Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wisdom and Discretion

One of the best things we can do for our daily walk with God is read a chapter of Proverbs.  We think we are wise, but if we neglect the wisdom that God gives in this down to earth book we are foolish.  Proverbs 2 is a powerful chapter.  It deals with discretion which we will think of as the result of wisdom.   Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:   Proverbs 2:11  

Every where we go there seems to be a lack of discretion.  We lack discretion with what we do, what we say, what we think, what we read, etc.  The list could literally go on until the end of this article.  My prayer today needs to be my prayer for the rest of my life.  "God, give me discretion."

Take the time to read the entire chapter, but focus in on the first five verses.  The key word here is "if."  If we want wisdom and discretion we must search for it.  If we want wisdom and discretion we must use what we read.  This is the greatest error we are all guilty of preforming when it comes to walking with God.  We do not put to practice what we read.

The Bible was written with the intention of being used on a practical level.  When was the last time we have heard a message that we needed but we did not use?  The same question could be asked about our daily devotional life.  God speaks and we often listen and we often forget.  

Wisdom is found in the Bible.  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.   Proverbs 2:6  God does not hide it from us.  It is written for all of us to have.  The Holy Spirit is our teacher.

A closer examination of verses 12-19 shows us the clear danger of ignoring the wisdom of the Bible.  Living a day without discretion would create situations we would need delivered from in order to survive.  The wise writer speaks of those who forsake the guide.  If we are without discretion it is our own fault because we are forsaking our guide.  God promises wisdom to those who ask it.  The answer is found in the pages of God’s Word.  

This chapter ends with a reward for obedience.  Really whatever decision we choose for today has its own reward.  If we seek after wisdom and use the wisdom we find through discretion we will be rewarded the blessings found in verses 20-21.  

My prayer for those of you who read this article is that you will have a desire to have discretion today.  This means that you will practically apply God’s Word you your life.  This practical application will make us more like Him.  God give us wisdom and discretion. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Count Your Blessings.

One of the songs I enjoy singing in church is "Count Your Blessings." It was written in the late 1800's by Johnson Oatman, Jr. The first verse speaks of discouragement. What do we always focus on when we are battling the devil? We think of the battle. Some have said that if Satan is not fighting you then you must be doing something wrong.

 It is true that as Christians we should see our battles through the lens of a spiritual warfare. The fight we may have with people, things, and circumstances are not fights with people, things, and circumstances. They are part of our spiritual warfare. We grow weary in the fight and become discouraged.

 Why do we focus so much on the battle? Scripture leads our focus elsewhere. Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. Psalm 68:19 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Psalm 103:2 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? Psalm 116:12

 We are told not look at our circumstances, we must count our blessings. It is so easy to be discouraged. It is so easy to have the attitude that leads us to sing the song, "Wo is me. Everybody hates me. I think I'll go eat worms."

 What did the Psalmist say? He said that we are loaded with benefits. Psalm 68:19 ends with a musical term, "Selah." This word means to think about what you are singing. Remember that the Psalms are songs. When was the last time we thought about the hymns that we sing in church? We are creatures of habit. We tend to sing "Count Your Blessings" while we are thinking about a fight we just had, or while we are thinking about a bill that needs to be paid. Perhaps we are dwelling on a mistake we made. The point is we do not always think about what we are singing.

 If the purpose of the song service is to prepare our hearts for the preaching of the Word of God then we must meditate on those words we sing. This would lead us to the doctrinal truth this hymn was written to teach us. That truth is we are so forgetful of the benefits that God has given us. Let us stop what we are doing and just see how good God really is.

 My friend, are you dreary, are you heavy hearted? Then, "Count Your Blessings," and just as the song says, "It will surprise you what the Lord hath done."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thoughts on Pastoring

I have only been a pastor for a couple of months. I am by no means an expert. There is one lesson that has come to my attention rather quickly. There are battles that we are facing as a family that would not be waged if I was not a pastor. I am not speaking about people problems, counseling issues, etc. These are personal issues. These personal issues make the ministry the most exciting and the most difficult job in the world. Life has been a roller coaster from day one. People have been moved by the preaching. Visitation is making an impact on hearts in the community and in the church. God is working. So is the devil. Allow me to lift one verse from Galatians 6. This is an application of the the verse. It is Galatians 6:2. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. I want to encourage you to help your pastor carry his burden. How can you help your pastor? The first thing that comes to mind is to pray for him. He needs you to lift him up in prayer. The devil has him in his cross hairs. When your pastor came to pastor your church he placed his family on the devil's hit list. He needs to pray for a hedge of protection around him and around his family. He needs to pray for him when he is discouraged. He needs prayer as he prepares messages. He needs prayer before he preaches. He needs prayer as he plans. He needs prayer as he does the job of a pastor. Not only does he need prayer as a man of God, he also needs prayer as a family man. He is a husband and a father. If he looses his family you loose a pastor. He faces the same struggles every family faces. His family is not perfect. He wants to see his children grow up and serve God, but many children do not. Pray for them. So many speak of the pastor. They do not like his preaching, his direction he is leading the church, his people skills, etc. Criticism does not help him. Praying for him is also praying with him. You will be bearing his burdens with him in prayer. Make this a daily issue in your prayer life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Verse to Live by.

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 sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

What a verse! How often is this verse used to motivate us for revival? Consider the topic of revival. Revival can be thought of a movement from God. It is an awakening. Webster defined revival like this. 1. Return, recall or recovery to life from death or apparent death; as the revival of a drowned person. 2. Return or recall to activity from a state of languor; as the revival of spirits. 3. Recall, return or recovery from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity or depression; as the revival of letters or learning. 4. Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns. Four definitions, all focusing on doing what should have been done in the first place. Four definitions, all showing us that for some reason what should have been done was stopped. May I say, that is exactly what we need today. I believe that revival should be seen as a personal matter and not a national matter. If we see that this verse is speaking about us as individuals than we will see God work on a larger scale. With that being said we should consider this verse as a verse to live by.

The first thing that can be see is the personal relationship. Revival is for God's people. This is why I believe revival will not fix our government. It's not meant to. It is designed to help our homes and our churches. Are you one of God's people, by this I mean, are you saved? If not this verse does not apply to you. If you are saved does your relationship with God need to return to a former state? Do you need to have a renewed and more active attention to Him. Remember a relationship is more than knowing a person, it is getting to know a person. How well do we know God? Our lack of a personal relationship is one reason we make the wrong decisions because we do not know God well enough to know what He wants us to do.

The second thought from this verse is a humbling experience. Take note again of what Webster said. Notice the verse he used and the example he gave. 3. Lowly; modest; meek; submissive; opposed to proud,haughty, arrogant or assuming. In an evangelical sense, having a low opinion of one's self, and a deep sense of unworthiness in the sight of God. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. James 4. Without a humble imitation of the divine author of our blessed religion, we can never hope to be a happy nation. We are a very proud people. It is one thing to take pride in our work, meaning we strive to do our best. It is another to be boastful of what we do and what we have accomplished. Our pride hinders the work of God more than what we think. God wants to work through us but we are so filled with ourselves that there is no room for God. Remember this is a verse to live by. Meditate on what God thinks of pride. Make a conscience effort to be humble. God will show us how. He has a way of humbling us.

The third thought focuses on our prayer life. Seeking God's face is an earnest search. It is more than a "dear Jesus, help all the missionaries," type of prayer. If we seek God then it will help our personal relationship. It will help us to be humble because we would see Him as He is, the way Isaiah did in Isaiah chapter six. It will also help us with the next thought to live by.

The fourth thought to live by is we need to take our sin seriously. God calls sin wicked. We call sin a mistake or in some cases a disease. God wants us to turn from our wicked ways. Have you ever noticed in John chapter four when Jesus talked to the woman at the well He dealt with her sin. I realize that He was dealing with a lost person and it gives us an excellent picture of how to witness to someone. Let us make a personal application. We are all still sinners. Salvation did not make us perfect. We will be perfect when we receive that glorified body. However, right now we still have sin to deal with. Our problem is we like our sin. In fact when we are looking at ourselves we don't see sin as wicked. God does. My friend, we need to turn from our wicked ways. Do it God's way by seeking his face.

The last thought from this verse to live by is the promise that God gave. If we live by this verse God has promised to hear us. Do we long for God to hear us? If God hears us He will send revival to us. I wonder what would happen if one person lived by this verse? Is it possible for this to spread and effect the home and even the church? What would happen to a community if a church lived by this verse? It all starts with one person living by this verse. May God help us to live by 2 Chronicles 7:14

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Have you ever been overlooked?

One of the most popular Bible stories is that of David and Goliath. Goliath challenged the Israelites and no one was willing to fight the giant. Perhaps these soldiers were afraid of losing their lives, or maybe they knew they would loose their lives but the greatest fear was what would happen to the people of Israel. It does not matter why because there was a man named David.

David saw what was going on and was stirred up. Unlike many of us baptist, when he got stirred up he wanted to do something about it. David faced opposition from his own camp. King Saul said, And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." 1 Sam 17:33 (KJV) Saul thought David was not qualified.

Have you ever considered who David was at this point of his life. We are aware of his argument. God delivered him from the lion and the bear. Both tremendous accomplishments. (I couldn't do it.) I purpose there was more to David than what Saul saw. David was overlooked.

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. 1 Sam 16:18 (KJV) This is the chapter before that great victory. Saul is in search of someone to play the harp for him. David was recommended. These were the qualifications David had.

He was cunning in playing the harp. Any person who is an accomplished musician is someone who understands the value of personal discipline. My sister is the piano player at our church, and she is one of the best I ever heard. I remember her as a little girl always playing the piano. She would practice and practice and practice. Now she plays and teaches. Have you noticed how little personal discipline people have? No wonder very little is being accomplished for God today. It's as if God gets in the way of our entertainment. David was a man of personal discipline, we can learn something from this.

The next characteristic mentioned is that he was a mighty valiant man. The word valiant speaks of his courage. Believers should be courageous. We must be willing to stand for what is right. The church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. This takes courage. Anybody can compromise. It takes courage at work to not be ashamed of who we serve. It takes courage in the home to say as Joseph did, "as for me and my house we will serve the Lord."

David was also a man of war. What does it mean to be a man of war? A man of war knows what side he is on. A man of war understands the tactics of his enemy. A man of war is obedient. A man of war is self-sacrificing because he is serving a greater purpose. Are we men and women of war? There are many pew warmers. They are the Monday morning quarterbacks. They are not involved in the fight. A man of war is what we all should be.

The next characteristic is he was prudent in matters. Solomon is often given credit for his wisdom, but his father was wise as well. Wisdom is knowing how to apply the knowledge we have. We are under the preaching of the Bible, we read our Bibles. We have knowledge. Our problem is we do not use what we have.

Now we come to the fact he was a comely person. This means he was handsome. What makes us handsome in God's eyes? Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Psalms 33:1 (KJV) Praise is what makes us handsome to God. We often only praise God when He has done something for us. When it's testimony time at church we go through our Rolodex of "what have you done for me lately." We need to stop that because God is good. Yes, He is good to us, but He is good as well.

The last one is the Lord was with him. We may not be as talented as David was, but if God was with us then that is really what counts. Do we desire to have God's presence? We are doing the work of God. If God is not with us then we are working in vain.

David was overlooked by Saul. He did not see what we read in chapter sixteen. If you are a person in position of influence be careful not to overlook someone. You could be overlooking a man that God has chosen. If you are being overlooked do not be discouraged you will get your chance one day. Be faithful and God will use you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thoughts on Revival.

What is the greatest need in our country? Is it the repeal of the health care bill that our congress has forced upon us? Is it a boost in job growth? I would argue that the greatest need in our country is a Spiritual Awakening. I speak knowing mine own heart. I need revival. Contrary to what seems to be a popular belief, revival will not fix our government. It will help up the individual believers that make up the churches. It will refocus us on the main thing, which is world-evangelism.

With that as a foundation let us consider the second Beatitude. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matt 5:4 (KJV) It sounds like a paradox, mourning and comfort. What is the cause of the mourning? Is it loss? Is it grief? Consider mourning over sin. If the latter is the reason for the mourning then this verse would be a key verse in a revival. Godly sorrow worketh repentance. When we are right with God we are comforted by the Holy Spirit. What would we be like if we saw the mourning as grief over our own sins? What would we see God do, not just in our lives, but through us as well? Are we hindering the work of God because we are not mourners? I believe, now more than ever, we need a Spiritual Awakening. Not to fix the government, but to fix our country.

The prayer for revival requires a personal look. Do not look at our neighbors, that will mislead us into believing we are alright. Take an honest look at ourselves, by using the Bible as our standard. Our response would be like Isaiah in chapter six. It is not an enjoyable experience, but it is one that is needed.

May God help us as we mourn over our sins in our pursuit of the comfort of revival.