Proverbs 17:1

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 17 ESV”]
Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife.
2 A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the Lord tests hearts.
4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.
7 Fine speech is not becoming to a fool;
still less is false speech to a prince.
8 A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it;
wherever he turns he prospers.
9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.
11 An evil man seeks only rebellion,
and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
12 Let a man meet a she- bear robbed of her cubs
rather than a fool in his folly.
13 If anyone returns evil for good,
evil will not depart from his house.
14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
16 Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom
when he has no sense?
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
18 One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
19 Whoever loves transgression loves strife;
he who makes his door high seeks destruction.
20 A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.
21 He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.
22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the ways of justice.
24 The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.
26 To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
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Solomon: Don’t lament the days of small things

 

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.

As we saw Sunday, there is a word here for all of us in not “despising” – in terms of either hating, or treating as of no importance – the beginning and struggling days of anything. This is especially true of our spiritual lives. It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s mindset of more is better, bigger is better, and nothing ought to take time to grow and mature. Not our careers, not our families, not the home we live in, the car we drive, the entertainments we indulge in, and certainly not our souls. But this is not God’s way.
Having little is not shameful to Him. Nor ought to be to those who are His. This was part of the scandal of Jesus’ opening words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – or in Luke’s account – simply “the poor”. How can anyone who is “poor” by any human standard, also be “blessed”? To the world, even (or perhaps especially) to the Judaistic world of Jesus’ contemporaries, this was an unthinkable contradiction. But it surely is not a contradiction, to the one sets their eyes on inheriting the Kingdom – and sees this life but the bare budding stage of what is to come in Christ.
Think for a moment Christian – where do you locate your own poverty? What makes you think of yourself as poor because you lack it? What is that gnawing ache in your soul? And to what lengths has it driven you to try and either obtain it, or erase the pain? It can be virtually anything. We are so individual in the specifics, even as the reality of the experience is universal. Relationship? Spouse? Children? Career? Position? Recognition? Some physical attribute? Raw mental acuity? A possession? An achievement? The love of someone who never seems to requite your own, romantically or in the familial sense? Approbation or respect from a parent or someone else? Money? What?
It is to this, these opening 7 verses especially speak. And it is this that the whole of God’s Word addresses in pointing us to Christ and Christ alone. As Romans 11:36 reminds us, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” We came from Him – as do all things. We were created BY Him, thought the personal agency of the second member of the Trinity. And we were made FOR Him. For His pleasure. For His purposes. Thus it is apart from finding our wholeness and our purpose and fulfillment in Him, we always be driven and tormented by the “lack” we place such importance upon, and in the end, become slaves to. Only in Christ is there freedom from this bondage. Only in finding our contentment in that “morsel” the World considers so “dry” – but who is in truth the very Bread of Life – can the soul be truly quiet and at peace. No matter how much “feasting” we imagine would satisfy us, it will only come with the strife that resides in the creature at war with the Creator.
Now there is also a pointed application in all of this for those who venture upon ministry of any kind.
Ministers, don’t lament the days of small things, hoping for your “big break” and throngs of crowds hanging upon your every word. It is a lie. Enjoy the hour. Break your bread in peace in a quiet household. Yes, a full house is more exciting. Yes, it has its pleasures and advantages. But so does this present place. Each in their season. Remember that the time of growth will also bring with it strife. It will bring another set of challenges and difficulties. Enjoy God’s grace in every season and in every place. And never, NEVER see any place of service as some mere stepping stone to something greater. The greatness of our service resides in the greatness of the One we represent, not in ourselves nor our ministries. Seeking “success” in ministry beyond being a faithful herald of God’s Word, and a loving shepherd of the portion of His flock He has providentially place you among, is the way of the World. But it is not the way of Christ.
How are we ministers to be regarded? Paul summed it up in the Spirit most perfectly in 1 Corinthians 4:1 “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Nothing more. Nothing less. Christ as all.

~ Reid

Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
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Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

Leaving Christ

 

hoarding

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.
For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us;
but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
(1 John 2:19)
False ProfessionsMy first real experience of this sort was in high school. My neighborhood friend Bubba (yes, we lived in the South!) made profession of Christ, was baptized, and was excited to come to church. It was great to see him saved . .. or so we thought. But suddenly one Sunday morning he didn’t want to come to church with us. And in no time his interests had turned entirely. He didn’t want to go to church, and he didn’t want to talk about it. And the fact that I did want these things was a strain on our friendship.You’ve seen the same, I’m sure. From the beginning every church has seen it – those who come in, make profession of Christ, seem for a while to be “one of us, ” and then are gone. Their interest just ran out. They are no longer in church. The things of the Lord are not topics of interest for them. The people of God are not their usual companions. They’re gone – away from Christ and back into the world.
What do we make of them? What is their true spiritual state? For a few generations now Evangelical churches have been told that such people are still saved, even though their lives do not reflect it. Having salvation is one thing, we are told; living it is another. We may be saved even if there is no evidence of it in our lives. And these people who have left us – we may not enjoy their company in Christ here, but we may be sure nonetheless that we will see them again in heaven.
It’s a comforting doctrine. But it is wrong. The inspired apostle John tells us otherwise. Continuance with Christ is the proof of our profession of Christ, and leaving Christ – and his people – is proof that our profession of Christ is false.
There is such a thing as “spurious” faith. It’s a flash in the pan kind of faith. The kind of faith that makes a show for a while and then dies away. It is a kind of faith. But it is not true saving faith, for genuine saving faith has this as its mark – it continues on with Christ. We do no one any favors when we allow them to believe they are saved when in fact they are lost. It makes no difference how many professions of Christ they have made, if there is no evidence of following Christ, no evidence of discipleship, there can be no assurance of salvation. Salvation is free and comes to us apart from our works by faith alone.
But salvation is more than escape from hell. Salvation entails freedom from sin and living for Christ. Simply put, salvation lasts. It sticks. This is why the apostle John can speak with such certainty – those who leave are not Christians, only those who stay. “if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. ”Moreover, this is why it is so important for each of us to finish well. We must pray and strive daily to pursue Christ. This is the “narrow way” that leads to life, and we must make it our aim to have at the end of our lives the testimony of the apostle Paul – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7)
~ Fred

 
Fred Zaspel
Pastor Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012). In addition Fred is the editor of Books At A Glance.
[button link=”http://www.biblicalstudies.com” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Dr. Fred Zaspel’s Biblical Studies[/button]

The Bible: Narrative

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The Promises and Mission of God

 

Genesis 12:1-9 ESV

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy- five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.


Introduction 

God giving us grace, today we begin our journey through the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. The Bible is God telling us his story in human history. It is a story about his glory and how he displays and invites us to share in the blessings of his glory. The main character or hero of God’s story is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible primarily is made up of the narrative storyline and God’s commentary upon that. It is important that we know this, or else we will view the Bible as a collection of morals or rituals or as a theological fact book.

In choosing a passage from the various books of the Bible, I attempt to select one that will shed light on the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. Usually this will require that we know the place of the passage in the context of the story. Over the weeks, this will involve some repetition, but this will help us know the various people and themes that God uses in his story.

Exposition

I.The setting of God’s promises and mission – a brief overview

A.The account of creation (Gen 1-2)

1.The action of the all-powerful, personal living God. He is so majestic and glorious that he speaks the universe into being by his word. Note the recurring “And God said.” Everything is created by his will (Rev 4:11) in a manner that communicates wise design. Everything that God creates is good; in fact, all is very good (Gen 1:31).

2.This goodness includes Adam and his wife. God makes them in his image and likeness. God places them in a garden that is like a temple in all its imagery. God tells Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over the garden and the whole earth. They are to serve him as royal priests—an important idea in God’s story.

3.God blesses the people he created. Overflowing with glory and goodness, God chooses to bless people. God is telling us about his mission. And God also asserts his authority to order and command the way of life of people. Adam and Eve receive one prohibition and a consequence for disobedience that tells them that God can set limits on human behavior (2:15-17). The creation account closes with the man and the woman living in God’s blessing with harmony.

B.The account of the Fall into sin and death (Gen 3; cf. Rm 5:12-21)

1.Mankind falls into sin and death because Adam and Eve rebelled against God and his authority when Satan tempted them. (The rest of God’s story makes clear that the tempter was Satan or the devil (cf. Jn 8:44). Adam did not exercise his authority over creation and order the serpent to stop his lies. Instead, he sinned, became guilty, was afraid, and hid from God.

2.God acts to judge all three sinners, and pronounces curses upon them and their world. Yet at the same time, in the midst of the curse on the judgment, God gives hope. He tells that one day the seed of the woman would be victorious over the serpent and his seed (Gen 3:15). So then, in the midst of destruction, there is a promise of blessing, but it will come through the seed. This is an important idea in God’s story.

3.God spares mankind from immediate physical death, but drives them from the garden temple where they had lived. The way back into God’s presence can only come through a blood sacrifice.

C.The account of the spread of sin and death (Gen 4-11) – The Bible never tells us the extent of time from the expulsion from Eden to the call of Abraham, but it took thousands of years.

1.Adam and Eve have two sons, whose relationship shows the ruin that sin brought on the human race. Cain murders his brother Abel, showing that he was of the seed of the evil one (cf. 1 Jn 3:11-12). His line builds a civilization of godless violence. God grants another son to them, Seth, and through his descendants come people that call on the name of the Lord (4:26). Yet their priestly activity is unable to rebuild the world. Instead, humanity is filled with evil and all suffer the curse of death. Note the gloomy refrain in Gen 5: “and then he died”. Human wickedness becomes so terrible that God decides to destroy mankind (Gen 6:5-7).

2.However, God also gives us hope by telling us about his grace—his unmerited favor for those who deserve God’s wrath. As he prepares to destroy the earth, he selects one man and his family to make a new beginning—Noah. He provides Noah and the land and air animals with a way of rescue or salvation—the ark. After the Great Flood that killed all outside the ark, God leads out Noah and the rest to a world that he has remade. God makes a covenant promise with humanity and the rest of the world not to destroy it again by a Great Flood (Gen 8-9). Yet God’s words tell us of the continuing reality of sin, conflict, and death.

3.Noah and his family quickly demonstrate sin’s evil in their lives, and Noah as God’s priest pronounces a curse on part of his family while blessing the Lord God and pointing them to the Lord God for hope. However, mankind quickly rises in rebellion against the Lord and builds a civilization contrary to God’s orders. In their folly, they attempt to “make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4). God easily ends this part of human rebellion by dividing humanity by various languages and then by scattering them across the world. For many, many years human history is the story of untold millions living and dying in the darkness of the “evil exchange” (cf. Rm 1:18-32).

II.The proclamation of God’s promises and mission (Gen 12:1-9) – the call of Abraham (cf. Heb 11:8-16)

A.God’s sovereign grace shines brightly in the story of Abram or Abraham.

1.God took the initiative and called Abram to follow him. Abram was not looking for God; instead, God brought him out from a family who worshiped other gods (Josh 24:2). The line of Seth, Noah, and Shem had hit a dead end in the “evil exchange”. Abram’s wife Sarai (Sarah) was barren. The man whose name meant “exalted father” had no children. They looked cursed instead of blessed.

2.God spoke to Abram to change him: “The Lord had said…” (Gen 12:1). The God of glory appeared to Abraham (Ac 7:2) but he performed no signs and wonders to convince him. Yet the Lord (Yahweh) gave him faith to trust him and to show that faith by obedience. God’s story involves people that trust his promises and act according to God’s words.

3.God’s call involved commands and promises (Gen 12:1-3). As Abram believed God’s promises, he would do God’s will. God gave him two commands at this point and three promises connected with each command.

a.“Leave… and go….” Abram must set himself apart from others and rely on God’s direction. God encourages him by promising: (1) to make him a great nation, (2) to bless him, and (3) to make his name great. God is going to do something new and it involves a large group of people. Regardless of how bleak Abram’s present situation might be, God promises to bless him. Note the connection back to Gen 1:28. It is the beginning of a new humanity. The Lord God also promises to make Abram’s name great. He would do for Abram what the builders of Babel could not do.

b.“Be a blessing.” God gives Abram a mission. Abram and his seed are to act to bring blessing to the world. God involves the new people in his global mission. God encourages him in this mission by promising: (1) that God would bless those who bless Abram, (2) that God will curse those who curse him, and (3) that all the people groups of the world would be blessed through Abram and his seed. Notice that God links blessing and cursing of the world to the interactions of his people with other people. His people will be priests to bless the world, but the peoples must receive the blessing his people bring. This eventually leads to the Great Commission and the eternal state.

B.Abraham believed and obeyed (Gen 12:4-9).

1.God promised Abram the land. Since the Fall, God had not dwelt with people in a place. But now God starts the process of bringing people back into his presence. At first, it is only a small area that Abram could easily walk around. It is not the end of the story. But it is the start of something new and good, because God would choose a place in that land for his temple and live among the people there. When Christ comes, something better would happen. This is an important idea in God’s story.

2.Notice how the promise is made to Abram and his seed (12:7). God started with the seed of the woman, and now it is the seed of Abraham. God’s story is progressing! As Paul much later explains, Abraham’s seed is the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16). The rest of the story in Genesis does more to identify the seed. Read all of Genesis to see Christ!

3.Abraham responds with worship (Gen 12:7b-9). He does not try to create a new city, but rather waits for the city of God, living in tents, waiting for God to fulfill his word. As Abraham worships, we see the father of believers returning to the calling to worship God. A godly people are reestablished.

Apply: Are you part of this godly people that worship the true and living God? Or are you still pursuing idols? Turn from idols and serve the living God. This will only happen when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then will you belong to Abraham’s seed and be an heir according to God’s promise (Gal 3:29).

~ Dave

 
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.