Friday, December 8, 2017

Proverbs 1:7

 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
   Fools despise wisdom and instruction”

We come to an important concept in the book of Proverbs: the fear of the LORD. The fear of the LORD is an inclusion in the first nine chapters of Proverbs (cf. 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”) which form a unit. It is also an inclusion for the entire book (cf. 31:30 – “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised”). So the fear of the LORD begins and ends the first section of Proverbs as well as begins and ends the book. It is also a prominent theme within the book itself.

The fear of the LORD...
  • • is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7, 29; 2:5)
    • is the beginning of wisdom (9:10; 15:33),
    • instills confidence (14:26)
    • makes rich (22:4).
    • prolongs life (10:27),
    • is a fountain of life (14:27),
    • leads to life (19:23),
    • is rewarded with life (22:4).
    • is to hate the evil God hates (8:13; 16:6; 23:17).
No wonder that “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD Than great treasure and turmoil with it” (15:16)! So if we gain anything, let us gain the fear of the LORD.

What does it mean to fear the LORD? There are three basic meanings to the Hebrew word “fear.” It can mean “terror” or something of which one is afraid. Or is can mean to be awed by something. Or it can mean to revere or respect something. There is certainly an element of each. The LORD is fearsome in power and might. He is totally righteous and justly angry with sin. Sinners should certainly fear Him and His judgment. But those who have been saved by His great grace have confidence and will not shrink away from Him (1 John 2:28). We also stand in awe of who He is. We are amazed at His power and might. We wonder at the great love which He has shown us in salvation. It is also true that we revere Him. We respect Him. And we submit unto Him.

When we fear God, we have nothing else to fear! We stand before God in reverence, seeking to honor His name and exalt Him. Acquiring the fear of the LORD is the most important thing we will ever do. It is the first step toward true knowledge, because God is truth. If one does not have God, he has nothing; and if he does have God, he has everything he needs for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). He is led into all knowledge by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27). Those who do not have God may know some true things (by God’s grace), but their worldview is complete folly, because they have not believed the true God. Their worldview is not built upon the truth of God’s Word. They have traded the truth of God’s Word for foolishness. The fool despises the wisdom and instruction that comes from God.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Psalm 1:6 - God Knows His Children

God knows His children. Isn’t that a wonderful sentence? God knows His children. This is the truth expressed in the final verse of Psalm 1. In direct contrast to the destruction of the wicked on the day of judgment in verse 5, verse 6 says that “the LORD knows the way of the righteous.” 

Image result for Cross

This is the ultimate reason why the righteous person is blessed: because the LORD knows him. He knows His children. This is more than a knowledge of their existence, for God knows all things. This is a statement of intimacy. God knows personally those who are His. In fact, the psalmist uses the personal name of God (LORD in all capital letters stands in place of the divine name Yahweh/Jehovah) demonstrating His intimacy with those whom He knows. To them He extends His grace and lovingkindness that they would not perish on the day of judgment but dwell in the house of the LORD forever and ever.

If we have believed in Jesus Christ, we can know with certainty that we will never face the wrath of God, for this is what is means to know God. Jesus is the way to gain access to the Father (John 14:6). He is the only way to have fellowship with the Father (1 John 2:23). We must believe God’s testimony concerning His Son which was passed down through His apostles to us today in the form of the New Testament and was promised beforehand in the prophets of the Old Testament. If we believe in the Son of God, we also have the Father. And this is eternal life: to know the Father and the Son whom He sent (cf. John 17:3).

Dear child of God, the Father knows you. Fear no wrath, but keep yourself in the love of God. Be sure that you delight daily in God through His Word and prayer, and you will be like a tree planted by many streams of water, yielding fruit in abundance, blessed by God.

"But the way of the wicked will perish." Do not let this be the way you choose. Choose the way of life through Christ Jesus. For all those who are not in Christ on that day, they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. I urge you to believe in Jesus and trust God for forgiveness of sins. Be known by God.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Psalm 1:5 - One Way or the Other

It has been some time since I last wrote here. We were meditating on Psalm 1 one verse at a time. And we come to the penultimate verse today.

“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.”

That is not seeker friendly, is it? It is blunt. It is a hard truth. It is something that we shy away from talking about. But it is true. And we must be bold to meditate and proclaim those things that are difficult. We love to preach the glories of heaven (and we should!). But we cannot neglect to speak of the horrors of hell.

One day, God will judge the world through Jesus Christ. And all those who have believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ—that He died to take the punishment of sin and that He was raised again on the third day, indicating that God accepted and was pleased with the atonement of Christ—will enter into His rest. But those who have not believed in Jesus will be thrown into the lake of fire.

The psalmist puts it this way: “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,” because the wicked do not stand on every word of God, but proclaim themselves wise (when they are really fools) and exchange God’s glory for whatever pleases their heart (cf. Rom 1). Because they have not honored God or believed His Word, they are chaff which will be scattered at the judgment. “He will be summoned to the great white throne there to find that the heaven and the earth have fled away. Everything familiar will be gone. Everything he has sought to build, everything in which he has invested his time and his talents—gone! He has nowhere to stand. He has built his house upon the sand and the judgment has swept it all away.” (Phillips, 21).

Sinners will not stand in the judgment nor in the assembly of the righteous. There is no fooling God. You are either with Him or against Him. You are either of Christ or you are of the Devil. There is no other option. Will you be chaff that is scattered? Will you be weighed in the scales on that day and be found wanting? If you do not stand in Christ, you will not stand at all.

If you are in Christ, you will indeed stand on that day. You will be part of the righteous assembly worshipping the Lamb forever and ever. Let this verse make us hunger for the conversion of souls. Let us go out daily fishing for those who will turn to Jesus and be saved. Let us proclaim our great Savior among those who are wicked sinners who scoff at righteousness. Let us call those who are dead in sins to life in Christ.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Psalm 15 Scripture Reading and Prayer

Image result for tabernacle

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My System for Reading

I want to take some time from the devotional posts that I usually do, and talk about reading. The most frequent questions that I am asked is: “How do you read so many books?” And, “How do you remember what you read?” In this post, I want to show you my system for reading as much or as little as needed or desired. I am mostly writing about how to read non-fiction books, although this system can work for fiction as well.

The Desire
Most people want to read. If they do not want to read, they at least want to be able to say that they have read a lot of books. Christians want to be able to say that they have read theological writings far and wide in pursuit of gaining insight into the Christian life and the Scriptures. If you are anything like me, you have a pile of books that you want to read, but it never seems like a book makes it OUT of the pile and back on the shelf with the satisfactory change of status to “read.” Most of us just laugh it off, and say that we will get to it whenever we have some extra time. But face it. There is no such thing as “extra time” in our day and age. So if we are going to be readers, it is going to be in spite of a busy schedule.

That is a fact that I had to learn in seminary. At the beginning of the semester, I would face thousands upon thousands (usually 6,000) of pages in the “to-read” pile. And if I wanted to pass my classes, those books needed to steadily move into the “read” pile. For the first two years of seminary, I tried to read as much of one or two books per day as I could. But I would finish the book without much confidence about the subject matter. I had just gone through the motions and not retained much of what I had read. Talk about a waste of time! I knew that I needed a better system. So this is what I did.

The Principle

I had an epiphany one day. It is one of those realizations that makes you embarrassed that it wasn’t so obvious beforehand. I realized that a 300-page book could be finished in 30 days just reading 10 pages a day. 300 pages—especially nonfiction—sounds painful…right? But 10 pages is doable. This is where I encourage people to start. If you are not reading at all, just start reading 10 pages out of one book every day. Take a pencil and mark where you stopped, and pick up right where you left off the next day.

Expanding the Idea

I need to read much more than one 300-page book every month. In seminary, 300 pages was a week’s worth of reading, and I had very little time to do this reading. What to do? The next realization came after reading 10 pages per day out of several books. Switching books after 10 pages kept my focus on what I was reading and helped me to see progress as I moved from book to book.
So I started reading 10 pages out of 5 books every day. That is 50 pages per day, and 350 pages per week! That comes out to 1,500 pages in 30 days. If the average length of a book is 250 pages, it comes to about 6 books in a month.

In Practice

I have kept this going with up to 10 books at a time. That is 700 pages per week and 3,000 pages per month (12 average-sized books). I reserve such a load for when it is necessary (like now, when I am doing a ton of reading in preparation to preach Genesis). For the most part, I read somewhere between 5 and 7 books at a time. Using this method, I remember what I read—although it can be hard to recall where I read something.

This is fairly easy to accommodate to a busy schedule. When I was doing a lot of driving each week, I either had my Kindle read to me or I had audiobooks playing. Even now, I have Kindle read to me while I fold laundry or mow the lawn. But mostly, I read physical books with a pen in hand, and I sprinkle my 10-page spurts throughout the day. That keeps me thinking about what I just read for a while.

Take This!
Most people do not need to read 3,000 pages a month. You may not even have a need to read 1,500 pages per month. And that is ok. But I encourage you to read, and especially to read good theology. My copy of J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, is 254 pages. At 10 pages per day, that will take about 26 days to read slowly and meditatively. You could add John Piper’s book, Desiring God, and read its 307 pages in 31 days. So in one month, you could read two good-sized volumes about the Christian life and be challenged and encouraged in your walk with God. You will find that if you leave your reading to some imaginary day when you have a bunch of free time, you will probably never get anything read. Reading is worth taking the time amid a busy schedule. Especially in this day when we have so many resources available to us.