True Beauty

Proverbs 31:1
“The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him . . .”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1277.pngProverbs 31 is a section of Scripture most often taught at women’s conferences or retreats, because it goes to great length describing a virtuous woman. A more careful look will reveal this passage was actually instructions to the King, by his mother. It was her attempt to teach him how to find a godly wife. We find not only the characteristics that a virtuous woman ought to pursue, but also the traits a godly man should be looking for in a wife.

Each year a variety of media outlets declare their list of most attractive woman on the planet. In each case, it is the physical characteristics that are focused upon, without mention of true character. The king’s mother reminds him of the need to look beyond the surface, at true beauty.

Proverbs 31:30
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

I have always been struck by the fact that, in her 70′s, Sarah was still considered beautiful by the king of Egypt. Thinking she was the sister of Abraham, he pursued a relationship with her. Years later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter declares Sarah’s true beauty. He describes her as being chaste, gentle and one who feared the Lord (1Peter 3:1-6). While physical beauty is the first thing we notice in another, character and godliness are the traits that will last.

Men need to be careful not to be drawn to a women’s passing beauty, while ignoring true godliness. Women need to be careful not to rate their beauty above things that really matter in the kingdom of God. All the lighting, camera angles, and airbrushing cannot replace godliness or true virtue. Let’s not look at the latest fashion magazine as a mirror, but to the Word of God, so we become people who fear the Lord.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Malachi 3- Solid Gold
Malachi 4- Sound Of Silence

Lessons From Nature

Proverbs 30:24-28
“There are four things which are little on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
The ants are a people not strong,
Yet they prepare their food in the summer;
The rock badgers are a feeble folk,
Yet they make their homes in the crags;
The locusts have no king,
Yet they all advance in ranks;
The spider skillfully grasps with its hands,
And it is in kings’ palaces.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1267.jpgThis Proverb takes us to the natural world, in order to illustrate spiritual truths. The behaviors of four creatures are used to help us understand how to walk with the Lord.

The ant is an example of being prepared for the future. We are exhorted to live prepared for eternity. We do that by receiving Jesus Christ and walking daily, with Him. Jesus reminded us of the need to store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).

The rock badger is believed to be a small animal, much like a rabbit. Having no defenses of its own, it could not fight off a predator. The wisdom of this small creature is found in the fact that it dwelt in the rocks. For a predator to attack the rock badger, it must go through the rock. The believer must learn to hide away in Christ; He is our fortress, strong tower, shield and buckler, against the enemy’s assault.

The locust was known for always moving forward. Nothing could impede the advance of a locust swarm. Paul reminds the believer of the need to forget the past and move forward with the Lord (Philippians 3:13). For many of us, our past failures are keeping us from present experiences with the Lord, and from future victories for the kingdom. It is time to act like a locust and press forward.

Finally, we have all seen a spider run up the wall and across the ceiling. Their ability to hold on is amazing. We are reminded of the need to cling to the Lord. The heroes of the Christian faith were men and women who held tightly to the promises of God. When the storms of life hit, they clung to the promises, and like an anchor, those promises held firm.

As the new year approaches, keep in mind, no obstacle is so great that God cannot give you strength to confront it. Let’s be sure, above all else, we resolve to make our hiding place in the Lord.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:

Malachi 1- The Lord’s Cow
Malachi 2- Happy Marriage

Parenting

Proverbs 29:15
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

Proverbs 29:17
“Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1265.jpgBefore becoming the Pastor of Calvary Chapel Vero Beach, I spent eight years teaching in the classroom. The first five years I taught in middle school and the final three in high school. Those years proved to be both a wonderful experience and an excellent training ground for raising my own children. My first year was interesting to say the least. I was 23 years old and newly married. I had little experience dealing with preteens, except for the fact that I had been one. My approach in the classroom could have been called the “whose your buddy” method. I attempted to be the cool teacher, who never gave out detentions, office referrals, or parent contacts. The result was chaos. After a few months, I spoke with an aunt who had been in education for years. When I asked for her secret to order in the classroom, she explained that she did not have disciplinary problems, because she had a standard the students understood and she stuck to. Soon after, I observed another teacher who clearly stated the classroom standards and kept to them. When a student misbehaved, she did not become emotional, losing her cool and raising her voice, she simply pointed out that he was breaking the rules, and disciplined accordingly. Those experiences transformed my ability to instruct the children. Instead of spending all my time, energy, and prayer life, dealing with discipline, I was able to teach.

Solomon points out, this same principle should be applied to the home. We have all seen children misbehaving and parents doing nothing more than warning them to stop. As the child continues, the parent raises the level of his voice, until the parent has completely lost his cool. Soon, he begins to scream at the child, perhaps even grabbing the child forcefully by the arm, to snatch him up and leave without further embarrassment. If we are honest, we have not only seen that parent, but we have been that parent. The secret to successful discipline is having a clear biblical standard for our children. The result will be spending less time agitated and upset, and more time instructing and loving our kids.

Allow me to give a few guidelines. First, our standard is based upon how our Heavenly Father treats us. He is ever merciful and forgiving, and understands we are prone to failure. Never does God condone sin, but He is always ready to lovingly restore us, when we fail. One common failure among parents is, putting standards on children that they themselves could not keep. Second, when we must exercise discipline, this should become a teaching time. Instead of allowing our emotions to take over and reacting in anger or frustration, we want to clearly point out how our child has misbehaved. We must explain what the Bible says about proper behavior, consequences, and forgiveness. This is a critical time to hug and pray with our children. Finally, we must be sure the punishment fits the crime. Are we upset at our child because his behavior was wrong or because it embarrassed us in front of our peers? I have seen parents horrified at their child because they bit another child in Sunday school. While it is wrong to bite other kids, in some cases, the parents were more embarrassed by how that made them look, than at the infraction of their toddler. I have even known parents to stop coming to church because of the embarrassment. Keep in mind, your child’s behavior is not always a representation of your parenting. After all, God’s kids ate the forbidden fruit. Don’t discipline out of embarrassment, but discipline with kindness and affection, for the infraction that has been committed.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Zechariah 13- Stain Removal
Zechariah 14- Ready?

Shaky Ground

Proverbs 28:26
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1264.jpgWhen faced with decisions, it is not uncommon to be counseled to follow your heart. Solomon suggests that doing so is a very bad idea. He calls it folly. I can think of three reasons why it is foolish to follow your heart.

First, the Bible teaches that the heart is deceitful above all other things (Jeremiah 17:9). That means our hearts can trick us into doing things that are unhealthy or even detrimental. Our hearts, like our appetites, can desire things which are harmful to us. A friend of mine was diagnosed with high cholesterol and counseled to drastically change his diet. Upon receiving the doctor’s orders, his appetite did not suddenly change. He still hungered for fatty, fried, high cholesterol foods. The heart is the same way. We can long for things that God forbids, and our hearts can lead us away from the Lord.

Second, the heart is the seat of emotion. It is the place where emotions arise; and emotions are untrustworthy. We have all had the experience where, suddenly and without warning, our emotions change. We are happy one minute then suddenly we are saddened, afraid or filled with anxiety. A person who is trusting in emotions, is like a small boat in a violent storm. It is very difficult to navigate through life with emotions as our compass.

Finally, not only are our emotions fickle, but the desires of the heart are constantly changing. Many of the things we longed for in the past are hardly worth having today. Look back at some old photos and notice the hair cut you had to have, or the outfit that you spent your hard-earned money to buy. Like changing fashions, the heart is constantly desiring something new.

Rather than trusting in the heart, we should trust the promises of God. Instead of leading us away from the Lord, they will lead to a life that is well pleasing to Him, and beneficial to the ones we love. Unlike emotions, the promises of God are like bedrock upon which to build your life. When emotions, fashion, culture, and experience suddenly change, the Word of God remains as solid ground to stand upon.

Don’t follow your heart, follow the Lord.
Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Zechariah 11- It’s Not Worth It
Zechariah 12- Pierced

You Can’t Eat Just One

Proverbs 27:20
Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1902.jpgA few years ago, the Frito-Lay Corporation ran an ad for their potato chips with the slogan, “Bet you can’t eat just one.” The concept was simple, their chips were so good, so addicting, that once you tasted one, you would keep eating until the bag was empty. In this verse, Solomon points out, sin is like that. The word he uses for hell is Sheol, and can mean the grave. He is declaring, just as death is never satisfied, so desire for sin will never be satisfied by sinning. Often, when we are facing greater than normal temptation toward sin, we think one more look, touch or taste will satisfy the craving. What we find is, the desire comes back with greater force after it has been fed.

The children of Israel experienced this in the wilderness. Each morning they awoke to breakfast being served from heaven. This “Manna”, as it was called, was designed to satisfy their appetite during their journey through the desert. After years of the same food, they began to hunger for something else. When their craving became so great that they could no longer withstand it, they began to threaten Moses. In response, God promised to send them meat to satisfy their intense craving. Soon, a flock of quail flew into the camp and was trapped and killed by the people. With their lust for meat in full swing, they began to tear into the fowl, not waiting for it to be cooked properly, and the people became ill. With their lust for meat driving them, many died from sickness (Numbers 11). Later, this area became known as the Graves of Lust.

Feeding lust will never make the desire go away. The Bible tells us, the only hope for overcoming the desire for sin is to deny it. Paul declared, he considered himself to be crucified with Christ, and he treated sin as a dead man would (Galatians 2:20). We are exhorted to do the same. We are told, since we died with Christ, we are to treat sin as a corpse would. To do this, we must treat it as something of our past, not our present. We accomplish this is by not sowing to our sin nature, but removing ourselves as far as possible from its influence. In another place, Solomon asks, “can a man put fire on his lap and not get burned?” (Proverbs 6:27) The answer is obviously NO. In the same way, we cannot bring sin close, increase our desire for it, and not fall into it. The secret of success in the battle with the flesh, is to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Zechariah 9- Coronation
Zechariah 10- Cornerstone

Answers

Proverbs 26:4-5 “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest  he be wise in his own eyes.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1254.jpgSometimes, determining what God wants us to do can be quite difficult. We can have opposing principles, which can be found in the pages of the Word, applied to the same situation. That is the case with the advice Solomon is providing here. On the one hand, it is folly to attempt to correct a foolish man. Since his thinking is irrational, it is impossible to rationalize with him. The conversation becomes nothing more than a vain argument. On the other hand, if he is not corrected, he will continue on the same path with no hope of escape. When faced with these encounters, we are forced to make a split second decision, seeking God’s best for the situation. Many times we walk away having a much longer conversation with ourselves than we did with the other person; talking out all the things we should have said. Allow me to give just a few tips.

First off, since we do not know what encounters await us around the corner, we must prepare in advance. We will be prepared by spending time with the Lord and walking in the Spirit. I cannot express strongly enough, how often my morning devotions have prepared me for the encounters I face throughout the day. I have almost come to expect, I will have a conversation where I am able to draw from my morning reading. I have found, daily Bible reading puts me one step ahead of the situations I will face. Prayer is also a critical factor in being ahead of the game. Taking time in the morning to devote myself, my day, and my time to the Lord, will get me in the right frame of mind to be available when ministry opportunities arise. When Paul addressed the Ephesians, he wrote of “being filled with the Spirit.” Morning prayer time is the place to make that happen. As we begin the day pouring out ourselves and our needs to the Lord, we find we are filled with His love, power and Spirit.

Finally, when Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus he said, “the wind blows where it wishes, we do not know where it comes from or where it goes. Such are they who are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) Walking in the Spirit involves making myself available to the Lord and looking for His leading in my life. A chance encounter at the market, park, or school recital may, in fact, be a ministry opportunity. Often, taking the time to listen to someone and prayerfully considering how to answer, may provide the open door we need to see a person come to faith in Christ. Walking in the Spirit involves not being driven by emotion or circumstances, but being open to and looking for ways to be used by the Lord.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Zechariah 7- Do The Right Thing 

Merry Christmas

Zechariah 6:12-13
“Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out… And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

IMG_6306 2.JPG
The Bible speaks of the riches of the grace of God. Grace is a word that refers to God’s giving nature. James 1:17 puts it this way, “Every good and perfect gift comes from the father of lights in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” Certainly, life is filled with gifts given from heaven to earth. When we gaze into the face of nature, or a new born child, we cannot help but think of the grace of God. Nevertheless, every other gift pales in comparison to the gift given on the first Christmas morning. God wrapped His Son in human flesh and gave Him to mankind to be Savior and Lord. The young Child who was born in a stable, and laid in a manger, would grow to become what the apostle John called, “the propitiation for our sins, and not ours only but the sins of the whole world” (1John 2:2). As the years went by, He would move from a manger to a cross, where He would die, to pay the debt of sin, and reconcile man to God. As you give and receive gifts this Christmas, it is our prayer you would receive the greatest gift ever given, and put your trust in Christ, as Savior and Lord.

Merry Christmas, Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Zechariah 5- Curses
Proverbs 25- Truth Bearer