Treasure in the Heart

bullion gold gold bars golden
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In a previous post we used the words PONDER and PONDERING, in trying to emphasize the need to slow down and think about Proverbs 11.30. As we read Luke 2.19, we find a form of that same word—But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Let’s think about the context of this verse and discover what the use of this word might reveal to us about the character of Mary and see how we might benefit from knowing this word.

In the context of Luke 2, some shepherds, out in the fields, have just received good tidings of great joy (2.10), that a Savior had been born: CHRIST THE LORD. The heavenly host of angels had begun praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2.14). The shepherds made a visit to see the child, using the description given by the angel to find Him. Having done this, they began to tell about these wondrous signs that they had seen with their own eyes (Luke 2.17). Mary was very attentive to hear what these shepherds had to say (Luke 2.19).

One of the words used by Luke to describe Mary’s reaction to the testimony of the shepherds is found only here in the New Testament. That word is a form of the Greek word: SUMBALLO, in the KJV translated: pondered. Likely you are familiar with PARABALLO, “I throw beside,” from which we get our English word parable. A good definition of this word, SUMBALLO, as used here, would be: to give careful consideration to various implications of an issue—to reflect on, to think about seriously, to think deeply about [Louw-Nida].

We are not authorized to worship Mary or to think of her as a mediatrix, though some people do that. However, with her being the only one about whom it is said in the entire New Testament that she pondered, we might benefit from taking note of that which she did.

Think about Mary pondering the recent events in her life. In addition, consider the other word that is used in Luke 2.19—KEPT. This word has been defined as: to exert mental effort in storing information so as to have continual access and use of it—to cause oneself to be fully aware of, to keep in mind, to remember [Louw-Nida].

Certainly the mother instinct of Mary would be a part of the reason these two powerful words would be chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe her thought processes. Angelic messages to Zacharias, to herself, and to the shepherds were about the child she had borne. Obviously she would think a lot about these matters and treasure up the information about the unique circumstances of His birth and consider what the future might hold in store for Him. Any mother would!

I am convinced, as well, that Mary was pondering and treasuring the relationship that this very special birth would have in the development of God’s plan for saving man. After all, Joseph had been instructed to give the name JESUS (GOD SAVES), to the child (Matthew 1.21). Mary is unsure at this time about future developments. She is well aware that this is to be an experience unlike any other mother has had or would experience. She is taking seriously her role in the Divine plan. She takes time to think and give careful consideration to and to reflect upon all of these developments as they pass before her.

As I think about the two words describing Mary’s thought processes in Luke 2.19 and the definitions of these two  terms, the word SOBER seems to me an appropriate adjective for describing Mary. She understood the seriousness of the birth of this child. She knew she needed to be thinking about this very special situation she had been selected to occupy. She is to be respected and appreciated for her quality of soberness.

The word SOBER is recommended to you and me often in the New Testament. There are a dozen references to it (2 Cor 5.13; 1 Th 5.6, 8; 1 Tim 3.2, 11; Titus 1.8; 2.2, 4, 6; 1 Peter 1.13; 4.7; 5.8). Paul and Peter are telling us in these passages that SOBER is something that we need to be. We need to be serious-minded. Especially is that the case with regard to God’s plan for saving man.

Let’s let Mary teach us that Jesus Christ and the things the New Testament reveals to us about Him are matters of utmost importance to treasure in the heart!

Children in Worship

singingby Lester Kamp

My Source: GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS, Volume 4, August 6, 1998

One of our main goals in life is to help our children and other young people to become Christians who are faithful to God’s Word and active in His kingdom, the church. We want to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). We want them to know the joy of knowing, serving, and worshipping the Lord. Our children should be taught why we worship, how we worship, and how to make our worship most effective. Parents, grandparents, and friends will be the most important influences on our young people in their worship. Here are a few ideas that will help us train our children to be good worshippers.

ONE—–SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
Children need to see your worship and the joy it brings to your life. You need to come to the worship assemblies regularly with an attitude of joy and anticipation–not with a sense of drudgery or obligation. You need to sing, bow in prayer, listen intently to the sermon, give joyfully, and partake of the Lord’s Supper meditatively. Children will follow your example, so set the right kind.

TWO—–PREPARE THE CHILD
Before Sunday, talk to your child about how to act in the assembly. Tell the child why we pray, sing, give, partake of the Lord’s Supper weekly, and listen to a sermon. As you would in preparing him for school, make sure the child gets enough rest the night before to be awake and alert Sunday.

THREE—–INVOLVE THE CHILD
When singing, help him locate the page of the song. With your finger on his book, point to the words as we sing. Encourage your child to sing even though he may not always sing the right words. When the sermon is delivered, help the child locate the Scriptures cited and/or encourage him to write them down. This impresses upon the child the importance of paying attention. It also stresses that worship is active and not passive.

FOUR—–AVOID DISTURBANCES
Make sure that your child has gone to the restroom and for a drink of water before the worship service begins. Traffic in and out of the auditorium during worship is both unnecessary (with but a few exceptions) and disruptive to the worship of many.

FIVE—–SIT UP TOWARD THE FRONT
Don’t follow the natural tendency to sit in the back so that the child does not disturb others. Think positively. Sit close to the front so that your child can see and hear what is happening. You’ll be amazed at how much better he will behave when you sit toward the front, and how much more meaningful worship will be to you, too.

SIX—–FOLLOW THROUGH
Reinforce your child’s learning by discussing various aspects of the worship period afterwards.

SEVEN—–BE PATIENT
Children will not act like adults, but with patience and love, they can be taught to love God and worship Him from the heart.

This process will take time, but it will be time well spent. The time to begin is now, regardless of how young your child is.

A Dish Upside Down

cooked foods
Photo by Isabella Mendes on Pexels.com

Word pictures used by the prophets of the Old Testament are certainly interesting and instructive. What a blessing it is to read their words and see the pictures those words form in the mind!

In 2 Kings 21.10-13 we learn that some unnamed prophets were called upon to deliver a message to one of the most wicked of all of the kings of Judah, King Manasseh. For fifty-five years this ungodly man did his damage from his lofty throne, but there came a time for judgment eventually. The longsuffering of the Lord came to an end with him. The prophets were especially generous with the word pictures for Manasseh, using four of them together. Perhaps they felt a particular challenge in penetrating his seriously polluted mind.

  1. 2 Kings 21.12 speaks of TINGLING EARS.
  2. 2 Kings 21.13 speaks of THE LINE OF SAMARIA.
  3. 2 Kings 21.13 also speaks of THE PLUMMET OF THE HOUSE OF AHAB.
  4. 2 Kings 21.13 then speaks of WIPING A DISH AND TURNING IT UPSIDE DOWN.

The “tingling ears” would seem to emphasize that this judgment that is about to come upon Judah would be so severe it was unlike anything anyone ever heard of before (cf., 1 Samuel 3.11; Jeremiah 19.3). The “line of Samaria” must have reference to the old plumbline concept of measuring the straightness of a wall, or figuratively of the wickedness of a nation, as was true of the Northern Kingdom headquartered in Samaria. The “plummet of the House of Ahab,” also measured that most wicked of kings of the northern ten tribes.

There are a couple of possibilities for the figure of wiping the dish and turning it upside down. In the English translation of the Vulgate for this verse (2 Kings 21.13), the text has it: “I will blot out Jerusalem as tablets are wont to be blotted out.” The stylus used by ancient scribes to write on the board of wax had two ends: (1) one sharp point for writing; (2) one blunt one for smoothing away the words in the wax (erasing or blotting out).

Adam Clarke points out that the idea of emptying the dish, wiping it out, and turning it upside down expresses the same idea. There would be such a judgment upon Jerusalem and her people that there would simply be nothing left. This figure perhaps also signifies the period of the restoration which followed the seventy years of Babylonian Captivity. Russell Dilday writes, in The Preacher’s Commentary: “This could indicate that, once cleansed by His judgment, Jerusalem would be ready for His use again. Or the symbol may mean that God was turning the dish upside down to show that not a drop remained in it, indicating that Jerusalem would be completely depopulated.”

One of the most prominent sermon topics used by the apostles and prophets of the first century was Judgment Day. Paul reasoned with Governor Felix along those lines (Acts 24.25). In 21st Century America, there is a great need to consider Judgment Day. Paul warns the church at Thessalonica—2 Thessalonians 1.7-9… And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. The basis of the judgment will be the word of Christ (John 12.48). Let us be sure that we hear the warning Paul gives and make the adequate preparation (cf., John 8.24; Luke 13.3; Matthew 10.32; Acts 2.38).

Self-Condemned

BibleTributeI have a copy of Class Notes on Romans, written by the late Roy H. Lanier, Sr. On the front cover of that book is this amazing poem of praise for God’s Word. Please read it and think about the VALUE of the Bible, and please be sure not to stand Self-Condemned

  1. The Bible is a message of instruction; a message of warning; and it is a message of hope.
  2. All men everywhere should rejoice at hearing and understanding that message.
  3. It is a light to our feet, a chart for the traveler, and a compass for the sailor.
  4. It is food for the soul, balm for the aching heart, and medicine for the sick.
  5. It is a sword for the soldier, seed for the sower, and a girdle for the weary.
  6. It comforts the sorrowing, encourages the faint, and gives hope to the discouraged.
  7. It rebukes the ungodly, reproves the negligent, and corrects the wanderer.
  8. It is to be studied in life, cherished in death, and answered in the judgment.
  9. Let us rejoice in every opportunity we have to read it, appreciate every explanation we hear of it, and put into practice every lesson we learn from it.
  10. To obey it is to build on the Rock eternal.
  11. To disobey it is to build on the shifting sand.
  12. To neglect to learn it is to stand self-condemned.

A Special Kind of Wisdom

woman reading book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11.30). The Book of Proverbs is a great source of practical instruction about life and how to live it in the best possible way. A great suggestion for becoming more familiar with Proverbs is to read one chapter from this great book each day. Following this procedure, the book gets read each month. Proverbs 11.30 certainly ought to be a verse that slows us down as we read to spend some serious “pondering time.” To ponder is not as common as once it was, because of the rush-rush world in which we live.

I have an old volume of Teacher’s Annual Lesson Commentary in my personal library. I love these books, especially some of the older ones. This particular book was published in 1952 for the use of Bible Class teachers in 1953. One of the many texts dealt with in this edition of the series is Proverbs 11.30. Roy H. Lanier, Sr., was the editor of this volume. He makes application of this text to wise men winning souls away from destruction. He lists seven reasons why such an activity is to be labeled W-I-S-E.

  1. When we win a soul for Christ, we lessen the influence for evil in the world.
  2. When we win a soul for Christ we increase the total influence for good in the world.
  3. When we win a soul for Christ we have done that person the greatest favor it is possible to do.
  4. In that way we cause more joy in heaven than we can cause in any other way (Luke 15.7).
  5. In doing so, we save a soul from eternal death (James 5.20).
  6. We transform a life from sin and shame unto a life of righteousness and usefulness.
  7. In doing so, we are trying to win our own souls from destruction by not only hearing but doing what Jesus has taught us to do (Matthew 7.24-27).

May I just ask you to look over brother Lanier’s seven points once again? It is easy to skim through a list and not get the full benefit that is available with a careful consideration of that which is listed.

I want us to contemplate the immense value the work of winning souls happens to be. Can we not find within this listing of the value of evangelistic activity some point that will serve as a goad or prick to our own feeble efforts in that direction? Paul was told by our Lord that it was hard for him to kick against the pricks (Acts 9.5). The “prick” or “goad” was the same instrument used by Shamgar to kill 600 Philistines (Judges 3.31). The prick was a sharp piece of iron on a stick with which the ox is urged on in the right direction by its owner [Barnes’ Notes]. I have seen them used quite effectively in India and Indonesia. Let’s allow these shining truths to prick us in the right direction, also.

To be wise with the use of our God-given resources is something good and pleasant to the Lord. If we would take notice of the opportunities that come our way to reach out to the lost and to be an influence for that which is right and good, the rewards for the vision and actions should truly be large. For those of us at Maple Hill, let’s be sure to get those “business cards” out into the public!

Tools that are available to us today are truly amazing! The use of whatever means or method we have available to work toward winning lost souls just has to be the most special kind of wisdom!

TRUTH for July 2018

JournalsHead.TruthI have just received the July issue of TRUTH from Roger Campbell. There are four fine articles in this month’s issue: (1) Pointing Fingers at Others; (2) What Do You Remember about Abigail?; (3) Lord, Help Me Have a Spirit of Sacrifice; (4) Two Paths which Lead to Two Eternal Destinies. We encourage you to read and be edified by these four articles. Find them by clicking here… Truth1807

Cain’s Complaint

Captions.GodDidntSayNotToOne of the most important and basic aspects of ascertaining Bible authority is to understand what might be labeled: The Law of Exclusion.  If a person understands clearly this important principle, his acceptance of other truths of the Bible is greatly aided.  Whenever we have an opportunity to help someone understand this wonderful principle, we OUGHT to avail ourselves of that opportunity.

The fact is that this principle is illustrated in many ways throughout the Bible.  We will not be lacking in ways to help other people understand this important principle if we are familiar at all with our Bibles.  We certainly should not be surprised at this fact, of the abundance of material on this important subject, because the Bible contains all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).  Let’s notice together how Cain’s Complaint helps us understand this principle.

In the very beginning of God’s dealings with mankind, we find the law of exclusion at work.  Consider the account of Cain and Abel.  We know that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith (Heb 11:4).  We know also that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).  Therefore we must conclude that God gave instruction to these brothers about the sacrifice which would be acceptable.  However, one of these brothers had respect for the law of exclusion and one of them did not.  What was the result of Cain’s disrespect for the law of exclusion?  Well let’s read it from God’s word: “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Gen 4:4-5).

How did Cain disrespect the law of exclusion and thus cause God to have no respect for his offering?  It is very easy to see that Cain made a substitute.  He did not appreciate, at the time, the fact that when God speaks there can be no substitute.  Man’s part is to do what God commands and to refrain from attempts to make substitute.  How did Cain feel after God “had not respect for” his offering?  The Bible says that “his countenance fell.”  One version says: “his face became sad.”  Have you ever seen a disobedient little child hang their head in shame?  This is similar to what Cain did here.

Cain’s lack of respect for the law of exclusion was the fundamental cause of his sadness and the rejection of what he had to offer to the Lord.  God will not allow man to make substitutes for His will.  Why cannot men today learn the lesson of the law of exclusion?

Do you know what God called that which Cain did?  God referred to Cain’s substitution–his lack of respect for the law of exclusion–as SIN!  Let’s listen in on God’s conversation with Cain–“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen 4:6-7).  There is a way that is right and it leads to acceptance with God.  There is a way that is wrong and it involves SUBSTITUTING man’s will for God’s will.  This way of substitution, this way of neglecting the law of exclusion, is a way that is called SIN! There were consequences for Cain’s lack of respect for the law of exclusion.  There will always be consequences for neglecting the law of exclusion!

Can we be instructed by Cain and his neglect of this law?  Cain went his own way.  Cain made the substitution.  Cain was told by God what he did wrong.  Cain would not receive instruction about his own wrongdoing, but set about to “get even” by attacking the one who did show respect for the law of exclusion, his own brother.  Cain’s way is much too familiar in the religious world today!

When we cry out today of the need to have Bible authority for all that we do, that cry is met, in far too many instances, by “Cain’s Complaint.”  Cain’s Complaint, in effect was: God didn’t say not to offer “the fruit of the ground.”  Men today, when confronted with this principle, cry out: “The Bible doesn’t say not to __________.”

How can men expect to be well pleasing to the God of heaven when they are unwilling to be instructed by plain teaching in God’s word?   Please don’t ignore it in your life.