Romans 3-5, Psalm 45
The Littlest Member
Friday, October 30, 2009
by Dr. Paul Chappell

"Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."

James 3:5-10

Your words should be used to glorify God and edify others.

While walking through an old English cemetery once, a young man admired the stonework and structure of the tombstones. He took time to read of lives lived to the fullest, some that ended quickly, others who were loved by many, some who were loved by few. He took note of all the engravings and last words some people desired to be on their final resting place. As he wandered, he noticed one tombstone's inscription that caught his attention. There was the grave of a Miss Arabella Young. The epitaph on her tombstone read as follows:

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay
Lies Arabella Young
Who on the twenty-fourth of May
Began to hold her tongue.

Sadly, that tribute could be given to many people upon their death. The tongue seems to be a tricky thing to control, as we saw a few days ago, but today let's notice the power of the tongue. Our tongues have the power to do one of two things-help or hurt.

The Bible calls our tongues a little member of our body, but a vital member. Just as the small rudder in the back of a ship dictates the direction of the mighty ship, so our tongue has great power in our lives. Notice God's description of the tongue in verse 8, "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." The tongue has great power and we must be careful how we use it.

Sometimes our speech can be contradictory. Think of God's words in verse 9, "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God." Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that the tongue you use to cut down others, is the same tongue you use to praise God and worship Him? God says these things ought not to be so!

The words that flow from your mouth should always be uplifting and Spirit-filled words. God gave you the power of speech in order to glorify Him and edify others. Is your speech doing those two things? Too often we can become cynical, critical, hateful, or even malicious in our speech. God never intended for our words to hurt others. He desires that we would be an encouragement to those around us.

How do you use your words? Do you often find yourself criticizing other people? God doesn't want you criticizing one of His creation with the same tongue you use to glorify Him. Your words should be pure and uplifting.

Spend some time in prayer with God. Ask Him to help you control your tongue, and only speak encouraging words. God warns that your tongue is a powerful member, so give Him control of your words today and allow Him to give you the words to say.


The Story Behind the Psalm

It is agreed that these words were written during one of the dark hours of David's life. The darkest hours of his life were no doubt during two self-imposed exiles. One of these was his exile to Mahanaim during Absaloin's rebellion, and the other was his constant fleeing from Saul when Saul had become jealous and made a constant attempt to kill David. However, verse 7 reminds us that David was not in exile at the writing of this Psalm. We then find in verse 8 that he did have bitter enemies at this time. So the Psalm was probably written before Absalom's rebellion. Absalom was stirring the people against David and very coyly rallying them to himself. David could see the cloud rising and no doubt realized that a battle was inevitable. It was no doubt written in the morning time. Note verse 3, as David was seeking grace and strength to face a new day in the midst of tremendous burdens.

The Way It Was Used by God's People

The Jews used this Psalm in the early morning hours. They used it as a prayer for help (verses 7 and 8). When in adversity, they used it as a plea for joy (verses 11 and 12). When beset by enemies, they would plead for God to destroy their enemies (verses 9 and 10).

Notice also that there are three things the Jews would do in the morning time, as is found in verse 3. First, they would let God hear their voices. Maybe they would read the Psalm aloud; perhaps they would sing the Psalm. They they directed a prayer to God. In other words, they petitioned God for His help to supply their needs. Third, they would look up. Ah, here are three wonderful things to do in the morning hours. Let God hear us sing and praise; then let us present our petitions to Him and then look up. For many years now the first thing I do in the morning upon arising is to pull the curtain and look to the sky and tell Jesus I would love for Him to come today. The wise Christian spends time with God in the morning, and especially so when he faces a battle or heavy burdens.
Friday, October 30
Bought? Or Inherited?
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field…Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” - Matthew 13:44-46
A common point in each of the parables we have been looking at this week is that both the one who found the treasure his in the field and the one who found the pearl of great price both sold all that they had to get what was most valuable.
The Lord Jesus Christ posed the following question: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26) Many people give everything they have for the things of this world while ignoring the most important thing: the eternal destiny of their souls!
God’s kingdom cannot be bought; but it is inherited. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” (Matthew 25:34) An inheritance requires a birthright; Jesus said in John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
What can a man give for his soul so that he can inherit the kingdom? Nothing that can be gained in this world: only receiving Jesus Christ can do it! “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12) Only the sons of God can receive His kingdom inheritance!

Are you part of God’s kingdom through being born into His family?
Thank God today for His grace and mercy in saving you!
In Need of Wisdom
Friday, October 23, 2009
by Dr. Paul Chappell

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

James 1:5-6

The question to ask yourself isn't whether or not you need wisdom, but in what area of life you need it.

Henry Ford invented the automobile and built a giant auto company named after himself, Ford Motor Company. Ford was a pioneer in the automobile, beginning in 1908 with the Model T. He also is credited with inventing the assembly line method of production, a method that lowered costs drastically in not only the automotive industry, but several other companies. Ford is said to have been a tightfisted man, despite being worth over $188 billion. One time, a part broke in the electrical generators of his factory. Ford called Charlie Steinmetz, who built the mighty generators, to come fix the problem. Steinmetz came out to the factory, toyed with the generators for a couple hours, then had them up and running again. Ford was very pleased until he received Steinmetz's bill-$10,000. Shocked, Ford inquired of Steinmetz why his bill was so high for only a couple hours of tinkering. Steinmetz replied: "For tinkering with the generator: $10. For knowing where to tinker: $9,990." Ford paid Stenimetz the entire $10,000.

When we have problems, wouldn't it be nice to have someone who would "know where to tinker" in order to get things straightened out? Just as Ford knew the creator of the generators, we know the Creator of our lives, and we have direct access to Him anytime we need wisdom for a problem.

James 1 lays out some very clear "tips" for the Christian life. Yesterday we saw how trials work patience in us, and how we must allow God to mold us through trials. Today, James 1:5 gives us a promise that we can all grasp onto. God promises that if we lack wisdom, we can ask it of God and He will give it to us.

Who doesn't lack wisdom? There isn't a person on this earth who couldn't use some divine wisdom from God. From the President of the United States to a teenager in high school, everyone needs wisdom. We might differ in our levels of wisdom or in the situations in which we need wisdom, but one thing is certain-we need God's wisdom.

The good news is God promises to give us wisdom, but He gives us two conditions for receiving it. First, we must ask Him. How many times have we needed God's direction or guidance but failed to ask? Oftentimes our self-sufficient attitude dictates that we try our own options and seek our own guidance before seeking God's wisdom.

God's second condition for receiving wisdom is that we have faith that He will give it to us. Asking God for wisdom as part of a "three-part plan" for guidance doesn't work. God must be our one and only resource for wisdom. Only He can give us what we need and we must trust Him fully.

God promises us wisdom as we ask it from Him and trust that He will give it to us. God has promised it to us, just as He has promised us eternal salvation if we trust in His Son's sacrifice. Yet many times it is easier for us to trust Him for eternal life than for wisdom, because we don't have another alternative for eternal life. But Christian, we don't have another alternative for wisdom either. God is the only source of true wisdom and guidance.

The question to ask yourself isn't whether or not you need wisdom, but in what area of life you need it-work, school, family, etc. Where do you need God's divine wisdom to know what to do? God promises to give it to you! Take time now to first ask God for wisdom, and then to place your faith completely in Him for an answer. Don't rely on Plan B for guidance; make God your first and only plan today.
Friday, October 23

The Leaven Principle

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

-- Matthew 13:33

Throughout the Bible leaven is almost always used in the bad, sinful sense. The only exceptions are found in the wave offering, Leviticus 23:17, and possibly in our text today.

The principle of leaven is how a small, nearly undetectable substance works it way through something much larger, with the smaller having a great influence, and ultimately taking over, the larger.

In our parable today expositors are divided over the interpretation. Many see the leaven as symbol of the gospel working itself through the world and taking over, with the woman representing the church figuratively. Many others see just the opposite! They see the leaven as representative of sin and false teaching working its way throughout Christendom (that which is Christian in name, both real and false).

We must be very careful not to build doctrine on our interpretation of parables. In this case, there may well be truth to both interpretations! Yes, it is a good thing that yeast (like leaven) works through a loaf of bread, making it rise. But Jesus warned His disciples, “How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matt. 16:11–12)

Think about how fast rumors and bad news circulate compared to good reports.

Thank God that He has warned us against false doctrine and given us His Word, the Bible, to know what is right.
Proverbs 9:12 "If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it."

What a great verse on personal responsibility. I would love to be able to make all the decisions for my kids. Even though I know I would make some wrong decisions, I would make many more right ones than sometimes I see them making! But God has chosen to give us free will on the most important decision - salvation! We only have what my husband refers to as "the illusion of control" over many of their other decisions in life. We can force them to go to church, but we can not force them to accept the truths of God's Word. We can force them to eat healthy, but we can not force them to never harm their bodies through other unhealthy behaviors. We can force them not to argue with their siblings, but we can not force them to love one another.

As a parent it is hard to realize, especially for me in the teen years, that you have less control than you ever imagined. However, it is comforting to know that God is the Author of free choice. Adam and Eve had three sons, and the very first child ever born, exercised his free will in committing murder against his own brother. Judas, who spent time with the very Son of God, exercised his own free will in rejecting Christ, and betraying Him to the jealous leaders who wanted to kill Him.

Because God is the Author of free will, I know that it is a good thing. All we can do is influence them, and try to bring them up to follow the Guide of God's Word. The choice is theirs.

AUTHOR: Solomon

There is no definite evidence to his authorship of this Psalm, but there are strong grounds for suspicioning such. Even the casual reader will note a strong similarity between the Proverbs and the first Psalm.

The Story Behind the Psalm

The father is talking to his son. Perhaps this father is Solomon. Perhaps the son is Rehoboam, who succeeded him on the throne. Solomon is teaching Rehoboam the way to blessedness and is warning him about the destruction of those who follow evil. In some ways it may be regarded as a preface to the rest of the Psalms. Perhaps it is a summary of what is to come later, for is it not true that all of the Psalms teach us the blessedness of living a holy and righteous life and the danger of living a life for self and sin.

The Way It Was Used by God's People

The Jews used the first Psalm as instruction to children in family worship. It was memorized by each child and quoted and sung over and over again. Wise parents teach this Psalm to their children unto this day. Fathers gather the family together and explain the beautiful recipe for success given in this Psalm, as follows: Walking not in the counsel of the ungodly, plus standing not in the way of sinners, plus sitting not in the seat of the scornful, plus delighting in the law of the Lord, plus meditating in the Word of God day and night equals success.

It is interesting to note that the word "blessed" in verse 1 is a plural word in the original. It means that there are a multiplicity of blessings which rest upon the person who observes the five conditions for prosperity and success. The Psalm should be read with a mental picture of a father talking with his son, counseling with him and advising him about life. Emphasis should be placed upon seeking counsel only from the saved, running with the right crowd, not developing a critical tongue, enjoying the Word of God and meditating therein. Then, a warning should be given concerning the instability and tragic results of sin.