In Proverbs 2, the wise man encourages his child to listen to what he is being told, to pay attention, and “treasure” it. The teaching of the word is so important that he commands his son to “seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure.” But we must understand that this is not just knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Verse 5 tells us why we must do this: “Then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”
This is what it is all about – a relationship with God. To have a relationship with God we must know Him. And to know Him, we must seek after Him.
In 1 Chronicles 28:9, David told Solomon, “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.”
In 2 Chronicles 15:2, the prophet Azariah told Asa, “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.”
In Isaiah 55:6, we read, “Seek the LORD while he may be found.”
In Isaiah 65:1, listen to God’s broken heart, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by my name.”
In Jeremiah 29:13, the prophet says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
And Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He is and He rewards those who seek Him.”
Most of us would claim to be seeking after God, but the question is “how diligently are we seeking God?” Are we, like the wise man says, seeking God like we seek silver or treasure? Do we spend time in God’s word and in prayer like we spend time at our jobs? Does our time in spiritual activities come anywhere close to our time spent at our desks or in front of the TV or in our school work?
In the parables of Matthew 13, Jesus likened the kingdom to someone who found a treasure in the field and immediately sold all he had in order to buy the field. In the following verses Jesus tells of a merchant who found a pearl of great value. When he found this pearl, he sold everything he had in order to buy it. Is that how we feel about our relationship with God? Are we willing to sacrifice everything else for it? Or are there a few things that come before “seeking God” on your to-do list?
The statement in Isaiah 55:6 implies a scary truth: “Seek the LORD while he may be found.” A time is coming when we may try to finally seek the Lord, but it will be too late.
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”
Peer pressure is nothing new. The wise man warns his son about the dangers of peer pressure in Proverbs 1:8-19. We must be very careful about the friends we choose. We must be very careful about the children we allow our children to be around. I have seen parents try valiantly to raise their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” except they were not careful about their friends. Too often, all the other hard work goes up in smoke because “evil companions corrupt good morals!”
I have a 10, 7, and 4 year old. It is easy for me to be watchful over who they spend time with. But a day is coming when I will have little direct influence over who they spend their time with. So, it is imperative that I teach them this lesson now. “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” I have to teach them – as Solomon did his children – that running with the wrong crowd only sets you up for failure.
I cannot help but think of the first Psalm: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of scoffers.” But it is not enough just to rid ourselves of evil influence. We must fill ourselves up with that which is godly: “but his delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night.”
We should consider what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:29-30: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that you whole body be thrown into hell. If you right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that you whole body go into hell.” Shouldn’t we apply this teaching to our friends? If your friend causes you to sin, cut them off. For it is better to lose a friend than to have hundreds of them and go to hell.
As school is about to start back, now is a good time to talk to your children about who they are spending their time with. Most kids spend 8 hours a day with other children and we have to make sure we teach them this old proverb: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”
“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.’”
When we read these verses we typically think of the rainbow that God set as a sign of His new covenant with Noah. We even have the song, “There’s a Rainbow in the Cloud.” But I want to look at one little phrase that is often overlooked. When Moses offered the burnt offerings, the Bible tells us that the Lord “smelled the pleasing aroma.” I worked with a church in Indiana for two summers and lived with the Beckhams – a wonderful family. Debbie made wonderful bread. I would sometimes come home from the office and I could smell the homemade goodness as I stepped out of the car. Who doesn’t like the smell of cookies or muffins baking in the oven? I always like it when we don’t eat all the bananas at home because Tiffany makes wonderful banana bread. My mouth is watering as I type this.
It doesn’t appear that God needs nourishment or that He eats. Jesus did while He was on earth. But since God exists of Himself, He doesn’t need sustenance. Yet, the Bible sometimes refers to Him smelling and enjoying the aroma of a sacrifice. The various sacrifices discussed in the book of Leviticus are said to be a “pleasing aroma to the Lord.” In Numbers 15, vow offerings and freewill offerings “make a pleasing aroma to the Lord” as well as the drink offering. Pagans believed they had to feed their gods. But the Bible never treats sacrifice that way. The “pleasing aroma” of scripture is simply the human language of God accepting our sacrifices.
In the New Testament, especially the book of Hebrews, Jesus fulfills the various sacrifices which deal with sin. But we are the fulfillment of the vow and freewill offerings. Our lives given to Christ are “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.” As we are transformed by His word, our lives ascend to God as a pleasing aroma. The Hebrew writer says our worship to God is a pleasing sacrifice: “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (13:15). In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul uses similar language of the fragrance we produce by the life we live.
But we also know the bitter smell of something burning in the oven. When Jacob’s sons killed all the men of Schechem, he told Simeon and Levi that their actions made him “stink to the inhabitants of the land.” When Moses first approached Pharaoh and he made the burden on the Israelites greater, they claimed Moses made them “stink in the sight of Pharaoh.” In Leviticus 26:31, God warned Israel of the consequences of disobedience and says, “I will not smell your pleasing aromas.”
While some things are pleasing aromas, others are not. Fresh-baked cookies will cause you to salivate; burnt toast will cause you to turn up your nose. Likewise, a life lived in accordance with the word of God is a pleasing aroma to God. But if our hearts are not set on what is right and serving Him then He doesn’t even sniff what we may offer. If that is true, what about the repulsive stench of sin, selfishness, and pride?
What are you producing with your life? A pleasing aroma? Or does your lifestyle cause God to turn up His nose in disgust?
According to Dictionary.com, punctuality has the following meanings: acting or arriving exactly at the time appointed; prompt; paid or accomplished at or by the appointed time; precise; exact. This is something that is a pet peeve of mine, and on this blogI get to discuss things that are of interest to me and try to relate to you their Biblical applications.
I have always been of the opinion that I would rather be 30 minutes early than 30 seconds late. What are some reasons, as Christians, that we should be punctual? I think the first reason is for honesty’s sake. When we have given someone our word, we should be able to keep that word. When we tell someone that we will meet them at 12:30, we should meet them at 12:30. We, as an honest people, cannot let petty things interfere with our word to others. Now am I not saying that serious things do not come up in which we may be forced to be late for something. If I tell Bob Jones that I am going to meet him for lunch at 12:30 and I get a flat tire…you see my point (but have the courtesy to call).
In a world where honesty and trustworthiness is becoming less and less a characteristic of people, we as Christians need to shine. This is simply another place that we can show others that we are followers of Christ. Not simply that we showed up at 12:30, but that we kept our word. I appreciate some people’s attitude towards this subject – they know that they are bad when it comes to the timing of things, so they tell people, “I will be there around noon.” As Jesus says in the sermon on the mount, if you are not going to keep your vow, don’t make one.
What about our salvation? Does punctuality have anything to do with our salvation? Today is the day of salvation – the Lord will come as a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10). If we are not punctual in doing what God has asked us to do, then we will not have a home in heaven. Note one of the above definitions – “paid or accomplished at or by the appointed time” – the price has been paid, we need to accept it before the appointed time. The thing about that is that we do not know the appointed time, so we had best be early.
Speaking of being early, can I encourage everyone to come to services early? I realize that I cannot show a verse that says one must be 15 minutes early to church. However, coming early does two things. First, it allows us to spend some time together as brothers and sisters and to talk about our lives (this could also be done after, so don’t feel like it is a race to the door when “amen” is said). And second, it prevents people from being late. Stragglers can be a distraction. Not to mention the loss of time learning, encouraging, and praising God. We would never dream of being late to work, school, or doctor’s appointment on a habitual basis, why do we feel that meeting with the saints is any less important?
Finally, I would like to discuss our jobs. Punctuality not only involves being on time but also completing the tasks that our employers set before us on time. One of the biggest wastes of money in the business world is time theft. This is when we fail to do our work because of the distraction of other things. One proverb that always come to mind on this subject (and could really be applied to the others) is Proverbs 6:6, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise.” If we apply this in every aspect of our lives we will be better Christians, friends, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, moms, and dads.
If this is something you have a problem with, it is not like you are the only one, but you do need to work on it (we all have things we need to work on). Here are some tips to be more punctual:
- Remember that being late can be a distraction for others
- Think of the stress caused by running late
- Pray and ask God to help you be more punctual
- Ask your family for help
- Set your clocks fast
- Prepare the night before
One of the first memory verses I remember learning is Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.” This verse contains some things that, for a Christian, are imperative to understand.
Let us start with the end of this verse. This command is given so that God can be glorified. Why are people on earth? To give glory to God. As children of God, our goal is to get to heaven and to help others get there. We need to be leading people to glorify their creator. “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let your glory be above all the earth” (Psalm 57:5). Are we fulfilling this verse in our life? Are we doing all we can to praise God and lead others to glorify Him?
The first part of the verse is in the context of standing out from the world. Jesus had just said, “You are the salt of the earth.” You use salt to increase the flavor and to preserve something. We are to help the people of this world by showing them Christ. Then, He told them that they were the “light of the world.” You use light to brighten a room or an alley. Therefore, we are to go into the world as lights, showing people the light, helping them understand where the light comes from (cf. John 1:1-5).
Jesus is telling them to let their light shine that others may see what they do, how they live, and how they act. Now, is Jesus saying to show off? Is Jesus saying to go around and let everyone know what an awesome person and Christian you are? Of course not. Jesus addresses this in chapter six. He condemns giving, praying, and fasting when it is done in order to be seen. That is for our own glory, not God’s.
What SHOULD happen is this: People notice that you do not work, play golf, or participate in secular things on Sunday morning. It makes them wonder where you are. Another scenario: when your buddies from work go to the bar Friday afternoon, you go home. It makes them wonder why you do not come with them. Your co-worker is in a bad mood and is cursing, and you ask him to stop. It makes them wonder why that bothers you. Someone sees you reading your Bible in the middle of a break. It makes them wonder why that book is important to you, before long you are studying, and they are baptized into Christ, and are right their with you, giving glory to God. These are things that can start conversations to help this person understand what God’s will for them is.
Here is the real question: what are we doing instead? Maybe we work or play through church services and Bible study every week. What does that tell your friends or coworkers about you? Maybe we are missing Bible study to hang out with friends, instead of trying to get them to study the Bible. Maybe we are just sitting at home because we feel tired and we refuse to spend the energy to glorify God – that just shows that it’s not really important to us. We are so busy putting things in front of God that most of our associations do not even know that we claim to serve Him. People should be able to see that we put God first. Everything else comes in at a distant second.
People should be able to tell that I am a Christian by the way I act. That should, in turn, lead them to ask questions and provide an opportunity to teach them about Jesus Christ, and one day they can give glory to God. A perfect example of this is when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to worship the idol. When they came out alive, Nebuchadnezzar fell down giving glory to God (Daniel 3:28-29). They were letting their light shine, and Nebuchadnezzar was influenced by this and God’s protection of them, and he came to glorify God.
How are we living before others and what are we doing to give God the glory? Are you letting your light shine?