Saturday In The Proverbs—If … Then (Proverbs 2)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…if you will receive My words… (Proverbs 2:1).

Some people find this hard to fathom, but it’s an undeniable truth—God wants to bless you!

But His blessings will only come in His ways. You cannot do what you want to do and expect God to bless that behavior. Proverbs 2 tells us that IF we will do what God asks, THEN God will pour out His blessings.

IF

  • receive God’s Word
  • treasure His commands
  • incline your ear to His wisdom
  • apply God’s understanding to your life
  • cry out for God’s discernment
  • lift up your voice for God’s understanding
  • seek God’s wisdom
  • search for God like it’s treasure

THEN

  • you will understand the fear of the Lord
  • you will find God’s knowledge
  • you will gain God’s understanding
  • you will have God’s protection
  • you will understand God’s righteousness and justice
  • you will be preserved by discretion
  • you will be saved by understanding
  • you will be delivered from evil
  • you will be kept from immorality

If I will do what God says, then God opens His storehouse of invaluable treasures!

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 13-23

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Isaiah 13-23

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 13-23.]

     Isaiah’s message needs to come home to us today—that God is behind the devil, not the devil behind God; all the great world forces are in front of God, and they cannot do a thing without His permission. Today we are so emphasizing the freedom of the human will that we are forgetting the sovereignty of God, consequently when we come up against the forces at work in the world we are paralyzed by fear and get into despair, which we need never have done if we had been built up in faith in God. … Stand strong in faith in God—“I don’t understand this, but I know God is behind it.” … 

     There is no cowardice about Isaiah or about his message. He never lost his faith in God or got discouraged, and when the things he foretold happened, he did not desert the people. …  

     Behind everything stands God; behind the tumult and the confusion God is bringing out everything according to His will. The great thing about faith in God is that it keeps a man undisturbed in the midst of disturbance. … All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God (see 1 John 4:4). … Discouragement comes when we say what God will do—that God will always keep me healthy, that He will always be bringing me into the land of Canaan where I will eat honey; well, He won’t. God is concerned about only one thing—getting me into a personal relationship with Himself. There is no possibility of discouragement if we will only remember that this is the relationship, not God’s blessings, but Himself.

From Notes On Isaiah

When the news of the day, or events in the world, or even what’s happening in your personal life starts to rattle you, consider how Isaiah handled himself. Isaiah knew enemies were closing in, and that the day of God’s judgment was fast approaching too, but he never got fretful. Why? He kept his eyes on God.

God is sovereign. He is in control. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise. Keep your eyes on Him. And remember: “All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God.”

Both Immovable And Flexible

The vision of Isaiah…in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1). 

Israel (the 10 northern tribes) was in the final stages of collapse, with kings only serving short spans, idolatry running rampant, and enemies closing in on every side. Isaiah boldly proclaimed that Judah was on the same path unless she repented and turned wholly to God.

Isaiah had the same message for four kings:

  • Uzziah—who started off well, but fell away from God
  • Jotham—who faithfully served God
  • Ahaz—who never wanted to serve God
  • Hezekiah—who led a powerful revival in the return to worshiping God alone

Isaiah’s message never waivers. Through 66 chapters, 4 monarchs, and 60 years of ministry, Isaiah never compromises, waters down, nor alters the message God has given him.

But he does use different methods to deliver God’s consistent message—sometimes he thunders, sometimes he weeps, sometimes he uses illustrated messages, sometimes he speaks plainly, and sometimes he uses word pictures.

A mark of a godly leader is one who is both immovable and flexible.

Immovable on God’s principles; flexible on his delivery.

Can that be said of you and me?

This is part 21 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

The Scriptures And Our Temperament

“We naturally tend to interpret Scripture in the light (or shadow) of our own temperament and let our peculiar mental cast decide the degree of importance we attach to various religious doctrines and practices. …

“The minister above all others should look deep into his own heart to discover the reason for his more pronounced views. It is not enough to draw himself up and declare with dignity that he preaches the Bible and nothing but the Bible. That claim is made by every man who stands in sincerity to declare the truth; but truth has many facets and the man of God is in grave danger of revealing only a limited few to his people, and those the ones he by disposition favors most. …

“The Scriptures, critical self-discipline, honesty of heart and increased trust in the inward operations of the Holy Spirit will save us from being too greatly influenced by temperament.” —A.W. Tozer, in Man—The Dwelling Place Of God

A.L.I.V.E.—The “V” Is For Verified Prophesy

This is part 4 in my 5-part series, “I can know Jesus is A.L.I.V.E. because of ….” I have already addressed A—Apologetics, L—Lives changed, and I—It is finished. Today I want to consider the prophesies that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus supposedly fulfilled. 

We have all heard about “copycat” crimes. Could the life and death of Jesus fit that? Since Jesus was born from the family line of King David, and His family really wanted the promised Messiah to finally appear, perhaps He was pushed that way. Perhaps He lived in a certain way to make it look like He was fulfilling prophesy. 

Detective J. Warner Wallace wrote, “Homicide detectives are perhaps the least trusting people in the world. My own experience investigating murders has taught me to consider everyone a liar—until, at least, I have good reason to believe otherwise.” 

So was Jesus a liar? Was He following some copycat script to make it merely look like He was the Messiah? Or do we have good reasons to believe He was telling the truth? Consider a couple of points—

    • How could David describe a crucifixion scene in 1000 BC, since the Persians didn’t invent it until around 400 BC (see Psalm 22:12-18)?
    • How could Jesus control others’ actions (i.e. Judas’ betrayal; being killed by crucifixion, not by stoning; soldiers gambling for His clothes)? 
    • Even His own followers—whom He would need to perpetrate the hoax—didn’t understand what He was doing (John 12:16). 

Prosecutors have to present enough evidence to convince a jury that they have arrested and brought to trial the right man. One of the key terms is beyond a reasonable doubt—“a part of jury instructions in all criminal trials, in which the jurors are told that they can only find the defendant guilty if they are convinced ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ of his or her guilt.” 

Let’s consider a hypothetical case that a prosecutor might present: 

  • multiple eyewitnesses saw a man fleeing the scene, and all of them identified the suspect in a police line-up
  • the shoe prints at the crime scene were the same size and design that of the suspect was wearing when he was arrested
  • prosecutors presented text messages in which the suspect threatened to do to the victim exactly what was done to the victim
  • the wounds made by the weapon which was used on the victim correspond with the weapon the police found in the suspect’s car
  • the blood on that weapon matched the blood of the victim
  • the fingerprints on that weapon are the suspect’s fingerprints

That is the evidence. From that evidence, the jury is asked to draw inferences about the reasonableness of that suspect being the one who committed the crime. 

I have listed just six pieces of evidence. How strong do you think the prosecutor’s case is? What if the jurors were presented with 50 pieces of evidence? What about 100? 200? How about 300 pieces of evidence? 

Jesus fulfilled at least 300 prophesies—which were made before He was born!—in His life, death, and resurrection!

Math professor Peter Stoner calculated that the odds for just one man in history to fulfill only 8 prophesies is 1-in-1×1017. How amazing is that!? To give us a little perspective, Stoner says that 1×1017 silver dollars would cover the entire state of Texas in silver dollars two-feet thick. If just one of those silver dollars was marked, and a blindfolded man could select that one marked coin on his very first attempt, that would be about the same odds of Jesus fulfilling only 8 prophesies. 

As a juror, if you weighed this evidence, do you find enough proof to “convict” Jesus? 

But ultimately Jesus didn’t come just to fulfill prophesy; He came to rescue you and me from the penalty of our sin (Luke 4:16-21), and that is the best news of all! 

Join me either in person or on Facebook Live this Sunday for the final message in this 5-part series. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Wisdom (Proverbs 1)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).

Would you like to see things others don’t see? How about if you could have insight that others don’t have? What if you could keep on getting more, and more, and more knowledge that really mattered? That’s what this entire Book of Proverbs is all about, and the opening chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book.

You have to decide: do you trust God’s knowledge, or do you trust yourself more?

God is to be revered above all else.

God is to be delighted in above all else.

God is to be listened to above all else.

That is what defines pure knowledge: God’s knowledge.

The path to wisdom, then, is to accurately apply God’s pure knowledge.

Lady Wisdom—thankfully for us—makes herself readily available IF we will listen to her. If we do, we will have the best insights into how to use this purest-of-pure knowledge which God gives. When we operate in God’s wisdom and God’s knowledge, He is pleased and He is glorified.

There is always another option we could choose. We could listen to things that others say is “knowledge,” and we could try to figure out things on our own. But if we do, we also have to be willing to accept the consequences for applying that “knowledge” (see vv. 29-31). Ummm, no thank you, I’d rather not be called a fool! 

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 8-11

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Isaiah 8-11

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 8-11.]

     God did not give a progressive revelation of Himself through the Old Testament: the people progressively grasped the revelation, which is very different. …

     The remarkable thing is that when Jesus Christ comes, every one of the things the prophets have been saying fit in with one Personality, the Being whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah never saw Jesus Christ, he could not have imagined Him, then what inspired him? The very Mind of God (see 2 Peter 1:20). … 

     Fear is apt to make us atheistic and in our outlook we enthrone the devil, not God. God is behind it all, not a thing happens but He knows all about it. …

     If we try to draw our breath from any other source we instantly get diseased. By prayer and communion with God we live out in God’s moral open air, consequently we can live in the cities and amongst the places of men and maintain the life which is in accordance with the Messiah’s life…. The enemy of our souls goes for all he is worth against our praying, against our solitudes with God, he tries to prevent us drawing our breath in the fear of the Lord. The great need is to bring every thought and imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ until every bit of our nature is reconstructed. 

From Notes On Isaiah

In these four chapters of Isaiah, the kings of Judah are facing enemies closing in from all sides and fear is mounting. Isaiah keeps speaking a word from the Lord that amounts to God saying this: Stop focusing on your troubles and focus on Me instead!

It’s a good reminder for us still today. God is in control. Let me say that again: God is in control! Let His perfect love and His perfect power drive out fear from your heart. Keep your eyes on Him, not on the problems coming against you. Let your thoughts be captivated by Jesus, and you will be reconstructed from the inside out with the nature of Christ.

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