Monthly Archives: October 2016

Become a lawyer of God’s word

ezra-7Becoming a lawyer is hard, I imagine, based on all of the movies I have seen. Even the challenge of passing the Bar exam frightens good students. Of course, it might be nothing like in the movies and the Bar exam might be easier than portrayed but, after all that,  being a lawyer of the country’s law can’t exactly be a cake walk.

But being a student of God’s word should be easier, because unlike laws of the country, God’s law doesn’t change. Murder is still wrong and Adultery is still bad. Unless you belong to a church group that has boards and conferences where they discuss which of God’s laws needs to be updated for the modern times, then, indeed, God’s laws do not change. (Not that God’s laws ever do-though people do try to make us think that God’s laws can be changed.)

Ezra was a priest of God and it is noted about Ezra:

Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

This is a good idea for all of us.

The OT priests were assigned by God to teach and instruct the people. They did not do a good job of doing this and many times, (like today), corrupted God’s word, sometimes for gain, sometimes for popularity.

Today, Christians are said to be a Royal Priesthood and a Holy Priesthood in 1 Peter 2.

1Pe 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Sure, Christians have other characteristics but being part of a priesthood is one of them. Priests, at their core, are to be a guide and bridge to God; in the NT we can say that we are bridge to Jesus. This is not the prerogative of a few but of all Christians.

The challenge then is to be able to be someone who can instruct in God’s laws. Are you, like Ezra, setting your heart to know God’s law? Are you setting your heart to DO it? Are you setting your heart to teach it?

The sermon on this thought can be heard here.

 

Guard your heart-part 2

be-careful-little-handsThere is a song that is song by many young children in Bible schools: “O be careful little hands what you do…” and each verse talks about being careful for our little eyes, mouth, and feet. The passage under consideration in this post and the first part, remind me of that song.

Pro 4:20-27 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. (21) Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. (22) For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. (23) Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (24) Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. (25) Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (26) Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (27) Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Having looked at verses 20-23 last time, let’s look at the verses that follow.

Be careful little mouth what you say.

Part of guarding your heart is to remove certain words. Because those words reflect a worldly thought process. When James says that a man who does not bridle his tongue has a vain religion (James 1:26-27), he affirms the need to control what we say. (And he does a good job of that in Chapter 3.) This would, of course, include profane and blasphemous words but we should not stop there because for the most part those who practice Christianity do not engage in that kind of language. Let us also include lies, crude humor, gossip, rumors, and even complaining (grumbling) which are more likely to trip up a Christian who finds this type of tongue use used even by Christians.

{While I am on this topic, allow me to point out a pet peeve. It is to repeat a joke or a funny incident in which one says “Now he said something that I can’t say” or ” he used words I don’t use” and then go on with the story. We all find funny things that, if cleaned up, can be repeated but why plant in the listener’s mind, leaving it to a very powerful imagination, to hear bad words in their head? If you can’t repeat it without pointing out that you have edited it for bad language, then don’t repeat it at all!}

Be careful little eyes what you see.

A couple of times in my youth, I was fortunate to go fly in a small Cessna plane and even more fortunate to be allowed to fly the plane. I was advised to find a point far off in the distance and focus on that. In other words, “look in the direction that you want to go.”

Perhaps you have seen video of people who fall into pools, off cliffs, or nearly get ran over in traffic because they were texting as they walked. If your eyes are not focused on where you are going then you will not easily arrive at your destination. In fact, if you do arrive, you may be worse off than if you had paid attention. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Heb 12:1-4)

The world is good at distracting us. Even logging on to check email can be a challenge with this ad over here or that captivating caption over there. Let us not get so caught up in the world that we do not see the finish line ahead of us.

Be careful little feet where you go

Ponder the path you are on. This is always good advice. We need to test ourselves and be sure our feet are on the strait and narrow, not the wide and easy way. Sometimes we envy the wicked and wish to have what they have, considering perhaps whether it is worth it to live for God. Banish that thinking and set your feet to the path that Jesus walked.

Avoid evil companions who will entice you to walk in darkness. If we walk in the light as He is in the light then the blood of His Son cleanses us. (I john 1:7)

Solomon encouraged his son with word of wisdom to live a life that was a good one. We also can find good advice for our lives in his words. The sermon for part 2 is available here.

 

 

Don’t Worry about the election

It is infuriating to me how addictive this election is! Even in spite of the sermon presented, the concern and worry and anxiety still seem to affect me. Yes, it is true…everything in the sermon is true.

It is true that God is Sovereign and He is in control!  God raises up nations and brings nations down. Just because the USA is the nation I live in and want to see continue (although, the direction should make a shift back toward Godly principles), it doesn’t mean that God is going to let it continue. Nor do we know how this country will end (or if it will end) nor what plans God has for the leaders that are currently in power. However, God does.

Daniel shows us in chapter 2 and 4 that God gives the rule to whom HE WISHES! Of course, government is to serve a purpose such as punishing the wicked and upholding the obedient even though it does not always do so. Babylon was 110% a moral (by God’s standards) government but He raised it up and used it to punish Israel and other nations for what had become a moral decline in the world at that time. Then He brought the Medes and Persians against Babylon. All this plays out on a stage that we cannot see clearly. We might glimpse bits and pieces of it but to understand it…we don’t have the perspective to do that.

Who will win the election? Honestly, does it matter?  Yes, it does and No, it doesn’t! It is true that the right leader might allow more peace than the wrong one. Such a result could be a good one for those trying to do God’s will. However, on the other hand, it doesn’t really matter because a Christian’s life is not focused on the things of this world and that does include politics in the country you live.

You see, Christians are not first, citizens of a nation in this world, but rather of the Heavenly Kingdom of God. As such, our focus is to please our King and Savior. It is not that we do not have an interest in the welfare of our country but it is secondary to promotion of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Our primary mission is to preach the Gospel and live for Jesus. If we allow ourselves to become too tied up or preoccupied with politics, there is a danger that we can become unfruitful in the things of God.

Whatever our political opinions are, we should all agree that expanding the borders of God’s kingdom is more important than who becomes President!.

The sermon can be heard here.

 

Guard your heart-part 1

guard-your-heartSolomon offers his son advice for living in Proverbs 4:23-27. This post, and part two, center on this advice which is appropriate for all of us.

The Scriptures reveal to us that God knows the hearts of men. He knows the character of a person even if the rest of the world cannot see it. As Samuel was at the house of Jesse to anoint a new king for Israel, he saw the oldest son, Eliab, and thought that he would make a fine king. God said that Eliab was not to be king and reminded Samuel that He looks on the heart of a man not the outside.

Even though we like to think of our hearts are hidden and our thoughts a secret, they are not so from God. So Solomon’s advice to his son has a lot of activity for us to do or not do but it starts with the heart. Because from the heart flow the issues of life. The downstream consequences of our thoughts will be seen by the actions we take.

What happens when the heart is not guarded?

The problem we have is that our “bad” thoughts tend toward selfishness. It is not always as extreme as Genesis 6:5

Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

But, even the shortsightedness of the rich man shows that his thoughts were  on himself when they could have included others.

Luk 12:17-21 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ (18) And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. (19) And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ (20) But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ (21) So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Most of us, are interested in the “what’s in it for me?” part of anything. Unfortunately, when we focus on that, we will find ourselves wandering away from God.

How can we guard our heart?

It begins by what you put into the heart. So we need to pay attention to that carefully. Jesus said in Luke 8:18 “take heed how you hear”.  So we need to pay attention to the advice given by Solomon and, by extension, God.

Children are commanded by God to obey their parents. There are many reasons for this but one that fits in this context is “Parents have more experience.”  Why reinvent the wheel? Learn from those who have gone on before you.  As children, we often think, “I know better” but later on, after we grow up, we realize that our parents were not so ignorant after all.

Parents, then, have the responsibility to train their children correctly. Yes, this even includes telling them “how” to think: what is a good way to think and a bad way to think. We train them in God’s ways so they can live to God. Don’t think that they will just find it on their own.

Of course, as adults, we need to realize that God is our Father and we are His children. So we need to be willing to let Him train us as well.

First, Guard your heart!

The sermon dealing with this topic can be heard here.

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