In 1816, his family was forced out of their home in Kentucky. In 1818, his mother died when he was only 9 years old and he helped his father make the wooden coffin. In 1831 his father's business failed and they were forced to start over. In 1832, he ran for state legislature and lost. In 1833, he borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent many years of his life paying off these debts. In 1835, engaged to be married, his sweetheart died and his heart was broken. From 1834-1858, he ran for elected office ten times, only winning two times. In 1860, President Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
This past Sunday, we took a look at Stephen's sermon in Acts 7. In his sermon, Stephen (1) Reminded his persecutors what God had already done -- he recounted God's mighty works with Abraham, the Patriarchs, Jospeh, Moses, Joshua, and David, (2) He reminded them of who God really is (Acts 7:48) -- God is not just a temple dweller; He is the creator and sustainer of the universe, (3) He called them to repent of hard-heartedness (7:51-53), and (4) He raised up Jesus -- he kept Jesus at the center of his message (7:56).
It might be easy to read Stephen's sermon as any other sermon until you notice the context. Stephen had been working with the Spirit to advance the kingdom and the church. Great things were happening and then opposition arose. IT was in the midst of opposition that Stephen gave his greatest sermon and his life.
Being on trial or going through a test is no fun; but it's how we gain a testimony and grow to trust God more!. Trial or trouble can cause us to get a broken heart and to become bitter or it can cause us to lean on God and learn to trust him more! Stephen is a great example of someone who chose to stand with the Spirt under trail. May the Lord help you and me stand with the Spirit and proclaim the goodness of God in Christ Jesus no matter the test or the trail.
“Go to the ant, you sluggard!” ~ Proverbs 6:6
The Bible has a way with words . . . and we are wise to heed them. "Sluggard" is one of my favorite words from Proverbs. After reading through Proverbs together a few summers ago, my kids had quite a bit of fun teasing each other, saying "you sluggard!".
Proverbs 6 is full of warnings! We are counseled to avoid surety (securing another person's debt), avoid sloth (laziness which leads to poverty), and avoid scoundrels (bad company which pulls you down).
God loves us, so he warns us! Let's take a quick look at each one of these warnings!
1. You can't save someone form drowning if you are drowning with them (Proverbs 6:1-5). Avoid surety! I learned a long time ago as a life guard that the biggest danger in saving a drowning victim is getting drowned with her. the master teacher seems to be saying the same thing about financial guarantees. Sometimes helping someone is not really helpful!
2. God helps those who help themselves! (Proverbs 6:6-11) Avoid sloth! I know it's not in the Bible. And yet, the master teacher makes clear that nothing but poverty comes to those who lay around all day. Wisdom advises us to consider the industry of the ant and get busy. I guess the "early bird" really does get the worm.
3. Bad company corrupts good morals! (Proverbs 6:12-19) Avoid scoundrels! There are six . . . no seven things which the Lord hates! Proverbs 6:16-19 is not an exhaustive list of that which God hates, but it is well worth a second and third glance. Each item expresses the attitude and activity of the "worthless, wicked man (6:12) -- a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that works evil, feet that are swift to evil, a false witness, and one who sows discord among brothers. the warning is clear--surround yourself with good company!
The Bible can be direct at times . . . I like that! Apply these three warnings to your life today and grow wise. You will be blessed!
Is your view of sexuality and marriage Medieval? — Sadly, some Christians today still hold to an unbiblical view of sexuality that flows out of Medieval Christianity. Thankfully the Reformers and Puritans returned to a more Biblical view of sexuality and marriage. Here is some of their thinking from the writings of Nathan W. Bingham . . .
“Marital love must be sexual, so that both marital partners can give themselves fully to each other with joy and exuberance in a healthy relationship marked by fidelity. Reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin established this aspect of marriage by abandoning the medieval Roman Catholic attitudes that marriage was inferior to celibacy, that all sexual contact between marital partners was a necessary evil to propagate the human race, and that a procreative act that involved passion was inherently sinful.
This negative view was rooted in the ancient church and based on the writings of such notables as Tertullian, Ambrose, and Jerome, all of whom believed that, even within marriage, intercourse necessarily involved sin. This attitude toward marital intimacy, which dominated the church for more than ten centuries, inevitably led to the glorification of virginity and celibacy. By the fifth century, clerics were prohibited from marrying. Two classes of Christians emerged: the “religious” (i.e., the spiritual clergy), which included monks and nuns who vowed to abstain from all sexual activity, and the “profane” (i.e., the secular laity), who, being unable to rise to the noble heights of virginity or celibacy, were conceded the right to marry.” Puritan preachers taught that the Roman Catholic view was unbiblical, even satanic. They cited Paul, who said that the prohibition of marriage is a doctrine of devils (1 Tim. 4:1–3). ===============================================
This Sunday we take a look at Proverbs 5. We will (1) flee the dangers of adultery, (2) Have fun with faithfulness, and (3) celebrate the gift of sexuality in marriage!
Good is good and he gifts good gifts. God is faithful and we are encouraged to be more like Him. When we combine faithfulness with sexuality we find fulfillment. Bottom line . . . faithfulness is fun! I hope you can join us!
No doubt about it! There is such a thing as a blessed life! Most all of us (when we're honest) would quickly and easily admit, "Yes, I want to be blessed!" And by that we mean, "I want to be happy, healthy, and well-off financially." It's natural to want a blessed life, a blessed marriage, and a blessed career or bank account."
The good news is that our God is a God of blessing and the Bible is a book of blessing. Without hesitation, I can declare, "God wants to bless you!" Adam and Eve were blessed by God and commanded "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). Abraham was blessed and promised a blessing for all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord all night and received a blessing and a new name--Israel (Genesis 32:22-32). Jabez cried out to the Lord for blessing and increase and God heard his prayer and blessed him (1 Chronicles 4:10). Terms for blessing occur over 600 times in the Old Testament. Most of these terms are related to the word meaning "to kneel" because in ancient times one would kneel to receive a blessing. The New Testament continues the theme of blessing, but focuses more on the eternal and spiritual blessings of knowing Christ Jesus, rather than physical blessing.
Aaron, the High Priest was taught to bless God's people in this manner . . . "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26) From this priestly blessing we learn that God's blessing includes (1) His protection, (2) His presence, (3) His personal favor, and (4) His peace.
Jesus continued the theme of blessing in his so-called Beattitudes in Matthew 5:1-12. Interestly enough, Jesus' words on blessing focus more on the inner character or attitude of the disciple rather than physical abundance. He included a blessing for the persecuted as well!
So what is the blessing? Is it a promise of financial prosperity and earthly happiness? Or is it something more? I would say "something more!" God's blessing begins with spiritual abundance, rest, and wholeness which produces a truly joy-filled and satisfying life.
Now here is the bad news--It's easy to get off course! There are many things in life which promise blessing but leave us empty. Just read Solomon's account in Ecclesiastes. For the religious or the do-gooder, its also easy to get off course. Far to many people spend their life seeking the blessing without seeking the God of blessing. It's also easy to fall into the trap of "doing good" as a means to experience blessing. After all it fells good to do good; but this is not the blessing!
The blessing of God is underserved and comes to us as a gracious gift-- it is God's personal favor in our lives; His love and acceptance. All we need to do is receive and rest in his blessing. We receive by faith; we rest in obedience to His word! We all want to be blessed, but are we willing to walk with God and rest in His blessing?
After I posted this over the weekend and taught from Proverbs on Sunday, I was reminded of the importance of trusting in the Lord once we have made a decision (Proverbs 3:4-5). It is easy to look back and second guess ourselves, especially when things don't work out exactly as we planned-- so TRUST THE LORD regardless of the outcome.
so #7: Trust in the Lord to direct your path (Proverbs 3:4-5). Once you’ve made a decision, trust God for the outcome!
Seeking wisdom is a lot like seeking God. 1 Chronicles 22:19 encourages us with these words, "Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD." When we spend time in prayer and Bible study, we are seeking the Lord. When we "build the sanctuary of the Lord" into our lives by participating in church, we are seeking the Lord. Jeremiah the prophet proclaimed, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (29:13)
It's not as if God is hiding from us! The Bible teaches us that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere at once). Nature itself reveals the glory of God to us (Roman 1) and God desires for us to "know Him" (Hebrews 8:11). It's not difficult to recognize the handiwork of God all around us. And yet, God wants us to seek Him!
Proverbs 2 begins with a focus on "seeking the Lord". In the first four verses, eight phrases or words emphasize the importance of our response to wisdom or our willingness to pursue wisdom. They are . . .receive, treasure, incline your ear, apply your heart, cry out, lift up your voice, seek, and search.
Think of it like a treasure hunt. One day a pile of coins wash up on the seashore. You find a handful of treasure and you're thrilled. You do a little research and discover that one of the Spanish ships from the 1400s was shipwrecked right off shore. Turns out this ship was carrying millions of dollars worth of gold. what would you do next??? You'd make plans to go on a treasure hunt, right?!
That's what our attitude should be in relationship to wisdom. We should seek wisdom and seek God as if its the greatest treasure! So the next time you attend church or open your Bible, don't just go through the motions -- seek God as if He is the greatest treasure in your life!
The Fear of the Lord is a foundational principle in the book of Proverbs and through out the Bible. Proverbs tells us that the "fear of the Lord" is the beginning of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding leading us away from the folly of a foolish life (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10). The Hebrew term yirah: meaning "fear" has a range of meanings in the Old Testament. 1) It can mean “dread, terror” (Jonah 1:10), 2) It can mean "to stand" in awe or reverence of a king (1 Kings 3:28), and 3) it can mean " to revere or to respect parents" (Leviticus 19:3).
We know from the Old Testament that Moses spoke with God as a man speaks with a friend (Exodus 33:11). This should reassure us that God doesn't want us living in perpetual fear of His presence. Instead, He wants us to enter into his presence with a sense of "awe" and reverence. After all, He is the creator of the universe! The "fear of the Lord" parallels what Jesus taught us in the New Testament when he said, "Seek first the kingdom of God". (Matthew 6:33)
A "high regard" for God in your life will produce some key benefits . . .
(1) it is the beginning of knowledge about God and life (Proverbs 1:7),
(2) It will cause you to run from evil and disaster (Proverbs 8:13),
(3) It will prolong life and produce a fountain of life within you (Proverbs 10:27, 14:26-27).
Here's some practical steps to developing a "high regard" for God in your life . . .
(1) Read the Bible and get to know more about God's character (His holiness and goodness).
(2) Attend church on a regular basis with other believers. Give 10% of your income to God as an
expression of honor to God.
(3) Invite the Holy Spirit to make you more aware of Jesus and His teaching in your life.
(4) Seek to follow the teachings of Jesus as the grace of God transforms your life.
Living with a high regard for God will change the way you live and benefit you and those close to you!
Let's face it, life is just more interesting with friends! This Sunday, we will continue our series on God's Wisdom for Life from the book of Proverbs. Our topic -- Avoiding Bad Company--flows out of Proverbs 1:8-19. I came across an interesting article "5 Reasons Studies Say You Have to Choose Your Friends Wisely” by Amy Morin. Here's her list . . .1. Strong-willed friends can increase your self-control, 2. Having fewer friends increases the likelihood that you’ll take financial risks, 3. Having too many social media connections increases your stress level, 4. Close friends may be the secret to longevity, 5. Friends greatly influence your choices.
Definitely an interesting list. It got me thinking about the biblical reasons to choose your friends wisely, so I came up with a few. Here they are . . .
5 Reasons to Choose Your Companions Wisely
Let's try something . . . This week I want you to write down your 5 closest friends. Then, ask yourself is this person helping me grow as a Christian? Is this person helping me reach my goals in life? If they are pulling you down rather than lifting you up, then perhaps they shouldn't be on your best friend list. They can still be your friend and you can lift them up, but you might want to pray about finding another friend for your list.
Friends . . . they can pull you down or lift you up! Jesus and his friends will lift you up! See you Sunday! Pastor Tom
Solomon is remembered as one of the wealthiest (2 Chronicles 1:14-17) and wisest men of all history. He wrote more than 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs, plus the Song of Solomon and the book of Ecclesiastes (1 Kings 4:29-34). Solomon was the tenth son of David, and second by Bathsheba. He was the third king of Israel who reigned for forty years (2 Samuel 5:14; 15:24). during his reign, he built the Temple, multiplied his fighting forces, his wealth, and his wives.
Solomon was also known as Jedidiah meaning, "beloved of the Lord." Solomon was gifted and favored by God, but he allowed sensuality to sideline his wisdom, his joy for life, and his Godly influence open others. In his pursuit for purpose in life, he concluded that all was vanity, except to "fear God and keep his commandments." (Ecclesiastes 12:13) for me, Ecclesiastes 12:13 represents more than a wise saying, but rather a statement of Solomon's repentance from his wanderings!
A few stories from the life of Solomon stand out . . .
(1) Solomon's request for wisdom -- 2 Chronicles 1:7-13 [also see 1 Kings 3] records how God granted Solomon wisdom on the night of his inauguration as king. God was very pleased with Solomon as he asked for wisdom rather than, wealth, long life, or victory in battle. What a great lesson for us all. Jesus taught something similar in Matthew 6:33 -- "But seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you as well." When we seek God and God's way, God fulfills us and takes care of our other needs along the way.
(2) Solomon's prayer at the Temple dedication -- 2 Chronicles 6 records the dedication of the Temple. This was a big day for Solomon and all of Israel. David had wanted to build a Temple to the Lord (6:7-9), but it fell to Solomon to accomplish this task (6:10). Solomon's prayer demonstrates the deep theological understanding which he possessed -- even the heavens cannot contain the glory of God, and yet, God chose to dwell with His people (6:18).
(3) Solomon's wise decision -- Some of you will remember from Sunday school the story of Solomon and the two women (1 Kings 3:16-28). The king had a very difficult decision to make--two women had given birth in the same house. Sadly, one child had died in the night and now a mother was claiming that her living baby had been taken by the other mother. What should the kind do, since no one was present to judge rightly? Asking for a sword, King Solomon was able to discern who was the rightful mother. If you haven't read the story, I hope you will.
Solomon was a precursor to Christ Jesus. All of his wisdom points us to Jesus, our savior and Lord. Solomon's life also reminds us that we need the help of our Savior to live with wisdom in all of our decisions. We can know to do right and still wander from God's path. Worse we can go through the motions of "doing right" with a heart of of discontent or evil and loose out on the joy of Godly living.
Colossians 2:3 -- "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
As we discover God's wisdom for living in the pages of Proverbs, I encourage you to seek Jesus as your Savior an dLord today-- It's the wisest decision you can make! See you Sunday! Pastor Tom
This Sunday we kick of a new series from the book of Proverbs. I'm looking forward to digging in and learning all I can about God's wisdom for life. I hope you explore the wisdom of Proverbs with me!
Proverbs is a book in the Old Testament written around 950-700 BC by Solomon and a few others. According to 1 Kings 4:32, Solomon spoke thousands of proverbs and songs. His "proverbs" (i.e. a condensed comparison or parable) cover topics such as . . .
(1) the fear of the Lord,
(2) avoiding bad company,
(3) trusting and honoring God,
(4) showing kindness and generosity to others,
(5) finance, wealth, and poverty,
(6) sexuality and pleasure (now I've got your attention, right?!), and
(7) the joy of wise living.
Plus many other topics as well.
This Sunday, we begin with the "fear of the Lord", so I will leave you with Proverbs 1:7, "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Lord make me wise as I learn to walk in the "fear of the Lord". Pastor Tom