Tag Archives: faith

Lean Not On Your Inner Counselor

The following is a sermon I just recorded for radio. It will be broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019 at 2:45 pm (Eastern).

I would appreciate your prayers, both for those who might listen and for myself.

God knows what we all go through, and just like the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, He is walking with us, whether we recognize Him, or not.

If you have a moment, listen to this short sermon covering Proverbs 3 and Psalm 13. If it is a blessing to you, share it with someone else who might be going through a difficult and trying time.

https://anthonycbaker.sermon.net/main/main/21329008

 

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Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent

Welcome to the third week of Advent!

Tradition holds that the third week of Advent is about the joy and peace we find in the Messiah, with Mary, the mother of Jesus, being our example. We finally begin to see the the connection from seeing our need for a Savior to discovering and sharing the news of that Savior to beginning to see some of the rewards of following the Savior.

assorted color gift boxes

Photo by George Dolgikh on Pexels.com

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. -Luke 1:38

But those rewards rest on our response to what God has done.

(This is not to claim that we can do anything to earn salvation. This is also not the place to have a major soteriological debate [hash out matters and merits of salvation, i.e. over Calvinism, Arminianism, and the like]. Please enjoy the thoughts today, and head over to the Proverbial Thought Extra Facebook page if you want to dialogue with us, or you can leave a respectful comment.)

Contrary to what many teach today, God will give us more than we can handle. It encourages us to rest in Him, trust that He knows what He is doing, and let His power flow through us by the Holy Spirit.

Case in point, young Mary – who is yet to be married to Joseph at this juncture in the story of Christ – is told she is to carry the Son of God and give birth to Him.

Think about it: a young female, not yet married, in a society that limits what women can do with a religion that shuns the sexually impure, being told she is about to be pregnant. She is risking being ostracized by family and friends, thought a liar and a slut, and severely limiting her prospects for the future.

And how does she respond to this news?

“I am the Lord’s servant.”

How willing are we to be willing to the call of God?

We do not have to carry the baby Jesus to term, but we are tasked with carrying His Gospel to a fallen world.

We do not have to risk being labeled liars, but we risk being ridiculed for believing a man is God in the flesh, was killed, and came back to life.

We may not have to risk family and friends thinking we are crazy and abandoning us …

Actually, yes, we do.

Such is the cost of believing in and following Jesus. It may even cost us our lives.

If we want to find the joy and peace that comes with following Jesus, we first must be willing to actually follow Jesus. With all that it may cost us.

Emmanuel, thank You for coming to save us. Give us the resolve to pursue you throughout the world, or even to our literal neighbors and family.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 4

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. -Matthew 3:7-9, KJV

It is not enough to come from a Christian (or Jewish) home.

With Jesus’ first Advent, it was mostly the religious leaders who refused to change, because they “knew it all” about faith.

As we await Jesus’ second Advent, it is not enough to have grown up in church or attend church regularly. It takes repentance and a willingness to actually listen to the teachings and commands of Jesus, to show love and compassion to others and commitment to God’s truth.

Do not trust in your ancestry or upbringing. Do not rely on the faith of your parents, siblings, or friends. Turn to Jesus for yourself, and believe.

Saving God, do not let me rely on my own knowledge, skills, or history. Give me a passion for You, Your Word, and Your Church.


More Boldness Needed

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. – Proverbs 28:1

One of the most impressive scenes in the New Testament is found in the second chapter of Acts, beginning with verse 14. There we see Peter and the others – but mainly Peter – boldly standing in front of the very crowd that had previously crucified Jesus saying:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” – Acts 2:36 CSB

If that wasn’t boldness, I don’t know what is!

Think about it! At a time when the Church was barely more than 200 strong (yes, just 200), and not long after they were hiding out in fear, the disciples of Jesus were now throwing caution to the wind as they openly declared Jesus to be the risen Lord.

Nowadays we have multiple millions who claim the name of Christ, many of them with no fear of ever getting a slap on the wrist for expressing their faith – if and when they ever decided to show it. Yet, when the ENTIRE WORLD was in a position to obliterate all the followers of “the Way” in one strike, they came out with a message that was anything but “seeker-friendly” or Joel Osteen-ish.

They essentially said, “You did it. You were wrong. He lives. Repent.”

Where are Christians like that, today? What would happen … if only 200 did what they did … a hundred thousand followers of Christ would stand boldly in the public square and tell the truth about sin and salvation?

Powerless, lukewarm, sin-flirting, self-centered kittens may find it easy to endure the needles that inject woke platitudes and creatively-vague Christian symbols under their skin, but they cower in the dark rooms of expediency and tolerance flee from the fiery darts of the Enemy.

The righteous, on the other hand, stand boldly in the power of the Holy Ghost, raise their shields of faith, and unsheathe a Weapon that “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).

We need more boldness! More lions…fewer kittens.


My Presumption of Tomorrow

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. -Proverbs 27:1, KJV

As I write this, it is the day before this posts online.

That seems rather presumptuous of me to assume that you are reading this the next day (or farther in the future).

The thing is, I am not sure anyone is reading this. For all I know, before anyone gets the chance, the Lord has returned and brought the world as we know it to an end.

However, this is scheduled for a Sunday. Therefore I continue this by encouraging you to get to your local church and worship God through song, hearing the preached and taught Word, and enjoying fellowship with other Christians. (If you went on Saturday, cool.)

In terms of being confident you are reading these words, though, I explain my presumption.

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
James 4:13‭-‬15, KJV

Do you not see that James and Solomon were in agreement? But James explains Proverbs 27:1 in more detail.

To explain, I presume people are reading these words because I trust that God is in control. At the very least, I have obeyed His command to expound on scripture. At best, I have done so to your benefit in Christ.

Maybe no one is reading these words, but, if the Lord will, you are.

I do not boast in any skill I have or that I know you are reading this.

No, I boast that the Lord has spoken, has sacrificed Himself for me and for you, and He has risen to glory. And He is in control.

And I shall continue as long as it is called Today. For Tomorrow (capital “T”) shall be with the Lord, and all boasting shall cease, for He is fully present with us and all sin and rebellion and fear is gone.

Lord willing, you are there, too.


God Can Change the Flow

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. – Proverbs 21:1 KJV

So often we – yes, you and I – feel it’s useless to pray for our leaders, especially those like presidents, kings, and even dictators. We pray but never see any results, like our prayers were never heard.

I’ll be the first to admit, it can get discouraging, especially when we are exhorted to intercede for those in authority:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

But what we have a hard time comprehending is how God can bring about change in what seems unchangeable.

The king’s heart…the president’s heart…the prime minister’s heart…is as hard to change as the course of a river. You and I cannot do it, but God can.

Believe it or not, rivers changing their course is not as uncommon as you might think. But in an article I was reading on the subject , one sentence stood out, and I think it illustrates perfectly how God works.

“Rivers changing direction is relatively common, according to the scientists, but is usually caused by tectonic forces, landslides or erosion.” – USA Today

The heart of the king can be changed as easy as God can send an earth-shaking event into his life. The heart of the president can be changed as quickly as the foundation on which his beliefs are built suddenly slide out from under him. The heart of the corrupt dictator can suddenly change when the full effect of erosion leaves his policies a wasteland, allowing a simple rainshower the power to wash him away.

The God who made the rivers and changes their courses is the one who holds the heart of the king. His hand is mightier than the heart.


Brazen Church Girl

Today I decided to post a rerun from 2012. I couldn’t say it any better if I re-wrote it today.

Proverbs 7:13-15

“So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.”

One of the greatest myths is that all church-going girls are “good” girls. These verses are a good example. Not only has this woman been waiting in the dark for her prey, she is openly religious, and uses her surface piety to lure the fool. But let’s break down these verses one at a time.

“So she caught him, and kissed him..”

Look who is the aggressor; it’s not the man. Conventional wisdom (not godly wisdom) has taught us that men are always the aggressor and that women should be wary. However, there are plenty of young women, as young as middle school, who know exactly what they want, and how to get it. Consider the words of this mother…

“I have a very outgoing, charming, attractive 15-year-old son. I have literally been chasing the girls away from the door ever since the seventh grade. … The aggressiveness and promiscuity of young girls nowadays is beyond words. Their dress is so alluring and inviting to a young man, what’s a guy to do? Moreover, what’s a mom to do?” (source, Family Life Today)

“Impudent face…”

It is amazing how people can look you right in the eye and tell a bold-face lie. That is what this woman was doing. The Hebrew word translated here as “impudent” could also be translated as brazen. She just looked this naive boy in the face and told him what he wanted to hear.

“Peace offerings…vows…found thee.” 

It is obvious in verses 14 and 15 that something doesn’t add up. Why is it that a woman of the night would be telling this young man about how she went to church? Oh, it’s pretty simple, really. She was just saying what a good Jewish boy wanted to hear.

Here was the total, irresistible package: a young, gorgeous and religious woman calling out to be rescued from breaking the Law. “I am so glad I found you! You’re the answer to my prayers! This must be God’s will,” she essentially said.

In the Old Testament, when a peace offering was made, the leftover meat was to be eaten that night, and no later (Lev. 7:15). She presented her case in such a way that said, “We have to do this now!” She played to his religious chivalry.

When this woman grabbed the man, kissed him, lied to him, and trapped him, she did it with everything that said: “This must be a good girl – she’s only trying to do the right thing – and she likes me!” I can almost imagine him repeating the words of an old Debbie Boone song, “This can’t be wrong when it feels so right.”

A Prayer

Oh, Lord God, open our eyes to the tricks of the Enemy! Give us the wisdom we need to discern between a treasure far above rubies (Prov. 31:10) and a trap. Help us to teach our sons and daughters to be godly. Help us to be parents who set the example.