Week 23 June 3 - 9, 2018

At Cedar Street Baptist Church, our mission is to be a place “…where heads, hearts, and hands are being transformed through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

This goal of total transformation is not pipe dream that comes from our staff, but a promise that comes from the Lord. Simply put, when we meditate on God’s Word through the power and illumination of God’s Spirit, we can experience true and lasting change as we become more like God’s Son.

And while there are many verses in Scripture that point to this promise of personal transformation, there may not be a more powerful passage that presents the portrait of a holistic commitment to change in our lives more than Proverbs 4:20-27.

In just eight verses, King Solomon presents five areas of our physical life that God wants to transform through His Word to bring change to our spiritual life. These five areas include our (1) ears, (2) hearts, (3) mouths, (4) eyes, and (5) feet.

First, Solomon teaches through the metaphor of a wise father speaking to his son that God’s Word will transform us when we approach Him with open ears. Verse 20 says, “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.” This means that we need to listen closely for what God wants to say to us in the pages of Holy Scripture before transformation can begin taking place.

Second, we learn that what we hear also has to be stored securely in our hearts. In verse 21, Solomon continues talking about our response to the wise words of God by stating, Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.” He then reiterates the central importance of treasuring God’s Word in our hearts in verses 22-23 when he says, “For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Third, Solomon reminds us that what we hear with our ears and store in our hearts will eventually be revealed by what comes out of our mouths. Verse 24 says, “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” This means that when what we hear has transformed what we believe, it will always be evident by what we say.

Fourth, this passage highlights the power of our eyes to influence the direction of our souls. Verse 25 proclaims, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” Sometimes our transformation into Christlikeness is halted because we have our vision casted in the direction of the world instead of the directives of the Word.

Fifth and finally, Solomon helps us to understand that our actions in response to God’s Word will always be marked by the path of our feet. In verses 26-27, Solomon concludes the passage by stating, “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” This is a reminder that we will face constant temptation to veer off the path of righteousness, but as we seek to be transformed we need to pay attention to where our feet are leading us and remain in a state of repentance, faith, and obedience to the Lord.

After reading these words from Solomon, we should have hope that we can experience total transformation when we counter God’s truth with our total being. We need to surrender our ears, hearts, mouths, eyes, and feet to be changed by the Lord, so they can be used for His glory and our joy. This promise of transformation beckons us to abide deeply in His Word, but also offers us the hope that we can experience real change and be set free from the power of sin that once dominated our lives before we encountered the gospel. As Jesus promised us in John 8:32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Transformed by the Truth

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THIS WEEK’S GOLD

Our Provider and Protector

Two roles that God is often praised for in the Psalms is His sovereign power to serve as our provider and our protector. Both of these roles are celebrated in Psalm 144:1-2, which states, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” God is a provider who strengthens us for battle, but He is also a rock, a fortress, a stronghold, a deliverer, and a shield that we can seek after for protection from all the attacks and burdens that come from a lost and dark world.

Learning to Lean on God

The lifelong process of growth in the Christian life is marked by learning to depend less on ourselves and more on the Lord. Possibly the most difficult area we have to be weaned off of self-dependency as believers is in our own human understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” This passage is an encouragement from God that our journey of faith is not primarily about understanding all truth, but instead about trusting the Lord in all things.

The Surest Sign of Salvation

Romans 10:9-10 is a classic text that Christians often share evangelistically to offer people a practical way to respond to the gospel message in faith. In this passage Paul states, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Unfortunately, while many have confessed Christ with their mouths, few have truly responded to the second part by believing in Him with their whole hearts. Despite what we say, the truest sign of our salvation is always found in a changed heart.

Week 24 Readings:  June 10 - 16

-Day One:  Proverbs 16-18; Romans 15

-Day Two:  Proverbs 19-21; Psalm 40; Romans 16

-Day Three:  Proverbs 22-23; Psalm 117; 1 Thessalonians 1

-Day Four:  Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

-Day Five:  Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3   

TOOLS FOR NEXT WEEK’S TREASURE HUNT

Tips to Keep You on Track

          Our reading plan will continue this week with an introduction to 1 Thessalonians. Historians believe this book was one of the earliest of the New Testament to be written, and it also provides a snapshot of the birth pains of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.

          However, the most unique feature of this book is the concentrated focus on the second coming of Jesus Christ. There is a specific mention of Christ’s return in at least some portion of every chapter in the book (1:10; 2:19-20; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11, 23-24).

          So, as you begin reading 1 Thessalonians take time to look back at the salvation accomplished for you through the work of Christ, but look forward to the promise of a beautiful eternity on a resurrected earth that will begin at the return of Christ.