A True Friend

A True Friend

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 1 – 2; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

Read the “0723 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – (Proverbs 27:6)

“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” – (Proverbs 27:10)

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” – (Proverbs 27:17)

Chapter twenty-seven of the Book of Proverbs includes the word “friend” several times. I have posted some of them above. From these verses we can get a better, Biblical understanding of what a true friend is. The world would have a broader definition for friendship, but the Bible is much more specific about what a friend is, and what a friend does. We each may have many acquaintances, and people that are friendly at times to us; but if we were to really apply the Biblical understanding of true friendship, we would have to conclude that the number of real friends we have is few.

The Bible tells us that a true friend is there for us no matter what. We have all probably heard the expression, “fair weather friends”. This type of person is the one that will be your friend as long as you have something to offer them. I remember years ago when I was newly saved, my wife and I were attending a church in Toms River, NJ. We were both very young Christians, and we had a hard time establishing relationships with some of the other couples that were there. There was one man that all of a sudden began to take an interest in me. He invited us over to his house, and he really seemed to be trying to reach out to us. I was very flattered, but then this man began to tell me about a business venture that he wanted me to be a part of: something that was going to eventually make me very rich, but at first would require an investment on our part. When this man finally realized that I didn’t have any money to invest in his business, he stopped being nice to me. This man was not my friend. He was friendly as long as he thought I could benefit him in some way. A real friend is not merely concerned about what he receives from the relationship, but is instead focussed on what he can offer to it. True friends will also remain friendly through the good times and the bad.

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – (Proverbs 18:24)

The Bible also tells us that a true friend will not be someone that tells us what we want to hear, but rather tells us what we need to hear. I want my friends to help me be a better me. In order for that to happen they will need to be open and honest with me. There are many things about me that I cannot see. My flesh has set up protections that insulate me from facing myself. My pride causes me to think that I am always right. But I know that can’t possibly be true. So God has placed some people in my life who love me enough to tell me what I often do not want to hear about myself. Don’t misunderstand, these friends do not spend all of their time criticizing me, but they will straighten me out when I need it. The greatest friend that I have, besides the Lord, is my wife. She doesn’t pull any punches with me: she loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear.

Of course, the Lord is the greatest friend that we have because He gave His life for us. A true friend will give himself unconditionally to those that he loves.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – (John 15:13)


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Wine Is A Mocker

drunk

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 13 – 14; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read the “0721 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” – (Proverbs 20:1)

“He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” – (Proverbs 21:17)

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” – (Proverbs 23:29-35)

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: … Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” – (Proverbs 31:4, 6)

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” – (Ephesians 5:18)

The Bible is full of warnings against the consumption of alcohol. Above, I have listed some of the verses from the Book of Proverbs that deal with drinking, as well as a New Testament reminder. God did not outlaw the use of intoxicating beverages in the Bible, but He certainly taught that consuming alcohol was the cause of a great many problems for His people. The first mention of fermented wine in the Bible was in Genesis 9 referring to Noah who drank of the wine and then lay naked in his tent, causing his son Ham to sin by looking upon his father’s naked body. Shortly thereafter in the book of Genesis we read about Lot who drank wine and then slept with both of his daughters. Alcohol will certainly cause you to do some pretty dumb and damaging things. Today it is no different. In America, 38% of all traffic fatalities occur because of alcohol consumption (nearly 65 people a day). Statistics reveal that there are over 14 million people in the U.S. that are addicted to alcohol; and alcoholics are four times more likely to be hospitalized than non-drinkers. When will we learn?

In the New Testament there is an added warning to the child of God regarding the consumption of alcohol. The verse mentioned above from the Book of Ephesians tells us that alcohol is a controlling force that will hinder the Christian from being filled with the Spirit. That is why they call being drunk “under the influence”. To the degree that you are “influenced” by alcohol, you are not being influenced by the Holy Spirit of God. Plus, God warns us that we should be careful about being a stumbling block to another Christian. You may be able to handle an occasional drink, but by your indulgence you may just be encouraging a future alcoholic. If you are a child of God, filled with His Spirit, you have no business consuming alcohol. God is the only influence you and I need in our lives. We don’t need alcohol to enjoy the abundant life that God has given us while serving Him on this earth.


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Oh Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

markedsfring-af-uddannelser-via-sociale-medier-22-638

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0720 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and awordspoken in due season, how goodis it!” (Proverbs 15:23)

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

“Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.” (Proverbs 17:7)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:28)

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – (Proverbs 25:11)

Isn’t it amazing how much the Bible has to say regarding our tongues. The verses listed above are just a few of the references from today’s passage that deal with the words that we say. God is very concerned about the things that we allow to escape our lips. A good passage to read that also teaches along this line is found in James 3. In it, God gives a scathing rebuke to the tongue that is used to destroy. As God’s people we must strive to allow the Holy Spirit of God to control our words. As God’s ambassadors we have no right saying the things that we want to say, but rather we must speak the things that will glorify God and edify others. One of the reasons that I sometimes prefer to write (text, e-mail) to people rather than talk to them is because I can carefully choose the words that I use. I find myself re-writing, looking for just the right thing to say. Often when conversing with someone face to face I find myself being quick to speak, when God wants me to be slow to speak.

I think that I could be much more affective as a minister of God if I would employ the following principles in my life regarding my speech:

1 I should pray before I speak. David prayed,

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

2 I should pause before I speak. The Bible says a lot about refraining from speaking. Will what I am going to say edify the listener? Will it glorify God? Will it tear down somebody else? These are all thing to consider.

3 I should pastor (minister, edify, teach) with my speech.

It would certainly be a quieter world, if we would all put these principles into practice; but it would also be a lot more peaceful.

“O be careful little mouth what you say

O be careful little mouth what you say

There’s a Father up above

And He’s looking down in love

So, be careful little mouth what you say”


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Clean the Crib But Keep The Oxen!

ross-farm-museum-oxen

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read the “0719 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previos post from today’s passage in Proverbs – “O Be Careful, Little Mouth, What You Say

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” – (Proverbs 14:4)

Every Sunday afternoon, immediately following the morning service, we clean the auditorium and bathrooms of our church to make it ready for the evening service. I am often amazed at how dirty our building can get, especially considering that it was only in use for a few hours. There are bulletins lying all over, and the hymnbooks are everywhere except where they should be. We find candy wrappers and water bottles in various places. Sometimes, I even find chewed gum stuck to a chair or on the floor. Yuk! The place is a mess. But I thank God for the mess, because the mess indicates that people were using the building. There are times when I get a little tired of cleaning it, but if I didn’t have to clean it, it could only be because nobody was coming to our services.

I have determined that I will never get the mindset that the building that God has given us is to be some sort of museum for the Saints of God to observe and admire. I want our building to be functional and practical; and I want it to be used by our people as much as possible, and as often as possible. And if it is being used, it is going to get dirty, and at times things are going to need to be repaired. I have been spending a great deal of time this summer painting and upgrading parts of our building. The rooms that were finished last month already have some marks on the walls. Praise God! That means that people: men, women, children; souls are coming to the House of God, and are getting the help that they need. I will keep cleaning the crib, but I think I am  going to keep the oxen as well.

Brother Hyles tells a story about a man in his church that was complaining about the oily messes made in the parking lot by all the busses that were used to bring boys and girls to church. Bro. Hyles reminded the man that D.L. Moody brought in a lot of children, too, in his day, and the horses used to pull the wagons were a whole lot messier.


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The Richest Man On Earth

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0718 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

What determines the true wealth of a man? Is it the amount of money he has in his bank account? Is it the number of acres he owns or the size of his house? Perhaps it might be the number of toys and possessions that he has been able to accumulate in his lifetime? Can richness be measured by the world’s standards? This world puts a great deal of emphasis on material gain and financial success, and to some degree they are right, because one of the ways that God blesses His children is by providing them with their needs, and even some of their desires. But the truth is, the world is replete with people who have “this world’s goods”, but are not rich. Why? Because they lack the blessing of the Lord. Let me list for you some of the reasons why I feel that I am the richest man on earth:

1 My Father is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all of the silver and gold belongs to Him. Because I am His child, everything that He has is mine as well. Everything that I need is provided for me. I am completely content, because there is nothing that I will ever need that will not be provided for me.

2 My Family is truly a blessing from God. He has given me the most beautiful wife in all of the world along with four wonderful children (and now two sons-in-law, and a daughter-in-law), and three beautiful grandchildren. They are for me; they support me; they encourage me; they assist me; they love me as I am even with all of my faults.

3 My Friends are also extremely valuable to me. I have a few friends that I believe would take a bullet for me. They are loyal and true, even when things aren’t going so well.

4 My Future looks even brighter. My needs for the rest of my life are guaranteed, and I have a mansion waiting for me in Heaven when I have finished His purpose for me on earth.

How about you? Have you been measuring your wealth the same way the world does? Maybe you are actually richer than you thought? If you are experiencing the blessing of the Lord, you are a rich man indeed.


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Who Are You Going To Listen To?

Listen

Today’s Passage –Proverbs 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0717 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Did you notice in our passage this morning that there were two very different women, and each of them were calling out to men, trying to get them to yield to her?

# 1 – The Foolish Woman (the Strange Woman – [Ladies – this could also be a strange man])

“And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 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. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” (Proverbs 7:10-20)

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Proverbs 9:13-18)

The first woman is the foolish woman. You meet her quite often in the Book of Proverbs. She is easy to spot because she dresses like an harlot. She is loud, and very bold about what she wants. You see her just about everywhere you go. She is very alluring, and offers pleasure that promises to satisfy, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, those that yield to her end up ruining their lives. “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:26-27)

# 2 – The Woman named Wisdom

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:1-6)

This woman is a different story altogether. She is introduced in the first few verses of chapter 7. Chapter 8, and the beginning of chapter 9 are also all about her. She is also trying to get you to yield to her, and she is desparately trying to keep you away from the strange and foolish woman (7:5). She offers you long life and the favor of the Lord, and promises that the fruit that she gives you is more valuable than gold. She has served as counsellor to the greatest leaders of the world, and was even present when God created the world around us. And she delivers on her promises. She may not give you the temporary pleasure that the foolish woman offers, but in the long run, she is the much “wiser” choice.

So, who are you going to choose? I can give you a suggestion. “Get Wisdom”, and stay as far away from the foolish woman (or man) as you can.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

“Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her (the foolish woman) ways, go not astray in her paths.” (Proverbs 7:24-25)


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Consider the Ant

Consider the Ant

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4 ; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0716 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” – (Proverbs 6:6-11)

I remember a few years back, our assistant pastor, Ted Stahl, was sitting on the curb in back of our church and he was staring down at the ground. I was curious as to what he was doing, so I asked him. He answer was even more curious: he said that he was obeying the Bible. By this point, he had my full attention, so I probed even deeper, and asked him what he meant by that. He told me that the Bible commanded him to consider the ants, and as I looked closer I could see that Pastor Stahl was actually observing some ants as they were going about their business. I will have to agree that the ants are fascinating creatures. They seem to be always busy, working together to accomplish their goal.

Christians ought to have some of the qualities of ants. Our society is filled with lazy people who seem to have little purpose in life, but that shouldn’t be said of us. we should be busy, diligent people who are able to work well with other people to accomplish God’s will for our lives.

As I have read through the Book of Proverbs, I have noticed that there are certain themes that reappear again and again. One of these is the subject of laziness (the Bible uses the terms slothful; and will also call a lazy person a sluggard).

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” – (Proverbs 24:30-34 )

The above passage speaks of a man who, because of his laziness, has neglected his field to the point where it was overgrown with with weeds. I feel that way in my life sometimes. I notice that there are times when I lose focus, and allow things to fall into neglect. It happens in all areas of my life as well. Sometimes, I may neglect the spiritual priorities, and at other times I may become lazy in one of my responsibilities as a father or husband. I get lazy. Laziness seems to be a bigger problem for me in the summertime.

God expects us to be fruitful. God expects us to be busy and productive. Here are some things that will help me stay on track to fulfill the things that God expects from my life:

1 Have a schedule – determine what time you need to get up, and how much time is needed to do what you have to do. Go to bed early, and get up early. Avoid the time wasters like the internet and television.

2 Set Goals – what do you want to accomplish this year; this summer; this week; tomorrow? Attempt to get a lot of things done. You may not get to them all; but you will accomplish a lot more than if you don’t set goals. “he who aims at nothing hits it every time”. Set spiritual goals; goals for tasks around the house; etc.

3 Be accountable to someone. This is the problem that many preachers have. They have no earthly boss standing over them with expectations. If I am not careful, I will let this lack of accountability cause me to get lazy; get up later; leave earlier, etc.

4 Stay motivated. I listen to preaching and leadership lessons from Godly pastors around the country to stay challenged. What motivates you?

We will have to give an account of our lives to God someday. What did we do with our time? Were we productive? Did we fulfill God’s will for our lives? Or did we sleep in? Don’t be lazy. Get up and do what God has called you to do. Be like the ant.


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Get the Vision

Bible

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0724 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)

“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1Samuel 3:1)

If you have been a Christian for any length of time then you have most likely heard a sermon preached on vision. Most of the time the preacher will use Proverbs 29:18 to prove that the pastor and people need to have some type of plan for the future in order for the church to survive and thrive in the next generation. For instance, I have heard this verse used by a preacher who was trying to convince the congregation regarding a new building. He was trying to get the people to “see” the new building, to get a vision for it. While I do believe it is wise for the pastor to know where he is going in the future, and I also think that He is responsible for casting the “vision” for the church, I do not believe this verse is teaching that. This verse, and the verse in 1 Samuel 3 both connect the term, “vision”, with the Word of God. God is not saying that the preacher or church need to have their own vision, but rather that they need to have God’s vision, which is the Word of God.

Christians often speak too flippantly about what “God told them”. I always ask them about the book, chapter, and verse that God used to tell them the thing that He supposedly said. You see, God does not speak to us with audible voices anymore; He gave us His Word. God uses the revealed Word of God to “direct our paths”, etc. Now I am not saying that God does not lead us down particular paths, and into specific areas of service. He does reveal His will to us through a combination of means, but it all starts with the Word of God, and is confirmed by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is God’s “open vision” today.

As Christians, we need to look to the Bible for direction in life. Preachers, we need to faithful study, learn, and teach the Word and Words of God that He has given to instruct His people today. It is the Bible that will guide; it is the Bible that will encourage; it is the Bible that will give comfort; it is the Bible that will correct; it is the Bible that reveal the future; and so much more. All we need is the Bible, and the Holy Ghost of God Who will help us understand it. So, get a vision; but get it from the Bible.

 


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Don’t Quit!!!

Don't Quit

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16; Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “0722 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” – (Proverbs 24:10)

Many years ago, before I went to Bible college, I saw a poster similar to the picture above, hanging on the door of a walk-in freezer in the stock room of one of the supermarkets that I delivered to. I asked the clerk if I could make a copy of it, and I put that picture on my refrigerator at home. When we moved to Texas to go to Texas Baptist College the picture managed to remain with us, and ended up once again on our refrigerator. Bible college was tough, and there were many times that I contemplated quitting; but I would often look at that little poster, and remember that God had called me into the ministry, and He specifically revealed His will to me about where I should go for training, and that I should finish what He had called me to do. That poster served for those three years as a reminder of the fact that no matter how hopeless the situation might seem, God would always bring me through, if I would just not quit.

There were many “war stories” that I could share from those college days, but one particular time stands out in my memory. It was the August before my senior year at the college, and it was registration time for the fall semester. I didn’t have a dime to my name. I was struggling to pay all of my bills, and even just put food on the table;  and I knew that I was going to have to pay the college something in order to get enrolled for my final year. To make matters worse, I still owed them money from the semester before. At first, I wasn’t even going to attempt to go through the whole process of choosing classes, etc. I mean, why bother? They weren’t going to let me in anyway; but for some reason, I went down to the college, and started to go through the motions of registering. When I finally got to the final step of the process – this was the part I really dreaded – meeting with the comptroller of the college, Brother Shaw, I timidly entered his office waiting to get yelled at, or maybe even laughed at. I explained my situation to him, and I remember him saying to me, “Brother Erickson, let’s just see what it says in our records.” He went to his computer and told me that not only was there no balance due from the previous semester, but there also was $1000.00 already paid for the new one. I couldn’t believe it. I just sat there with my mouth open, while he sat there grinning at me. To this day, I have no earthly idea where that money came from, but I do know that God taught me a great lesson that day. Don’t give up. No matter how hopeless the situation might seem, keep getting up and doing what God has called you to do. Don’t quit. There is always hope in the will of God. There have been many other times in the ministry where God has miraculously come through to help in time of need, He always came through. He may not always do what we want Him to do, but He always fulfills His will. We just have to hang in there, and stay faithful.


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Barns Filled With Plenty

Barns filled with plenty

Today’s Reading – Proverbs 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0715 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)

A few years ago our church began planting a community garden. Although I have not really been personally involved in the process, I have observed with fascination as the folks first worked the ground, and then planted the seeds and plants. It didn’t look like much at first, but soon it began to take shape I remember that first year when brought in a tray of the “first fruits”, which was distributed to some people who needed food.  It was exciting to see food that was produced from our garden go to some families in our church who needed it.

When I read Proverbs 3:9 – 10, I am reminded of that garden. This is a wonderful promise from the Word of God. It is really very simple. If we will be faithful to give back to the Lord the “firstfruits” of all that He has blessed us with, He will also be faithful to fill our barns with plenty. In my case it’s actually just a food pantry, but I can personally testify that the Lord has been very faithful to me through the years in keeping that pantry and refrigerator filled. My family has always been abundantly provided for by the Lord, not just with food, but also with clothing, a house to live in, a car to drive, and even many luxuries. Let me challenge and encourage you in this matter of giving back to the Lord. You can absolutely trust Him. He will never fail to do what He has promised to do.

Consider some of these related promises from the Scripture:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:10-12)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)


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Get The Vision

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4Psalms 116 – 118Proverbs 24)

Scripture Memorization for June – Great Commission Verses

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read a great article by Brother John Goetsch – “Uncola Christianity – 7 Ingredients To Add To Your Faith

Read the “0724 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)

“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1Samuel 3:1)

If you have been a Christian for any length of time then you have most likely heard a sermon preached on vision. Most of the time the preacher will use Proverbs 29:18 to prove that the pastor and people need to have some type of plan for the future in order for the church to survive and thrive in the next generation. For instance, I have heard this verse used by a preacher who was trying to convince the congregation regarding a new building. He was trying to get the people to “see” the new building, to get a vision for it. While I do believe it is wise for the pastor to know where he is going in the future,and I also think that He is responsible for casting the “vision” for the church, I do not believe this verse is teaching that. This verse, and the verse in 1 Samuel 3 both connect the term, “vision”, with the Word of God. God is not saying that the preacher or church need to have their own vision, but rather that they need to have God’s vision, which is the Pokies Word of God.

Christians often speak too flippantly about what “God told them”. I always ask them about the book, chapter, and verse that God used to tell them the thing that He supposedly said. You see, God does not speak to us with audible voices anymore; He gave us His Word. God uses the revealed Word of God to “direct our  paths”, etc. Now I am not saying that God does not lead us down particular paths, and into specific areas of service. He does reveal His will to us through a combination of means, but it all starts with the Word of God, and is confirmed by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is God’s “open vision” today.

Last night at the Northeast Vision Summit, I listened attentively to a great Bible message by Pastor Kurt Skelly on this very subject. He was preaching from Genesis 37 where Joseph was dreaming dreams. God used dreams back in the days of Joseph to reveal His Word. Joseph faithfully took the Word that was given Him through the dream, and delivered it to his father and brothers. The preacher pointed out that the recipients of Joseph’s dreams were not much different from the recipients of the Word of God today: they didn’t like what they heard.

As Christians, we need to look to the Bible for direction in life. Preachers, we need to faithful study, learn, and teach the Word and Words of God that He has given to instruct His people today. It is the Bible that will guide; it is the Bible that will encourage; it is the Bible that will give comfort; it is the Bible that will correct; it is the Bible that reveal the future; and so much more. All we need is the Bible, and the Holy Ghost of God Who will help us understand it. So, get a vision; but get it from the Bible.


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Oh Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12Psalms 96 – 100Proverbs 20)

Scripture Memorization for June – Great Commission Verses

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15

Read a great article by Brother John Goetsch – “Uncola Christianity – 7 Ingredients To Add To Your Faith

Read the “0720 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and awordspoken in due season, how goodis it! (Proverbs 15:23)

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.(Proverbs 17:7)

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. (Proverbs 17:9)

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:28)

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – (Proverbs 25:11)

Isn’t it amazing how much the Bible has to say regarding our tongues. The verses listed above are just a few of the references from today’s passage that deal with the words that we say. God is very concerned about the things that we allow to escape our lips. A good passage to read that also teaches along this line is found in James 3. In it, God gives a scathing rebuke to the tongue that is used to destroy.  As God’s people we must strive to allow the Holy Spirit of God to control our words. As God’s ambassadors we have no right saying the things that we want to say, but rather we must speak the things that will glorify God and edify others. One of the reasons that I sometimes prefer to write (text, e-mail) to people rather than talk to them is because I can carefully choose the words that I use. I find myself re-writing, looking for just the right thing to say. Often when conversing with someone face to face I find myself being quick to speak, when God wants me to be slow to speak.

I think that I could be much more affective as a minister of God if I would employ the following principles in my life regarding my speech:

1 I should pray before I speak. David prayed,

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

2  I should pause before I speak. The Bible says a lot about refraining from speaking. Will what I am going to say edify the listener? Will it glorify God? Will it tear down somebody else? These are all thing to consider.

3  I should pastor (minister, edify, teach) with my speech.

It would certainly be a quieter world, if we would all put these principles into practice; but it would also be a lot more peaceful.

“O be careful little mouth what you say

O be careful little mouth what you say

There’s a Father up above

And He’s looking down in love

So, be careful little mouth what you say”


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Safe!

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8Psalms 86 – 90Proverbs 18)

Scripture Memorization for June – Great Commission Verses

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read a great article by Brother John Goetsch – “Uncola Christianity – 7 Ingredients To Add To Your Faith

Read the “0718 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “The Richest Man on Earth“; “Pride

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)

“For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 24:6)

“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (Proverbs 15:22 KJV)

It seems like just good common sense, but the verses above are perhaps among the most neglected principles in the Bible. Getting good advice before making any important decision is absolutely essential if you are going to be happy, and achieve success in life. However, most people launch into decisions unadvisedly. Why is that? I believe it is because people usually have their hearts set, and their minds made up on a matter, which causes them to not really want to hear what anyone else has to say. I have seen people make some of the dummest decisions in life, convinced that they were making a great move, and then later deeply it. I have made a few of these mistakes myself.

Another mistake that I have observed people making is that they will “shop” for counsel. These folks know that they should get advice from others, but they purposely go to people whom they know will tell them what they want to hear. They surround themselves with “yes men”. This is just as dangerous as not asking for counsel. There is a man in my church who is not afraid to tell me when he disagrees with a decision that I am about to make. This man is invaluable to me. He keeps me straight. There have been times that I had my heart set on doing something that just would have been a bad move, but this man counselled me in the other direction. I have to admit, there have been times when this made me angry, but I know that overall, I have made better decisions because of this man’s input.

I believe there are a few principles that you and I can put to practice in our lives that will help us make good decisions:

1  Look to the Word – make sure that God does not advise against the thing that you want to do in the Word of God.

2  Pray – before you make a decision, ask the Lord. It may be a good thing, but it may not be a good thing for you, or it may not be the right time.

3  Get counsel – Ask the advice of some wise people in your life who will be willing to be brutally honest with you. Your parents, and your pastor are good people to include in your cabinet of counsellors.

4  Don’t rush into anything. Don’t make any rash decisions. Quick decisions are usually bad ones. Take the time to go through the process, and you will find that you will avoid the tragedies that so many face as a result of poor decision making.

“Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.” (Proverbs 20:18)


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Who Are You Going To Listen To?

Today’s Passage –Proverbs 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Scripture Memorization for June – Great Commission Verses

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

Read a great article by Brother Rick Houk – “Keeping It Fresh – Summer Bible Study

Read the “0717 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Did you notice in our passage this morning that there were two very different women, and each of them were calling out to men, trying to get them to yield to her?

# 1 – The Foolish Woman (the Strange Woman)

“And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 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. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” (Proverbs 7:10-20)

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Proverbs 9:13-18)

The first woman is the foolish woman. You meet her quite often in the Book of Proverbs. She is easy to spot because she dresses like an harlot. She is loud, and very bold about what she wants. You see her just about everywhere you go. She is very alluring, and offers pleasure that promise satisfy, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, those that yield to her end up ruining their lives. “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:26-27)

# 2 – The Woman named Wisdom

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:1-6)

This woman is a different story altogether. She is introduced as in the first few verses of chapter 7. Chapter 8, and the beginning of chapter 9 are all about her. She is also trying to get you to yield to her, and she is desparately trying to keep you away from the strange and foolish woman (7:5). She offers you long life and the favor of the Lord, and promises that the fruit that she gives you is more valuable than gold. She has served as counsellor to the greatest leaders of the world, and was even present when God created the world around us. And she delivers on her promises. She may not give you the temporary pleasure that the foolish woman offers, but in the long run, she is the much “wiser” choice.

So, who are you going to choose? I can give you a suggestion. “Get Wisdom”, and stay as far away from the foolish woman as you can.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

“Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her (the foolish woman) ways, go not astray in her paths.” (Proverbs 7:24-25)


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A True Friend

Listen to Sunday Morning’s Message – “First Day on the Job” from 2 Kings 3

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 1 – 2Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 23)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – (Proverbs 27:6)

“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” – (Proverbs 27:10)

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” – (Proverbs 27:17)

Chapter twenty-seven of the Book of Proverbs includes the word “friend” several times. I have posted some of them above. From these verses we can get a better, Biblical understanding of what a true friend is. The world would have a broader definition for friendship, but the Bible is much more specific about what a friend is, and what a friend does. We each may have many acquaintances, and people that are friendly at times to us; but if we were to really apply the Biblical understanding of true friendship, we would have to conclude that the number of real friends we have is few.

The Bible tells us that a true friend is there for us no matter what. We have all probably heard the expression, “fair weather friends”. This type of person is the one that will be your friend as long as you have something to offer them. I remember years ago when I was newly saved, my wife and I were attending a church in Toms River, NJ. We were both very young Christians, and we had a hard time establishing relationships with some of the other couples that were there. There was one man that all of a sudden began to take an interest in me. He invited us over to his house, and he really seemed to be trying to reach out to us. I was very flattered, but then this man began to tell me about a business venture that he wanted me to be a part of: something that was going to eventually make me very rich, but at first would require an investment on our part. When this man finally realized that I didn’t have any money to invest in his business, he stopped being nice to me. This man was not my friend. He was friendly as long as he thought I could benefit him in some way. A real friend is not merely concerned about what he receives from the relationship, but is instead focussed on what he can offer to it. True friends will also remain friendly through the good times and the bad.

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – (Proverbs 18:24)

The Bible also tells us that a true friend will not be someone that tells us what we want to hear, but rather tells us what we need to hear. I want my friends to help me be a better me. In order for that to happen they will need to be open and honest with me. There are many things about me that I cannot see. My flesh has set up protections that insulate me from facing myself. My pride causes me to think that I am always right. But I know that can’t possibly be true. So God has placed some people in my life who love me enough to tell me what I often do not want to hear about myself. Don’t misunderstand, these friends do not spend all of their time criticizing me, but they will straighten me out when I need it. The greatest friend that I have, besides the Lord, is my wife. She doesn’t pull any punches with me: she loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear.

Of course, the Lord is the greatest friend that we have because He gave His life for us. A true friend will give himself unconditionally to those that he loves.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – (John 15:13)


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Don’t Quit

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16Psalms 101 – 10519 Proverbs 22)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 55:17

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” – (Proverbs 24:10)

Many years ago, before I went to Bible college, I saw a poster similar to the picture above, hanging on the door of a walk-in freezer in the stock room of one of the supermarkets that I delivered to. I asked the clerk if I could make a copy of it, and I put that picture on my refrigerator at home. When we moved to Texas to go to Texas Baptist College the picture managed to remain with us, and ended up once again on our refrigerator. Bible college was tough, and there were many times that I contemplated quitting; but I would often look at that little poster, and remember that God had called me into the ministry, and He specifically revealed His will to me about where I should go for training, and I should finish what He had called me to do. That poster served for those three years as a reminder of the fact that no matter how hopeless the situation might seem, God would always bring me through, if I would just not quit.

There were many “war stories” that I could share from those college days, but one particular time stands out in my memory. It was the August before my senior year at the college, and it was registration time for the fall semester. I didn’t have a dime to my name. I was struggling to pay all of my bills, and even just put food on the table;  and I knew that I was going to have to pay the college something in order to get enrolled for my final year. To make matters worse, I still owed them money from the semester before. At first, I wasn’t even going to attempt to go through the whole process of choosing classes, etc. I mean, why bother? They weren’t going to let me in anyway; but for some reason, I went down to the college, and started to go through the motions of registering. When I finally got to the final step of the process – this was the part I really dreaded – meeting with the comptroller of the college, Brother Shaw, I timidly entered his office waiting to get yelled at, or maybe even laughed at. I explained my situation to him, and I remember him saying to me, “Brother Erickson, let’s just see what it says in our records.” He went to his computer and told me that not only was there no balance due from the previous semester, but there also was $1000.00 already paid for the new one. I couldn’t believe it. I just sat there with my mouth open, while he sat there grinning at me. To this day, I have no earthly idea where that money came from, but I do know that God taught me a great lesson that day. Don’t give up. No matter how hopeless the situation might seem, keep getting up and doing what God has called you to do. Don’t quit. There is always hope in the will of God. There have been many other times in the ministry where God has miraculously come through to help in time of need, He always came through. He may not always do what we want Him to do, but He always fulfills His will. We just have to hang in there, and stay faithful.


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How Good Is It!

Listen to Wednesday Night’s Message from the series – “Turning the World Upside Down”

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12Psalms 91 – 95Proverbs 20)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23)

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

“Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.”(Proverbs 17:7)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.”(Proverbs 17:9)

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:28)

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – (Proverbs 25:11 KJV)

Isn’t it amazing how much the Bible has to say regarding our tongues. The verses listed above are just a few of the references from today’s passage that deal with the words that we say. God is very concerned about the things that we allow to escape our lips. A good passage to read that also teaches along this line is found in James 3. In it, God gives a scathing rebuke to the tongue that is used to destroy.  As God’s people we must strive to allow the Holy Spirit of God to control our words. As God’s ambassadors we have no right saying the things that we want to say, but rather we must speak the things that will glorify God and edify others. One of the reasons that I sometimes prefer to write (text, e-mail) to people rather than talk to them is because I can carefully choose the words that I use. I find myself re-writing, looking for just the right thing to say. Often when conversing with someone face to face I find myself being quick to speak, when God wants me to be slow to speak.

I think that I could be much more affective as a minister of God if I would employ the following principles in my life regarding my speech:

1 I should pray before I speak. David prayed:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

2  I should pause before I speak. The Bible says a lot about refraining from speaking. Will what I am going to say edify the listener? Will it glorify God? Will it tear down somebody else? These are all thing to consider.

3  I should pastor (minister, edify, teach) with my speech.

It would certainly be a quieter world, if we would all put these principles into practice; but it would also be a lot more peaceful.


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Clean the Crib But Keep The Ox

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10Psalms 86 – 90Proverbs 19)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read – “What Vacation Time Means To A Pastor” – by Pastor Chappell

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” – (Proverbs 14:4)

Every Sunday afternoon, immediately following the morning service, we clean the auditorium and bathrooms of our church to make it ready for the evening service. I am often amazed at how dirty our building can get, especially considering that it was only in use for a few hours. There are lying bulletins everywhere, and the hymnbooks are everywhere except where they should be. We find candy wrappers and water bottles in various places. Sometimes, I even find chewed gum stuck to a chair or on the floor. Yuk! The place is a mess. But I thank God for the mess, because the mess indicates that people were using the building. There are times when I get a little tired of cleaning it, but if I didn’t have to clean it, it could only be because nobody was coming to our services.

I have determined that I will never get the mindset that the building that God has given us is to be some sort of museum for the Saints of God to observe and admire. I want our building to be functional, and practical; and I want it to be used by our people as much as possible, and as often as possible. And if it is being used, it is going to get dirty, and at times things are going to need to be repaired. I have been spending a great deal of time this summer painting and upgrading parts of our building. The rooms that were finished last month already have some marks on the walls. Praise God! That means that people: men, women, children, souls are coming to the House of God, and are getting the help that they need. I will keep cleaning the crib, but I think I am also going to keep the oxen as well.

Brother Hyles tells a story about a man that was complaining about the oily messes made in the parking lot by all the busses that were used to bring boys and girls to church. He reminded the man that D.L. Moody brought in a lot of children too, and the horses used to pull the wagons in those days were a whole lot messier.


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My Biggest Problem

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8Psalms 81 – 85Proverbs 18)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6

“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13)

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10)

“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.” (Proverbs 14:3)

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” (Proverbs 29:23)

“He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.” (Proverbs 28:25)

There are six more verses in Proverbs using the word proud. It is used a total of 47 times in the Bible. The word “pride” is used a total of 46 times in the Bible. The word “haughty” is used 10 times.  That makes a total of 103 verses in the Bible (at least) that deal with one of man’s biggest problems – pride. As I was reading this morning, the Holy Spirit of God drew my attention to three of the verses. I thought at first that they caught my attention because of the frequency of their use, but after reflecting a little bit, I realized that God was trying to show me that pride is not just an issue for everyone else, but for me as well. How does pride affect me? Let me be a little transparent and publicly reveal some of the things that the Spirit of God brought to my attention:

1  I want to be successful. Now don’t misunderstand, success in the ministry is a good thing. It is wonderful when people are reached with the gospel, and trained to serve God. It is great when lots of people come to hear the Word of God being preached. But it’s my motivation that is the concern. In my heart I want to think that it is all for God’s glory; but I know that sometimes I want to steal a little bit of that glory for me. Now, I am going to keep trying to be successful, but I am also going to ask God to throughly examine my heart and my motives; and when I sense the root of pride growing within, I will try to bring it to Him for removal.

2  I want to be right all of the time. I have noticed that some of the folks around me have this problem as well. I like to win arguments. I even get angry easily, when someone is in disagreement with me.

3  I don’t like to be criticized. This goes along with the point 2. I find myself desiring to defend myself, justify myself and I really don’t need to.

4  I find that I am concerned more with the opinion and approval of men, more that the approval of God.

These are just a few of my sins. I feel better: confession is very therapeutic. I probably could have gone on and made the list larger; but I think you get the idea. Now, how about you? How is pride affecting your life? Maybe you ought to come up with your own list. Ask God to point out some ways that pride is affecting your relationship with Him and with others. You might have too much pride to even consider the thought.


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Have You Consider the Ant?

Listen to Sunday Morning’s message – “Where is the Lord God of _______?”

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4Psalms 71 – 75Proverbs 16)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read – “Massacred for the Faith” by Pastor Chappell

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” – (Proverbs 6:6-11)

I remember a few years back, our assistant pastor, Ted Stahl, was sitting on the curb in back of our church and he was staring down at the ground. I was curious as to what he was doing, so I asked him. He answer was even more curious: he said that he was obeying the Bible. By this point, he had my full attention, so I probed even deeper, and asked him what he meant by that. He told me that the Bible commanded him to consider the ants, and as I looked closer I could see that Pastor Stahl was actually observing some ants as they were going about their business. I will have to agree that the ants are fascinating creatures. They seem to be always busy, working together to accomplish their goal.

Christians ought to have some of the qualities of ants. Our society is filled with lazy people who seem to have little purpose in life, but that shouldn’t be said of us. we should be busy, diligent people who are able to work well with other people to accomplish God’s will for our lives.

As I have read through the Book of Proverbs, I have noticed that there are certain themes that reappear again and again. One of these is the subject of laziness (the Bible uses the terms slothful; and will also call a lazy person a sluggard).

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” – (Proverbs 24:30-34 )

The above passage speaks of a man who, because of his laziness, has neglected his field to the point where it was overgrown with with weeds. I feel that way in my life sometimes. I notice that there are times when I lose focus, and allow things to fall into neglect. It happens in all areas of my life as well. Sometimes, I may neglect the spiritual priorities, and at other times I may become lazy in one of my responsibilities as a father or husband. I get lazy. Laziness seems to be a bigger problem for me in the summertime.

God expects us to be fruitful. God expects us to be busy and productive. Here are some things that will help me stay on track to fulfill the things that God expects from my life:

1  Have a schedule – determine what time you need to get up, and how much time is needed to do what you have to do. Go to bed early, and get up early. Avoid the time wasters like the internet and television.

2  Set Goals – what do you want to accomplish this year; this summer; this week; tomorrow? Attempt to get a lot of things done. You may not get to them all; but you will accomplish a lot more than if you don’t set goals. “he who aims at nothing hits it every time”. Set spiritual goals; goals for tasks around the house; etc.

3  Be accountable to someone. This is the problem that many preachers have. They have no earthly boss standing over them with expectations. If I am not careful, I will let this lack of accountability cause me to get lazy; get up later; leave earlier, etc.

4  Stay motivated. I listen to preaching and leadership lessons from Godly pastors around the country to stay challenged. What motivates you?

We will have to give an account of our lives to God someday. What did we do with our time? Were we productive? Did we fulfill God’s will for our lives? Or did we sleep in? Don’t be lazy. Get up and do what God has called you to do. Be like the ant.


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“Daddy” by Melissa Dilley


Today’s Passage – Proverbs 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2Psalms 71 – 75Proverbs 15)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalms 19

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33)

I want to share something with you that has revolutionized my relationship with my Heavenly Father. My God is an awesome, powerful, all-knowing, mighty and righteous God.  He spoke the world into existence and holds creation in the palm of His hand.  He raised others and even Himself from the dead and healed scores of people from all manner of diseases.  He caused the earth to swallow legions of people, and the waters to destroy others.  He is magnificent, all-seeing, and unfathomable.

But He is also my Heavenly Daddy.  Sometimes when I hurt, all I can manage to pray is “Dear Heavenly Father,“ and then I cry for a time.  Jesus told the disciples that they must become like children (completely trusting), and to suffer the children to come (don’t hinder that complete trust).  The Bible tells us that if our earthly daddies can take care of us, how much better can our Heavenly Daddy take care of us.  Let me challenge you, when you have the “fear of evil”, go to God.  Ask Him to put you on His lap, pet you, kiss your forehead, rock you, and tell you everything is going to be ok.  I believe that is the key to ‘the peace that passes all understanding’.

Melissa Dilley went home to be with the Lord earlier this year. She wrote many guest posts for this blog, and from time to time we will reproduce them.


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The Saturday Morning Post by Pastor Ted Stahl – Special Sunday Edition

Today’s Reading: 1Chronicles 23-25; John 21; and Proverbs 14

Today’s Passage: Proverbs 14:26-27

Good morning. Did you ever see a decal on a car driving by that said No Fear? I never understood that term, so I decided to look it up on the internet. No Fear turns out to be a clothing line and an energy drink. To others it’s a cry of being overly optomistic. To a Christian, he may think:, “No God, Know Fear; Know God, No Fear.” There are many in this world who do not fear anything, including God. If anyone should have No Fear of anything, it should be a Christian. Our only fear should be the LORD and pleasing Him. We get that from the Lord. In Proverbs chapter 14, and verses 26 and 27, the Bible tells us that the fear of the LORD is strong confidence and also a fountain of life. The Bible also tells us that the fear of the LORD is also the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Proverbs also tells us what the fear of the LORD is and does…

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (1:7).

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil (8:13).

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom (15:33).

The fear of the LORD prolongeth days (10:27).

The fear of the LORD tendeth to life (19:23).

Life. What would life be like without the fear of the LORD? Wisdom cries out, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” (Proverbs 1:22-32)

Can you see how much of a mess the world around you is in? Public schools teach evolution: that you evolved from some goo that was floating around in the oceans. They are not taught that we are created in God’s image. Their mindset is that you are closer to goo than me: I have evolved more, and therefore superior. If I kill you I will probably be doing the world a favor. That’s what evolution teaches. Evolution does not make you better, it degrades you: turns you into an animal. The blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground. How many voices cry out to the Lord from the ground today?Victims of those who did not choose the fear of the Lord. But the fear of the LORD tendeth to life. I think Solomon summed it all up perfectly in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Peace. (1Peter 3:8-11)


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Do You Want To Shine?

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 5 – 7; Proverbs 4

(Second Milers also read Luke 24; memorize Psalm 119:11)

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” – (Proverbs 4:18)

In yesterday’s post I spoke a little bit about the Old Testament offerings or sacrifices, and how they all pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. In chapters 5 – 7 of Leviticus today, we were introduced to the trespass offering, and we also learned some more details regarding the O. T. sacrificial system. Rather than repeat much of the same information that I discussed yesterday, I have opted to write a thought from the passage in Proverbs.

In verse 18 of chapter 4, the Bible speaks about the path of the just. The word “just” in the Bible means righteous, which is often used to speak of someone who is saved. The saved person is positionally righteous or just in the sight of the Lord, because his sins have been forgiven. Consider these New Testament verses:

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. … Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” – (Romans 3:20, 24)

The concept of justification is very interesting. When a person gets saved, God sees them as completely just or righteous. In fact Romans 3:22 tells us that God gives us the righteousness of God when we believe. Yet, we know that in a practical sense, our lives are really anything but righteous. We know that we are still sinners, undeserving of his mercy; but because of our relationship with Christ, God is merciful and gracious towards us.

However, in Proverbs 4:18, I believe the context would require that this “just” person is not only just in a positional way; but he is also “just” in a practical way; not perfectly, of course, because there is a not [perfectly] just man on earth that doeth good and sinneth not.(Ecclesiastes 7:20) However, the idea of this verse is that this man’s path is pointed in the right direction. He is moving closer and closer to perfection, or maturity. His life is conforming to the very image of Christ as he is walking in the Spirit and yielding to the will of God. The result of all this is that His light is shining brighter and brighter each day.

I remember years ago listening to a preacher on the radio who was answering questions from his listeners. One lady had asked his opinion regarding dancing. He gave a very interesting answer. He told the lady that as a Christian she had the liberty to go dancing if she chose too, but then he asked the lady if she was concerned about shining the light of the Lord to others around her. He basically stated that if we are to shine in our Christian life, there will be certain things that perhaps we may enjoy, that we should be willing to sarifice. The basic idea of this verse is that if we are walking in the path of the just, we will be walking in the Spirit, away from the world, and toward the image of Christ. Let me ask you the question that radio preacher asked his audience that day: Do you want to shine?


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