Knowing the Bible for Yourself (Pt. 11)
When one thinks of wisdom, what thoughts come to mind? What images fill the head? The response of the Christian to such questions will inevitably differ from those outside the faith. The most up-to-date entry in the Cambridge online dictionary defines wisdom as: “The ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments”. The Biblical definition of wisdom whilst not contradicting this, begins from an entirely different premise from where the world begins. The world begins from a worldview that excludes the God of Holy Scripture; whereas the Biblical definition of wisdom begins and ends with God (Prov. 9:10).
There are five books in the Bible that have been rightly identified as belonging to the Wisdom Literature. These include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. In this first teaching part of two, we begin exploring this wisdom and endeavour to offer practical helps to enable one to better interpret the Book of Proverbs in order to understand the great wealth of wisdom that is contained in this precious book.
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J.C Ryle said of this parable; “The four kinds of hearts it describes are to be found in every assembly which hears the word. These circumstances should make us always read the parable with a deep sense of its importance. We should say to ourselves as we read it: “This concerns me. My heart is to be seen this parable. I, too, am here”. Well said, Brother Ryle!!
The child of God ever runs the dangerous possibility of becoming overfamiliar with those texts which he hears the most. The Parable of the Sower is perhaps at the forefront of this list. May we listen to this sermon with ears and eyes afresh and in so doing, may God grant us to see the soil condition of our hearts.
What woeful words greet us; what mournful landscape is hung before our eyes, sketched by the son of Hilkiah, otherwise known as the weeping prophet! “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. It’s one thing to pronounce judgment and it’s another thing to do so with streaming eyes. Jeremiah didn't earn his epithet without warrant; as goes the name, as goes the man! “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jer. 9:1). The false prophets spoke words of flattering ease and comfort, but the true prophets called God’s people to repentance and foretold of coming judgment.
As we look across our nation and to the Church that is within it, will there not a voice arise to cry out to Living God if perhaps He might mercy and stand on God’s Word? “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14).
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” — coming from the pen of shepherd!! It is no coincidence that the latter words “...I shall not want” should follow fast on the heels of the former “The LORD is my shepherd”. The two are intrinsically linked together and the latter proceeds out of the former. It is because the LORD is a shepherd, that the sheep under His watchful care shall lack for nothing!! While the shepherd is near, the sheep have nothing to worry about!! You see, the shepherds of the middle east were different from those we’re perhaps accustomed to in the West. Here in England, we frequently see sheep grazing freely on the rolling hills with no shepherd in sight and without a seeming care in the world! But in Biblical times, in ancient Israel, this would have proven fatal! It was the shepherd’s chief duty to watch over his flock in order to protect them from predators.
In his sermon, we look at the Good Shepherd and take comfort from that 23rd Psalm which down through the ages has proven to be a balm of consolation for countless millions.
Which specialist army unit deploys an inconsistent marksman to take out an enemy target? Which coach puts forward an inconsistent striker to take the deciding penalty? Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves (and I’m speaking of things pertaining to our Christian walk), we leave far too much margin for error in our lives. Inconsistencies which ought to be consistencies, variables which ought to be constants; and yet, when I open the Word of God, I don’t see these margins of error being left us for waver. Instead, I see imperatives (instructional commands) where the expectation is for full compliance!
This sermon is an exhortation for believers to lay hold on God and to press through into a life of consistency.
Knowing the Bible for Yourself (Pt. 10)
The first recorded song sung in the Bible was the Song of Moses and the last recorded song that will one day be sung is also the song of Moses (Rev. 15:3). Did you know that there are some 185 songs recorded in Holy Scripture, most of which are found in the Book of Psalms? If you were God, would you choose to include in your collection of books, a book solely consisting of songs? Would you choose to make this book the largest book in your collection of books and would you have it contain the longest chapter? What does all of this tell us? It clearly sends a message, telling us that songs are important to God! It has been calculated that there are 283 direct quotations from the Tanakh (Old Testament) found in the New Testament. Did you know that the greatest number of quotes coming from any one book is the Book of Psalms!
One cannot overestimate the role that David played in bringing structured praise into the House of God. In the days of the Tabernacle of Moses, there was no designated place for the worship of God via song and music in the instructions given to Moses on the Mount. However, in the instructions given by David for the construction of the Temple praise and worship played a prominent part. In this tenth teaching part, we take a look at this fascinating book and provide some practical helps that will enable us to better interpret it.
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2 Samuel 23:8-39
As one surveys the annals of history, down through the corridors of time, one will find that history polluted and stained by war. Bloodshed has left its indelible mark upon the human race, the horrors of battle recorded by those who never lived to tell their story in person. If there’s one thing that history bears witness to, it’s this, war is not a thing to be desired!! However, having said that, there is something about the environment of war that is able to accomplish something that a pre-war environment simply cannot do. Brothers and Sisters, it is in the climate of war where heroes are born!! A pre-war generation of peace is known by its cowards, and the generation of war, by its heroes!
This sermon is a heart cry for men to rise up in this critical hour and to give themselves to the fight!! A Church in retreat will never do. Is there one who would say with the shepherd boy David “Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:32)? May the Lord see fit to do such a work of restoration in our day.
Brother Ryan comes with a very strong and timely word to the Body of Christ. Drawing from the life and example of Ezekiel, Ryan brings a practical application to believers in relation to the value we place on our lives and this world.
Who will pick up their cross in this critical hour and live wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ?
The question being asked in this sermon is a question that every Christian must answer honestly before God; Where lies the treasure of your heart? In just three words, our Lord would have us remember; “Remember Lot’s wife” (Lk. 17:32). Her heart was still at home in Sodom, and though her feet were going through the motions of exiting the confines of that wicked city, she brought Sodom out with her! Let me ask you, do you feel at home in this world or are you just passing through?
This sermon is a call for a people to rise up in this day of great evil, wherein it appears, the glory of God is departing from these shores. Is there a soul who of whom it could be said; the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up? Who will give themselves to the Father’s business in order that we might see the Kingdom of God advancing in our day? Even so, Lord may it be!
Here before us in the third chapter of the Book of Revelation, is a Church, to whom our Lord had nothing by way of rebuke to bring. That was of course, not the case for the vast majority of the Churches that He addressed in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In my reckoning, there were only two out of the seven Churches addressed, for which our Lord had nothing bad to say and both these Churches shared something precious in common that I believe was key in contributing to this. You say, Brother, what was it? Both found themselves in the midst of persecution and tribulation, amidst great difficulty and affliction for representing the name of Jesus Christ. Both were WEAK in their own natural strength. Whatever we may think of persecution, and whatever discomfort we may feel at the thought of having to go through afflictions and trials —one thing is for sure...IT DOES US GOOD!!
Maybe you’re going through a particular trial of incredible difficulty and you feel as though you can’t go on. Be encouraged dear soul, the God we serve is the God of the little strength Christian. There is grace in abundance to help you through if you will but call upon the Lord.