Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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28 The Blessed and the Bane

Proverbs 10:6-10

“6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. 7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot. 8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. 9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. 10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.”

In Proverbs 10 we see the contrast of two drastically different characters, the wicked and the righteous. These two groups represent the two great classes of mankind. The great divide between those who delight in God and those who despise or dismiss Him. Belief effect behavior, and from their opposite characters come opposite ways of living, which lead to opposite destinies. Who and what we live for doesn’t just determine our destiny it dictates the blessing along the way. The righteous are rewarded with blessing because they receive God’s Word and respond in obedience. As a result they walk in security knowing that they will be remembered well. In contrast the wicked reject God’s Word and work to bring about hurt and harm. Since they sought the downfall of others their work will be cast down, instead of being remembered they will rot. It’s here that we see the contrast between:

  • The Blessed vs the Bane

Verse 6 reveals that while the righteous are blessed the wicked get worked up and angered about it. It’s here that we see two different attitudes, one of adoration and one of anger. The agnostic is characterized by an angry attitude, while the Christian is characterized by joy and justice. This doesn’t mean that the righteous don’t face trials and tribulations. John 16:33 makes it clear that Christ’s followers will face adversity and affliction “33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” And 2 Timothy 3:12 reminds us that: “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Even though the righteous go through rough times their end is not one of ruin. Instead of being defined by sin we are defined by our Savior, it’s the Almighty not adversity that has the final say in our lives.  The Christian is not defined by their crisis but by Christ who abundantly compensates. God pours out His blessings not only physically, but spiritually and eternally, Isaiah 32:17 says: “And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” God smiles on His saints, we are protected by His peace which passes all understanding. In sharp contrast to the saints stands the wicked. Where the righteous person gives and receives blessings, the wicked are characterized by violence. Jesus summed this up in Luke 6:45 when He said: “The evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” As a result the righteous memory will be remembered while the wicked’s is repulsive. What legacy do you want to leave, one that is remembered and rejoiced or one that will rot? As you recall the righteous people of the past it can be a tremendous source of spiritual blessing, but in contrast most people want to forget the wicked because their character was corrupt, like that of a rotting corpse. No one wants to be forgotten, we want our name to survive our death. We want the life that we live to have mattered and the legacy that we leave to be significant not one that stinks. We want to be remembered with joy and rejoicing not regret. There are many who even though they are dead continue to speak. In the mid-1800s, Texas rancher Samuel Augustus Maverick left his cattle unbranded. As a result when neighboring cowboys came upon a calf without a brand, they called it a “maverick.” The word became part of the English language and came to refer to a person who takes an independent stand and refuses to conform. There are many other names that have become words which we use to describe a person’s character and behavior. Like Judas which means “traitor” or a Jezebel, a perverter. A Jonah, one who runs from God, or an Einstein meaning a genius, a Solomon, one who is wise. Even though most of our names will not become part of our language they will leave a legacy for future generations, signifying who we were and how we lived. Often when you think of someone that you have known and admired, the words you usually associate with their name are character traits you would like to emulate. Words like, honesty, generosity, and love often lead the list. We see these character traits in Christ, who allows us as His children to bear His name. Jesus wants to work in us and through us to make our name one that points to Him. When others think of you, do they think of Jesus? Blessings or bane come as a result of:

  • Receiving the Word vs reject it

Verse 8 reminds us that there will be those who receive and respond to the Word of God and those who reject it, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” What about you are you teachable? Do you desire not only to learn God’s Word but to live it and walk in His ways? A wise person doesn’t just accept Scripture as divine authority they apply it to their lives. Receptivity is a characteristic of the new heart, scripture says in  1 Peter 2:2 that the new born babe desires the sincere milk of the Word. While in Matthew 13 the parable of the sower tells us that the well broken good soil received the good seed, while the other types of soil keep it on the surface or so shallow that it never really took root. Receptivity is the chief cause of the great difference that results. Just as the thirsty ground drinks in the rain, so the wise long for the Word of God. In Matthew 5:6 Jesus in the sermon on the mount said, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” James 1:21 says “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” How receptive are you to God’s Word? In contract to the wise is the fool who never quit talking long enough to learn truth. They would rather hear themselves babble than learn from the Bible. In the Hebrew the word fool refers to one who willfully refuses to make moral choices. They neither chose good nor reject evil, and while they are primarily depicted as morally stupid they should also be considered mentally stupid because they refuse to receive moral instruction and to learn from their mistakes. As Proverbs 12:15 states: “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Verse 9 provides us with a promise, that those who walk before God in the land of the living will find a secure and shielded path, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Those who accept and apply God’s Word don’t just develop integrity they walk in it which leads to security. Honesty is the policy that protects, but those who chose the crooked path stumble. Eventually they are revealed for what they are, and a lack of integrity has ruined many a mighty man. What about you are you walking carefully or compromising? Verse 10 tells us that the wicked may wink but it’s a bogus sham. Their artificially wise sounding conversation will come back to cast them into contempt. It’s often the emptiest vessels that rattle the loudest, and the one who despises God’s wisdom will fall victim of his own folly. These proverbs present the inevitable cause-and-effect relationship between human behavior and its outcome. Whether you like it or not God has rigged the universe for righteousness which means responding to His way prompts reward, while going against it will always lead to failure and forfeit. We have an opportunity and an obligation to make the right choice. So what choices are you making, will they result in a blessed life or a bane one? Are you receiving and responding to God’s Word or rejecting it?

 

 


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27 The Blessed Life – Part 2

Psalm 128 – “1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. 5 May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem     all the days of your life. 6 May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel.”

After reminding us of fear, faithfulness and fruit now we see the blessing of:

  • Family

The Psalmist reminds us that part of the blessing that we will experience revolves around relationship not riches.  Our fellowship with God the father flows into our family, and there is no greater joy than enjoying the fruit of family. It’s out of our relationship with God that we can connect with our wife and kids. Spending time soaking in the Savior will sweeten your time with your spouse. It starts with your relationship with God and then your spouse, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house.” Here the psalmist refers to a wife as a fruitful vine, a symbol of prosperity. Not just a spreading vine which serves for an ornament, but as a fruitful and blessed vine. What is interesting is that a fruiting vine needs to be supported and cherished, we have to value and care for God’s blessings. As men we are called not only to be strong and supportive, but tender and attentive. The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love their mother as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. The King James version says, “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house.” The heart of the home is not stuff it’s your spouse, it’s not about possessions it’s about a person. A beautiful home is not about the decor it’s about the wife we adore.  Sometimes we get so busy that we miss the real blessings. Today many are taking the true treasure of their home for granted, we are neglecting the vine that is vital to the success of the home. First it begins with your relationship with God then your wife then your children, “your children will be like olive shoots around your table.” In bible times people who owned olive groves owned something of great value. Olive trees can live and provide fruit and income for twenty to thirty generations, that’s a couple of centuries! One of the greatest gifts is the blessing of a Godly heritage. As fathers we can pass on and perpetuate our lives and faith into the future generations that are to come. There is a big difference between a garden and a grove, gardens are short term, and groves are long term. Yet so often we live short sighted lives investing ourselves in riches instead of relationships, as a result not only is our vision short sighted and limited but our influence is also short lived. Our greatest work is not building a business its loving our kids and leading them to the Lord. How do you want to be remembered by your kids? Do you want to be remembered as a dad that relied on and loved God and who passed on to his children the values and the heritage of the Word of God? Ephesians 6:4 says “You fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” Rules without relationship bring rebellion. You can’t grow children who will love God by setting up the rules for them and coming home once in awhile to enforce those rules. You have to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, which means that they have to experience God’s love in true and tangible ways. 3 John 1:4 says “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” The joy is not in having kids that behave but kids that believe and live out their belief. Because kids that live out their belief will behave, behavior is a byproduct of belief. If you believe that you are unconditionally loved your behavior will reflect that belief, just as bad behavior will reflect the belief of not being loved. If you want children that walk in truth you have to tend the plant, and tending takes time. Your kids are tender plants which means they are not only valuable they are vulnerable. Are you taking time to tend, are you proactively, planting, providing, protecting, and pruning? The way to bring them to maturity is in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It revolves around relationship so that they know they are loved by you and the Lord. As men we are called to provide for our families, but family provision is more that finance, it involves being an emotional provider, the provider of security, and the provider of peace and love in the home. Many of us try to satisfy the longing of our kid’s hearts with stuff, but the Bible says that being a provider, means more than just the material things, it’s talking about the spiritual things of life. Not only will the blessing be found in our families but it will be:

  • Far Flung

“5 May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem     all the days of your life. 6 May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel.” The blessing extends from the family into our neighborhoods and even our nation. As the home goes, so goes the nation. The Psalm before this 127:4 says “Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.” Children are messengers that we send to a time we will never see. The question is what message will they carry in a corrupt culture, will it be the message of Christ or a conceited self-centered one? That depends on the witness of the warrior, in Joshua 24:15, we find Joshua standing before the nation of Israel, a mighty general who had led the people to possess the land and experience countless victories, giving the people this great challenge: “Choose you this day whom you will serve, whether the God that your fathers served on the other side of the flood, or whether the gods of the people of the land where you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Success starts with choosing sides, and then standing up for what we believe. Do you want to be a fruitful father, then start being a God fearing faithful father, who cares for his family. Take time to teach your children and model God’s love. Being the spiritual leader of the home means setting a spiritual example in the home. Psalm 78:5-7 says: “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” Today men are not only dropping the baton of belief, but many of them are not even showing up to the run the race. Our nation is falling apart not because of finances but because of faithless fathers who are failing. We don’t have a finance problem we have a fatherless problem. Look our greatest resource is not our riches it’s our relationships.  As a nation our greatest recession is not a financial one it’s a fatherless one, one-third of America’s children are not living with their natural fathers. Since 1960 we have gone from 11 percent of all American children living in homes without fathers to 33 percent. The chief characteristic of God our Father is faithfulness. God is always consistent, faithful loving, He is always present. As fathers we are called to be the pattern for our family that represents the faithfulness of God the Father, but we have to be present to paint the picture. Faithful fathers stand by their promises, they don’t let go. When marriage is messy and isn’t fun stay with it. When parenting is painful stay the course. When work is crushing your spirit, be faithful. When your local church is plagued with pettiness, stay faithful and stand by it. When your children let you down, pick them up, don’t focus on feelings of failure focus on faithfulness. When your wife goes through a six-month sickness, don’t just live with her, love her through it and be faithful to her. Be a man not a boy and understand that the heart of staying power is sacrifice and service. We need to return to the days of being mighty men, men who willingly gave up self for the good of another. Men who stormed the beaches instead of becoming soft men who just want to sit in the sand and get a suntan. Jesus lived out the ultimate example of staying power, and He calls us to model his example in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” Think about it, Jesus could have given up when they cursed Him. He could have crumbled when his own people turned against Him. He could have given up when they drove the nails in His hands and feet. But the Bible says He continued to love us; He continued to care for us; He continued to give. Today we want the blessings without the burden, we want the glory without the groaning. But you can’t have the crown without the cross. Do you want to be a fruitful father? Then fear God, follow Him faithfully, provide for your family and shoot your arrows far into the future. Be a man not a mouse and keep on keeping on, being faithful to your promises no matter what.

 

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