Tag Archives: God

The Pure Word

Proverbs 30:5-6.
 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (KJV).

God’s Word is Trustworthy:

I love the Bible for so many different reasons. It is the Word of God. It’s a love letter from God to us. It gives us wisdom for living life. It provides joy, peace, hope and comfort. It teaches us how to know God. It shows us how to find freedom from sin, guilt and shame. But I also love the Bible because it is trustworthy. Agur, son of Jakeh tells us that every word of God is pure. There are no lies, mistakes or errors in the Bible. You can trust it! God is faithful, and you can count on Him to fulfill His promises.

Agur tells us that God’s Word is a shield to those who trust Him. A shield is a defensive weapon to protect you from the attacks of an enemy. We know that faith comes by hearing God’s Word, and the Bible also tells us that faith is a shield that will quench all of the fiery darts of our enemy. So when we trust God and His Word, He protects us from the enemy. Just like an umbrella will protect you from getting wet on a rainy day, so God’s Word will protect you from the devil.

Don’t Add To His Words:

Not only is the Bible pure, but God’s Word is also perfect and complete. The Bible has given us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness. In the Bible, we discover how to be saved, and also how to live a life that brings God honour and glory. Therefore, we don’t need anything more than the Bible. There are many different religions that try to add to the wisdom of the Bible. Some churches add their traditions, confessions and creeds and make them out to be as important as the Bible, though they are imperfect. False religions – such as the Mormons – have added more books to the Holy Scriptures, but they are all untrue man-made teachings.

In this Proverb, Agur gives a strong warning to those who would add to the Bible: If you add to God’s Word, God will rebuke and correct you, and you will be found out to be a liar. Let this be a strong warning to anyone who would presume to teach or proclaim something in the name of the Lord that God has not spoken!

The Challenge to the Preacher or Teacher:

This Scripture is a sobering challenge to every preacher or teacher of God’s Word. James, the brother of Jesus, echoes this thought in James 3:1: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

Preacher! Trust the Bible. God’s Word has the power to transform people’s lives. We don’t need to add the wisdom of man – Oprah, Doctor Phil, or the latest self-help teachings! Even though the Bible was written over two thousand years ago, it is still relevant, living and powerful. As you minister the Word of God, it will heal the brokenhearted, comfort those who are mourning, and set the captives free. Amen!

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God’s Favour

Proverbs 29:26.
 “Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the LORD.” (KJV).

The Ruler’s Favour:

It seems like everybody is seeking the favour of a ruler. I’m sure Solomon – who wrote this Proverb – saw this often in his role as the King of the people of Israel. People would come before the King to ask a favour of him for themselves, for their family, or their community.

To seek the ruler’s favour means that people want an audience with a leader to gain some sort of advantage or blessing. This can be in many different realms: It could refer to politics where someone wants the favour of a government ruler; to education where someone wants the favour of a teacher; to the family where a child wants the favour of a parent; or to sports where an athlete wants the favour of their coach. For whatever reason, they think that if they can have an audience with their ruler or leader, they can get what they want.

The Lord’s Judgment:

In contrast to this, Solomon says that we would do much better off if we were to seek favour (justice or judgment) from the Lord instead, because ultimately, all favour, promotion and blessing comes from Him anyway. Earlier in Proverbs, Solomon taught us, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (21:1). This truth reminds us that God is the sovereign Lord over everything, and that all judgment ultimately comes from Him.

This morning at church, we kicked off our new year with our youth leading worship. One of the songs they sang was, “Blessed be Your Name.” In this song, written by Matt Redman, he declares, “You give and take away, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.” This is a great reminder to us that the best thing we can do is trust God to give us what He thinks is best for us, and to praise Him whether the sun is shining down on us, it’s a rainy, cloudy day.

Lord, help us to remember that you are ultimately in control, and that you are good, and that you have good plans for our lives. Help us to lift up our eyes to You, the Lord, the one from whom our help comes. Help us to live lives that bring you honour and glory, in everything we say and do. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.


Beware the Angry Man

Proverbs 29:22.
“An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.” (KJV). 

As we come to the end of 2013, am celebrating 21 years that I have been in full-time ministry. The first 14 years were spent as a youth pastor in Surrey, BC (on the west coast of Canada), and for the past 7 years as a lead pastor in Beausejour, MB (in the middle of Canada). This past year has been the hardest one that I ever went through, and found myself getting so discouraged that I actually entertained the idea of leaving the ministry. Why? It all started with an angry man.

About a year and a half ago, a couple in our church in leadership got hurt, angry and offended. But instead of dealing with the offense with the person that had offended them (as Jesus instructed us to do in Matthew 18:15), they chose instead to begin to lie, slander and gossip about that person – and that person was me. It was today’s Proverb in action: “An angry man stirs up strife.” And stir up strife he did! The result of the lies he told about me was that many families in our church left – about 25 of the 150 people we had in our church.

I was hurt, confused and disillusioned. Here was someone that I had brought on my leadership team and poured my heart and life into mentoring for years, and in a moment of time – in one angry e-mail – he severed the relationship with no real explanation for what he had done. When I asked him what I had done wrong, he simply said, “I don’t want to talk about it, God will reveal it to you.” To this day, I don’t know what I did that got him so angry that he set a chain of events in motion that tried to destroy our church.

But I thank God for the awesome promise that Jesus gave me during the beginning of this ordeal: “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). I thank God for His grace that carried me through this challenging trial. If it wasn’t for His loving, providential care for me and my family, I am sure we would have walked away from the church and the ministry this past year. But God is faithful, and I thank God for many of our good friends in our church family who rallied around us, supported us, and stuck with us through the firestorm of lies and hate.

The second half of today’s verse says, “A furious man abounds in transgression.” Not only was the result of this angry man’s stirring up strife hurtful to the church as a whole, it also wounded the hearts of many people in our church – including families and even young youth and children. When anger is left unchecked, it becomes a destroying wind that wounds all of those in its path. It is a sin that leads to many other destructive and hurtful sins.

I thank God for Pastor Anthony Baker and the other contributors at Proverbial Thought who invited me to blog through Proverbs together with them a little over a year ago. As I have written devotional reflections in the Book of Proverbs over the past year, it has been very therapeutic for me personally as I have walked through this challenging time of ministry. Many times I have reflected upon a Scripture that has given me comfort or challenge when and where I have needed it. I pray that God would use His Word to encourage and inspire you in your life as well. As we head into 2014, I pray that you would make a commitment to get into God’s Word every day!

p.s. can I encourage you to pray for your pastors and Bible teachers? We are all in a battle, and we need God’s protection from the attacks of the enemy! Thank you… blessings to all of you today.

RELATED POSTS:

The 5 Minute Challenge – Bible Reading Schedule (At The Beausejour Pulpit Blog).

BOOKLET - Bible Reading Schedule


Wise Parenting

Originally published on Dec. 25, 2013

Proverbs 29:17.

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” (KJV).
“Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind.” (NLT). 

Foolish Parenting:

There is an unfortunate parenting model that has emerged in recent days that has proved to be detrimental to the well-being of children. The philosophy says that a parent should become best friends with their child. Included in this idea is the belief that the parent should give their son or daughter the freedom to explore the world around them without any kind of boundaries, rules or restrictions. If you’ll forgive my lack of political correctness here, these are some of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard!

I know of a couple who decided that they wanted to be their kids’ buddies instead of their parents. They literally let their children get away with anything. No rules. No boundaries. No consequences. I watched them with great concern when their children were younger, and at one point, I said to my wife Liza, “If they don’t start disciplining their children, then when they become teenagers, their daughter is going to get pregnant, and both of them are going to end up ruining their lives with drugs and alcohol. Fast-forward several years: Both of these children ended up become sexually promiscuous, the teenage daughter got pregnant multiple times, their son got his girlfriend pregnant, and both of them had issues with drugs and alcohol. And the sad thing is that this story gets repeated over and over again in the lives of many parents and children.

Wise Parenting:

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says that if a parent will correct or discipline their child, the resulting benefit to the parent will be happiness and peace of mind. When my wife and I started having children, we made the decision to parent them according to the principles in the Bible. “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24, NLT).

Because we love our children, we knew we had to parent them, and parenting them included rules and boundaries, discipline and negative consequences for their actions. Today, we have four children ages 11-17, and we are so thankful to the Lord that they are Christ-like, obedient children who are kind, loving and respectful. We don’t worry what our children are going to do when we’re not around because we trust that we have trained them up in the way that they should go, and we know that they won’t depart from it. Does this mean that our children are perfect? Of course not. But they are good, and their mom and I have happiness and peace of mind.

I want to issue this challenge to all of the parents reading this today: Your children don’t need a buddy. They have lots of friends. But they do need a parent. Someone to give them boundaries and guidelines to help them learn to live right. Train them in the way that they should go, and God’s Word promises that when they grow old, they will not depart from it. Amen!

Family Group Hug

From left to right: Austin (13), Tori (15), Caleb (17), my wife Liza, myself, and Hannah (11).


Influencing or Infecting?

Proverbs 29:12.

“If a ruler hearkens to lies, all his servants are wicked.” (KJV).

The Influencing Leader:

A leader is defined as a person who rules, guides or inspires others. There are many different kinds of leaders in the world today: Parents lead families, coaches lead teams, teachers lead students, pastors lead churches, and government officials lead cities and nations. There are also people who don’t necessarily have a leadership position, but simply lead others by guiding or inspiring them.

We need leaders! Leaders help us to do what we need to do, and get where we need to go. I’m reading a book right now by John Macarthur where he says that “A true leader inspires followers. To put it simply, leadership is influence. The ideal leader is someone whose life and character motivate people to follow.” (The Book on Leadership). The world needs more good leaders today.

The Listening Leader:

The question a leader must ask is – who or what are you listening to? In today’s Proverb, Solomon warns the leader about not listening to lies or gossip. Once a leader starts down that slippery slope, their positive influence is greatly impacted. It’s so important for a leader to choose wisely those who are your closest advisors and friends, because they will either help you to become a better leader… or a worse one.

As a pastor, I have two different leadership teams that help me to do what I do. Our elders are those who help me to care for the people in our church, praying together and seeking God’s wisdom for our church family. Our church council are those who help me to make decisions regarding the finances and property of the church. With both groups of people, I look for people who are wise and spiritually mature, but also those who know the value and importance of unity.

In Psalm 133, King David wrote: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious oil upon the head… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” If we want God’s blessing, we need to walk in unity. That means there can be no tolerance for lies, gossip or slander.

The Infecting Leader:

There’s an expression that says, “As goes the leader, so go the people.” If a leader allows himself to be corrupted by evil speech, the end result is that his people will be infected by it. The Message Bible paraphrase of today’s Scripture says: “When a leader listens to malicious gossip, all the workers get infected with evil.” A pastor’s actions affect his church. A parent’s actions affect their children. And a government leader’s actions affect an entire city… or nation.

So hear the challenge to all leaders: Be a good influencer, and don’t allow yourself to be influenced by evil words. Refuse to listen to lies or gossip, and fight for unity. Amen!


Trapped or Rejoicing?

Proverbs 29:6.

“In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.” (KJV).
“Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.” (NLT). 

Of Monkeys and Bananas:

When I was a youth pastor in Surrey, BC, I hosted True Love Waits teenage abstinence seminars for young people. Over the course of several years (from 1999-2004), we saw around 900 teenagers and young adults make pledges to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. In one such event, we invited Dave Koop, the lead pastor of Coastal Church in Vancouver, to speak at the opening session of the weekend event. To this day, I’ve never forgotten this powerful story.

In Africa, they have an interesting method of capturing monkeys in their jungles. They will take a container with a narrow opening in it, and place a banana (or some other sort of sweet-smelling fruit or nuts), and place it in the bottom of the container. Then the hunters hide in the bushes and wait for the monkeys. When the monkey comes to check out the container, he reaches in his little monkey hands and grasps the banana. However, when he goes to take out his hand, which is now closed in a fist around the fruit, he can no longer get it out of the container. Out jump the hunters and club the monkey to death.

The sad part of the story is that at any time, the monkey could drop the banana and take its hand out of the container, but it won’t. And the result is it is trapped. And then it dies.This is Solomon’s Proverb in action: Evil people are trapped by sin.” Sin is a trap that is very difficult to get out of – on our own.

The Joy of Freedom:

Thank God though for the second part of that verse: “but the righteous escape, shouting for joy!” Even though sin is a trap that is difficult for us to escape, the Bible teaches us that Jesus came to save His people from their sins. In the very first sermon Jesus ever preached, He quoted the prophet Isaiah and said, “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.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus wants to set us free – not only from the guilt and penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin.

My favourite Christian author, the 19th century Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, told this story that illustrates today’s Proverb well: I remember my old friend, Dr. Alexander Fletcher say to the children that when men came out of prison, they praised him who had set them free. He said that he was going down the Old Bailey one day and he saw a boy standing on his head, turning cartwheels, dancing and jumping about in all manner of ways, and he said to the boy, “What are you doing? You seem to be tremendously happy.” And the boy replied, “Ah, old gentleman, if you had been locked up six months and had just got out, you would be happy, too!”

If you are a Christian, then Jesus has set you free from the trap of sin. Our response? Rejoice!

cartwheel


Stop Hiding!

Proverbs 28:28.
“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.” (KJV). 

When the Wicked Rise:

Our nation of Canada – much like our neighbour to the south, the United States – has a righteous heritage. Canada was founded on the principles of the Word of God. It started out as a Christian nation, but we fallen so far from that glorious foundation.

You have heard it said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” What does that mean? Ever since God, the Bible, and prayer were removed from our schools, our nation has been plummeting into darkness. Rape, murder, child abuse, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, divorce, drug use, teen pregnancy and ever-increasing violent crimes are the results of removing the light of God’s Word from our schools and government. All because our nation as a whole has turned its back on God.

Today’s proverb tells us that when the wicked rise – in positions of power and authority – men hide themselves. Because of the wickedness that abounds in our nation, many good people have gone into hiding, afraid to stand up for what is right for fear of persecution. However, it’s time to take a stand for what is right, no matter how unpopular the truth of God’s Word becomes!

When the Wicked Perish:

Our proverb also says that when the wicked perish – or lose their positions of power and authority – then the righteous will increase. In numbers and in influence. Therefore, it behooves us to pray for our leaders! First Timothy 2:1-2 tells us, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” If we want to see righteousness exalted in our nation, it starts with prayer.

In the Canadian national anthem, we pray for Almighty God to keep our country glorious and free, and declare that we will stand on guard for Canada. Whatever nation you live in – whether it is Canada, the United States, somewhere in Great Britain, or another country – it is time to stand on guard for our nations. Let’s rise up and declare that we want God in our countries again!

Let us Pray:

God has given us a promise: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). If we want to see God hear from Heaven, and forgive our sins, and heal our land, then we must humble ourselves, and pray, as students once did in public schools, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”

Revive us, Lord! Amen.

Canada flag