Friday, August 4, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 67, You Only Live Once

Solomon reminds us again to think before we speak, especially when making promises to God. Then he compares the winnowing out of the evil to the threshing of wheat, as John the Baptist later compared it when he prophesied about the One who would separate the wheat from the chaff. We talk today about the one life we all have and how we should live it.

"It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one's vows." (Proverbs 20:25) Solomon made mention of this same type of promise in Ecclesiastes 5:4, "When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow." Probably the easiest time for us to make unwise promises is when we are in trouble, saying, "Lord, if you will only get me out of this, I will do such-and such." David is believed to have been the author of Psalm 66, and he said, "I will come to Your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you---vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble." (Psalm 66:13-14) While he was in trouble David made some promises to the Lord. The Lord delivered him from trouble and David intended to fulfill his promises. We should be careful about making promises we might not be able to keep. We are most in danger of this when we are experiencing extreme emotional highs or lows, so we have to be extra vigilant at those times.

"A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them." (Proverbs 20:26) Threshing is for the purpose of separating the wheat from the chaff, the useful from the useless. When Solomon became king he asked the Lord for the wisdom to lead His people Israel and the Lord was pleased with his request. Because the Lord answered his prayer, Solomon possessed the wisdom to accurately judge the character of those who came before him in court cases. He was blessed with the discernment to sense whether someone was lying or being truthful, so he compares this process with the threshing of grain in which the parts useful for food are separated from the inedible parts. The Lord also has a day in store when He will winnow out the wicked, for John the Baptist said of Jesus Christ, "His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12)

We only have this one life to live: will we be wheat or will we be chaff? Last night at a church dinner the speaker mentioned the modern expression of "you only live once". From the very first time I heard this expression I couldn't help thinking how stupid it was. "You only live once" is nothing but an excuse for doing whatever we want, for doing whatever feels good, for taking no responsibility and for fearing no consequences. But last night I got to thinking that "you only live once" could be looked at from another perspective. We have this one life, and after that the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) So what are we going to do with it? What are we going to do with it that counts? What are we going to do with it that will cause us to be counted as the valuable wheat that will be gathered into the Lord's barn? We only live once, so what can we do for the Lord's kingdom and how can we lead others to Christ?

We talked earlier this week about decisions we've regretted and I can promise you I've never once regretted making Christ the Lord of my life. I've never had any desire to turn from Him or even to look back, as Lot's wife did, on a sinful past. As Christians we should have the same attitude the Apostle Paul had when he said, "To live is Christ." (Philippians 1:21a) We have this one life and we should live it for the One who gave His life for us. And when this life is over, we can again repeat the words of Paul who said, "To die is gain." (Philippians 1:21b) What if we got up every morning and lived our lives by this creed? To live is Christ and to die is gain. While we live, let's do all we can to honor Him and to lead others to Him. When we die, we will enter into the joy of our Lord forevermore. We will say, "It was worth it all! The Bible really is the word of God. God is real, Christ is real, the Holy Spirit is real. It was all true! And it was all worth it!"

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