Tag Archives: bible study

Your Cursed Curses Are Useless

Whether you are going to be walking around dressed like a monster with a sugar craving or nailing lots of bullet points to the front doors of churches, I wish you no ill will. Well, not unless you are really going to nail your theses to a church door – that would get you in trouble if your last name isn’t Luther.

But since today is Halloween, I thought I’d share a post I wrote a while back for Proverbial Thought, a post dealing with the issue of “curses.” That’s a Halloween-like subject, right?


Proverbs 26:2

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (KJV)

“Like a flitting sparrow or a fluttering swallow, an undeserved curse goes nowhere.” (HCSB)

Curses!

I recently watched a funny scene from the movie Despicable Me. Vector, the really bad guy, had stolen a stolen shrink ray and was playing with it in his bathroom (lavatory), and that’s when he purposely shrunk his toilet. He then proceeded to mock the toilet like it was a defeated enemy. When the shrunken toilet popped off the water line, Vector yelled, “Curse you, tiny toilet!”

Curses are as old as mankind, I suppose. They have been around long before Vector, Scooby Doo, Endora (Samantha’s mother), or the literal witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7). The first curses recorded in the Bible can be found all the way back in the book of Genesis. There God cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14), the ground (Gen. 3:17), Cain (Gen. 4:11), and even the anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7). So, it would seem that the earliest curses came not from witches, but from God.

However, when God pronounces a curse, it is usually a denunciation of sin (Nu. 5:21, 23; Dt. 29:19–20), His judgment on sin (Nu. 5:22, 24, 27; Is. 24:6), and the person who is suffering the consequences of sin by the judgment of God is called a curse (Nu. 5:21, 27; Je. 29:18).[1]  On the other hand, men use curses as tools to bring something about. However, the difference between a curse from God and a curse from man is capacity: man’s is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Capacity

Those who spew out curses typically have no ability to see them come to fruition. In Eccl. 8:4 we read: “Where the word of the king is, there is power.” In other words, a king can pronounce a curse on his subject’s land or life and have the ability to make it happen. But for most people, “damning” someone is pretty useless.

I once made a video depicting a monkey puppet making fun of evolution. The video asked the question: “What do you get when cross a monkey with time?” The answer was, “A man? No, just a monkey.” Immediately I received hate mail and curses from atheists around the globe.

Click the picture to watch the video for yourself.

On other occasions I have written about my views on marriage, which have brought even more hateful language, and even threats. The curses came by the boat load and generally read like this: “I hope you get sick and die!…go to hell!…damn you!” But therein lies the point of today’s proverb – cursed curses are useless.

Causeless

Solomon said, “the curse causeless shall not come.” Therefore, we should not fear the curses of fools, for they do not have the capacity bring about the end result. They presume upon a Power beyond their own to bring about the judgment they declare, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Let the witch doctor cast spells; let the voodoo doll be stuck with pins; let the curses come from Hell itself; they will fly by me like sparrows on the wind, for they are as powerless as the cursed fools who send them.


[1] J. A. Motyer, “Curse,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 248.

The above post was copied from my other blog, ProverbialThought.com., and adapted for this site.

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What All Scripture Can Do

In preparation for an upcoming sermon from Jeremiah 38, I went back to the following verse for focus and direction:

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching, instruction), for reproof (a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested, conviction), for correction (a straightening up again), for instruction in righteousness (how to live right before God). [emphasis mine]

Whenever you are stumped, whenever you find yourself wondering “what is this passage telling me?”, understand that God does not lie, and ALL Scripture, properly exegeted, should be able to offer the following 4 things:

1. Doctrine. Simply put, there is something teachable from every passage of Scripture, even though sometimes the lesson might be difficult to determine.

2. Reproof. On what do you base your convictions? The Bible is what you use as the standard against which all things are tested. It is also what you fall back on when “proof” is what you need.

3. Correction. Too often the Bible is used as a tool with which to beat people over the head. As a “recovering legalist,” you might imagine that is not what I’m about. No, the word correction in this verse is a word that means “restoration to an upright or a right state; correction, improvement” (Strong’s). Some verses may be good for use as a “rod of correction,” but not all. However, ALL Scripture is profitable for instruction in putting someone upright. In other words, there is hope in every passage. 

4. Instruction in Righteousness. Jeremiah 38 is a tragic story, but there are strong lessons to learn. There are lessons of bravery and compassion; lessons of hope in the midst of the most dire circumstances; and most of all, the lesson that we should listen to and obey God rather than rebel against His commands. Instruction in righteousness means, if nothing else, that all Scripture can teach us how to live right with God in a world that hates Him.

Whether you are preparing a sermon or just doing your daily Bible reading, use 2 Timothy 3:16 as a guide to help you understand what God is saying. With the help of the Holy Spirit learn, develop strong conviction, be encouraged and directed, and find guidance for the path ahead.

Sufficient is His Word.

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Get Jesus!

Each Wednesday night at our church I conduct what we call “Proverbs, Prayer, and Praise.” It is a unique study through Proverbs, one chapter a week.

One of the things I encourage our congregation to do is take the places where Wisdom is personified and replace the word and associated pronouns with the name of Jesus (See Col. 2:1-3 and 1 Cor. 1: 24 & 30).

This week we are working through chapter 4, so I thought I would share this example with you. When you remember that Jesus said all Scripture spoke of Him, it’s not a stretch, but a blessing!

Get JESUS! Get understanding [OF HIM]! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake HIM, and HE will preserve you; Love HIM, and HE will keep you. JESUS [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get JESUS. And in all your getting, get understanding [OF HIM]. Exalt HIM, and HE will promote you; HE will bring you honor, when you embrace HIM. HE will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory HE will deliver to you.” – Proverbs 4:5-9 NKJV [edited]

If you would like additional information on this study, feel free to contact me.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

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Advice to the Will-Seeking Christian

This morning I saw a post from a friend on Facebook. It was a question that many ask, and I felt compelled to answer it with more than a clever quip, cliche, or copy-and-pasted quotation.

The question was:

“How do you know you are where you are supposed to be and doing what God has called you to do?”

Below is a word-for-word copy of what I wrote (names omitted). I hope that by sharing it here it will help others beyond the realm of Facebook.


[For all my friends]

Whenever people ask how to know God’s will – especially when it includes questions like, “How do I know I’m where God wants me to be?” – I have to ask some [three] clarifying questions.

First, are you doing what you already know He wants you to do? I mean, just start with the basics like do you read the Bible and pray to your Father just to get to know Him? Or, do you only do these things when there is a need? He desires our fellowship like any father or friend, you know. Are you telling others about Him? Are you putting Him first? Are you doing your best with the “talents” He has given you?  “Whatsoever you do, do it with all your heart, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). These are important first steps.

Second, is your heart aligned with the heart of God? Remember, we want to do HIS will, not ours. However, God does promise to give us the desires of our heart, if, of course our desires are HIS desires. How is this possible? Well, go back to the first question – are you spending time with Him for love’s sake? Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Third, would you be OK with wherever you are, or wherever you went, if you KNEW it was God’s will for your life? The Apostle Paul, as you know, had it good, bad, was rich, was poor, in bad situations and good, yet he said: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11). If your prayer is, “Wherever, Lord, I will serve you,” then He will bring fulfillment to your life wherever you are. You will see Him working through your life. You will know that wherever you are, He is with you.

Once you have truthfully answered the above three questions, be a light where you are, let God open and close the doors, and walk in faith. If you are in close fellowship with the Father, follow the desires of your heart, for He wants to give them to you. But understand, even in the following He may lead you places you never knew you’d enjoy. Just like when Paul had a desire to go to Asia to preach, the Holy Spirit prevented him and led him to a place he never intended – Europe (Macedonia). Paul was certainly in God’s will and trying to do what He thought was right, but the Holy Spirit used that momentum to take him in a direction he never saw coming and didn’t even know was needed.

Lastly, understand this important truth: Our Father in heaven wants us to be mature. Just like any other parent, He wants us to grow up in our faith and walk so that we don’t have to be led around like little babies (not saying you are). He wants us to think and act with a transformed mind, one that is becoming more and more like Christ, and do the things that we think He would do – we are His body. The desires of your heart, if aligned with His, will give you the freedom that Grace affords to step out in faith, trusting what you are doing is His will. But rest assured, He will never leave you nor forsake you, and His arms are there to catch you and redirect you if you fail while in the process of trying to please Him.

Oh, one more thing: His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and no matter the direction we take, the decisions we make, the places we work, or whether we stay or go, God is our Sovereign King – He is still God – and He is always in control.

One of my favorite verses from Proverbs (and the Bible) is Proverbs 16:33. It reads:

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD. – Proverbs 16:33 KJV

Or, as another translation puts it:

We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall. – Proverbs 16:33 NLT

Others have mentioned Proverbs 3:5-6, and those verses sum it up nicely. Trust in the LORD with ALL YOUR HEART, and lean not, like a crutch, onto your own understanding, or at least what worldly common sense my dictate. Instead, in ALL your ways (the things of your life) acknowledge Him (put Him first), and He will direct (make sure you walk in the right direction) your paths.

God bless!

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Life Lessons from the School Bus (#7) “Try the Spirits”

“Stripped”

Bob “Apple” Smith, a bus driver for the county, has a lot to explain. A quick look at his bus will let you know why. It is stripped. Stripped of EVERYTHING!

According to Bob, shortly after dropping off the last of his children, he made a quick “personal” stop. It was during his “personal” stop, which took longer than he anticipated (probably due to the excessive amount of jalapeños Bob insisted to be put on his eggs for breakfast), that vandals supposedly stripped his 88-passenger ThomasBuilt bus.

“Once I was finally able to finish my business,” Bob said, “I went back outside and said, ‘I’ll be d—-d!‘” He went on to say, “Those little hoodlums worked quicker than piranhas on a pig!”

The Link

No wonder, Bob had parked his bus in one the most notorious places in town. For months the police have been answering calls from stranded motorist who could do nothing more than cry after doing their “personal” business. Fortunately, an unbelievable link may have been found.

After investigators did some research, Bob was not the only one who had eaten eggs at a particular diner on Downtown Street. It seems that more than one patron of “Slick Sam’s” had eaten eggs before having to stop just blocks away to make an emergency “deposit.” Coincidentally, those same patrons had their automobiles stripped.

The only problem for Mr. Smith is the additional time it would have taken to strip the large bus. Some are questioning whether or not there may be seeds of deceit at his “Apple” core. It was not long ago another driver, Margaret “Snoopy” Jones, overheard Bob say, “I am tired of this job, but I’m not going to quit without getting a medal.” Ms. Jones insists he was speaking code, meaning “metal” when he said “medal.” This is still under investigation, but questionable, however.  It seems that  Ms. Jones has a record of saying, “Bob was always the ‘bad Apple’ in the bus driver barrel.”

Life Lesson

For heaven’s sake, don’t believe everything you read.

A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps. – Proverbs 14:15 NIV

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1 KJV

Sometimes things like this can be seen as funny (I hope), but many are sadly deceived in issues that have eternal significance.  The Bereans did not even take the Apostle Paul’s words at face value. They “tried” his words by comparing them to Scripture (Acts 17:10-11).

You see, no buses got stripped by vandals, and you could easily prove this by doing a little research. As matter of fact, the bus in the picture was stripped, but only for spare parts (it had an engine fire that made it too expensive to fix).

But so many people will take anyone’s word, believe any hearsay, and hold to any old rumor or fable rather than take the “noble” route of the Bereans and “search the Scripture.”

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Salvation Is His Name. Selah.

“Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” – Psalm 3:8

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. A word at the end of a verse that calls us to think… to ponder… to meditate on what has just been said. Let’s meditate for just a moment on our salvation.

They Said

They said there is no hope in God. In their arrogance they belittled David’s faith and tried to scare him. By the thousands they surrounded David, seeking his demise.

But David was not afraid. His confidence in God was such that he could sleep like a baby, cradled in the arms of his Deliverer.

They said God could not – that He would not – help David. But that’s what they said … and they had no clue what they were talking about.

He Didn’t Listen

David’s hope was not in man; it was in God. Who were these people to say God wouldn’t help? Did they have control over the Creator of the universe? Were they to tell God to whom mercy would be given?

David didn’t listen to the lies of his enemies, and neither should we. Salvation is not something we can get by bowing down and submitting to men. Salvation is of God! And if He choses to save us from danger, nothing can stop Him.

Prophetic Salvation

But if you don’t mind, there’s one more little thing to think about as we pause and reflect on God’s salvation. Think about the original Hebrew word for “salvation,” and then start putting two and two together.

  • The Hebrew word translated as “salvation” in Psalm 3:8 is יְשׁוּעָה (H3444) yĕshuw`ah – pronounced yesh·ü’·ä. It means “that which is delivered; deliverance.”
  • יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (H3091) is the Hebrew name “Joshua,” pronounced yeh·hō·shü’·ah. It means “Jehovah (Yahweh) is salvation.” 

  • “Jesus” is the way we spell the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (G2424), pronounced ē-ā-sü’s. “Jesus” is the Greek version of the name “Joshua.” Both mean “Jehovah (Yahweh) is salvation.

“But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57

“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:” – Ephesians 1:3

When the Enemy comes against you, find rest in the assurance that your Salvation is in Jesus Christ. He saved David, and He can save you!

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Regret: Let’s Talk About It

The place I preached to myself.

In one of the last sermons I’ll ever preach at South Soddy Baptist, I addressed a subject we’ll all deal with sooner or later…Regret.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been dealing with a little bit of regret, myself, as I leave one ministry behind and move to another. Therefore, even though this subject is one from which all of us could benefit, I think the Lord allowed me to preach to myself.

Below is an expanded outline of the sermon “Dealing With Regret.”


Regret in the Bible

There are several verses in the Bible that deal directly with the subject of regret. Some include the very words of famous Bible characters who have found themselves looking back and wishing things had been done differently.

David

One of the classic Psalms of King David (Psalm 51) is full of regret – regret for what he had done regarding adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Read the text, below, and try to get a sense of the weighty sorrow he must have been feeling when he came to realize the depth of the sin he had committed.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:7-10 CSB

This kind of regret is a good kind of regret! In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read that “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” In other words, David looked back on his actions and was sorry for them, wished that they had never happened, and that led him to seek forgiveness from the only One who could offer it.

Job

Poor old Job! I mean, this guy did everything right, yet he suffered in ways most of humanity will never come close to enduring. Is it any wonder why he had regrets? Well, his regrets were not for things he had done, but for the fact that he was born. Just read what he said after losing everything – his children, his wealth, his health, and even the support of his wife – in just one day.

May the day I was born perish, and the night that said, “A boy is conceived.” If only that day had turned to darkness! May God above not care about it, or light shine on it. … Why was I not stillborn; why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? Why did the knees receive me, and why were there breasts for me to nurse? Now I would certainly be lying down in peace; I would be asleep. Then I would be at rest – Job 3:3-4, 11-13 CSB

Thankfully, God knew better than Job that his life was still worth living, despite all he had lost. He had no way of knowing that it was all a test, and one that he would ultimately pass.

Peter

Then there was Peter, the boastful disciple who swore he would stick with Jesus right to the end, yet denied him three times, just like Jesus promised he would do. What did Peter do?

Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. – Luke 22:61-62 CSB

Do you think Peter had any regrets? Of course he did! But how wonderful it was when Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” No coincidence there.

Judas Iscariot

One of the most tragic stories of regret is the story of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Disillusioned the the ministry of Jesus, Judas probably thought he was doing everybody a favor by turning Him over. But when he came to his senses and realized what he’d done, his regret took a deadly turn.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said. “What’s that to us? ” they said. “See to it yourself! ” So he threw the silver into the temple and departed. Then he went and hanged himself. – Matthew 27:3-5 CSB

Sadly, so many people these days do the same thing Judas did, in some way or another. They do something they regret, and instead of asking for forgiveness, they take their own lives. How different things could have been had Judas just asked Jesus to forgive him! But he didn’t live to eat that fish breakfast with Peter.

Fulton Oursler once said, “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” When you stop and think about it, that’s pretty profound, especially when you consider that placing ourselves on the cross in the middle removes the only true Savior from the equation. When we take His place, regret is all we have – there’s no One to accept our repentance and offer forgiveness.

Combating Regret

So how do we combat regret? How do we get past the things that we’ve done, the things that we’ve said, the things about which we are ashamed, and move forward?

Let me share with you four things to remember, all based on different passages of Scripture.

Four Ways to Combat Regret…

  1. Pass the past and press for the prize. “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing [I do:] forgetting what [lies] behind and reaching forward to what [lies] ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NASB).If you’re still alive, you’re still in the race! You can’t win a race by always looking back at the places where you’ve stumbled. Know you’ve messed up, ask forgiveness, then get back at it.
  2. Let the tub drain! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV).Much of our debilitating regret is linked to having never forgiven ourselves, or having never fully accepted the forgiveness we’ve been given by Christ. Do you realize that when you don’t forgive yourself for something that Jesus has, you are essentially saying that your verdict is more important than God’s. In other words, if you’ve been forgiven by the One who died so that you could be, it’s a smack in His face to continually condemn yourself. If you’ve been forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness, let it go down the drain!
  3. There’s still a lion, so stop lyin’ around! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).
    Don’t forget that we have an Enemy. The time you spend sulking over past defeats, looking back into the darkness of your past, or wiping away the tears of self-pity is time you are allowing the devil to sneak back in and do more damage. Keep your mind in the fight and watch out – others are depending on you, too!
  4. Look up and perk up! “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:4-5 NASB).
    What’s probably one of the best ways to combat regret? Keep your eyes on Jesus!

In a letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul spoke as one who had no regrets. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Yet, this same apostle admitted he did things he didn’t want to do, and he didn’t do things he wanted to do – in other words, there were things he wished he could have done differently.

However, when all was said and done, Paul spoke as one who had no regrets, for he had fought a “good fight,” finished the course that had been set before him, and “kept the faith.” The key is that he never gave up, but kept fighting and running until the end.

Alexander Graham Bell said:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 

There are so many things I could have, should have done differently, but if I keep looking back at the closed door behind me, the wide-open door of opportunity will never be walked through. I can’t undo or redo the past, but I can learn from it.

So, enough with the feelings of regret – I’m giving it to Jesus, letting the tub drain, and pressing forward toward the finish line.

You should, too. 

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