Friday, March 25, 2011

Proverbs 19 - Wise Words

The Lord said to Solomon, in the book of 1 Kings, chapter 3, “Ask, and I will give you.” Because his desire was for what would most glorify God, and allow him to best serve God, his request was granted, and he was given wealth and power as well. Although we are not guaranteed wealth or power based on our obedience to God, praying that He will give us wisdom, that we may know Him in truth and be more faithful to His will, should be something we do regularly. And since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10), an understanding of the truth of God’s holiness, glory, majesty and justice will go a long way in encouraging us toward a proper and wise fear of God.

It can be difficult to find a long enough passage in Proverbs for an open-air reading, so I have chosen to focus on a handful of verses in Proverbs 19 to focus on this week. We will be reading the entire passage, but jumping to specific verses for our gospel presentation. I’m praying we can encourage listeners to focus on true knowledge, rather than only following personal desires to a convenient conclusion, and to count the cost. Will they strive to succeed at things that don’t matter in the end, or will they strive toward the wisdom of God and His glory? I hope this outline will be a blessing.

For the praise of His glory,


READ Proverbs 19

The Bible is a book containing many types of literature.

It contains history, prophecy, poetry, and wisdom literature, all of it the truth of God

The wisdom statements in Proverbs were written by Solomon, one of the greatest kings of ancient Israel. Solomon asked God to make him wise, so he could rule God’s people well, and God answered his prayer.

This is the kind of wisdom we should be striving for, the kind you should be striving for.

In our day we have a glut of available information, but very little of it is truly useful, and even less seems to lead us toward real truth or wisdom.

But, as the Bible says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

While new information and new theories are coming to light every day, real truth never changes. It is that kind of unchanging truth that the Bible claims to contain. Proverbs says:
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord
that will stand

Only the truth of God will stand for all time, without a Biblical, Godly understanding of who you are, where you come from, and why you are here, all other information is meaningless.

I would encourage you to ponder these Proverbs, and my words, with a discerning mind, to see whether they are true. Proverbs 19 tells us:
Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of

Listen to advise and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future

Though all the sayings of this chapter are valuable, I would encourage you to focus on these:
Whoever gets sense loves his soul; he who keeps understanding will discover

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet
misses his way

Do you love your soul? Do you care about what happens when you die? Of course you do. Any sane person would. All of us want to go someplace better when we die.

But if we decide what to believe only based on our desires rather than on the truth of reality, we will lose our way.

God’s word says that our destination in eternity is dependent on our standing before God. We are destined to die once, and after that to face Judgment (Hebrews 9:27)
Whoever keeps the commandments keeps his life; he who despises his ways will die

Have you kept God’s commandments? Jesus said if you love Him, you will keep them.


This is bad news. We preach this because you must understand the bad news for the good news of the Gospel to make sense.

The good news is this. 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, and completely without sin, came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then died a perfect death as payment for sins.

God is a God of justice, and justice was satisfied when the judge himself allowed Himself to be nailed to a Roman cross so that the legal demands of the law could be satisfied.

Colossians 2:13-14 - And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

You may say that you have already done that, and that you are right with God. I pray that you are. But beware of false faith.

God has told us in His word that not everyone who claims His name is bound for heaven, and those who claim to follow him but refuse to keep His commandments are liars (1 John).

You can’t get into heaven by doing good works. But what you believe and how you behave is evidence for or against genuine faith.

If you made a profession of faith but nothing has changed, I challenge you to do as
God’s word says. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. See if you have a holy fear of God’s law, and holy love of Him and desire to obey Him.
The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied

For those of you who reject God and His word, why do you reject Him? Is it from a desire to suppress the truth so you can live life your own way?
A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the

God is your Lord and king whether you acknowledge Him as such or not, and you mock Him at your own peril.
A worthless witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked devours

When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against he Lord

Don’t rage against the Lord. He says that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live.

God has been gracious to you, and allowed you this opportunity to repent of your sins and turn to Him. So turn to Him! Throw yourself on God’s mercy, repenting of your sin and trusting in Christ alone to save you. Now is the day of salvation!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Psalm 145 - Great is the Lord

Last week I spoke of the fact that it is very easy to hold, or to assume by our actions, a false view of God. I think a large part of this problem, both for those inside and outside the church, can be due to a focus on specific life experiences or specific Biblical passages taken in isolation, rather than looking at them in light of all of God’s word. The recent Tsunami in Japan is a perfect example. The obvious question from a skeptic would be “Where was God?” Why would God allow such devastation? Why would He allow so many people to die, to be left homeless, to be struggling to feed themselves day to day? In a general sense the disaster is due to the curse of sin on our world, but as to the specifics, I have absolutely no idea.

It can be very easy to speculate in a situation like this as to the reasons God may have sent, or allowed, such a disaster. It could be due to idolatry, or rampant sin, or focus on material success over the things of God, or many other reasons. All those things are true about Japan. Yes, this could indeed be a judgment of God, as I’m sure some would claim. But if that is the case, why is Japan falling and the United States still standing? We should be careful in speculating on God’s intents and purposes, when we are as, or more, worthy of His judgment.

It is vital that our view of who God is does not ebb and flow with our lives or the current state of the country or the world. Though we change and the world changes, God does not. His character is consistent, whether or not we understand all His purposes, and what He causes or allows will always be consistent with that character. We should not choose to trust Him because His eternal will always makes sense to our finite minds. We should trust in Him because He has already, many times, demonstrated Himself to be trustworthy, both in our lives and in His word.

God is, was, and always will be trustworthy, and good. One of the wonderful aspects of Christian worship is the privilege of gathering with over believers to glorify God for who He is. A good worship song reminds us of who God is, and of our proper relation to Him. Psalm 145 is a very good worship song. My daughters’ school had an open house this last Sunday, and the whole school (it’s a very small school) recited Psalm 145 from memory at the end of their church’s Sunday evening service.
The chapter stuck in my head, and it is full of amazing truths about God’s character, so we will be using it as the suggested reading for this week. I hope the outline below is a blessing.

For the praise of His glory,



Exalt God’s character

This chapter speaks of the glorious splendor of His majesty

It talks of the true God, the creator of everything that exists

The mere sight of the true God made all who saw His glory, from the holiest men in history to the world’s most powerful rulers, tremble and fall on their faces.

He is a good God, and a righteous God.

His righteousness is our problem, because He is righteous, and we are not.

It is that righteous God that you will stand before on the Day of Judgment, whether you believe in Him or not, to be judged for your actions in this life.

You may have heard of, or thought you have, accepted Jesus as your lord and savior

He may or may not be your savior. But He is your Lord whether you acknowledge Him as Lord or not


If we look at God’s law with an open mind and a tender conscience, we will quickly see how short we fall of His standard.

But the Bible also says the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love

How do you know He is gracious and merciful? We still live! He would be justified in crushing us today just based on our thoughts for the last 24 hours. That is the righteous judgment we deserve.

God is not slow in keeping His promises of judgment, but He is patient. It may be that the only reason you still draw breath is because God is patiently waiting for you to repent and turn to Him.

He hears the cry of those who fear Him and saves them

Psalm 145 encourages us to speak of the might of His awesome deeds, and declare His greatness.

The greatest of God’s works is the redemption of man through the cross of Christ

We are all under a death sentence because of our sin against God

Jesus stepped in and paid the fine so your death sentence could be commuted.

God was not obligated to save us. He chose to, and spilled His own blood to do it, despite our rebellion. THAT is a good God!

The Bible says the Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth

Test yourself, see if you are in the faith, calling on Him in truth

Then do what the Bible says. Repent of your sins, and trust in Christ, who died that you might live.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Isaiah 55 - The God of Compassion

I have found that it is very easy to hold a view of God, or at least by our actions and words assume a view of God, that is unfaithful to the whole of His word. In our day and age God, and Jesus specifically, is often seen only as a God of love and compassion, and love is indeed a true reflection of His character. But as we know, that is not the entirety of His character. God is holy, and just, and righteous, and will punish sin mercilessly. That is the meaning and purpose of the cross of Christ, that justice might be satisfied. But it is also very easy to lean too heavily on the truth of God’s justice and wrath while neglecting the truth of His mercy. Westborough Baptist Church, which has been in the news lately due to their picketing soldiers’ funerals to declare the judgment of God, is a good example. They seem to have completely forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the love and grace of God, and we need to make sure we do not do the same.

You may have noticed from my previous posts that I do spend time talking about the law of God, and our violation of it. We MUST focus on this truth of God’s word, because it has been sorely neglected by much of the modern church. There is an ignorance of sin in most people, because sin is seldom discussed in many churches. Some church pastors have even bragged about that fact that they don’t talk about sin! But with no understanding of our guilt before God, God’s anger and wrath seem arbitrary and harsh, and His character is impugned. The full message of the Gospel must be proclaimed when we share our faith, or we are being unfaithful to God and His word. That means sin (and the fall), God’s law and our guilt before Him, the insufficiency of our works to make us right with Him, Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, His death on the cross and resurrection for our justification, demonstrating His love and mercy, and Christ as the only mediator between God and men. God’s love, compassion, and long suffering are just as vital to understanding the good news, and the meaning of the cross particularly, as are his holiness, justice and wrath. So make sure you preach them all!

God has been convicting me personally in this area recently, so I have been thinking and praying more about both understanding God’s love, and about making sure it is central to my evangelism. I don’t want to use those truths to replace anything, but rather to round out my presentation as a whole. As I was looking for an appropriate chapter this week I ran across Isaiah 55, which is a wonderful testament to God’s mercy and compassion. I hope the outline below will be helpful to you. And I encourage you to never stop struggling, studying and praying to understand to the truths of God and His word better. The fuller our understanding is, the more clearly we will be able to express it to the lost, and the more God will be glorified as we preach His word.

For the praise of His glory,

Read Isaiah 55

You may have been turned away from God and Christianity because of the impression of God as nothing but a harsh judge, and of Christians and mean spirited and petty.

Recent news reports and court decisions have highlighted these ideas

It is very true that God is a God of justice and wrath, and that must never be forgotten, and Christians can often be mean spirited and petty.

But we are not here speaking today out of a desire to be harsh or judgemental, but because we care about you and where you will spend eternity.

God is a God of justice, but His justice is not arbitrary. It is based on His law, and His law is based on His holy character.

God is holy. His eyes are too pure to look on sin, and He will not leave the guilty unpunished.

But because of His love and mercy, He satisfied justice and displayed His wrath on the cross.

Do you see your own guilt? Are you willing to admit and deal with your own guilt, the guilt that made the cross necessary? Please look at yourself in light of God’s law.


Guilt is not necessarily a negative emotion. Although it can be misused to oppress, when we look at God’s law, we feel guilt because we are actually guilty.

But God, in Isaiah 55, calls the wicked to forsake his way, and the righteous man his thoughts. Our guilt should drive us to Him!

He calls the disobedient to seek Him while he may be found, and He will have compassion and will abundantly pardon those who seek Him.

Although that passage is written to Israel, it is the truth of God’s character. He calls, and commands, all people everywhere to repent, and to trust in Christ alone, so we might receive His compassion and mercy.

You may not desire to come to Christ. You may be striving to satisfy yourself outside of His will

But God calls those who hunger and thirst to be satisfied in Him.

I would ask you what He asks. Why to you labor for that which is not bread? Why do you waste your time striving after things that can never satisfy?

Not only can the things of this world never truly satisfy, but they will kill you!

Delight yourself in the riches of God, a God so rich in love and mercy that He sent
Jesus Christ to die on the cross, that those who believe might be reconciled to him.

God states that His word shall not return empty, and that it shall accomplish what He proposes and succeed in the thing for which He sent it. I pray that today, as you hear His word, that it will fill your heart and bring you to repentance and faith in Him.

Friday, March 4, 2011

James 4 - The Idol of Self

C. S. Lewis said “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” Although that is overly simplistic in many ways, it is essentially the message of the beginning James 4. When passion for personal fulfillment and pleasure becomes the goal of life rather than the glory of God, we have created an idol and true meaning and purpose in life dissipate. We were created for God’s glory, not our own pleasure, and although God provided us a world with many pleasures to enjoy, and those pleasures are good, when they become our focus point we end up in idolatry.

Although this passage is aimed primarily at believers, it can be used to speak to those outside of Christ as well. The idolatry that the believers James was talking to were sliding into is the same idolatry the average non-believer lives in every day. We all have our god, our object of worship, and for most people it is themselves. A person may claim the name of some other deity or religious affiliation, but if they have chosen that belief system purely because it allows them to pursue their own pleasure with a minimum of interference, in reality they are their own god.

One challenge I frequently use when preaching is asking people to examine their world view. What do they believe, and how do they know it to be true? Since living purely for self has become such a part of our society that it is assumed to be true by most of the population, we need to challenge it directly. I would encourage you to challenge people in this area, whether in open-air preaching or one-to-one witnessing. A few well placed questions are usually enough to show a person they have no basis for what they believe. They may not be willing to admit it, but you can generally tell.

The end of the chapter also reminds us that life is uncertain, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. This is something we should always remind non-believers of. Many want to get right with God after they have had their fun, but none of us can be sure we will have that option. Sharing that fact, and showing genuine concern about their souls and their eternal condition, is a great punctuation mark on the end of your message. But make sure it is sincere. If you only share out of duty, and don’t feel a real, heart-felt compassion for the lost, it’s time to spent some time on your knees before God. I know I have had to do so many times.


If you are a believer in Christ, this passage warns you, as it warns me, not to get caught up in the things of this world

Pleasure and enjoyment are fine, and are gifts from God. But when they become the end, rather than the glory of God being the end, they have become an idol.

James says those he addressed were at war with their passions, and were led into serious sin. James referred to them as adulterous.

They substituted love of God for love of self.

They substituted worship for self indulgence.

They focused on personal pleasure rather than on the things of God.

We need to be at war with our passions, remembering that we exist to glorify God, not to please ourselves.

Friendship with the world is enmity with God

Come before God in humility and beg for His forgiveness, asking for the strength to obey Him

Believers, God will give you the strength you need

For those outside of Christ, does this sound silly?

You may think I’m a fool, and that the idea of a God is foolish.

You may believe that the only think that makes sense is living for self, following your heart

But the Bible says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. You can’t always trust your heart, and if you think carefully, you will find that to be true.

Who knows what you need better than He who created you?

Who is your god? If you reject the God of the Bible, who do you follow?

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Follow the money. What do you spend your time and money on?

Everyone worships, or devotes themselves, to something, and everyone has an underlying world view to back that up. You may not call that thing or person god,
but they are the equivalent, none the less

Your god is about more than your religious affiliation. It’s about what has ultimate value to you. And you chose your values based on what you believe and acknowledge to be true.

What do you believe to be true? How do you know that to be true?

My opinion doesn’t matter, and your opinion doesn’t matter. Only what is actually true matters.

To clarify, pleasure is not, in itself, evil. But pleasure sought outside of the parameters of God’s law, is.

The Bible says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The truth is, there is a God, and you’re not Him.

The Bible says friendship with the world is enmity with God. He who becomes a friend with the world becomes an enemy of God. Are you living as an enemy of God?

You may say you love God, and maybe you do. But He says if you love Me, you will keep My commandments, and those who claim to love Him while ignoring His commandments are liars. How have you done?


We are guilty before God, and deserving of judgment. All of us deserve death and hell.

But God is not only a just judge but a loving Father. And He demonstrated that love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Submit yourself to God. Turn to Him in repentance, with clean hands and a pure heart.

There is only one lawgiver and judge, one able to save and destroy, the Lord Jesus Christ. Be He tells us He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Trust in Him alone for your salvation.

Don’t wait. Repent and trust in Christ alone, while God continues to be patient with you.

We will all die once, and then be judged, and none of us is promised even one more day of life

We are a mist that appears for a little while and vanishes. You do not know what tomorrow will bring.

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live. Turn to Christ today, and live.

I pray that this outline will be a blessing and encouragement, and that souls will be saved.

For the praise of His glory,