Walk the Talk

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”  Ephesians 5:6-14 ESV

Paul had a predilection or preference for certain words or concepts, and he weaved them into all his letters. One for which he was particularly fond is the  word, “walk.” In Greek, the word is peripateō and it appears more than 30 times in the writings of Paul.  It means “to walk, to live, to conduct one’s life,” and it carries the idea of moving from one location to another. But for Paul, it was a way of describing how people, either saved or unsaved, conduct their lives.

Seven times in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul uses the word peripateō to describe the way people navigate life on this planet. Everyone, regardless of their relationship with Christ, is required to “live” or “walk” their way through life. The question is what manner of “walk” they will display. What will be the basis of their conduct? How will they deport themselves as they make their way through life? What rules will they live by and by what criteria will they measure their success or failure?

Throughout this letter, Paul repeatedly uses the word peripateō to convey his desire that the Ephesians live or walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Ephesians 4:1). He uses it to compare their old lifestyle to the new one made possible through their faith in Christ. Seven different times, he uses this same Greek word to establish a contrast between the old sinful nature and the new, Spirit-enabled nature graciously provided to the child of God.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked (peripateō), following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air – Ephesians 2:2 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk (peripateō) in them. – Ephesians 2:10 ESV

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk (peripateō) in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called – Ephesians 4:1 ESV

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk (peripateō) as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. – Ephesians 4:17 ESV

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk (peripateō) in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk (peripateō) as children of light – Ephesians 58 ESV

Look carefully then how you walk, (peripateō) not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

For Paul, the abundant life promised by Jesus (John 10:10) was not only possible, but it was indispensable and intended to be highly practical. Saving faith was meant to produce a radically different lifestyle modeled after Christ, enabled by the Spirit, and intended to glorify God the Father.

There is no place in the life of the believer for a dualistic or bifurcated approach to life. The willful mixing of old and new together is unacceptable and to be avoided at all costs. That is why Paul so strongly stated, “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people” (Ephesians 5:3 NLT). And just so his audience understands, he takes those rather broad categories and boils them down to specific examples of unacceptable behavior for believers: “Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you” (Ephesians 5:4 NLT).

And Paul warns the Ephesians about the danger of rationalizing or justifying these kinds of behaviors.

Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. – Ephesians 5:5 NLT

For the Christ-follower, there is no excuse or explanation for such behavior. It can’t be excused or explained away as innocent or harmless. These kinds of “acceptable” behaviors are rooted in sexual immorality, impurity, or greed and, as Paul so strongly states, “You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5 NLT).

Paul goes out of his way to differentiate between the old and the new and, to do so, he uses the metaphor of dark and light.

…once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. – Ephesians 5:8-9 NLT

Something had changed. They were no longer who they used to be. They had been delivered from a life marked by darkness and sin and delivered into a new kingdom characterized by light and life. Paul emphasized this divine deliverance in his letter to the believers in Colossae.

…he [God] has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. – Colossians 1:13-14 NLT

They were free to live distinctly different lives because they now possessed the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. They had the God-given capacity to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8 ESV). In other words, not only had they been transferred into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, but they had also been given the power to live as citizens of that Kingdom. That’s why Paul insists that they “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them” (Ephesians 5:11 NLT). They were no longer of this world. As Peter so aptly described it, they were “temporary residents and foreigners” whose task was “to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls” (1 Peter 2:11 NLT).

Light exposes darkness. That is Paul’s primary point in this passage. As children of light, they were expected to influence the darkness around them. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. So, the presence of these believers in their community should have resulted in a glaring exposure of the sins that lurked there. But instead, Paul seems to suggest that the Christians in Ephesus were actually joking about the sinfulness of their community. They were sharing obscene stories, engaging in foolish talk, and laughing at one another’s coarse jokes. In doing so, they were essentially hiding their light under a basket, something Jesus Himself warned about.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. – Matthew 5:14-16 NLT

Paul warns the Ephesians that their flippant approach to the sins of their community was unacceptable because it was ungodly.

It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. – Ephesians 5:12 NLT

And he firmly affixes the responsibility for exposing such behavior on the shoulders of the Ephesians Christians. Look closely at what he tells them.

…their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible… – Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT

What is the source of that sin-exposing light? It is the believers who populate the church in Ephesus. They were, as Jesus put it, “the light of the world” and they were to shine so that the light of their good deeds was visible to “everyone in the house.” Paul wasn’t suggesting that they condemn their lost neighbors for their sinful behavior. No, he was calling on the Ephesian believers to live as light in the midst of the darkness. The good behavior of the Spirit-empowered Christians would radically expose the bad behavior of their lost neighbors and friends. The contrast would be palpable and powerful.

According to Paul, the believers to whom he wrote had a divine source for determining what was right and wrong.

…this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. – Ephesians 5:9 NLT

The indwelling presence of the Spirit of God provided them with the knowledge of God’s will that helped clarify and quality their conduct. That’s why Paul told the Galatian believers, “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (Galatians 5:16 NLT). The Spirit was there to help them “discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10 ESV). And once they knew what God deemed to be “good and right and true” (Ephesians 5:9), the Spirit could empower them to do it.

That’s why Paul issues a much-needed wake-up call. He pleads with his brothers and sisters, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14 ESV). They had become lulled into a stupified sense of compromise and complacency, and Paul was calling them to snap out of it. They were to walk as children of the light. Their very presence in Ephesus should have been making an impact on the sin-darkened lives of their neighbors and friends. They had been redeemed for a reason. Ephesus was not their home anymore, but it was their God-appointed base of operations while they waited for the arrival of their future home: the Kingdom of God. As long as God delayed His Son’s return, the Ephesian Christians were to be His ambassadors and serve as His light-bearing emissaries into a world darkened by sin and in desperate need of the light of life (John 1:4). Jesus had chosen to shine His life-giving light through them and, as the apostle John declared, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:5 NLT).

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

New English Translation (NET)NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.

 

March. Madness.

1 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”

And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days. Joshua 6:1-14 ESV

Joshua and the people of Israel stood on the western banks of the Jordan River, camped at a place called Gilgal. They were just a few miles from the city of Jericho, which would be the site of their first attempt at taking possession of the land provided to them by God. The men of Israel had followed the Lord’s command and been circumcised. The nation had just celebrated their first Passover in the new land. And Joshua had received a reassuring visit from the captain of the Lord’s armies, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ Himself. Now, Joshua received news that they were to take the city of Jericho, but the battle strategy given to him by the Lord was anything but conventional. In fact, it was outright strange. They were preparing to attack one of the most formidable cities in the entire region, an 8-1/2 acre walled fortress guarded by, according to the Lord’s own description, “mighty men of valor.” And yet, God’s battle plan involved the army of Israel walking around the circumference of the city, following the ark of the covenant as it was carried by the Levitical priests. They were to do this for six consecutive days, then on the seventh and final day, they were to march around the city seven times, and after their final lap, the priests were to blow their shofars, the people were to shout, and the walls would fall. That was the plan.

And the truly amazing thing is that there is absolutely no indication in the text that the people showed any signs of dissent or disagreement with this plan. In fact, it tells us that Joshua commanded the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord” (Joshua 6:7 ESV), and “just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward…” (Joshua 8:8 ESV). They simply obeyed. What a stark contrast to the day, 40 years earlier, when the people of Israel stood on the eastern shores of the Jordan, poised to enter the land of promise, but they refused to do so. They heard the reports of the spies and listened to their warnings about giants in the land, and they stood their ground, disobeying the expressed will of God and threatening to kill Moses and Aaron.

Yet, on this occasion, the people responded with willing obedience. And it is important to consider just how strange this battle plan must have sounded to them. They were an ill-equipped and inexperienced band of former farmers and peasants who had spent the last 40 years wandering around the desert. They were not seasoned soldiers and they lacked any of the weapons of modern warfare that the troops inside the walls of Jericho would have had. Not only that, they were going up against a city that had a virtually impenetrable barrier around it. They had no siege engines. They lacked any kind of trebuchet or catapult that could bring down the walls of the city. No, all they had was a strange-sounding battle plan that involved a great deal of walking and waiting.

Imagine what it was like that very first evening, as the men made their way back to their camp in Gilgal. They had walked the circumference of the city wall, in silence, as the priests blew their shofars and the enemy soldiers on the walls hurled taunts and ridicule their way. These men must have questioned the wisdom behind this bizarre tactic. That night, around the camp fires, there must have been whispered discussions regarding the credibility of the Lord’s battle plan. But they obeyed. They got up the next morning and did it all over again.

And the people of Jericho must have scratched their heads in wonder as they watched, day after day, the inexplicable ritual taking place just outside their walls. What were these crazy Jews doing? What did they hope to accomplish by walking around the city in some kind of strange parade? The people of Jericho must have felt comfortable and safe inside their city, surrounded by their walls and protected by their superior army. But little did they know that God Almighty was the one behind all the events taking place just on the other side of their impregnable walls.

And, the people of Israel kept walking. For six days, they did what God had told them to do. In the face of opposition, in spite of their own doubts and in direct contradiction to all common sense, they obeyed. God had promised to bring down the walls. But that promise was directly tied to their faith and their faith was to be displayed in the form of obedience. Partial obedience would not suffice. A single trip around the walls was not going to bring them down. Half-hearted commitment was not going to result in an all-out victory. They were going to have to take God at His word, and obediently follow His directions – down to the very last word.

God’s will doesn’t always make sense. His ways are sometimes strange and illogical to us. But Joshua seemed to know that their capture of Jericho was going to require complete dependence upon God. He knew they were undermanned and poorly equipped for the job of taking the city of Jericho. He realized that any hope they had of conquering the land of Canaan was directly tied to their reliance upon God. The captain of the Lord’s armies had appeared to Joshua with a sword in His hand, and He had claimed, “I have come.” He was there to do battle on behalf of the people of Israel. And He had a plan. His was not a normal, run-of-the-mill battle plan, but a divinely ordained strategy that was going to unleash the power of heaven through the willing obedience of ordinary men. The greatest effort required of the people of Israel was not their daily walk around the walls. It was their faith. It was their continued confidence in God’s plan and their faithful reliance upon His promise: “the wall of the city will fall down flat” (Joshua 6:5 ESV). Their faith in God, while demonstrated by their obedience to the will of God, was going to ultimately manifest itself in the miraculous display of the power of God. The walls would fall. Their faithful walking and waiting would turn impenetrable walls to rubble, an unconquerable army to fallen foes, and a ragtag group of wandering Israelites into a powerful force led by the captain of the Lord’s armies.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

Think Before You Act.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:15-21 ESV

Once again, Paul brings up the issue of our walk. He has already told his readers “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1 ESV). He has warned them “you must longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds” (Ephesians 4:17 ESV). Back in verse one of this chapter, he wrote, “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:1 ESV). And then he gave his readers yet one more admonition: “Walk as children of the light (for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true)” (Ephesians 5:8-9 ESV). Now, in verse 15, he provides yet one more more word about the walk of the believer. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time” (Ephesians 5:15 ESV).

For Paul, belief and behavior in the life of the Christian were inseparable. Faith in Christ was to have a direct impact on every area of life, including the believer’s attitudes and actions. The Christian’s walk and words were to reflect his new nature. But the verses above are all imperatives. Walk in a manner worthy of the calling. Walk not as the Gentiles do. Walk in love. Walk as children of the light. Walk not as the unwise. They are commands, not suggestions. They require forethought and proper consideration. You have to think about them and plan for them to be a part of your life. And like all commands in Scripture, while they are non-optional, they are not always obeyed. We can choose to ignore each and every one of these commands. That is why Paul was so emphatic. He begged his readers to not act thoughtlessly, and he put it in very blunt terms: “do not be foolish” (Ephesians 5:17 ESV). To “be foolish” was to act without reason or reflection. It was to act rashly, without forethought or proper consideration. Living the Christian life requires a bit of brainpower and intellectual capacity. We have to think about what we are doing. It requires planning and deliberation. Back in verse 10, Paul wrote, “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10 NLT). That requires thinking before acting. It means you have to stop and consider the deed before you commit to doing it. In his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul provided them with a key to making this happen.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2 NLT

God wants to redeem our thinking. He wants us to think like He thinks. But that required knowing His will, what He would have us do. Which is why Paul said, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:17 NLT). And just in case his readers couldn’t follow his train of thought, Paul gave them a real-life example. “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life” (Ephesians 5:18a NLT). Think about it. What good ever comes from getting drunk? Who has ever been proud of their behavior after a night of heavy drinking? A better decision, Paul suggests, would to choose to, “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18b NLT). It should be obvious that when Paul compares being drunk with wine with being filled with the Spirit, he is talking about control. When you’re drunk, you are under the control of the alcohol. It dictates your behavior. You do things you wouldn’t normally do. You say things you wouldn’t normally say. So to be filled with the Spirit is to choose to let Him dictate and determine your behavior. There is a big difference between being indwelt by the Spirit and filled by the Spirit. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation. And while we have all of the Spirit all of the time, we are not always “filled” or controlled by the Spirit. We can choose to ignore Him. We can determine to disobey Him. But when we are filled by the Holy Spirit and are under His control, our behavior will reflect it. Paul provides a glimpse of what that should look like:

…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:19-20 NLT

Earlier, Paul had warned, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30 ESV). We grieve the Spirit when we choose to live our lives apart from His power and without His guidance. We rob Him of His primary role in our lives. He exists to assist and help us as we navigate this fallen world, but when we refuse to live under His control, we deny Him the joy of producing His fruit through us. We end up producing “bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander” (Ephesians 4:31 ESV), when He longs to make us kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, thankful, and submissive to one another.

That is the will of God. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Thessalonians, “For this is God’s will: that you become holy” (1 Thessalonians 4:4 NET). Forgiveness of sins is great. But even an absence of sin does not make someone righteous or holy. God’s intention is to transform us from unrighteous to righteous. From unholy to holy. His ultimate goal is our glorification, when we will be free from all sin and entirely righteous. But we must stop and consider what it is that God is doing in our lives. We must constantly question why we would do anything that is contrary to His will for our lives. He desires for us to be holy, so why would we do anything that prevents that from happening? That is why Paul tells us, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:17 NLT). Think before you act.

Day 24 – Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26

We Have Seen Amazing Things!

Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26

“And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, ‘We have seen amazing things today!’” – Luke 5:25 NLT

The scene is the village of Capernaum, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This rural village had become Jesus’ unofficial hometown during the early days of His ministry. Jesus had recently arrived back in town, and His growing reputation had preceded Him. News of His arrival resulted in a crowd showing up at the house where He was staying. They filled the room to the rafters and more people stacked up outside the doors, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Luke tells us, “the Lord’s healing power was strongly on Jesus” (Luke 5:17 NLT). So there were plenty of people crowding into the house in an effort to get a moment with the one who they heard could do miraculous healings.

Outside, watching warily, were the Pharisees and teachers of religious law. A group of them seemed to have been assigned the task of keeping an eye on Jesus, following Him wherever He went. As the crowds gathered, anticipating that something miraculous was going to happen, the Pharisees were looking for evidence to use against Jesus. Two different expectations filled the atmosphere that day. The scene was electric as everyone waited to see what would happen. And they were not to be disappointed. The Gospel writers record an encounter that brought Jesus into contact with a paralyzed man who had been brought to Jesus by his friends. They went to a great deal of effort to arrange this meeting, even removing tiles from the roof of the home in which Jesus sat, and using ropes to lower their friend into the room. What happened next was going to have a significant impact on everyone present.

Upon seeing the man on the mat descend from the roof into the room, Jesus can’t help but notice the men on the roof, laboriously lowering their friend. Luke tells us that Jesus “saw” their faith. What everyone saw was a man being lowered by ropes from the roof of a house. Not something you see every day. But Jesus saw something more. He saw faith revealed in the efforts of these men. They believed Jesus could do something to help their friend and they were willing to step out and put that belief into action, going through a great deal of effort to so.

But what Jesus says next is the most important thing in this story. He simply replies, “Young man, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20 NLT). In that day, sickness was usually associated with sin. Diseases and infirmities were typically blamed on the presence of sin in the individual sufferer’s life. Their sickness was viewed as a punishment from God for some act of unrighteousness or disobedience. So Jesus addresses the elephant in the room and forgives the man’s sin. This simple statement gets the attention of the Pharisees and they immediately begin to salivate, thinking they have Jesus right where they want Him. This was blasphemy. Jesus was clearly claiming to be God, because only God can forgive sin. Jesus knows what they’re thinking and addresses their concerns head on, and He uses an interesting form of logic by asking a question. “Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!'” (Mark 2:9 NLT). Of course, it would be easy to tell someone their sins are forgiven. The results would be hard to prove. So Jesus does the harder thing to prove He has the authority both to heal and forgive sins. He commands the young man to get up, pick up his mat and walk home under his own power. And he does.

And as amazing as it was that this paralyzed man regained his ability to walk, the more significant issue is that he received forgiveness for his sins. Not through some priest, or by making some kind of sacrifice in the Temple. His sins were completely absolved by a word spoken from the lips of Jesus. And while being able to walk was great, being able to live with forgiveness was even better. Spiritual healing trumps physical healing every time. Restoration of our relationship with God is far better than restoration of sight or the ability to walk. Whether this man’s paralysis was related to his sins was not the point. Because every single one of us suffers as a result of our sins. We are all sick, spiritually lame, blind, and dying from the disease of our own sinfulness. What we need is forgiveness. We need release from the very thing that is causing our problem – our sin. And Jesus offers us permanent and complete forgiveness from sin and restoration to a right relationship with God – forever. That is indeed an amazing thing, like nothing mankind has ever seen before.

Father, i can’t thank you enough for healing me from the disease that was destroying me and condemning me to death. My sin had me paralyzed, helpless and hopeless, unable to save myself. But because of what Your Son has done, I have had all my sins forgiven – once and for all!  Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 5b

 

But In the End.

“Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?” – Proverbs 5:13 NLT

Over in Proverbs 14:12 we read, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” That phrase “in the end” seems to pop up on a regular basis in the Proverbs. It refers to a day of accountability, not necessarily the day of the judgment of the Lord, but of a day of consequence. Every action has an outcome. Every path we take in life has a destination or an end. If a young man or woman chooses a life immorality, it will have an outcome, and probably not the one they were expecting. Sin never does. While “the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil – in the end she is as bitter as poison” (Proverbs 14:3-4 NLT). What looked so tempting and tantalizing didn’t turn out quite as advertised. One of the characteristics of foolishness or a lack of godly wisdom is the inability to foresee consequences. We are either oblivious to them or simple choose to ignore them. But more than likely, it is a case of ignorance. A child touches a hot stove because they don’t know any better. They are ignorant of the consequences. But there comes a time in all of our lives when we become aware of the consequences of sin and stubbornly continue to commit them. We think those consequences won’t apply to us. We refuse to consider “the end.” We choose to live in the pleasure of the present, putting off any consequences or simply refusing to believe there will be any negative ramifications for our actions. But to think that way is not only foolish, it’s deadly. We can end up losing everything – our honor, all we’ve achieved in life, the fruit of all our labor, the blessings of God, and the love and respect of those we once held dear. We will find ourselves sadly looking back at our actions and saying, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors? I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace” (Proverbs 5:12-14 NLT).

In the end, you will have regrets because the path you chose had consequences. But nobody thinks of the potential consequences when facing the alluring temptation of sin – except the godly. Those who know God and are equipped with His wisdom have the innate ability to see into the future and clearly see the outcome that accompanies wrong actions. They can see where each path ends up, and they know that only one path leads to life, joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment, and blessing. It is the path that God has chosen for us to walk.

Father, I need Your wisdom so that I might have discernment. This world can be a confusing and potentially deadly place if I don’t know how to choose well. I have so many options available to me, and they can all look so tempting. But I need skill in right living. I need the ability to choose wisely and well. Because every path has a destination. I want to walk Your path and choose Your way because it is the only one that ends well. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org