The Wise Son

May 14, 2023 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Wisdom

Proverbs 13:1 (NKJV) 

1A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. Today we are instructed to heed our father’s instruction.

Solomon contrasts the wise son with the scoffer. The wise son heeds – listens to and follows – his father’s instruction – his commands, admonitions, and exhortations. A scoffer, however, does not listen to rebuke – he believes that he knows better than his father and so casts his father’s counsel aside.

So, children, especially teens, how are you doing? Are you a wise son, a wise daughter, or are you a scoffer? Does your heart incline to honor your father and so to heed his instruction? Not just to listen without interrupting while he speaks to you, but to listen attentively, striving to understand and appropriate the command or instruction that is being offered? Do you heed your father’s instruction? Do you say to yourself, “I want to be a wise man, a wise woman, and God tells me that the pathway to wisdom is listening to my father, so I want to listen.” Or do you scoff? Do you close your ears, roll your eyes? Oh, you may sit there and hear your father’s voice. But to you is sounds like, “Waw, waw, waw…” Or perhaps you cut your father short, “I know, I know, I don’t need to hear what you have to say.” If that describes you, then beware. “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And beatings for the backs of fools” (Pr 19:29).

But the words today apply not only to children but to adults. For Paul writes to the Corinthians:

14I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (1 Cor 4:14–16) 

Paul was a father to the Corinthian congregation – and pastors and elders serve in a similar role. So do you give heed to the instruction of your spiritual fathers? Are you listening now? Or are my words just thrumming in your head while you are thinking about all those projects at home or that movie you watched this week or that problem at work? Are you heeding instruction or are you rejecting rebuke? If you’re doing the latter, then it’s no wonder your children are imitating you.

Finally, if you are in Christ, then you are a son and God is your Heavenly Father. So are you giving heed to His instruction? Do you devote yourself to reading His Word and praying that He would help you understand it? Do you incline Your heart to His ways, or do you harden your heart to rebuke? Do you cast His word aside like our first parents and like Israel, God’s disobedient son? Or are you a wise son?

Reminded that we are called to listen to our father’s instruction in order that we might be wise sons and daughters, let us confess that we are often scoffers instead, that we often fail to listen to rebuke. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able.

Instruction & Correction

August 7, 2022 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Wisdom

Proverbs 12:1 

1Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. 

The Proverbs direct us in the way of wisdom and teach us what it is to imitate the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Today we begin a series of exhorations through Proverbs 12. In v. 1, Solomon contrasts two types of men, men who are characterized by their loves and hates.

It is important to emphasize that love and hate are not, in themselves, virtues or vices. Though we often think of love as inherently virtuous and hate as vicious, the truth is that their praiseworthiness is determined by their object. To love Jesus; to love your wife and children; to love Scripture; to love truthfulness – all these loves are virtuous. However, to love wickedness, to love deceit, to love cruelty – these loves are perverse. Similarly, while it is vile to hate God, to hate the righteous, to hate truth and goodness and beauty, it is praiseworthy to hate deceitfulness, murder, covetousness, and sushi. God summons us, therefore, to be men and women and children who both love and hate – who love what is lovely and hate what is vile. 

So, on the one hand, Solomon lauds the man who loves instruction. So what does it mean to love instruction? I think we know. Kids, if you have a friend who loves pizza or loves soccer or loves Xbox, what does that mean? It means that your friend can’t get enough pizza, that he eagerly plays or watches or studies soccer games and scores, that he regularly seeks opportunities to play Xbox with his friends. So what would it mean to love instruction? It means he is eager to learn more and more. He readily listens to those wiser and more knowledgable than him. He cultivates a listening ear and an inquisitive heart. He wants to learn more of God’s Word, more of God’s world, more of his occupation. So he reads, he listens, he watches, he asks questions all in order to learn. This person, the one who loves instruction, likewise, Solomon tells us, loves knowledge. He grows in knowledge because he loves instruction. Tell me more; give me more; I want to grow.

On the other hand is the man who hates correction. This man thinks he knows it all. He is proud and unteachable. He refuses to listen to those wiser than himself. He closes his ears. “Yes, I know, I know,” he says even though it is evident that he does not. This man, Solomon tells us, is stupid. He is like a beast not a man. 

So what of you? Do you love instruction? Do you look for opportunities to learn? Let’s say you don’t know much about the Bible – are you striving to learn more, reading more, listening more? Let’s say you’re a new parent – are you asking seasoned parents for wisdom, reading good books, listening to good teaching? Let’s say you’re married – do you love to learn more about what makes a good marriage and how to make your marriage grow and flourish? Let’s say you’re an employee – do you strive to learn more about your job so that you can bless your employer more and more? Do you love instruction or do you hate it?

Do you hate correction? When your parents correct you, do you listen and repent or do you become sullen and angry? When your boss criticizes your work, do you listen and strive to get better or do you think you know it all? When your husband exhorts you, do you listen or do you become bitter and resentful? When your elders correct you, do you listen or do you just pack up your bags and find another church? Do you love correction or do you hate it?

Reminded that we are to love what is lovely and hate what is vile, let us confess to the Lord that our loves and hates are often disordered and distorted. Let us acknowlege, in particular, that we often hate instruction and correction, that we are stupid creatures. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Wisdom in the House of Mourning

January 30, 2022 in Bible - OT - Ecclesiastes, Meditations, Uncategorized, Wisdom

Ecclesiastes 7:1–4 (NKJV)

1 A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth; 2 Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

The last couple weeks have brought me face to face with death and given me several opportunities to go to the house of mourning. Yesterday I officiated a memorial service for Andrea Lundgren’s mom who passed away suddenly last week and this week I travel to Pennsylvania for the funeral of my friend Gregg Strawbridge who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 57.

Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that as difficult as it is to face the death of loved ones and friends, there is a great deal of wisdom to be gained in the house of mourning. Better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting,” he writes. It is the one who takes time to consider his mortality who will grow in wisdom. So he writes that, Sorrow is better than laughter for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. As challenging as facing death is, facing it imparts to us wisdom – and Solomon offers two central pieces of wisdom in this text.

First, the house of mourning reminds us that our character is more important than our comfort. A good name is better than precious ointment,” he writes, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” It is far better to seek character than comfort, better to have endured hardship and become wise than to avoid discomfort and remain a fool. At the end of our lives, all our comforts are gone. But what remains is the testimony of our character. Consequently, Solomon tells us, the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth.At the beginning of our race, when we are born, it is impossible to tell what sort of person we shall be. But when the race is over, when we rest in our graves, then our lives reveal what we valued and what type of people we were.

So what of you? How will you be remembered? Have you been scrambling to get comfortable and neglecting your character? Have you been obsessed with your own cares and oblivious to the needs of others? Have you neglected the worship and service of your Creator? Have you decided to give up on your marriage oaths and divorce your spouse? Have you been consumed with bitterness and anger and frustration? Have you driven others away from you because you are so ungrateful? Then take heed: your character is far more important than your comfort.

Second, the house of mourning imparts wisdom because it reminds us that death is the end of us all. Millions of men and women have preceded us and millions more will follow; we shall all die. So why is it important to take this to heart? There is one simple reason: when we die, we will stand before our Creator and be judged for what we have done here on earth. The Apostle Paul reminds us, It is appointed unto men to die once and, after this, to face judgment(Heb 9:27). And the sober reality is this: none of us has character sufficient to face that judgment. We could spend every day in the house of mourning and never become holy enough to stand before God. Why? Because we have sinned, and our sins have separated us from God. Your sins, your character deficiencies, have separated you from God. Your greed, your lust, your anger, your covetousness, your selfishness, your bitterness, your worship of other gods – these things have separated you from your Creator and no matter how diligently you develop your character it will never be sufficient to deliver you in the day of judgment.

Your only hope, therefore, is a Savior. You need Someone to deliver you from judgment, Someone to endure the consequences of your sins so that when you die, which you certainly shall, you may be accepted by God rather than judged by Him. And now, hear the Good News: God has sent His only begotten Son to be that Savior. He has sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life and to endure the punishment that we deserve in order that we might be reconciled to Him. The Bible declares that God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him(2 Cor 5:21). 

The house of mourning, therefore, is the house of wisdom. Through the death of loved ones and friends, God our Creator reminds us that character counts far more than comfort. But He also reminds us that our own character is deficient and that the only way we can face death and judgment with hope is if we place all our hope in the flawless character and sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. Reminded of these things, let us kneel and confess our sins, acknowledging our need of God’s mercy that we may have hope in the face of death. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin.

The Key to Long Life and Fruitfulness

August 8, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Wisdom

Proverbs 10:27–30 

27The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. 28The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. 30The righteous will never be removed, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth. 

What is the key to long life and fruitfulness? This is a pressing question that our generation continues to ask. However, because we have turned away from the Living God, our answers are many and vacuous. We suggest that the key is public education, or sexual liberation, or social justice, or state funded health care, or confiscatory taxation, or particular diets, or essential oils, or violating our marriage oaths. In our polytheistic culture, everyone seems to have their own answer.

But Solomon tells us that the correct answer is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord prolongs days. It is the one who hopes in the Lord that will experience gladness; the one who walks in the Lord’s ways, observing His moral law, that will be strong; the one who listens to the Word of God and implements it, that will never be moved. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord…he shall be like a tree planted by streams of living water, which yields its fruit in its season and does not wither. The key to long life and fruitfulness is the fear of the Lord for the righteous has an everlasting foundation. When the winds blow and the rains fall, it is the one who builds his house on the rock, who hears the words of Christ and does them, who will stand. Indeed, even if he perishes in this life, he knows that when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, he will be raised eternal and will serve the Lord in gladness forever. The fear of the Lord prolongs days.

So what is it that will bring death and desolation? Is it climate change, overpopulation, intolerance and discrimination, sexual repression, an unhappy marriage, poverty, capitalism, processed foods, vaccinations? Solomon tells us that the correct answer is wickedness: the years of the wicked will be shortened, his expectation will perish. The one who works iniquity, who violates God’s moral law, will be destroyed and will not inherit the earth. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Though the wicked may prosper for a time, God will bring their plans and expectations to naught. He will destroy them and the earth will vomit them out. They are like a foolish man who builds his house upon sand – when the rains and floods come, his house will be destroyed. And this destruction will reach its culmination when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. The wicked will be judged according to the things written in the books and they will perish eternally. The years of the wicked will be shortened. 

So where have you placed your hope for long life? What do your habits and passions reveal about your beliefs? Have you been distracted by the cacophany of voices surrounding us? Or have you remained centered on the answer that Solomon gives? Is the majority of your time devoted to knowing and serving God, to understanding His moral law and obeying His precepts, or have you become distracted by other things? Where have you placed your hope? 

Reminded that righteousness is the key to long life and fruitfulness, and that wickedness brings destruction, let us confess that as Americans we have abandoned the living God and embraced wickedness, and let us confess that we, the Church in America, have become confused by the foolish answers given by our neighbors. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. As we confess our sins to the Lord, let us kneel together as you are able.

The Folly of a Rushed Conclusion

June 27, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Satan, Wisdom

Proverbs 18:13, 17

13He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him… 17The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him. 

Frank and Deuce were neighbors and as they were both fairly young men just setting out in life neither had a family. But being ranchers, they worked hard – sunup to sundown on their ranches. And they often helped one another – sometimes one pair of hands just wasn’t enough.

One day another neighbor, Dolosus by name, who owned a large spread immediately south of Frank and Deuce paid Frank a visit.

“Howdy, Frank,” Dolosus greeted and then asked with a hint of concern in his voice, “Is everything okay down here on your ranch?”

“Why yes, thank you, everything seems to be just fine. Why do you ask?” Frank replied.

“Oh, it’s probably nothing,” Dolosus assured him good-naturedly.

“What’s probably nothing?” asked Frank, getting a bit concerned.

“Well,” Dolosus confided, “Deuce mentioned to me today at the store that he was tired of sharing the creek with you and was planning to stop it up with a dam and make a pond.”

“What?!” Frank demanded. “He’d never do such a thing!”

“Well,” said Dolosus with a sympathetic look, “I’m sorry to say that I saw him purchasing the supplies today – posts, supports, … Go see for yourself – I think you’ll see him putting the posts in now.”

And sure enough, when Frank climbed the bank to where he could see Deuce’s ranch there was Deuce putting posts in the ground right near the creek. Frank got so mad, steaming and stewing on Deuce’s audacity, that he grabbed his shotgun out of the house and set out across the field, making a beeline for Deuce. 

Deuce was so busy working on the fence that he never noticed Frank’s approach. He jumped when Frank yelled at him from just a few feet away, “You lousy neighbor!” Deuce had just enough time to turn around and see the shotgun aimed his way before Frank pulled the trigger and shot him dead. 

With grim satisfaction Frank looked at Deuce’s dead body sprawled on the ground. And it was then that he noticed the barbed wire that lay beside Deuce’s corpse – and then that he became aware of the awful truth: Deuce hadn’t been making a dam. He had been building the barbed wire fence the two of them had discussed only last week.

At that moment the Sheriff happened to arrive – it seems Dolosus had notified him there might be some trouble. The Sheriff clapped Frank in irons and led him off to be hanged. Dolosus smiled grimly as Frank passed by. He couldn’t wait for the auctioneer to put the two men’s farms up for sale. He had always thought they’d make a nice addition to his own spread.

Solomon tells us that he who listens to only one side of the story rarely gets the whole story. And the problem arises when we make conclusions based on only one side of the story. Like Dolosus, Satan delights to stir up trouble – for his own advantage, of course. And one of the ways he succeeds is by convincing us to act on inadequate information. So, this morning, let us confess that we have often proven as foolish as Frank. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Other-Centered Discipline

January 31, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Covenantal Living, Discipline, Love, Meditations, Parents, Wisdom

Proverbs 3:11-12

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights”

The Word of God assures us that God is absolutely sovereign, absolutely in control of each and every event, good or bad, which befalls us. Hence, even when we are experiencing a severe trial, we can be assured that it comes from the hand of God. As Job reminded his wife, “The Lord gives; the Lord takes away…” (Job 1:21; 2:10).

So why do such trials come? Do they come because God hates us? If you are in Christ, the answer to that question is, “Absolutely not!” If you are in Christ, then Solomon assures you that the Lord sends trials to correct you because He loves you. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3:11-12 cf. Heb 12:5-6). God corrects us because He is a good Father who loves us. It was this knowledge that enabled Jacob to endure under Laban’s evil schemes; that fortified Joseph with joy and hope despite the treachery of his brothers, the lies of Potiphar’s wife, and the forgetfulness of the cupbearer; that emboldened Israel to cry out to God while suffering under Pharaoh’s heavy hand; and that comforted our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Whom the Lord loves He corrects.

So notice what this means for earthly fathers. A righteous father, one who loves and cherishes his children, is concerned for his child’s spiritual and personal growth and maturity. Consequently, a righteous father corrects his son. He knows that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of his child” (Prov 22:15) and so he uses “the rod of discipline” to “drive” this foolishness far away from him. He wants his child to receive God’s blessing. And this blessing only comes to those who have been trained in the ways of righteousness and self-control.

So fathers, how are you doing? Are you engaged with the discipline of your children? Are you concerned for them even as your Heavenly Father is for you? A loving father disciplines his children. “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Pr 13:24). And loving discipline, discipline that glorifies our Father in heaven, that imitates His character toward His children, must always be for the good of our children. Our discipline must be designed to bless them and strengthen them; to train them in righteousness and self-control; to make them ever more faithful servants of Christ Jesus. Biblical discipline, discipline that imitates our Heavenly Father, is a gift not a noose. God commanded Israel, “You shall not boil a kid [a baby goat] in its mother’s milk.” Yet how many children have been destroyed by the very discipline that should have been the means of blessing them?

So what are ways we can be tempted to distort the gift of discipline? Our chief temptation is to discipline our children not for their good but for our good. So we discipline them to get them out of our hair – to prevent them from disturbing our tranquility or our enjoyment of some other activity. Or we discipline them because we are frustrated with ourselves or with our day at work – we take out our frustration on them. Or we discipline them because we are concerned about what others might think of us, perhaps because we are embarrassed by our child’s behavior. In all these cases, the discipline is for us rather than for them.

Note carefully, however, that this is not how our Heavenly Father treats us. Therefore, if we discipline our children in this self-centered fashion, we are preaching a false Gospel, a Gospel that says, “God is so concerned about Himself that He lashes out at those who irritate Him.” Let us rather teach a true Gospel, a Gospel that says, “God is so satisfied in Himself and filled with love for His sons that He disciplines them for their good.”

And for you children out there, remember that this passage teaches you an important lesson – if your parents love you, they will discipline you. It is the permissive parent, the parent who says, “Oh do what you like I don’t really care” who truly doesn’t care. So when your parents limit your screen time, when they rebuke your attitude, when they spank you for disobeying them, when they give you consequences for your behavior, when they question your choice of friends or music or movies, be sure to thank them for loving you and caring for you. Discipline is a gift – and we all know what we’re supposed to say when we receive a gift, don’t we? Haven’t your parents trained you to say, “Thank you!”?

Reminded that the Lord chastens those He loves even as a father the son in whom he delights, let us confess that, as parents, we often fail to train our children as we ought, and that, as children, we often fail to thank God for disciplining us. And, as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able before the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Discernment and Covid-19

April 19, 2020 in Bible - NT - Romans, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Confession, Depravity, Judgment, Justice, Meditations, Politics, Responsibility, Ten Commandments, Wisdom, Word of God

Romans 1:28–32 (NKJV)

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

This morning we return to Paul’s catalogue of the bitter fruits that are produced by those of debased mind, those whom God in His justice has handed over to their sin for their rebellion. Today, we consider Paul’s assertion that people of debased mind “are undiscerning.”

The ability to “discern” is the ability to distinguish what is good from what is evil; what is most important from what is least important; what is major from what is minor. Repeatedly Jesus rebukes the leaders of Israel for their inability to discern. They strained out gnats and swallowed camels; they washed their hands but inside were full of dead men’s bones; they tithed mint and dill and cumin but neglected the weightier matters of the law. They were undiscerning.

This inability to discern was not unique to the leaders of Israel. Paul exhorted those Jewish Christians who were entertaining abandoning Christ and returning to unbelieving Judaism:

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Paul’s words reveal that the ability to discern good from evil is a gift from God given to those who meditate regularly on His Word. After all, discernment requires a standard of assessment; that standard is God’s moral law. By meditating on His law, we have our senses trained to discern good and evil and are capable of consuming solid food.

Our current Covid-19 crisis has revealed that many of our leaders are undiscerning, incapable of identifying what is most important and ignorant of God and His moral law. Most Governors that have issued stay at home orders have distinguished between “essential” and “non-essential” services – yet the application of this distinction has uncovered many perverse priorities. Elective surgeries canceled but abortions continued; family diners closed but marijuana shops opened; churches shuttered but liquor stores accessible. These inconsistencies highlight our inability to discern what is most important and necessary for a healthy society.

The tragic consequences of this inability to discern are increasingly manifesting themselves. Quarantining the sick and urging the vulnerable to isolate themselves is wise and prudent; destroying our people and their livelihoods through statewide quarantines is not. The true heroes and sacrificial victims of our current crisis are the owners and employees of so-called “non-essential” services or businesses whose livelihoods have been destroyed and savings depleted by the actions of our governing authorities. Until our governors voluntarily suspend their salaries and cut pay for all “non-essential” government services, then they are, like the Pharisees before them, loading burdens on the backs of their people that they themselves are unwilling to bear. Let us not, in the comfort of our homes, enjoying extended time with family, continuing to receive a paycheck, forget those who are being sacrificed for the safety of a small percentage of our society, including myself, who are especially vulnerable to the Covid virus. This entire debacle weighs heavy on my heart and I find myself resorting again and again to the cry in our confession of sins, “Lord, have mercy!”

So reminded of our need to meditate deeply on the Word of God in order that we be equipped to discern good from evil; wisdom from folly; freedom from servitude; let us acknowledge that we have failed to do so and that we are reaping the consequences of our lack of knowledge. So let us kneel before the Lord as we confess our sins to Him. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your order of service.

Prayer for the Church Family in America

May 2, 2019 in Baptism, Bible - OT - Psalms, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Confession, Ecclesiology, Holy Spirit, King Jesus, Law and Gospel, Mosaic Law, Politics, Sacraments, Ten Commandments, Wisdom, Word of God

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Our local Pastors’ Association coordinates an event in our city at which various pastors briefly pray for our families, our churches, and our communities and leaders (local, state, federal). I was tasked to pray for the Church Family in America and given the following Scripture as my theme:

Psalm 111:10 (NKJV) – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

Almighty and Everlasting Father,

You are good, You do good, and You are worthy of praise. You have not abandoned us Your people but have revealed Yourself in Your most holy word. Your law is holy, righteous, and pure, beloved of all those who put their hope in You. Our Lord Jesus knew that Your law is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path; so He Himself delighted in Your law, rejoiced in Your precepts, and meditated upon Your commandments day and night. He was filled with the Spirit of wisdom and of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. Likewise, He summoned us, as His people, to walk in the light of Your Word. “If you keep My commandments,” He said to our fathers on the night He was betrayed, “you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (Jn 15:10).

But, Father, we Your people have not feared You as we ought; we have despised Your commandments; we have substituted our own opinions of what is good and right for Your most holy Word; we have preached cheap grace, “grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ;” we have preached “forgiveness without repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession of sins.” Holy Father, have mercy upon Your Church and grant us repentance; unite us together in a most holy love for You, for Your Son Jesus, for Your Word, and for one another, that together as one body we might praise Your Name forever and ever,


*The words in quotations are from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The Mouth of the Righteous

January 13, 2019 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Regeneration, Tongue, Wisdom

Proverbs 10:31–32 (NKJV)

31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, But the perverse tongue will be cut out. 32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.

God takes words seriously. As the God of truth, all His words are righteous, holy, and upright. “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Ps 12:6). God knows just the right word to speak and when to speak it for He is righteous. His words encourage the fainthearted, remind the forgetful, strengthen the weak, rebuke the lazy, exalt the humble, humble the proud, protect the innocent, condemn the guilty. Consequently, God is ultimately reliable. He can be trusted, for His words never lead astray. “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (Pr 18:30).

Because God’s words are righteous, holy, and upright, He expects our words to reflect His own. Mankind was made in His image, in His likeness, to reflect His character in our own. But because we rebelled against God in the beginning, there is now an antithesis in the world. While some, by the grace of God, reflect God’s character in their words, others, by their own rebellion, speak perverse words. We witness this contrast in our text today.

On the one hand, Solomon tells us, the mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom and the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable. The righteous man is the man who knows God and who reflects God’s character in his own. Consequently, his words reflect God’s words. First, he speaks with wisdom. He takes the knowledge that he has acquired, considers the principles that God has revealed, and then applies them faithfully to any specific situation. Second, his lips know what is acceptable. He knows how to speak in such a way that his words will be pleasing and honorable in the sight of God and other faithful men.

On the other hand, Solomon also tells us, the mouth of the wicked [knows] what is perverse. The wicked man is he who does not know God and does not reflect God’s character in his own. He lives in rebellion against God. Consequently, his lips and his words are perverse, twisted from their God-given intention. Rather than lead others in the way of truth, righteousness, and beauty, his words lead others into lies, wickedness, and deceit. But because God remains the Lord, the perverse tongue will be cut out. God takes note of their angry outbursts, cruel lies, demeaning speech, empty boasting, and coarse jesting. He will set all to rights and remove their ability to speak such perversity. He will cut out their tongue.

Our text today reminds us, therefore, that our words are a reflection of our character. Our words reflect who we really are, what we really love, what we truly cherish. The righteous man speaks acceptably not because God controls his tongue and forces him to speak just the right words but because he himself, by the grace of God, knows God and has a heart to please Him. His words reflect his character. The wicked man speaks perversely not because Satan controls his tongue and forces him to speak wickedly, but because he himself is estranged from God, the source of righteousness. His words reflect his character. As Jesus says in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

So what of you? What do your words reveal about you? Whom do you love? What do you cherish? Whose character do you reflect? Do you have the tongue of the righteous or the lips of the wicked? Reminded that God takes our words seriously and that our words reflect our character, let us confess that our words are often perverse and that we stand in need of His forgiving and transforming grace. And as we confess, let us kneel together as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.