you to reflect Christ in a public school without ever teaching them the Bible, which would be prohibited.

Dr. Bob Jones Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, used to say to us in chapel  sixty years ago “God has a prepared place for a prepared person.”

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Service Series | Comments Off

Friends

Been thinking about friends.  Isn’t that what Face Book is all about; friends connecting with friends?   Is the idea to pile up friends as trophies to see who can acquire the most?  Do we refuse to connect with some old tried and true friends, because we fear that they might embarrass us?  Is Face Book super popular because we are basically lonely people, including those from large extended families?  Do we secretly long for “LIKES” on our posts and are we discouraged and even devastated when we are ignored?   Are we drawn back to our computers throughout the day, checking to count our “likes”?

This is a lonely world.  It always has been.  We’re basically not that much different from past generations- except for our technology, especially the technology that enables us to connect with others so easily- cell phones, Skype, etc.

At this Christmas season our attention is drawn to Jesus who came into this world as a stranger.  As He grew up He attracted great crowds because of His miracles. Basically the crowds forsook Him because of the Truth He taught.  They not only forsook Him, but they hated Him with such intensity that they crucified Him, one of the worst tortures known to man.  Actually, it was God who crucified His own beloved Son.  He was behind it all as He put Him to death to pay the full penalty for all our sins.

Thank God that three days later He proved to the world that He was more than a man by rising bodily from the dead and later returning to Heaven.  Jesus is God in human flesh.  He willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty of death God demanded for sin. Have you received that Good News? Are you relying on Jesus as your sin bearer?  If so, you are a son or daughter of God and will live with Him forever. If not, you are still under the condemnation of God and will pay the eternal penalty for your sins.

If you are a blood-bought child of God, I encourage you to reach out to others in this coming year.  Not just to those who will help you feel better about yourself; but to others who need your friendship and eventually to others who will come to know Your Friend, as their Friend. Have a blessed Christmas.

December 22, 2012 Posted by | Friends | Comments Off

Satan’s Lures

God’s clear command to Christians in II Corinthians 6:14-18  is to not be yoked together with unbelievers in doing or supporting the Lord’s work under any circumstance.  We are to minister to unbelievers and preach the Gospel to them;  but we are not to seek unbeliever’s help in carrying out  or helping to support  a Christian ministry, even though it seems the logical and reasonable thing to do. This doctrine of separation is repeatedly taught in Scriptures, such as Romans 16:17-18, Galatians 1:6-9, II Peter 2, and II John 7-11.  To ignore and disobey this  doctrine  of separation is the sin of Balaamism, which the Bible repeatedly warns us of and of which I will deal with in the next message in this series.

From the time of Adam and Eve,  Satan’s  lures and temptations have always appeared to be pious and right. II Corinthians 11:13-14 teaches us that often Satan appears and appeals to us in dreams and visions as an angel  of light.  We are tempted to disobey God because it seems to us that we are spiritually strong and that we can accomplish more good through our disobedience. In fact, Satan convinces us that we are not disobeying God.

Early in my ministry I pastored a small rural denominational church associated with the liberal  National Council of Churches. Within that church were some solid Bible believing Christians who knew and loved the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.  They appreciated my biblical preaching.  During the four years I was there as their pastor, many opportunities opened for me to be of blessing beyond my church doors.  As a young preacher, still in my twenties, I had the opportunity to be the pastor/advisor for the denominational youth activities of the more than ten denominational churches within that Association.  Furthermore, I directed  the denominational camp for the Junior High youth for two summers.

One night I had a clear vision of how God could use me if I would continue within that liberal denomination for the rest of my life.  It was a convincing vision which made me feel good about my unbiblical yoke with that liberal denomination.  At the time I felt it was a vision from God assuring me that I was on the right track and that I should continue my course of action. Later  I realized that it was Satan who had given  me that vision, even though God in His wisdom and sovereignty used me to accomplish His will.

After four years with that church, I was called to a larger church in that same denomination; a church close enough to one of their denominational seminaries where I could continue  graduate work and earn a graduate degree, thereby opening up more doors for my advancement to larger churches and greater opportunities.

I accepted that call and began my seminary training. It wasn’t long until I realized I was being fed the Neo Orthodoxy of Karl Barth and Emil Brunner and other theologians of that dangerous persuasion.  I deal with Neo Orthodoxy a little later in this SEPARATION series of messages.

I continued with this church for about four and a half more years, preaching the Gospel and warning of the dangers I was being taught.

When I left this second church, they called a new faithful Bible preaching pastor who offered to come if they would vote themselves out of that liberal denomination. They did and he began a long fruitful pastorate of about forty years there.

Incidentally, the Christians of that earlier rural church I pastored, after vainly trying to separate from the liberal denomination; eventually separated from their church and established a solid, thriving Bible based church and Christian school for their children.

Since that time, I have enjoyed long fruitful ministries in two more Bible churches, concluding fifty-five years of pastoral ministry in 2011 at the age of 78. .

As you continue your study of this series of messages on  Separation, may God open your spiritual eye-sight to the dangers of attempting to serve the Lord by compromising with those who question and deny the infallibility of the Bible.  Don’t trust your visions. Trust and obey God’s Word.  At the same time don’t judge Bible believing pastors  serving in liberal denominations. Romans 14:1-13 They are God’s servants; not yours.

December 13, 2012 Posted by | Separation Series | Comments Off

Whom Do You Fear?

Hebrews 2:14-15 reminds us that natural men and women live all their lives in fear and bondage, many to religious superstition, dreading to face a holy God in their sinful condition.

In contrast, we Christians who have found forgiveness and cleansing for  sin through faith in the cleansing blood of Christ, have a healthy reverential fear of God that leads to a life of joy and freedom.

In the passage before us in this study,  Proverbs 14:26-27 we learn more about that fear of God.  Because we have peace with God through the shed blood of Christ, as taught in Romans 5 and Colossians 1, we need no longer  live our lives in fear of circumstances and of the future and of God’s judgment on us because of our sins.

Throughout the Bible the fear of man and the fear of the future is a negative emotion or cloud under which we as Christians have no reason to live; whereas, the reverential fear of God is a positive experience to be chosen and sought after.

The greater our reverential fear of God, the less we will fear man or any circumstance that can come into our lives. Proverbs 1:7, 29-39.

We need not fear old age for God goes with us every step of the way. Read these wonderful, comforting promises concerning our future. Psalm 31:15,  Psalm 37:23-29, Isaiah 46:4, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:31-34.

We need not fear what man nor oppresive government can do to us.  Hebrews 13:6

We need not fear death. David referred to it as a mere shadow. Psalm 23:4

 

THE SINFUL FEAR OF MAN AND CIRCUMSTANCES

 

The lost, described in Revelation 21:8 as fearful. unbelieving, abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters and liars, will all have their part in The Lake of Fire.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden by disobeying God and eating forbidden fruit, they were immediately fearful and attempted to hide themselves from God. God found them, confronted them with their sin and then graciously provided them a covering of imputed righteousness through the shedding of the blood of animals and covering their nakedness with the skins of the animals. Animal sacrifices continued throughout the Old Testament until God, in the fullness of time provided a once for all final sacrifice for sin through the shedding of the blood of His own Son, Jesus, on Calvary’s cross. Through faith in that blood you can be forgiven and saved now and forever.     

God promised Israel victory over their enemies and that the surrounding nations would fear them if they trusted in Him. Deuteronomy 2:25. Joshua 2:9-12

But if Israel was disobedient to God, He would causes Israel to live in fear of the nations of the world. Deuteronomy 28:47-50, 63-67.

Though fear is a characteristic of the lost, it should not be the consistent characteristic of Christians. Fear will paralyze  us from doing what we ought to do.

Fear torments us. I John 4:18

Fear brings us into bondage, primarily religious bondage; as we vainly attempt to do things to appease God’s wrath.  Romans 8:15, Hebrews 2:14-15

Fear snares us as a trap.  Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man and circumstances evidences our lack of faith in God

Repeatedly in Scripture we are commanded to fear not. Genesis 15:1, Exodus 14:13, Deuteronomy 20:3, 31:8  and Joshua 1:9 as well as many others.

Tormenting fear is the end result at death for refusing to fear and reverence God by  rejecting  Christ as Saviour and Lord.  Proverbs 1:24-32, Luke 21:25-27, Revelation 21:8,  6:12-17.

 

THE FEAR OF GOD

 

The invitation to salvation is accompanied with warnings to depart from sin. Proverbs 1:20-33.  God gives that power to those who trust the saving and cleansing shed blood of Christ.

Until a sinner is aware of his lost condition and trembles before a holy and angry  God, he cannot be saved. His choice to trust Christ is accompanied by his desire to depart from sin.  Proverbs 3:7

Salvation is a prerequisite to worship. Until one has trembled in fear over his lost condition as a sinner through the reading or hearing of God’s Word, he cannot be saved nor can he rightly worship God. Psalm 5:1-7 Proverbs 3:7,   Isaiah 66:1-2.  What he thinks is worship is merely an empty emotional experience.  

The reverential fear of God is the choice one makes when he puts His trust in Christ as Saviour and Lord. Proverbs 1:29  This choice leads to ceasing to live in willful sin. Proverbs 3:7

Our lives, our worship and our service are only acceptable to God as they spring from hearts of reverence and godly fear because of who He is. Philippians 2:9-13

The fear of man cannot coexist in the heart of one who fears God. Psalm 31:9-24

The one who refuses to fear God will one day be rejected and tormented by his rejection of the God to whom he refused to bow. Proverbs 1:20-33  

 

THE BLESSINGS OF FEARING GOD

 

It causes us to hate sin and flee from it. Proverbs 6:16,   8:13

It sets us free from the bondage and torment of sin. Psalm 27:1-6

It puts us in position to receive wisdom from God.  Proverbs 1:7

It gives us confidence and courage to face whatever the devil throws at us. Proverbs 14:26  Read in the book of Daniel the courage and the thrilling deliverance  of Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, Shadrach, Meshac and Abednego.  It has given martyrs down through the ages courage to be thrown to the lions, be burned at the stake and face great tribulation. Read a summary of all this in Hebrews 11.

How sad that the lost have no fear of God and therefore, no fear of sin. Read Romans 3:10-18

The fear of God is related to the love of God.  Only those who have the proper fear of God can know and experience the love of God.  Learn from I John 4:18 how the perfect love of God casts out tormenting fear.

We, God’s children through faith in Christ,  have a place of refuge from all that brings fear and torment.  God Himself is our refuge from that. Psalm 46:1-11 and Psalm 56.

God fights for us.  We need to stand still and watch Him work on our behalf.  Exodus 14:8-14. Read the thrilling story of God’s deliverance of King Jehoshaphat in  I Chronicles 20:1-22  Repeatedly through the 57 years of my ministry I’ve watched God fight for me as I’ve fought spiritual battles for Him. I’ve not had to lift a finger to defend myself.

He stills our fears enabling us to get a good night’s rest, even in times of trouble.  Psalm 4:8,   Proverbs 3:19-26

Read and rejoice in these wonderful promises.  Isaiah 41:10-16,  43:1-3   44:2-4,  Luke 12:32,  II Tim. 1:7-9, Psalm 27,  91,  John 14 and Romans 8:31-39.   The Bible is filled with such promises to the believer. These are but a wonderful sampling.  Read and be blessed.

 

 

 

December 4, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Pseudo-Intellectualism

Repeatedly throughout the New Testament we are warned to beware of and be on guard to recognize false prophets and false teachers who would deceive and lead us away from the Truth of God’s Word.

Every teacher and every proclaimer of God’s Word needs to study carefully and prayerfully the Bible we preach.  Knowing the Hebrew and Greek certainly helps in our study of the Bible.  Thank God there are many tools available to us in our efforts to understand and master the Bible, including Bible dictionaries, concordances, commentaries and interlinear Greek-English New Testaments.  Certainly every genuine Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit whom Jesus has promised in John 16:13 will teach us and guide us into all Truth as we read and study His Word.

All of us, including myself, are tempted to be proud of our abilities and accomplishments.  That’s a shame because pride is one of the ugliest and most despicable of sins.  In fact, in Proverbs 6:16-19  God puts pride at the top of the list of sins which He hates and lists as abominations.  It was pride that led Lucifer, the supreme angelic being of God’s creation,  to be cast out of Heaven and become Satan, the arch enemy of God.  He is the one who tempts and leads those who reject Christ and His Word into sin and eternal damnation in Hell.  His eternal doom is sealed, as is all who follow him.

The best  Bible scholars, preachers and teachers who love God’s Word are comfortable and  excellent in their field of expertise.  They have no reasons to try to appear intellectual. They are intellectual  and they know how to practically connect with their students and congregations and make Biblical truth exciting, simple, clear  and understandable; but beware of the pseudo, would-be intellectual who would despise simple, Fundamental Bible teachers and preachers whose supreme desire is to magnify Christ and His blood atonement and our inspired, infallible Bible.

I know there are quacks and nuts and immoral men who attempt to minister under our banner of Fundamentalists and who bring shame and dishonor to Christ. That is true in most other professions also.

As one who is not an “intellectual scholar”, I take comfort in Paul’s warning to Christians in I Corinthians 1:17-31.  I thank God for the way He has used me throughout my lifetime as a preacher to touch lives for Christ. Only eternity will reveal the real, eternal value of each of us who serve the Lord. In the meantime, don’t be impressed and deceived by pseudo-intellectuals.

November 23, 2012 Posted by | Pseudo-Intellectualism | Comments Off

Corrected Thinking

In Proverbs 14:19-25 we note how God corrects our natural thinking concerning our present and future state.

 

DESPISED AND PERSECUTED NOW, WE WILL REIGN ONE DAY

We normally think of Christians, as being dominated, and persecuted by evil men, which is often  the case throughout most of the world.  The Bible reminds us that in this present evil world system, Christians are often reviled and persecuted by those who despise and hate God.  

But Jesus encourages us with His promise in John 16:33 “In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

Remember the story of Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, as it is told in Genesis 37 through 50?   Joseph is a type of Christ and each of us who are Christians. Though Joseph was despised and persecuted by his brothers, in God’s sovereignty, he ended up on the throne of Egypt, ruling over his brothers, as well as all of Egypt.  Though Christians who actively live for Christ are often despised, rejected, persecuted and martyred; there is coming a day, according to II Timothy 2:12, when Christ returns to reign, that we will reign on this earth with Him.

So Proverbs 14:19, I Corinthians 6:2, II Timothy 2:12 and Revelation 20:4 all agree that one day “The evil will bow before the good: and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.”  It happened in Bible times not only to Joseph, but also to Moses to whom Pharaoh bowed. The Babylonian empire  bowed to faithful Daniel.  Persian nobles bowed to Mordecai, Esther’s uncle as recorded in the Book of Esther.

 

FICKLE FRIENDS

We learn in Proverbs 14:20  that in this world, we have fair weather, fickle friends as long as we have money and  stuff that money buys.  But when stripped of our money and possession, we soon learn that our friends forsake us.

The Prodigal Son, whose story we read in Luke 15, illustrates this truth. He rebelled against his father and demanded his inheritance even before his father had died. His father gave him his inheritance and the son traveled  as far away from his father as he could go.  There he attracted many fair-weather friends who enjoyed being with him as long as he had money to spend on them. However, when the money ran out and he was left  broke. all his friends forsook him and he ended up in a pig pen slopping hogs.

Thank God, the story does not end there.  It was in that desperate condition that the Prodigal Son came to himself and returned to his father, willing to be a hired servant, hoping just to exist.  The gracious father who is a picture of our Heavenly Father, would not hear of it.  Instead he fully welcomed back his son with all the rights and privileges of that relationship. This illustrates how God deals with us when we repent and turn to Him.

Proverbs 14:21 warns us that to have the selfish attitude of the world is unbecoming of Christians.  Rather, of all people, we should be the first to show selfless mercy, love and kindness to those in need. To such God blesses.  

Verse 22 confronts us with the choice to devise with others to take advantage of and do evil to others;  or to do good.  It should not surprise us that God blesses those who do good to those in need.

ECONOMICS  101

Verse 23 gives us a basic lesson in economics.  Many who live in perpetual  poverty and have learned to depend on government subsistence need to learn this lesson.   Work is the way out of welfare and the way to acquire wealth. Idleness leads to poverty.  

I am glad I was taught this basic lesson in a Christian elementary school taught by a Christian teacher back in the 1940′s.  As a result, I have never even considered depending on others or on government to supply my needs.  Government which gives aid to those in need should  require each one who is physically able to earn their way by doing whatever they are physically and mentally able to do, beginning with picking up trash off the streets and highways of their communities and removing graffiti,  as well as many other worthwhile public projects.  No able-bodied man or woman should be a free-loader.  

Furthermore, those caught littering by throwing cigarette butts or trash out of their car windows should join the ranks of those who help clean up roads and highways for several hours without pay.

Verse 24 concludes the thought in verse 23 of working to get ahead. One who lives and works for the glory of God, living economically without debt, saving and investing wisely; will acquire a degree of wealth. I have spent  my life preaching the Gospel and pastoring churches, never bargaining nor being dissatisfied with what I was paid. During that time we were able to send our two sons and our daughter to a Christian college.

In the sovereignty of God in 1980 I found myself without a church and without a salary in my late 40′s for a period of about eight years, sojourning in Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the most beautiful places in which we have ever lived.  During that time I worked at whatever I could find, interim preaching in churches and  selling cars and insurance. My wife and I also learned to drive school buses.  During that time we learned for the first time basic facts concerning investing money and buying our  first home.

Then at the age of 56 God opened the door for me to return to the pastorate in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I continued with my final church working to age 78.  During those final 31 years  we went from a net worth of 0  to a comfortable net worth that enabled me to retire debt free with a comfortable house and car.  Now on Social Security and with some investments, we live a comfortable debt free life.  

A TRUE OR FALSE WITNESS

I conclude this study with verse 25.  “A true witness delivers souls: but a deceitful witness speaks lies.”   This is a verse for every Christian, but especially for every preacher.  Are we preaching the Gospel and delivering souls from an eternity in Hell, or are we false teachers, denying or questioning the truth of God’s Word and allowing those to whom we minister to continue on the broad road to Hell?   

 

October 28, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Seems Right to Me

Proverbs 14:12. warns “There is a way that seems right; but it leads to death.”

Consider the way of the sinner which seems right, as we study Proverbs 14:13-18.

Verse 13 reminds us that “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful and that mirth ends in heaviness. “ 

It seemed right to the prodigal son of Luke 15:13-24 who left home in rebellion to his father, insisting on his inheritance even before his father died. He went to a far country and  wasted it in riotous living, ending up in desperate poverty in the pig pen eating slop with the pigs. It seemed right to him to insist on having his inheritance now. It seemed right to have his freedom and live as he pleased with no one telling him what to do.

What a fool he made of himself and what a fool every rebel son or daughter makes of themselves when they leave home in rebellion to parental authority and insist on going their own way and doing their own thing.

They have been warned, but they scorn the warnings and end up in the pig pen of sin with heavy hearts and unfulfilled desires.  Things did not go the way they planned. The Christian cannot sin and enjoy it anymore than a cat or kitten enjoys rolling in the mud.

Enjoying  the cheap, mindless, off-color  humor of television comedy and mindless rock music puts a worthless, dirty infectious band aid over a guilty, aching, sinful heart.

Proverbs 14:13 warns us that the end of that mirth is heaviness.

On the other hand, II Corinthians 7:10 teaches us that deep sorrow over our sin leads to repentance and salvation.

Proverbs 14:14 teaches us that the backslider in heart, who refuses to repent, will be filled with his own ways.  Hosea 4:17 teaches that God will leave you alone until you are so sick of your sins that you are at the point of nausea.   Revelation 3:15 teaches us that sin and lukewarmness towards God nauseates God and in time it will nauseate the backslider.

In contrast, the Christian surrendered to God’s will. is satisfied from within. The Holy Spirit living within and controlling  him is like a well of fresh water springing  up and quenching his thirst.  It doesn’t take things nor events outside of us to satisfy us.  Jesus shared this truth with His disciples in John 8:36-39.

Though believing God’s Word gives wisdom, we’re warned in Proverbs 14:15 that to believe everything we hear from man is unwise.  That’s how false cults and false religion entrap people.  Acts 17:11 advises us to test everything we hear or read by the Scriptures.

What is your attitude towards God and His Word?  Do you fear and reverence Him and His Word,  or do you rage against God in stubborn  self-confidence?  Proverbs 14:16  

Consider in the light of verse 17 whether you are easily angered by supposed or real offenses against you?  If so, you are walking on thin ice and asking for trouble.  King Saul was one who was easily angered and it caused him to  fight against David, God’s man; and Saul eventually lost his kingdom.

Haman in the book of Esther, raged against the Jews and eventually was hung on the gallows he had built for his enemies.

In verse 18, as well as throughout Proverbs,  we read of the simple. Watch for three classifications of people as you read the Book of Proverbs.  .   The simple, the fools and the wise.  We are all born simple and remain that way until we are confronted by God’s Word. From that time forward, we either become Wise and prudent as we read and listen to God’s Word and surrender to God; or else we become fools as we stiffen our necks and rebel against His Word. May God help you to seek God and His wisdom as you continue to read and study His Word.

 

October 25, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Stealing Elections

America is capable of putting men on the moon.  We are capable of technological wonders; however,  in spite of obvious fraud in election cycle after election cycle down through the years, we have not yet figured out how to conduct an honest, fraud-proof election. Such elections are simple and work like clock work for honest citizens. Thank God for every honest citizen who votes and for every honest poll worker who watches carefully to protect us from fraud.

 

But like many other elections for as long as I can remember; elections in America are still being  stolen from honest, tax paying voters through all sorts of fraud, including allowing dead people to vote, allowing people to vote more than once, buying votes, dumping ballots in a river fifty-two years ago, thereby stealing an election,  allowing felons to vote and making it difficult and even impossible  for many of our military service men and women overseas to vote or have their votes counted.

 

In Habakkuk 2:6 the prophet pronounced woe on the one who  “increases that which is not his.”  Crooked politicians may buy their way into office; but their dishonesty is not hidden to God.  He sees it all and he will pour out his woes and His wrath  on all those who are involved in stealing elections.

 

In every election I have observed through the past fifty years, elections have often been very close, as dishonest politicians “have found just the votes they needed” to put their candidate into office, even if it means counting the dead or double counting votes, or destroying the ballots of the opposition.

 

I remember reading in my history book that when out nation was founded, the concern was “no taxation without representation”.   What is so evil in turning that around? “No representation without taxation.”   I would like to see the day when only law abiding, tax paying citizens who are educated enough to read a ballot and make intelligent decisions be permitted to vote.

 

Would you pray with me for God’s will to be accomplished in this election?

 

 

 

October 22, 2012 Posted by | America | Comments Off

Your Options

Each of us is faced with the option of  

1. Seeking to know God’s Word and live for Him or ignore Him and go our own selfish way.

2. Experiencing  God’s wisdom and blessing on our lives or ignoring His Word and facing His curse now and throughout eternity

3. Living a blessed  life or living a life of failure and misery and ultimately  Hell.

In our last session we dealt with our parental responsibilities under God as we studied Proverbs 13:24. 

In this session we will conclude our study of Proverbs 13 as we study verse 25 and move into chapter 14.  These verses, as well as most of the Book of Proverbs deal with the option of choosing God’s wisdom with its blessings or rejecting His wisdom and facing the consequences.

There was no one better qualified to write this book of Proverbs than King Solomon. Early in his life in a moment of decision He had chosen to know and walk in God’s wisdom and became the wisest man of his day.  But in time he despised God’s wisdom and became the world’s greatest fool by choosing  to live a reckless life of licentiousness, living with 700 wives and 300 concubines 

The book of Proverbs, written by King Solomon under the inspiration of God, is filled with God’s wisdom.  The book of Ecclesiastes,  also inspired of God and written by King Solomon, as he describes first- hand the folly and futility of ignoring and rejecting God’s wisdom.

Proverbs 14:1 contrasts wise and foolish wives and mothers. Whereas wise women build their homes with their husbands;  foolish women are continually destroying their homes and families through their sinful, selfish words, attitudes and actions, evidenced by their disrespect and rebellion towards their husbands and through their selfish ambitions and pursuits to make more money at the expense of mothering their children.  My wife worked part time to help with the bills after our children were in high school. Prior to that time, we would not have considered the idea of her working away from home while the children were small and needed her. 

Verse 2  reminds  us that godliness is evidenced more by our walk than by our talk.  

Verse 3  reminds us that the tongue and mouth of a fool is a rod that harms others.  It also contrasts the speech of the wise which when touched and controlled by the grace of God, brings healing and blessing to others.

Early in my ministry I ministered to ranchers and farmers.  I spent many hours in the fields and barns with them learning spiritual truths.  Verse 4 is one of those lessons. It gives the farmer a choice.  Do you want clean barns and no cattle, or would you prefer the manure and the mess that comes with caring for cattle?  Most farmers and ranchers have no problem with answering that question.  

The same lesson applies to our churches.  Do we want clean empty churches with little or no problems, or would we prefer churches increased with lots of people who come with their problems? 

This verse does not teach us that if we have crowds of people we should plan to put up with messy and filthy buildings.  We can teach people to be clean and neat and to take care of the sanctuary and the rest rooms and the rest of the church property and grounds. 

Verse 5 confronts us with the question of whether we are faithful or whether we are liars.

Verse 6 teaches us that a scorner cannot find wisdom for the same reason that an unbeliever cannot find God nor understand the Bible.  He doesn’t want to.

Verse 7 warns us to turn from listening to fools and ungodly teachers. Jeremiah 10:2  teaches the same thing. “Learn not the way of the heathen.” They will influence you and you will become like them. This warning is to parents of young children and to young people seeking a college education.

Verse 8 deals with wisdom, the main theme of this Book of Proverbs. Wisdom is not just knowing Bible knowledge; but being able to apply it practically so we understand the way in which we should go.  

Psalm 27:11 is a prayer I prayed repeatedly as a young person seeking God’s will.  True wisdom is being filled with the Holy Spirit so we can know God’s will. Ephesians 5:15-16. The wisdom of the wicked is actually deceitful and leads to folly.

Proverbs 14:9 warns that anyone who mocks and makes fun of sin, thinking he can do wrong and get away with it  is a fool.  Galatians 6:7 warns that anyone who thinks he can sin and get away with it is deceiving himself and in for a lifetime of sorrow.

Proverbs 14:10 speaks of the anguish and bitterness that each of us experience occasionally. There are times when no one, not even our spouse, can understand the anguish of our hearts.

Read of Hannah’s bitterness in I Samuel 1& 2. Not even her husband understood;  but she poured it out to God and He understood and met her deepest need. 

Job also experienced this bitterness and misunderstanding by others. But God understood his need and wonderfully blessed him. Read his amazing story in the Book of Job.

Proverbs 14:11 warns the wicked Christ-rejecters that one day their beautiful homes and mansions may be ultimately destroyed. On the other hand, the righteous in Christ  are to understand that though they may live temporarily in tents or modest homes, we are better off than the wicked. Sometimes Christians have a problem with understanding this.  I encourage you to read Psalm 73  for the answer that brings satisfaction and joy.

I conclude this study with the warning in Proverbs 14:12.   Beware of doing something that seems right and even feel right; even though it is in direct contradiction and disobedience to God’s Word.  Sin blinds our hearts and numbs our conscience until we may think that evil is actually good.  Beware of even starting down the road of compromise with sin.

 

October 22, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Learning to Love our Children

In our previous study of this 13th chapter of Proverbs, I just touched on verse 24.  In this study I want to give it our full attention as we learn how to love our children.  I hesitate to deal with the discipline of children  unless I have time to cover it fully;  just as I hesitate to deal with the Scriptural truth of wives being in subjection to their husbands, unless I have time to deal with the total husband/wife relationship. I’ve seen too many immature husbands and fathers adopt a tyrannical attitude in both cases, thinking they are acting Biblically.   For the full story on marriage and raising children I urge you to study carefully and prayerfully with your Bible my series on MARRIAGE   and my series on  FAMILY on this web site.

But for now, let’s examine further Proverbs 13:24 as we learn what it means for parents to love their children.  The details of how a mother should love her children should be taught by older godly women, preferably her own godly mother, if such was the case, we learn in Titus 2:1-5.

Since a pastor’s teaching is accomplished, not only by preaching;  but also by example,  that is why, according to I Timothy 3:4-5,   a preacher’s primary qualification for that important office is his own example as a godly husband and father.

Disciplining  our children involves much more than lovingly spanking them when they disobey. It involves giving them our full attention when they speak to us and ask questions. That’s sometimes very difficult when a busy father has many pressing concerns on his mind.  Just remember, father, that no business concern and nothing in your busy schedule is more important than giving your child the time and personal attention he craves from you.

If you give them your full attention as toddlers, you will continue to enjoy a close relationship with them through their emotionally turbulent teens.  NEVER embarrass your children in the presence of others, just as you must never embarrass your spouse by cutting her down in the presence of others.  Such cruelty and insensitivity only results  in growing alienation of your children and your wife

There is NEVER an occasion to be thoughtless and rude in public or in private when dealing with faults in your wife or your children.  When dealing with the faults of those in your family or others, it should always be done privately and the truth must always be spoken in love. There should be no question of your love for them.

FALSE RELIGION AND CRUELTY TO CHILDREN   

In Old Testament times the heathen sacrificed their infants and small children to Molech,  a human shaped fiery furnace. Children were placed in the red hot arms of this furnace type god and burned to death. God warned Israel in Leviticus 18:21 and 20:1-5 against being involved in such cruelty.

In some countries today parents throw their infants to their death in  crocodile- infested rivers.  In some countries twins are killed as part of their religious practice.

CIVILIZED AMERICA’S FALSE RELIGION

In civilized America many mothers kill their babies by aborting them.

Many parents over the past century have given their children to the public schools where the modern high priest, John Dewey, an America philosopher and educator, planted the seeds of Progressive Education a century ago.

It involved some good ideas, such as allowing children to learn by doing, instead of learning by mere rote memory. However, it also promoted  the philosophy of never crossing the will of a child and allowing him to do his own thing in the classroom. Most Americans today who have grown up  in  this system have been fed and digested this philosophy which allows children to do as they please.  Parents of this generation, raised the hippie generation with its rock culture, which expressed themselves with rebellion to all authority, including the authority of their own parents.  Many parents who were fed this philosophy in school have swallowed and digested it to the destruction  of their families, raising children who reject all authority and do as they please.

THE TENETS OF THIS FALSE RELIGION

Never cross a child’s will. He may scream and stamp his feet and become frustrated.

Allow a child to express himself and do as he pleases, even if his actions interfere with the freedom and comfort of others.

Never give children rules nor set boundaries telling a child what he may or may not do.  This philosophy spills over to the modern churches where a preachers who declares what the Bible says is right and wrong, is labeled “judgmental” and is not tolerated.

Use psychology, not punishment  with children.  This method of child rearing is based on the anti-biblical principle that everyone is basically good and there is no such thing as sin. Never ever spank!  Instead, use time-outs and loss of privileges.

Let me clarify.  There ARE times when time-outs and loss of privileges are a useful method of discipline. However, when a child has deliberately disobeyed  or shown defiance to authority; nothing less than spankings will suffice. To see how this method of discipline worked with my own children, go to the category FAMILY and read how we disciplined our three children.

THE BIBLE ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

God’s way of disciplining our children is corporal punishment.  Read Proverbs 13:24,  19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15.

The Godless world is opposed to corporal punishment for children and to capital punishment for murderers and rapists.  They call it cruelty.  If you are opposed to these methods of dealing with disobedience and crime, you have swallowed this anti-biblical philosophy which is part of so-called Theological Liberalism.

Parents, before you start spanking your children, make sure that you are not angry, but under the control of God; otherwise you are in no position to lay a hand on your children.

Spank only for the right reasons.  Deliberate disrespect, disobedience or lying to you.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER  SPANK  A CHILD WHEN YOU ARE IN A FIT OF RAGE AND OUT OF CONTROL!

Spank only long enough and firmly enough on the buttocks to the place where your child has a broken heart and a broken spirit over his disobedience.  If you do it right, when the spanking is over, cuddle the child in your arms and assure him or her of your love.

Let me speak from experience here.  If you punish correctly, by the time your child is 5 years old and starts Kindergarten, he may never need another spanking.  By the time he or she is a teenager,  you will not need to deal with surliness and rebellion. You will have gained the love and respect of your child.

THE RESULTS OF USING CONSISTENT, LOVING BIBLICAL DISCIPLINE IN THE CONTEXT OF CHRISTIAN TRAINING.

Your children will be a delight  and bring rest to you. Proverbs 29:17

Your children will bless you. Proverbs 31:28

Best of all, your children will continue to live their lives in the Biblical direction you steered and patterned for them by your own life. Proverbs 22:6

The happy bonus is that they will raise their children, your grandchildren, as you did  them.

THE RESULTS OF RAISING YOUR CHILDREN PERMISSIVELY

They will grow up unhappy, sullen, angry children who long for parents to love them enough to set boundaries for them and make them obey.

Furthermore, they will grow up to rebel against all authority, including the police, because they never knew consistent, firm authority at home.

IT’S YOUR CHOICE FATHERS AND MOTHERS.

HOW WILL YOU RAISE YOUR CHILDREN?  

 

September 22, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Despising God’s Word

We continue our study of Proverbs 13 by dealing with the last 13 verses, beginning with verse 13.  This portion basically deals with the folly and danger of despising and rejecting the reading, preaching and hearing of God’s Word.

How do we despise the Word of God? 

By not reading it and staying away from the preaching of His Word.

By closing our ears and focusing our attention of other things during the preaching of the Word.

Some preachers despise the Word by emphasizing other things, such as promoting their doctrinal agendas or attempting to stir up emotional feelings at the expense of expositing and explaining what the Bible says.

Liberal preachers, of course, despise it by explaining it away as myth.

We preachers despise the Word when we give more attention to our opinions and the opinions of others than we do declaring what the Bible says.

One who despises the Word or God can be sure of one thing.  He will be destroyed.  Read Proverbs 13:13, 1:20-33 and  II Peter 2.

Back in Noah’s day, Noah was a preacher of righteousness and built the ark, warning others of the coming Flood, we read in II Peter 2:4-5.  We are warned in II Peter 3 that as people scorned Noah, so people today  avoid preachers who, as Noah, warn of the coming judgment of God upon the world.

Instead of despising such preaching, let us take every opportunity in this present Age of Grace to hunger for and soak up the faithful, practical exposition of God’s Word.  Amos prophesied in Amos 8:11-13 that in the end times, there would come a famine of the Word of God and people will be desperate to hear it, but will not be able to find it.

In this Age of Grace let us seek after the fear, reverence and love for God’s Word as we are admonished in Psalm 19:7-14   

God’s moral, holy standards are not burdensome restrictions. Rather.  Proverbs 13:14 reminds us that God’s Word is a refreshing fountain of life. bringing life and refreshment to parched souls and protecting us from the snares of sin and death.

Verse 15 takes us a step further in our knowledge of God and His Word. We not only hear it and know what it says; we also understand what we read as the indwelling Holy Spirit opens up our understanding.

Jesus, God incarnate, had that understanding as a child. Luke 2:52

Daniel, as a young Israelite in Babylon, had it.  Daniel 1:9.  

The early church had it.  Acts 2:41-47

By way of contrast, Proverbs 13:15 warns us that “the way of the transgressor is hard.”  The one who brazenly breaks God’s Law is going to experience a lifetime of hardship.  I don’t want to learn the lessons of God’s Word the hard way.

Wise men and women deal faithfully with God’s Word by facing it openly and humbly and not ignoring and fighting it; whereas fools ignore it and are in open rebellion to it.  Verse 16 declares that rebellion is open and obvious for all to see.

Verse 17 contrasts faithful and unfaithful messengers. A faithful messenger, whether he be a preacher or faithful layman, proves his character, as Eliezer in Genesis 15:2 and Genesis  24  by his faithful  discharge of responsibilities entrusted to him. A wicked messenger betrays his trust and falls into mischief, as did Gehazi in II Kings 5:26-27. 

Verse 18 challenges me with an easy decision.  Receive God’s Word and prosper or reject God’s Word and suffer poverty and shame. These truths are repeated several times in Proverbs.

Verse 19 contrast the desire of the righteous with the desire of the wicked. The desire of the righteous is ultimately perfection which will one day be accomplished in Heaven.  On the other hand, the desire of the unregenerate fool is to continue in sin. The thought of giving up sin is hateful to him. He loves his sin.

Verse 20 teaches that those who walk with the truly wise will eventually be wise; but those who walk with fools will be destroyed.

Verse 21  Rebel against God as a fool and you will never be able to escape evil, no matter how fast you run. It will pursue you as a lion until it catches and destroys you.  However, the godly who live to serve God will be repayed here and in eternity.

Verse 22 speaks about the inheritance we will one day leave our children and our grandchildren. The godly will leave an inheritance of an example of godly character, as well as some financial inheritance.

Verse 23 teaches that those who work will have food to eat.  On the other hand, even a great estate can be eroded and destroyed for lack of judgment and care.

Verse 24  Hints of how we are to discipline our children.  It is an important subject that we cannot deal with here.  For a detailed study of that,  go to my category  FAMILY where I deal with it in detail from a biblical perspective. 

This 13th chapter of Proverbs concludes in verse 25 with the topic of satisfaction.  We who are trusting in Christ, find our satisfaction in Him. If He is our Saviour and Lord, we find our full satisfaction in Him. On the other hand, the wicked are never satisfied, regardless of what they  have. Isaiah 57:20-21  describe  them as a troubled, restless sea whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace nor satisfaction for the wicked.

 

 

 

September 18, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Guard Your Tongue

The 13th chapter of Proverbs continues the theme of this book: the value of seeking and receiving the wisdom of God’s Word vs the folly of rejecting it.

Verse 1 reminds us that no one on earth  loves us more than  our father and mother.  Though they cannot and must not try to run our lives after we have left home and are on our own; they never cease loving us and desiring God’s best for us.  The same goes for a faithful pastor.   He, along with your parents, desires to see you joyful and successful in life.  Those who scorn and refuse to listen to and accept the rebuke of parents or a Biblically faithful pastor can count on facing dire consequences in the future.

Verse 2 speaks of the “fruit of our mouth”, that is, our speech. “Our speech betrays us,” we are reminded in Matthew 26:73.  One can tell a lot about the spiritual condition of a person by listening to his conversation. It indicates upon what we are feeding.  Is it the Word of God, or is it the banal and often wicked fare of radio, television and Hollywood?  What we enjoy speaks volumes about us.

Therefore verse 3 warns us  to guard our heart and our tongue. Those who do guard their lives.  Those who do not  guard their hearts and tongues are exposing themselves to destruction.  That’s why David in Psalm 141:3 asked God to “set a watch before his mouth and guard the door of his lips” One who has no control over his tongue has no control over his life and is headed for destruction.

In verse 4  we see the sluggard and the diligent contrasted.  The sluggard or the lazy just desires, but that’s as far as he gets.  He just sits on his sofa or lies on his bed watching television.  On the other hand, the diligent work and experience success.  Someone has said, “The harder I work the luckier I become.”  Proverbs 22:29 describes the contrast. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall go places and not be lost in obscurity.”  That’s my paraphrase of the verse.

Verse 5 states, “A righteous man hates lying: but a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame.”  It seems that the whole world lies. That includes the  political and the business world. How rare, how gratifying and how comforting it is to find men and women who consistently tell the truth. Liars are listed in in Revelation 21:8 among those who will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. That should be a sober warning to anyone who is given to lying.

Verse 6 speaks of God’s righteousness, as taught in His Word. It keeps us standing when others are falling all around us.  Like a compass, it keeps us  pointed in the right direction and on course.  Like a soldier’s breastplate and armour, it protects us.  Even though we sin and are imperfect,  His righteousness imputed and imparted to us keeps us standing.  Without it we fall and are overthrown by sin.

In verse 7  we learn the principle of generosity and financial success.  One can work hard at becoming rich and being selfish and  still have nothing. The Laodiceans referred to in Revelation 3:17-18 boasted in their riches, but were living in spiritual poverty. 

On the other hand a generous person who share of himself and his own resources has great riches and is prosperous in all his ways. 

Jesus made Himself poor for us to give us great riches. II Corinthians 8:9 and 9:6-10.

Verse 8 reminds us that the wealthy risk evil men demanding ransom or extortion money.  As Proverbs 10:15 says, “His wealth is his strong city.” On the other hand, the poor are ignored.  They don’t have to concern themselves with locking their doors or setting their burglar alarms.

One’s happiness, therefore, consists;  not in what we have or don’t have; but in our relationship with Christ.

Verse 9 and  Proverbs 4:18 teach that those whose righteousness is found in knowing Christ experience a life of increasing light; whereas the wicked live a life of increasing spiritual darkness which leads to eternal darkness.

Verse 10 links a life of pride to a life of contention. Pride and contention  always go together.

 Verse 11 teaches an important principle for those who desire to be wealthy. Wealth  gained by get rich quick schemes disappears as quickly as it comes. I know from first hand experience.  I’ve wasted time and money in some  that held grandiose, but empty promises.

I will close out this study with the truth of verse 12.  Hope is like getting hungry before a meal. At first it is pleasurable; but when deferred it becomes painful. Like gnawing hunger and starvation.  But when hope becomes sight  it is invigorating. It’s like eating from the Tree of Life in Heaven. Hope will have turned to sight.

 

September 13, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Wisdom for Living

Proverbs chapter 12 continues the theme  of this book, contrasting the righteous with the unrighteous,  the wise with the foolish. It identifies the righteous as wise and the unrighteous as fools.

 

The chapter starts out in verse 1 contrasting Christians and unbelievers. Christians are those who have agreed with God’s Word that they are sinners in need of a Saviour.  They have humbly put their trust in Christ who is their Wisdom, as well as their Saviour.  As Christians, they love the instruction and comfort of reading and studying God’s Word, the Bible. The unbeliever, by contrast, trusts in his own pitiful self-righteousness. He  hates and ignores  the reproof and instruction of God’s Word and is portrayed as ignorant as a brute beast.  

 

Verse 2 continues this contrast by declaring that the good man,  (that is the sinner whose  trust is in the righteousness and goodness of His Saviour, the  Lord Jesus Christ) daily obtains the favor and blessings of God; whereas the wicked Christ-rejecter is condemned right now, as well is throughout eternity..  John 3:18 and 5:24  confirm this truth.

 

Do you long for stability in your life?   Proverbs 12:3  warns that a wicked Christ rejecter will never experience stability in his life; whereas the Christian will not be shaken  by difficult circumstances. In Christ alone is stability.  He is the Rock foundation of our lives.

 

The state of one’s marriage is very much influenced by one’s  relationship with Christ. Verse 4 teaches that  a godly, pure, virtuous woman is  a crown and a blessing to her husband;  whereas an ungodly woman is as a cancer to her husband causing his bones to rot and bringing him shame. Think about this, Christian young man and woman, your spiritual relationship with God and  your  would- be spouse’s spiritual relationship with God should be the number one, all-important concern when seeking a spouse. The typical couple when planning their marriage spends most of their time planning the ceremony, reception and honeymoon trip and very little time discussing life as husband and wife and the raising of children. To gain a proper long-range perspective I urge you to  go to my series on MARRIAGE  and on  FAMILY on this web site to read and study them.

 

Verses  5-6  remind us that our relationship with God affects our thinking and our speech. We are warned  that the advice of the wicked is deceitful. On the other hand, the words of those who have been given the righteousness and wisdom of God through faith in the shed blood of Christ can deliver and bless us.  This a good reason for attending a church where Christ is exalted and where His infallible, inspired  Word, the Bible, is taught and lived out.

 

Verse 7 gives an ultimatum to each of us. The wicked are overthrown. The righteous enjoy stability and security. Our future now and in eternity is determined by our decision to receive or reject Jesus and His blood atonement.

 

Verse 8 offers you a choice. A wise-hearted man or woman will be useful and commended.  Those who reject God’s Word will forfeit that wisdom and be despised. 

 

Verse 9  looks at the idea of being despised in a different light from verse  8.  Whereas verse 8 warns of being despised for being perverse and rejecting the wisdom of God;  verse 9 refers to one who is despised for doing right. He is despised by the world for walking in integrity and being successful in life.   This person may even be successful enough to  have a servant  or more labor-saving tools in his house.  On the other hand, there are those who vainly try to honor themselves but are despised by others.  We never look so foolish than when we are being pompous and proud when we really have nothing for which to be proud.  

 

Verse 10 contrasts the wicked and the righteous.  The wicked are thoughtless and cruel to their pets and farm animals; whereas the righteous are thoughtful and show them kindness.

 

Verse 11 contrasts the hard worker who earns a living and has his needs met   with the lazy loafer who follows vain, Socialistic, political leaders who offer to meet all his needs.  One who follows such leaders is void of understanding.

 

Verses 12 and 14 contrast the outcome of the wicked with the righteous.

 

Verses 15-16 describe Christi-rejecters who see themselves as right, but they are actually fools.

 

Verses 17-23  contrast  the speech of the righteous and the wicked. There we are taught to avoid using our speech and our words as swords, piercing the hearts of others.  Rather, we are to use our words to bring the healing of God’s Truth to them. As a preacher throughout my life I have sought to use the Word of God as a sword to cut hard, self-righteous hearts and to bring the healing of God’s  Word to the broken-hearted.

 

Do you want to go places and be greatly used of God?  Verse 24 reminds us to be diligent and learn. The same verse contrasts the slothful who will live their lives enslaved to others and in debt all their lives.

 

Verse 25 reminds us that there are many heavy hearts in the world. We are encouraged to speak truth to them in such a way that they are encouraged.

 

Verses 26-28 close out this chapter teaching that righteousness ( that is Christ’s imputed righteousness taught in Romans 4) lifts us from the pathway of death and puts us on the pathway of life, leading to eternal life in Heaven.

September 1, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Liberalism: Good or Evil?

Basically, the term liberal describes a good and noble quality of life to be sought after.  A liberal person is a kind, loving generous person who spends his life and his substances reaching out to the needy, personally doing what he can to meet their needs. 

Elsewhere on this website under the categories  Liberalism and Separation you will be warned how this good and desirable quality of life has been corrupted by Satan and how it can be misunderstood and  misused and become a wicked and dangerous  religious and political philosophy to be eschewed and rejected.

But in this message we will consider the good and proper use of this term  as we consider this Proverbs 11:24-31 passage before us. 

We begin with an eternal, divine principle before us in verse 24.  Read it from the Bible as I paraphrase it for you.  There is a divine principle at work that when one scatters and shares his own personal resources: that is, his money, time, energy and possessions with those in need who have no ability to reciprocate, God sees to it that  he is well rewarded;  whereas, those who selfishly ignore the plight of the poor  tend  to lose what they have and become poor  themselves.

This principle is repeated in verses 25 and 26 and throughout the Bible.  Galatians 6:9-10 teaches us. “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” 

Note in verse 26 that if those in need have the ability to pay for the  commodity needed; then it is not evil for the owner to sell it   to the one in need.  Of course, it would be wrong to take advantage of the needy by over-charging him.

Returning to Proverbs 11  note that  verse 27 promises that those who seek the good of others  experience the favor and blessing of God.  On the other hand, those who seek to take advantage of others in need, will sooner or later pay for their sins.  God has His way of carrying out vengeance.  Romans 12:19

Verse 28 continues this theme by warning the rich that if we trust in our riches, we will eventually come to need.  Jesus gives an example of this in His story found in Luke 12:15-21  of the fall of the rich man who trusted in his riches. Read it and be warned. 

Verse 28 not only warns us of the danger of living for ourselves;  but in contrast, it also encourages us that if we are living a righteous life, that is living for Christ in His strength,  we will flourish.  On the other hand, all our efforts of  self-righteousness to attain Heaven  are as stinking, filthy rags in His sight. Isaiah  64:6.  Only Christ’s righteousness imputed to the believer, makes one fit to enter Heaven. Read Romans 4.

Verse 29 warns those self-centered, stubborn, rebellious souls that if they continue in that direction, they will inherit the wind and end up with nothing but constant trouble. At very best, they will end up serving those who chose the wisdom of God.

In contrast to a self-centered life, verse 30 challenges and encourages us to live for others. As we help others physically, the greatest blessing we can be to them is to share the Gospel with them so that they become trees of life bearing fruit for the glory of God.  Those who live such selfless lives are considered wise according to God’s standards.  God not only blesses Christians eternally in Heaven, but often in this life we experience the material blessings of God.  

By God’s grace,  my wife and I each came to Christ as children and have lived our lives for him.  As I write this, I have just completed fifty-five years as a pastor.  Now approaching our eighties we continue to rejoice in God’s blessing on our lives, both physically and materially.  Life for us has been one grand adventure.  All of this- and Heaven too. What more could we ask?

Verse 31 concludes Proverbs 11.  with the thought that as we Christians who have lived for Christ are rewarded with blessings now and throughout eternity; so the wicked will eventually experience the consequences of their selfish, God-hating lives; not only in this life on earth but in Hell also.

I urge you to make the right decision concerning Christ. Receive Him now as Saviour and Lord and live your life for others and for God’s  glory. You will experience His blessing now and eternally.  The alternative is a wasted life of sorrow on this earth and throughout eternity.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off

Doxology of Praise

We conclude our study of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans with a doxology of praise to God  in Romans 16:25-27.   In this doxology we see:

  1. The Gospel which establishes us in The Faith
  2. The Mystery which establishes in The Faith  and
  3. God who establishes us in The Faith

In this doxology is the answer to how we can be established or settled in The Faith and avoid being misled by false teachers.

THE GOSPEL WHICH ESTABLISHES

 

Paul repeatedly refers to the Gospel as HIS Gospel.  Romans 16:25, 2:16,

II Timothy 2:8.  I Thessalonians 1:5   It was Paul’s Gospel in that after his conversion on the Road to Damascus, God had personally taught it to him in his three years  sojourn with God in the Arabian desert which he referred to in Galatians 1:15-18

That Gospel is the Gospel which Paul explains in detail in this Epistle to the Romans which we are concluding after 46 messages in this study. In this study we have explored Justification and Sanctification and Assurance of salvation. If you are still confused or uncertain, I encourage you to go over this series carefully and prayerfully.

Don’t be confused concerning the Gospel. Don’t base your understanding of the Gospel on the Old Testament. The Old Testament is filled with important spiritual truth for Christians and I have preached through many  parts of it for years.  Though it foreshadows and illustrates the Gospel repeatedly and throughout the Old Testament,  it does not spell out and explain the Gospel in detail.

Don’t base your understanding of the Gospel on the Book of Acts.   It also is filled with spiritual truth for Christians, but it does not give a detailed, organized explanation of the Gospel.

Don’t base your understanding of the Gospel by reading the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.   These four Gospels are filled with four accounts of important Gospel truth concerning the life, death and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. These truths are foundational and  essential  for the seeker of salvation, as well as for the Christian follower of Christ.   We must have a knowledge and an understanding of the four Gospels, especially the Gospel of John before we are ready to study Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

But it’s not until we read and study Paul’s Epistle to the Romans that we are given a complete understanding of the doctrine of salvation; including the doctrine of sins’s curse on the entire human race;  (including you and me), the doctrine of Justification,  the doctrine of  Sanctification and the doctrine of Glorification.

It’s only as we have an understanding of the  doctrine of Salvation as found in Paul’s Epistles; primarily his Epistle to the Romans, that we experience assurance and begn the process of spiritaul maturity.  If you base it on anything but Paul’s Epistles,  you will go away confused.  This is the Gospel that establishes us in the Faith, Paul declares in  Romans 16:25.

THE MYSTERY WHICH ESTABLISHES

 

Romans 16:25 also refers to the Gospel as the mystery which was not clearly unfolded in the Old Testament, nor even in the Gospels.  The privilege to unfold it and explain it  was given to Paul in his Epistle to the Romans and in his other Epistles

For example in Ephesians 5:22-32  Paul compares  our salvation to a spiritual marriage with Christ.  Jesus in the upper room the evening before His crucifixion hinted to it in John 15:1-11 and 17:23, but Paul unfolded it.  Ephesians 1:11-23,  Galatians 1:11-24,  Colossians 1:25-29.

 

 

 

GOD WHO ESTABLISHES

 

 

Romans 16:27 concludes this Epistle with the truth that it is God Himself who establishes us in the Gospel.  He alone is all wise, we see in Colossians 2:3-4

He alone is glorified in His creation. Psalm 19:1-6

He alone is glorified in Jesus. John 17:4

He alone is glorified in His Church, the product of His salvation.

Ephesians 1:12  and 3:20-21

My prayer is that you be saved through faith in Christ and glorify Him with your life.  With that,  we have concluded our study of Romans.  May God be glorified.

August 9, 2012 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off

War on Poverty

Three times the Scriptures record Jesus’ matter of fact statement concerning the poor. “The poor you have with you always.” Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8.   No matter what we do as individuals or as a church or as a nation in our “war on poverty”,  there will always be a segment of human society that remains poor and  destitute.   What are we to do about it?  Wring our hands and feel guilty about the food we eat and the clothes we wear and the cars we drive and the homes in which we live?  I don’t think so.

As a pastor for fifty-five years I have dealt with the poor in every church I pastored. I have repeatedly answered the phone to listen to enraged scam artists shout at me to  try to make me feel guilty because I will not get in my car and drive downtown to meet them at a particular location and bring them $50.00 or more  to help them in their destitute situation.   Usually their stories are all somewhat similar.

Throughout my ministry in every church I have pastored, I have visited the poor in the communities, sharing the Gospel with them and inviting them to church. As I have visited them in their homes, often I had no place to sit for every chair was sticky with food or other kinds of filth.  I have been in homes in both Pennsylvania and New Mexico  where young mothers with their little children were living in absolute filth with human and animal feces and broken glass on the floor.  When our three children were small, often we picked up two or three of these school aged children in our car to take them to Sunday School and church with us. When we got home, we had to bathe our children to get rid of the fleas that had jumped into their hair.

I have talked to husbands and fathers of these children about getting a job and they have rejected seeking work for fear of losing their welfare checks.

Several years ago, a couple visited our church and after the service stood outside   the front door hitting up the church members for money. After rebuking them for begging,  I later that day visited this couple in their apartment and talked with them about their need.  I noted they were both chain smokers and had plenty of canned  sodas and junk food.   I took time to show them that they were wasting their limited money and talked to them about cleaning up and going to a particular establishment  that was presently hiring.  I shared the Gospel and prayed  with them and then gave them $20. from my pocket. That week they followed my advice and applied for jobs.  Both of them were hired.  They continued coming to church for a few weeks and then quit coming. Last I heard, they were both still working at that job.  Nevertheless, I had done what I could for them, both spiritually and materially.

We live in a strongly divided nation of Democrats and Republicans with Libertarians scattered in the mix.  The name Democrat is taken from the fact we are a democracy, that is, the rule of the people.   The name Republican comes from the fact that we are constitutionally a republic, ruled by laws.  At this crucial stage in our nation’s history, the choice before us at the polls is the question do we want mob rule by the people?  We’ve seen that recently in the mobs who riot in the streets in opposition to business and Wall Street and also in the rioting in Europe  The ultimate question before us is, Do we want the rule of the people, which is ultimately mob rule  and  the despotic rule of Socialism or do we desire to be the Republic under the rule of law, as defined in our Constitution?

The question at the polls is not who has the most concern and who  will do the most for the poor and needy. Both parties have that concern.  The question for us is do we want to go down the road of mob rule and fiscal irresponsibility as we continue to go trillions of dollars deeper into debt such as we have never known in the history of our Republic. With that debt we are seeing the devaluation of our dollar such as we have never seen before.  With the devaluation of our dollar has come inflation, financial hardship and further poverty on our aged and on all who live on a fixed income.  The question for me is a “no brainer”.

We are a sin-sick nation.  A large segment of our society wants to attempt to remove God from our national life.  Our political direction and our only hope for the future lies in the hands of Christians.  II Chronicles 7:14 applied not only to Israel, but it applies to God’s people today. “If My people which are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”  Our decision at the polls will determine the America we leave to our children and to our grand children  for generations to come.

August 6, 2012 Posted by | America | Comments Off

Sober Warnings

Paul concludes his epistle  in Romans 16:17-20 with a sober warning of the danger of those false teachers who would by their beautiful,  pious sounding and uplifting-sounding  messages draw us away from the Truth of God’s Word.  All these are deceitful servants of Satan.  In verse 20  we read of how God is using us to bruise and crush Satan under our feet.  This reminds us of that first promise God made to Satan in Genesis 3:14-15 of how He would bruise and crush and eternally destroy Satan one day. We long for that day when sin and Satan will be forever forgotten.

False preachers are  not in the ministry to serve Christ, but rather to take advantage of their churches and earn a comfortable living and  live a  lavish lifestyle.  Romans 16:18 warns us.

May we value and guard our precious Faith,  our precious Salvation.  II Peter 1:1

We have a precious Saviour.  I Peter 2:7

We are saved by faith in the precious shed blood of Jesus. I Peter 1:18-19

As Christians, we enjoy a precious unity made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 4:3-16,  Psalm 133

We feed on His precious Word and are blessed. II Peter 1:4,19-21.

These are the precious Gifts of God we are to guard.  That’s what the warfare of Ephesians 6 is all about.  It is a spiritual warfare against Satan and the influences of his deepening  evil world-system today.  Paul’s preaching included this warning. to the Ephesian Church in Acts 20:28-31.  We Christians today need to take heed to these repeated warnings in every generation. We ignore this warfare to our own peril.

WHO ARE OUR ENEMIES?

Today it is fashionable for Christians to look back on the Fundamentalist Movement of the first half of the 20th century that fought the battles against  Theological Liberalism and brand such Fundamentalists   as being negative and judgmental.  They believe they have progressed beyond such negativity and that all that is needed is a positive preaching from the pulpit.

This fight against error has been fought down through the centuries and it is needed more than ever before in our present day of immorality, theological error, confusion and unbelief.   The Apostle Paul warned young Timothy over two thousand years ago in II Timothy 3:13 that from generation to generation evil men would grow worse and worse, that the  apostacy would grow deeper and deeper until Christ returns.  He reminded him that his only protection would be the Holy Scriptures which he had known from childhood.

Note  Paul’s repeated warnings  to “stand fast”  in God’s Word. I Corinthians 16:13,    Philippians 1:27 and 4:1,  I Thessalonians 3:8  and II Thessalonians 2:15

In this message, I warn you of the dangerous people, movements and influences which would attempt to  rob you of your precious Gift of salvation.  In II Corinthians 11:13-15 Paul warned then and the warning is just as relevant today. The Apostle John also warned of this danger in his short, one chapter  Epistle of II  John  verses 7-11.

Our enemies are people, movements and influences  espousing another Christ. They are under the curse of God, according to Galatians 1:6-9. Other warnings are found in II Corinthians 11:13-15 and II John 7-11.

Satan himself is known as the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12:10.

Not only Satan, but those who reject God’s Word are by default Satan’s servants.  Notice, for  example in II Timothy 4:14-15,   a man by the name of Alexander was an enemy of God and of God’s people.

WHO ARE NOT OUR ENEMIES?

 

Our enemies are not fellow Christians who have honest differences of opinion and interpretations of Scripture, as long as they adhere to the Fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith:  the verbal, plenary, inerrant inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, His virgin birth,  atonement for sin through faith alone in the shed blood of Christ and   Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead.  These are absolutely essential to being a Christian.  No other Christ can save us. Galatians 1:6-9.

We are to endeavor to guard that unity in Christ with fellow believers with  whom we have honest differences of opinion on lesser matters of understanding Scriptural interpretation and church polity. Read Ephesians 4:3,13, and I Corinthians 1:10-18.

Let us learn to distinguish the enemy (those in Satan’s army)  from Christians with whom we have honest differences of opinion on many matters.  Let us receive them as brothers and sisters in Christ, but not to doubtful disputations. Romans 14:1.

WHY ARE THE ENEMIES OF CHRIST DANGEROUS? 

 

They are deceptive. II Corinthians 11:13-15

They are divisive. Acts 20:29-30

They are debased. II Peter 2:14,19.

They are hirelings.  They are in the ministry just for the money with no heart for the people. John 10:12-13

We learn in II Timothy 3:1-8, 13, that as we approach the end of the Church Age just before Christ returns the apostasy grows deeper and more deceptive and thus more dangerous.

HOW DO THEY OPERATE?

 

They use good words and preach impressive messages that draw in the people.  II Timothy 4:1-4

Don’t be impressed with impressive sermons.

Don’t be charmed by charming personalities.

Beware of preachers who always make you feel good about yourself and never make you feel uncomfortable.

Remember false preachers are skilled at making merchandise of you.

II Peter 2:1-3

False preachers are hirelings, just in it for the money. John 10:12-13

Watch your own heart if God’s Truth makes you angry.

Be  warned,  be clothed in the armour of God  described in Ephesians 6.  and stand fast in The Faith;  making progress in the battle against the growing darkness of Satan’s Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

 

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off

Another Preacher Hits the Dust

I did not belong to an Independent Baptist Fellowship  nor did I ever pastor  an  Independent Baptist Church; yet  I was at heart an independent Baptist  preacher  for  the first twelve years  of  my ministry from 1956 to 1968.

During those years  I devoured John R. Rice’s weekly paper, The Sword of the Lord,  and  gave gift subscriptions  to  as many homes as possible in those early years of my ministry.  Its primary emphasis was three-fold:  1. proclaiming the Gospel, 2. encouraging Christians to share the  Gospel with others and  3. warning against false doctrine and identifying  false teachers and movements.

I had first been introduced to The Sword  in the ministerial class at Bob Jones University from 1952-56.  During that time  I often heard Dr. John R. Rice speak to us and I was moved by his genuine love for Christ and for winning lost souls to Christ. I never saw him preach without tears.

After John R. Rice died the Sword was led by others who espoused the “King James Only”  heresy, a heresy John R. Rice warned against.  You can read more on this in my King James Only post in my Separation series.

One of the leading soul winning Baptist pastors associated with The Sword was Jack Hyles, pastor of  First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana.

He wrote  a weekly column in the Sword entitled “Let’s Go Soul Winning”.

In that column he told of the many people he had led to Christ each week, giving us his instructions as to how to do it.

Jack  Hyles also hosted  an annual  Pastor’s School in his church. About 1967 or 68, my wife and I attended one of his week-long Pastor’s School in Hammond.  I had my classes with Pastor Hyles and his staff. My wife had her classes with Mrs. Hyles and with ladies on the church staff.  There we learned his psychological methods of  giving an invitation and of winning souls to Christ.  I would never dare to judge him nor any other Bible preaching preacher as to his effectiveness. That is for God alone to judge.  All I know is that as we drove home from that Pastor’s School, my wife and I shared with each other our impressions of the School.  Both of us were very uneasy as to how the entire church elevated him to an almost god-like status.  We agreed that Hyles was not a man I wanted to emulate.

Several years later rumors were flying in Christian circles that Jack Hyles had gotten sexually involved with a woman in the church.  That rumor persisted to his death.

For the last number of years, First Baptist Church of  Hammond,  Indiana has been pastored by Jack Schaap,  Jack Hyle’s son-in-law.   Just today, August 1st, 2012,  I was saddened to learn on the Hammond, Indiana television news that this son-in-law is now involved in a moral’s issue.  I know none of the details, nor am I interested in knowing.  My heart grieves again that another servant of God has fallen.

What lesson do I learn from all of this?  The importance of Elder Rule in a church, rather than the sole rule of a pastor.   Paul’s  Epistle to Titus teaches this truth.  When a pastor rules without accountability to Elders, power can go to his head leading to great damage to the church.  I thank God for the Elders of Alameda Bible Church here in Albuquerque, New Mexico who helped me lead this church from 1990-2011.  Together we sought God’s will in prayer for every major decision, and though I did not always have my way, God’s will was done and our church was blessed. I’m thankful that Pastor Peter Lee, my successor, is presently teaching the importance of Elder rule in his expository series in Titus.

July 30, 2012 Posted by | Sin | Comments Off

Obscure Christians

The Apostle Paul concludes the main body of his epistle to the Romans with a benediction in Romans 15:33.

In chapter 16 he concludes his epistle with:

Warm greetings to his friends in Rome    16:1-16

A final warning  16:17-20

Greeting to his friends in Corinth. 16:21

Tertius, his secretary, adds a PS  in 16:22-24

Paul concludes with a doxology in 16:15-27

GREETINGS TO HIS FRIENDS IN ROME

 

In this message we consider his greetings to his friends in Rome. You may wonder how Paul knew these Roman Christians when he had not yet been there. We learn in Acts 18:1-2 that persecution by the Roman emperor had caused the Christians with Jewish as well as Gentile backgrounds to be scattered. Paul had met and knew some of these Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ in the churches of Greece and Asia Minor. Now some of these had returned to Rome.

Here in Romans 16 we consider some of Paul’s friends: both men and women.

 

Phebe

Paul began by mentioning Phebe, a Christian woman from Cenchrea who had a servant heart and helped many Christians, including Paul.  She is probably the one to whom Paul had entrusted the delivery of this Epistle to the Roman Christians. Basically, Paul in this closing greeting encouraged the Christians in Rome to help Phebe in whatever way they could.

The most valuable Christians in any church are those who have a servant heart to help meet needs.  They may or may not be leaders in the church. Certainly every pastor, elder, deacon, as well as other worker in the church ought to have a servant heart; otherwise, they are useless and disqualify themselves from church leadership positions.

Priscilla and Aquila

 

Paul continues his list of friends by mentioning in Romans 16:3-4 a husband and wife team, Priscilla and Aquila, who opened their home for the church in Corinth.  More information is given concerning them in Acts 18:1-3.  This godly couple was used of God, we learn in verses 24-26 of that chapter,   to teach and encourage a young up-and-coming preacher by the name of Apollos to have a clearer understanding of Pauline doctrine. The truths Paul had learned directly from Christ at the time of his conversion were just as much a part of the inspired Word of God as anything Jesus Himself had taught.

Epenetus

 

We learn in Romans 16:5 of Epenetus who was the first of Paul’s converts to Christ in Asia Minor.  There was a special bond of love between these two as there is between every new believer and the one who led him to Christ.

Mary

 

Mary, of Romans 16:6, one of many Mary’s in the New Testament, was another of many Christian friends who blessed Paul and was blessed by him.

Andronicus and Junia

 

Andronicus and Junia was another Christian couple who were well known by the Apostles.  Romans 16:7 informs us, they were fellow prisoners for the cause of Christ. They had a spiritual kinship with Paul; not only because they were both in Christ, but also because they were Christians even before Paul was converted to Christ on the Road to Damascus.

 

The list of names  continues  in Romans 16:8-15.  From the comments Paul made, it is evident that these were precious, personal friends who had suffered with Paul and had shown him sacrificial love.

All of us involved in ministry for Christ could list our own personal friends who have helped us and been true friends, especially in times of great stress and persecution for Christ.  In Heaven we will have eternity to get better acquainted with those who have meant so much to us in what we call time on this earth.  Think of it, in eternity time will be no more.  We will have eternity to deepen and strengthen those bonds of friendship.   Who will be waiting for you in Heaven whose life you have touched for Christ on this earth?

I think of what Jesus said in Luke 16:9. There Jesus encourages us to use our time, energy and money to reach out to lost men, women, boys and girls, to influence and lead them to Christ, so that when we arrive in Heaven, they will be there to welcome us and thank us for sharing our lives, our resources and the Gospel with them.

In Romans 16:21, Paul sends greetings from some of the Christians in Corinth, including Timothy.

In Romans 16:22 Tertius, who was taking dictation from Paul and actually writing the letter, inserted a personal word of greeting to the Roman Christians.

Purpose of these personal words of greeting

 

 

The Holy Spirit directed Paul to include these personal words of greeting to teach us Christians the importance of being gracious, warm, kind and loving in our dealings with fellow Christians.  Paul had a personal interest and concern for each one, naming them in his prayers as well as in this Epistle inspired of God.

How this should encourage each of us as Christians as we understand that God sees and knows each of us by name and loves us intimately as a Friend who “sticks closer than a brother.”  Though sometimes unknown, unnoticed  and  unthanked by others; God never forgets what we do for Him and for His glory.   I am encouraged in Hebrews 6:10 that “ God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labor of love which we have showed toward His name, in that we have ministered or served others.”

In Malachi 3:13-18 we read that Christ has a Book of Remembrance in which are written the names of those who have a reverential fear of God  and as a result, have come to trust, love and serve His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Such are as precious jewels to Him.

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off

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