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

 

Valley Of Decision 

1 Kings 18:21
“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.”

For thousands of years, men have stood in the valley of decision, unwillingly to make a complete commitment to the Lord. Fear, guilt, weakness, sin, and the influence of others, hold us back from surrendering to the Lord. The words of Elijah are as needful today as ever. He calls us to carefully consider the Lord, and make a decision to commit our lives to Him.

In every age, men are persuaded to become like the culture in which they live. The moral code of culture pulls us to reject the high standard of holiness found in the pages of God’s Word, and to accept immorality as the norm. At the same time, a resounding voice cries out from heaven, calling us to commit ourselves to Christ.

Rather than waiting for others to make a decision for you through the persuasion of the culture, why not commit to Christ and become the one who influences others. As you forsake the world and commit all to Christ, you will find that your life has a great impact on others for the kingdom of Heaven.

Time is running out, and today is the day of salvation. Make the choice to follow Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Forgive

Luke 6:38
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

IMG_1489Giving is an important part of being a Christian. Our checkbook often reflects our heart. The things that matter most to us are the things on which we spend our hard earned money. When we are struggling about whether we can trust God with our finances, we are sometimes reminded of this verse. While it is true God is trustworthy and we will never be able to out give Him, I think we have missed a key message from this verse. Note with me the context; Jesus has been speaking of the Father’s mercy. He tells us God is kind to the unthankful and the evil, and we should be like our heavenly Father. Rather than being critical of every action, we should forgive one another.

Forgiveness is a simple concept: it means to treat someone as though they had never wronged you. In the U.S., once a person has been acquitted of a crime, they can never be charged for that crime again. It has been forgiven. In the same way, when someone wrongs us, we must forgive them; we must acquit them of all charges, and treat them as if it never happened. A common phrase today is “forgive and forget”, but the reality is, the things that are hardest to forgive, are the things we cannot forget. Forgiveness is a choice. I must determine not to let the wrongs done to me stand in the way of behaving like my Heavenly Father and being merciful and kind to the unthankful. When we choose to forgive, Jesus promises that within us we will experience an overflow.

Perhaps what you need is a release from some past hurt that is holding you back. This morning, will you choose to forgive? Then you will see Him fulfill all He has promised.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Pastor Jim

 

Curse Or Choice

Genesis 26:7
“And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, ‘She is my sister’; for he was afraid to say, ‘ She is my wife,’ because he thought, ‘lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.’”

2015/01/img_1326.jpgA few years back, an interesting term began to circulate through the church. The term I am referring to is “generational curse.” It meant families were cursed by the sins committed in generations passed. Once this diagnosis was given, an elaborate system was developed to rid the families of this curse. The basis for the curse was a poor understanding, and improper application of the idea that the sins of the fathers will be upon their children (Exodus 20:5). The encounter between Isaac and Abimelech serves as a much better example of how sins are repeated from generation to generation.

Earlier in Genesis, we read of Abraham and Sarah traveling to Egypt. As they approach the city, Abraham tells his wife of a plan he had developed to keep himself safe. That plan was to lie to the people, and claim Sarah is his sister. Knowing the danger to a foreigner in the land, Abraham saw his scheme as the only way to protect himself and his wife. A few years later, Abraham would repeat this same act. Now his son is grown and facing a similar threat, and he naturally acts as he has been taught by his father. There was no generational curse on Isaac. Instead, we have a young man behaving after the example set by his father.

This is an all too common problem. When a child grows up in an abusive home, he learns by example, that the way to deal with conflict is by force; he often treats his children as he was treated. The same is true with substance use and abuse. When children grow up in a home where alcohol is the solution to problems, they too, learn to escape in a bottle. It is not a curse that is passed on, it is a pattern, and the pattern is broken when an individual decides they will not follow in the sins of the past, but will live a life that is well-pleasing to the Lord.

The example the Christian is to follow, is the example of Christ. Paul said, follow me as I follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1); John wrote, we are to walk as Jesus walked (1John 1:7). It is very easy to slip back into the behaviors we grew up with, rather than looking to the Word of God to determine how God would have us live.

It is time we break the “curse” and start living lives that honor Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

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