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Proverbs 15:23

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Proverbs 15:23

23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

EXHORTATION:

This saying is set in the context of having wise counsellors. There is great profitability in listening to men who can provide wise advice about matters of life, including both spiritual and mundane matters.

God wants His people to cultivate wise speech. It is unquestionably God’s will concerning us that we be wise in speech to exhort and edify one another. In His Word, God has expressed His great expectation concerning our communication with one another – “The lips of the righteous feed many” (Proverbs 10:21). Also, “the tongue of the wise is health” (Proverbs 12:18), i.e. wherever wise speech is maintained, the affairs of life will be healthy. Moreover, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4); thus when the tongue is guided by the Spirit of God and by the words of Holy Scripture, it will elicit wise thoughts that nourish the hearers.

In every Christian home, godly conversation must always be maintained. Parents are expected to be wise teachers of their children at home. They must teach their children God’s truth (Deuteronomy 6:6- 7; 11:19). Furthermore, children are warned against swearing against the parents. “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness” (Proverbs 20:20).

The Christian’s duty to exhibit gracious, wholesome speech is repeatedly exhorted in the epistles of Paul. In Ephesians 4:29, he admonished, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” By the same token, he said in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” The provider of an apt answer will indeed have great joy. His own conscience will rejoice that his words have been helpful; on top of that, the gratefulness of the hearer will also be a reason for his joy.

We should be careful not only about the content and manner of our speech, but also about the timeliness of our speech. “A word … in due season, how good is it!” Our words should befit the situation. A piece of advice, given at the right moment and in the most suitable manner, will be very profitable to the hearers. So before we speak, let us examine whether our words are truthful, edifying, gracious and appropriate.

 

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Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Ecclesiastes 3:1

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

EXHORTATION:

God is in control of time and events. He has purposed what and how things should be as time moves relentlessly on. Every event has a definite place in God-directed history. There is a “season” (an appointed period) and a “time” (a predetermined occurrence) for all that take place under the sun. Man must humbly submit to God’s immaculate providence.

Times of life cannot be fully known to us. Whether we can bring any of our labours to fruition or not, is unknown to us. We cannot on our own achieve permanence or fulfilment of anything we pursue. Hence our efforts and endeavours are not forever. We must know that all our abilities and labour cannot change the seasons set by God. We are directed and controlled by His providential appointments of events and seasons. Man cannot be the ultimate decider of his destiny. He must align his thoughts and actions with God who is in control of time and events.

Verses that follow further demonstrate this truth. “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (vv. 2-8).

This is a poem on 14 sets of opposites, each of which happens in its due, appointed time. Our lives in this world will experience a mixture of joy and sorrow, harmony and conflict, life and death. No permanent state of affairs exists in this world. Sudden changes of circumstances (especially when things turn for the worse) are a source of people’s frustration. But giving in to disappointment and rage will not help us. We must learn to live amidst the changing scenes of life by trusting in God’s unchanging goodness. We must patiently wait upon God by focusing on what we ought to do according to His will, knowing full well that God will accomplish His good pleasure concerning us in His own perfect time. For it is written, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a).

 

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Ecclesiastes 1:2

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Ecclesiastes 1:2

2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

EXHORTATION:

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon speaks as ‘the Preacher’, not as the king of Israel. He uses the vast experience of his life as a wise, wealthy and powerful king to teach his listeners valuable lessons about life. The Spirit of God, in His infinite wisdom, uses Solomon’s failures and sinful ways to grant us object lessons about the tragedy of pursuing carnal pleasures. Ultimately, the lesson is that a life lived apart from God is vanity.

The word “vanity” (hebel) is used five times in this one verse. Four of those occurrences are in a twofold repetition of a Hebrew superlative construction, “vanity of vanities”. The Hebrew word for “vanity” can mean “vapour”, “breath”, “emptiness” or that which is “futile”, “fleeting”, “transitory”, etc. Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, the word “vanity” appears about 38 times. It refers to something without real substance, value, permanence, significance or meaning. Generally, it appears to imply that which is both transitory and futile. It emphasises how swiftly earthly things pass away, and how little they offer while one is in possession of them. The concept is given greater stress by the repeated use of the superlative, “vanity of vanities”.

Solomon states most emphatically that “all is vanity”. He said this not in reference to the physical universe, but to all the activities of earthly life. This he explained in the next verse with a rhetorical question: “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?” (v. 3). Solomon is not a complete pessimist; he is only driving home the point that people gain no ultimate advantage or profit from all their toil. Human effort to obtain satisfaction apart from God only produces a sense of vanity at the end. There is no discernible advantage to our struggle and toil in life when we look at life merely in terms of earthly values.

Whether he considers his wealth, his works, his wisdom or his kingship, Solomon comes to the same sad conclusion – all is “vanity and vexation of spirit” (1:14; 2:11). The Bible repeatedly reminds us that life without God is meaningless and full of vexation. So Solomon advises all his readers at the end of this book, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13). The vanity and vexation of this life should lead us to the reality of the abundant life that God provides through Christ and His truth.

 

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Psalm 23:6b

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Psalm 23:6b

6b And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

EXHORTATION:

David was a man who always desired to be “in the house of the LORD”. In the house of the LORD, he rejoiced in the goodness and mercies of the LORD. Worship, songs, testimonies, meditation of His Word, prayers, and all suchlike activities in the LORD’s house granted him the greatest joy he had experienced in this world. In Psalm 5:7, he uttered, “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

In his psalms, David often spoke about his desire for the LORD’s house. He prayed in Psalm 26:8, “LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth”. In Psalm 27:4, he wrote, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” His pious heart could not find a greater, nobler, sweeter experience than hearing the praise, honour and glory of God in the place of worship. No wonder the psalmist exclaimed, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2).

David counted being “in the house of the LORD” as the most blessed experience of a man’s life. So he wrote in Psalm 65:4, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” In the same vein, he said in Psalm 84:4, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.” He also said in the same psalm, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (v. 10).

It was David’s irrepressible desire to rejoice in all the activities that were being done in the LORD’s house in worship of His name. Being with God’s people in His house to think of the LORD’s goodness and mercy and to serve Him was his heart’s most cherished ambitions. The desire for the LORD’s house was so great that he wanted to dwell there for ever. It is obvious that nothing would fully satisfy his longing heart except heaven, where he would dwell for ever with the LORD.

 

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Are You Giving Heed to Seducing Spirits, and Doctrines of Devils?

Strong warnings concerning churches and their congregants departing from biblical faith are sounded out repeatedly in Scripture. For instance, 1 Timothy 4:1 – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (cf. Matt. 24:5, 11-12, 24; Mk. 13:21-22; 2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:4; 2 Pet. 2:1-2; Jude 5-11). 

In no uncertain terms, Scripture foretells that many shall depart from the faith in the last days (“latter times”). The apostasy (departure from the biblical faith and living) of some in the church came about because they are “giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”. 

Modus Operandi of Seducing Spirits

Just as “the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty,” so their “minds (would) be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan and his demons’ evil modus operandi is not always discerned and resisted by people. We mustn’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices, lest he should get an advantage of us (cf. 2 Cor. 2:11).  

Demonic powers are actively working to instil apostasy in the hearts of people. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:13-14). Satanic deception is effective because Satan and his messengers disguise themselves as “angels of light”.

While Satan leads some astray through ungodly educators and influencers of the world, he seduces others through false believers and teachers within the church. In every realm of human society, there is satanic deception. In education, politics, science, arts, media, sports, and church, unregenerate people promote seductive falsehoods. The devil, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), empowers them. Having turned their backs on God and the truth (cf. Rom. 1:18-32), the unregenerate become instruments of Satan’s plots (cf. 2 Tim. 2:26; 1 Jn. 2:26). They are beguiled and seduced from the beginning to the end of their lives (Eph. 2:2-3)! 

The apostle Peter speaks of their pernicious ways – “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Pet. 2:18-19). 

Are You Succumbing to the Doctrines of Seducing Spirits?

The Biblical prophecy is that “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”. The words “giving heed” (from the Greek word, prosechō) denote more than merely listening to something. It means “to assent to”, “to devote oneself to”, or “to cling to something”. The present tense of the participle shows that apostates continually cling to demonic teaching. Though they identify with the Christian faith, their hearts and minds are lured away by deceitful spirits. While the Holy Spirit leads genuine Christians to God’s truth and righteousness, these apostates within the church, led by the unholy spirits, follow damning errors and unholy ways.

Some in the church are led away by sophisticated university professors, wickedly clever writers / speakers, or false religious leaders, who are themselves already victims of demonic spirits. They are peddlers of satanic lies. Their controversial yet fascinating ideas are nothing less than the doctrines of demons! Satan and his agents have fabricated all kinds of lying philosophies and theologies to confuse and deceive. To sit under false teaching that contradicts the truth of Scripture, is to be taught by demons and to put one’s mind and soul in jeopardy. 

It is no wonder that the Bible cautions against exposing oneself to false doctrine. Exposing ourselves to such satanic influence is like walking carelessly into a satanic entrapment. To become prey to their ideologies endangers our souls. They are under the sway of “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2; cf. 6:12; John 8:44; 12:31; 1 John 5:19). Why would we expose ourselves to that which will cause our souls to be damned? 

Resist the Devilish Doctrines!

The apostle John said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Many deceivers, Satan’s agents, have gone out into the world. Therefore, we should watch ourselves so that they might not easily influence us. We must also abide in the truths of God’s Word.

As John cautioned, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.  Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:20-25). 

The above admonition is that anyone, who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. But the one who abides in the teaching, has both the Father and the Son. The apostle John advises, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11). 

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A Victorious Redeemer King

Sermon Text: Psalm 22:22–31
Speaker: Pastor Prabhudas Koshy
Date: 2nd October 2022

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Psalm 23:6a

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Psalms 23:6a

6a Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

EXHORTATION:

This saying of David teems with perfect confidence. What blessed assurance he enjoyed as a child of God! David understood that the LORD, being his Shepherd, would guide him all through his life by providing His divine “goodness and mercy” to attend to his ways. Having experienced the LORD’s “goodness and mercy” up till now, David boldly stated that they should also be his experience for the rest of his life.

Every true believer can possess the same conviction as expressed by David here. The LORD’s special providence accompanies every child of God all the days of his life. It is no delusion to claim that the good providence of the LORD is every believer’s inheritance.

The LORD is good and merciful in all His dealings with His people. Even when He deals with their waywardness, it is His goodness that chastises them to bring them back to His righteous paths. In Psalm 145:9, David said, “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works”. In Psalm 65:11, he wrote, “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.” So he exhorted all God’s people, saying, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).

Concerning the mercy of the LORD, David has said repeatedly that “His mercy endureth for ever”. Streams of God’s mercy flow ceaselessly from God’s throne towards His people. In Psalm 86:5, David testified, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” David also said in Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Do not the calamities and misfortunes that happen to believers disprove David’s claim that “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”? David himself was subject to innumerable afflictions. Yet, through it all, he was sustained by the LORD’s “goodness and mercy”.

Believers’ afflictions are not indicative of the lack of God’s “goodness and mercy”. God may have allowed those dark experiences to serve as a means of chastisement or purification process in believers’ lives. At the same time, He will sustain them with His “goodness and mercy”, and help them to emerge from their trials with greater confidence in God.

 

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Psalm 23:2

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Psalm 23:2

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

EXHORTATION:

The LORD is depicted in Psalm 23 as the Shepherd of His people. Like the shepherd who leads the flock to green pastures and still waters, the LORD leads His people gently to all that nourish and refresh their souls. He is their ever-willing, never-failing Shepherd. He not only knows their needs, but also adequately and appropriately provides for them. This is why the psalmist assuredly said, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

The psalmist’s delight in the personal attention that he received from the LORD, his Shepherd, is very evident throughout this psalm. The continual use of the personal pronouns “I”, “me” and “my” in this psalm denotes the joy of the psalmist in the personal relationship he enjoyed with the LORD. He was constantly under the loving care of his Shepherd.

The first picture of the shepherd making his sheep “to lie down in green pastures” is indicative of the contentment and repose that the LORD provides for His people. The Hebrew words for “green pastures” can mean “pastures of young grass”. The Hebrew word translated “green” (deshe) refers to new shoots of grass, which the sheep love to feed on. Sheep which are fully fed will lie down on the grass in contentment. Likewise, the LORD’s people who are fed by Him shall always enjoy calm contentment in their souls.

The second picture of the shepherd leading the sheep “beside the still waters” is yet another description of the LORD’s tender care for His people. Normally, the sheep is wary of rapid torrents. The rushing water and its noise frighten the sheep; so it would shrink from drinking of it. Only from quiet bodies of water will the sheep feel comfortable to drink. Thus, the shepherd will have to find some quiet and gentle flowing stream for the sheep to quench its thirst. He pays attention to the sufficient and suitable supply for the needs of the sheep.

The LORD will take care of all His children with a perfect supply for their needs. The supply of His grace will provide for all their needs, both spiritual and material. But are we grateful to the LORD for His gracious provisions and leading? Should we not exalt Him with our testimonies of His goodness, as David did in this psalm?

 

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Psalm 3:8

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Psalm 3:8

8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.


EXHORTATION:

David knew that his deliverance from those who sought to destroy him was entirely in the hand of the LORD. Neither he nor his friends had the power to deliver him from his enemies. Though he saw no scope of deliverance by his or his friend’s efforts, he was confident about the LORD’s power and wisdom to save him from all his troubles.

God’s people have repeatedly been warned that nothing that they put their trust in – except the LORD – shall have the power to deliver them. For instance, Psalm 33:17 teaches His people that “An horse is a vain thing for safety”. Proverbs 21:31 reminds them, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” Psalm 147:10 also instructs them that the LORD “delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.” Israel’s great victories over their powerful enemies did not come by their military strength, but by the LORD’s providential interventions. The LORD delivered Israel from Pharaoh’s powerful Egyptian army by opening a path through the Red Sea. He miraculously brought down the wall of Jericho to give victory to Israel, that they may possess it as their promised land. Often, God saved His people by His quiet, unseen yet devastating actions against their enemies.

Even David, when he went against the Philistine giant, Goliath, announced to him, “And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47). Hence in Psalm 20:7, David also confessed, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

The deliverance and protection of His people stem wholly from the LORD alone. Psalm 37:39-40 reiterates this very assuring truth when it declares, “But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.” The LORD should always be trusted and praised for saving us from all our distresses. Psalm 68:20 declares, “He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.” Let us not fear our adversaries or adversities, for God will give us wisdom and strength to lead us safely at all times for His own glory.

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Psalm 3:5

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Psalm 3:5

5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.


EXHORTATION:

King David was in a time of great distress of heart when he wrote Psalm 3. He was being pursued by his rebellious son, Absalom. He was driven from his throne, his palace and his city. He was forced to roam as a fugitive with a few loyal friends. As the battle raged, he became weary in his body and heart. The nights were extremely dangerous for him out in the open. Any evil could have happened to him in the dark of the night, especially as his ferocious enemies were hot on his heels. However, David trusted the LORD’s protection and cast all his burdens upon the LORD when he prepared to lay himself down to rest in the night. He prayed, “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah” (Psalm 3:3-4).

David, though full of trouble and fatigue, decided to lie down to sleep. He was unlike many who lose sleep over their troubles. Like a child in the arms of his mother, he leaned on the LORD’s arm and slept. As Scripture says, the LORD “giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). David trusted the Keeper of Israel, who “neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4), to preserve his life. Notwithstanding all the dangers and troubles that beset him, David slept quietly and securely.

Though the night was filled with danger, the LORD granted David safety through the night. So when he awoke from his sleep, he said, “I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” He woke up in the strength of the LORD, with his fatigue gone, and was “recharged” to fight his battle.

When we go to sleep or when we awake from sleep, we must, like David, commit ourselves to the LORD in faith and thanksgiving. We have no power to awake ourselves. Sleep has been referred to as “death’s twin sister”. We hear of many who laid down to sleep in the night but awoke no more; they died in their sleep. Oh, how we ought to be thankful to the LORD when we rise from the bed of repose! May our first waking thought be one of gratitude to our Lord who has sustained us through the night.

Let us daily acknowledge the LORD as our great Preserver. It is the LORD who sustains us when we quietly fall into death-like deep sleep. He keeps us from all dangers and also preserves us from death. The LORD has kept us alive today to praise Him.

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Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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(next to Paya Lebar MRT station)
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