Life Track 1: Know God

This week we started a new series called Life Track. It is about YOUR life. We want to help you get your life on track and stay on track. At Liberty, you will hear us say often, “It’s not just church…It’s life!” Jesus came to give us life. He said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” The devil wants you to waste your life. God wants you to live life to the fullest. Life Track is not just another sermon series or church program. It is a pathway to discipleship, helping you to answer the question, “What is my next step?”

 

As a church, if we do not make disciples, we have failed.  The Great Commission was given to the church. We are to reach– “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). We are also to teach and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). This is about your personal growth, not about church growth.  Jesus builds His church.

 

The first step we want you to understand is that you can know God. Knowing God has a public and private aspect to it.  Publicly you can attend worship, commit your life to Christ, renew that commitment, be baptized, join the church, etc. When it comes to privately knowing God, I’m talking about your own personal time in worship, prayer, Bible reading, etc. Worship is not something you do one hour on Sunday or one day of the week. It is a way of life. To start knowing God, start spending time in the Word and spending time in prayer. There are other spiritual disciplines, but if you don’t do these two, you will never do the others. Have a plan! You can lose weight on just about any diet, or get fit on just about any workout, the key is having a plan and doing it. It is the same way spiritually.

 

Spend Time in the Word

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Mt. 4:4). In every temptation, Jesus responded with “It is written….” There is a difference in knowing about God and knowing God. I know about President Trump and President Obama, but I don’t know them. In Exodus 33:11, we read that “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Prayer is more than seeking God’s hand, it is seeking God’s face. God wants to have a relationship with you. You can be the friend of God. If you read the context of this verse, you see that Moses got away. You have to get alone with God.  Have a place some distance from the TV and the distractions. You don’t know a person until you know their ways. You can’t know the ways of God apart from the Word of God. Spend time in the word every day. Have a plan. Use a devotional book, one-year Bible, or free app on your phone. Just do it!

 

Spend Time in Prayer

There are so many verses on prayer and examples in Scripture of people who prayed. If the apostle Paul needed to pray, and Jesus the son of God needed to pray, how much more do you and I need to pray? You say, “I don’t know what to pray.” Pray the Word. For example, in January, I started again reading through the Bible. In Genesis it talked about how Adam would work by the sweat of his brow. I just started praying, thanking God for those who taught me a work ethic. I thanked God for the part-time jobs I had growing up, and for the first church who gave me an opportunity.  I thanked God for the churches I served and for the work God did and the miracles He let me be a part of. You can also use the acronym SPECK. Pray about Sin to avoid, a Promise to claim, an Example to follow, a Command to obey, and to Know God more. Or, ACTS. Pray with Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

 

We don’t want you to just go through the motions this year. The message, worship, and videos on Sundays are all good, but they are not good enough to change your life. You need more! You need God’s power! We want you to know the great savior Jesus Christ. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 1:18-20).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things You Need to Know

Last week, Zachary preached from John 21 on how we need to love Jesus more, love what He loves, and follow Him. My original plan for this week was to preach a new series on getting your life on track. But, the Lord knows what we need and He had other plans! When preparing for Sunday’s message, the Lord led me to 1 John 2. The word “know” is used 13 times in this chapter. I believe there are three things we need to know going into a new year, so that we can know God and love Him more.

 

A Word of Encouragement

In verses 12-14 we read of three groups of people – little children, fathers, and young men. We also read some encouraging things about them – their sins are forgiven, they know the Lord, and they have overcome the wicked one! God’s family is made up of people of all ages and stages. The three groups named in this passage have physical and spiritual meaning. They represent physical ages, yes, but these are also stages of the Christian life. We read, “Children… your sins are forgiven.” That is the starting place, but we need forgiveness daily. Fathers are those who have known God for a long time. Paul is an example. Even Paul said he wanted to know Him more!

 

Our strength comes from the work of Christ and the Word of God. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).  Whatever you are going through, it is only going to make you stronger. For many of you, God will give you the victory to be overcomers in the new year! Regardless of where you are in your walk with God, none of us have arrived. Let’s grow and go forward in our walk with the Lord this year. Let’s take our next step spiritually so that we are continually growing closer to Him.

 

A World of Entanglement

Verse 15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world….” God is love and we are to love one another, but there is a love that God hates. “Love not the world….” We are not to love the gift more than the giver! Instead of giving you a list of things to avoid, I want you to understand that worldliness is anything that excludes God, or any activity or attitude that keeps you from loving God. It is not a place you go or a particular thing you do. It is a perspective on life. It is a secular attitude about living. What do you spend your time on?  What do you spend your money on? God is not against hobbies, fun, enjoyment, vacations, sports, etc., as long as HE is first in your life. The world cannot deliver what it promises and it cannot give you what you really need. What you really need is God, forgiveness, and salvation. Verse 17 says, “…the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Don’t be like Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world…” Don’t forsake Christ and His church, entangled with a love of this world.

 

A Weapon of Empowerment

In verse 18, John warns that it is the last hour, that the Antichrist is coming, and that many antichrists have come. Our time on this earth is limited. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. And, we know without a doubt that the spirit of the antichrist is alive and well on earth now. The goal of the devil is to keep you from growing spiritually. Satan attacks the church from without and within.  He plants people to cause confusion. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (v. 20). The anointing is like a red flag in your spirit alerting you when things aren’t right.  False teaching and false teachers are everywhere. There is nothing more exciting than seeing people saved, and nothing more disturbing than to see those who have a heart for God get messed up in false religions. Believers are anointed to accomplish our assignment. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us! The Holy Spirit is our teacher.  He leads us and guides us into all truth. We must abide in Him so that we will grow stronger spiritually and not be deceived.

John 21 (Jesus Peter)

Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge

As we come to the end of a year, it’s a good time to reflect. How did I live? Am I closer to Jesus now than I was last year? Did I kill that pet sin? What new sins and temptations arose? What idols were torn down or constructed? Although it is uncomfortable, it is important to truly come face to face with where we are with God. Maybe at the end of 2017 you look back with regret or disappointment. This time last year, maybe you made all these grand resolutions about how you were going to live for Christ, things were going to be different, and as you reflect you feel as though you have failed.

There was a disciple in the Bible named Peter. He made some bold statements about what he definitely would and would not do, only to fall flat on his face! In, John 13 he tells Jesus, “…I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” Sure enough, in John 18 Peter denies Jesus three times. Peter had resolved to die for Jesus and while Jesus is dying for him, Peter is denying his friend and Lord. But the resurrected Christ comes to him in John 21:15-22, and gives him another opportunity, a chance at a new beginning, a reminder that He’s not done with Peter just yet. And I believe His word to Peter is His word to you this year.

 

Love Jesus More 

Peter has denied Jesus 3 times, and now his gracious Savior asks him 3 times if he loves Him. If you’ve messed up big last year, if like Peter you said at the beginning of last year, “I’d never do that” and then you did or “I am definitely going to do this” only to fall short, here’s what the risen Jesus wants you to know as you go into 2018: Do you love Him? Not because he doesn’t care about what you do! Rather, He knows that if you love Him, you’ll live for Him. My hope is at the end of each year I can honestly say “I love Jesus more than I did last year.”

 

Love what Jesus loves

Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep. The Shepherd has a special love for the sheep. Of all the things Jesus loves, He loves the church, His sheep, His bride, in a most special way. He says, “feed,” “tend,” and “feed.” What are those? Verbs! The problem at the beginning of a new year is not that we make resolutions; it’s that our resolutions remain intentions! We don’t follow through with action! May your love for Jesus overflow in love for His people this year in action.

 

Follow Jesus wherever He leads

Jesus tells Peter that one day he will die for following Him. At first, Peter loved himself and denied Jesus, but later, Peter loved Jesus and denied himself. None of us know which year will be our last. I want to live the remainder of my years investing into a mission that will far outlive me, and into a kingdom that is eternal. Now, when Peter finds out that it will cost him his life, he immediately wonders what will become of John’s life. And Jesus offers a response that is simple and clear – that is none of your business; don’t focus on my plan for him, focus on my will for you. He says, “You follow me!” In 2018, don’t compare God’s plan for you with His plan for others. Love Him. Love the things He loves. And follow Him wherever He leads.

Christmas Names of God – Part 4

Merry Christmas! I pray that Jesus is your joy this holiday season. We praise God for how He worked through our Christmas Eve services as we finished the Christmas Names of God series. What a joy to preach on the name of Jesus on Christmas Eve! Jesus means “Jehovah saves” and the first place the name is found is in Matthew 1. In the context, we see the meaning even further:And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

 

Jesus is the Name of History

Jesus is the dividing point of history. It is interesting to note that by using AD and BC most everyone marks the date on the calendar by the (approximate) arrival of Jesus. It doesn’t matter if the person is an atheist or believer, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are the “turning points” in history. Jesus Christ is the difference between the “old” and “new.” BC was “before Christ,” and since His birth, we have been living “in the year of our Lord.” Jesus is alive! 

 

Jesus is the Name of Honor

The Ten Commandments teach us not to take the Lord’s name in vain.  The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to hallow or honor His name. There are many famous names – Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, Moses, David, Solomon, Abraham, Noah, etc.  But one name is above every name. Philippians 2:9-11 says, “For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Jesus is the Name of Help

One of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is The Preacher’s Wife. In it, Whitney Houston sings some of the most amazing songs. There is one scene where Whitney sings the little boy to sleep: Who made the mountains, who made the trees, who made the rivers flow to the sea, and who hung the moon in the starry sky, somebody bigger than you and I. What is it that you need help with? Our help comes from the Lord, bigger than you and I. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10). Whatever problem you are facing, cry out to God for help in Jesus’ name.

 

Jesus is the Name of Hope

The message of the angels to the Shepherds was joy to the world.  Peace on earth.  Goodwill to men. Hope is what you are looking forward to. What is your mate, are your children, looking forward to? How can someone have joy at Christmas when they’ve experienced a tragedy this year? One name. Jesus! Christmas can be a hard time, but the message of Christmas is good news! It is about life, not death. Jesus is coming again to wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things will pass away. He makes all things new!

 

Jesus is the Name of Heaven

Joseph and Mary didn’t have to think of names for their baby. The angel told them to call him Jesus. Jesus was named by the Father because He is the only begotten Son of God.  He came from heaven, to do the work of heaven. He has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven, and one day He will come receive us.  No one can save themselves. Good works or religion won’t save. Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus came into our world so one day we can come into His world.

 

I don’t know what you are going through in your health, finances, emotions, marriage, job, etc., but there is power in the name of Jesus!

Christmas Names of God – Part 3

Our Series this December is called Christmas Names of God. We can’t talk about those names, without talking about this verse: “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Matt. 1:23). We know from this verse that Immanuel means “God with us.” In his dying words, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, said, “Best of all, God is with us.” Let’s unpack what those three words mean.

 

God – Providence

False teachers and false religions believe in Jesus, but they do not believe He is God. The core of Christianity is who Jesus is.  If He is not God, then His life and death were no different than any ordinary man. Jesus said, “Me and my Father are one” and “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” The skeptics say that the Hebrew word “virgin” simply means young maiden. Yes, but the context says it would be a sign (Matthew is quoting from Isaiah 7:14). A woman having a baby is amazing! I’ve seen Tammy do it three times. However, the stars did not change their course in the sky when we had our babies. Wise men did not follow a star and come bow down. Why? Our kids were not virgin born!  Isaiah’s point in this is that a cosmic sign is coming when a virgin will give birth to Immanuel, God with us. Jesus is God! Look at John 1:1, John 10:30, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, and 1 John 5:20 and you will see.

 

Jesus walked on water.  He told the storm and wind to stop and they did. He healed and forgave sins. God with us is present tense. God is present, so don’t be tense. Relax. He is ahead of you, behind you, above you, below you, and surrounding you. I don’t know what you are going through this Christmas or where you have been, but God is still God and God is with you!

 

With – Presence

Some people question if there is a God. Others question, if there is a God is He with us. There is a God and the greatest gift He can give to us is Himself. His presence. The greatest gift a spouse can give their mate is presence. The greatest gift parents can give their children is presence. God is with us. He is not just a Christmas and Easter God.  He is a 365-days-a-year God. He is not just a Sunday God, He is there every day of the week. God is with you in your relationships, your marriage, at your job, in your car, at the gym, and on the field. He is with you at the mall, grocery store, doctor’s office, hospital, ER, nursing home, and retirement center. His perpetual presence is with us all the time, in the good times and bad. This world can take a lot of things from you but it cannot take God from you. He tabernacles with us. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:16-17, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me… But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me….” God is with you, in you, through you and for you!

 

Us – People

“Us” is just ordinary people. Not the good people, not the people who have it all together, not the pretty people, not the people who get their act together, just people. There is no criteria. I don’t know if you are going to get what you want for Christmas this year, but you have the greatest gift, God with us. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You are never going to see a day when you wake up and God does not show up. He will never leave you and will never forsake you. Immanuel is God with us.

 

In the parking lot of Wal-Mart, I talked to a guy who said he had backslidden and gotten away from God.  I told him, “All of us are just one step away from stupid!” He smiled. Then, I said, “But you are also just one step away from God.” We are all either going one direction or the other. Which way are you going? Towards God or away from Him? Immanuel God came into our world so one day we can come into His world.

Christmas Names of God – Part 2

Last week, we began a series on the Christmas Names of God. We looked at the names Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Our theme verse for this week is Luke 2:11, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

 

His Name is Savior

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That is His mission and that is our mission. The title or name Savior belongs to God alone. “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior” (Is. 43:11). Hosea 13:4 says the same thing, “Yet I am the Lord your God…and you shall know no God but Me; For there is no savior besides Me.” His name, Savior, tells us who He is and who we are. He is Savior. We are sinners.  Only sinners need a Savior. We can’t save ourselves! Only God can save. Long ago, an unnamed source said it like this:

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

 

His Name is Christ

Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah. Christ means Messiah or Anointed One. Acts 10:38 tells us God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power. In Luke 4, Jesus Himself testifies, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (v. 18-19). Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament Messianic prophecy. He is the Messiah of the Jews!

 

John 1:41-42 says that Andrew “first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” Andrew knew that Jesus was the One they had been waiting for and he brought Simon to Jesus. Who do you need to bring to the Lord? Who needs to know that Jesus can heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free?

 

His Name is Lord

The baby born in Bethlehem, lying in a manger, was not just Savior, but Lord. Philippians 2 says every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is not a matter of if, but when. He is the head of the church.  He rules in heaven. He is at the right hand of the Father. You cannot make Jesus Lord. He already is Lord! All you can do is surrender to His Lordship.

 

In Luke 6:46 Jesus says, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  If Jesus is not your Lord, He is not your Savior.  If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.  You can’t say, “Come in Savior and stay out Lord.” I love how the book of Jude ends, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” He is able. He always has been able in the past, will be able in the future, and IS able in the present!  Whatever your problem, need, or hurt, no matter how great or small, God IS able! So many are falling. Is there any hope? Man will disappoint you, but our hope is in Heaven. Jesus is not just Lord. He is Lord of Lords! He is not just King. He is King of Kings! He is in a class all by Himself!  Jesus is the Savior of the World, the Christ, the Messiah of the Jews, and the Lord of the universe!

Has Jesus saved you?  If not, today you can receive the greatest Christmas present of all.

Christmas Names of God – Part 1

Seven-hundred years before Christ was born, Isaiah wrote about his birth, life, and death. Isaiah tells us the place, Galilee (9:1). Jesus performed most of his miracles around the sea of Galilee.  He tells us Jesus would come as a baby and would have four names. “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6). The verses surrounding these names unpack them for us. We don’t just need temporary fixes in life, we need eternal solutions. That’s what Jesus is!

 

Wonderful Counselor – His Name for Our Guidance

Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” Jesus is the Light of the World.  He is the Way. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, but for many it is a time of sadness and depression. Even though December is not really the birthday of Christ, I think God had the church to celebrate Jesus’ birth during one of the darkest seasons. His name means the difference between darkness and light. Dark times come into your life, but He has a way of turning your darkness into light if you will only trust Him. Did you notice the phrase “shadow of death”? His name means the difference between death and life. 

 

Mighty God – His Name for our Gladness

Isaiah 9:3-4 says, “You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.” Mighty God has a military overtone. Verse 5 is a graphic battle scene. Life is filled with battles. Jesus won the battle over sin at the cross. Midian refers to the story of Gideon. The same God who fought for and delivered Gideon, fights for and delivers us. His name means the difference between sorrow and joy and bondage and freedom. Some of you are in bondage to a stronghold in your life. Jesus walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee and set the captives free! Jesus defeated disease, demons, disaster, and death. As the Mighty God, Jesus is still mighty to save! No problem is too difficult for Him.

 

Everlasting Father – His Name for our Grace

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…” (9:6). God gave His Son. Jesus gave His life. You may be wondering, why is the Son called the Father?  He is not saying the Father is the Son and the Son is the Father. He is saying that Jesus is the Father of everlasting life. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  The disciples said, “Show us the Father,” and Jesus said, “My Father and I are one.”  There is only ONE God.  A founder is often referred to as a father. George Washington is the father of our country. It means originator. Jesus’ name is the difference between heaven and hell. He is the way into the family of God. What we need comes not from the earth, but from heaven. His name is the difference between deity and humanity. A Child was born to live in us. A Son was given to die for us.

 

Prince of Peace – His Name for our Government 

“…and the government will be upon His shoulder…  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever” (9:6-7). His name is the difference between peace and conflict. One day there will be peace on earth. When the Prince of Peace rules and reigns on David’s throne, the lion will lie down with the lamb, the child play with the cobra, and men will study war no more. Jesus came to give peace with God and the peace of God! The government is on His shoulders. You can cry on His shoulder! God has it all under control. Whatever burden you are carrying, He can carry you. His shoulder carried the cross. When the Shepherd left the 99 and went after the one lost lamb, he carried it on his shoulders. His name is the difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Jesus did not get voted into office and He can’t be voted out! Whatever you are facing, Jesus – the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace – is the answer!

 

 

 

 

Proverbs on Laughter

Today we are wrapping up our series in Proverbs. Last week, we talked about pride, something we all need to hear. This week’s topic is much needed too – laughter. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” People who do not know how to laugh are often bitter, critical, and hard to deal with. Jesus wants us to be full of joy!

 

Holy Humor

Proverbs 17:22, and the other verses we will look at, are not just pieces of good advice or good old sayings. They are the Word of God! Psalm 2:4 tells us that God laughs. He has a merry heart. Psalm 126:2 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” We have reason to be merry.  Think of all the great things God has done. Jesus died for our sins. Our names are written in heaven. He has gone to prepare a place for us and He is coming again to receive us unto Himself! Whether you have a husband or not, a wife or not, a car or not, a house or not, a job or not, a degree or not, money in the bank or not, you still have something to shout about if you know Jesus!

 

Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” The devil hates laughing at home, in your marriage, and in church. Gloomy, depressed people are weak and more apt to be sick. God gave us the gift, the ability to laugh. We can’t always rejoice over our circumstances but we can rejoice in them. Have you lost your joy? David prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12).

 

Healthy Humor

“A merry heart does good…” (Prov. 17:22). Medicine cost has skyrocketed.  You can’t afford to be sick.  One man said, “I just got a prescription. The instructions read: Take one every time you can afford it.” I read one time where a child laughs 400 times a day on average, while an adult laughs only 15 times each day. Other writings on the topic have cited 300 or 200 times a day, but the point is that children laugh way more than adults do. Maybe it is stress or responsibility, but laughter is a stress reliever! It restores and rejuvenates. All work and no play isn’t holy or healthy. Just google the medical benefits of laughter! In John 16:33 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Keep your marriage fun.  Keep your home fun.  Keep your work place fun. Whistle while you work and you will live longer!

 

Healing Humor

Proverbs 18:14 says, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?” Happy patients recover quicker. People who laugh longer live longer. In our theme verse, we read, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” The picture here is of a person who is so loaded down by the pressure and pain of life, they are crushed by the weight. A crushed spirit is a heart that is weighed down with worry, sorrow, guilt, or discouragement. This, Scripture tells us, is unhealthy. Stop carrying the guilt and all of the baggage of past.  All of us have done things we’re ashamed of, things we wish we had done differently, or not done at all. The fact is, you cannot change the past but you can learn from it. God does not want you crushed by the weight of past sins, mistakes, or failures. Don’t carry around the weight of worry. Give your worries and your past to Jesus. Ask Him to trade your sorrow for joy. He will! C. S. Lewis said, “It is not so much the joy of the Lord we are seeking as the Lord of joy Himself.” In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy! (Ps. 16:11)

Proverbs on Pride

What is pride? It is important that we know what Solomon is talking about when he uses the word.  Spiritual pride is an attitude of independence from God. It is not taking pride in your work, celebrating victories, marking milestones, giving a pat on the back, or thanking someone. Lewis Smedes in Love Within Limits said, “Pride is an arrogant refusal to let God be God. To grab God’s status for one’s self.”

 

The Sin of Pride

In Proverbs 6 we read a list of six things the Lord hates. The first one listed is pride (v. 17). Proverbs 21:4 says, “A haughty look, a proud heart… are sin.” Ever meet people who think they are a notch above? The conservative who thinks he is more moral? The liberal who thinks he is more open-minded? Pride is no respecter of persons. We all want to call the shots and run our own lives. We want to be our own god. We want to find meaning and purpose our own way. However, when pride walks in God walks out.

 

The Sight of Pride

Both Proverbs 6:17 and 21:4 refer to sight – a proud and haughty look. We live in a narcissistic society consumed with self-centeredness and self-importance. It’s all about me and what I want. Pride is the need to be seen and heard. “The lamp that guides the wicked—haughty eyes and an arrogant heart—is sin” (Prov. 21:4). Pride distorts everything you see. You can’t admit when you are wrong, you blame everyone else, you have to be better, etc. Do you do things just to be seen? Is your vision distorted?

 

The Sound of Pride

There are also references throughout Proverbs to the pride of the mouth. Look at 14:3, 8:13, and 21:24. We all are familiar with this. Listen to people talk. They are politicking, jockeying for position, etc. We hear that we are to “swallow our pride,” but really, we should spit it out! Do you disregard the input of others and make decisions solely based on what you want? Is pride taking center stage in your life? Is your speech arrogant or condescending? There are no big shots or little shots in the family of God!

 

The Shame of Pride

“When pride comes, then comes shame” (11:2). “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud” (15:25). “Pride goes before destruction” (16:18). When you watch a Christmas parade, you know that Santa is coming at the end. Pride is like a parade. Where there is pride, destruction is coming. Years ago, they boasted saying the Titanic would never sink. What they said it would not do, it did. Peter said that he would never deny the Lord, but he did. We all need to be aware of the danger of self-confidence.

 

The Strife of Pride

“By pride comes nothing but strife…” (13:10). The disciples argued over who was the greatest. They argued over where they were going to sit and who got to sit on the right and on the left of Jesus. Every war, church split, divorce, and argument is caused by pride. The proud do not learn from their mistakes. They do not take advice. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pride is a spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” We all need to check our egos at the door!

 

The Solution of Pride

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (15:33). Humility comes before honor. The humble are not after importance. In their humility is a glory that never fades. Jesus was born in a feed trough, to a poor family. He came meek and lowly to die a humiliating death. Salvation was achieved through humility and can only be received through humility. Jesus overcame the temptation of pride. Get in the presence of God. You will fall down in humility before holiness. You have to decrease before you can increase.

Proverbs on Work

As we have seen, the book of Proverbs is intensely practical. Proverbs gives us the secret to being healthy spiritually, physically, and financially. This week, we will look at what Solomon says about work. “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23). Have you ever met that person who is all talk and no action? Solomon gives four motivations of why we work.

 

God Honoring

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” God created us to be doers not just dreamers. We read in Genesis 2:2 that God rested from his work in creation. He is a worker. We also read that we were created to work. Genesis 2:15 says that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work. Ephesians 2:10 says we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Work is not sin or punishment. Work is good. It existed before the fall. Under the curse of sin it is harder, but it is still good.  Some people have the idea that those who really love God go into full-time ministry or to serve on the mission field. The truth is, in every vocation we are called to serve God. Martin Luther promoted a Protestant work ethic. He believed all work is divinely ordained. He hated the laity-clergy division, the idea that priests, nuns, and monks were engaged in holier work than housewives and farmers.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” (Col. 3:23). God is more concerned with the how than the what.

 

Grocery Shopping

“The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on” (Prov. 16:26). Another reason we work is so we can eat! 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” No one owes you a free meal! The issue is not being able to work but not being willing to work. God always has made provision for those who cannot work. In Proverbs 6:6-8, Solomon uses the ant as an example. Ants never sit still.  They are always moving, getting food, and saving food. Hunger is God’s way of saying get a job! Get a life! As Christians we should never arrive late to work or leave early. We shouldn’t wait on someone to tell us what to do. We should be self-starters and take initiative. We need to teach our kids responsibility and a good work ethic. We need to model for them what it looks like to work a full week and then take a day of sabbath rest.

 

Generous Living

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…” (John 6:27). We work to eat, but also work for kingdom purposes. There are so many promises in Scripture for those who are generous. Good will come to them (Ps. 112:5), their children will be a blessing (Ps. 37:26), they will prosper (Prov. 11:25), they will be blessed (Prov. 22:9), etc. Are you generous to those around you? Are you generous with your work and your earnings? Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

 

Gospel Expanding

In the Great Commission, Jesus says, “Go… I am with you always” (Matt. 28:19-20). That means, when you go to work, He is with you. “Always” means always. Many in the Bible leveraged their vocation for the Kingdom.  Joseph was in upper management. He managed the food supply for Egypt. Daniel was in the President’s administration. He was an advisor to the King. Paul was in the RV/mobile home business.  He was a tentmaker. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus was a carpenter.  God wants to use your work to advance the Kingdom. We show the excellence of God when we do our work with excellence. We show the love of God when we love the people we work with.  We show the holiness of God when we do our work with integrity.  We show the preeminence and priority of God when we honor the Lord with our tithes and firstfruits. We show the goodness of God when we are generous. Your work does not have to be boring, it can be a blessing when it is done for Jesus!

Page 1 of 1312345...10...Last »