Monday, December 29, 2008


Proverbs 1:1-7 Time to make a Change


1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 For gaining wisdom and being instructed; for understanding insightful sayings;
3 for receiving wise instruction [in]righteousness, justice, and integrity;
4 for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced,knowledge and discretion to a young man—
5 a wise man will listen and increase his learning,and a discerning man will obtain guidance—
6 for understanding a proverb or a parable,the words of the wise, and their riddles.
7 The  fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;fools despise wisdom and instruction.

29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Solomon is the primary author. Agur, Lemuel and other unidentified wise men also contributed. But Solomon wrote most of the book. Like all of the Bible, each writer was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write each word. Thus, Proverbs is part of the inerrant

Word of God. Most of Proverbs was written in the 10th Century BC, though it was not totally completed until about three centuries later.

Wisdom" is the key word of the book, and basically means "skill in living". It also means "seeing things from God’s point of view".

The word "instruction" also appears often, and refers to the moral discipline one’s life.

"Understanding" also appears frequently and means the capability to distinguish between true and false, good and bad, what matters most and what does not matter at all.

"In the book of Proverbs 'wisdom' signifies skillful living—the ability to make wise choices and live successfully according to the moral standards of the covenant community. . . . (This) produces things of lasting value to God and to the community." Allen P. Ross, E.B.C. 5:905.

The entire book is designed to instruct believers on how to live life wisely and skillfully. It is particularly designed to disciple young people from infancy through about age 20. It is a great manual for Christian youth who want to learn early the principles and secrets necessary to live victoriously and successfully throughout life.

Proverbs is also excellent for parents and grandparents who want the information on raising successful children. Every Christian counsellor must be a student of the Proverbs. Every pastor must likewise feed upon the Proverbs.

One of my mentors told me many years ago that He read daily, among other Scriptures, five chapters in the Psalms and one chapter in the Proverbs. This enabled him to read the entire Books of Psalms and Proverbs each month, providing worship and wisdom to him in abundance.

Throughout this series we are going to be asking the question how would your life be different if you only had 30 days to live. What changes would u make.

The answer to that question will go beyond any New Years resolutions.

Every one of us must understand how brief our lives are.

2 fellows were walking through the bush back in the 60's. Giant tiger snake bit man on rear end. He fell to the ground. Feeling the effects of the venom, he said, Get a Doctor I’m dying.

His mate ran to town and found the Doctor. "my friends been bit.. you gotta come. On rear end.

"I can’t come I got all these patients right now. You can help friend yourself expose the spot, make a knife cut it deeper and suck venom out."

"Is that the only way?"  

"Yeah if you don’t do that he’s gonna die."

He runs back to his mate in the bush: "Where’s the doctor?"

"The Doctor said he couldn’t come and the Doctor said you gonna die!"

The truth is, every 60 seconds someone dies. Every one of us has a death date. Heb 9:27 You have a destiny with death.

You have a death moment, a death date.

I know when mine is. Death Clock . com. Questions: asks birth date and spits out a death date. December 22 2049 1, 300,3000,0000 seconds to live.

(Ecclesiastes 1:14) “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11) “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Pursuits Ecclesiastes 2:17) “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

People (Ecclesiastes 4:8) “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother…This too is meaningless.”

Possessions (Ecclesiastes 5:10) “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”

3 Priorities that Matters Most Prov 8:32 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. 33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. 34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. 35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. 36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

1. God matters.

Prov 8:13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech. 14 I possess good advice and competence;I have understanding and strength.

22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; 31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

Prov 1:7; Prov 9:10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

A. A matter of conviction. 1:7b What sort of time do you put into seeking to know the Lord?

B. A matter of concern. Prov 2:1-5. My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; 3 furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.

When you stand before Him you are going to think that.

You will think Maybe I should have made that a bit more o f a priority on my life.

Few things as important as making God a n important part of your life.

It brings joy to my life to know Him. (Philippians 3:7-8) “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Rubbish.. = dung… KJV.

C. A matter of choice. Prov 1:29. Because they hated knowledge, didn’t choose to fear the Lord

James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, was being interviewed for British documentary three years ago. He said he saw no reason why "stupidity" could not some day be corrected by gene therapy just as other "disorders" are now being cured. "If you're really stupid, I would call that a disease. I'd like to get rid of [stupidity]." Unfortunately, this gene therapy isn't ready yet

People continue to make stupid decisions about their relationship with God.

They continue to put it off.

(Luke 12:20-21) “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

A whole lot of people will discover that the religious stuff is not a substitute for truly knowing Him.

A fool to put your life into a whole lot of things that won’t matter in the end.

What you worked for didn’t come with you.

Before I die I’m gonna put all my money put it in a briefcase and take it with me.

So on the way up I can take it with me. When he died she went upstairs and the briefcase was still there. “I knew he should have put in the basement!”

(1 John 2:17) “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

2. People matter.

The book of Proverbs is a book about relationships. Its about how to get on with people. But there are some people it says to avoid. It particularly deals with three groups od people; the naïve, the scoffers and the fools.

Prov 1: 22 “How long, foolish ones, will you love ignorance? [How long]will [you] mockers enjoy mocking and [you]fools hate knowledge?

THE COMPANIONSHIP WITH FOOLS IS TO BE AVOIDED - Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Proverbs 1:10ff even gives a particular illustration of the danger of running with foolish friends. "My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, ‘come along with us…let’s waylay some harmless soul;…we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse’ - my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths…These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it." Do you get that? Foolish people can give you a lot of compelling reasons why it’s smart to do stupid things; and if you hang around with them enough, you’ll believe them. I always get concerned when I see young people who have grown up in the church getting into groups that are doing foolish things - because I know they are already in trouble. Remember, "a companion of fools suffers harm."

THE CONVERSATION WITH FOOLS IS TO BE ASSESSED- Proverbs 26:4, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly; or you will be like him yourself." This is to be distinguished from running with a foolish crowd. This verse actually pictures disputing or arguing with fools. It’s tempting. It may seem wise to debate with foolish people. But the Bible indicates that it only brings you down to a fool’s level. Foolish ideas don’t even deserve the time it takes to give them a hearing, so if I make it a habit of wasting valuable time arguing with foolish people I become foolish myself.

THE COMMENDATION OF FOOLS IS TO BE IGNORED- Proverbs 26:8, "Like tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honour to a fool." What happens when you tie a stone onto a sling? It won’t go anywhere! Honouring a fool makes the one doing the commending as foolish as the one honoured. You watch these awards shows and they are honoring some musician or actor who stumbles up to the stage drunk or stoned on drugs, or some lady who forgot to dress that night - who is known for an adulterous lifestyle as much as she’s known for her talent - and if you’ve got any sense at all, you can see from such a scene how foolish it is to commend fools.

THE FOOL DISPLAYS CONCEIT - He thinks he’s right even when he’s clearly wrong. Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of a fool seems right to him; but a wise man listens to advice." A foolish person never seems to learn from others or even from his own mistakes. He’s always right and everyone else is wrong. He’s never the problem; someone else always is.

THE FOOL DISPLAYS CLOSE-MINDEDNESS - He despises wisdom, instruction, and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 says, "…fools despise wisdom and discipline." In fact, Proverbs 15:5 says he even despises his own father’s instruction. He has a closed mind. Don’t bother him with the facts; he already has his mind made up without them.

THE FOOL DISPLAYS COMPLACENCY - Proverbs 1:32 says, "…the complacency of fools will destroy them…" To a foolish person, nothing is so important that one needs convictions about it. He won’t stand for anything.

THE FOOL DISPLAYS CONTEMPTUOUSNESS - Proverbs 14:9, "Fools mock at making amends for sin…" Proverbs 19:3 says, "a man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord."

What it all boils down to is that a person characterized by habitual foolishness is a fool. Now all of us do foolish things at times, but a fool school student does little but foolish things. Proverbs 26:11 says, "As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." He gets his pleasure from foolish things. Proverbs 15:21 says, "Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course."

But on the other hand, the book of Proverbs is a book for the family. It’s a book for fathers and grandfathers to teach their children.

Prov 2:1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; …. 5 then you will understand the  fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.

We know it,, but we still treat people badly.

Recorded messages from 9/11.. hundred s of voice mails, I am sorry we fought before I went to work.. I have 10 minutes to live and I am so sorry. Not one wanted to continue a fight.

(Galatians 5:13-15) “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

If you had one more opportunity what would you say? Why don’t you say it now?

It matters so much that it says:

(Matthew 25:35) “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Small groups… so necessary in your life.

(Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT) “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

3. Eternity matters.

If you think this is all there is? I am sorry for you, for this life is not so great!

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Problems theory. You don’t ever fix them they never go away. You always have a problem. If you solve one another pops up!.

Isn’t that encouraging a pastor who says you can’t solve them, since they don’t go away or soon as you solve one, another pops up you need something bigger than the problems.

Here is what he says. Look at what’s unseen!

What do you have with a person who doesn’t need this life to work out? He is happy all the time. Eternity matters. Life isn’t about your stuff here on earth!

(Luke 12:15) “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

It’s the daily temptation of every one of us.

If you want to be very smart.. then take Jesus’ advice.

(Matthew 6:19-21) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Psalm 90:12) “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Police arrested James Newsome, 37, and charged him with taking money at gunpoint from a local Corner store. The robber was easily identified from the surveillance tape.

Plus, the coat worn by the robber was found in Newsome's car.

Also, Newsome's wife said the family car had a radiator leak, and a puddle of antifreeze was found beside the store where the robber parked. Finally, the robber wore a hard hat with the name "James Newsome" printed on it.

Acting legend John Wayne is reported to have said: "Life is tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid."


Proverbs 11 Leave a Legacy


If you would look up the word "DRIVE" in a Dictionary, you would find that it says "to guide, to control, or to direct."

When you drive a car, you guide, control, and direct it down the street.

When you drive a nail, you drive, control, and direct it into the wood.

When you drive a golf ball – hopefully – you drive, control, and direct it down the fairway.

Every life is driven by something. Every human being is driven by something.

Some people are driven by guilt. Some people are driven by worry or fear.

Some people are driven by insecurity. Some people are driven by anger.

Some people are driven all through life by resentment.

Some people are driven by their past and they spend their whole lives reliving or running from their past.

Why am I alive? is not exactly a new question. People have been asking it for thousands of years. In fact, the prophet, Jeremiah, asked it in Jeremiah 20:18, “Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow, to end my life in disgrace?” There’ve probably been times in our lives when we’ve felt that way, too, right? Was I born just to have a bunch of problems? Was I put on this planet just to have heartache, grief and stress? Arthur Ashley Brilliant said, “my life has a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.” Jack Hanley wrote, “I hope life isn’t a joke, because I don’t get it.”

A guy name Dr. Hugh Moorhead, who is the Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Northeastern University, once wrote to 250 well-known philosophers, scientists, writers and intellectuals and asked them, “What is the purpose of Life? Then he published all their responses in a book, which is quite discouraging and depressing. Some of these people offered their best guesses. Some admitted they made up a purpose for life. Some admitted they didn’t have any idea what the purpose of life was, and if Dr. Moorhead knew, would he please let them know. Carl Jung, the famous disciple of Sigmund Freud said, “I don’t know the meaning, the purpose of life, but it looks as if something were meant by it.” Isaac Asimov wrote, “As far as I can see, there is no purpose.” Joseph Taylor, gave his answer in his own book, titled, “I Have No Answers To The Meaning of Life and I No Longer Want to Search For Any.”

Does my life matter? Isaiah asked this question in Isaiah 49:4a. He said, “My work all seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and for no purpose at all.” (Isaiah 49:4a (NLT) We were made for meaning, and if we don’t have a meaning and purpose in our lives, and we don’t know why God put us on this planet, life doesn’t make sense.

During World War II, there were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp in Hungary that were processing human sewage in a factory. The allies came along, bombed the factory and blew it apart, so the prisoners had nothing to do. The Nazi soldiers had the prisoners take all the rubble of the factory and move it to another field. The next day, they had them take the same rubble and move it back in reverse. The next day, they had to take the stuff and move it back. Day after day they had no meaning, and no purpose. Something strange began to happen. The prisoners began to go crazy. They lost their will to live because there was no meaning, no purpose to their work. They were just moving bricks back and forth, back and forth. Many of them began to throw themselves in front of the guards trying to get shot. In essence, they were trying to commit suicide. They did it because you and I were made for meaning.

God says, “I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.” Isa. 44:2 (CEV) God was caring for us even in His mind as He thought us up! The next verse says “You (talking about God)… scheduled each day of my life before I began to breath. Every day was recorded in your book.” “His plans endure forever; His purposes last eternally.” Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. 12 Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord— the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

(Psalm 112:6) “…A righteous man will be remembered forever.”

1. Live with integrity.

Proverbs 11:1  Dishonest scales are detestable to the Lord, but an accurate weight is His delight.
2 When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them (Proverbs 22:1) “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

30 Most Admired Men List. Only one person 30 years on list .. Billy Graham. Lived a life that was true. Words and actions match up. Keep their word.

(Proverbs 25:14) “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.”

Things you’ve said and not followed up on. We are going to need help!

(Psalm 101:2 LB) “I will try to walk a blameless path, but how I need Your help, especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should.”

Success isn’t impressing the people who don’t know me very well, but those who know me best.

Prov 19:1 1 Better a poor man who walks in integrity than someone who has deceitful lips and is a fool.

Verse 1 says it this way, "Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool." It is better to be poor and honest than wealthy and dishonest. The very cornerstone for your business philosophy is integrity... honesty.

Today the Department of Agriculture employs experts who check the weights and scales used in the food industry. In the ancient world there were no such standards. A fulcrum-like scale was used, with weights hung on one end and the product on the other. If a grain merchant used an undersized weight to measure your purchase, you would buy less than you paid for.

Proverbs 11:1 speaks to every business situation today. A lawyer can misuse legal standards without the knowledge of his uninformed client. A physician can overcharge her patient’s insurance company. A pastor can steal sermons and preach them as his own, or make false statements regarding the biblical text. Where are you tempted by undetected dishonesty today?

The Lord finds “delight” in honest character. Is the Lord delighted in you? Honesty is the ONLY policy.

Matthew Henry, the great Bible scholar, was once attacked by thieves and robbed of his wallet. He wrote these words in his diary: "Let me be thankful. First, I was never robbed before. Second, although they took my wallet, they didn't take my life. Third, although they took all I had, it was not much. Fourth, let me be thankful that it was I who was robbed and not I who did the robbing."

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (11:3). “Integrity” translates a Hebrew word for innocence. The English word is associated with integer, a whole or undivided number. To have “integrity” is to be undivided, to have one purpose. Such commitment keeps us innocent of wrongdoing. By contrast, “duplicity” translates a Hebrew word that means to cover deceitfully. We cannot serve two masters equally well (see Matt. 6:24). If we are one person at church and another at work, we lack “integrity” of heart and will be destroyed by our “duplicity.” If we are one way in public and another in private, we cannot live with joy and peace. We must choose one Master and serve him always, or we cannot have his blessing and purpose. Would Jesus say that you are fully his?

2. Serve with intensity.

Proverbs 17:24 (The Good News Version) "An intelligent person aims at wise actions, but a fool starts off in many directions." Wisdom is the focus of the perceptive, but a fool’s eyes roam to the ends of the earth.

William Borden (1887-1913), heir to the Borden dairy fortune, turned his back on riches to travel overseas as a missionary. He never reached his assigned field, dying of meningitis during the voyage. Papers the world over carried the tragic story of a life some called unfulfilled. But his friends knew better. They pointed to his life motto, scrawled inside his Bible: “No reserve. No retreat. No regrets.” Many who heard his story responded with their own commitment to missions, and God’s kingdom advanced. Jim Elliott (1927-1956), the famous missionary martyr, left in his journal this oft-quoted proverb: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” His wisdom has inspired generations to complete surrender to Christ.

Prov 11: 5 The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.

(Proverbs 14:21 GN) ““You will earn the trust and respect of others if you work for good.”

The one who despises his neighbor sins, but whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy

(Mark 9:34-35) “…on the way (the disciples) had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’”

People who made a difference in your life. Max knight, Dick McLellan, so many people that mae a difference.

(Colossians 3:23) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

I’m gonna love you by loving other people.

A - Accept responsibility for my life.

Galatians 6:5 “Each person must be responsible for himself.”

There are accusers. They always blame everybody else for their problems. Their favorite phrase is, "It's all your fault." It's never my fault. It's someone else’s fault.

There are the excusers. Excusers are people that always have an excuse for not making a decision or doing something. There's always a reason why they can’t make the most or get the most out of their year. In the long run they end up being the losers. I've discovered that whenever I want to procrastinate on something, any excuse will do. The Bible says, "A lazy man is full of excuses."

There are the choosers, they say, “I choose to accept responsibility for my own life, goals and happiness. I'm not dependent upon somebody else. I choose the direction of my life.” I'm not depending upon the crowd.

B - Believe I can change

Stop saying, "I can't" and start saying, "I can". The person that believes that they can change with the help of God will change.

Philippians 4:13 (Jerusalem Bible) “There is nothing I cannot master with the help of Christ who gives me strength.”

God called a man named Moses: “I want to use you to save a nation.” Moses said, “Me? I got kicked out of Egypt because I killed a guy. I'm a murderer. Now I'm out here feeding sheep. And on top of that, I stutter! I'm slow of speech. You want me to be the spokesman for a nation?” God said, "Yes. I'm going to use you."

God another man named Gideon, when the nation of Israel was over run by the enemy: “I'm going to use you, Gideon, to save the country.” Gideon said, “Me? I am the youngest kid in the poorest family in the smallest tribe in the nation.” God said, “Yes. I'm going to use you.”

God can use me and God can use you. The good news is God wants to use you. First you must accept responsibility for your own life. And second you must believe you can change, that God can give you the power to change if you'll trust Him.

C - Clarify what I really want

(John 6:27) “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”

D - Don't wait to begin

Ecclesiastes 11:4 “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

3. Give with generosity.

Prov 11:17 A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings disaster on himself.[18

(Psalm 112:9) “They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.”

Andrew Carnegie. After death found a hand written mission statement. 1st half of life making as much money as I can and second half giving it away. Gave 450 million dollars away. But how do you know when half way is?

(Proverbs 11:25) “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Jn 3;16 at deepest part of His heart He is generous.

(Proverbs 3:27) “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow’ — when you now have it with you.”

One tangible result of inner character and obedience is outward generosity to those in need. It is impossible for you to love me and hate my sons. It is equally impossible for me to love the Father in heaven and hate the Father’s children on earth. Giving to others is one indication of a heart given to the Lord.

Verse 23: The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

“Desire” translates a Hebrew word for longing or even greed. It points to the passion or single focus of the “righteous,” those who are right with God, others, and themselves. Such people’s desires end “only in good,” whether on earth or also in heaven. However, the “hope” or expectation of the wicked ends “only in wrath,” whether on earth or also in heaven.

Verse 24 explains one reason why: One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

To give “freely” is to give without boundary or expectation of reward. It would seem that such generosity would cost the giver, when in fact she “gains even more” on earth or also in heaven. Another “withholds unduly,” refusing to give when he should, rejecting worthy needs and opportunities. He would seem to have more as a result, but he “comes to poverty” on earth or also in heaven. In this way the “righteous” end in “good” while the “wicked” end in “wrath.”

Verse 25 amplifies God’s promise to the obedient: A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

“A generous man will prosper” is translated literally, the soul of blessing will be made fat. “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” translates the Hebrew, he watering will also drink fully. Once again the opposite of conventional wisdom is true: the more we give the more we have, on earth or also in heaven.

Verse 28 summarizes this part of our study: Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. A “green leaf” in that arid part of the world pointed to a water source of abundant and constant provision. We think of Psalm 1:3: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” When we are right with God, others, and ourselves, we are in position to receive all that God’s grace intends to give. He prospers his people according to his glory and their good, on earth or also in heaven.

4. Succeed with humility.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). Note that pride is a guaranteed temptation: “when,” not if is the word used. The first temptation in the Garden of Eden was to be “like God” (Genesis 3:5). Such is still the perennial test today. We think that pride leads to success and status, but the opposite is true. With pride “comes disgrace”—not always today, or even in this life, but always in eternal reward or loss.

By contrast, “with humility comes wisdom.” Biblical humility is not thinking less of yourself than you should. It is not thinking of yourself at all. It is seeking God’s glory above your own, the advancement of others before yours, choosing to serve always. To see whether you’re such a servant, watch how you react when others treat you like one.

Humility is essential to wisdom, because God cannot give what we will not receive. No doctor can help a patient who refuses her care. The Lord cannot do for us what we try to do for ourselves. To admit our need of God is essential to experiencing his power (see Matthew 5:3). That’s why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). When last did you give your problems and plans to his Lordship?

(Proverbs 29:23 GN) “Arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.”

A person’s pride will humble him, but a humble spirit will gain honor.

A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

(Proverbs 15:33 LB) “Humility and reverence for the Lord will make you both wise and honored.”

KJV The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

33 The fear of the Lord is wisdom’s instruction, and humility comes before honor.

5. Share Christ with urgency.

Prov 11:30 he who wins souls is wise.

(Proverbs 13:14) A wise man’s instruction is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.

(Luke 12:16-21) “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

I turn to my edition of John Wesley’s Journal, and at the end I find a tribute like this:

“The great purpose of his life was doing good. For this he relinquished all honor and preferment; to this he dedicated all his powers of body and mind; at all times and in all places, in season and out of season, by gentleness, by terror, by argument, by persuasion, by reason, by interest, by every motive and every inducement, he strove, with unwearied assiduity, to turn people from the error of their ways and awaken them to virtue and religion. To the bed of sickness or the couch of prosperity; to the prison or the hospital; to the house of mourning or the house of feasting, wherever there was a friend to serve or a soul to save, he readily repaired. He thought no office too humiliating, no condescension too low, no undertaking too arduous, to reclaim the meanest of God’s offspring. The souls of all people were equally precious in his sight and the value of an immortal creature beyond all estimation.”

Our Prayer (Psalm 90:12) “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

30 Days to Live

(Hebrews 9:27) “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

(Psalm 39:4-5 NLT) “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath.”

Leave a Legacy

(Psalm 112:6) “…A righteous man will be remembered forever.”

1. Live with integrity.

(Proverbs 22:1) “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

(Proverbs 25:14) “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.”

(Psalm 101:2 LB) “I will try to walk a blameless path, but how I need Your help, especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should.”

2. Serve with intensity.

(Proverbs 14:21 GN) ““You will earn the trust and respect of others if you work for good.”

(Mark 9:34-35) “…on the way (the disciples) had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’”

(Colossians 3:23) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

(John 6:27) “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”

3. Give with generosity.

(Psalm 112:9) “They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.”

(Proverbs 11:25) “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

(Proverbs 3:27) “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow’ — when you now have it with you.”

4. Succeed with humility.

(Proverbs 29:23 GN) “Arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.”

(Proverbs 15:33 LB) “Humility and reverence for the Lord will make you both wise and honored.”

5. Share Christ with urgency.

(Luke 12:16-21) “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Our Prayer

(Psalm 90:12) “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Friday, December 26, 2008


John 1:14-17 The Glorious Fullness of Christ is Available Always to All


14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

ESV John 1:16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος·

The event of history was that God came amongst us.

John 1:14.

We have seen His glory. We perceived it. And having seen His glory we saw something wonderful.

We have seen more than just His flesh a man, we have seen His glory as the Son of the Father.

Not just a son but The unique Son, not just a father but THE Father.

The Glory of Moses. The Glory of the giving of the Law. But there was an emptiness there.

An Emptiness in Regulations

Could just this bear 10 laws really regulate life? What about the hypocritical heart?

It was fulfilled in Him who was the Truth.

An emptiness in Ritual

Could the blood of bulls and sheep take away our sins?

Could there really be forgiveness?

An Emptiness in Religion

Could there be something more.. something fulfilling like love?

I tried the broken cisterns Lord

Eccles. 3:11 says “God has set eternity in the hearts of men”. St Augustine famously said “You have made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it rest in Thee”. David in Psalm 27:8 has this “My heart says of you, Seek his face. Your face O Lord I will seek.” Our innermost being longs for a relationship with our maker. Do we hear that heartbeat, do we respond to it – many today suppress that longing and they are missing out on the fullness of what God intended for us.

There is a longing for something real in every human heart.

Moses expressed that longing.

Exodus 33:13 Now if I have indeed found favor in Your sight, please teach me Your ways, and I will know You and find favor in Your sight. Now consider that this nation is Your people.” 14 Then He replied, “My presence will go [with you], and I will give you rest.” 15 “If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here. 16 How will it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight unless You go with us? I and Your people will be distinguished [by this]from all the other people on the face of the earth.” 17 The Lord answered Moses, “I will do this very thing you have asked, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Then Moses said, “Please, let me see Your glory.” 19 He said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name • Yahweh before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

But Exodus 34 5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. 8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. 9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

But for you and i? could we expect God to reveal Himself tyo us like He revealed Himself to Moses? Are we all to be stunted spiritually because we have not had what Moses had?

John Piper says this in Desiring God – “In the end the heart longs not for any of God’s good gifts, but for God himself. To see him and know him and be in his presence is the soul’s final feast. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight. But these are weak pointers to the unspeakable experience.” This is what we are going to look at in these Sunday mornings together. We want to be in a position where we can echo the Psalmist who said: “As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, my soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps.42:1-2), or who can say “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” (Ps.27:4)

Christmas.. yes it is about giving and receiving. And there is a tremendous gift to be received.

‘And of His fulness have all we received.’ The ‘fulness’ here seems to mean that of which the Incarnate Word was full, the ‘grace and truth’ which dwelt without measure in Him;

‘In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete in Him.’

We beheld His glory.’ To behold is much, but to possess is more. It is much to say that Christ comes to manifest God, but that is a poor, starved account of the purpose of His coming, if that is all you have to say. He comes to manifest Him. Yes! but He comes to communicate Him, not merely to dazzle us with a vision, not merely to show us Him as from afar, not merely to make Him known to understanding or to heart; but to bestow — in no mere metaphor, but in simple, literal fact — the absolute possession of the divine nature. ‘We beheld His glory’ is a reminiscence that thrills the Evangelist, though half a century has passed since the vision gleamed upon his eyes; but ‘of His fulness have all we received’ is infinitely and unspeakably more. This is the very centre and heart of Christianity, that in Him who is Christianity God is not merely made known, but given; not merely beheld, but possessed.

I tried the broken cisterns Lord but ah the waters failed, and as I stooped to drink they fled and mocked me as I wailed – now none but Christ can satisfy, none other is for me, there’s love and life and lasting joy Lord Jesus found in thee.

Our supreme need is of something or of someone, that can satisfy our deepest longings. Nature never creates instincts it cannot satisfy, and God never awakens spiritual aspirations in us that He cannot and will not fulfil. ' He satisfieth the desire of every living thing.' Carlyle once said to Professor Tyndall, 'There is something in man that your science cannot satisfy.' That 'something' is the hunger and thirst of the soul. Science is good; art is good; culture is good; money is good; health is good; but none of these, nor all of these can satisfy our deepest nature. '

1. The Glorious Fullness of Christ is Available It is Grace and truth!

When Czar Nicholas I reigned in Russia, a good friend asked the Czar to provide a job for his son. The czar appointed his friend’s son as the paymaster for a section of the Russian Army. But the young man gambled away all the money entrusted to him. The word came that auditors were going to examine his

accounts and he was terrified. He calculated the amount he owed and realized it was a far greater debt than he could ever pay. He decided to take his weapon and commit suicide at midnight.

Before going to bed, he wrote out a full confession, listing all he had stolen, with these words underneath: “A great debt. Who can pay?”

But, because he was exhausted, he fell asleep. Late that night, the czar made a surprise visit to the barracks of this young man. He found him asleep, and the letter of confession next to him. He instantly understood what had happened. He paused for just a moment, and then wrote one word on the suicide note of the young man, and left.

Eventually, the young man woke up and realized it was past midnight. He took the gun in his hand and prepared to kill himself when he noticed that someone had written on his suicide note.

Under the words, “A great debt. Who can pay?” he saw just one word: “Nicholas.” Only Nicholas could pay, and only Nicholas did pay.

My friend, only Jesus could pay my debt to God. That alone explains why the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. He pitched His tent with us for 33 years so He might pay the debt every one of us owes God.

On his fullness we all have drawn. The word that John uses for fullness is a great word; it is pleroma and it means the sum total of all that is in God. It is a word which Paul uses often. In Col 1:19 he says that all pleroma dwelt in Christ. In Col 2:9 he says in Christ there dwelt the pleroma of deity in a bodily form. He meant that in Jesus there dwelt the totality of the wisdom, the power, the love of God. Just because of that Jesus is inexhaustible. A man can go to Jesus with any need and find that need supplied. A man can go to Jesus with any ideal and find that ideal realized. In Jesus the man in love with beauty will find the supreme beauty. In Jesus the man to whom life is the search for knowledge will find the supreme revelation. In Jesus the man who needs courage will find the pattern and the secret of being brave. In Jesus the man who feels that he cannot cope with life will find the Master of life and the power to live. In Jesus the man who is conscious of his sin will find the forgiveness for his sin and the strength to be good. In Jesus the pleroma the fullness of God, all that is in God, what Westcott called "the spring of divine life," becomes available to men.

What do we receive? Christ is more than all His gifts. All His gifts are treasured up in Him and inseparable from Him. We get Jesus Christ Himself. The blessings that we receive may be stated in many different ways. You may say we get pardon, purity, hope, joy, the prospect of Heaven, power for service; all these and a hundred more designations by which we might describe the one gift. All these are but the consequences of our having got the Christ within our hearts. He does not give pardon and the rest, as a king might give pardon and honours, a thousand miles off, bestowing it by a mere word, upon some criminal, but He gives all that He gives because He gives Himself. The real possession that we receive is ‘neither more nor less than a loving Saviour, to enter our spirits and abide there, and be the spirit of our spirits, and the life of our living.

Every Christian man, the weakest, the lowliest, the most uncultured, rude, ignorant, foolish, the most besotted in the past, who has wandered furthest away from the Master; whose spirit has been most destitute of all sparks of goodness and of God — receives from out of His fulness. ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.’ And every one of us, if we will, may have dwelling in our hearts, in .the greatness of His strength, in the sweetness of His love, in the clearness of His illuminating wisdom, the Incarnate Word, the Comforter, the All-inall whom ‘we all receive.’


And from Him there pours out a stream copious enough to supply all the necessities of every human soul that lives to-day, of every human soul that has lived in the past, of every one that shall live in the future. There is no limit to the universality except only the limit of the human will: ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’

He is able to replenish all their emptiness with His fulness, and to satisfy all their thirst with His sufficiency. Dear brother! you have a great gaping void in your heart — an aching emptiness there, which you know better than I can tell you. Look to Him who can fill it and it shall be filled. He can supply all your wants as He can supply all the wants of every soul of man. And after generations have drawn from Him, the water will not have sunk one hairsbreadth in the great fountain, but there will be enough for all coming eternities as there has been enough for all past times. He is like His own miracle — the thousands are gathered on the grass, they do ‘all eat and are filled.’ So ‘of His fulness have all we received’; and after a universe has drawn from it, for an Eternity, the fulness is not turned into scantiness or emptiness.

2. The Glorious Fullness of Christ is Available Always

From him we have received grace upon grace. Literally the Greek means grace instead of grace. What does that strange phrase mean?

It may mean that in Christ we have found one wonder leading to another. One of the old missionaries came to one of the ancient Pictish kings. The king asked him what he might expect if he became a Christian. The missionary answered: "You will find wonder upon wonder and every one of them true." Sometimes when we travel a very lovely road, vista after vista opens to us. At every view we think that nothing could be lovelier, and then we turn another corner and an even greater loveliness opens before us. When a man enters on the study of some great subject, like music or poetry or art, he never gets to the end of it. Always there are fresh experiences of beauty waiting for him. It is so with Christ. The more we know of him, the more wonderful he becomes. The longer we live with him, the more loveliness we discover. The more we think about him and with him, the wider the horizon of truth becomes. This phrase may be John's way of expressing the limitlessness of Christ. It may be his way of saying that the man who companies with Christ will find new wonders dawning upon his soul and enlightening his mind and enchaining his heart every day.

The following is a little-known Christmas hymn of Charles Wesley.

Let earth and heaven combine, Angels and men agree,

To praise in songs divine The incarnate Deity,

Our God contracted to a span, Incomprehensibly made man.

He laid his glory by, He wrapped him in our clay;

Unmarked by human eye, The latent Godhead lay;

Infant of days he here became, And bore the mild Immanuel’s name.

Unsearchable the love That has the Savior brought;

The grace is far above Or men or angels’ thought:

Suffice for us that God, we know, Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh to appear, Widest extremes to join;

To bring our vileness near, And make us all divine:

And we the life of God shall know, For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love, And sanctified by grace,

We shall from earth remove, And see his glorious face:

His love shall then be fully showed, And we shall all be lost in God.

‘Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.’ The word ‘for’ is a little singular. Of course it means instead of, in exchange for; and the Evangelist’s idea seems to be that as one supply of grace is given and used, it is, as it were, given back to the Bestower, who substitutes for it a fresh and unused vessel, filled with new grace. He might have said, grace upon grace; one supply being piled upon the other. But his notion is, rather, one supply given in substitution for the other,

We have here the continuous communication of grace. God is always pouring Himself out upon us in Christ. How many Christian men there are whose Christian lives at the best are like some of those Australian rivers; in the dry season, a pond here, a stretch of sand, waterless and barren there, then another place with a drop of muddy water in some hollow, and then another stretch of sand, and so on. Why should not the ponds be linked together by a flashing stream? God is always pouring Himself out; why do we not always take Him in?

A fullness of Grace has been given to you.

There is but one answer, and the answer is, that we do not fulfil the condition, which condition is simple faith. ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God; even to them that believed on His name.’ Faith is the condition of receiving, and wherever there is a continuous trust there will be an unbroken grace; and wherever there are interrupted gifts it is because there has been an intermitted trust in Him.

Make your faith continuous, and God will make His grace incessant, and out of His fulness you will draw continual supplies of needed strength. But not only have we here the notion of continuous, but also, as it seems to me, of progressive gifts. Each measure of Christ received, if we use it aright, makes us capable of possessing more of Christ.

Each measure and stage of grace utilised and honestly employed will make us capable and desirous, and, therefore, possessors, of more and more of the grace that He gives. So the ideal of the Christian life, and God’s intention concerning us, is not only that we should have an uninterrupted, but a growing possession, of Christ and of His grace.

Is that the case with you, my friend? Can you hold more of God than you could twenty years ago? Is there any more capacity in your soul for more of Christ than there was long, long ago?

Only remember the condition of having Him is trusting to His name and longing for His presence. ‘If any man open the door I will come in.’ We have Him if we trust Him. That trust is no mere passive reception,

3. The Glorious Fullness of Christ is Available To All

But the ‘receive’ of our text might be as truly rendered ‘take.’ Faith is an active taking, not a passive receiving. We must ‘lay hold on eternal life.’ Faith is the hand that grasps the offered gift, the mouth that feeds upon the bread of God, the voice that says to Christ, ‘Come in, Thou blessed of the Lord; why standest Thou without?’ Such a faith alone brings us into vital connection with Jesus.

In every human heart there is a cry for God, a sigh for that which will satisfy. During a serious illness which Rudyard Kipling passed through some years ago, his nurse noticed at the critical period of his sickness that the great author's lips were moving. Bending over him, thinking that he wanted to say something, she heard him pray—
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And, if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Realizing that he did not just then require her services, she apologized, saying, 'I beg your pardon, Mr. Kip­ling, I thought you wanted something.' 'So I do,' he faintly answered, 'I want my heavenly Father.' This is the need that Jesus supplies.
If I am hungry for love, a house will not satisfy my longing, however luxuriously it may be furnished. And, if my soul panteth for God as the hart panteth for the water brook, success in life will not satisfy me, whatever that success may be. ' Christ in you' is the only experience that can satisfy fully and permanently the hunger of the soul. The hymn writer has voiced the life history of millions, when he writes— I tried the broken cisterns. Lord, But, ah ! the waters failed, E'en as I stooped to drink they fled, And mocked me as I wailed.
Art thou satisfied ? Shortly before Shelley the poet died, he had a curious dream. He dreamt he saw his spectral self coming towards his conscious self. As the gruesome figure drew near, it raised the hood from its head and inquired of him 'Art thou satisfied?' At some time or other that vision will come to us all, and ask, ' Art thou satisfied?' There are men and women here among us who have been highly and legitimately successful in their respective spheres of life—' Art thou satisfied?' There are others on whose life, habit has riveted itself, and held them in an awful bondage—. Art thou satisfied?' There are others, a great host, whose domestic conditions provide all the earthly love and comfort that heart could desire—but 'Art thou satisfied?'
Whether the conditions of our life are favourable or unfavourable, we shall all come at one time or other to feel as Kipling felt, 'I want my heavenly Father.' To such Jesus says, 'He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,' and 'he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.'

A. When You Receive Jesus You Receive His Fulness

B. When You Receive Jesus You Receive Grace

C. When You Receive Jesus You Receive Truth

Monday, December 22, 2008


Philemon 3 Develop Positive Relationships By Getting Past Resentment


Philemon 8  For this reason, although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, 9 I appeal, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, 10  appeal to you for my child, whom I fathered while in chains—Onesimus. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful to both you and me. 12 I am sending him—a part of myself—back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that in my imprisonment for the gospel he might serve me in your place. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps this is why he was separated [from you]for a brief time, so that you might get him back permanently, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave—as a dearly loved brother. This is especially so to me, but even more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.17 So if you consider me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, may I have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 But meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, and so do 24 Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Paul's letter to Philemon is rich in advice on the practical “how to’s” of developing and maintaining positive relationships with others. So far we've examined the importance of affirmation.

"Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you . . . I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, . . . who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me" (vv. 8-11).

Paul knows this fact, and he is intent on helping Philemon understand his genuine desire for peace in this strained relationship. He wants Philemon to know that life doesn't have to be filled with anger and resentment toward others. Forgiving others of their faults is essential for healthy relationships. Nobody wins when we hold grudges. Everybody wins when we love and forgive.

The problem with most strained relationships is that people forget this fact. We forget that relating positively with others means keeping everyone's interest in mind--playing win-win in all of our dealings with others. One-sided relationships don't work. Mutually beneficial ones do.

Let's take a closer look at some of the many different ways of relating, many of which are unprofitable and damaging to everyone.

Competition: A Win-Lose Proposition

Some relationships are built on competition. This type of relationship has been popularly called a win-lose relationship. That is, some will stay in a relationship only where they always win and the other person loses.

Queen Jezebel of Israel tried to play this way. Her husband, Ahab, wanted a vineyard that was neither ethical nor legal for him to own. When Naboth, the owner, refused to sell, Jezebel lied and murdered to get it for Ahab. Naboth lost. He paid for the defense of his family's inheritance with his life. But Jezebel and Ahab lost, also. For their unconscionable actions, God promised and delivered their violent deaths.

Why won't relationships based on such heavy-handedness work in the long run? Everyone involved eventually ends up losing.

A husband and wife were driving down a country lane on their way to visit some friends.  They came to a muddy patch in the road and the car became bogged.  After a few minutes of trying to get the car out by themselves, they saw a young farmer coming down the lane, driving a tractor.  He stopped when he saw the couple in trouble and offered to pull the car out of the mud for $50.
      The couple accepted and minutes later the car was free.  The farmer turned to the husband and said, "You know, you're the tenth car I've helped out of the mud today."  The husband looks around at the fields incredulously and asks the farmer, "When do you have time to plow your land?  At night?"
      "No," the young  farmer replied seriously, "Night is when I put the water in the hole."
      There are some people who are always available to help solve problems, and there are others who spend their time making life more difficult for others (and sometimes the same person can do both!).  The New Testament is filled with warnings, though, about being a "stumbling block" to others, especially to children and young Christians.
      "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of offenses!  For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!" (Matthew 18:6-7)

Compromise: A Lose-Win Proposition

Some relationships are built on compromise. This type of connection could be referred to as a lose-win relationship.

Dr. David Seamands writes about such a person:

Ben was one of the most timid souls I have ever counseled. I couldn't even hear him. "What did you say, Ben?". . . He was so afraid to be a burden to people. It could make a person uncomfortable to be around him. You might look to see if he was wearing a sandwich board that read, "Excuse me for living."

Have you ever heard of the "Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls"? When you make an acrostic of its first letters, you have "Doormats." The Doormats have an official insignia--a yellow caution light. Their official motto is: "The meek shall inherit the earth, if that's OK with everybody!" . . .

Well, Ben could have been a charter member of the Doormats.

Complacency: A Lose-Lose Proposition

Other relationships are built on complacency. These are sometimes referred to as lose-lose relationships.

Living to be productive and happy is a struggle--full of tests, obstacles, and sacrifices. Those who have chosen junk standards, who have chosen not to be industrious, constructive, or honest, have chosen a loser's path to travel. They're not necessarily bad people, but they're keeping their lives like most of us keep our belongings--a lot of junk mixed in. This makes interaction with them uninspiring, if not unbearable.

At one point during a game, the coach said to one of his young players,  "Do you understand what cooperation is and what teamwork is all about?"  The little boy nodded in the affirmative.
      "Do you understand that what really matters is not whether we win or lose, but that we play together as a team?"  The little boy nodded yes.
      "Good," the coach continued.  "And, when a strike is called, or you're thrown out at first, you don't argue, curse, attack the ref with a cricket bat, or throw dirt in the opposing team members' faces.  Do you understand all that?"
      Again the little boy nodded, "Well, sure, coach.  That's what you taught us."
      "Good," said the coach.  "Now, please go over there and explain all that to your mother."

Why won't relationships based on complacency work in the long run? You guessed it! Everyone eventually ends up losing. Life loses its spirit of conquest and challenge. Complacency sets in and iron no longer sharpens iron (see Prov. 27:17). Relationships built on complacency never produce any real winners.

Still other relationships are built on capitulation.

The prophet Elijah was tempted to give up one day. He had gotten off to a great start, bringing a dead boy back to life and winning a contest with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel in an awesome and terrifying display of God's power.

But soon there came a threat from the murderous queen Jezebel, and Elijah tried to drop out of the game. He isolated himself from everyone he knew, sat under a tree alone, and asked God to take his life. When he got to the end of his rope, it happened: he met the Lord and went from there to the greatest mountaintop experiences of his career (see 1 Kings 18-19).

It seems that one day the devil decided to go out of business, and he decided to sell all his tools to whomever would pay the price. On the night of the sale, they were all attractively displayed. Malice, hate, envy, jealousy, greed, sensuality, and deceit were among them. To the side lay a harmless wedge-shaped tool, which had been used much more than any of the rest. Someone asked the devil, "What's that? It's priced so high."

The devil answered, "That's discouragement."

"But why is it priced so much higher than the rest?" the onlooker persisted.

"Because," replied the devil, "with that tool I can pry open and get inside a person's consciousness when I couldn't get near with any of the others. Once discouragement gets inside, I can let all the other tools do their work."

All of us feel discouraged from time to time and feel like quitting. Capitulation often seems like the easiest course of action in a desperate situation. But during those times, we need to look to God for the strength we need. Quitting is never the answer.

Cooperation: Everybody Wins

Many years ago I visited a couple who had a very cluttered house. There were three telephone exchanges in the hallway. After the introductions there was an awkward pause as I looked for chairs upon which to sit.  The lounge room had only two chairs.
     "I believe you need more chairs," I suggested .
     "That ain't it," muttered the old man.  "I got plenty of chairs -- just too much company!"
     Some Christians make it clear they don't want to spend too much time with other Christians, but how important is our fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ!  Living in a hostile environment, we need the encouragement that comes from those who share the same hopes and goals that we do.

Is there a better way of forging and conducting relationships? Indeed there is! Life's most positive and productive relationships are built on cooperation. This is what we call a win-win relationship. Wise William knows how to play this game.

Paul was the captain of this team in the first century, and the game plan is woven throughout the fabric of the letter to Philemon. Paul said to Philemon about Onesimus: "[He] once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me" (v. 11, emphasis mine). Such relationships are mutually beneficial.

Therefore," he writes, "though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you" (vv. 8-9).

Paul knew that he could have pulled rank on Philemon, exerting his apostolic authority. It would have been the easy thing to do. It would have been the efficient thing to do. But he wanted to be sensitive and respect Philemon's rights as a person and a Christian. Paul wanted Philemon to do the right thing, but he wanted it to be his decision. So he didn't command; he encouraged.

In essence, Paul tells his friend, "I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do. But I refuse to do it. I want everyone in this situation to emerge a winner." Paul was sensitive to the fact that people cannot be bullied or coerced if the relationship is to be a positive one.

Sensitivity is essential to all successful relationships. But many people have a drill sergeant approach to relationships. They like to give orders and watch others squirm and jump. Some actually take pride in this method and think they are winning along the way. Some try and get their way through intimidation and coercion.

But Paul knew better. Had Philemon been compelled, with no say of his own in the matter, what kind of relationship do you think would have developed? It would have been built on coercion and guilt; ultimately, it would have had a damaging effect on all the relationships involved.

You Need To Make Things Right

With his careful choice of words, Paul appealed to Philemon in several positive ways. One was "for love's sake." Philemon's name meant "the loving one." Paul was asking him to live up to his name and to show the same loving attitude toward Onesimus that he had shown in the past to others.

Paul is not requesting that Onesimus be absolved of his previous wrongs without remorse or restitution. He will shortly offer to pay Onesimus's debt, but right now, he is encouraging Philemon to respond out of a commitment to treating others in a Christlike way and to do what he knows he should do.

How many of our own interpersonal problems would be solved if each of us would simply do what we ought to do? Most of us know how we should treat others, but we get stuck on the application of that knowledge. We know what it takes to make and keep friends, but we sometimes have trouble actually doing it.

Our kids need a great deal of our time and energy to grow into healthy, productive people. Yet it's often all we can do to tear ourselves away from the office to be with them.

We know that our spouses need love and affirmation from us, but we don't always do well at giving it. We know that we need to patch strained and broken relationships, but often we can't seem to find the time and motivation to do so. And we don't necessarily want to be the first to open those lines of communication.

Knowing what we ought to do and doing it are two different matters. It's the latter hurdle we need to work on the most. Paul knows how hard it is to do the right thing. And so he takes it upon himself to appeal to his brothers in Christ for reconciliation.

He encourages Onesimus to do what is necessary to make things right--that is, to face up to his mistakes and go back to Philemon in genuine remorse asking for forgiveness even though it won't be easy. And he encourages Philemon to do the right thing. He asks him to receive the repentant Onesimus, in Paul's words, "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother" (v. 16).

That is no small task for either of them. But it is important for them to address if the Spirit of love and unity is to reign among the fellowship of believers.

You Need To Make Things Right By Giving Up Your "Rights"

Many of us have lived our lives with few lasting relationships because of our desire to control others. The lack of sensitivity is rampant in all types of relationships today. Insisting on one's own "rights" is the order of the day. When we realize that we have given our rights over to the Master of our lives, we will be freed to be the sensitive people that He wants us to be.

Philemon must put aside pride and a substantial economic advantage for the sake of harmony and fellowship with a Christian brother. Are we willing to deny ourselves any rights for the same reason?

Paul used another interesting choice of words when he wrote, "Yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you" (v. 9, emphasis mine). The Greek word he used for "appeal" is a rather strong one. It appears 108 times in the New Testament, and it is translated as "plead" or "strongly urge" or "encourage."

In our own efforts to win friends and influence people, the way in which we make our appeal is of utmost importance. Some people waste valuable time attempting to appeal to others strictly on the basis of reason. Others state their cases on the basis of merit, who they are or where they are from. Still others do so on the basis of tenure.

How do you go about winning people to your point of view? Do you appeal in love? Do you encourage based on reason or logic? Do you simply pull rank and tell them what to do? Take a cue from Paul. Learn the value of a well-thought-out phrase presented with sensitivity and love.

You Need To Make Things Right By Overcoming Through Love

Paul also teaches us to appeal to others on the basis of love. The Greeks have several words that can be translated into English as "love." Paul chose the word that represents the highest level of love. It is best defined as "no matter what others may do to you by insult or injury, you seek for them only their highest good." This love is submissive and seeks the other's best.

Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a time when he, Dr. Bruce Waltke, who is a Hebrew scholar, and two other evangelical ministers arrived for a tour of the mother church of the First Church of Christ Scientist in downtown Boston. The elderly woman who conducted the tour had no idea who the men were or what their professions were. Swindoll described what took place:

She showed us several interesting things on the main floor. When we got to the multiple-manual pipe organ, she began to talk about their doctrine and especially their belief about no judgment in the life beyond. Dr. Waltke waited for just the right moment and very casually asked:

"But, Ma'am, doesn't it say somewhere in the Bible `It is appointed unto man once to die and after that, the judgment?'" He could have quoted Hebrews 9:27 in Greek! But he was so gracious, so tactful with the little lady. I must confess, I stood back thinking, "Go for it, Bruce. Now we've got her where we want her!"

The lady, without a pause, said simply, "Would you like to see the second floor?"

You know what Dr. Waltke said? "We surely would, thank you."

She smiled, somewhat relieved, and started to lead us up a flight of stairs.

I couldn't believe it! All I could think was, "No, don't let her get away. Make her answer your question!" As I was wrestling within, I pulled on the scholar's arm and said in a low voice, "Hey, why didn't you nail the lady? Why didn't you press the point and not let her get away until she answered?"

Quietly and calmly he put his hand on my shoulder and whispered, "But, Chuck, that wouldn't have been fair. That wouldn't have been very loving, either--now would it?"

Wham! The quiet rebuke left me reeling. I shall never forget that moment. And . . . in less than twenty minutes he was sitting with the woman alone, tenderly and carefully speaking with her about the Lord Jesus Christ. She sat in rapt attention. He, the gracious peacemaker, had won a hearing. And I, the scalp-snatcher, had learned an unforgettable lesson.

Do you know what she saw in my friend? A living representation of one of God's sons . . . exactly as God promised in his beatitude . . . "they shall be called sons of God."2

This type of love epitomized Jesus' actions. He could play win-lose with us. He could order us to obey Him. He could pull our strings like a puppeteer to force us to shape up and get in step.

But what does He do instead? He shows us with His own life how to be submissive for another's good. He appeals to us on the basis of love. He gives us an invitation: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:28-29). This type of love breaks down barriers and cements relationships.

James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (emphasis mine). Paul had this wisdom, and it showed itself in the way that the broken relationships were reconciled.

Love has its own way of finding out what is right and doing it. It is not a passive word; it is always equated with action. Love is something we do! When we submit to love, we do what we ought to do much more quickly and completely than when we are forced against our will to do something.

Paul continues playing on the field of winning relationships by saying, "I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains" (v. 10). Win-win friendships bring a bonding, a sense of family, and mutual support. By defending our friends, we bond ourselves with them.

Paul's description of Onesimus shows his unqualified support for him. He calls him "my own son." He carefully chooses a Greek word here that is a term of endearment. It means a small child. Thus, Paul is indicating to Philemon that Onesimus, who is on his way home, is still very young in the faith and needs support and love.

You Need To Make Things Right By Forgiving The Other Person

Paul is now coming to the purpose of his letter, and he is already nearly half through with it. This is the first mention of Onesimus.

Can you picture the wealthy aristocrat Philemon as he reads this letter for the first time? He is reading along and liking what he reads. This is good news! There is affirmation in every sentence. He is smiling and feeling very good about himself. And then a name appears in the middle of the paragraph and leaps off the letter toward him.

Onesimus! That scoundrel! he thinks.

And it's not hard to understand his surprise. How would you feel if someone in whom you had placed your trust embezzled your money, left town, and was never heard from again? Then one day, out of the blue, you hear from another good friend and mentor, and the fugitive's name comes up.

Onesimus! That was the name Philemon could have gone years without hearing again.

But wait a minute. Paul says, "My son Onesimus." What is this? Philemon reads on, "Whom I have begotten while in my chains" Philemon must have said to himself, "I cannot believe it. It cannot be!"

Do you see what is happening? A broken relationship is about to be mended, and the catalyst, Paul, is supportive to both parties involved. He has shown his support for Philemon earlier by saying, "For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother" (v. 7).

Now, he does the same thing for Onesimus by adding, "I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me" (vv. 10-11).

Paul had shared with Onesimus in prison and was with him when he found a new life and a new beginning, when he was "born again." He was like a spiritual father to Onesimus, and therefore, he would stand for Onesimus like he would his own son.

Paul refers to Onesimus's previous service as "unprofitable." Another translation of this word is "useless": "Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me" (v. 11 NIV).

The Greek word Paul used to describe Onesimus as unprofitable or useless is the same word from which we derive our English word archaic. It portrays something or someone who has lost his usefulness and is therefore unserviceable.

But now, the old Onesimus is dead and buried. The swindling traitor that Philemon knew is long gone. In effect, Onesimus has become "serviceable" and "new." He is no longer outdated and "archaic." He has had new life breathed into him--the same new life that was breathed into Paul and Philemon. And in his body was a new creature in Christ, useful to everyone involved.

Paul wants Philemon to look at his former servant with a fresh eye and an open heart as if he were meeting him for the first time.

He wants him to forgive him/. Forgive, aphiemi. To release the debt.

We pray forgive us our ..trespasses ( Matt 6) debts (Luke 11). We need to release the debt we feel others owe us.

While most of us are familiar with da Vinci’s famous painting of our Lord's last meal in the Upper Room, few have ever heard the story behind the story. While in the process of painting his masterpiece, da Vinci had a bitter disagreement with a fellow painter. The master was so enraged that he began to plot an evil scheme. He would paint the face of his adversary into the face of Judas and thus portray him for all posterity as the traitor. As soon as da Vinci finished painting Judas, everyone immediately recognized him as Leonardo's former friend. He continued to paint the scene, adding each of the disciples into the portrait. It then was time to paint the face of Christ. As much as he tried, one attempt after another, he could not paint the Lord's face. Something was keeping him from it. His own heart revealed to him that his hatred for his fellow painter was the problem. So, he reconciled with his friend, and repainted Judas's face with another. Then with great liberty, da Vinci painted the face of Christ, completing the masterpiece admired down through the centuries.

Paul challenges his friends at Ephesus to "let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Eph. 4:31-32).

When anyone gets connected with God, coming into a vital relationship with Jesus Christ as Onesimus did, it does not produce a nebulous, inefficient, ineffective, useless person. It produces people who are "useful" to those around them.

Everybody Wins!

Does Paul win? Yes! He has the joy of mending the relationship between two men whom he has personally led to faith at different times and in different places. Had he resorted to giving orders instead of appealing in love, it would never have happened. Now he enjoys the love and support of both of them. He wins!

Does Philemon win? Yes! He gets Onesimus back, and this time Onesimus is profitable and useful to him. And he gets him back with repentance and restitution as well.

Does Onesimus win? Yes! He gets to come home. And what is more he returns, in Paul's words, "no longer as a slave but . . . as a beloved brother."

There are no losers. These relationships are a model for successful reconciliations. They happen when we are sensitive and loving in our dealings with one another. They happen when we carefully choose our words in making a difficult request of a friend and when we treat people the way Christ would treat them.

Paul could have ordered the two to mend the broken relationship. He could have pulled his apostolic rank on them. But he was wise enough to realize there can be no true reconciliation that is manipulated or forced. It must be voluntary. It must come from a willing heart. Some persons want to orchestrate reconciliations with hidden agendas for their own self-profit and pride. Reconciliations that last, though, are not forced; they come from a heart with pure motives. Hatchets are never completely buried unless they are done so voluntarily.

Resentment has a depressing effect on us mentally. When it consumes us, it can warp our capacity to think right. Many people suffer from mental and emotional problems because they are bitter toward others and have never forgiven past wrongs, even though the transgressors have returned in genuine remorse.

But there is more. It also debilitates us spiritually. None of us can be in right relationship with God when we hate or resent someone else.


With special thanks to O.S. Hawkins


John 1:14 and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,


And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

A young woman was engaged to Mozart before he rose to fame.   She became disenchanted with him because he was so short.  So she gave him up for someone taller and more attractive.  When the world began to praise Mozart for his outstanding musical accomplishments, she regretted her decision.  “I know nothing of the greatness of his genesis,” she said.  “I only saw him as a little man.”
Seeing and Perceiving are two different things.

The problem of sight and perception is that they are not the same thing.

When I thought was waving at someone I knew.. and wasn’t..and found out I needed glasses.

Seeing is not as important as understanding and knowing what we are seeing.

Perception means both sight and understanding.

Seeing something means we perceive it for what it is.

Seeing Jesus means we see the glory of God

Glory = splendour. The thing that brings it admiration and praise.

Glory of London is its age, Sydney its harbour and Melbourne its weather.

The glory of the Lord.

Exodus 19:16-19 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

1 Kings 8: 10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.

Isaiah 6: In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Luke 2:8-12   And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Matthew 1:23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."

The glorious perfect Son of God is seen in… His Transfiguration - Luke 9:28-36

Jesus takes His inner circle of Peter, James and John up to a mountain to pray.

Jesus was transfigured (transformed) – He unrobed his glory He had with the Father before time began.

His face radiated and His clothes were as bright as a flash of lightning.  The Greek speaks of it as a dazzling white.  He was shinning, radiating His glory.

2 Peter 1: 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

John 17:5  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Matthew recorded, “His face shone like the sun”. For a moment, He allowed His brilliant glory to be seen – His “Shekinah” glory.

J. B. Phillips said it like this: “We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem. Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet.”

1. You May See Jesus And Reject His Glory

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

In recent years, I heard a story about a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children.  After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on the many shelves, she finally made it to the
elevator with her two kids.   She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year -overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.   Finally, the elevator doors opened, and there was already a crowd in the elevator. She pushed her way into the elevator and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff.  When the doors closed, she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot."    From the back of the elevator, everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, "Don't worry. We already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator, it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.  

Some saw Him only as a man .John 19:5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

You May Be Too Interested In Other Things.

You may not see Jesus for who He is because other things are more important to you right now.  And if they are, you may miss the brightest and best thing that could ever come into your life.
A Tamworth boy was walking in downtown Sydney alongside a friend who was a resident of the city. Right in the centre of Sydney, the Tamworth boy seized his friend's arm and whispered, "Wait!  I hear a cricket." His friend said, "Come on!  A cricket?  Man, this is downtown New York."
He persisted, "No, seriously, I really do." "It's impossible!" was the response. "You can't hear a cricket! Taxis going by.  Horns honkin'. People screamin' at each other.  Brakes screeching.   Both sides of the street filled with people. Cash registers clanging away.  Subways roaring beneath us. You can't possibly hear a cricket!"
The Tamworth boy insisted, "Wait a minute!" He led his friend along, slowly. They stopped, and the Tamworth boy walked down to the end of the block, went across the street, looked around, cocked his head to one side, but couldn't find it. He went across another street, and there in a large cement planter where a tree was growing, he dug into the mulch and found the cricket.
"See!" he yelled, as he held the insect high above his head.  His friend walked across the street, marvelling, "How in the world could it be that you heard a cricket in the middle of  downtown busy Sydney?" The Tamworth boy said, "Well, my ears are different from yours.   It simply depends on what you're listening to.  Here, let me show you." And he reached in his pocket and pulled out a handful of change. Then he said, "Now watch."    He held the coins waist high and dropped them to the footpath. Every head within a block turned around and looked in the direction of the Tamworth boy.  It all depends on what you're listening for.   

The reason you may not see the wonder of Jesus this Christmas is, you are too fascinated with the wonder of Christmas and miss Jesus.

You May Be Too Busy About Other Things.

One day you may not be too busy to respond to His glory, but that day may come too soon for you.

2Thess 1: 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

John tells it this way in the book of Revelation.  Rev. 19:11-16

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, (you and me) riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  king of kings and lord of lords.

Matthew 25:31  When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

Matthew 24:29-30  "Immediately after the distress of those days" 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

2. You May See Jesus And Respond To His Glory

A wise teacher once gave a group of eager young students the following assignment. They were to find a small, unnoticed flower and study it for a long time. “Get a magnifying glass,” the teacher instructed, “and study the delicate veins in the leaves, and notice the nuances and shades of color. Turn the leaves slowly and look at their symmetry.”

When the students returned, they seemed to be bouncing with excitement. Each marveled at what he or she had seen and could not wait to tell the teacher. Finally after the students were seated, the deeper reason behind the assignment was unveiled. The teacher explained,

I want you to consider that your flower might have gone unnoticed and unappreciated if you had not found and admired it

At Christmas we are used to the text found in Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Its all about the Lord Jesus Christ:

He is Wonderful. Jesus is given at least two hundred and twelve names in the Bible and each name expresses something in His character. He is called the Lamb, the Lion, the Lily of the Valley, the Rose of Sharon, the One Altogether Lovely. But Isaiah sums it all up when he tells us that Jesus is "wonderful."

I. HIS BIRTH WAS WONDERFUL In Genesis we are told that He would come forth as "the seed of a woman." The nature of His birth was most wonderful of all. Isaiah said that He would be born of a virgin.

His birth was so wonderful that it affected three worlds. The angels came down from heaven and sang at His birth. "Glory to God in the highest."

II. HIS LIFE WAS WONDERFUL You may pick out some very fine person whom you admire greatly, then you say, "He lives a most wonderful life." But when you come closer to this person, you will find that he is not perfect— there are flaws in his character. But call Jesus here. Look at Him from every standpoint. You can find no fault in Him.

III. HIS LOVE IS WONDERFUL The love of Christ is so wonderful that we can never measure it. Paul tried to measure it as he told of the breadth and length and depth and height of that love. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful, wonderful, wonderful isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful, wonderful it is to me.

IV. HIS DEATH WAS WONDERFUL The world has never looked upon such a scene as was presented that day on Calvary. The Son of God is dying for sinners. The most wonderful thing about Christ*s death was what it accomplished. Because He died, because He tasted death for every man, we can come to Him and have eternal life.

V. HIS RESURRECTION WAS WONDERFUL Yes, how wonderful that a man could live and die and be buried and then could burst the bonds of death and the grave and come back to life. And how wonderful He can communicate His life to us!

VI.  HIS MINIISTRY NOW IS WONDERFUL Jesus is one who "knew what was in men". The New Testament tells us on several occasions that Jesus knew what people were thinking. A good counselor in our day is one who understands us and can help us sort through issues in our lives.

Jesus understood and understands our human nature and our predicament better than anyone. He understands the needs of our heart and He knows how to answer and meet those needs. Jesus is the one who eliminates confusion in our lives. He gives us insight into eternal issues. If we could spend fifteen minutes with the Messiah we would learn more about ourselves than in years of counseling.

This is why the Word of God is so relevant. As you read the Bible you will be amazed at how often the Bible speaks to the issues that matter most to you. You will find that the Bible cuts through all the fog and helps us to see clearly. This is especially true in the New Testament. The reason is clear: Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor.

VII. HIS POWER IS WONDERFUL MIGHTY GOD. The Bible does not teach us that Jesus would be LIKE God or be THOUGHT OF as God. It is clear ... He IS God. He has supernatural power. He is the Sovereign of Sovereigns. He is in control ... there is no reason for concern. With Jesus at the helm there is no room for chaos. The promises He makes will be fulfilled. The Kingdom He establishes will be upheld. John MacArthur writes, [God With Us p. 19, 20]

Christ the King loves to step into a life of chaos and not only provide wonderful counsel,

but also display His divine power by bringing order to the chaos. In other words, He not only

tells His subjects what to do as a Wonderful Counselor but He can also energizes them to do

it --because He is the mighty God ... He is God and because He is God, He can forgive sin,

defeat Satan, liberate people from the power of evil, redeem them, answer their prayers,

restore their broken souls, and reign over a rebuilt life, bringing order to our chaos.

In 1922 archaeologist Howard Carter was completing nearly fifteen years of digging in the famous Valley of the Kings in Egypt. He was hoping to find the royal tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Having found nothing, his days of digging were coming to an end. Money was running out.

Then workers discovered sixteen stairs leading into the earth. Thousands of baskets filled with rocks and sand had to be carried away, but eventually a door was found at the end of a long passageway.

Carter drilled a small hole in the door and stuck an iron-testing rod into a dark, blank space.

He then inserted a candle into the hole and peered in. As his eyes grew accustomed to the light, details emerged into his view. He saw strange animals, statues, and everywhere the glint of gold.

He wrote, "For the moment, I was struck dumb with amazement."

A partner asked, "Can you see anything?"

And Carter replied, "Yes, wonderful things."

Perhaps today signals the end of a long search for you. You have tried all sorts of things bt haven’t found them to work.

You have sort for reality in religion, but still its not there yet.

Come to Jesus. He invites you to come to Him now.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

3. You May See Jesus and Revel in His Glory

When Czar Nicholas I reigned in Russia, a good friend asked the Czar to provide a job for his son. The czar appointed his friend’s son as the paymaster for a section of the Russian Army. But the young man gambled away all the money entrusted to him. The word came that auditors were going to examine his accounts and he was terrified. He calculated the amount he owed and realized it was a far greater debt than he could ever pay. He decided to take his weapon and commit suicide at midnight.

Before going to bed, he wrote out a full confession, listing all he had stolen, with these words underneath: “A great debt. Who can pay?”

But, because he was exhausted, he fell asleep. Late that night, the czar made a surprise visit to the barracks of this young man. He found him asleep, and the letter of confession next to him. He instantly understood what had happened. He paused for just a moment, and then wrote one word on the suicide note of the young man, and left. Eventually, the young man woke up and realized it was past midnight. He took the gun in his hand and prepared to kill himself when he noticed that someone had written on his suicide note. Under the words, “A great debt. Who can pay?” he saw just one word: “Nicholas.” Only Nicholas could pay, and only Nicholas did pay.

My friend, only Jesus could pay my debt to God. That alone explains why the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. He pitched His tent with us for 33 years so He might pay the debt every one of us owes God.

I grew up in a difficult circumstance. My mother was schizophrenic and would often attempt suicide. It would mean about 6 weeks in a mental hospital each year for her. And countless weeks of distress for me.

By the age of nine, I was convinced that no one could ever love me or even like me. And then I entered the third grade, and Miss Armstrong’s class. She was a young lady and she and her mum attended the church Gymea Baptist church where is went to Sunday school and Boys Brigade. She was tall slim and fragrant, with shining brown hair and warm blueeyes that smiled even on the rare occasions when her mouth didn’t. Everyone adored her. But no one came to love her more than I did. And for a special reason. The time came for the annual “hearing tests” given at our school. I didn’t want to be different. And so I cheated. I had learned to watch other children and do and say whatever they said. The “whisper test” however, required me to join a line. Each child would go to the desk of the teacher, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and the teacher would whisper something from her desk, which the child would repeat. Then the same thing was done for the other ear. I wondered what Miss Armstrong might say to me. The teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, like what colour is the sky? And we would whisper back "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?" My turn came up. I waited and then the words that God had surely put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life forever. Miss Armstrong the pretty, fragrant teacher that I adored, said, in her whisper, "I wish you were my child." God says to every person deformed by sin, "I wish you were my son" or "I wish you were my daughter." I was so stunned I think I answered “Green”. But it was the first time I had heard anyone reliable say to me that they loved me. The very thought overwhelmed me.

John 1:12 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,

You can discover that God loves you today. He invites you to be His child today. Will you do that? Will you receive Him? Then you will hear Him whisper your name “you are my child!”

You c an become His child today.

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