We know that there is no Proverbs 32 in the Bible (go ahead, double check if you must). Imagine, however, that proverbs in addition to king Solomon—like those of Agur (Prov. 30) or king Lemuel (which he received from his mother, Prov. 31)—were added from today’s sages?
Well, following Hebrew proverbial writing styles as best they could, our three groups of teenage sages collaborated their minds to write down truths relevant to the young of today.
Here is what they came up with and my commentary on each:
The Wisdom of Alex, Elizabeth, Josh
A person who controls their tongue is like a student who makes all A’s,
while a person who can’t control their tongue is like one who wears socks with sandals.
Using a Hebrew antithetical writing style to illustrate the need for a “controlled tongue” our authors wanted to contrast those who were successful (with perfect A’s) to the foolish who lacks discernment, like a person who thinks nothing of wearing socks with his sandals! Those who know anything about clothing etiquette would never dare to sin in this manner and so are those who are aware of the tongue’s use.
The Wisdom of Grayson, Ashley, Emily
The man who grows in the sight of the Lord is mature
rather than the man who grows in the side of the world.
Mixing some modern English idioms into the Hebrew proverb genre is the truth regarding spiritual maturity. Obviously, the focus on maturity stems from either growing in “the sight of the Lord” versus growing in the “side of the world.” The wise happily grows before the audience of One: God Himself. Conversely, the foolish are locked in step (in fellowship) with the world, but not before God.
The Wisdom of Melia, Becky, Carly
He who loves the Lord obeys His word.
He does not rebel against His commandments.
Sometimes, Hebrew proverbs are meant to “punch you in the gut” before you have time to justify your way out of its stated truth. Quick and to the point is this last proverb. There is nothing to really ponder about the proverb, you simply accept it or despise its truth and thus rebel against the Lord. This proverb, written in the comparative style, aptly illustrates our need to love God and keep the commandments of the One we love.
To the parents of our young—train your children in the wisdom of the Lord and tomorrow we may very well be reading and reaping from their wisdom which seeks to glorify our God and stand in His eternal truths!
Last week we introduced Jerry MacDonald as our new evangelist who is dedicating his service to full-time evangelism here in Franklin, TN (he’s already hard at work!). We also looked at the much needed work of spreading the gospel in our community. Of course, the purpose of this work is so that precious souls can have the opportunity to hear the Good News. “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Rom. 10:14–15).
As reminded by a beloved brother in Christ last week, not everyone has the “gift” or “calling” to preach the words of life. Touché! That said, there is still much that can be done in the evangelistic effort among the saints here in Franklin (as will be discussed in detail this morning.).
Note the following things that can be done to turn this congregation into an “evangelistic church” based upon all the talent God blesses this congregation of believers (Rom. 12:6-8).
- Front and center. These are the individuals who literally have the urgency, desire and ability to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16). How beautiful are their feet!
- Hosts/Hostesses. These generous and hospitable brethren desire to open their homes as the place for convenient, warm, and welcoming locations for those in the world to hear the gospel.
- Encourager. These brethren can serve to both pray and encourage others who participate in varying ways to ensure the gospel is proclaimed!
- Background Helpers. Brethren, among other means of service, might take the task of babysitting the children of brethren who are focused on hosting or leading studies, providing them the opportunities for such service without any hindrances.
Consider the talent God has blessed you to be able to benefit the whole effort of evangelism within our community. May He also touch your hearts to be the ones to step forward and contribute to this most noble cause for Christ and the furtherance of His kingdom!
February 15, 2011 by Mitch
Filed under Articles on Christian Living Articles on Faith Articles on Real Christianity Blog Bulletin Articles From the Preacher's Study Study on Authority Study on Christian Living
The Law of God is vital to our walk with Him. It’s establishment reveals to us God’s standard of righteousness. Through it we know whether we are fulfilling His divine pleasure or if we’re “missing the mark” (cp. Rom. 7:7). When God gives us His word we cannot minimize one passage while esteeming another for “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, NKJV). Knowing such to be true, how can there be “weightier matters of the law” (Matt. 23:23)?
As Jesus was finishing His years of teaching the arrival of God’s Kingdom, many religious leaders by this point were filled with rage against Him. They believed Him to be a destroyer of the Law of Moses (cp. Matt. 5:18). They believed Him a blasphemer (cp. Matt. 9:1-3). They wanted Him killed!
Jesus had enough. He was done teaching them in parables for the hardness of their hearts. Instead, He was going to set them straight and tell them what they so needed to hear but were too dull to heed; what they so needed to understand but were too blind to see. Instead of talking to them He warned the multitudes—who could discern for themselves—about them…in front of them (Matt. 23:1), before condemning these leaders face-to-face for their hypocrisy (v. 13ff). The True Judge—with Righteousness in His breath—pronounced His seven woes (v. 14 was added to later manuscripts) against these “lawyerly” hypocrites.You see, these men placed great burdens upon others—in essence, “shut up the kingdom of heaven” (v. 13)—who wished to enter. In fact, while they zealously sought for people to be added to God’s kingdom, they would “make him twice as much the son of hell” (v. 15)!
So, what was their guilt of hypocrisy? They taught, but did not practice what they taught (Matt. 23:1). Further, they were “minoring in majors and majoring in minors”. In other words, they were meticulous enough to “pay tithe in mint and anise and cumin” yet neglected “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”
In a nutshell, Jesus lived and taught the need to keep whole law (Matt. 5:17). He understood, however, where the greater “weight” of the law resided: in justice, mercy, and faith(fulness). Justice would be exercised (v. 14; Mk. 12:40), rather than devouring the very ones in need. Mercy would be extended to “the guiltless” (Matt. 12:1-8). Living faithfully would demonstrate consistency between the demands upon others to keep the law of God, while practicing the very same thing.
Now, consider your walk with the Lord as a Christian and be careful that you keep all of God’s word (law), but be especially mindful of the weightier matters of the law.
Ever heard or said any of the following well intended statements (just finish the statement to make it sound ‘well intended’)? “I would love to evangelize God’s word, but…” Or, “I sure would enjoy getting together with other Christians, having Bible studies, or encouraging others, but…”
Like many Christians I’ve been guilty of saying the same things from time to time. For many, these words haunt us when looking back at missed opportunities to serve, evangelize, or encourage the lost, our brethren, neighbors, co-workers, etc.
Instead of looking back, let’s look forward to the opportunities that are before us regarding the work here in Franklin, TN.
Consider the fact that next Saturday (1:00 pm at the building) we have the honor of sharing God’s word with a community in desperate need to hear the words of salvation. Or, the many brethren that could use phone calls, visits, letters, and other means of encouragement.
Rather than “I’d like to, but…” we can simply get involved—no excuses (NOTE: aren’t they so easy to make to excuse ourselves from the greatest work any Christian can be involved?).
So, instead of looking back at the “reasons” or justifications we used not to do something—especially when they don’t seem as convincing or worthy compared to the valuable task at hand—why don’t we just do it.
Last week we discussed God’s purpose for the suffering we endure in this world. Suffering, in its grand scheme, helps us to look beyond ourselves and see an All-knowing and wise Creator who cares for and comforts those who place their trust in Him for eternal comfort from this sinful world. While this knowledge consoles many, such experiences were never meant to give us a genuine hope. No, it was our risen Savior, who suffered at the hands of this sinful world through whom we enjoy a genuine hope for eternal comfort.
The apostle Paul knew this both from a conviction he long held before coming to know Jesus as the Christ (Acts 23:8), but also because as a hostile enemy of the Lord’s church, witnessed with his own eyes the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9:1-9; Acts 8:3). Because of this he said to the church at Corinth.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. ” (1 Corinthians 15:1–19, NKJV)”.
The fact and reality is that Jesus died, then rose from the dead according to prophetic scripture and is the reason why we have such a hope that we declare the glorious gospel to the lost. It is through our risen Savior we can trust God to get us through this suffering world, on to a better home. A place where there is no more sorrow and shed tears. Amen.
July 26, 2010 by Mitch
Filed under Articles on Christian Living Articles on Church Growth Articles on Evangelism Articles on Faith Articles on Real Christianity Articles on Relationships Blog Bulletin Articles Study on Christian Living
What an amazing and wonderful picture the totality of the sacrificial offering was. Read more
Who would have thought back in 1994, when my girlfriend and I came up for one Sunday so I could preach to fill in for the Chestnut Lane congregation that nearly 10 years later I would be moving to work fulltime with that very same congregation. Changes had happened. Chestnut Lane had moved buildings, taken on a new name. My girlfriend and I had married and had three children.
On September 1, 2003, we pulled into our new home. On September 2, a group of you came over and helped us unload our trucks and get unpacked. It started nearly 7 years of a great working fellowship. How was I to know that you weren’t just trying to look good for your new evangelist but that you all really are that loving and serving all the time?
Over the past years, we have weathered good times and bad. You all have been there for us as we had our fourth child, as Marita’s father and grandmother died, as she underwent surgery for skin cancer, as my grandfather died. You were there when we had financial difficulties, spiritual difficulties, extended-family difficulties. You’ve even been there this past week as we had to leave our home because of plumbing problems. I want to thank you for your great service.
I hope you can say the same for us. My hope is that when the shoe was on the other foot, when you were in need and having difficulties, that we were as loving and serving for you as you have been for us.
I have truly enjoyed my time working with you and want to say thank you to the elders and to each of you who make up this congregation for letting me work with you, teach you week in and week out, and be the voice of the congregation. Your kindness and support of my efforts has made all the difference in my own spiritual growth and ability to stick with this work of preaching.
I am excited for what the future holds for me and my family as we move to Indiana. I’m also excited about what the future holds for you as you start to work with a new evangelist. I believe a fresh start will help take the Franklin Church to the next level of work and growth. I’m excited for you and I’m especially excited for the Davis family as they getto experience the love and service that we have experienced for so many years.
You have worked your way into a special place in my heart. I will pray for you continually and often. Please pray for me, my family, and our work.
I want to leave you simply with the reminder from Paul that no matter what happens, we are God’s children and as long as we stay in His hand, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Hang on to Jesus. Stand firm in the grace of our Lord and “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 5:10-11).
Please remember that I love you and God loves you. Let’s remember to love and pray for one another this week and for the years to come.
In Numbers 13, Moses sent 12 spies into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. It has been called the Promised Land because God promised the Israelites He would give it to them. They weren’t simply looking for a land and trying to decide which one they wanted or which one they could take. God was sending them to a land He had promised to give them. This was the same God who had delivered them from Egypt by a series of plagues and then by parting the Red Sea. Seems to me, if this God wanted to give them a land, He knew how to do it.
However, in Numbers 13:27-29, 10 of the spies reported that the land was indeed amazing. It was everything they had been promised. It was a land flowing with milk and honey. It was the land they really wanted. Only one problem. “We can’t do it,” reported the spies. “The people are too big, too strong, too powerful. We’ll never overcome. We should pack up and go home.”
In Numbers 14:7-9, Joshua and Caleb tried to change the minds of the people. “If the Lord wants to give us the land, He’ll do it. Trust in the Lord.” But the people wanted to stone them, appoint new leaders, and return to Egypt.
You know how the story turned out. God punished the Israelites. They wandered in the wilderness until that generation died—except Joshua and Caleb. God rewarded these two men in the Promised Land when He finally gave it to the next generation.
This story makes me think about our present day. The scripture has told us that the harvest is plentiful, but laborers are few (Matthew 9:37). The scripture has told us to go out and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We read the book of Acts and see the great success those early Christians had spreading the gospel.
However, I am tempted to look around today and start making excuses. Too few people care about spiritual things. Too many people are too worldly and liberal. Everyone is prejudiced against Christ’s church. Nobody wants to listen. People won’t like us. Nothing will work. On and on and on the list can go.
Is this kind of excuse-making anything more than, “Yes, the land is all God promised, however, it is filled with giants. We better just go back to our building and quit worrying about victory in the land”? It is just so easy to forget that we aren’t doing all this on our own. God is with us. God wants us to have victory in the land. Will everyone listen? Of course not. But God is with us. We will be victorious. We will have success. We will spread the gospel and God’s kingdom, if we trust in the Lord and simply do His will.
That means we just need to start doing something. Instead of waiting until we are sure we have come up with some fool-proof plan that everyone will listen to, let’s just start doing something. Invite people to the assemblies. Offer to pray for people. Have a study in your home. Ask if your co-worker would be interested in reading the Bible together. Do something. Not everyone will listen, but God is with us. And He is the one responsible for giving the increase (I Corinthians 3:5-7).
We will do it, not because of us, but because God is with us.
John 3:16, the most well known verse in the Bible, explains that Jesus died so we wouldn’t have to. However, it doesn’t teach that simply because Jesus died, no one will. It says only those who believe in Him will have eternal life. That is pretty profound. Jesus didn’t teach universal salvation. He taught that only those who had faith in Him, who trusted Him, who surrendered to Him would be saved.
This is not simply a mental assent to the facts of Jesus; this is a surrender to the will of the one we say we believe. Galatians 2:20 describes what this faith is like: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Having faith in Jesus is more than agreeing; it is surrendering. It is putting ourselves and our will to death. It is submitting to what Jesus taught.
How does this start? Romans 6:3-6 says:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
If living by faith means crucifying ourselves with Jesus, when does that happen? According to Romans 6:3-6 it happens when we are baptized into Christ. It doesn’t happen any other time. There is no amount of prayer that will accomplish that. There is no amount of “going to church” that will accomplish that. There is no amount of giving money to the church or to those in need that will accomplish that. There is no amount of ignoring temptation that will accomplish that. Only being baptized into Christ will accomplish that.
Further, remember that John 3:16 says Jesus died so we don’t have to. But, that death doesn’t just cover everyone. How do we get into that death? Romans 6:3-6 says when we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. It is not when we have simply agreed that Jesus died for our sins that we enter His saving death. It is not when we’ve told others about His saving death. It is only when we have been baptized into Christ that we enter His saving death.
Sadly, I hear of more and more Christians who once had so much faith in this teaching from Christ that they submitted to baptism in the name of Jesus for the remission of their sins who are not passing this teaching on to others. Because the majority of the religious world doesn’t accept it, they have started backing off. Maybe people can be saved simply by agreeing that Jesus died for them, they say. Maybe people can be saved because they are leading pretty good lives, in sincerity toward God. Maybe people can be saved because they said a prayer. Maybe they can be saved even though they weren’t baptized into Christ, but were baptized to show something else. This is what we are told.
Who are we to say how God can save people? That is what we are asked. My response? We aren’t anyone to say how God can save people. That is why we must say only what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). You see, when we say a person must be born of the water and the Spirit, that is must be baptized, we aren’t telling God how He must save people. We are only telling people what God said about how He would save people. Actually, we are taking too much to ourselves and telling God how to save people when we say that maybe God will save people some way other than how He said.
Romans 6:3-6 is pretty clear. If you want to be in Christ, you have to be baptized into Him. If you want to be in His saving death, you have to be baptized into it. If you want to be crucified with Christ, you have to be baptized into it. Let’s just say what God says about it and leave it at that.
Sometimes it is easy to get sidetracked and miss the real point behind what we are supposed to be doing and teaching. Because we hear so much error in the religious world these days, we can easily get caught up in simply trying to correct common errors. Then it may readily seem the purpose for our teaching and action is to fix some particular error.
Paul explains a different goal for our teaching and toil in Colossians 1:28—“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ Jesus.”
Please notice what it does not say: “Baptism we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone baptized into Christ Jesus.”
Because the mainstream religious world believes in Jesus but usually misuses, abuses, and misunderstands baptism, we have spent a great deal of our teaching trying to correct their error. Certainly, part of presenting everyone mature in Christ Jesus will include baptism. After all, we cannot present anyone in Christ Jesus except through baptism. Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Also, Romans 6:3 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”
However, this is simply part of being mature in Christ. It is not equivalent to being mature in Christ. We are not done simply because someone has been baptized. Our job is not simply to present them in Christ, but present them mature in Christ. When someone is baptized, we must continue pursuing our purpose.
Further, because of the many errors we have fought over the years we might think that maturity in Christ equals having the right take on the hot button issues over the past years, i.e. institutionalism, instrumental music, speaking in tongues, divorce and remarriage, etc. Certainly, Bible knowledge is part of maturity in Christ. Peter says we must add knowledge to our faith in II Peter 1:5-8. However, our goal is not to make sure young Christians grow to answer all the questions about hot topics to our satisfaction as if they are a catechumen who must memorize our special catechism in order to be mature. Sadly, I’ve met some who can answer these questions correctly but are far from mature in Jesus. They are hotheaded, quarrelsome, arrogant, self-centered, Diotropheses who would have the pre-eminence in a congregation. That is not maturity in Jesus, no matter how doctrinally correct they are.
Would you like a picture of maturity in Christ Jesus? Would you like to see the goal we are striving for everyone to reach? Take a look at I Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Certainly, someone does not have to be a man to be mature in Christ. Nor do they have to have been married or raised children. However, in general, the picture of the shepherd is not some special qualification list. It is simply a picture of mature Christianity.
Mature Christians are above reproach, humble, peaceful, sober, content, hospitable, lovers of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, respectable, able to teach, gentle, experienced, and well thought of even by non-Christians. Are we working to present everyone like this in Christ? Or are we simply satisfied with getting them baptized and letting them work out the rest on their own? Paul said he toiled to present folks not just in Christ, but mature in Christ. May we work on the same goal.