Found Your Voice?

And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! (Pro 5:12-13)

many-voicesIn the passage above, the young man is lamenting that he had not heeded and obeyed the good instructions and reproofs from the voices of his teachers.

As parents, teachers, preachers, and mature Christians, we have a great responsibility to let our voices be heard by those God has placed under our care and influence.  These may be our children.  They may be our classroom students. They could even be those young people with whom we have influence in the workplace or social settings.

How much tragedy and sorrow could we have avoided If we had just listened to the teachers God gave us.    Let us consider the voices we hear today.  Some we are to listen to and some we should refuse to hear.voices

A voice to heed – The Saviour’s voice

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Gen 3:8)

God wants to speak to us.  God has spoken to us, through His Word.  Read it.  Hear it. Obey it.

What a joy it is when we are right with Him and what fear we experience when we have disobeyed Him.

A voice to heed – The Spirit’s voice

Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. (Act 8:29)

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1Co 2:13)

A voice to heed – The Lord’s Servant’s voice

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17)

A voice to shun – Satan’s voice

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Gen 3:1)

A voice to shun – the sinner’s voice

My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. (Pro 1:10)

What does our voice say?

If people took all our counsel, would it be good instruction or bad?  Would it tend to great holiness and righteousness, or just another worldly life?

Parents, the most heard, most holy, and most instructive voice your kids should hear is yours!  For their sake, take the time to instruct.  Take time to prepare instruction. Be willing to give reproofs. Let your voice be one they remember all their lives.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Pro 22:6)


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Tending Your Flock

Sheep on pasture

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1Pe 5:2-4)

This was one the morning devotionals I gave to our Christin School Teachers at the annual Teacher Training Week this year.  As I considered it, I thought it would be worth sharing for all teachers as they head into the new year.  It is very applicable to our Sunday School teachers.

Although this passage is specifically directed to the Pastor of the church, it applies to all those that find themselves charged as an under-shepherd.

This is simply a “bare bones” outline.  Let the Holy Spirit put the meat on the bones for you as you meditate upon it and the passage above.

“Tending Our Sheep”

I. Focus on your mission (vs2)

A. Feed your flock

1. Feed their mind

2.  Feed their spirit

3. Feed their heart

4.  Feed their soul

 

B. Oversee your flock – Oversight has its roots in words that mean: 

1. Be aware  

Know their heart, spirit, attitudes, etc.

2. Take aim

See the need – take aim!

II. Filter Your Motives (vs2-3)

A. Filter out the negative motives

1. Filter out the motive of “constraint” – meaning ‘being  forced’

2. Filter out the motive of “covetousness” – for filthy lucre

 

B. Leave in the positive motives

1. Leave in the motive of “willingness”

2. Leave in the motive of “readiness” – meaning being “forward in spirit”

 

III. Frame Your Manner – Be an Example to the flock (vs3)

As a frame amplifies the picture or painting, so should our conduct provide a focus or example. As the teacher wants the student to behave, so should they model the same as an example.

A. Prepared before-hand

B. Proper attitude and behavior – in control

C. Punctual – in attendance and assignments  (Keeping your promises and schedule)

D. Persistent in effort

E. Pious in behaviour 

 

IV. Favor the Master – Chief Shepherd (vs4)

A. Represent Him

B. Rely upon Him

C. Receive reward from Him


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No Greater Joy

 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3Jn 1:1-4)

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John is now an old man.  With age and maturity comes changes in our estimation of what is important and valuable. Here John describes what he says brings him no greater joy. This is an amazing and important statement for us to glean from to plan for our future years.

His greatest joy was not growing his 401K plan.  Nor was it a garage of chariots.  It WAS that his spiritual children walked in truth. Let’s consider what this passage teaches us about preparing and parenting today so that we can experience that “no greater joy” later.

Recognize this is the Statement of a Committed Parent

As parents we must remember our charge

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (Psa 127:3)

We are stewards of our kids, not owners

As parents we are to receive the command 

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)

As parents we must respond to the challenge

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Pro 22:6)

Understand it is the Statement of a Man with a Correct Paradigmfinding real truth

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Joh 17:17)

Understand it is the Statement of a Parent with a Clear Prioritythat they walk in truth

Not to be sports star in Jr. high. Not get a chance to attend a prestigious, but heathen  college, but that they walk in truth.

Understand it is the Statement Regarding the Efforts for a Conscious Placementvs3 – in thee

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deu 6:7-9)

Understand it is the Statement Expressing a Continual Pleasurejoy

I have no greater joy

Understand it is the Statement of Children Experiencing a Crowning ProductProsperous soul (vs2)

 


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The Purpose and Profit of Afflictions

ROSE

We all experience afflictions and problems. The factor that determines if the results are good or devastating to our life depends upon our view of God!

When trials and afflictions come we will get better or bitter.  So it is vital that our view of God in times of affliction be one of trust.

I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. (Psa 119:75)

Some of the purposes and benefits of afflictions are as follows.  Be prepared to profit from your present of next afflictions.

Affliction causes us to seek God

 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; (Exo 3:7)

How many afflictions could be avoided if we daily and always sought God with our whole heart.

Affliction teaches us obedience

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (Psa 119:67)

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. (Psa 119:71)

Affliction prepares us for ministry (1Cor 1:1-6)

And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. (2Co 1:6)

Affliction provides us the opportunity to glorify God by growing and producing fruit in our afflictions

And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. (Gen 41:52)

But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. (Exo 1:12)

 

Affliction  proves us – validating and showing our maturity

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, (2Co 6:4)

Affliction purifies us

Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. (Isa 48:10)

Let afflictions be your friend to build you in your faith and service for he Lord.


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Will You Excel?

Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.(Gen 49:3-4)unstable-as-water-1-728

In spite of Reuben’s great potential afforded by being his father’s first born, the prophesy for his future was not bright.  The words “thou shall not excel” hold a sense of disappointment and a foreshadow of a wasted life.

We all want to excel in our life and especially in our service to the Lord.  Let’s look at just a few of the reasons from the life of Reuben that we may not excel.

We Will Not Excel Because of Unstable Characterunstable as water (read Gen 37:18-34)

His instability of character was demonstrated by his acts of compromise

He only partially stood for right in his desire to save the life of his little brother, Joseph.  He gave in to their want for revenge, thinking he would return for Joseph later and rescue him for the pit.  Because of his unwillingness to make a clear stand his brothers sold Joseph while he was gone.

We usually get only one chance to stand and do right.  Here he blew his opportunity.

His instability of character was demonstrated by his acts of collusion 

Collusion is “the secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others“.

We might say he went along to get along!  When he found out it was too late to save Joseph, he went along with their wicked plan to deceive their father into believing Joseph was dead. He also let this deceit and collusion go on for years.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (Psa 1:1)

We Will Not Excel Because of Unscriptural Conduct (vs4, Gen 35:22)

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.(Heb 13:4)

Although the Bible says that Israel knew about Reuben’s sin in the relationship with Bilhah his father’s concubine, we have no indication that his father did anything about it or that Reuben ever confessed and made it right.   We can never excel (prosper) if we harbor and hide sin.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Pro 28:13)

 So in summary, we will not excel if we compromise in doing right, collude with evil people and plans, and fail to confess and forsake sinful conduct.

Let’s purpose to excel for God!


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A Time for Purity

pure_water1

Observing American culture and viewing the world from the perspective of the media, one would get the impression that personal purity is non-existent.  Yet, for the child of God, purity is still the goal.  Purity in one’s personal life is still a mandate by the Lord and necessary for a fruitful and God pleasing life.

In the light of Christ’s soon return, it is certainly a time for Christians to keep watch regarding their own purity.

 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1Jn 3:3)

 Here are some areas of personal purity to consider.

A pure heart to see God

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Mat 5:8)

When the heart is pure the vision is clear

A pure mind to hear God

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: (2Pe 3:1-2)

A pure conscience that we may serve God

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (1Ti 3:9)

 A pure body that we may please God

Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. (1Ti 5:22)

 A pure behavior that we may point people to God

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1Ti 4:12)


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The Nazarite Vow and the Committed Christian

The-Nazarite-Vow

The Nazarite vow of Numbers 6, was a very special vow a person could enter into for a specific period and completely dedicate themselves to the Lord for that period. The New Testament Christian should live their life with a modern-day commitment to the Lord in the same way. Let’s look at the Nazarite vow and we will see it parallels the fully committed Christian life of today.  May we make the same decision today as a Nazarite would make then.

A Vow Available – to all

When either man or woman shall separate themselves

It was a vow for both genders

It was a vow for all ages – from the age of accountability upward

It was a vow for all tribes and peoples.  One need not be from a certain lineage as required for Priests.  One did not need to claim a Divine call as the prophets.

A Vow of Aspiration – of desire

A personal vow – It was strictly voluntary

A purposeful vow – Had the goal and purpose to be totally separated unto the Lord

A premised vow – The premise to making such a vow was to be able to more fully serve the Lord.

A Vow Regarding Appetites

He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.

The Nazarite was to abstain from all forms of grapes and products from the grape-vine.

Our appetites should all be spiritual – not carnal.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1Jn 2:15)

A Vow Regarding Appearance

All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head:

 

The Nazarite was given to an appearance that was distinct and different from the world

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (1Co 11:14)

The Nazarite was given to an appearance that was deemed for the Lord

A Vow of Attitude – Holy unto the Lord (vs 5, 8)

When we desire to be holy – it puts us on anther plane.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (1Pe 1:15)

A Vow of Associations (vs6)

he shall come at no dead body.

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2Co 6:17)

…And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; (Lev 10:9-10)

Vow of Adherence and Affection

 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.

 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luk 14:26)

 A Vow for Always

Nazarite  vow was for 24 x 7 for a specified duration.  For Christian commitment it should be a commitment 24 x 7 all the days of our life!


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