This week’s devo is a little different than most. It is a bit of a personal testimony and a challenge to youth and parents.
In my devotional time, it’s time for me to read through the precious book of Proverbs again and I was reminded of how much this book affected my life and how much I cherish it. I wasn’t introduced to Proverbs until about 20 years old but after living life my way for more than long enough, this book became like a father’s wise instruction to me, and I cherished it more than gold! This book told me things no one else would (that I was making foolish decisions) and it did so without flinching. I needed that at the time!
Proverbs is like fatherly wisdom because well, that’s the way it is written – from Solomon to his children. His children are to learn it and heed it. The opening verses read:
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: For learning wisdom and discipline; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving prudent instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man – let a wise person listen and increase learning, and let a discerning person obtain guidance.”
Solomon’s proverbs changed my life drastically and liberated me from many of the self-destructive decisions I was making by following the ways of the world. My life was a wreck! Would that every young man or woman be fully acquainted with the book of Proverbs and heed its ancient wisdom! As the song goes, they are, “Ancient words, ever true; changing me, changing you.” These ancient and inspired words of wisdom would prevent so much unnecessary pain and heartache and frustration in life for whoever reads them and applies them.
If you’re a young man or woman, I want to challenge you to read Proverbs through and habitually read it throughout your life. It has wisdom for many practical topics such as finances, marriage and relationships, child rearing, use of the tongue, work, etc. As young men and women connected to the internet, there is more information at your fingertips that one can fathom. But what we need is not more information. We need more wisdom. We would be better off with just 31 short chapters on wisdom than with the majority of the information out there. If we spent a fraction of the time reading Proverbs (with the intention of applying it) that we spend reading useless, mind-numbing junk on the internet, this world would be much more pleasant place to live and our lives would be much happier! Happiness belongs to the wise (Prov. 8:32, 34).
Now let’s look at Proverbs from Solomon’s perspective: as a parent. I want to remind you and me that God has entrusted us with His precious gifts – our children. And the one main target He has given us to aim at is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:4). I know this is probably hard to take coming from a young parent but I’m going to say this with love (I really care about this) and say it without flinching because it is based on the authority of God’s Word (not my word): if you fail to bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, you fail as a parent. You can do a hundred other things right, but to not do that, is missing the target.
What they do with the instruction and training in God’s Word when they grow up and move out, is their choice. But while they are in the home, our objective target is clear: we are to make sure they are developing the spiritual component of their lives which superintends everything else they will do and be in life. If you do that, God says, “Well done!” If you aren’t doing that, start now. If you didn’t do that when you had the chance, start taking opportune moments to influence your adult kids or even as grandparents. Remember this:
The home, not school or government, is the first
and primary social institution established by God.
Parents, not missionaries or AWANA volunteers,
are the primary disciple-makers of the next generation.
God’s plan for multi-generational faithfulness is
the family, not a youth pastor.
Most parents will fail to hit the target of developing their children’s spiritual component because they are too busy trying to make their child happy and successful according to the world’s standards. Rather than living with the target in mind, our kids are in school most of the day learning just about anything but spiritual truth. Then they go to sports practice. Then maybe to work if they are old enough. Then dinner and homework. What’s left? Probably a little vegetation on the couch. Before you know it, they’ve left the nest and we’ll be answering to God for how we failed to redeem the time.
I leave youth and parents with a fun exercise that I myself was once challenged with in my “Christian Family” class at Bible school: Open up the book of Proverbs and slowly read it through. When a proverb teaches on child rearing, go ahead and mark a little “CR” beside that proverb in the margin. Where it talks about finances, mark an “F”. Mark a “T” beside any proverb that deals with use of the tongue. Those are three major topics that come up often both in Proverbs and in life itself. I trust this exercise will prove to be a fast and easy guide for you later when you want wisdom on those topics. Also, below I included those helpful resources for biblical parenting that we put together earlier this year:
Suggested Parenting Resources to “Help You Hit the Target”:
Biblical Parenting by Chuck Swindoll
(sermon series available online)
Parenting: From Surviving to Thriving by Chuck Swindoll
(book for parents)
Heaven Help the Home! By Howard Hendricks
(any family-related material by Hendricks)
The Art of Parenting by Dennis Rainey/Family Life Today
Raising Worldly-Wise But Innocent Kids by Dave Wyrtzen
(book for parents)
The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers by Tyndale Publishers
(devotional for young children)
The One Year Book of Family Devotions by Tyndale Publishers
(devotional for older children)
Devotions for the Children’s Hour by Kenneth Taylor
(basic doctrine for children)
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Zonderkidz
Read with Me Bible by Zondervan
Family Life Today programs with Bob Lepine & Dennis Rainey talks
(podcast & radio)
Parenting by Tedd Tripp
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Paul Tripp
Enjoy your day! It is a gift! And so are your children!
In this Sunday’s sermon, we talked about how Christians that neglect their salvation are exposing themselves to the chastening hand of God. Hebrews called this drifting. Like a ship out at sea with anchor broken off, we are subject to wind and peril. The concept of divine discipline may come as a shock to us who are under grace, but to whom much is given, much is required! God’s discipline is a form of God’s redemptive, remedial grace in our lives. Only cruelty would allow someone to drift without warning, direction, and correction when certain danger lies ahead. Hebrews says God’s discipline is evidence that we are His children, and He seeks our good. Why, every good father disciplines his children so that they go on to maturity!
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they discipline us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good so that we might share in His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
When we think of divine discipline, we typically think of the Israelites in the Old Testament and are tempted to think we “New Testament people” in the Church get off scot-free no matter what we do. But God is not deceived and will not be mocked. His good purpose and love for us insists that He discipline us when we need it. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul reveals that some believers were sick or even experienced physical death for their unconfessed sin. To the letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2, Jesus warned them that because they tolerated a false and immoral prophetess in their church (Jezebel), and some even joined in on her Satanic practice, they would experience sickness or death if they didn’t repent. However, Jesus promised that he who is faithful and repents will, like a shining star, rule and reign with Christ over the nations in His Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 2:18-29)! What a reward! (By the way, please don’t get from this that every sickness or death is the result of divine discipline. As we talked about Sunday, it is a fallen world, and it is expected. He wants us to have faith in Him no matter what our circumstances are!)
But what does it look like for us to neglect our salvation? To drift spiritually? Like Corinth or Thyatira, we might neglect God’s sanctifying purposes to make us more like Christ. Sin grieves and quenches the Spirit who sealed us for the day of redemption (1 Thess. 5:10; Eph. 4:30). I think the cause of most spiritual drifting is due to unconfessed sin, neglect of God’s Word, of prayer, and of gathering with God’s people (Heb. 10:25). If we aren’t doing either one, we become spiritually dull and insensitive.
In his Hebrews commentary, Warren Wiersbe shares the story of Robert Robinson, the man who composed the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Robinson was converted under the preaching of George Whitefield and was greatly used by the Lord as a pastor. However, he began to drift when he started to neglect spiritual things. Wiersbe says, “In an attempt to find peace, he began to travel. During one of his journeys, he met a young woman who was evidently very spiritually minded. “What do you think of this hymn I have been reading?” she asked Robinson, handing him the book. It was his own hymn! He tried to avoid her question but it was hopeless, for the Lord was speaking to him. Finally, he broke down and confessed who he was and how he had been living away from the Lord. “But these ‘streams of mercy’ are still flowing,” the woman assured him, and through her encouragement, Robinson was restored to fellowship with the Lord.”
I have no doubt that when Robinson was drifting, behind a smiling face was a man who felt much like David when he refused to repent of his affair with Bathsheba. David said in Psalm 32, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” However, when David acknowledged his sin and confessed it, the Lord forgave him and restored him.
How's your relationship with God? Are you still sensitive to God’s voice? Are you anchored?
In His hands,
In this morning’s sermon, we looked at 8 ways Christ is superior to the prophets. These descriptions of Christ leave us in awe of who He truly is as the perfect God-Man. They should force us to ask the question, “Do I have a view of Jesus like that? Is my Jesus the same Jesus of the Bible?” The biblical view of Jesus is that He is fully God – the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. But He is also fully man – the sinless One who could die to pay the penalty for our sins.
It is important that we think rightly about who Jesus is. Thinking wrongly about Him takes away from either His person or His work. I’m a big believer in the fact that we don’t have to study every counterfeit dollar bill to know which bills are authentic. We don’t have to study every counterfeit Christ to know the authentic Christ, and our study of the authentic should always have the emphasis. However, it can sometimes be helpful to study the counterfeit concepts of Christ because when we know what He is not, we can be more exact in how we express who He is (and semantics are important when talking theology).
Throughout church history there have been heated debates over the nature of Christ’s Person. Below are 8 counterfeits:
A priest named Arius in the 4th century taught the preexistence of the Son but not His eternality – the idea that before He was incarnated, He was created. Arius insisted that if Jesus was the “only begotten” He must have had a beginning. Thankfully, this was publicly condemned by the Council of Nicaea in 325. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons today have an Arian-like Christology that denies His eternality. However, if His eternality is denied, then a) there is no Trinity, b) Christ is not fully God, and c) He lied, and the Bible lies.
Hebrews says He is the exact representation of God’s nature or essence. Colossians says all the fullness of Deity dwells in Him in bodily form. The OT prophesied a day was coming when the eternal Creator would step into His creation (Micah 5:2; Is. 9:6; John 8:58 & Ex. 3:14). The overwhelming NT claim is that He is the eternal, self-existent God who created all things.
In the late 1st century, a man named Marcion and the Gnostics taught that Christ only appeared to be a man – that He was something like a phantom. This is why you’ll notice for example, in Luke and John’s writing, the emphasis on His humanity. They tell us that they have seen and heard and even touched Christ. Thomas put his finger in His scars even after He rose from the dead. He had a real body. John specifically referred to this heresy in 1 John 4:1-3.
Cerinthis taught that Jesus was not born as the Christ, but rather that the spirit of Christ came upon Him at His baptism. He also said that the spirit of Christ left him before He died.
Docetism and Cerinthianism resulted from Gnostic influence, which was the greatest threat to Christianity in the first three centuries. Gnostics didn’t believe that Jesus could have a human body since, in their thinking, the physical world is evil. They assumed a dualistic opposition between the physical realm and the spiritual realm, with the spiritual being good and the physical being evil (going against God’s “very good” Genesis statement).
Gnosticism also began to influence Bible interpretation like eschatology (the study of the end times). And I’m going to take a minute to address this rabbit trail because it came up recently in our Bible interp class. For the first 2 centuries after Christ, premillennialism (the belief in a literal, political, future reign of Christ on earth for 1,000 years as the OT prophets and Revelation 20 teaches) was the orthodox view.2 This view is the result of a literal-historical-grammatical interpretation of the Bible, as espoused at
the Christian, seminary-like school at Antioch that we can trace apostolic succession back to.
However, a rival school began to develop in Alexandria, Egypt, a place heavily influenced by Gnosticism. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, men like Philo, Origen, and Augustine began to wed Greek philosophy with their interpretation of the Bible, resulting in a non-literal approach to Scripture called allegorizing. The allegorizing interpreter tries to find higher, more spiritual interpretations of the biblical text. This resulted in outlandish, spiritual sounding interpretations like saying that the four rivers in Eden represent the four parts of the soul (Genesis 2:11-14) or Jerusalem’s gates were symbolic (the fish gate was symbolic for evangelism – fishing for men – instead of a transporting actual fish (Neh. 3). If you see the spiritual in opposition to the physical, an earthly future reign of Christ is absurd and thus, amillennialism (the idea that there is no future kingdom and/or that the reign is now spiritual through Christians on earth) began to dominate.
Augustine, who wrote The City of God, believed that in order for the kingdom of God to be good, it had to be spiritual in nature and the idea of a physical restoration was carnal.3 He was the first to teach that the Church is the Messianic Kingdom on earth that began with Christ’s first coming. This most influential man in church history also taught that Satan is currently bound and the “first resurrection” is merely regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Sadly, many creeds and confessions developed after allegorizing became the dominant form of interpretation and this method of interpretation led us into the Dark Ages for more than 1,000 years! That’s longer than the Millennial Kingdom will be! In the Dark Ages (4th to 16th centuries) prophetic study was obsolete, amillennialism dominated, Roman Catholicism reigned, anti-Semitism was prevalent, and the Bible was removed from an already illiterate people, resulting in priestly manipulation (sale of indulgences/purgatory). Thankfully, the Reformation came and people started to interpret the Bible with a literal-historical-grammatical interpretation again, resulting in a real, spiritual awakening! Now, it's our job to continue applying that interpretation to the entire Bible, including eschatology (something men like Luther and Calvin stopped short of). If you want to read more on this subject, check out Andy Woods’ book Ever Reforming.
This was a 2nd century heresy that denied the deity of Christ by claiming Jesus was the natural son of Mary and Joseph but chosen to be the Son of God at His baptism. However, the gospels are very careful to guard the doctrine that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary. That’s important because Jesus must not be a descendant of Adam who inherited the sin nature like the rest of us. Instead, He had to be born of God, not of an earthly father.
Apollinarius, in the 4th century taught that Christ had a human body and soul but had the divine Logos instead of a human spirit. The Logos dominated the passive human body and soul in his view. This was an error concerning Christ’s humanity. It was condemned by Council of Constantinople in 680.
Nestorius basically divided Christ into 2 persons – one deity and one human. He so separated the two natures that the result was 2 persons. This teaching was condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Eutyches (ca. 378-454), in reaction to Nestorianism, taught there was only one nature in Christ. It was an error called monophysitism. The divine nature was not fully divine and the human nature was not fully human and the result was a mixed, single nature. This was condemned at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.
The official doctrine of this modern-day cult teaches that Jesus and Satan are “spirit brothers” and Jesus is the first “spirit child” born to the “Heavenly Father God” and one of his several wives. In their doctrine, Jesus is a created being who became god. They’re polytheistic, believing in many gods. The Church of “Jesus Christ” of Latter Day Saints clearly has a different Jesus than the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches Jesus is the eternally existent God, equal with God the Father, and Creator of all things – including Satan.
As I said at the beginning, we don’t have to study every counterfeit Christ out there to understand the authentic one, but I trust you see now how when we know what He is not, we can more carefully and clearly express who He truly is. I also trust you see the importance of teaching on the incarnation. The idea that Jesus is God eternal who was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary is and always has been a crucial doctrine for us to hold firmly too.
In Christ with you,
Pastor Justin 12/12/2021
 Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1986, 1999), 291.
2 Andy Woods, Ever-Reforming (Dispensational Publishing House, 2018), 20.
3 Renald Showers, The Most Asked Prophecy Questions (Chattanooga: ATRI, 2000), 326.
You are invited to a Candlelight Christmas Eve play, 7:00 p.m., at Chadron Berean Church.
Come with your family and friends to discover how the
story of the long-awaited Messiah really begins!
Join us for an informal night of singing, fun and games!
We will enjoy our favorite Christmas hymns (you pick!),
followed by table games and holiday treats
like hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy canes!
In today’s sermon, we talked about how God can use the ordinary moments for eternal significance, especially when we see them as a gift. In this devotional, please allow me to take more liberty than usual to demonstrate that concept. Just imagine with me that God comes to you at the end of the day and says something like, “Today was my gift to you. Let’s talk about what you did with it. What did you do today?”
You: “Well, it was just another boring day. I woke up as usual and…”
God: “Wait, wait, wait… You got out your comfortable bed in your warm house? And you stood up and readied yourself with no problem? You realize not everyone got up that way this morning, right? That’s my gift to you.”
You: “Oh… uh… I guess I didn’t think about that. I am extremely blessed, aren’t I?”
God: “More than you know. So what else did you do?”
You: “Well, I was drove to work and…”
God: “Wait. Did you just drive?”
You: “No, actually. You know. I uh… prayed about the day and worshipped along with the praise song on the radio. It was just the right song for me this morning.”
God: “That’s more like it. It was a great drive for both of us. You didn’t miss it.”
You: “Then I just went to work and after work, I...”
God: “Woah, woah, woah… what did you do at work?”
[I’m going to fill in several vocations to make a point]
You: “Well, you know, I’m a construction worker. I was helping build a house outside of town for that new young family moving to town.”
God: “Oh, but not just any house. Did you know that because you built that house as if doing it for me like Colossians 3:23 says, that house is going to be an incredible blessing to the family that lives there? They are going to make many special memories in that house and they will thank me for that home many times over. They will really appreciate the extra quality you put into your work!”
You: “Oh wow, sometimes I wonder… But I never thought about them living in it long term much.”
God: “What did you do at work today?”
You: “Well, I’m just an optometrist so I helped correct some lenses and do checkups like usual. It was a pretty average day.”
God: “Do you remember when that young man came to see you today?”
You: “Yes, I do. He needed new glasses pretty bad!”
God: “Well, because you gave him new glasses, he can read without so many headaches and because of that, he’s so much happier! In fact, he’s going to take up a serious study of the Bible soon. He’s going to be able to read my Word and find new life in Christ because of that. Isn’t that great? Then there was that recently widowed Ms. Brown who came into your office late in the day. You didn’t know it, but she’s been feeling extremely discouraged and your extraordinary kindness to her really brightened her day. In fact, she’s noticing something different in you and is wondering what makes you that way. You didn’t know it but that was the planting a seed for her too. I will make today’s day beautiful in its time.”
God: “So what did you do at work?”
You: “Well, you know I’m a farmer so I just did a bunch of paperwork after finishing up harvest. Pretty boring stuff really.”
God: “You do know we’re partners in that right? You plant it and I grow it?”
You: “Yeah, that’s pretty cool when you think about it! I guess I don’t thank you enough for growing the crop and providing the rain that I pray for.”
God: “Yeah, I really enjoy providing my creation. Did you know that your crops are going to be used to feed thousands of families? Many families are going to enjoy dinner together with the food you grew on your farm, just like how you enjoyed dinner with your family tonight.”
You: “Wow, I don’t think about that enough. My mind tends to stop short at the elevator where I unload all the grain.”
God: “Say, didn’t you eat with your whole family tonight?”
You: “Why yes, yes I did. Meatloaf and potatoes again. We thanked you for it before we ate it! We did that right, right?”
God: “Haha, yes. I appreciate that. Because many people believe in evolution these days, they don’t stop to thank me as their creator and provider… Anyway, you do know that it’s a only a short season of life before your kids leave the nest? You should appreciate those family dinners together.”
You: “Yeah, I guess it won’t be long before they’ve all graduated. It’s such a short season in life.”
God: “What did you do after that?”
You: "Oh, we put our kids to bed."
God: “When you put your kids to bed, do you remember how your son told you about how he mustered up the courage to do the right thing at school today?”
You: “Yeah, I told him I was proud of him and loved him.”
God: “You can’t see this, but I can – forty years from now he’s going to remember that night like it was yesterday.”
You: “Really? I thought it was just another night of tucking the kids into bed? I had no idea it could be that big of a deal for him.”
God: “Remember that, because one of these nights – and I won’t tell you when – I’m going to use one of those Bible stories you share so faithfully to draw your son to a saving knowledge of Christ. You will get to lead your child to trust in me!”
You: “Wow! That would be such an answer to prayer! Such a joy!”
God: “Oh I know! I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in truth. It won’t just be another night of tucking kids in bed that night, will it?”
God: “Oh yeah, one more thing. You know how about a year ago you were really sick and laid up for a while?”
You: “Yes, how could I forget?”
God: “Yet you continued to trust in me and believe that I was good and in control of your circumstance?”
You: “Yes, I remember making it a point to trust you.”
God: “That was real Christlike by the way… Well, another church member is going through the same thing and because you faced your trial with faith and patience, they now have the courage to do the same thing.”
You: “Wow, I never dreamed I would be an example to someone like that. Thanks for letting me know this time.”
You: “Hey, before you go… Does this kind of stuff happen all the time?”
God: “Yes it does, but you don’t always see it or know it. That’s what Ecclesiastes means when it says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
You: “Right… and what it means to walk by faith and not by sight?”
God: “Exactly. However, when you discipline yourself to see every day as a gift, you’ll start to pick up on it more.”
In Christ with you,
*This devo was adapted from a message by Pastor Bryan Clark.
This information is taken from the Berean Fellowship of Churches latest newsletter reminding us that the ENGAGE conference is for EVERYONE this year!
“Di and I [Fellowship president Scott Mathis & wife Diane] are so excited for our upcoming Engage 2022 Conference (February 10-12) at Lincoln Berean Church. We are especially excited Dr. Erwin Lutzer as our guest speaker. In the past, our Engage Conferences have been designed for those in spiritual leadership but since Erwin Lutzer is so well known, we've decided to open this year's Engage Conference to everyone. Here is a sneak preview of the topics he will be teaching on:”
Session 1: Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters—What is God saying to us? (Psalm 135:6-7)
Session 2: Conflicts of Conscience-When the State becomes God (Daniel 3)
Session 3: Responding to the Sexualization of our Culture (I Corinthians 6:12-20)
Session 4: Race, Riots and the Church (Colossians 3:1-11)
Session 5: Strengthen What Remains (Revelation 3:1-6)
You don't want to miss this conference! We feel so strongly about the relevancy of his topics we are keeping the registration cost at a minimum to help as many individuals as possible be able to sit under his teaching. We are also keeping the schedule very simple-- allowing you a lot of free time to connect with others, rest, or enjoy the sites of Lincoln. Registration is open and you can find it in your email!
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