THE WICKED STUMBLING IN THEIR DARKNESS

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"The way of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble." Proverbs 4:19

 

The older I grow, the more I admire and love the book of Proverbs. Its wisdom is most profound. Manifestly these proverbs are the result, not of inspiration only, but of much observation and reflection in the writer. They are useful, being easily remembered, and so various, that you can always find something to apply, be your circumstances what they may. It is plain the author had moved among men with his eyes wide open. Hence, he had noticed that the wicked are forever stumbling, and seem not to know at what they stumble. It is to this great truth that I now call your attention.

I. It is well, in the first place, to notice several facts of human consciousness.

Whoever shall carefully study these facts, shown by human consciousness, must see that the pretended skepticism of men is mere hypocrisy. Men know better.

What are these facts?

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Healing Words

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)

There are times when what we say is a great gift. In 1986 I had just undergone a double mastectomy for breast cancer and was considering reconstruction. I was very thankful for my survival, but the fear of not being “physically appealing” to my husband was real. After surgery, my husband said something I’ll never forget, “Don’t have reconstruction for my sake. It doesn’t matter to me; I love you just the way you are.” I felt a heavy weight lift off my shoulders. What a wonderfully freeing gift his acceptance gave me. As a result, I chose not to have reconstruction. Words have such great power. The Bible often speaks of being careful of what we say to others. The tongue can be equally devastating or loving. A great gift we can give to others is a word of encouragement, love, comfort and understanding. A reliable guideline is to decide what you would like people to say to you if you were in similar circumstances.

Lord, lead me to people today with whom I can share words of healing and love. Help me to be sensitive enough to your nudging to recognize that person.

By Jackie (Tennessee, USA)

THE CERTAIN DOOM OF THE IMPENITENT

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy." --Proverbs xxix. 1.

 

There is nothing in the connection in which these words stand that require explanation; I shall, therefore, at once give you the outline of thought which I design to pursue.

I. NOTICE THE TRUE IDEA OF REPROOF

II. SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH GOD ADMINISTERS REPROOF

III. THE DESIGN OF REPROOF

IV. WHAT IT IS TO HARDEN THE NECK, UNDER REPROOF

V. WHAT IS INTENDED BY BEING SUDDENLY DESTROYED

VI. WHAT IS INTENDED BY BEING DESTROYED WITHOUT REMEDY

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Go to the One

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3 (NIV


There I sat, looking at the University catalog, to figure out what courses
I needed to take for my first group of classes. I was confused, so I
went to the One I oftentimes did when confused. "Lord? You know where my life is going, I do not. I have my ideas,but I know you are directing my path. Please guide me as I choose my classes, Lord, so I end up where you want me to be."

Then I proceeded to look at my course requirements and whatever else interested me. Two years later I transferred to a different University which was not part
of my original plan. I was changing to an unrelated major and concerned
that I might need to take many extra courses to finish my schooling and, of course, incur the extra expense.

When I chose my new major, I looked at the catalog for what prerequisites
were required and was amazed! During my first two years I had taken
every single course that was required for my new major. At that moment I s tood in awe of God, in awe of His faithfulness.


Prayer: Lord, thank you for your faithfulness. Remind me to seek your
guidance and commit my actions to accomplishing your purposes. I ask this
in Jesus name and to His glory, Amen.


By Ally, California

Feeble, But Wise

 Rosemary Renninson

Bible Verse:
The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks. Proverbs 30:26 (KJV)

Text:
Over the last thirty years, through the study of God’s Word, and the animals He mentions, I have learned so many helpful principles God wants me to apply to my daily living. God has created and gifted even the conies with wisdom for living. Knowing their own natural defenselessness, they make their burrows in the rocks. While feeding, the male head of the clan keeps watch, and if a predator appears, he utters a warning cry that sends the clan scampering into the safety of the rocks. No earthly rulers or the masters of millions of dollars living in fortressed impregnable castles are better protected than the cony dwelling in their rocks. In Luke 6:47-49, Jesus speaks of what those are like who come to Him and hear Him. We needn’t build impregnable castles, but rather avail ourselves of Jesus our rock and our fortress. In Jesus, the weak are strong, in Jesus the defenseless are safe. We could not be more strong if we were giants. We could not be more safe if we were in heaven. By His Spirit He has written it; by His Spirit He has revealed it. And by His Grace, we may merge into Him and be safe from every adversity and foe.

Ending Prayer:
Heavenly Father, please continually help us to have the wisdom to run into our Rock Christ Jesus in every circumstance of our lives. Amen, and Amen.

 

To Win Souls Requires Wisdom

He that winneth souls is wise. - Proverbs 11:30.

The most common definition of wisdom is, that it is the choice of the best end and the selection of the most appropriate means for the accomplishment of that end. "He that winneth souls," God says, "is wise." The object of this Lecture is to direct Christians in the use of means for accomplishing their infinitely desirable end, the salvation of souls. I shall confine my attention to the private efforts of individuals for the conversion and salvation of men. On another occasion, perhaps, I shall use the same text in speaking of what is wise in the public preaching of the Gospel, and the labors of ministers. In giving some directions to aid private Christians in this work, I propose to show Christians:

I. How they should deal with careless sinners.

II. How they should deal with awakened sinners.

III. How they should deal with convicted sinners.

I. DEALING WITH CARELESS SINNERS.

1. In regard to the time. It is important that you should select a proper time to try to make a serious impression on the mind of a careless sinner.

For if you fail of selecting the most proper time, very probably you will be defeated. True, you may say that it is your duty at all times to warn sinners, and try to awaken them to think of their souls. And so it is; yet if you do not pay due regard to the time and opportunity, your hope of success may be very doubtful.

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Friends Forever

A friend loveth at all times… Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)
 
Today is my best friend's birthday. Her name is Elaine. She is celebrating her 59 BD surrounded by love and happiness and joyful music… and maybe even a few balloons. Today I am hopeful that the angels will sing Happy Birthday to her and my "gift" will be this devotional in her memory.

Elaine and I  met when we were 10 and became "blood sisters" by age 13. I can remember pricking our fingers and screaming "ouch"… all the while feeling something magical about the sacred ceremony of friendship. Elaine had long flowing hair and a full figure as most Greek girls do. She was kind, smart, and very inquisitive. Her questions about God were frequent and we often had heated and challenging debates about the ways of God.

At the innocent age of 12, Elaine accepted Christ with me on her knees in her bedroom. This was in the same bedroom where we played the game of "Life" and dreamed our future dreams while playing Barbie dolls for hours on end. After that eventful day, our Barbies and Ken dolls became missionaries. It was hard to find appropriate Barbie doll clothes for their "change of life" adventures, so we had to become even more imaginative… imagine that! 

Elaine grew up and moved away and became a beautiful, intelligent, Godly woman. She became a well-known business woman and CEO for Kodak Inc. She never forgot her God and our friendship. She would call or send me a card on my BD every year.
 
When I received the call that she had suddenly gone to be with the Lord, I wept "bitter tears of joy". You might ask, "How can you weep bitter tears of joy?" Only those who lose a loved one unexpectedly will understand that phrase. It hurt so deeply that I cried out loud to my God and wept for hours on my bed. Even though I was joyful that she was in heaven with the Lord, I would forever miss my best friend. There would be a "black hole" in my earthly heart forever. No one would ever take her place. Remember, we were "blood sisters forever."
 
Today, on her BD, I want to honor her by saying that her life was a gift and treasure to me… and even though no one reading this devotion will know of whom I am speaking… I hope it will remind you to appreciate the friends who are presently in your life.

Maybe… just maybe… this story of friendship will inspire you take the time to say the good words of love that will bless others and rekindle your affections as sisters and brothers in Christ.
 
Lord, help us to use our lives today for your Glory and Grace, and to remember to tell those around us how precious they are to us and to you. Amen.

Honey Hunters

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:23-24 (The New American Standard Bible)

Some people venture into perilous country at great risk to retrieve honeycomb from wild bees. They wade through muck and mire, expose themselves to man-eating tigers and vipers with deadly venom and subject themselves to the wrath of the bees from which they take their prize. They do this to obtain precious honeycomb to be sold in the market places of India. The risks are great and the reward is considered greater because honeycomb is highly prized among those who are neither able nor desirous of finding it themselves. It is said that in some places the pleasure of eating this sweet delight is worth more than a week’s wages, which may mean a great expense in that region.

As one who used to “keep” bees, I can attest to the pleasures of honey, especially on a slice of whole wheat bread smeared with peanut butter, or one of my daughter’s hot biscuits at supper, or just a cup of hot tea on a cold winter day. Obviously the “honey hunters” enjoy the comb also because they all consume some of the profits before leaving the scene of the robbery.

The delights of eating honey are compared with words of encouragement in scripture and I thought the passage in Proverbs speaks well to this analogy. It almost seems that pleasant words are as hard to find as the task that faces the honey hunters of India. Stinging comments, venomous remarks and the muck and mire of some conversations these days, not to mention those who roam about roaring like lions, make finding pleasant words a true adventure and a great pleasure. So maybe it’s time to “comb” the marketplaces for opportunities to spread the sweet pleasure of God’s Word. “Wax” eloquently with comments that are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones and spread a little encouragement on those whom God brings to your attention.

Father, help us to be true honey hunters, sharing your words that are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Amen.

Security

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1 (KJV)

The billboard was a startling attention getter. It appeared well and truly burned; its surface smoky with charred holes. The ad line was abundantly clear: “When all you’ve got left is our insurance company, you have all the SECURITY you need…”

The design was meant to cause panic to those who read it, and to ask, "Do I have enough insurance coverage on my property and possessions?" It certainly led me to ponder on that word SECURITY: safety, confidence, assurance, stability, protection, defense, a shield.

To many of us "security" means being able to protect our loved ones, possessions, health, and resources in order to maintain a particular standard of living and happiness.

However, I’ve come to know everything is subject to God’s sovereignty. If I have a right relationship with God, I have real security and true joy because my greatest happiness is the pursuit of God Himself, and His sovereign security follows naturally. “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5b) For the child of God, in all circumstances, God is always there, a secure refuge and strength.

If all we have left after any kind of disaster is an insurance company, we don’t have very much at all. On the other hand, if we lose all earthly possessions, but we have God, we still have everything we’ll ever need.

In Him, we’ll always have life—everlasting life.
 
Heavenly Father, thank you so much that when we belong to You, You are all the SECURITY we need. Amen.

God is Watching

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good. - Proverbs 15:3 (NASB)
 
We have a dog and a cat that live amicably together. However, the dog always wants to eat the cat’s food even though he knows that he should not. So when no one is in the room he will pick up the cat’s small bowl in his mouth, carry it into the next room, put it down, and eat the food. If he is caught while carrying the bowl he will drop it and run.
 
How many times do we take our sin to some isolated place thinking that no one will catch us? Jonah tried to escape God on a ship, Achan hid stolen treasures, and the wicked say, “The Lord does not see” (Psalm 94:7). We may close the door when we are on the internet or travel far from home expecting that no one will recognize us. But we forget that God is always watching. He sees our actions as clearly as if He was standing in the room with us and knows our thoughts as though we were speaking them out loud. If we would believe this then how much more ashamed would we be to sin? When we are tempted we should look over our shoulder, in a manner of speaking, and say, “Don’t worry, God, I’m not going to do it.” Then we will realize the joy that brings to Him and, consequently, the joy that victory brings to us.
 
Dear Father, let me always be aware of Your presence that I might be fearful to sin. Amen.

Pie Ministry

Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:31 (NASB)

Karen approached her pastor and said she wanted to serve in the church but didn’t know what to do. Her pastor asked her about her interests, hobbies, and talents.

“I love to bake pies and this is also my occupation,” she mentioned.

The pastor pondered this for a moment and said, “What do you think about a pie ministry? Would you like to bake a pie for our first-time visitors?”

Karen jumped at the opportunity and found her niche. She has been baking a pie for every Sunday morning service for several years now. At one point, her oven broke. When the pastor heard this, he quickly made arrangements for a new stove to be delivered to her kitchen. Even when she had some health challenges, she continued to provide a delicious apple pie every Sunday.

For most of us, the commitment of taking the time and effort to bake – week after week – year after year – would be overwhelming. Putting the TLC and excellence into each pie takes a special grace. Can you imagine how blessed the first-time visitors feel when they receive Karen’s pies?

Baking pies may seem like an unconventional way of serving the Lord. Isn’t it great how God makes each of us different from one another? He has wired us all with different talents and abilities. When we use the gifts He placed within us, we make a difference in this world.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the talents you placed in me. Help me use them to your glory. Amen.

Trust in the Lord, No Matter What

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path strong. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
 
Trust in the Lord with all of my heart, sounds simple enough, right? This passage in Proverbs is one many of us are familiar with but do we really trust with all our heart? It’s human nature to want to trust our common sense and rational thinking to deal with everyday situations. When we do that, the results of our decisions and choices don’t always have the results we expect. Our wisdom has limits but we know that God’s wisdom is far greater than anything we can ever imagine — but how do we learn to trust God’s wisdom? It’s a matter of where our focus is. Is it all about us and how we are dealing with our pending job termination? Is it about family troubles that seem to linger for an eternity? Or is it all about God and what he has for us? It’s not easy to take our eyes off our situation and look to God but once we give up control and give it to him, we can expect to see change.

I’ve seen just that in my own life. In recent months the bank I work for announced a merger with a competing bank. It was anticipated for several months but no one knew when upper management would make the formal announcement. When it did take place, I knew in my heart that God was in control and I spent time in the Word and found comfort. Along the way, I allowed my mind to take flight with worry, panic and a variety of other ideas as well as taking an emotional roller coaster ride. I took my eyes off God and tried taking control of my situation. It wasn’t until I heard a sermon by our new pastor at church that I realized I was focusing on my situation and worries and not the promises of God for me and my life as a Christian. I realized that what I was going through wasn’t about me and my situation but it was all about God and what he has for me. I was leaning on my own understanding, my own way of doing things rather that letting God take control. I had to make it right and surrender my situation to God and give him total control, knowing that I should have continued to allow God to have it and do his good work in my life all along instead of me trying to take back control to do it my way.

My work in the corporate world will end in a matter of months but my work for the kingdom of God will never end. I continue to be a work in progress, learning every day to trust in the Lord with all of my heart.

Struggles will always be there but God is there to lead, guide and direct the path that’s to be taken for everyone who believes. Take the time to allow God to minister to your heart and allow him to make your path strong as he promises.

Father God, Help us to always trust in you with all of our hearts so we may be stronger in our faith. Amen.

We Still Need God

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10 (NIV)

I remember where I was and what I was doing when I received news of the World Trade Center attack. I watched in horror as the twin towers fell. I immediately began to pray. 

WWII - The USS Tennessee is positioned to bombard Iwo Jima. According to my Uncle Kenneth’s letters, they manned their battle stations for four consecutive days. He said the only way he could go to sleep at night was to lie down and pray.

My son joined the Army Reserves in 2005, in the midst of this war on terror. He said God would not allow him to rest until he agreed to go. I began to pray over his mind and his safety.

WWII - the Battle of the Bulge. My Uncle Ray (Kenneth’s brother) was serving with the Army’s 38th Replacement Battalion. His mother sent him a letter with scriptures in it. She said she opened her Bible and prayed for a verse that comforted her while her two boys were at war. She needed God’s peace and ever present help for her precious boys.

Our nation has not changed so much in all these years. We still need God. Unlike the man-made twin towers that fell under attack, the Lord is a strong tower that cannot fall. It cannot fail, no matter how hard Satan attacks. When we run to Him, we are safe - eternally safe and secure. 

Lord, thank You that we can run to you whenever we feel shaken by life’s experiences. Help us to remember that You are the One who will give us the security and strength we need to survive this worldly life.

Following Daddy's Example

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)

When our son David was four years old, he ran breathlessly into the living room. “Mommy, come quick! You won’t believe what I just did!”

I was afraid to guess. With his mischievous twinkle and a big grin, he grabbed my hand and marched me to the backyard. He led me to a tree stump that remained after my husband cut down our diseased tree.

David had gone into the garage and raided my husband’s tool chest. He had hammered eighteen carpenter’s spikes into the stump, and surprisingly, each one was perfectly straight. David was so proud of his achievement, and I was truly amazed. I was thankful he hadn’t injured himself in the process.

My husband has excellent carpentry skills, and David wanted to be just like him.

This incident reminded me of how little boys look up to their fathers. Dads are important role models to their children in ways they don’t realize. 

Parents serve as examples to their children in Spiritual matters as well. Scripture admonishes us to talk to them about the Lord and teach them His ways. Look for opportunities to weave Spiritual truths into your conversations. Share stories with your children about how God has helped you throughout your life. Reading classic Bible stories to your children will reap great rewards in their Spiritual growth.
   
Dear Lord, please give us wisdom to become better parents. Help us recognize daily opportunities to teach our children about You. Thanks, Lord! Amen.

Wedges

A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are as a scorching fire. A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends. Proverbs 16:27-28 (The New American Standard Bible)

Splitting wood is hard work. An old dairy farmer told me years ago never try to split wood while it’s warm and wet; it’s best to split wood in the winter when it’s frozen. Driving a steel wedge into the chunks of silver maple with a maul last night brought his wisdom back to mind. Intertwined wood fibers simply absorbed the energy of each blow, greatly resisting my efforts to separate it into the smaller pieces necessary for fitting into the wood stove next winter. I should have tackled the task in February when the wood was still frozen.

In some respects the analogy can be applied to the intimate relationships we enjoy in Christ. When warm and lively, these relationships resist the attempts of a few to separate us from each other and our close fellowship with the Savior. When relationships become cold and rigid, wedges can easily be driven, dividing even the most intimate of friends.

Father, protect us from people who would “maul” us and try to separate us from the love of Christ and from each other. Keep our relationships warm and alive so that we might resist the wedges of slander and strife. Amen