Archive for July, 2012

Wise or Foolish

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsel: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

Proverbs 1:5-7

Much of the book of Proverbs is a contrast between wisdom and foolishness and between the wise man and the foolish man.  These verses give us a little insight into how both groups of people deal with knowledge and learning.  It’s always helpful to think about these things, if for no other reason than to make sure that we are the right side of these issues.

The wise man “will hear.”  The wise man is always paying attention.  Being a teacher, I deal often with students who do not like to listen and who do not pay attention.  A wise man is going to hear what is being said.  He is tuned in to what is going on.

The wise man will not only hear, but he will “increase learning.”  He is going think about what he is hearing and he is going to use what he hears to “increase learning.”  He is going to learn.  He doesn’t let things go in one ear and out the other; he uses what he hears to learn.

The wise man “shall attain unto wise counsels.”  He is going to be able to differentiate between wise counsel and foolish counsel.  He can “separate the meat from the bones.”  He is able to understand proverbs and wise sayings because he recognizes them as being wise, and thus, pays attention to them and learns from them.

The fool does none of these things.  In fact, verse 7 tells us that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Knowledge starts with a fear of the Lord, and sadly, many foolish men fall off of the wagon right there.

Where are we at today in regard to our dealings with knowledge and instruction?  Would we be classified as wise or foolish?

In Our Right Mind

And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country.  And they went out to see what it was that was done.  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

Mark 5:14-15

In this story of the demon possessed maniac who was healed and helped by Jesus, I have always loved verse fifteen: “…him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind…”

That is what Jesus can and will do for every one that comes to Him.  We were naked and He clothed us.  We were wild and rebellious against God and He gives us mercy and causes us to love and obey Him.  We were running around aimlessly and without hope, crying out for something and He brought peace to our souls so that we could sit at His feet and learn of Him.  We were hurting ourselves even though we didn’t even know it and He healed us.  We were blinded our sin and Satan and were slaves to sin and He gave us a new nature and put us “in our right mind.”

Jesus did all of these things to this demon possessed maniac, He did all of these things for us, and He can and will do all of these things for anyone who will come to Him.   The transformation of this man was so great that the people who saw it were “afraid.”  We have all seen this great transformation that Jesus can bring in life of a sinner.  It is enough to make an unbeliever afraid, but it is also enough to make a believer praise the thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy.  We should all thank Him for putting us in our right mind!

Pigs or People?

And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.  And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.  And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country.  And they went out to see what it was that was done.

And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

Mark 5:10-14, 17

As Jesus was casting these devils out of this man, they asked Him to not send them away out of the country.  Why the devils cared where they went, I do not know.  But they asked Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs that was nearby.  Jesus “gave them leave” and they went into the herd and basically drove them off of a cliff into the sea, where they were drowned.  Before looking at the peoples’ reaction, it is important to note that these devils did destroy this herd of pigs.  Satan and all of those associated with him always destroy what they come in contact with.

Of course, the owners of this herd of pigs were not happy with the loss of their livestock and they went to tell the people in the city.  The leaders of the city came out to see what had happened.  They saw the man who had been possessed and crazy sitting in his right mind listening to Jesus.  This scared them.  Between being afraid at what had happened and seeing the loss of two thousand pigs, they “began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”  Imagine – seeing Jesus perform this great miracle on a demon possessed man and asking Him to leave.

They put their pork profits and their status quo over Jesus and His healing power.  It was a foolish thing to do,  but how many people do the same thing today?

The Struggle

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus thou Son of the most high God?  I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.  And he asked him, What is thy name?  And he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are many.

Mark 5:5-9

This is the continuing story of the man who was possessed with an unclean spirit.  Living a hopeless existence among the tombs, he saw Jesus coming “afar off” and he “ran and worshipped him.”  He wanted to be with Jesus.  He wanted to worship Jesus and he wanted to be healed.  He wanted to worship Jesus.

Even though he ran to Jesus and wanted to worship Him, the unclean spirit inside him was not on board with this decision.  The unclean spirit wanted nothing to do with Jesus.  The unclean spirit said “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?  I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.”  The unclean spirit wanted nothing to do with Jesus.  It was being tormented by the very presence of Jesus.  It wanted the man back among the tombs and as far away from Jesus as possible.

That is the same struggle that men face today.  Even as Christians, we are constantly fighting our old flesh in our effort to do right and follow Christ.  The unsaved man who is confronted with Jesus can see His appeal and wants to come to Him and worship Him.  But there is a powerful pull inside him that wants nothing to do with Jesus.  There is a powerful sinful nature that is tormented by the very thought of Jesus.  This is one of the many reasons that we need to be in constant prayer both for the lost to come to Jesus and for the saved to live for Him.  There will always be a struggle within.

Seeing Jesus

And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.

Mark 5:1-6

Yesterday, we looked a little at the condition of this man with the unclean spirit.  Today, we will look at him meeting with Jesus.  He had an unclean spirit, he lived among the tombs, he could not be tamed by any means, and he spent his time cutting himself and crying among the tombs and mountains.

“But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.”

When he saw Jesus, everything changed.  When he saw Jesus, he saw hope.  When he saw Jesus, he saw the One who could heal him and help him.  He didn’t even need to get close to Jesus before he realized that this was the Man he had been needing.  “…when he saw Jesus afar off…”  He couldn’t see Jesus close up yet.  He didn’t know everything about Jesus.  But he could tell that Jesus had what he needed.  He could tell, even “afar off” that Jesus was different.  That happens even today.  There are those who see Jesus afar off and run to worship Him.  They don’t know everything about Him and they don’t understand the deep doctrines of the Bible.  But they see Jesus “afar off” and they recognize Him for who He is.  They “run and worship Him.”

Jesus will bring people to Himself, if we will lift Him up.  People are looking for Him, even afar off.

The Man Among The Tombs

And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Mark 5:1-5

When reading this passage, it’s easy to think of this man as being a rare person – a crazy man running among the tombs and injuring himself.  But when you really think about it, you can see every single unsaved person in the world in this passage.  If you think about it, you can even see yourself before coming to Jesus.

We were all “men (or women) among the tombs.”   We all had an “unclean spirit.”  We were dead in our trespasses and sins.  Our dwelling was among the tombs.  We lived our lives in spiritual death.  Our flesh was wild and rebellious, and we were “oft bound in fetters and chains.”  And, as the passages tells us, we were desperate, “night and day” searching for something.  We were among the tombs, crying out for someone to help us, and all the while we were only hurting ourselves even more.  Does that sound accurate?  Sadly, there are many all around us who find themselves in this very lot.  They need help and there is but one place they are going to find that help: Jesus Christ.

This man found help in the same place that we found help and in the same place that anyone in his position can still find help: Jesus.  Let us thank the Lord for brining us out of that position and pray for others who are still “men living among the tombs.”

I Must Tell Jesus (Hymn)

I Must Tell Jesus
Elisha Hoffman (1911?)

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.

Refrain
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate friend;
If I but ask Him, He will deliver,
Make of my troubles quickly an end.

Refrain

Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior;
One Who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus;
He all my cares and sorrows will share.

Refrain

O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the victory to win.

Refrain

“O how the world to evil allures me!  O how my heart is tempted to sin!”  “Tempted and tried, I need a great Saviour,”  “I cannot bear my burdens alone.”  Do those things sound like things that we would say?  Anytime we have a burden, a sorrow, a temptation, or anything else that needs anything,  we “must tell Jesus.”  And we tell Him because, as the song says, “He ever loves and cares for His own.”

Eating With Sinners

And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them,. They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Mark 2:15-17

This is the famous passage in which the hypocritical and self-righteous scribes and Pharisees denounced Jesus for eating with publicans and sinners.  These self-righteous “religious folks” didn’t think that Jesus (or anyone else) should be associating with sinners.  In their opinion, they were far to “righteous” to be “contaminated” by these sinners.  They looked down their holy noses at them, never even thinking that these were living souls who desperately needed the God they professed to serve.

What the scribes and Pharisees did not understand was that the entire ministry of Jesus would be helping and healing sinners.  In fact, the ministry of Jesus is still helping and healing sinners.  He would, at the end of His earthly life, give His life to die for those publicans and sinners.  The scribes and Pharisees were so focused on themselves and their own supposed righteousness that they lived in a tiny bubble, never helping anyone.  Jesus was willing to go to the people and help them.  That was one of the many differences between Jesus Christ and the scribes and Pharisees.

If our lives were examined, which group would we fall into?  Would we be the holier-than-thou scribes and Pharisees or would we be with Jesus, helping to call the publicans and sinners to repentance?

Grass on the Mountains

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.

Psalm 147:7-8

In this Psalm, we are told to “sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving.”  We are told to “sing praise upon the hard unto our God.”  To me, other than thinking about the tremendous mercy and grace of the Lord in saving a wretched sinner like me, the thing that makes me want to thank and praise Him the most might be simply thinking about creation.

The more a person studies the creation, the more He is awed and amazed by the Creator.  These verses tell us that He “covereth the heavens with clouds” and that He “prepareth rain for the earth”  The water cycle is a fascinating study in and of itself, but today I would like to look at the last part of the verse: “…who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.”

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time studying the soil.  I have aspirations of “farming” or, at least, being a good gardener and it would seem that a study of the soil would do some good to that end.  The soil is a fascinating thing that most people never take much time to think about.  This verse speaks of grass growing out of mountains.  Mountains are made of rock.  Grass does not grow in rock.  Grass grows in soil.  Yet you can look at mountains and see them covered with not only grass but even large trees.  How does this happen?

Not to get too deep into this, but the rock begins to weather.  The weathered rock supports tiny plants, which help to further break down the rock into useable minerals.  These tiny plants die and decay, which leads to slightly larger plants.  This process continues, with tiny roots slowly wedging into cracks in the rock and making them even larger.  Eventually, you can have huge trees growing out of rock.  It’s an amazing process.

The most amazing thing about the process to me is that the Lord designed it all.  Not only did He design it, but He told us about it several thousand years ago in the Psalms.  Thinking about the creation will certainly make us praise Him!

How To Prolong a Nation

For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.

Proverbs 28:2

Yesterday we looked at the fact that there are more princes (government, politicians, and laws) in any nation because of the transgression of the land.  Today we will look at the second half of the verse, which says “…but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”

Studying history is often the study of the rise and fall of nations.  Some of those nations have lasted for hundreds or even thousands of years in one form or another.  Others have fallen within decades.  Only God knows for sure how long each nation is going to last, but He has given us some ways to prolong our nation.  This verse tells us that “by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”

A wise man can prolong the life of a nation.  Foolish men can destroy a nation, but a wise leader can help and prolong it.  Of course, we all know just how difficult it can be to find a wise man of understanding and knowledge who also happens to be a politician.  Judging by the state of our “leaders” today, wise men of understanding and knowledge are almost an extinct breed.  But, however rare they may be, it is our responsibility to find them and get them in positions of leadership.  They just might help to prolong our nation.

The Bible is full of help, not just for our souls and our spirits, but for our health, our families, our communities and our nations.  The Bible really does have the answer for every problem of life, no matter how complicated they may seem.