“Something Greater Than Solomon Is Here.”

Solomon is one of the more intriguing people to study in the Bible. He was born to King David through Bathsheba. Since he was a man of peace, once he became king, God would use him to build His temple (1 Chronicles 22:8-10). He was a very wise man. In fact, Solomon’s wisdom was so great that people from all over the world would come and ask him difficult questions (1 Kings 10). A great example of his wise judgment is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28.

Solomon was also an extremely wealthy man (2 Chronicles 1:17). He had much gold, silver, and many palaces, and chariots. He also had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Unfortunately, it would many of his wives who would lead him away from God (1 Kings 11:3-6).

Solomon is said to have told over 3,000 proverbs. A proverb is a wise saying or precept. Many of them are found in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a great book with much practical wisdom that can help people of any generation. It contains wisdom about parenting (13:24; 19:18), avoiding debt (22:7), how to pick good friends (17:17), the dangers of alcohol (23:29-35), and host of other things. When reading Proverbs, it is always important to remember that the source of Solomon’s great wisdom was God.  Like all of the other great Bible writers, the things written by Solomon in the Proverbs were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

While Solomon was indeed a great man who did much good in the cause of God, it is important to note that “something greater than Solomon is here.” These words were spoken by Jesus in Matthew 12:42 to the scribes and Pharisees while rebuking them for rejecting His wonderful work. With this statement, Jesus is expressing frustration because the Queen of the South traveled a great distance to hear Solomon’s great wisdom, but they had the Messiah right there in front of them and they constantly rejected Him. The Queen of the South knew there was something special about Solomon. Many of the scribes and Pharisees intentionally failed to see that in Jesus.

What makes Jesus “greater than Solomon?”

  • Solomon was wise, but Jesus is the source from which all wisdom flows. He was the full embodiment of God’s word (John 1:1). He contained perfect knowledge of the will of God because He came from God.
  • Solomon was a man of peace, but Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). He is the source of peace between God and men (Romans 5:10). He is the King over a spiritual kingdom that doesn’t fight with guns and swords, but with the “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
  • Solomon was led away from God through his many wives, but Jesus always remained true and faithful to God. He was perfectly holy and sinless (1 Peter 2:21-22). He was determined to do the will of God no matter what obstacles came His way (Matthew 4:1-11; 26:39).

Unfortunately, many of the religious leaders in the first century failed to see the contrasts that existed between Jesus and Solomon. What about you? Do you see them? If so, will you allow them to change your life?

It would be a shame if we read and applied the teaching of Proverbs but rejected the words of the gospel because with Jesus, “something greater than Solomon is here.”

– Shawn Jeffries

Are you smarter than salmon?

Three years ago, my family and I were able to visit the wonderful state of Washington for the first time. Among the many amazing things to see there, are the famous Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Mount Saint Helens, and the Ballard Locks. The Ballard Locks was especially interesting. These locks sit at the west end of Salmon Bay, Seattle. Their purpose is to prevent the mixing of sea water with the fresh water of the lakes. They also serve as an elevator for boats travelling from the fresh water to the salt water (and vice versa).

Integrated in the locks is a fish ladder. This fish ladder helps with the migration of anadromous fish, notably salmon. The salmon hatch in lakes, rivers or streams; they then migrate to the sea, and then towards the end of their lives they return to the fresh water (where they were born) to spawn. Simply put, the fish ladder allows a way of passage for adult salmon to move from salt water to fresh water so they can continue their life cycle. If it wasn’t for the fish ladder, these salmon would eventually die off because they wouldn’t be able to go back home to reproduce.

At the Ballard Locks there is actually a place where you can view these fish as they pass through the ladder (the months of July and August are said to be the prime months to witness this). After spending much of their life in the sea, amazingly they are able to find their way to the ladder, pass through it, and return to where they were born. These salmon are so intelligent that they are able to remember their true home and even find their way back there before attempting to reproduce.

What about us? Are we as smart as salmon? Like salmon,  do we understand where we come from and where we are going? These are things that God expects us know.

1.   God expects us to know where we come from. He expects us to know that we are His creation. In fact, we are His greatest creation. Unlike salmon or any other animal, God created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).

Part of being made in the image of God means that we have eternity within us. It means that we have an eternal soul that will live on in eternity somewhere once it departs from this earthly body (Ecclesiastes 12:7; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10).

It also means that we have free-moral agency. Unlike animals we have the ability to choose right from wrong. We can either choose to serve God and enjoy His blessings or choose to rebel against God and experience terrible consequences (Joshua 24:14-15). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed in the Garden of Eden so that the very first man and woman (Adam and Eve) could exercise this marvelous ability (Genesis 2:15-17).

All of this means that God made us special. He made us unique and superior to anything else. Do we appreciate this? If so, then we need to acknowledge it by living our lives everyday serving our Creator and bringing Him glory (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). God being our Creator means He has the inherent right to tell us what to do and we have an obligation to obey the instructions He has given.

2.  God also expects us to know where we are going after this life. Do you know this? The Bible says you can!

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).

Notice how the Apostle John knew where he was going after this life. We can as well! When we obey the gospel we can KNOW that we are right with God and on the path to be with Him for eternity. Unlike salmon we are going to live on after this life. Unlike salmon we are pursuing something more than an earthly home (John 14:1-6).

While it was fascinating to see salmon travel through the fish ladder back to where they were born, unfortunately only a few ever make it that far. Of the hundreds and hundreds that spent their adult lives at sea, only a relatively small number make it back home. Most are eaten by predators or fall for the bait of fishermen. But hopefully we can learn from those who do make it back. Hopefully we can be at least as smart as they are and always remember who we are and where we are going.

– Shawn Jeffries

Sin in the Camp

After miraculously crossing the Jordan and conquering the city of Jericho, defeating the people of Ai should have been easy for Israel. Unlike Jericho, Ai was a small city of about 12,000 people (Joshua 7:3). It was an insignificant city and not as heavily fortified. If the nation was able to conquer the strong city of Jericho, surely they would be able to conquer Ai.

They might have thought that. But unfortunately, it did not work out that way. After sending 3,000 men to conquer the city, Joshua was devastated to learn they had been defeated and forced to flee (Joshua 7:4). Their defeat resulted in Israel’s feeling weak and demoralized (Joshua 7:5).

How could this happen? How could Israel easily conquer the strong city of Jericho, but fail to do so with the small insignificant town of Ai? The answer: sin! Sin was in the camp of Israel. Sin had crept in and was present somewhere in the army of God and had caused God’s blessing and presence to depart from them. Until the sin was removed and properly dealt with, God would not allow His people to conquer Ai (Joshua 7:10-15).

But where? Where was sin in the camp? After talking to God about the matter, Joshua discovered that the sin had to with a man named Achan (Joshua 7:20). After Israel conquered Jericho, Achan took some of the spoils (things that actually belonged to the treasury of the Lord) for himself. Joshua confronted Achan and exhorted him to confess his sin (Joshua 7:19). Achan confessed his covetousness (Joshua 7:20-21). In obedience to God, Joshua then had Achan and his family stoned and burned with fire (Joshua 7:25). The place where Achan was put to death became known as the Valley of Achor (“trouble”).

What does God want us to take away from this tragic story?

  • Sin is serious business. While many in our culture try to minimize and trivialize sin, God does not! God did not lightly brush aside Achan’s sin. Instead he exposed it and held him accountable. The killing of Achan and his family shows just how much a big deal sin is to God. We find something similar taking place in the New Testament with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).
  • Our sins impact others. Achan’s sin not only impacted him, but also all of Israel. Because of his actions, Israel was not able to defeat the people of Ai. Because of his actions, God’s hand of blessing left His people. This is the point Paul is making when he says, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6)?
  • We can’t be victorious without God. In this case, Israel thought they would be able to defeat their enemies by their own might and strength. Achan’s sin revealed the truth. Without God’s blessing, Israel would not even be able to conquer a small city. If Israel was going to be able to finally take the Promised Land, they would need God to fight for them. But He wouldn’t unless they remained pure and apart from sin!

While Achan’s story is tragic and sad, it does teach us something important about always striving to be right with God. When God was with Israel, there was a totally different result than when He was not! Let us learn from their example and always strive to keep sin out of our camp.

16 Years of Self-Control

Have you ever heard of A.C. Green? He played for 16 years in the NBA (mostly in the 1990’s). After being drafted in 1985, he became a key contributor to the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships with them. He is well-known for only missing three games in his 16 year career. This gained him the nickname of the “ironman.”

But beyond him hardly ever missing a game, he is probably most well-known for being deeply religious and maintaining his virginity until he got married at the end of his NBA career. This was tremendously hard for him to do, especially playing for the Lakers! In a recent ESPN story about Green’s time in the NBA, he said that while his teammates would sleep with women in every city they played in, he would abstain. Whenever his teammates would make fun of him and send women to his hotel room, he would quote Bible verses to them and stay committed to his convictions.

Green’s teammates would actually make bets as to which one of them would persuade him to finally give up his virginity. But none of them would succeed. With every beautiful woman they sent to his room they would all receive the same  answer.  No! In a league where players would sleep with thousands of women across the country, Green made a choice to stay pure. He made a choice to obey what the Bible says about saving oneself for marriage. Contrast his actions with those of Wilt Chamberlain (who is said to have slept with about 20,000 women in his life). A.C. Green had some serious self-control. It is incredible to think about how hard it must have been for him to remain sexually pure in the NBA for that long.

What about you? The Apostle Paul says that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23). Peter says that God’s people are to add to their knowledge, self-control (2 Peter 1:6). Self-control is when we say “no” to things that God says are wrong. It is when we discipline ourselves to resist sinful temptations and passions. Joseph exercised this when being tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:9). Jesus exercised this when being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). David should have exercised this when seeing Bathsheba bathing from the roof of his palace (2 Samuel 11:1-5).

God didn’t make us animals (who live off instincts) or programmed robots. We are humans. This means we can make choices (Joshua 24:15). We can choose to do right or wrong. We can choose to resist sin or give in to it. We can choose to obey God or Satan.

For 16 years A.C. Green chose to resist sexual immorality.  For 16 years he chose to do what the Bible says. Will we chose to do the same today?

– Shawn Jeffries

The Right Use of Social Media

Are you an active user of social media? If so, you are not alone. Over 2 billion people in the world use social media. Facebook is the most popular social media site. Currently there are 1.8 billion active users of Facebook (that is about a fourth of the world’s population!). Social media has certainly taken the world by storm. But like with everything else in life, it too can become a corrupted tool of Satan.

This is why it is extremely important that we use social media in an appropriate and righteous way. Like with any device or medium, God has expectations for how use it. While there is no sin in having a social media account (s), if we are not careful, social media can be an avenue we use to sin.

Here is a list of questions we need to ask ourselves before posting something on Facebook, tweeting something on Twitter, or putting a picture on Instagram.

  • Is what I am about to put out going to cause unnecessary strife and division? This is something that goes on far too much on social media (especially Facebook) and it can become very discouraging to all parties involved. Disciples of Jesus are peaceful people (Romans 12:18; 14:19).  Instead of falling into the trap of getting into heated debates about politics and court decisions on social media, we need to use it to point people to the Bible and unite them for the cause of Christ.  2 Timothy 2:24 is a good verse to always keep in mind before posting anything!
  • Is what I am about to put out going to create fertile soil for adultery? Unfortunately, many people are using social media to reconnect with their old boyfriends and girlfriends from high school or college (which in some cases has led to many affairs and divorces). This is not the will of God! God desires that the marriage bed be sexually pure (Hebrews 13:4). He wants us to have strong healthy marriages that last a lifetime (Matthew 19:6). My wife and I have some rules for each other when it comes to this: we never send or accept friend requests from people we were in past relationships with. We also give one another complete access to the each other’s social media accounts. We do these things in order to give Satan no opportunity to destroy our marriage. We want our hearts to only long to be with one another.
  • Does this post include immodest pictures, filthy language, and gossip? God’s people are to strive to be holy (1 Peter (1:15-16). They are to strive to be holy in their words (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6), in the way that they dress (1 Timothy 2:9-10), and they are to always avoid gossip (Proverbs 20:19). They are to make sure that their claim to be Christians lines up with the pictures they post and the comments they write on social media.
  • How much of my time is being consumed by doing this? Did you know that over 700 billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook? Add to that the fact that in just 20 minutes on Facebook over 1 million links are shared, 2 million friend requests are accepted, and almost 3 million messages are sent. How often are you on Facebook or other social media sites? If you are not careful, you can find yourself on them way more than you should be. You can find yourself neglecting Bible study, prayer, and meditating on the mercy and love of God. If you find yourself logging onto social media multiple times throughout the day it is time to admit that you have a problem (maybe even an addiction) and then start working diligently to correct it. It is time to start being a better steward of your time (Ephesians 5:15-17). Start putting some reasonable limits on how much time you will spend on social media each day. Challenge yourself to carve out time each day to absorb your mind in the the Bible and communicate with God through prayer. Make sure that you spend quality time with your family each day. Go outside and play with your kids. Talk with your family. Do fun things together. Don’t let social media absorb all your time and render each day fruitless.

Again, there is nothing wrong with having a social media account. Just make sure you use it correctly. Make sure you use it to glorify God and cause others to do the same (Matthew 5:16). How we all behave on Facebook can either damage or exalt our influence before others.

Let us all keep these things in mind as connect with others through this world changing medium.

– Shawn Jeffries

Does God Go on Vacation?

This is the last week of school, which means summer is almost here. Summer can be a really exciting time. The weather is usually nice. The kids are out of school.  Family vacations are being planned and booked.

Will you be going on a vacation this summer? I can remember growing up as a kid in Texas and being excited about the summer because I knew my family would be taking at least one vacation. Usually we didn’t go too far (maybe Houston or Galveston), but it was exciting nevertheless. Since that time I have been able to travel to many places further away. One of the things my family and I love to do is travel to places that we have never been before. We love to see God’s creation in different places and meet new Christians. Over the last several years, we have been blessed to vacation in Daytona, Washington D.C., Virginia, San Antonio, New York City, Seattle, Philadelphia, and the Grand Canyon. This coming July we plan on visiting the Midwest for the first time (Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Chicago). We are very excited about this trip and are still trying to figure out all the things we want to do while there.

It is a blessing to be able to make long lasting family memories on vacations. The  question is: Does God go on vacation with us as well? I certainly hope so. I hope and pray that God goes with me and my family when we go to the Midwest. In fact, I hope and pray that God’s eyes are on us and His love and favor are with us wherever we go!

How frightening would it be if the one true God was only a “local” God? What if God was only with us when we were in our home town? What if He went with us to work and helped us through the day, looked over us when we went to the store and drove through town? What if He heard and accepted the worship we offered up to Him at the local church building where we attended, but whenever we left the state or country, God no longer went with us?

How would you feel if God stayed back while you went on vacation? Would you still go on vacation? Sure, vacation is fun, relaxing and exciting. Sure, there are beautiful places in the world to see and experience. But would you really be willing to go to those places if you knew that God was not going with you as well? I wouldn’t!

But thankfully this is not the case. Thankfully there is no place on this earth we can go that God doesn’t go as well. The Bible assures us:

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”      – Psalm 139:7-10

 

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.”                                                                                                                   – Proverbs 15:3

 

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” –  Hebrews 4:13

 

“teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [a]always, even to the end of the age.”                           – Matthew 28:20

 

The Bible teaches us that God is everywhere! He is in the mountains in eastern Tennessee; He is on the road to Disney World in Florida; He is in a large city like New York; He is at the Grand Canyon; He will be with us in the Midwest when we go in a couple of months.

It is a comforting thought to know that God is faithful and goes with us everywhere we go. The more challenging question is: Will our faithfulness to God also go with us everywhere we go? Will our commitment to gather with other saints for worship, stand for truth, read our Bibles, and pray, also go with us on vacation? God will be with us, waiting and worthy, just as He was at home. But will we be faithful and true to Him while away from home?

I hope you have a great summer vacation. If you plan on traveling, be safe and have lots of fun. Remember that since God is the source of all your blessings, He deserves the same faithful attention from you when you are away that He gets when you are home.

– Shawn Jeffries

The Quest for Eternal Life

Qin Shi Huang was the First Emperor of a unified China. He ruled from 246 to 210 BC. As emperor, Huang unified China for the first time.  He promoted both incredible and intellectual growth within China, and created magnificent and enormous construction projects (one being the first section of what would become the Great Wall of China).

Huang is also well known in history for going on a quest for eternal life on this earth. As he reached middle age, he grew more and more afraid of death. He actually became obsessed with finding a way to live forever. He had his doctors concoct a number of potions for him to drink (many of which contained mercury). His “immortality treatments” would actually lead to his death about a year later.

It is important to understand that the quest for eternal life is not wrong. In fact, had the emperor searched the scriptures he would have known how to obtain it. He would have known that while it is impossible for any person to live on this earth forever (Hebrews 9:27), if one submits to the will of Jesus, they can experience eternal life in heaven.

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” (John 6:27)
  • “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)
  • Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
  • “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
  • “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)

Emperor Huang’s main mistake was not in seeking for eternal life. It was in trying to obtain it apart from submitting to Jesus. Let us learn from his mistake! Let us understand that Jesus is the true source of eternal life. He is the ONLY way to heaven (John 14:6). He is the Son of God. He is the Christ. He is the One who by being raised on the third day conquered death once and for all (Revelation 1:17-18)!

The question is: Are you willing to live for the One who is able to give you eternal life?

– Shawn Jeffries