Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Practical Wisdom

The Book of Proverbs is a compilation of God’s practical  wisdom on a large variety of topics which we  fathers and mothers are to pass on to our sons and daughters.

The fact that this Book is not merely worldy philosophy, but a part of the sacred inspired, infallible Word and Wisdom of God; makes a study of it vital and indispensable. Parents, we  must first assimilate this wisdom into our own lives and then model it and teach it to our children in the few short years God entrusts them to us to train for life.

In our last message, we began in chapter 11:1 with the fairness of God in His dealing with us.  As we continue through this chapter, we will deal with a wide variety of topics.  Let’s consider them one at a time.

 

PRIDE   Proverbs 11:2

 

In Proverbs 6:16-17  we learn that pride is at the top of the list of sins God abhors.  It always leads to shame and to a humbling fall.  For one of the most outstanding  lessons on pride and how God deals with it,  go to my EZRA series and read of arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion as we trace his story in Daniel 1-4. 

To learn how God must humble us before He can use us in His service, read and meditate on I Corinthians 1:26-31.

INTEGRITY vs PERVERSENESS   Proverbs 11:3

 

If we love God’s Word and hunger after it daily,  we will  have a heart that longs to do right and please God, Psalm 119: 9-16

On the other hand, if we hate God and His Word, our perverseness and rebellion will eventually destroy us.

RICHES OR RIGHTEOUSNESS   Proverbs 11:4-8

 

Although it is not wrong to be successful in business and become wealthy, Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:24-34 that our primary attention and  concentration  should be loving and serving Him.

Girls, it’s far better to pray for a godly husband than a wealthy one and guys it’s far more important for you to seek a godly wife than a wealthy, godless heiress.

Why choose righteousness over riches?  Your answer is found in Proverbs 11:4-8.  “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: bur righteousness delivers from death.”

The Bible is filled with comforting truth for God’s people, even in the midst of trouble.  The story of Job.  Psalm 23, 27, 34, 37, 91, and  Paul’s brief Epistle to the Philippians.  The righteous will have direction in life and be delivered in the midst of  trouble; whereas the wicked are described in Isaiah 57:20  “as the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose water cast up mire and dirt.”

 

OUR TONGUES   Proverbs 11:9

 

Here is another warning concerning the use of our tongues. Many  hypocrites have destroyed others, even neighbors or a former friends,  with malicious gossip.  Rather, let us use our speech to edify and build up others in the Truth of God’s Word.

CITIZENSHIP   Proverbs 11:10-11

 

In nations where Christ is rejected and Christians are oppressed,  there is political and economic disaster and mourning; but in lands where God is honored and His people have a godly influence, there is blessing.   Such has been  America’s blessed history.  When evil, Bible rejecting leaders are removed from office, God’s people rejoice and everyone is blessed with prosperity.  The most patriotic thing any Christian can do is to be a good law-abiding citizen and lead people to Christ.

 

BEWARE OF DESPISING OTHERS   Proverbs 11:1214:21,  17:5

 

Although it is popular in  America  to publicly despise and slander our political opponents, it shows a lack of wisdom on our part and it often produces a political back-lash at the polls.  Let the God-fearing politicians and the electorate faithfully stand for righteousness and let God take care of our enemies.

DON’T BE A TATTLE-TALE   Proverbs 11:13

 

Be a faithful friend.  Be trustworthy.  Don’t gossip.   If a friend does wrong, go to that friend privately and  follow the Matthew 18:15-17  principle of attempting to restore a friend who has gone astray.  More often, the offender is restored and everyone involved is blessed.

 

SAFETY IN WISE COUNSEL  Proverbs 11:14

 

A good pastor has power to accomplish more if he can dictate; but there is danger in anyone having unbridled power and not having to answer to anyone.  That’s why the Apostle Paul  in Titus 1:5 teaches a plurality of elders in a church.   There may be only one teaching pastor in a church, but the plurality of spiritually-minded elders working together with the pastor protects  him from making unwise decisions.

In the area of finances and Mutual Funds, there may be the occasional  super star investors of some fabled Funds who made amazing financial decisions in recent years;  but since there is safety in numbers, I chose to entrust my investments in Funds directed by a group of managers.  There is more safety in numbers.

 

BEWARE OF CO-SIGNING   Proverbs 11:15

 

Parents may co-sign for their young adult sons and daughters as they are starting out in life; but it is generally a risky decision.   One can lose everything he has.  

There is not a good place to stop in this chapter. So I will stop here and continue next time, Lord willing, as we discuss  Jeweled Pigs.

 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2012 Posted by | PROVERBS | Comments Off on Practical Wisdom

Authority

In the last week before Jesus was crucified, He went into  Jerusalem  and turned the religious establishment upside-down by going into the temple and driving out the corrupt money-changers who were in cahoots with the corrupt priests.

WHAT RIGHT DID JESUS HAVE TO UPSET THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT?

 

In response to these events of Luke 19,  the priests came to Jesus and asked by what authority He acted and spoke and what right did He have to upset their religious establishment?

As children, as parents and as citizens we all understand the concept of authority.  Authority denotes power, permission, responsibility, and control. We all exercise and/or submit to human authority.

However, Jesus, who is God in human flesh, stands apart from all others when it comes to authority.  Though Luke 2:51 tells us that as a child, Jesus was submissive to His mother and step-father and was respectful to His elders;  as a grown man from the time He commenced His earthly ministry at the age of 30, He exercised authority as no other human.

Though submitted to His Heavenly Father, the authority He exercised throughout His ministry, was unlike anyone else. Whatever He did, wherever He went, His power and authority were  absolute and unlimited by any man. No one told Him what to do or where to go or what to say. His authority was absolutely unique.  In Matthew 7:28-29 we read that Jesus spoke as one having authority; in contrast to the teaching of the scribes, which must have been a boring experience to sit through. 

In  Luke4:36  we have a sampling of the two Greek words that speak of Jesus power and authority.  Dunamis is the Greek word that speaks of power, a word from which we get the word dynamite.   Exousia is the Greek word for authority.  Jesus had absolute power and absolute authority to do whatever He desired in Bible times and He has that same power and authority today and throughout all eternity.

He has authority to save anyone who comes to Him in saving faith. John 1:12

He has authority to forgive sins, authority belonging only to God.  Matthew 9:1-8

He has authority over demon powers.  Matthew 10:1

He has authority to lay down His life in death and authority to take it again, which He did when He raised people from the dead and when He Himself arose from the dead. John 10:18

He has the keys to death and Hell. Revelations 1:18.  Keys speak of authority.

I HAVE MY RIGHTS!

We American like to boast about our rights.  We once had a flag picturing a coiled rattle snake with the words, “Don’t tread on me!”  I love that independent American spirit and have some of it myself.  However, under God, none of us has any rights, but to die and go to hell for our sins.  All we are and all we have is only by the grace of God.

The Jewish leaders in that final week before Jesus was crucified recognized and were confounded by Jesus, the personification of absolute power and authority.  As God in human flesh, He never had to ask for permission from anyone for what He did or said. 

When you, as a teen, say “I don’t have to listen to my parents or teachers.  I can do whatever I please”, then you are acting as though you were your own god.  By rebelling at authority, you are rebelling against God who has placed you in a family under authority of your parents.

Now getting back to the events of Luke 19, when Jesus cleansed theTemple  and drove out the money-changers with a whip, He received  no permission from human authority.  He was acting by His own power and authority as God.

He called the temple, “My House”.  He totally ignored the entire religious system of His day, with it’s corrupt priesthood. He was  indifferent to their Councils, and opinions.  Can you see why the chief priests and elders were furious with Him and wanted to kill Him?

Understand that Jesus was not received, accredited nor approved by the world.  John 1:11-12 and 15:18-21 teach this.  It was also prophesied 700 years earlier by Isaiah in Isaiah 53.

With this background, we now approach Luke 20:1-2 as the chief priests, Annas and Caiaphas, and the scribes approached Jesus and asked by what authority He did these things. They were the accepted authorities of Judaism, and they were furious with this intruder upsetting their establishment.  They were hell-bent on silencing Him forever.

JESUS’ ANSWER TO HIS ENEMIES

 

When they asked Jesus by what authority He spoke and acted, Jesus answered them with a question.  “By whose authority did John the Baptist preach and baptize?  Was it authority given to Him by God or by men?”  Luke 20:3-4

They well knew the answer to Jesus’ question.  Some of them had been there three years earlier when John baptized Jesus and they heard the voice from Heaven as God the Father spoke to His Son, Jesus,  ” Thou art My Son in whom I am well pleased!”  Mark 1:1-11  Matthew 3:16-17

They had heard John the Baptist announce Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:19-36

Those wicked priests, scribes and Pharisees knew exactly who Jesus was and why He had come to earth; but in their rebellion, they hated and opposed Him throughout His three year ministry among them.  They refused to receive Him as their Messiah and Saviour from sin.  In their rebellion they asked Him this question about the source of His authority.

They reasoned among themselves concerning Jesus’ question and answered Him nothing.  So Luke 20:8 informs us that He was not going to answer their question.  They already knew the answer and they refused it. Furthermore, Proverbs 26:4 instructs us to not answer a fool according to his folly.

JESUS WAS APPROVED BY HIS HEAVENLY FATHER

 

Though Jesus was not approved by the religious leaders of Jerusalem, as you can see by reading  Luke 10.  Other Scriptures, including John 7:40-53 and John 1:11-12 also confirm this rejection.    Acts2:22  teaches us that God approved of His Son, as evidenced by supernatural signs and wonders.

THE APOSTLES WERE ALSO APPROVED OF GOD

 

The Book of Acts is a record of the beginnings of the early church.  The Apostles, Peter and John preached Jesus, and the enemies of Christ immediately tried to silence them by questioning their authority to preach, as recorded in Acts 4:1-7.

Peter answered  his critics in  Acts 4:8-12.  The enemies of the Gospel responded by threatening them in verse 13-18  to stop preaching or suffer the consequences. Peter responded to the threatening by declaring to them “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

 

In Acts 5 we see God confirming the authority and message of the Apostles, by killing two lying Christians right on the spot.  Take time to read this very interesting and sobering story.  It resulted in a reverential fear of God throughout the church, as we read in Acts 5:11.  Verse 12 of that chapter tells of how the Apostles moved forward with signs and wonders from Heaven confirming their authority.   The Apostles, as well as Gospel preachers today, have God’s authorization and responsibility  to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world,  Read that Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

Paul, the special called Apostle to the Gentiles, declares his call and  authorization from God in  Galatians 1:1-18. 

Paul’s message of the grace of God infuriated the Judaizers and they repeatedly tried to silence and even kill him,  just as Jesus infuriated the scribes and Pharisees, leading to His crucifixion.

WHAT IS BIBLICAL ORDINATION TODAY?

 

Just as Jesus was confirmed by His Heavenly Father at His baptism and  just as the Apostles were ordained and instructed by Christ to carry His message to the world; so God calls and ordains men today to preach the Gospel,

Ordination today is the recognition and affirmation of an examining council of pastors and elders that the candidate has been called  of God  and approved Biblically and is personally qualified to be a pastor or missionary.

That approval is not based merely on an education or college degree; but because the candidate evidences a clear grasp of the Gospel message and has an overall understanding of the Bible and evidences the Gift of Teaching.  It is also based on the evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in his life and ministry.  Such have a God-given ability to understand and clearly declare the message of the Bible, as declared in II Timothy 3:16-17.

It is then that the candidate is set apart for the ministry in a public service by the laying on of hands by the examining pastors. See I Timothy 4:14.

A true preacher does not seek the approval of the world, Paul reminds us in Galatians 1:10.  Rather he is approved of God as He faithfully continues to study and expound the Scriptures, as we read in II Timothy 2:15.

Not only does he preach the Scriptures, but by God’s grace he lives the Scriptures so that he cannot be condemned as being hypocritical or insincere.   I Timothy 4:7 tells us that he has a good reputation in the world.

Philippians 2:14-16 teaches that we are to live without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

As the world grows darker as people turn from the light of the Gospel and the preaching of God’s Word, may God raise up a new generation of preachers who, like the Apostles of the first generation, will turn this upside down world right side up with the truth of God’s Word.  Is God speaking to  you about this?  What are you going to do about it?  Will you surrender to His call?  God help you to do it.

I answered his call in my youth and now after 55 years in the ministry, as I approach my 79th birthday, I can assure you that life as a preacher of the Gospel has been an exciting adventure.   I urge you to submit to Christ’s authority today.

 

 

 

 

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Authority | Comments Off on Authority

Time to Wake Up

The Bible is not just a book of knowledge and wisdom  to satisfy our minds.  It  is filled with urgent challenges to action. 

THE CALL TO SALVATION

 “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”  II Cor. 5:11

“God commands men everywhere to repent.”   Act17:30

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  II Peter 3:9

“And the Spirit and the Bride say come, and let him that heareth say come. And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”  Revelation 22:17

THE CALL TO HOLY, VICTORIOUS, SEPARATED LIVING

 

“Likewise, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our  Lord.”  Romans 6:11

“Awake thou that sleepest  and arise form the dead and Christ shall give thee light.  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:14-16

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,  for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  What communion hath light with darkness?   Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you.”

II Corinthians 6:14,17

THE CALL TO SACRIFICIAL SERVICE

Listen to Paul’s urgent call to service to every Christian. “I beseech you therefore,  brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice;  holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world system; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2.

As we turn to our text in  Romans 13:11-14, we are urged  to:

1. wake up,

2. get dressed

3. and start walking.” 

WAKE UP!  Romans 13:11  

 

The alarm clock of Scripture rings, rousing us from our lethargy. “And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”  Romans 13:11

Read Jesus’ Olivet discourse to His disciples in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.  Though we cannot know the day nor the hour of Christ’s return; the troubling events throughout the world,  especially in the Mideast and Israel  all point to the soon return of Christ.

The ecumenical  church  of  Anti-Christ  is growing.    We are warned of its danger in I John 2:18  and it’s final destruction as the harlot church in Revelation 17-18.

We are warned of the false peace being preached; a psychological peace which ignores the only true peace with God which comes through faith in Christ’s shed blood.  I Thessalonians 5:1-3

Another evidence of the age in which we live is the growing crime and immorality.  It’s everywhere as television and the internet brings it right into our homes.   II Timothy 3:1-7, 13-17

Not only are we to awake to the opportunity to be saved, but as Christians, we are to awake to the opportunities to serve Christ.   Ephesians 5:14-17

Awake to this day of harvest. The day will soon pass away. John 4:35  The night comes when no man can work.  John 9:4  Acts 16:9-10

GET DRESSED!   Romans 13:12

 

The night of Satan’s rule over this world system is almost over.  The day of Christ’s return and reign will soon be here.   Therefore “cast off the night clothes of the old life and put on the armour of light.”  Romans 13:10-14   Colossians 3:8-14   Christ is that armour. He is our life.

START WALKING  Romans 13:13

 

Though we are still living in the night of this sinful world, we Christians walk as in the day.  The Holy Spirit living in us makes that possible.  Galatians5:16-25,  Ephesians 4:1, 5:15-16  Note the urgency of salvation and the urgency of living for Christ and serving Him.   There’s nothing casual about the Christians life.  It is a life and death matter.

May God help you and me to wake up, get dressed and start walking with Him, serving Him with all our heart.

 

 

 

March 7, 2012 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off on Time to Wake Up

I Owe You

Although Romans 13:8-10 is not primarily warning about going into debt financially; avoiding financial debt is wise.  Proverbs 22:7 warns us “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.”  Let that truth sink deep into your mind and heart and let that principle guide you financially throughout your life.   

But the warning of Romans 13:8-10 is dealing with a debt far deeper than mere money.  The point of this text is  we all owe a debt of love to others and Romans1:14  reminds us of our debt as Christians of sharing the Gospel with the lost all around us.

WHY ARE WE TO LOVE OTHERS?

 

The answer to that question is because we owe it to them.  II Corinthians 5:14-15 reminds us that if we have received by faith the Gift of eternal life, we are obligated to share the Good News with others.

Picture a group of lost people thirsting and famishing in the intense heat as they wander lost in a desert.   Finally one person discovers a hidden oasis with trees and an abundant, unending spring of fresh water.  Immediately that person is obligated to share his good news with the rest.  How unthinkably selfish he would be to keep this good news to himself and refuse to share it with others.

How much greater is the debt of those of us who have heard the Good News of salvation and have received God’s Gift of eternal life.  We owe that Good News to those who have never heard it, beginning with our friends and neighbors and extending that good news to the whole world.

II Corinthians 5:14-15 teaches us that we as Christians are constrained by Christ’s love to us to share the Gospel with others.

People visit a church hoping to find love and acceptance by the people. They have every right to expect it. We can’t exist without love anymore than food.  Every visiting child and teenager, has a right to expect love and acceptance by his teacher and the kids in his class.  And yet in some churches there are cliques of young people and even adults who will not open their hearts to welcome and love strangers.  It’s normal and common for people after a Sunday School class or church service to gravitate to their friends when in reality we should be gravitating to the strangers first.   To do otherwise is selfish, thoughtless and sinful.

We all thrive on love and acceptance.  Thank God that we who have received Christ as our Saviour know the joy of  God’s acceptance and  to those of us who have discovered that relationship with God is given the challenge of II Corinthians 5:14-15 to share that Good News with others.

Every child deserves a teacher who loves him.  How selfish and evil is the teacher who carries their bad attitude over something that happened earlier and snaps with impatience and meanness at  their children who are observing them closely to see if there is any reality to Christianity. Read the severe warning in Matthew 18:5-10  to those who offend little children by snapping at them in anger when they should be showing them Christ’s love.   Yes, you can correct a disobedient or disruptive child in your class, but you owe it to love the children in your class, both obedient and disobedient.   If you honestly love them with Christ’s love, they will see it, even as you correct them.

Our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ reveals our true love for Christ.  See I John 4:7-8, 11, 20-21  and  II Peter 1:5-11 concerning this. 

I Corinthians 13:1-8 exposes us as NOTHING without love.  As preachers and teachers of children, youth or adults, we need to search our heart regarding our love or lack of love for those to whom we minister. If we lack that love we are worthless and do damage to the cause of Christ.

HOW DO WE GAIN THAT LOVE FOR OTHERS?

We gain that love for others by being genuinely converted to Christ. Read Romans 5:1-5.  For me it happened at the age of nine when I, a self-righteous son of missionaries,  heard and understood the Gospel for the first time.  I had heard it since I was a baby, but now I understood for the first time that I was a sinner, condemned to hell.  I understood that Jesus is God in human flesh  and that He lovingly and willingly endured death on a cross to shed His blood as a sacrifice for my sins.  I understood that if I would receive by faith Christ as my Saviour from sin,  God would forgive and save me from sin and sin’s consequences, Hell. 

I received Him that evening and God’s Holy Spirit came to dwell in my heart. That was seventy years ago. Though I did not become perfect, God imputed Christ’s perfection to my account and changed my heart. I have loved Christ ever since and my desire has been to share the Gospel with everyone.  Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whether it is preaching from the pulpit,  walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, or visiting an amusement park or the zoo with my family,  I have always been aware that there are lost people all around me for whom my heart aches. I must love and find a way to share the Gospel with them.

If you are a Christian and desire that love for others, please take some time to read the following passages and  surrender your life to Christ. Romans 5:1-5,   12:1-10,   Galatians 5:22-26,  Ephesians 4:29-32,  and finally back to our text, Romans 13:8-10.

The masses of people are approaching the cliff of eternal destruction. See the picture in Ezekiel 22:30.  We as Christians are to stand at the edge of the cliff and warn the lost of that destruction.  God is looking for those who will make up the hedge to warn them of destruction and point them to Christ who alone can save.

March 1, 2012 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off on I Owe You