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Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God and All These Things Shall be Added unto You

Proverbs 3

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you.” The great blessings of seeking and knowing God are displayed in very practical terms in this 3rd chapter of Proverbs. The study of truth leading to wisdom is commended to all. This pursuit of God is commended to the reader in light of the destinies of the wicked and the just.

Wisdom is Rooted in Sound Teaching
Proverbs 3.1-4
The wise Solomon longs to direct his reader to the wisdom he has gained through God’s blessing, God’s Word, and God’s providential care. This wisdom is found in the commandment which Solomon is teaching. The commandments of Solomon carry authority because they are from God (Titus 2.15).
The teaching is seen to be Heavenly by its benefits. Submitting to God’s path leads to a long life (symbolic physical blessing describing the true spiritual blessing), and peace (peace with both God and man).

Wisdom Rests in Trusting God
Proverbs 3.5-6
Heavenly submission leads to the Heavenly destination. This key verse of the chapter admonishes the reader to trust in the Lord and to put the Lord first in every decision. Yielding to God’s will in precept and principle will keep us in the safe way of wise Christian living.

Wisdom Rewards Those Who Trust in God
Proverbs 3.7-10
Investing ourselves in Heavenly treasures results in physical folly. The wisdom of the world is often foolish in the eyes of God. We are fool’s (in the purely physical mindset) for Christ’s sake–1 Corinthians 4.10. 1 Corinthians 1.26-31 presents God as using true spiritual wisdom to make the world’s wisdom known as true foolishness. However, those who are wise in the world’s wisdom will scoff at spiritual wisdom.
Entrusting ourselves to God demands yielding our possessions to God’s service (Prov. 3.9-10). Our trust in God is demonstrated by our willingness to worship Him through giving, our eagerness to further His Kingdom financially, and our desire to serve Him by serving others.

Wisdom Reproves in order that Submission Can be Perfected
Proverbs 3.11-26
God helps us to be more like Him through discipline. This verse is cited again in Hebrews 12.5. It is also alluded to in Job 5.17 and in Revelation 3.19. This is a very powerful principle that helps us understand the appropriate response to God’s actions and Words so that we can grow in faithfulness. God disciplines us so that it may “yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12.11). Peter said, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1.6-7).
Wisdom may be costly, but wisdom is the only true foundation for life (3.19-26). Although no discipline seems pleasant at the moment, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Proverbs 3.19-26 reveals that perfect peace which God supplies to those who yield to spiritual wisdom.

Wisdom Rescues her Neighbors
Proverbs 3.27-35
As we strive to walk in wisdom, we must do unto others as Christ would do to them. “We have beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1.14). When Jesus, the embodiment of wisdom walked the earth, the hurting were healed and the outcasts were brought in. The wise are helpers.

We might start a new verse to the old song “Trust and Obey”: Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in life, but to trust and obey.

Reasons Why We Grow


V.P. Black listed three reasons the church has grown rapidly: 1) they stood for something; 2) they knew what they stood for; and 3) they had the courage to carry out their convictions. The Bible says, “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1.17). It is our duty to be missional (to carry out the mission of God)–Matthew 28.19-20. In order to carry out His mission, we must stand on God’s Word and stand up for God’s Word.
We must stand for something. The Bible tells us that Peter and John were “commanded not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” However, “Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4.18-19). Our society of political correctness cannot dictate the message of God and the practice of God’s laws. We should know we will encounter persecution if we stand for God. If we have not encountered any persecution, perhaps it is because we are not standing tall enough.
We must know what for what we are to stand. We are not to stand for the doctrine of any church, the practice of any family, or the thoughts of the intellectuals. We are to stand for the truth of Christ. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8.32). Only the truth of Christ can do that.
We must also have the courage to carry out our convictions. Paul had the courage to fulfill the mission God gave. When he was saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders for the final time the Bible records that: “He kneeled down and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him. Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more” (Acts 20.36-38). We must be willing to leave friends, family, position, and safety when we are presented with an opportunity for God which demands sacrifice.

Consider God’s Word and practice God’s Word. People need the Gospel. People need Jesus. People need to be saved from their sin. We need to help. We need to carry the Gospel to every person. We need to bring every person to the Gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1.16-17).

Studying the Scriptures


“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6.6-9.

The study of God’s Word must be at the forefront of our lives. Ignorance of God’s will is no excuse for setting it aside–Romans 1.18-23. If we are to live for God, we must know how. If we are to avoid the snares, traps, and destruction of worldly living, then we must devote ourselves to the learning of spiritual truths–2 Timothy 3.14-4.2. Deuteronomy 6.6-9 gives us some principles for Bible study that will enrich, direct, and safeguard our lives.
First we see that the commandments are to be in our heart. To have these words in our hearts means that we have spent a significant time with the words. We have studied the words. We have meditated on the significance of the words. We have memorized the words. We have sought the application of the words to our lives in this world. This requires time and effort. Thinking is a difficult business. It is the time and energy consuming study of Scripture that leads to the effect in our hearts. Without the knowledge of the word, we can have no true love for the one who is described as the Word–John 1.1-14. Christianity involves both our head and our heart.
Secondly, as we study the Scriptures, we will want to teach the Scriptures. There is no excuse for hiding the priceless treasures of God within our own hearts. The value of God’s word only increases as we share it with others. When we have studied the Scriptures, then we will see how profitable it is and demand our children be familiar with and love these words as well. Our children will love the words and know the words if we know and love the words first. We will be the model for their Bible study and for their life.
Finally, we see that the study of God’s Word is to be a common theme of our lives. Discussing God’s Word is no rare occurrence. Rather, the Word of God is the theme of our conversation as we are sitting, walking, going to bed, and getting out of bed. Not only is God’s Word dominating our thoughts, but our homes are adorned with it. We do not necessarily need to plaster the walls with Scripture, but we are expected to have our personal life and home life decorated with God’s Word.

“Give me the Bible all my steps enlighten, teach me the danger of these realms below; That lamp of safety o’er the gloom shall brighten, that light alone the path of peace can show. Give me the Bible holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way; precept and promise, law and love combining, till night shall vanish in eternal day.”

Suffering, Sin, and Salvation

LUKE 13.1-9

Why do bad things happen? We should also ask “why do good things happen?” The problem of suffering demands that we prove God is righteous in this world as we know it.
First, we must understand that the world as we know is not the world as God wants it. When God created a home for mankind, it was described as “very good”, a “garden”, and in that home for man there was everything mankind needed to thrive and nothing that would cause mankind to suffer–except his own choices.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they chose to leave that Garden. They chose to leave God’s perfect world and to enter into the world which was infected by sin. God said that because of sin, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3.17-19). Paul expounded on this idea saying, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8.20-21).
We have all been born into the world that is infected with sin. Being in this world we bear many of the consequences of Adam’s sin. We will never know what that Garden home was like. We will never know what it was like to hear God walking in the cool of the morning. We will never know what it was like to be outside the curse of sin. We only look forward to the hope of glory that will supersede the Garden home.
Therefore, we will all suffer. God knows we suffer, and God has acted on behalf of our suffering. He sent Jesus to share in our sufferings (Heb. 2.18, 4.15). Not only did Jesus share our experience of suffering, but he has defeated the cause of suffering–sin and the champion of suffering–death. “For God has done what the law, weakened by flesh, could not do. By sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8.3-4).
While we try to understand the great victory over sin, we still cannot help but to wonder why God allows suffering to persist. Jesus addresses the problem of suffering in this world and gives us a very practical application in Luke 13.1-9. In this Jesus shows us that suffering is actually beneficial to our eternal life.

Suffering comes by the free will of others–Luke 13.1-3
Suffering sometimes occurs because of free-will decisions. Some of those present with Christ give a report of some Galileans who had been executed by Pilate. Pilate also mixed their blood with the blood of their sacrifices. We do not know much more about this historical event, but we understand that in some way these individuals had chosen to rebel against Pilate and Pilate had chosen to punish them in the grotesque way.
Suffering came about because of the decisions of two groups–the people and the governor. God is not to blame here. He allows people to make decisions. If we were to intervene in this decisions on every occasion, that would negate free will. What’s so good about free will? Without free will we can never have the best relationship with God that God wants. Jesus came so that “all who believe on him can have the right to become the children of God” (John 1.12). Faith gives us the right to be God’s children. Faith does not force us to become children. God does not force us to become children either. God gives us the opportunity to become children through faith. Free will makes John 3.16 the Golden Text of the Bible. “For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Without the presence of free-will, John 3.16 is a rather dull declaration of God’s predetermined will. God must allow us to choose our fate by allowing us to choose our actions.
Jesus looks to this terrible event and reminds the people that those Galileans were no worse spiritually than anyone else. They had not suffered because they were particularly sinful. In their suffering we do see God cry out in warning that there will be a time of unexpected judgment for which we must all be prepared.

Suffering comes by accidents–Luke 13.4-5
Jesus himself introduces another question which is more difficult to answer. The Galileans suffered because of their own decisions, but “the 18 on whom fell the tower in Siloam and killed them” were seemingly innocent. This highlights the fact that suffering doesn’t come simply by our own choices but by the conditions of the world in which we live.
See the immediate link Jesus brings up–“Do you think that they were guilty above all the people living in Jerusalem? No, I say to you, but except you repent you all will also be destroyed” (Lk. 13.5). They suffered, not because of the immediate result of their own decisions, but because they lived in a world infected with sin. We live “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8.21).
While academic, philosophical, or theological defenses of God allowing suffering to exist may help us emotionally, we recognize that academic answers mean little to those who are in the midst suffering. The ultimate answer to suffering is not in reason. The ultimate answer to suffering is found in the unreasonable suffering of our perfect Savior so that we can be saved from this condemned world.

Suffering comes by refusing to repent–Luke 13.6-9
Jesus unmistakably linked suffering with sin. Now he shows us one reason God allows us to suffer. He allows us to suffer to point us to move to a place of comfort. The parable begins with a certain man who had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. He said to the gardener, Behold three years I came seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground? But he answered and said to him, lord let it alone (afes) this year also. I will dig around it and put manure on it. The mediator asks for more time. Here is beautiful description of grace.
However, judgment must surely come. Even though the owner permits another year of mercy for the plant to prove itself fruitful, the time for judgment must come (Heb. 9.27). Even though Christ gives us opportunity to submit to God and serve God, we must still fulfill our responsibility. Will we bear fruit for God? Will we be found as we should when Christ returns again?

Forgotten Essentials

We are big on essentials. What do I have to do to compete the job, the course, the paper, the test? What is necessary. We know God has some essentials for us as Christians. I fear that some essentials have been neglected. Jesus definitely spoke of some things as essential to salvation. Jesus said those who “did not do it” would “go away into eternal punishment” (Matthew 25.45-46). What was Jesus talking about? What was Jesus saying we must be doing in order to go into “life eternal” (Matthew 25.46)? Who will hear the great welcome “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25.34)? What are these essential things Jesus is talking about?
Those who are welcomed in to life eternal and spared eternal punishment are those who helped the helpless. Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25.35-36). Jesus said these things were essential to our salvation. Just as faith (Heb. 11.6) repentance, (Acts 17.30, Heb. 10.26), confession (Rom. 10.9-10), baptism (Mark 16.16), and obedience (Heb. 5.9) are essential–helping is essential to our salvation.
James’ epistle could be titled “True Religion”. He tells us that “true religion and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1.27). He also describes a condemned faith as one who sees “a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving him the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.” (James 2.14-17).
There will many who did believe and even did many great things who will not enter into life eternal. Those who did not give food to the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner will hear the unfortunate words of disaster, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25.41).
The suffering are all around us. God cares for them, and we must display his care for them through our loving actions. They are counting on us. When we help the suffering individuals with their physical problems, then we can begin to bring them closer to Christ so that they can be saved from our common spiritual problem.

Questions for When We Hurt

When we hurt…

Is God still in control?
Palm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Is God still working?
Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Is God still going to make this better?
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”

Is God concerned?
John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

Is God still going to help?
2 Corinthians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, the one who comforts us in our affliction.”

Is God still with me?
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me” Psalm 23.4

Bring him to Jesus


MARK 2.4
“And not being able to bring him to Jesus on account of the crowd, they removed the roof where he was, and having made an opening they lowered the mattress upon which the paralyzed man lay. And Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralyzed man,
son, your sins are forgiven you.”

We are struck with the incredible faith of these men who were willing to go to extreme measures to bring a man to Christ. First, we see that the men would allow nothing to get in their way. There was a crowd around Jesus, but that would not prevent them. We are often ashamed to come near Christ when we are among a crowd of people. These men were so eager to bring their friend to Christ that they were willing to let their faith be seen in a great crowd. How often is the cause of Christ hindered because Christians are afraid to let their light shine (Matthew 5.16)?

There was also a physical hindrance to being near Christ. The crowd separated them from Christ, but so did the roof. We can only imagine what the people down below must have been thinking as the roof literally began to tumble on their heads. The men in this story were bold enough to dig through that earthen roof anyway. We are not told how the owner of the house responded to the hole in his roof. Perhaps he was just happy a man was brought to Christ at his expense. Perhaps this was Peter’s home where Jesus was staying (Mark 2.1).

The paralyzed man did not allow his lack of mobility to hinder him from coming to Jesus. Those who are sick need the Physician. Physical illness helps us see our need for the eternal Savior. Spiritual sickness demands us to run to the Savior.

This group of men had certainly caused a disturbance while Jesus was teaching, but they would not stop until they had brought their friend to Christ. They stand as a great example of faith moving men to action. We must allow nothing to stand between us and Christ. We must not allow anything to prohibit the spread of the Gospel. Charles Spurgeon said, “…then through door, through window, or through roof, let us, breaking through all impediments, labour to bring poor souls to Jesus. All means are good and decorous when faith and love are truly set on winning souls. If hunger for bread can break through stone walls, surely hunger for souls is not to be hindered in its efforts. O Lord, make us quick to suggest methods of reaching thy poor sin-sick ones, and bold to carry them out at all hazards.”