Thursday, May 28, 2015

God Really Is In Charge

READ Proverbs 15-16

I remember when I was first coming into a full realization of the sovereignty of God. I had, in fact, made the conscious decision to disprove the idea of God’s absolute sovereignty, especially in salvation. My plan was to take the Bible and show that this idea was inconsistent at best. Well, I’m sure you can guess the result. Instead of disproving the sovereignty of God I found every page of Scripture full of evidence and declaration of God’s sovereignty in all things.

Two verses in our readings today are particularly strong evidence of this truth. “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” (16:4) What better evidence could there be that God has divinely ordained that even the wickedness of man will fulfill his ultimate purposes. But let’s be clear. God made men; he didn’t make men wicked. Man makes himself a sinner. But God will ultimately use even that for his purpose. What is that purpose? The greatest ultimate purpose is God’s own glory. One evidence of this is what God said to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16: “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” One day those who have believed will be saved to everlasting life displaying the glory of God’s mercy and love. However, at the same time those who have lived and died in sin will be damned to eternal destruction displaying the glory of God’s justice and holiness.

The other verse that so strongly points to the sovereignty of God today is 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Oh, how grateful I am for this reality. Some great doctrines have to be taken on faith alone — such as the eternality of God — because they are too big for us and we have no way to experience the full truth. But everyone of us can acknowledge this doctrine by our own experience. We have seen how God takes our plans and sometimes stops them while opening other doors or sometimes turns them in new, unexpected directions. This doesn’t remove our responsibility for making the plans. But it does reassure us that we are not left to ourselves. Let me quote from an old theologian: “The work, as it is a duty, is ours; but as a performance, it is God’s. He give what he requires, and his promises are the foundation of our performances” (Bishop Reynolds). Glory!

Prayer: Father, you alone are sovereign in all things. To you be the glory and praise for ever! Thank you for displaying your love and faithfulness in the cross of Christ so that we can be assured that every situation, crisis or opportunity is in your divine control. Help us to see you in every turn of events and help us to give thanks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Taming Our Tongues & Our Texts

READ Proverbs 13-14

Let’s just be honest. Our words get us in a lot of trouble. Right? We are too quick to say things we ought not to say or we say things in the wrong spirit or we sometimes intentionally try to deceive or hurt with our tongues. Some of us more than others, yes, but all of us have a problem with our words. (And while we are at it let’s be sure that in this high tech, social media age, we include the words we produce with our fingers through texting, email, Facebook, etc.) Men have recognized this for ages. Shakespeare said, “Give thy thoughts no tongue.” That’s why the Scripture has so much to say about words. In WWII an ad campaign warned, “Loose lips sink ships.”

God wants us to beware with our words too.

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” (13:3)
“An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous escapes from trouble.” (Prov 12:13)
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov 18:21)
“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3:2)
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5)
“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

Folks, let’s listen to the wisdom of God and let the Holy Spirit direct us in the use of our words. Before you speak or type, ask the Lord if the words you are about to use will bring glory to him. Does what you want to say and the attitude of your heart in the way you want to say it make the gospel look good? If not, don’t say it. Don’t type it. The world certainly doesn’t need more verbiage — especially of the non-edifying kind.

Let us all pray with David: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) Or again, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (Psalm 141:3) Paul told Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Prayer: Father, help me guard my words. Help me guard my heart attitude that wants to spill forth words that are not pleasing to you. Help me to honor you with my lips and my writing. Through your Holy Spirit’s power, O God, please tame my tongue.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Hard vs Easy Forgiveness

READ Proverbs 9-10

One of the most often misused verses of the Bible is Proverbs 10:12 and its counterpart in the New Testament 1 Peter 4:8: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Too often the one who has sinned wants to use this verse and apply it to others to avoid the consequences of his sin. In others words, the thinking is “if you love me, you won’t be offended by my sin and you will overlook it.” The sinner wants easy forgiveness.

But that is not the intent of the sin at all as a careful look at several verses will show. The Bible is directing this verse not for the one who sins to find an easy path but for the one who is sinned against. This helps that person to know the heart of our loving Heavenly Father who actively forgives our sins and covers them with the blood of Christ. This is hard forgiveness that requires sacrifice of the forgiver.

James 5:20 gives us very helpful clarity: “let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” As those who have been forgiven by God we are free to forgive and to help guide the sinner back to the Lord, rather than feeling a need to gain revenge for the sin. Our love will cover their sin.

So who has sinned against you? But you may say, “You don’t know. It was too grievous to forgive.” But the Scripture says “love covers all offenses.” You have been forgiven of sin against a holy and righteous God. Nothing anyone else does to you remotely compares with that (see Matthew 18:21-35). You can forgive with Christ’s help.

Prayer: Father, please give me a forgiving heart. Help me to know what is the joy of forgiveness for others. Help me to show your love to all.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mouth, Eyes, Feet & Hands for God

READ Proverbs 5-6

Solomon describes the kind of person that a Christian should not be in 6:12-14. Notice he calls him “a worthless person, a wicked man.” This is a person who has no desire to live in a godly righteous way that pleases the Lord. Everything about him causes trouble for others (14b). He uses his mouth (12), his eyes, feet and hands (13) to deceive.

But finally Solomon gets to the root of the problem: “with perverted heart devises evil” (14). There’s the issue. This person’s heart, his innermost being, is the source of his worthless wickedness. Jesus taught about that in the Sermon on the Mount.

But we are not that person because we have a new heart and our inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16). God is at work in us to give us the desire and ability to live a godly live that honors and pleases him (Phil 2:13). Christian, we can stop acting like that worthless man that we once were and we can put on the new man in Christ-likeness. Go make the gospel look good.

Prayer: Father, on this day help me to walk in integrity before you. Help me to be worthy not worthless. Help me to glorify you with my thoughts, words and actions. Help my mouth, eyes, feet and hands to declare your glory.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wise Words About the Word

READ Proverbs 1-2

Proverbs 2 begins by telling us the value of God’s Word and how we should approach it. We should submit (“receive”) ourselves to the Word and love (“treasure”) the Word (2:1). We should study (“attentive,” “inclining,” “seek” and “search”) the Word (2:2, 4). And as we do, we should pray (“call out” and “raise your voice”) for God’s help (2:3).

But what is the blessing of all this? How does Solomon say that we benefit from this approach to the Word? He lists a few things in this chapter. First, “then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (2:5ff) Second, “then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path” (2:9ff). Next, “so you will be delivered form the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words” (2:16ff). Finally, “So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous” (2:20ff).

Fairly simple isn’t it? Why should you and I be devotees of the Word of God? Because it will help us to truly know him and his ways. And we will grow in our understanding of the right ways to live and deal with others. Also, it will protect us from sin, especially the lure of immorality (adultery, porn, etc.). Then it will help us to live a life that is pleasing to God. So learn from King Solomon. Be a student of the Word.

Prayer: Father, help us to love your Word because of our love for you. Help us to treasure it and study it and, most of all, to live it every day by your grace.