Insights from Proverbs 5

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Insights from Proverbs 5 for the 5th:

I can sum up Prov. 5 in 5 words: Keep it in your pants.

If you would like to…

  • Not drink poison?
  • Not get sliced up by a sword?
  • Not wander aimlessly?
  • Not give away your hard-earned $$$?
  • Not let your hard-work enrich someone else?
  • Not lose your honor & dignity?
  • Not groan & mourn?
  • DODGE TOTAL RUIN?

Then, keep it in your pants.

Drink from your own cistern. Let that wellspring be yours alone. Never share it with strangers.

“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” – 1 Cor. 7:2-3

Common sense, right?

Never be intoxicated with another man’s wife. Never embrace a seductress. Doing so is equal to cozying up to a mousetrap, or snuggling a live grenade. It will not end well. In great folly, you are led astray and death surely follows.

A healthy marriage is centered on Jesus, rooted in trust, and grows in love. Of course there are ups & downs, but weathering the storms together draws us closer. Protect your marriage. Don’t take it for granted. Honor your spouse. Don’t take them for granted.

The greatest thing a Dad can do for his children is to love, respect, and cherish their Mom.

Great stuff. Extremely practical. Very simple. All my favorites.

[Bonus: If you think the Bible is boring, read verse 19.]

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To Show Himself Strong

V0016540 Grace Darling rowing out to sea in a furious storm. Colour w

I would like to share a verse with you that has encouraged me & fed me on many difficult nights:

“For the eyes of the Lord run to & fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9a

I know many of you are facing awful times. Difficulty & trial seem to be your only trusty companions. Life seems impossible. You feel like you are being crushed under the weight of it all. You can hardly even breathe.

The eyes of the Lord continuously search. He’s looking for just a chance to show how strong He is on the behalf of His children. Claim this promise! Write it over your heart. Repeat it to your dark night.

The Hebrew word for “run to and fro” (shuwt) also holds within it the word picture of a “mariner rowing the sea with oars.” That, to me, seems more appropriate. The storm is raging. The waves are roaring. Each row of the oar is met with strenuous resistance. The mariner puts his full body into moving the vessel into more tranquil waters.

He sees. He sees your tears. He is on your side. He will supply. His arm is not short. He will show Himself strong on your behalf!

It is true, we have a relentless enemy. It is true, he will not give up. He attacks and then attacks again. But what’s also true is that he’s already defeated.

Our Champion is even more relentless. Jesus will not give up. He pursues us and then He pursues us some more. Jesus is victorious.

Is your heart loyal to Him?

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Ref: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7751.htm

Self-Interest

self-interest

You may not want to read this one. Skip it, that’s ok.

Pilate wasn’t stupid. He knew that Jesus was innocent (Matt. 27:23). He knew the Jews wanted Jesus dead. Pilate also knew something else about the Jews: their motive.

“For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.” – Matt. 27:18 (NIV)

Isn’t that the same reason He is rejected today; self-interest? Doesn’t self-interest often lead to violence, like in the case just mentioned?

“Self-interest” is sometimes translated “envy,” but in Greek its literally “decay, break-down, and corrupt” [Properly, it’s a strong feeling that sours due to the influence of sin. Figuratively, it’s being glad when someone else experiences misfortune. The German have a word for that: “schadenfreude.” Its like “farfegnugen” only with pain.

Ouch! Read that again and then remember that this is the same reason Jesus is rejected today! Strong feeling that sours due to sin – it spoils us like sour milk. Thayer calls it a “miserable trait.”

It’s the feeling of jealous ill-will that “negatively ‘energizes’ someone with an embittered mind” (Strongs). Yeah, been there. Who hasn’t been negatively energized with a spiteful mind? So much so, that you go out and try to even the score or pull that person down from their high horse.

Now, get this: it always carries the idea of “displeasure at another’s good without longing to raise oneself to the level of him whom he envies, but only to depress the envied to his own level” (R. Trench, 90).”

You want to drag them down, not pull yourself up!

Pilate knew that. He could see it. I mean literally; “a tumult was rising” (verse 24). So he washed his hands of the situation.

Self-interest is the bane of our society. It is a scourge, a curse, and a terror. It is the vice on which our throats are squeezed. Apathy is king. The spirit of envy & embitterment, self-entitlement & schadenfreude devours all who entertain it – from the inside out.

You know who else has self-interest? Can you think of someone else that, if they are going down, then they are going to drag every last person down with them? Ring any bells? How about the great accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10)? The devil is the original self-interested. Self-interest is his wheelhouse.

That’s the bad news, but thanks be to God that there is Good News as well.

There is only one antidote. There is only one solution. There is only one cure: Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the Father of the heavenly lights (James 1:17).

  • Only Jesus can take that apathetic, cold, dead heart and resuscitate it.
  • Only Jesus can take that self-destructive self-interest and transform it, restore it, and renew it.
  • Only Jesus can unglue us from ourselves.
  • Only Jesus can turn us around from facing the mirror so we can serve & minister to the resident foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow (Jer. 22:3).
  • Only Jesus can exchange our soured souls.
  • Only Jesus.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

I told you, you might not want to read this one. But then again, aren’t you glad you did?

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http://biblehub.com/greek/5355.htm

THE RECIPROCAL RESPONSE TO GOD’S GRACE


God prefers love to Him & love to your neighbor above religious lip service. Worship with no heart disgusts Him.

Do you call the Sabbath a delight?

“If you turn away… From doing YOUR pleasure on MY holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight,… And honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD,”– Isa. 58:13-14 (Emphasis mine)

Where does God want the focus? On Him or your service? He desires you to actually WANT to worship, not HAVE to. If you want to worship God, then you will definitely find joy in the Sabbath!

God is not a means to an end – Serving God is satisfying in itself.

Far too often we have the incorrect response to God, myself included. Micah 6:8 is the correct response. He lays out what is required of God from His followers. This is is what’s expected:

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

Micah 6:8 is the RECIPROCAL RESPONSE TO GOD’S GRACE. It is a lifestyle of justice, mercy, and humility. It is the by-product of loving Jesus.

Let us all strive to embody His lofty requirements!

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Historic Upset


There was an historic upset last night in the NCAA tournament when the University of Maryland Baltimore County became the first 16-seed to ever upset a 1-seed, Virginia.

In other words, the team ranked last, beat the team ranked first (in fact, UVA was favored to win it all). But UMBC didn’t let that Goliath intimidate them, did they?

That’s the beauty of March Madness and tourney time: the past season doesn’t matter, all that matters is the present game!

Is this not also a beautiful reminder of how all of our past sins have been forgiven through Christ and that we need to “keep our heads in the game” by focusing on the present!

KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME!

The devil wants to run the tape of all your fouls and turnovers over & over in your mind’s eye. He wants to drudge up all those past mistakes &  transgressions because if he can, he can distract you. He plays dirty.

The Holy Spirit reminds us that those past missteps are just that: PAST! and that our Father remembers them no more. He reminds us that God loves us and that Jesus is our righteousness not anything we have done or not done!

So, forget last season’s losses, know that you are forgiven, and live in victory!

… and of course: Go Mounties!

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Ref:

http://www.richmond.com/sports/college/schools/university-virginia/historic-upset-uva-becomes-the-first-no-seed-ever-to/article_665c9416-2993-11e8-96fd-433f790b079b.html 

Porn & Purity

A-covenant-with-my-eyes

Pornography is an epidemic today. EPIDEMIC; I don’t use that word lightly or in hyperbole. It is a flat-out plague! I would say porn is the “leprosy” of our times. It is contagious, infectious, and poisonous. It leaves festering DEATH & DESTRUCTION in its vile wake; the death of marriages, the death of families, and the death of life.

The age at which a child can be exposed to porn is UNSPEAKABLY young; as early as 6 or 7! Temptation is constantly & conveniently just one click away. Snares are readily available now more than ever. In fact, they are in your very pocket. That is why it is absolutely vital to stand for purity and dig deeper into God’s word. 

MAKE PURITY A PRIORITY!

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” – Isa. 7:9 (NIV)

Lust has always run rampant, but today it is in a dead-on sprint (Gal. 5:19-21).

Gentlemen, it is time to MAN UP!

  • Honor your Lord (Rom. 13:14).
  • Honor your wife (Heb. 13:4).
  • Honor your children (Phil. 4:8).

Ladies, pray for your man!

One verse has served me well in this area:

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” – Job 31:1

Is it worth losing your family, your career, or your self-respect over one moment? Guilt and shame make for terrible bedfellows.

So, what’s the solution?

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. – Psa. 119:9

Want to live a pure life? Live it according to God, not man. God’s ways are the best ways. Do you know them? Stepping outside of His ways ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS involves negative consequences.

  • He isn’t about withholding “good things” from you.
  • He is about withholding BAD THINGS from you!
  • Do you believe that?

Want a pure life? Live according to God’s word – this will help you REGRET-PROOF your future.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28-29 that anyone who looks lustfully has committed adultery in their heart. That’s a convicting verse. Jesus is looking from the inside out. My advice: Give your heart to Him because you and I are just going to foul it up.

Job made a covenant with his eyes. Make that same covenant, won’t you? Pray for us all.

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The Potter & The Clay


God sent Jeremiah on a field trip to a potter’s studio where he saw an artist forming & fashioning clay as he saw fit. The end result was a beautiful, useful pot.

This simple, but powerful analogy illustrates how God shapes the lives of nations & individuals.

With total authority, God patiently & purposefully uses circumstances & people to mold us into what He desires.

He forms us into His image, we do not form Him into ours!

To be in God’s will is to be on His wheel.

When we face difficulties, often we ask, “God, why is this happening?” But we must remember to trust the hands of the Potter. His way is best, even when we can’t understand it. He knows how hot to make the kiln and how long to keep us in there. Without faith, it is impossible to please God! (Heb. 11:6)

Jeremiah 18 is a wonderful reminder that God loves to remake marred vessels. He continually sanctifies us. Without the Potter, the clay can do absolutely nothing! Yield & submit to the Potter; His ways are best.

He is in the people-molding business. God looks at that marred lump of clay and sees the potential pot yet to be formed in the future.God can use whatever He wants in order to turn you into an honorable vessel for His service; pain, relationships, promotions, & demotions.

This may seem depressing – but when you really think about it, it’s VERY HOPEFUL!

  • God doesn’t give up on you.
  • He knows what He is doing,.
  • He will create the best version of you that you will allow Him to create!
  • That is a powerful message!

It’s really a story about the Potter’s Grace!

When you see a wonderful & beautiful vase, you don’t think that the vase made itself: you marvel at the Maker!

If this blessed you, please Like & Share!

For this teaching in its entirety, IM me your email address and I would be happy to share it!

Ref:

Why Are Churches Dying?

closed-church

Churches are dying. Some are thriving, but the overwhelming majority are not. Attendance is dwindling. Most are hanging on by a thread. Many will have to shut their doors in as little as one generation.

A lot of this is because we live in a Post-Christian society that embraces the emerging postmodern worldview.

  • Millennials (born ’82-’04) aren’t being reached.
  • Generation X (born ’61-’81) & Y (born ’77-’95) are dropping out.
  • Baby Boomers (born ’46-’64) are ready to pass the torch.
  • The Builders (born ’25-’45) are going home.

Look, people: we are at a tipping point. It is the 4th quarter and we are trailing.

We must re-think, re-tool, and re-frame. We must shift, evolve, and adapt.

If not, we will be mourning church closing after church closing.

“Churches across this country are going out of business, closing their doors, because they’ve lost their relevancy. They chose not to change with the times. They chose to keep people over 60 happy and forget about reaching people under 30. They, like my granddaddy, measured faithfulness by doing things the same way year after year, regardless of the response or the results.” – Edward H. Hammett

Please read that quote again only slower this time.

(I can feel you nodding your head in agreement.)

Traditions are great. But if traditions are only servicing personal preferences, then we need to take a hard look at them.

  • Are we inwardly-focused or outward?
  • If we closed, would the community even notice?
  • Are we a museum for saints or a hospital for sinners?

I know these are tough questions, but they need to be asked and honestly answered.

I’m convinced that people love Jesus, but have lost their love for church. I’m not saying that is correct, I’m just saying that seems to be the trend. The next generation does not see the relevancy church.

How do we reach a new generation for Jesus Christ? How do we help them fall in love with church again?


Ref: Hammett, Edward H. Reaching People under 30 While Keeping People Over 60: Creating Community Across Generations (TCP the Columbia Partnership Leadership Series): TCP Books, 2015.

http://thomrainer.com/2017/08/dying-churches-die/

Together Again


“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

We look at Humpty Dumpty with a healthy dose of judgment, don’t we? What was he thinking? An egg sitting up on a wall like that? Ridiculous fellow. This is bound to end in tears. Got what he deserved, if you ask me.

However, we are exactly like Humpty Dumpty.

We are all just as fragile as that overconfident egg. We are all carelessly living right on the edge. We irresponsibly dangle our legs over the wall. We wave and whistle to those passing by, “Hey, look at me!” It is only a matter of time before we lose our balance and have our own great big fall. The fall will break us. We will be broken. Then what?

The king’s horses and the king’s men won’t be able to help, that’s for sure. Even “all” of them! I’m not sure what kind of help a horse was supposed to offer anyways. It just goes to show you that when you’re lying there all cracked to pieces on the pavement, you’ll call on anything and everything for help… even a horse! Well, Mr. Ed can’t help you and men can’t either.

Men can’t put you back together again.

It is only Jesus that can put Humpty together again. Jesus is the only One able put you back together again too.

“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” – Jer. 17:14

I know this was a tad bit silly, but the truth remains: If you’ve fallen, Jesus can help you pick up all the pieces. If you’re broken, Jesus can get you back on your feet. If you’ll let Him.

“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.” – Jer. 33:6


Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpty_Dumpty

The Little Engine That Couldn’t

the little engine that could

We are all familiar with “The little engine that could.” A little steam engine pulls a big train over a big hill, or (depending on the version) a little engine is loaded with an abnormally large cargo and has to make it over that big hill. He ends up doing so by believing in himself and relying on his own strength. He chugs slowly up the hill. With every inch he repeats the famous phrase: “I think I can. I think I can.”

This is a wonderful fable about positivism and self-reliance. I get that. But please understand: it is fiction both literally and figuratively. Eternally-speaking, no amount of positive thinking or determination will help you. The impossible task set before us, that hill so high, that load so heavy; cannot be overcome on our own tenacity.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

You might as well be saying: “I know I can’t. I know I can’t.”

Now, before you run me out of town as a Debbie-downer, remember there is hope. There is such wonderful hope because: I know the One who can.

Jesus can get you over that hill. Jesus can help you bear that load. But you have to let Him. He won’t take over without your consent.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Gal. 2:20

I know I can’t, but I know God can. “I know God can, I know God can” should be our famous phrase.

We are the little engine that couldn’t… but relied on Jesus who could!

Not as catchy, I know, but much more true.


Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Engine_That_Could