Jesus, God's Final Word (Hebrews 1:2)

Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians to show that Jesus is greater/better than the angels, priests, Moses; that Jesus is the greater/better sacrifice, temple, hope, promise, country, resurrection. They were subject to suffering and shame for their confession of Jesus; they were tempted to turn away from the faith (Heb. 10:38,39), and in danger of falling away, perhaps fearing death (Heb. 2:14-18). Thus, the author of Hebrews wrote to exhort them to take heed (Heb. 13:22), persevere, and hold on to faith, by fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).

Heb. 1:1-4 is the introduction to Hebrews, and it is a summary of who Jesus is (the Person and Work of Jesus). It may be the absolute shortest resume on record. From it, we learn that Jesus is all of the following:
  1. The Creator. "He created the world." (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16)
  2. The Heir. "(God) appointed the heir of all things." As God's adopted sons through Jesus, we too are heirs (Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:6,7; Heb. 1:14).
  3. The Glory of God. "He is the radiance of the glory of God." (2 Cor. 4:4-6)
  4. Upholder. "He upholds the universe by the word of his power." (cf. Col. 1:17)
  5. Mediator. "(He provided) purification of sins." (Tit. 2:14; Rev. 1:5)
  6. Inheritor of an exalted/excellent/superior name. "The name he has inherited is more excellent."

Heb. 1:5-14 quotes from the Old Testament to give the evidence of Jesus' status as Son and God, which is why Jesus is superior to the angels (Heb. 1:4).

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Womanly Excellence (Prov. 31:30)

Chart of the Book of Proverbs.

Godly kingliness (Prov. 31:1-9) should be characterized by:
  1. holiness (Prov. 31:3)

  2. sobriety (Prov. 31:4-7)

  3. compassion (Prov. 31:8,9)
Wifely excellence (Prov. 31:10-31). This woman is lavished and heaped upon with superlatives such as excellence, nobility, worthiness, etc. Why? It is not primarily because of her practical wisdom and skills and talents and etiquette and social graces. Rather, it is because she fears the Lord. Prov. 31:29,30 say, "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." The book of Proverbs begins and ends with the theme: "The fear of the Lord" (Prov. 1:7). The fear of the Lord is foundational to the wise and right use of all her activities and skills. A godly woman may well have outward charm and beauty, but these are of secondary importance to her godliness.

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I Am Too Stupid (Prov. 30:2-4)

I am too stupid to be a man (Prov. 30:2-4). {"The words of Agur" (Prov. 30:1) are perhaps addressed to his favorite pupils.} We think that if we give of ourselves to seek wisdom and truth, we'll be quite smart. But Prov. 30:2,3 says, "Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One." Surely, he is not "stupid," but one who humbly knows of and realizes his own severe limitations, ignorance and experience as a mere human before the infinite God (Prov. 30:4; Job 38:4-39:30). Man, in his ignorance, thinks of God as an object of his investigation or speculation, not realizing his utmost overweening pride in doing so. But man who sees himself before God recognizes the sheer immensity of the mystery and majesty of God, and is humbled and awed.

God's flawless revelation (Prov. 30:5,6). Prov. 30:5 says, "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield of those who take refuge in him." These verses move from the uncertainty of human speculation to the certainty of divine revelation -- the trustworthiness and reliability of the Bible. This verse supports the doctrine of the “plenary” (full, complete) inspiration of Scripture, extending even to “every word” (2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 18:30). Yet, the aim of revelation is to promote a living loving trust, not bare knowledge, toward the One God behind "every word of God."

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Singing & Rejoicing (Prov. 29:6)

A righteous man sings and rejoices (Prov. 29:6).

Vent or hold back. Prov. 29:11 says, "A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back."

The king who wins loyalty. Prov. 29:14 say, "If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will be established forever." Usually, the poor are disregarded or marginalized or treated arbitrarily, because they are inconsequential to those who are more powerful. Jesus is the greatest King because he highly regards and values the lowest, weakest one, even each of us.

Rod & Reproof; Discipline to Delight. (Prov. 29:15,17). Discipline is good and wise, and should not be avoided. See Prov. 13:24: http://westloop-church.blogspot.com/2010/10/wisdom-is-found-in-those-who-take.html

No vision. Prov. 29:18 say, "Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law--blessed is he" (Amplified Bible). The Message translation says, "If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed." If we don't "see" God, we wander and meander aimlessly and pointlessly. If we humble ourselves to divine revelation in Scripture, we experience the blessing of God.

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Hiding One's Sins (Prov. 28:13)

"The righteous are bold as a lion" (Prov. 28:1). One can act tough or confident based on their superior knowledge, expertise, experience, seniority, status, etc. But only one who is right with God in his heart has no fear of any man, or of any adversity, or tragedy. He has no hidden past that he is concealing/hiding (Num. 32:23; Prov. 28:18), and he is sure that God is with him (Ps. 23:6).

Conceal or Confess Sin. Prov. 28:13 says, "Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and renounce them find mercy." We conceal sin because we like it and want to continue in them, or because we don't want others to think how bad we are. But without confession of sin, we become hypocrites, we harden our own hearts, and we carry a load of guilt that will crush us. Pray that God have mercy on us, so that we fear God (Prov. 28:14), and be true to him.

Rebuke rather than Flatter. Prov. 28:23 says, "Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue." Polite society thinks that rebuke is bad, and flattery wins favors. But one who truly loves another will always do what's best for the other, including painful, stinging rebuke, for their good.

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Wounding Kisses, Friendly Wounds (Prov. 27:5,6,9)

Frankness between Friends. Prov. 27:5,6 say, "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." A true friend risks even his friend's wrath and anger by speaking the truth for his good that he may not wish to hear.

True Friends Improve Each Other. Prov. 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." God meant for no man to be an island. A man's advance and progress is best through the influence of a good man, a mentor.

True Testing. Prov. 27:21 "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives." Many a man is strengthened by adversity, while the true measure of a man is exposed in the day of success and praise.

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A Bible Contradiction? Don't Answer a Fool, Answer a Fool (Prov. 26:4,5)

What to do with fools. Surely, it's always hard dealing with fools! Prov. 26:4,5 say, "Do not answer fools according to their folly, or you yourself will be just like them. Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes." Clearly, no proverb is intended to cover every situation. The apparent contradiction here is that proverbs must be appropriately applied. A situation may demand a non-response, while another situation may demand that folly be exposed for what it is. Obviously, this always calls for wisdom. During his trial, Jesus didn't answer questions that could have vindicated himself, while he plainly declared his Messiahship that led to his brutal execution.

A foolish messenger makes the sender look like a fool (Prov. 26:6 cf. Prov 25:13).

The most foolish of all fools is the one who thinks he is wise. Prov. 26:12 says, "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." There are degrees of foolishness with intellectual conceit being the most stupid and the hardest to remedy. An extreme example is the worldly wisdom that regards God's wisdom as folly (1 Cor. 1:18-2:5).

The creativity of laziness (Prov. 26:13-16): http://westloop-church.blogspot.com/2010/10/creativity-of-laziness-proverbs-2213_21.html

How damaging and destructive is gossip (Prov, 26:22): http://westloop-church.blogspot.com/2010/10/gossip-goes-down-deeper-than-juicy.html

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A Soft Spoken Word (Prov. 25:11,15)

Wise words: Prov. 25:11 says, "A word aptly (fitly) spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." We know how easy and harmful it can be to speak thoughtlessly and foolishly. Everyone remembers some "horrific, traumatic, wounding" words someone spoke, and some "unforgettable, memorable, encouraging words" someone else spoke. It is surely true that "no human being can tame the tongue" (Jas. 3:8), so in a sense our own speech is a lifelong exercise in damage control! As God's people, may our words be God's instrument to pass along to others the grace and love God has given us (Prov. 25:12,13). In Eph. 4:29 Paul urges us to speak "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio.)

Soft words: Prov. 25:15 says, "Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle (soft) tongue can break a bone." Reacting emotionally, or blowing up in anger with our words is a sad result of our fallenness, that often has irreversible consequences. But with gentleness, tact, diplomacy, and "soft words" much more can be accomplished (Prov. 15:1, 16:32): http://westloop-church.blogspot.com/2010/10/eyes-of-lord-proverbs-153.html Jesus could move the most hardened criminal because of his gentleness and softness unto death (Luke 23:47).

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Do you Realize God is Incomprehensible?

The incomprehensibility of God is perhaps something we Christians may not realize about God. What does this mean? We can't ever know or understand God exhaustively, even though we can have a true, meaningful, and personal knowledge of God. Thus, God is both incomprehensible, and yet knowable.

Psalm 145:3 says, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable." In fact, not only can we ever not know everything there is to know about God, we can never know everything there is to know about even one aspect of God's character or work. Why? It's because God is infinite and we humans are finite (and also very much affected/blinded/biased/prejudiced by our sin even after being a Christian for years). So, God will always be beyond our human ability to know exhaustively.

What then are the implications and the application of the incomprehensibility of God? We should always be in awe with a heart of wonder, and be deeply humbled, realizing that there will always be more to learn of His incomprehensible greatness. We should especially be humble toward others, and not insist on what we think and believe by imposing upon others what they may not yet be able or ready to digest.

This is adapted and summarized from the ESV Study Bible from the section: What it means to know God.

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Building Greatness, Having Greatness (Prov. 24:3-6)

Surely, there is none who doesn't desire greatness. The question is "How?"

Building greatness: Prov. 24:3,4 says that to build a house requires wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. The house could be a building, or is symbolic of a man's character, his family, or a fine enterprise or dynasty. Perhaps, the greatest character traits to build are the hardest--humility and meekness (Matt. 11:29), gentleness and kindness (Gal. 5:22,23)--while virtually anyone, even a fool, can act tough and throw his own weight around.

Having greatness: Prov. 24:5 says, "A wise man is full of strength" (ESV); "A wise man has great power" (NIV). A wise man also enhances his might (ESV), and increases strength (NIV). How is this done? Prov. 24:6 says, "...for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers." No one ever becomes great alone; no one ever becomes wise alone (Prov. 11:14, 12:15, 13:10): http://westloop-church.blogspot.com/2010/10/wisdom-is-found-in-those-who-take.html

Ultimately, no man's true greatness, power or strength ever comes from himself, but from God. Paul said, "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4).

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Don't Speak to a Fool (Proverbs 23:9)

Wisdom is wasted on a fool: Prov. 23:9 says, "Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words." "Do not speak" does not mean "be rude/disrespectful." Also, we Christians think that we should be nice and not discriminate between people. Yes, we shouldn't. But it's wise to understand that a fool is not necessarily lacking in intelligence or intellect, but stubborn and proud, and thus unteachable (Prov. 9:7). Jesus also said, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs" (Matt. 7:6). Of course, this does not justify anyone treating anyone else like a dog or a pig!

Envy = Inadequate fear of God: Prov. 23:17 says, "Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord."

Repeated warnings (all through Proverbs) against money, lust & drunkenness: Prov. 23:4,5 (money); Prov. 23:26-28 (lust); Prov. 23:29-35 (drunkenness).

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The Creativity of Laziness (Prov 22:13)

The Ingenious Sluggard: Prov 22:13 says, "The sluggard says, 'There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets.'" A lazy person has no idea they are lazy, just as a proud person has no idea how proud they are. To avoid work, the lazy think that something horrible would happen to them if they left the house to work. They are clueless that what would kill them is not the imaginary lion of their lame excuses, but the reality of their poverty.

Honor & Recognition: Prov 22:1 says, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Everyone desires a good name, even crooks and gangsters. But how easily are we deceived and enticed by silver or gold. A good name is always attained through righteousness (with God) and kindness (toward others). Jesus gives us an even greater motivation and source of joy than our sense of honor by being praised and recognized and commended by men. It is our eternal salvation, for our names are written in heaven (Lk 10:20).

Knocking nonsense out of a child: Prov. 22:15 says, "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." Without loving discipline, a cute innocent child will grow up to be a fool. Prov 13:10, 24 - Wisdom is Found in Those Who Take Advice.

30 sayings: Prov 22:17-24:22 contain 30 sayings (77 proverbs) that were spoken by godly men and compiled by Solomon. Prov 22:17-21 introduces this section, similar to Prov 1:1-7. The 1st 5 sayings are:
  1. Protect the poor (Prov. 22:22,23)
  2. Avoid the angry (Prov. 22:24,25)
  3. Pledge carefully (Prov. 22:26,27)
  4. Don't steal (Prov. 22:28)
  5. Observe the skillful (Prov. 22:29)

God is Higher than the king (Prov 21:1)

King of kings: A king who thinks he knows what's always best is proud (Prov 21:4); he'll one day come to a shocking realization that God is a much higher judge than he (Prov 21:2). Prov 21:1 says, "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will." To see God above a king or boss or leader who is above you and who may rule over you is to have faith in God and to fear God, not man (Prov 29:25). Otherwise, we'll exalt and worship a mere man for favoring you, and curse him for being against you.

God is always the final answer, never man: Variations of Prov 21:2 is repeated through out Proverbs (Prov 16:2), because we are so easily self-deceived, while God exposes our true deepest inner motives: "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart."


The Limitations of Human Discernment (Prov 20:24,27)

We Plan; God Overrules: Prov 20:24 say, "A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" We make our own decisions and we are fully responsible for them. But paradoxically, God directs the steps of each. This paradox exposes the limitations of our human discernment (Prov 16:1,9).


Not No anger, not Blow anger, but SLOW Anger (Proverbs 19:11)

Slow To Anger (Magnanimity). Prov 19:11 says, "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense" (ESV).

Not no anger. Some Christians think that getting angry is always a sin. But it is a sin when we are not angry when we should be angry about things that anger God.

Not blow anger. Blowing up in anger without self-control (so easy to do!) is always a sin. Thus, Prov 16:32 says that one who controls his temper is greater than one who conquers a city.

But slow to anger, for our God is "the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness" (Exo 34:6) (Num 14:18, Ps 103:8, etc). Otherwise, God would surely have incinerated us already! The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect manifestation of God's slow anger, for God put His Son on the cross instead of us.


Gossip Goes Down Deeper than a Juicy Steak (Proverbs 18:8)

Gossip: Proverbs 18:8 says, "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts." Gossip is so deadly because people love to hear it and to share it. Gossip has a voracious appetite. It tastes so good going down, but it has no nutrition in it. It's like ingesting or spreading a spiritual poison that strikes at the very core of one's being.

Why do we gossip? What does gossip do? What's wrong with gossip? What can we do?

Gossip, and his twin Slander, seems irresistible because it empowers and exalts the gossiper by demeaning the one gossiped about.

Gossip and innuendo invariably feeds our pride and ego by giving us a sense of power and superiority--at someone else's expense. Who can resist doing this?

To the Christian, gossip doesn't seem serious or even bad or wrong, unlike murder or adultery, but...
  • ...in the Bible, a sin is a sin, and there are no greater or lesser degrees of sinfulness.
  • There are no good outcomes of gossip, only destructive consequences (Prov 18:6-9,19,21), even in the church. How many churches have split, become divided or greatly weakened by spreading gossip and slander, instead of speaking to one another face to face with gentleness and respect, with honesty, openness and transparency!
  • Pray that God give us grace to not gossip, and that our words may be thoughtful, timely, and true.
Isolation: Proverbs 18:1 says, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment." "Isolate" translates a Hebrew word that refers to someone who is either reclusive or divisive. Either way, antisocial tendencies seem to be implied (ESV Study Bible). We think of ourselves as socially cool, and not at all like the Unabomber. But I think that we isolate ourselves if we only gather together with our own clique, such as our family and close friends, our sports buddies, or even our own local church community. Then our mindset becomes shaped by the thoughts and sentiment of our "exclusive in group." But Jesus was always incarnational, and he always "hung out" with those whom the Pharisees hated. The Pharisees was "against sound judgment" because they isolated themselves by only being among themselves.

Prov 18:9-12 imply that riches can give a false sense of security that leads to laziness, pride, and a downfall, but that humility and the fear of God exalt people.

Answer Before ListeningHe who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame (Prov. 18:13). Think of those exasperating, aggressive conversationalists who rarely let you finish a sentence or a thought before they interject their own viewpoint. How much worse is the situation when neither side in a dispute really listens to the other side. In rare cases, of course, there is literally nothing to be said in favor of one particular side. But almost always there is at least something to be said for a contrary position, even if on balance it is not all that defensible. But how can you find out if you do not really listen? How can you hope to convince the other party of what you are saying if you cannot give that party the grace of courteous listening? In most disputes, tensions will improve if one party takes the initiative to lower the volume, slow the pace, cool the rhetoric, and humbly try to listen and discover exactly what the other side is saying.

Proverbs 18 Daily Devotional Don Carson

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SHUT UP (Proverbs 17:27,28)

Speech: Everybody thinks that others talk too much. "If only they would shut up and listen to me!" The book of Proverbs favors silence by far, or the very spare use of words by the wise. Prov 17:27,28 say, "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." So, even fools who imitate the wise in their silence may appear wise! Can I learn self-restraint and self-control in my speech, emails, blogs and body language? This is an excellent and painful question!


My Way or The Highway (Proverbs 16)

We feel so strongly and insistent about the way things should be: "My way or the highway is surely the best way!" But Proverbs 16 tells us some foundational truths.

16:1 "To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply..."

16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

No matter what we propose (1a,9a), it is God who disposes (1b,9b). For "The Lord has made everything for its purpose" (16:4). We may think that our heart and motives are pure and right, "but the Lord weighs the spirit (motives)" (16:2). Whether we like it or not, all things are under God's sovereignty and serve His purposes. Therefore, the wise approach to life is to "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established" (16:3). Though Jesus pleaded to his Father to take away his unbearable cup of sorrow and death, he said, "yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk 22:42).

16:32 "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." It takes an exceptional mighty man and leader to conquer a city. But the greater man is one who is able to exercise self-control and not lose his temper or lose his spirit during a time of weakness, temptation, crushing disappointment, or unexpected crises (14:17,29). Even just in terms of patience and forbearance, Jesus is the greatest man.

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Are your Words Thoughtful, Timely, and True? (Proverbs 15:1-4)

Prov. 15:1-4 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (1). Words are gifts of God, given only to man in all of creation. Words used wisely are thoughtful, timely, and true. We should speak the right thing (true) in the right way (thoughtful) at the right time (timely). But if we don't, we invite wrath (1), express our stupidity (2), discourage others (4), even promote evil (28), especially through gossip (Prov. 16:28; 18:8) and slander. When we acknowledge his divine omniscience and guard our heart in the fear of God, God will give us wisdom to use our words to honor God and bless people.

Prov. 15:3 "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good." That God sees and knows everything about everything and everyone is called divine omniscience. To a believer, it is most encouraging that God sees and knows me. When I am hurt and wounded, there is no greater comfort in all the world than to know that God sees and knows my frail, fragile, wounded heart. But to an unbeliever it is upsetting, dreadful and infuriating that God knows all the goings on in their heart, and that they can never hide from God.

Prov. 15:22 "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed" (NIV). Proverbs repeatedly encourages us to take advice (Prov. 13:10), listen to advice (Prov. 12:15), and to have many advisors (Prov. 11:14). If we just humble ourselves and learn to listen, we'd be a whole lot wiser. But we fail to listen, and so remain unwise (Prov. 21), when we find it too humbling to listen to advice.

Faithful shepherding has tangible benefits, not just for the church, but also for the pastor.

I love this post by Darrin Patrick about shepherding.

1. Shepherding Prepares the Pastor for Living

When you:
  • deal with the sin of others, you become more aware of your own sin.
  • shepherd the stubborn, you see your own stubbornness.
  • shepherd the selfish, you see your own selfishness.
  • shepherd the broken, you inevitably see your own brokenness.
  • see others obey, you want to obey.
  • see others use their gifts effectively, you want to use your gifts effectively.

The Holy Spirit reveals sin, empowers obedience, and imparts gifts. Both the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” mean “air” or “breath.” The English word “spirit” comes from the Latin spiritus, which also means “air” or “breath”. This is where we get words like respiratory (breathing) and expire (no more breathing). It is also where we get the word inspire. It’s as if when the Spirit is at work in those whom we counsel, we pastors are, by the same Spirit, inspired to repent, believe, and obey with the best gifts we have.

2. Shepherding Prepares the Pastor for Preaching

The more time you spend deep in pastoral care with people throughout the week, the more you will know how to contextualize your message, address specific sins, confront resistance to truth, expose cultural idols, and make concrete applications on Sunday.

3. Shepherding Helps Your Influence in Preaching

Shepherding humbles you and kills the self-righteousness and pride that prevents people from receiving your delivery of the gospel. When you have spent real time with real people, you gain an emotional connection with your hearers that engages both their minds and their hearts.

Many pastors are like the tin man: a hard outer shell with no heart. Though they preach the truth, they do not connect with their listeners. When your people know that you are involved not just in the “sweet by and by,” but in the “nasty now and now” of their lives, they tend to believe what you are saying. They might even, miracle of miracles, apply what you are preaching.

4. Shepherding Helps You Stay Close to Jesus

There is something about dealing with the enormity of people’s sin that necessitates staying very, very close to God. In preaching, it is easier to hide a lack of spiritual connection with God through good preparation and raw ability. But the unpredictability and sheer emotional content of pastoral work confronts you with your own necessity for a savior.

In preaching, you can prepare what you will say ahead of time. In pastoral work, there is a lot of room for insecurity and anxiety as you wrestle with the questions, objections, and arguments of your people in real time—it drives you to dependence on God.

5. Shepherding Tests the Genuineness of Your Faith

The fiery furnace of pastoral work can burn off the many rough edges of your personality and cause healthy refining and growth. Pastoral work, the real brass tacks of dealing with the day-to-day struggles of your people, does more to humble and test a minister’s spirituality than study itself could ever do.

I’ve heard Tim Keller say preaching is like firing artillery; it is a relatively safe and clean job because sharp shooters are removed from the actual battle line. But pastoral work is like being in the infantry. It is hand-to-hand, eyeball-to-eyeball combat. Being a good preacher may or may not make you a better shepherd, but being a good shepherd will definitely make you a better preacher.

This post is adapted from Darrin Patrick's book Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission, available now.

Post: http://theresurgence.com/2010/09/27/5-ways-shepherding-helps-a-pastor-grow?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheResurgence+%28The+Resurgence%29


Pastor to Fellow Pastor in Crisis

"We do Christ wrong when our pursuit of others feels like we are mainly angry at how they let us down or broke the rules. They need to see in us a resting in the gospel so that it looks better than what they have. It is an irony. To win those who are breaking our heart, we must strive to enjoy the great heart-sustainer more than ever."

John Piper's personal email to Mark Dever quoted in For the Fame of God's Name, 462


Godliness Gives Stability and Vitality (Proverbs 14:26,27)

14:26,27 "The fear of the Lord" (26,27) and one who "fears the Lord" (2) is not the dread and terror of God, but a proper respect and reverence, resulting in a right relationship with God. Godliness (the fear of the Lord) protects the soul by its solidity (26) and its vitality (27), giving confidence, like one in an impenetrable fortress (26), and a richness and an abundance of life (27). Evil not only attacks but attracts, so the man of God must know something stronger and better. When godly parents live in the fear of God (again, not the dread of God, but a loving right relationship with God), they bless their children (26b) more than all of Dr. Phil's "good advice" ever can.

14:4 Neat But Negative: I had not stopped to think what this meant, just skimming past with a blank mind! Orderliness can reach the point of sterility. When there is no oxen the farmer doesn't have to clean the barn. But oxen, being much stronger than a man, can produce an abundant harvest, bringing much benefit to the farmer. So it may be necessary to accept upheaval, and a big mess to clear up, as the price of growth. An empty stable may be clean (requiring no unpleasant work), but it won't produce an abundance.

14:10 The 2 extremes of emotion: bitterness and joy can sometimes only be known and experienced peronally and privately between oneself and God. On occasion, perhaps a trusted friend and confidant may share the depth of his inmost heart.


Wisdom is Found in Those Who Take Advice (Proverbs 13:10)

Some topics covered in Proverbs 13 include:
  • teacheability (1),
  • mouth/speech control (2,3),
  • listening to/taking advice...again (10),
  • being influenced (20),
  • disciplining children (24).
13:20 Education by Friendship (Walk with the Wise--Become Wise). The simple lesson is that we become like those whose company we keep. This is the power of association to shape character, for regular companions inevitably influence each other, for good or ill. Thus, Christians are encouraged to "not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing" (Hebrews 10:25).

13:1 Are you teacheable? Teaching and instruction--beginning from a child's father at home--produces a wise child (1a). Refusing this or lacking this often results in a mocker or a scorner, who is a fool in the last stages of folly (26:12).

13:2,3 How hard it is for anyone to guard thier lips; how easy to speak rashly, bringing ruin (3; 10:14; 18:7). Thus, fools who ruin themselves abound, while one of the clearest marks of wisdom is the ability to control the tongue.

13:4 Unfulfilled craving, or full satisfaction? The difference between laziness and diligence.

13:7 Don't take a man at his own valuation. Things are not always as they seem.

13:10 In Proverbs, wisdom is repeatedly correlated with those who take advice (13:10), those who listens to advice (12:15), and those who have many advisors (11:14). The proud, lacking wisdom, produce quarrels, strive and divisions (10a). How proud is our hard heart that instinctively and spontaneously rejects advice, and become foolish!

13:13 The importance of respecting and revering words and commands.

13:24 When a child is lovingly disciplined (to drive out folly and rebellion), they grow up loving their parents. When a child is not disciplined for fear of hurting them, they "hate" their parents! By witholding discipline, we are inadvertently producing a generation of adults who routinely ship their aging parents off to nursing homes!

A Wise Man Listens to Advice (Proverbs 12:15)

12:1,2 Stupidity and wisdom, pride and humility. The way to be stupid is to is to be proud (2a), and to think of oneself as above criticism (1b). To heed instruction (10:17) and correction reflects humility and leads to wisdom (2).

12:4 It's incredible how much "an excellent wife" (ESV), "a wife of noble character" (NIV) establishes the honor and joy of her husband (Proverbs 31:11,12,23).

12:10-12 The righteous is kind to animals (10), works hard (11), and bears fruit (12). No one can be truly kind (10), without knowing himself to be a recipient of mercy. In this modern age, how easily do we chase and follow "worthless pursuits" (11) and become pointless and senseless, thus squandering away our life.

12:15 One who is "right in his own eyes" sees no need to seek instruction or counsel from others, and unwilling to listen to correction. Such a man--one who thinks he is never wrong and who always thinks he knows best--is a fool (15a; 26:12). Why? Because no one is immune to self-deception (16:2; 21:2; Jeremiah 17:9). When we learn to listen to others, listen to reason, and honestly test ourselves for prejudice and bias, God gives us wisdom (15b; 11:14; 15:22).

12:23 "A prudent man conceals knowledge" (ESV); "a prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself" (NIV). Why? Not out of selfishness, but so that he does not parade or brag of his knowledge and experience. Unlike the fool who blurts out his opinionated folly for all to hear (23b), the wise person is the model of restraint and humility. Wisdom knows when it is right to keep silent and when to speak.

12:24 Diligence or laziness (slothfulness) reveals a simple principle of life that determines whether or not you will rule, or be a slave of someone else (24), or even whether you will be rich or poor (27). One who is diligent is intentional and directed toward a determined course of life, while the lazy inclines toward ease and comfort and becames a slave of the system and a slave of people.

Seven Questions to Ask Before You Preach or Teach the Bible

by: Jonathan Parnell

In his message at the National Conference, Francis Chan highlighted the importance of loving the people to whom he preaches. He mentioned seven questions that he asks himself in preparing to preach. Here are the seven questions:

  1. Am I worried about what people think of my message or what God thinks? (Teach with fear)
  2. Do I genuinely love these people? (Teach with love)
  3. Am I accurately presenting this passage? (Teach with accuracy)
  4. Am I depending on the Holy Spirit's power or my own cleverness? (Teach with power)
  5. Have I applied this message to my own life? (Teach with integrity)
  6. Will this message draw attention to me or to God? (Teach with humility)
  7. Do the people really need this message? (Teach with urgency)
Resource: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/seven-questions-to-ask-before-you-preach-or-teach-the-bible

Many Advisors Make Victory Sure (Proverbs 11:14)

In Proverbs 11 (1-31), as in 10:1-32, there are many sayings that contrast the ways of rigteousness and wickedness. (As is often the case in the Bible, the chapter divisions are rather arbitrary and do not aid the analysis of the text.) 11:14 and 11:30 address 2 important aspects of life and how to attain them: Victory and a Measure of our Wisdom.
  • "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure" (11:14 NIV).
  • "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise" (11:30 NIV)
11:1 "(Dishonesty--no fear of God) is an abomination to the Lord." (11:20)

11:2 The proud must have everything their own way--"It's my way or the highway." True humility is NEVER self-generated. Ultimately, humility must be before God and directed toward God, and that genuine humility comes from God, expressed through Jesus who is "gentle and lowly (humble) in heart" (Matthew 11:29).

11:3-9 Righteousness delivers (3-6,8,9), implying that God delivers the righteous, while the wicked fall by their own wickedness (5b).

11:10,11 A city benefits or suffers from the presence of the righteous or the wicked. If our cities are deteriorating and declining, what does it tell us about its inhabitants and its rulers?
11:12,13 Would you belittle or slander someone else to make yourself feel better and superior, or remain silent?

11:14 From counsel and advice, wisdom emerges. So, get all the advice you can. It's just fatally too easy to shut out disquieting voices. (15:22; 24:6)

11:15 Treated at length in 6:1-5. For the most part, don't do it.

11:16-21 The consequences of righteousness and wickedness is not a small matter; it's a matter of life or death (19). Getting rich deceptively might seem rewarding for the time, but not in the end (20,21).

11:22 Beauty and the Beast. There's always more to beauty than meets the eye. How tragic, even monstrous, is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion or modesty!

11:23-31 The ultimate destinies of the wicked and the righteous is determined by God (23,31).

11:24-26 The rewards of generosity. The paradox of life that you must sometimes lose to gain (24). Jesus, the kernel of wheat is the ultimate example (John 12:24).

11:30 A righteous man has a life giving influence, and a wise man wins others to wisdom. Only in Christ, can a Christian "be catching men" (Luke 5:11).


The Righteous and the Wicked (Proverbs 10)

So far, the book of Proverbs may be broadly outlined as follows:

1:1-7 Introduction: Title, Goal, Motto - The fear of the Lord

1:8-9:18 Wisdom poems: A Father's Invitation to (Praise of) Widsom

10:1-29:27 Proverbs proper:
  • 10:1-22:16 From Solomon
  • 22:17-24:34 From Wise Men
  • 25:1-29:27 From Solomon collected by Hezekiah
Proverbs 10:1 opens this section of the proverbs of Solomon (10:1-22:16) with a proper response to the previous section's repeated appeals of a father and a mother (1:8) to be a wise son (1:8-9:18). Chapter 10 is SO LONG (but good); it may be divided into:

10:1-5 Pursue righteousness. "Righteousness" (2b) rather than "treasures" (2a) is the best security because "the Lord does not let the righteous go hungry" (3a). But even though God provides for the righteous, there is no excuse for laziness, for "lazy hands makes a man poor" (4a, NIV). Thus, while poverty is no disgrace, laziness or slackness is (5b). No wise person is ever lazy (5a).

10:6-32 Contrast the righteous and the wicked.

10:6-11 Blessing and "a fountain of life" (11a) is upon the righteous (6a,7a), the wise obey (8a), integrity brings security (9a), but with the wicked and his speech there is violence (6b,11b), rotting (7b), ruin (8b, 10b), shame (9b), and trouble (10a).

10:12 The wicked conceal violence (6b,11b) to deceive others for their own sinful purposes, while the wise in love seeks the good of others, even when personally offended. "Love covers (or conceals) all offenses" (ESV), or "Love covers over all wrongs" (NIV).

10:13 Man--God's mouthpiece or God's mule.

10:14 Proper reticence or reserve--what I need.

10:15 Don't despise money/wealth (in contrast to poverty from laziness). Although they are benefits to wealth, don't place your trust in money.

10:16 Earnings--their use and abuse. Poverty or wealth should not be blamed for the quality of one's life. A man uses money according to his character: as tools for good or ill.

10:17 Stay teacheable, you'll be progressive and not stuck.

10:18 Hatred never wins. The good man will not vent his hate.

10:19-21 Words, good and bad. Use words sparingly (19). Your words are worth what you are worth (20). The righteous get nourishment to feed others; the fool not enough even for himself (21).

10:22 Wealth without sorrow comes from God's blessing.

10:23-25 What no one wants to experience, the wicked do (24). Their basic error is to base everything on the temporal, which the righteous do not (25).

10:26 Lazy people are irritating because they can never be relied upon.

10:27-30 Massive certainty. "Life" (27), "joy" (28), and security (29,30) come from a righteous life, rooted in "the fear of the Lord" (27).

10:31,32 "The mouth (lips) of the righteous" (11,31,32) and "the mouth of the wicked" (6b,11b) frames this part (10:6-32) and concludes by drawing the contrast in focus.


Are You Wise, or Are You Foolish? (Proverbs 9:1-18)

While preparing this post, I accidentally deleted everything after I had finished typing out all of Proverbs 9 with much research and thought. I felt so foolish and stupid and shocked when everything I had typed suddenly disappeared in a flash! Now I have to do it all over again. Oh, what an exasperation! Someday, I may retrive what I had lost. Now I have to start all over again.

The wise, through prudence, enjoy life to the full; the foolish, through stupidity, plot their own demise. Proverbs 9 concludes the first section of Proverbs (1:8-9:18). It personifies Wisdom (1) and Folly (13) as women inviting us to a feast (5,17). Interestingly, Wisdom and Folly's words of invitation are exactly the same: "'Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!' And to him who lacks sense she says..." (4,16). Proverbs 9:1-18 can be divided into:

1) The feast of wisdom (1-6).
2) Are you wise or wicked? (7-12)
3) The feast of folly (13-18)

9:1-6 "Seven" (1) is symbolic of perfection. Wisdom's invitation to "come, eat...drink" (5; Isaiah 55:1,2) is for us to find joy and satisfaction in life. This invitation finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ, who said, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty" (John 6:35).

9:7-12 How can you tell the difference between the wicked and the wise? Observe their response to correction and rebuke (7-9). They each respond in the 3 ways. When rebuked, the wicked:
1) insult (7a)
2) abuse (7b)
3) hate (8a).
In contrast, when rebuked, the wise:
1) love (8b)
2) become wiser (9a)
3) increase in learning (9b).

9:10 "The fear of the Lord" (also 1:7) is the foundation, grounding and basis for all of the appeals to wisdom throughout this first section of Proverbs (1:1-9:18). When we have no fear of God, we cannot but become increasingly foolish, especially regarding the ultimate things in life.

9:13-18 The ultimate tragedy of the foolish is that they have no clue and no idea whatsoever of the death and destruction that they are reaping and heaping upon themselves (18). They even think they are so much smarter than the foolish!


Through Wisdom, God Created the World (Proverbs 8:1-36)

All men have this in common: they want to be happy. But to most people, happiness is as elusive as the clouds and as transient as eating a good meal, only to be hungry again. Probably, we agree that we need wisdom to be happy, for if we say and do dumb things, happiness will not likely be the result. Also, wisdom comes by revelation, "For the Lord gives wisdom" (2:6). Yet wisdom cries out to us, and we are encouraged to seek it.

In Proverbs 8, verse 35 says, "For whoever finds me (wisdom) finds life and obtains favor from the Lord." In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is closely related to and used synonymously with the following (1:2-6):
  • Instruction or training (1:2a, 3a),
  • Understanding or insight (1:2b, 6),
  • Wise dealing (1:3a),
  • Schrewdness or prudence (1:4a) and discretion (1:4b),
  • Knowledge and learning (1:5).

Thus, wisdom is for anyone who wants it bad enough. In Proverbs 8, the progress of the thought regarding wisdom may be traced somewhat as follows:

  1. Wisdom is a guide for everybody (8:1-5).
  2. Wisdom is the partner of morality (8:6-13).
  3. Wisdom is the key to all success (8:14-21).
  4. Wisdom is the principle of creation (8:22-31).
  5. Wisdom is the one necessity of life and the key to everything (8:32-36).

8:1-5 Wisdom is: 1st, for the common man (2,3); 2nd, for the simpletons (5); 3rd, wisdom is actively seeking us (1,6, etc), so that our search, as earnest as it has to be, is a response.

8:6-13) Wisdom and knowledge is inseparably connected with the fear of the Lord (1:7; 9:10). Thus wisdom and godliness always wholy coincide; nobility and morality are intertwined (6-8). "The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate" (13).

8:14-21 Wisdom's rewards and blessings are both material (14-18) and immaterial, with the latter being the far greater blessing and reward (19-21; 10,11).

8:22-31 Wisdom was present with God when He created the world (22,30). "Wisdom personified claims credit for everything that God created, so that wisdom was first, as God was eternally first. Christ used His eternal wisdom in creation." (Jn 1:1-3; 1 Co 1:24,30) (John MacArthur) The New Testament, likely drawing from Proverbs 8, insists that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of that divine person through whom God made the world.

8:32-36 Those who heed wisdom's call are "blessed" (32,34), and "finds life and obtains favor from the Lord" (35). Those who don't "injures himself" and "love death" (36).

A Hollywood script from the Bible

  • My hope and goal (achievable or not) is to post an overview or synopsis of one chapter of the Bible daily.

  • Since there are 1,189 chapters in the Bible, this should take four years (3.3 years).

  • Last month I began sending out the 1 chapter overview/synopsis via email and covered all 16 chapters of 1 Corinthains, and the first 6 chapters of Proverbs.

  • I am continueing today with Proverbs 7:1-27.

  • My primary reference sources for Proverbs are the commentary by Derek Kidner, an Old Testament scholar, and the ESV Study Bible.
7:1-27 The argument against sexual seduction is presented dramatically and graphically, almost like a contemporary Hollywood movie. (It resembles Proverbs 6:20-35).

7:1-5 The best advice is useless against "irresistible" sexual temptation unless it is thoroughly taken to heart and translated to one's personal life habits (1-5). We should care for this as we care for "the apple (pupil) of your eye" (2), and "write them on the tablet of your heart" (3).

7:6-23 A young man ruled by his sex hormones is mince meat before his seductress.
  • The victim (6-9).

  • The huntress (10-12).

  • The tactics (13-21). Isn't verse 13 just like Hollywood?

  • The kill (22,23).
7:24-27 Epilogue: What to do?
  1. Guard your heart (25a; 4:23).

  2. Keep away from her, literally (25b).

  3. Look past her sexuality to the consequences, casualties, chamber of death (26,27).