A Word Fitly Spoken

Have you ever tried to do a quick read from the Book of Proverbs?   It's impossible.  I think the teachings in Proverbs are meant to be studied slowly and carefully.  Each verse is loaded.  Every word goes right to your heart.  We've memorized many of the verses.  Proverbs 3:5-6, for example.  Do you remember it without looking?  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."  See what I mean?  Those two verses alone are enough to keep the serious Bible student occupied for a very long time.  

The Proverbs, like the rest of the Bible, aren't meant to be read and then left alone.  The Word of God is to be read, meditated on, prayed over, and then lived out.  I experienced this recently along with one of my daughters.  We were in one of my favorite places, (Chick Fil A), having lunch. As we talked, a small, slender lady. probably in her 70's, stopped by our table.  She said to my daughter, "Your hair is absolutely beautiful," then walked away.  A few minutes later, she stopped at our table again and said, "And you have the most beautiful smile.  Please don't ever stop smiling."   We thanked her for being kind.  "Well, " she said, "I don't think a compliment should ever be kept to yourself.  If you have a good word for someone, you should always share it."  My response to her was that she had actually just demonstrated a verse from the Bible, Proverbs 25:11,  "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." She just smiled and wished us a good afternoon. God used a total stranger to show His word in action.

So just in case the lady from the Chick Fil A encounter is reading this, Thank You! You will never know how you encouraged me and my teenager.

If you ask God to give you the words to say, He will always give you the opportunity to say them.  So don't hesitate.  A word spoken at the right time and in the right spirit can be a beautiful picture. 

 

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Proverbs 16:24

The King is Coming

One of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, relates the following story:

Charlie was ten years old. School was out for Christmas, and the family had chosen to spend the holiday in the country.  The boy pressed his nose against the bay window of the vacation home and marveled at the British winter.  He was happy to trade the blackened streets of London for the cotton-white freshness of snow-covered hills.  His Mom invited him to go for a drive and he quickly accepted.  A halcyon moment was in the making.  She snaked the car down the twisty road.  The tires crunched the snow and the boy puffed his breath on the window.  He was thrilled.  The mother, however, was anxious.  Heavy snow began to snow.  Visibility lessened.  As she took a curve, the car started to slide and didn't stop until landing in a ditch.  She tried to drive out.  The tires just spun.  Little Charlie pushed and his mom pressed the gas.  But no luck.  They were stuck.  They needed help.  A mile down the road sat a house.  Off they went and knocked on the door.  "Of course", the woman told them.  "Come in and warm yourselves.  The phone is yours."  She offered tea and cookies and urged them to stay until help arrived.  An ordinary event?  Don't suggest that to the woman who opened the door.  She has never forgotten that day.  She's retold the story a thousand times.  And who can blame her?  It's not often that royalty appears on your porch.  For the two travelers stranded by the England winter were no less than Queen Elizabeth and the heir to the throne, 10-year-old Charles.

Welcoming royalty into our home is something that the majority of people will never do.  Not physically, anyway.  But spiritually speaking, when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, that's what we do.  We welcome the King of Kings into our heart, into our home,  We honor Him and place Him on the throne of our life.

We welcome so many things into our lives these days.  We welcome opinions and teachings that are in direct opposition to the Bible.  We welcome fear and it overwhelms us.  We welcome unhealthy habits and unhealthy relationships.  And before we know it, our minds are saturated with things that waste our time and distract us from closely following Jesus.

But do we welcome the most important things?  Do we daily welcome the presence of Jesus and the truth of the Bible into our lives?  Do we welcome His calling and His leading?  Do we welcome His discipline and His correction?  

Honoring Him and proclaiming His presence should be a priority for every follower of Christ.  

This weekend, as Palm Sunday approaches, pray along with me that Christ will be welcomed and honored in our hearts as we meet for worship and praise!  And I hope you will join us as we learn what the Bible says about Jesus, our Shepherd.

"The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!, The King of Israel!”  John 12:12-13

Suffering Servant

To go along with our recent series "Christ in the Old Testament", take a look at a powerful passage in Isaiah that describes Jesus Christ, our suffering servant.   

Isaiah 53:4-6

"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Do you feel the agony?  Can you see the harshness?  Have you ever stopped to consider that this passage pertains to you personally?  It never fails to stir something in me and bring me face to face with my own humanity.  So today, I read these verses this way:  

"Surely, Jesus has borne Brent't griefs,  and has carried Brent's sorrows...

He was wounded for Brent's transgressions, and bruised for Brent's iniquities...

The chastisement for Brent's peace was upon Him...

And by His stripes, Brent is healed....

Brent has gone astray like a sheep, and has gone Brent's own way...

And yet God laid all of Brent's iniquity on the Lord Jesus Christ! "

Talk about humbling!  All of those verbs (stricken, afflicted, wounded, bruised)...He did that for me.  I know that He suffered on my behalf. And I pray that I don't forget that because He did, I can live in victory and free from the penalty of sin.  

In a few weeks, we will celebrate the fact that the cross of Calvary was not the end of Jesus.  We will celebrate that death could not defeat Him and that He rose from the dead and won peace and pardon for all who will believe in Him.  

Take some time to put yourself in this passage.  If you are sorrowful, or grieving, or discouraged, feeling unworthy, or struggling to make sense of it all, just remember:  He has already taken it all on Himself.  And all because He loves you!  

C.H. Surgeon described the love of Jesus this way: "To be a Man was something, to be a Man of Sorrows was far more.  To bleed, die, and suffer - these were much for Him who was the Son of God; but to suffer such unparalleled agony- to endure a death of shame and desertion by His Father - this is a depth of condescending love that the most inspired mind must utterly fail to fathom.  Herein is love!  Truly it is love that "passeth knowledge." Oh, let this love fill our hearts with adoring gratitude and lead us to practical manifestations of its power." (taken from "Morning and Evening")

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." 

Ephesians 3:17-19

Cheering For Your Team

So, I am not a big sports fan and have never followed any team very closely.  I can't say the same for my family!  At this time of year, college basketball and brackets are a big part of our home life and the cheering can be wild at times.  Let's face it: everybody loves to pull for their team, whether they are winning or not.  Sometimes, a team will have a bad year.  Injuries, legal trouble, academic suspension, change in coaching staff, etc.  Then some years are golden and the 'dream team" will be firing on all cylinders.  Then there are years when the underdog pulls ahead and wins big. But we still cheer on our team and wear their colors.  That's the way it should be.  Like the old Beach Boys song says, "Be True to Your School". 

The same should be said for the people we do life with.  Our Faith Family.  Our church. How would it be if we put as much time and energy into cheering on the Kingdom of God in our own churches as we put into cheering on our favorite team??  Don't misunderstand me.  I am as guilty as the next guy when it comes to a lack of cheering.  We often tend to focus on what's going wrong, other than on what's going well. (the "injuries", the "foul trouble", the ones "on the bench" for whatever reason). It's so easy to overlook the blessings that God gives us through His Son Jesus Christ and miss out on what He is doing with our team (even with all our inabilities).  

I've recently been reminded yet again of the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians.  Great words to read.  Easy to say.  But much harder to follow.  You probably already know the verse I'm referring to.  Yep.  4:29.  Here it is: "Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."  The Message translation puts it this way: "Watch the way you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word is a gift."  Say only what helps.  It's a gift. Wow.  That's a tall order.  But how wonderful if we took it to heart. 

I wonder if my words are gifts to other people?  I wonder if the way I speak of my church in public is a gift to Mountain View?  I wonder if people who may not attend MVC or any other church get a good report about it from my words?  Even as I write this, my spirit is troubled that I don't always live up to this command.  But I can keep on trying!  I can get my game face on and cheer on the team at MVC!  After all, in this bracket, Jesus always wins!!!

-Pastor Brent Bolick

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing and acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."