Is There A Lion?

“The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets.'” (Proverbs 22:13)

The Book of Proverbs contains a number of character studies, which describe different kinds of people we encounter — or perhaps ourselves!  Among these are the fool, the strange woman, the righteous man, and, as in the present verse, the “sluggard.”  Continue reading

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The Model Prayer (Part 1) “Begin With Praise”

(Preached at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, Morganton, NC, Wed. p.m., 4-22-15)

I don’t know if you’ve seen any of “A.D” The Series on Sunday nights, but like most shows, it has its better moments as well as its weaknesses. One scene I particularly didn’t like was after the resurrection of Jesus, when the disciples were awaiting the Holy Spirit. It showed them chanting the Lord’s Prayer over and over more intensely until the Spirit came upon them. I just shook my head: there is no way that is what they did. As we saw last week, Jesus taught His disciples NOT to pray meaningless repetition.  He did not give us the prayer to pray verbatim.    Rather it is a model of the way we are to pray.  The Model Prayer is composed of 6 requests, which represent 6 categories of things that our Heavenly Father wants us to talk with Him about when we pray.

Last week we did a quick overview of this Model Prayer, and we briefly touched on what those 6 categories are.  Beginning tonight, for the next 6 weeks we are going to examine these categories one at a time, with the goal of helping us to pray both longer and better by using these categories that Jesus gave us.  The very first category shows us that we are to begin our prayers with praise.

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“When The Cat’s Away …”?

“A king who sits on the throne of justice disperses evil with his eyes”  (Proverbs 20:8)

This scripture pictures a strong leader on the throne of the land, before whom the wicked scatter. But what often happens when a leader dies, or leaves, or if there is a power vacuum for some reason, is  that evil begins to raise its head.  We see this in nations, in corporations, in families — and even in churches.  Too often the old saying is true: “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

How does this apply in your life?   Continue reading

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How To Stay Poor

You probably don’t want a recipe for poverty, but the more pertinent question may be, are you unwittingly following it?  Proverbs 21:17 says: “He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.” Continue reading

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A Surprising Cause of Unanswered Prayer

Ever wondered why your prayer request goes unanswered? Scripturally, there are a number of possible answers you might be familiar with:

— sometimes we ask with wrong motives (James 4:3)

— or we do not keep persisting in prayer (Matthew 7:7)

— or maybe the request is just not God’s will  (I John 5:14)

But in Proverbs 21:13 we find another possible solution: Continue reading

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A Word To The Wise

One of the striking testimonies that came out of the Oklahoma City bombing a few years ago involved a man who was sitting in his Murrah Building office thinking, “I wonder what God is going to have to do to get my attention?” Just then, the floor exploded from underneath him!

Proverbs 19:25 indicates that what it takes for God to get your attention says a lot about you:

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“The Disciplines of Disciples” (I Timothy 4:7-10 sermon)

(Preahed at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, 4-19-15)

When I served as interim at First Baptist Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to go up to the high school during their summer band practice.  I was impressed with the quality of what was going on there, and I really enjoyed watching the directors work with the band on their numbers: not only on just “getting the notes right”, but on all the little details.  After he had finished his part, one of the directors came and sat by me in the auditorium where I was watching, and we visited for a while. He told me about the practices they were putting in during the summer, and how they were going to practice during the school year as well. I told him, “You know, I don’t think people realize all the work that goes in to putting together a band performance of this quality.”  It doesn’t just “happen”; it takes a lot of discipline, practice, and work. Those of you who are involved in our church choir, and the big Pleasant Ridge Christmas program, know how true that is!

What we need to realize is that the same thing is also true in the Christian life. That band doesn’t just “show up” and play these great numbers during halftime, and do so well at contests. It takes daily discipline and practice to get there. And the same thing is true with the Christian life. You can’t just “show up” for an hour a week on Sunday mornings, and think that you are going to have a great and victorious Christian life. Showing up on Sundays is part of it, but not nearly all. Just like with the high school band — and really any other worthwhile endeavor in life — it takes some basic disciplines to succeed.

Last Sunday we looked at how Jesus called us to be “disciples” and what that means. We were not saved just to come to church and sit, but to make Him the Master of our lives, and to follow Him.  But what does that look like? HOW do we follow Him?  Our passage for this morning gives us an introduction to what I am calling, “The Disciplines of Disciples” — basic discipline of the Christian life which we must each employ if we are going to be effective disciple of Jesus Christ.  Just like in the band, it takes discipline to be a good disciple, as we see in our text, I Timothy 4:7-8,

“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Continue reading

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