Overflowing Life

Proverbs 9:11
“For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.”

Jesus promised, those who believe in Him would be the recipients of eternal life. He also promised we would have abundant life while we live.

John wrote in 1 John 1:5:12, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 

We will never experience the abundant life God intends for us until we first receive Christ and begin to walk with Him. Scripture promises the love of God will flood our hearts, the peace of God will guard our minds, and the life of God will well up within us like a fountain, flowing out upon others around us. Once we receive Christ, we begin to experience the abundant grace of God flowing into our lives. Paul knew this kind of life, and it enabled him to celebrate the Lord, even in the most difficult situations.

There are, however, many Christians who are failing to experience abundant life. They seem to be constantly downtrodden and defeated. In some cases, it may be a result of failing to choose the path of wisdom. Solomon explains that true wisdom has, as its goal, a desire to live pleasing to the Lord. When we walk that road (when all decisions are filtered through a desire to do what is right in the eyes of God), we will find “our days are multiplied and years of life are added.” Things are simply better when we follow the Lord and do it His way. So often, our will fights against the will of God. When we resist Him, we fail to see that His desires are best for us. The height of life is always reached when we surrender all to Christ, and live in obedience to His Word.

Let’s commit together to begin each day by offering ourselves to the Lord, and looking at our circumstances in the light of Scripture. Begin each day this week by dedicating yourself to Him, praying for the things you are facing, and reading His Word. End each day by examining your actions in light of the Lord and His Word. Let’s see how far He can take us down the road of abundant life.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Joel 1- Unattended Children
Joel 2- Turn To Me

A Fork In The Road

Proverbs 8:2
“She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.”

Have you ever been following someone’s directions to a place you have never been, and encountered an unexpected fork in the road? When that happens, we are forced to stop, study the map again, ask for help, and make a decision as to which way to go. Solomon tells us, that in life, when we encounter the unexpected fork in the road, wisdom is there to meet us, and provide direction for our lives. While wisdom is always available to us, there are times when it may be more difficult to know the right path to take. Solomon gives a description of wisdom so we will be able to recognize it the next time we are in need.

Proverbs 8:7 “For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.”

God’s wisdom will always lead us away from wickedness and sin. Later, Solomon defines the fear of the Lord as hating evil (Proverbs 8:13). Any direction that leads you closer to sin, or away from fellowship with God, is not the way of wisdom. If you are trying to decide whether to go out with the guy from work, look at his life. Has he been showing evidence that he wants to walk with, serve and please God? If you are trying to decide about a move. Is there a healthy church nearby where you will be able to continue to grow in Christ and raise your family around the things of the Lord? The way of wisdom always leads us toward the Lord.

Proverbs 8:12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion.

Wisdom does not travel alone, she has a partner named Prudence. Prudence is defined as the ability to govern oneself, especially as it related to being circumspect in times of peril. We are able to recognize the way of wisdom when we realize that God’s way will always lead us to denying the flesh, and to personal growth in Christ. We were all taught about adrenaline and the body’s “fight or flight” reaction to danger. It is natural for all of us to want to avoid danger or difficulty; to choose the easy road over the difficult one. There are times, however, when God wants us to take the more challenging road, because He desires to do a work within us. That work will always involve the cutting away of the flesh. While that may be difficult, the end of that road, is our becoming the persons God created us to be, in Christ.

Proverbs 8:20 “I traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice”

Righteousness, like holiness, is a word we sometimes struggle to define. I recently saw a sign that referred to a location as a holy site, and stated “no smoking, bare feet or loud talking.” Apparently, their definition of holy was to be quiet, not smoke and have covered toes. Biblical righteousness is best defined as becoming more like Jesus, and the path of wisdom always leads us to Christ.

Proverbs 8:23 “I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”

Solomon takes us back to the very beginning, when all things were created, and reminds us that wisdom was there. We learn true godly wisdom does not change when culture does. The things that will lead us toward or away from God, do not change like the tide. Cultural mores may be different now than they were back in the “good old days”, but the wisdom of God has not changed. Regardless of what Hollywood says, or what new laws are passed in Washington, the wisdom of God will never change. Sin will always be sin, and righteousness will always be righteousness. Wisdom and prudence lead us to knowledge and discretion.

Let’s be sure, as we face a fork in the road, that we are looking for signs that point to heaven’s wisdom.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Hosea 13 – Smoke
Hosea 14-Healing for the backslidden

Falling Down

Proverbs 7:24
“Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth”

This chapter is given entirely as a warning against the danger of falling into sexual sin. It is written as a letter from a father to his son, pleading with him to avoid the things that will lead to sin. While this sin is perhaps more common among young men, it is a sin we all must avoid. The principles found in this chapter will apply to guarding against all sin. To grasp the danger being warned against, look at what happened to this young man who turns aside from the Lord for sinful pleasure.

Proverbs 7:22 “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks . . .“

While it seems as though he was suddenly destroyed by sin, it was actually quite a long road that took him there, and one filled with warning signs he chose to ignore. Falling from the Lord is never something that takes place over night. This young man’s failure illustrates the steps that always lead to a fall.

First, we read he was a young man. While he may have thought of himself as all grown up, in reality he was quite immature. We read he was “simple and devoid of understanding.” Hebrews 5 refers to a group of people who should be teaching others, but because they had failed to grow in Christ, they were still behaving like baby Christians. It is appropriate for an infant to act like a baby, but it is sad when an adult is still behaving childishly. Growth in Christ does not happen simply by being a believer for a long period of time. We grow when we invest in our relationship with the Lord. Failure to do so will make us susceptible to a fall.

Second, we read of the young man walking the street that led to her home. His failure was a result of being in the wrong place. Instead of choosing a different route, he walked where he should not have been. We cannot expect to come right to the edge of sin and not fall off that cliff. To avoid a fall we need to steer clear of the things that will incite the flesh and lead to failure.

Third, this young man is walking alone. Many of our failures could be avoided if we got others involved in the fight. Had this young man walked those same streets with a godly friend, they could watch each other’s back, and encourage each other in order to avoid failure. Finding someone who will be an encouragement to you in your walk, involves being in church regularly, stepping out of your comfort zone to get to know others, and letting down some guards so others can know how to pray for and encourage you. There are certain aspects of our walk with the Lord where we must walk alone, but for the most part, God did not intend for us to travel this road alone.

Finally, our traveler fell because he ignored the obvious warning signs. Whatever he was thinking, the moment she used the word “husband,” he should have known this was not a path to continue on. The correct response at that moment was to flee. The problem was, he had allowed himself to reach a point of no return. Once he began following his desires, rather than the Word of the God, those desires began to control him. Flattering words mixed with her embrace, her kiss and her seduction, brought him to a point where failure was inevitable. We must deal with temptation long before we get to the point where it is too strong to avoid. If we are honest, we will recognize that before we fail, we have passed sign after sign warning us to turn around and travel some other route.

Before we come to the slaughter house of sin, let’s take the time to examine our lives in light of these warnings.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Hosea 11- Bands of love
Hosea 12- Unnecessary Assistance

The Ant

“Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-8

Solomon used the natural world as a teacher of spiritual truth. Not to the extent that his understanding of God was built on what he saw in nature, but rather that nature has a way of illustrating many Biblical truths. In Proverbs, it is common to find references to the animal kingdom as a teaching method.

The ant is a means of reminding us of the need to plan ahead. To the casual observer, they seem to have no ruler, yet they all march in line to store up for the future. Solomon suggests the reason we fail to prepare for what is ahead is laziness. Twice in the passage, the man who does not plan for his future is referred to as a sluggard. Webster defines a sluggard as an habitually lazy person, or someone who is inactive.

While it seems clear, Solomon has our financial well being in mind, this truth has its fullest application in preparing for eternity. Every person, rich or poor, man or woman, free or slave, will one day breathe his last and step out of time and into eternity. Tragically, not all of us are prepared for that eventuality. Some put it off thinking they will get around to it later, only to be caught, by death, unaware. Others, purposely try to avoid any thought of death or eternity by filling their minds with earthly things. Whatever the case, we must “go to the ant” and learn to prepare for our ultimate fate; being face to face with the God who made us.

The way to prepare for eternity is first to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. Accept the fact that you are a sinner and He is the Savior. Bow your head, your heart, and your life to Him and ask Him to forgive your sins. Second, we need to store up treasures in heaven by living for Him on earth. Take time to pray for others and tell them about your relationship with Christ. Look for ways to get involved in serving Him by ministering to others.

Go to the ant, Heaven is waiting.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Hosea 10 – Sow What

On The Edge

Proverbs 5:14
“I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

“The assembly of the congregation”, or in our case, the church, was designed by God as a means to help the individual believer grow in Christ. The Word of God, corporate worship, and fellowship, were all designed by God to help each of us grow in Christ. When we come to church with a soft heart, eager to hear from God, His Word has a way of speaking directly into the things we are facing; equipping us in advance against trials and temptation. When we enter worship, with a desire to give back to God for all He has given to us, we find we draw near to Him, and surrender more of ourselves to Him. When we develop honest fellowship with other believers, we are willing to ask for prayer and counsel. When we remain open to share our struggles, we find that iron sharpens iron, and we are able to overcome sin and temptation.

That being said, it is dangerous when we enter the assembly of the congregation, put on a mask, and begin to play the Christian game. By wearing a smile and speaking our best Christianese, we convince others that all is well, when in reality we have begun to wander from the Lord. Instead of allowing the Word to do its work in our lives, by convicting, instructing, and changing, or taking advantage of the fellowship of the saints, we use our church time to pretend all is well.

Solomon warns of the danger of living like that. He declares, it is possible to be on the verge of total ruin, while standing in the midst of the assembly. Backsliding begins long before we stop gong to church. It starts when we begin to pretend all is well; when truly we have begun to drift. Instead of putting on your best mask, come to the fellowship with a hunger for the Word, a desire to worship, and an eagernes to glean all you can from other believers.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Hosea 7- Silly Bird
Hosea 8- Watch Your Step

Healthy Home

Proverbs 4:3-4
“When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live.’”

Solomon is giving us a brief glimpse into his home life. In these verses we learn he was raised in an environment of love. He proudly refers to himself as his father’s son and the only one in the sight of his mother. Whatever cultural experiences he might have had being the son of a king, his parent’s love for him was clearly evident. We also see, Solomon was raised on the Word of God. Although David carried the responsibility of caring for the entire nation, he did not neglect the responsibility of caring for his own son. He took the time to instruct Solomon in the ways of wisdom and the Word of God.

These are two key ingredients that must be found in every Christian home. Children need parents that love them, and express that love in such a way, they believe they matter more than anything else to their parents. Certainly, there were times when the responsibilities of the Kingdom took David away from the home, requiring his undivided attention. He seemed to have made a point not to let his children think the Kingdom mattered more to him than they did.

King David had the resources of the kingdom at his disposal. He would be able to provide the best tutors for his children, and send them to the best schools. While it is necessary to have help, we must realize, as parents, we are the primary players in the spiritual development of our children. Sunday school teachers and youth pastors are a huge blessing, and can have a tremendous influence on our children, for the Lord. However, we, as parents, need to make the primary investments of the things of God, into the lives of our kids.

I think the reason it is somewhat difficult to do this, is because of the fact, we cannot give what we do not have. I am incapable of helping my son with his calculus homework, because I do not understand the subject. Some parents are the same way with the Bible. If you do not spend time reading the Bible, you will not have anything to share with your children or others.

The key to investing the things of the Lord in the lives of your children, is taking time to, first, make those investments in your own life.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Hosea 4- Confusion
Hosea 6- Come back

Benefits

Proverbs 3:1
“My Son, do not forget my law”

Have you ever heard someone ask, “What’s in it for me?” As if they will not consider the cost of doing something, unless they can understand the personal benefits they will derive. In light of that, notice how Solomon goes to great lengths to express the benefits of living a godly life.

 

Proverbs 3:2. “For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.”

Proverbs 3:4. “And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3:8. “It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”

Proverbs 3:16. “Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor.”

Proverbs 3:17. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

Proverbs 3:22-23. “So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.”

Proverbs 3:26. :For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.”

Proverbs 3:35 “The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools.”

Long life, peace, favor, wealth, pleasantness, safety, protection and glory are just a handful of the blessings on the path of godliness. Sadly, we often step off the straight and narrow path, because we think there is something better on the other side of the fence. The only thing the narrow road is keeping you from, is that which will lead you away from the Lord, and into a life of misery. It is time to put our hands to the plow, keep our eyes on the Word, and press forward in the Lord. The end of that road is the greatest glory, and the path is filled with righteousness.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Hosea 2- Undue Influence
Hosea 3- Sale Rack