Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

Blessings of Wisdom

One of the subjects discussed often by Solomon in his book of Proverbs is wisdom. Chapter 3 has been labeled by some as “The Teachings of Wisdom.” DeHoff recognized three divisions in this chapter: "(1) a call to complete commitment (Prov.3:1-10), (2) the happiness and blessing of those who trust in God (Prov. 3:11-20), and (3) the confidence and security of those who walk with God (Prov. 3:21-35)” (George Dehoff’s Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 255). Let’s look briefly at this remarkable chapter.
A call to complete commitment: it seems that Solomon is the speaker addressing his son. He urges him to “forget not my law, but let thine heart keep my commandments.” He often speaks of sons and daughters giving heed to the instruction of their parents. Notice the blessings: “For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” Longer life and peaceful days are the result.
Next he stressed the value of mercy and truth: “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart” (v. 3). He follows this instruction with this promise: “So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (v. 4). For success in life and for a peaceful life these two promises should be sought diligently. “Favour in the sight of God” is a must for a happy successful life, and all of us desire to be able to live peaceably with our neighbors and friends.
Next he gives instruction that is wisdom at its highest when he writes, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (vs. 5-6). He will warn later, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). The main problem in the religious world today is that far, far too many are depending on their own desire and ways (Isa. 55:8-9). God’s Word, through which God directs our paths (Psalm 119:105; John 12:48), is often neglected, ignored, and disobeyed. But according to this proverb if we want God to direct our paths, then we must “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.”
Next he admonishes, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (v. 7). Here he lists three things that are major requirements of wisdom. They are: don’t trust in your own wisdom, fear God, and depart from evil. As already pointed out in the previous verses, one who trusts in his own wisdom is certainly not wise; we must “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecc. 12:13). That requires one to depart from evil (Eph. 4:22-32). And the promise? “It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones” (v. 8).
Finally he urges, “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” (v. 9). God has always demanded that He come first in our lives. The “firstfruits” of their crops belonged to Him. Matthew 6:33 shows that this is still His requirement today. Again there is a promise attached: “So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (v. 10).
How about you? Are you seeking wisdom in the manner taught here by Solomon? The promises and blessings that go with seeking wisdom are well worth the effort. May God help each of us to seek wisdom daily.

Paul M. Wilmoth

One

J. M. McCaleb wrote, “Of one the Lord has made the race; Thro' one has come the fall.” The number “one” appears numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments. As in the line in this great song, “The Gospel is for All,” the word often has great significance. This is especially true in reference to God.
Alexander Cruden in his tremendous work,
Cruden's Complete Commentary, first published in 1737, gives one of its meanings in Scripture as “One only, there being no other of that kind.” He gives I Timothy 2:5 and Hebrews 10:14 as examples of such usage. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). Paul is telling us that there is one God and only one God; there is no other like Him. There may be numerous false gods represented by many different kinds of idols; however, there is no other God like the one true God. This is the same message that Paul preached to those on Mars Hill in Athens who were so religious that they had images to all the so-called gods including one to an “unknown god” (Acts 17:23). It was this one and only one God that Paul preached: “Him declare I unto you.” He went on to describe the one and only one true God with these words: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device” (Acts 17:24-29). Later in his first letter to Corinth he taught, “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one” (I Cor. 8:4). He would repeat it in his letter to the church at Ephesus while discussing “the unity of the Spirit.” He wrote, “There is....One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
Because He is the one and only true God, He demands complete and undivided devotion. The first three of the Ten Commandments, given to the children of Israel on Mt. Sinai, were laws relating to this fact: “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exod. 20:1-7).
The psalmist described this one God as being “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:1-2). In other words, He is a divine being who had always existed and will always exist; He had no beginning and will have no end. His nature is “perfect” (Matt. 5:48). He is the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” who is also the one and only one mediator between God and man (Eph. 1:3; I Tim. 2:5).
There is but one God. He is Jehovah God; He is not the “Allah” of the Koran. He is the one God who “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). He is the one God whose grace “hath appeared unto all men” (Titus 2:11). Is He your God?

Paul M. Wilmoth

Whom Shall I Fear?

“Whom shall I fear?” This is the question asked by David in Psalm 27:1. It was asked following the pronouncement that, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” He next reasons that, “the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” In this time labeled by some as a “pandemic,” David’s question is quite pertinent to us today.
Due to my present weakened condition, I am well aware of the concern that many have concerning the COVID-19 virus that is affecting our world. But as Christians, what should be our attitude? Do we still believe that “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)? Jesus gave similar instruction in Romans 10:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The ASV margin has “stronghold” for the word “strength”; thus God is here recognized as the Light, the Salvation, and the Stronghold (or fortress) of the believer. "A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” (written by Martin Luther) is based upon this passage. In Romans 8:31, we have the New Testament elaboration of what is taught here. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Jesus instructs us, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Paul is not saying that if God is for us no one can be against us; neither is Jesus forbidding us to fear those who can kill our body. Rather there is an emphasis in both passages. Our chief concern in this life is to “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13). Paul’s statement just simply means that if God is for us, then it doesn’t matter who is against us.
When I was at Double Springs, I often sang with our VBS students, “He’s my Rock, my Sword, my Shield; He’s my Hub in the middle of the wheel; He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.” David’s version of this song would state that “He’s my light, my salvation, my fortress.”
Two other passages come to mind that should encourage us as Christians during this time. One is David’s most well-known and loved 23rd Psalm. After declaring, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” in verse one, he elaborates by showing that one thing this means is, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (v. 4).
The other is found in Peter’s writings. By inspiration he wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Pet. 5:6-7).
If anyone has a reason to be fearful of this virus, I must be included. But I have determined to put my trust in my Redeemer, use common sense, and go on with my life. May God help us, for this too shall pass!

Paul M. Wilmoth

Boast Not Thyself of Tomorrow

“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). The events of the past few months have caused me to regard this proverb of Solomon, written hundreds of years ago, in a completely new light.
First, this disease that has invaded my body has confronted me with the grim reality that I have known but, perhaps, not felt as I have in the past eight months. Life is brief, life is transient; it was never meant to exist forever in the physical sense. It causes you to appreciate each day, and take life one short day at a time.
Then our state, and especially Putnam County, was hit with one of the worse disasters ever. The F4 tornado that ripped through Putnam County left many of my dear friends homeless, as their houses were destroyed. Some very close friends from Double Springs Church of Christ (where I preached for ten-plus years) were among those who lost most everything they had in physical possessions. Thanks be to God that they did not lose their lives. I am reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 12:15: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Next, our whole nation, as well as the whole world, is now facing another crisis with the Coronavirus epidemic. None of us have ever seen anything like this before. Most of us are accustomed to everything rolling along pretty quietly and regularly. When will this end? Only God knows. One thing is for sure, God still rules. As God said to Nebuchadnezzar, “Seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4:25b). If one thing is clear in Daniel’s account of God’s holy dealings with Nebuchadnezzar, it is that ultimately, and in the final analysis, it is God who rules the affairs of nations. As it is written: “This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
I have long learned to love II Corinthians 4:16-18, but in the past few months I have often read this passage as the last thing I do before turning out the lights for the night. Listen carefully to what the Holy Spirit had Paul to write: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
So, what should we do? When Job faced all of the calamities in his life, his friends gave him good advice: “I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause” (Job 5:8). I can only add, “Amen!”

Paul M. Wilmoth