Category Archives: Christianity

(Proverbs 1-2) Proverbs to Ponder

In the past, I have found the book of Proverbs to be a mishmash of catchy phrases. Some have challenged me in my walk with the Lord. Some make me laugh out loud. Some are hard to make sense out of, and some on the surface, are just plain wrong.

I read these two chapters today, then commentaries written by Henry, Wiersbe, MacArthur, and Wesley, and realized I’ve neglected something very important as I’ve read this collection of proverbs in the past. The crux of the matter is, if I want this book to teach me, to grow me, to change me, then I need to approach each verse keeping 1:7 in the forefront:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”

As I read these proverbs I want to focus on God and hear how they apply to my relationship with Him. Rather than trying to make sense of the words, I want to see the spiritual truth behind the words. If I look at these verses as a metaphor for my walk with the Lord, I believe I’ll find the wisdom God would give me.

I started reading about “them” today. Wise people and fools, young people, sons and parents, prostitutes, etc. It was easy to look out toward others who were foolish and think this book is about them.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”

I read these chapters again, this time understanding that, although the author is using certain people as examples, the lesson here applies to me. The “you” of it became the “me” of it; my tendency to reject my own mother’s teaching, to be enticed by the world’s attraction, to be lured by its pleasures, and to go along with Christian sounding teaching which in reality is apostasy.

I hear God warn me that if I persist in this foolishness, there will be at time when I will call out to Him, and He won’t answer. Yes, Connie. God is warning you!

I hear God challenge ME to read His Word, memorize it, trust it, listen closely and obey it. Then He will give me wisdom and knowledge, He’ll shield me, and guard my path toward Him and away from the enemy.

Wisdom will enter my heart and knowledge will delight (me).” (2:10)

So I’m ready to take on these proverbs, fearing God and asking Him to teach me. This time around I’m not just going to read them, I’m going to ponder the proverbs and apply them to my daily walk and my spiritual health and well-being. God has some wisdom to give me.

Let’s do this!

(Psalms 146-150) Praise and Worship

The final psalms center around worship, the how’s and why’s of it. My take-away is that worship must come from our hearts as well as our minds, and praising God must be the natural outpouring of receiving His grace. Worship must focus on God and should not be used to make us feel good, or spiritual, or blessed. Our praise should not have to be choreographed, but should be God-inspired and led.

Why? Because our Holy God demands we put aside our selves and worship Him for who He is and what He has done. I think we sing “I” too many times in our Sunday morning praise songs these days.

These psalms remind me that we can – and should – worship God from surrendered hearts all the time, not just on Sunday morning. The creation compels us to worship the Creator!

In fact, Warren Wiersbe, in his “Be Exultant” commentary, (David C. Cook, publisher; 2004; page 218) said something that hit me. “Without the private worship, we are but hypocrites at public worship.”

How do you balance emotion and intellect when you worship and praise God? I’m not sure worship that is all emotion pleases God any more than worship devoid of emotion. But how do you meld the two into praise and worship that pleases God?

I believe, after looking more closely at the psalms these last few weeks, that if we are truly focused on God in our worship of Him, if our hearts are clean, our sins confessed and forgiven, our wills surrendered to Him, and if we use our minds to consider God’s character, His Presence, His faithfulness in the past, etc., our praise will flow naturally and freely. Our worship will be a perfect balance of emotion and intellect.

God alone is worthy of our careful and purposeful worship, and not just one day a week. God deserves our heartfelt praise because He is worthy.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah! (Psalm 150:6)

(Psalm 143) What We Want

What do you want? Think about that for a minute. What are some things you work toward, things you consider worthy of your time and energy? What do you pray for? David shared his wish list with us, and I think it’s a pretty good one:

  1. That God would reveal Himself to David. David wrote Scripture. He didn’t have God’s complete Word in front of him like we do. Do you want to meet God face to face? Read your Bible!
  2. That he would experience God’s love. Did you wake up this morning? You did because God loves you. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? His love sent Jesus to the cross for you. Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s knowing that you can rest in God because He IS love.
  3. That he would know what to do. I believe Psalm 119:105 tells us how we can know. God’s Word shows us the way. Isaiah 30:21 tells us God will use His Word to tell us plainly, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
  4. That God would protect him. Ephesians 6 describes the armor of God available to all Christians. If you read Scripture you will discover many accounts of God’s protection for His obedient children. God’s not going to leave us hanging, if we are obeying Him.
  5. That he would know God’s will. 2 Timothy 2:15 points us again to God’s Word. Study it. Learn it. God wants to teach you His will. And He does that when we read the Bible.
  6. That God’s Spirit would guide him. Hebrews 13:5 tells us God says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” as a result of our obedience.

That’s a pretty good list, don’t you think? I believe God wanted those things for David, too. And I am sure it’s what God wants for each of us as well.

What do you want?

(Psalms 137-140) Crossing The Line

I sometimes have trouble reading some of David’s violent psalms. His prayers concerning his enemies are filled with horrible things he asks God to do to them. The truth of the matter is, though, people who reject God and mistreat God’s children will suffer worse things than even David could imagine. It’s a hard truth to grasp.

I think we need to be careful how we pray. Many of us, me included, pray that God will stop the evil in the world, do away with terrorists and abortion doctors. We pray He will strike down transgenders, persecutors of Christians, and people from the “other” political party than we. Some of us could have written David’s psalms with the same vengeful attitude toward our own enemies.

But I’m reminded Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us. That doesn’t mean He wants us to turn a blind eye to their sin, or that we should pray that they will enjoy success in their lives. We need to be praying for their salvation.

It is sin which drives our enemies. We should pray they repent of those sins. The world’s problems would disappear if those people we consider enemies met their Savior.

It’s a fine line between hating sin and hating sinners. But it’s a line we need to draw. It’s a line we cannot cross.

(Psalms 120-125) Walking With God

There is so much in Scripture about walking with God. These psalms remind me of the blessings that come from a right relationship with the Lord. God is with us, protecting us, guiding us, loving us. It is truly a blessing to walk with God.

But these psalms also remind me that there is judgment to come for those who go their own way in this life, those who walk away from God instead of beside Him. They may seem to be enjoying the pleasures of this world. And many are. Their smiles are genuine.

But there is a reality that will bring such pain and agony for them one day. It breaks my heart to think of it.

I am thankful that there is still hope for them while they are alive on this earth. God welcomes every repentant heart, forgives, and blesses each one now and forever. Life might not get easier walking with God. There are still hardships and trials in this life for all of us.

But walking with God is amazing, and will be even more amazing when our walk is with Him in heaven. I pray that each of you who read this post will experience a blessed walk with God.

(Psalm 119:97-104) The Master Teacher

I know there are Christians who depend heavily on Bible study curriculum to help them understand as they read God’s Word. I myself appreciate reading the opinions of Bible scholars like Matthew Henry, Warren Wiersbe, John MacArthur, and others. I actually teach a Bible Study using one such curriculum. But I stand behind my conviction that the best use of our time in God’s Word is reading God’s Word.

Referring to Bible helps occasionally and as a supplement is one thing. But substituting a Bible study guide for Scripture is another thing. The book of Job tells us we won’t find God’s wisdom from each other. Finding God’s wisdom requires searching Scripture for ourselves, digging into God’s Word one verse at a time. It requires you and I to get in there and do the work ourselves.

If you read this part of Psalm 119, you’ll hear what God inspired the psalmist to write. Verse 97 sets the stage. He expresses his love for God’s instruction. In fact, he says he meditates on it all day long.

The psalmist tells God he realizes he has more insight into and understanding of the things of the Lord than do the teachers and elders, and has learned to obey God because “you yourself have instructed me.” That is awesome! Can you have better insight into God’s Word than your pastor? Can you understand God’s Word better than your Sunday School teacher or favorite author? The psalmist seems to be indicating it’s possible if God Himself is your instructor.

So who is instructing you? I hope it’s not just me. I hope it isn’t only your pastor or the Daily Bread. I hope and pray that you spend some quiet time with your Bible open in front of you and ask God to be your teacher. I hope you’ll read the Old Testament and the New, slowly, prayerfully, expecting God to give you understanding.

You may think you “can’t” understand Scripture. Let God prove you wrong. He is the Master Teacher!

(Psalm 109) Too Harsh?

I wouldn’t want to be the one who made David mad. If you read this psalm, the prayer concerning his enemy is harsh! David not only asked God to punish this particular enemy with severity, he asked God to wipe out any influence that wicked man may have had, which in this case included the man’s entire family. David asked God to make the man’s children suffer for what their father had done.

Like I said – harsh!

Oh that we would be as harsh concerning our enemy. No, I’m not talking about that guy down the street who plays his music too loud or that lady in the next cubicle at work who talks about you behind your back. Our enemy, unlike David’s, is NOT flesh and blood.

Our enemy is Satan. And sometimes I think we’re more concerned about hurting his feelings than we are about defeating him in this war he’s declared on our souls.

Do we pray as fervently as David prayed that God would crush Satan in our lives and eliminate any influence that snake has over us? Do we want him eradicated, pulverized, annihilated, or just slapped around a little because we really don’t want to let go of some sin? We just know we need to confess it once in a while to make us feel like a Christian.

“Satan, wait over there while I talk to God for a minute. ‘God, I’m so sorry, please forgive me of that sin. I’ll never do it again. Thanks.’ Now, let’s get out of here, Satan.”

Not exactly the kind of prayer David prayed concerning his enemy, and it’s not the kind of prayer we should be praying, either. If we want to be “Christian” we have got to learn to be as serious about our enemy as David was about his. And we have to pray that God will do His worst to our enemy and any influence that enemy has over us.

Too harsh? I don’t think we can be where Satan and sin is concerned.

(Psalm 103) True Praise

“True praise comes from a grateful heart that sincerely wants to glorify and please the Lord.” (Be Exultant; Warren Wiersbe; David C Cook Publisher, 2004; p 55)

Psalm 103 is a psalm of praise. It’s not about show. Its’ not about what a worshiper likes about worship. And it’s not about having a worship experience. Its’ about God.

True praise has nothing to do with what a person does with his hands, or whether or not he’s smiling. True praise has everything to do with clean hearts, surrendered lives, a holy people unto the Lord.

Read Psalm 103. You won’t find one “I” in the whole thing.

I recently heard someone say it should be fun to praise God. I question the “should.” Do we worship to feel good? I don’t think that’s worship. Do we praise so that our hearts soar and we are blessed? I don’t think that’s praising God. Do we organize our time of praise so that it’s fun? If that’s our goal, if that has any part of why we praise, we’ve missed the boat entirely. We can get all that going to ballgame.

We may feel all those things: joy, blessing, hearts soaring as a result of true praise. Or we may feel convicted, sorrowful, humbled while praising God. But none of those things should drive our worship.

Our reason for praising God is because He is worthy of praise. Our reason for worshiping God is because He alone is worthy of our worship.

Maybe we need to spend more time worrying about the condition of the hearts of people than how people look and feel when they praise the Lord. Maybe we need to concentrate more on being a holy people, than having fun while we worship.

(Psalm 93) Adorning the Temple

Our God reigns! He sits on His eternal throne and has absolute rule over His creation. There may be powers that would destroy what God has so lovingly and purposefully made, but God is greater than the enemy of us all.

We can put our confidence in our Eternal King because all He has said is true and completely reliable. What an incredible gift is His Word in print. We can know Him, hear Him, recognize His hand in our lives by spending time in the Bible.

We have reason to praise and worship God!

I have shared that our church fellowship is in the middle of a building project. For years we have met in the basement of a commercial building, but we are hopefully going to move to the north end of this island and occupy a brand new building with classrooms and our own parking lot before the end of this year. God is doing amazing things in and through this journey.

Warren Wiersbe said something in regard to verse 5 of this Psalm in his “Be Exultant” study (David C Cook Publisher, 2004, page 32) that I think could be engraved into the foundation of our new building if the cement wasn’t already dried:

“It is a holy people that makes the temple holy, and ‘the beauty of holiness’ (29:2) is the greatest adornment for any structure dedicated to the Lord.”

We, of course, want our new structure to be pleasing to our Lord. We want what happens inside those walls to matter for eternity. We pray that it will be a tool God uses to reach the lost. But the psalmist (and Wiersbe) reminds me it’s not about the building.

It’s about holy people. Not busy people. Not even worshiping people, or a people with great outreach programs.

Holy people are what makes the temple beautiful in God’s eye; people who have repented of sin and obey God from clean hearts and minds. Holy people, not just good people.

My prayer is that as we worship and praise our Eternal King, whether in the basement or sitting inside a structure smelling of cut wood and new paint, we will each of us be that holy person who adorns the building. I pray that our focus won’t be on the new church or even in the worship and programs inside, but on God alone from clean hearts: a holy people unto the Lord.

If holy people are what makes the temple beautiful in God’s eye, may it be true in the “temple” which will be Frederica Baptist Church on Saint Simons Island. Starting with me.

(Psalm 84) Is Happiness Even Possible?

Who doesn’t want to be happy? The psalmist tells us where true happiness originates. He sets the stage in verse two:

“I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”

What is it you long for? Money? Success? Relationships? Self-awareness? Health? How is that working for you? The psalmist will tell us that those who long to know God, to walk with Him in a right relationship, those who are not satisfied with a casual relationship but desire all that God is, find their happiness in Him.

“How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually.” (verse 4)

Happiness comes from constant communication with God. Happiness comes from knowing God never leaves, never forsakes, and is continually blessing those who love Him. Happiness is found in praising God for who He is, what He has done in the past, what He will do in the future. And happiness comes most preciously when our focus is on God continually. When Paul and Silas praised God while chained to a prison wall, God showed up, didn’t he? He still shows up when we praise Him.

“Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on a pilgrimage.” (verse 5)

Verse 6 tells us that is true even when we are walking through times of sorrow and pain. The lies we believe about finding our own strength, about thinking we need to handle things on our own, that we are capable and powerful, contribute to the unhappiness so many people feel. Because the truth is, you aren’t strong enough all the time. And that’s ok. God is! The psalmist tells us if our hearts are set on the “pilgrimage” of knowing God and looking forward to heaven, if we surrender our wills to His, we will go “from strength to strength.” (verse 7). We can consider God our “shield” according to verse 9 as we look to Him.

“Happy is the person who trusts in you, Lord of Armies.” verse 12)

It doesn’t say happy is the person who is living a peaceful, successful, trouble-free life. In fact, the psalmist calls God the Lord of Armies because this is war! There will be trouble. There will be hardships and disappointments and illness and loss. There will be temptation and sin and consequences. But happy is the one who trusts in God, not in himself, not in science, not in religion, not in good deeds. Happy is the one who trusts in God. Period.

Jesus said, in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” (emphasis mine)

May you be truly happy today. It’s possible.