<![CDATA[Valley Forge Baptist Church - Blog]]>Sun, 23 Jul 2017 23:38:35 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Face Answers to Face]]>Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:02:32 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/face-answers-to-facePastor Bill Farrow 
“As in water face answers to face, so the heart of man to man.” -
​(Proverbs 27:19)
     As is the habit with Solomon and his writing, this passage is in the midst of a couple chapters that cover different phases of our conduct in regular living.  This one of the several places in the Book where he uses a fairly obvious and well know example that would readily be recognized by his readers to demonstrate a more deeply spiritual and godly point that we need to take to heart in our daily lives. 
     Hear he uses the illustration of a pool of water (small or large) that an individual looks into and calls us to think of what we “see” there and what that implies.  Just as
water reflects a person’s actual appearance, so the heart reflects a person’s true nature (v. 19). Looking at a reflection in water is an experience common to all people, but who is able to see into the heart? Proverbs indicates that while a person may conceal or reveal his heart through speech and actions, it lies open and transparent only before God (see 21:2).
     The comparisons of 27:19–22 draw attention to the state of the person’s heart:
  • The state of the heart is as clear to God (and perhaps to others who know one well) as the reflection of the face in water.
  • Dissatisfaction and greed that always want more (v. 20),
  • The fostering of either humility or pride in response to receiving praise (v. 21), and
  • Folly that is so deeply rooted in a fool that it is unaffected even if he is ground to a pulp (v. 22).
  • This focus on the heart as known and weighed by God is also evoked by the images of v. 20a (Sheol and Abaddon) and v. 21a (crucible and furnace), particularly since, in the one place where each of these phrases is found elsewhere in Proverbs (15:11a and 17:3a, respectively),
  • It is followed by a second line that refers to the heart as either open before (15:11b) or tested by (17:3b) the Lord.
     Many versions use the word “answers” in the first phrase but, hopefully without sounding like an egotist, it would be better rendered “reflects man”. As water reflects the face, so the heart of man reflects and reveals his inner person.  As water reflects the face, the heart of man reflects and reveals his inner person.  The Hebrew could be more literally rendered, “Like the water, the face to the face, so the heart of the man to the man.” Some take it to mean that one sees one’s inner self reflected in the face of a companion; and others, that one comes to self-understanding by introspection.  Rather, the point is that as there is an exact correspondence between the original and its reflection in still water, even so the heart of the man (his mind, inner self, character) corresponds to the man himself (i.e., the whole person). In other words, people have a basic consistency to them. Those who have integrity will maintain it in their inner and outer lives, and those who are perverse will be thoroughly perverted. The point is that one should learn how to read people and thus learn whom to trust.
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<![CDATA[Redemption Remembered in Present Dishonor]]>Mon, 17 Jul 2017 14:45:46 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/redemption-remembered-in-present-dishonorPastor Bill Farrow
Psalm 44:title-26
     Psalm 44 seems to be a national lament that was written following some great but historically unidentifiable defeat in an unknown battle.  Through this Psalm there are subtle but sure shifts between speakers of the first-person plural (i.e. “We” and “us” cf. vv. 1-3, 5, 7-14, 17-22) and the first-person singular (i.e. “I” or “my”; c.f. vv. 4, 6, 15-16).  This may indicate that the Psalm was originally given antiphonally (with a giving and a response) with alterations coming from both the beaten king/general and his defeated nation.  The prayers  of vv. 23-26 may have been offered in unison as a climax.  By employing the three historic centers in Psalm 44, the psalmist tries to understand and deal with a national tragedy.
     We can divide the Psalm into basically three sections:
  1. A Focus on Past History: The Shock of National Tragedy (44:1-8)
  2. A Focus on Current History: The Inscrutability of the National Tragedy (44:9-22)
  3. A Focus on Future History: A Prayer for an End to This National Tragedy (44:23-26).
     We should also note that the words of the Title are the same as the words in Psalm 42; however, in the Hebrew text the  order is slightly different.
Psalm 44:1
We have heard with our ears, O God, Our fathers have told us,
The deeds You did in their days,
In days of old:
     As we noted, there are a number of verbs in the Psalm that use the first plural sense indicating that the speaker is speaking of the group of which he is a part.  The language of the first part of thee verse would seem to suggest that this is a continuing of what, in Psalms, was a rich tradition of God’s great acts that the nation’s fathers had passed along and that David had taken up to declare the glory of God.  This tradition involves the rehearsal of the nations’ history and its’ demonstration of a Holy Gods’ interaction with His people.  (cp. Ex. 10:1-2, 12:26ff, 13:14ff; Deut. 6:20ff; Josh. 4:6ff; Psa. 78:6). 
     As we said, the Psalmist here is crying out to God, pleading with Him to deliver His people from this great period of national peril which has caused him (the Psalmist) to take up this great lament (9-21).  It is interesting that there are quite a number of writers who have suggested that this period of turmoil could possibly prefigure the coming Tribulation Period. 
     By way of application we can think of this passage as speaking to us…

  1. We can think of it terms of God’s past care for Israel as stimulating the praise (vv. 1–3) and as an example of what needs to be our memory and rehearsal and lifting up of all that God has done for us and for our loved ones and friends.  
  2. We can also see it as an example that leads us to praise and worship Him even in the difficult times in our lives, be they defeats or just various degrees of difficulties.
  3. We can also it as that which can stimulate us to the sure confidence that we can have (vv. 4–8) as we ponder that which the Psalmist speak of what the people can have as they bring before the Lord their present defeat and trouble (vv. 9–16)
  4. As is obvious to most believers, our prime course of action is similar to what is portrayed as what they were commended to do - petition the Lord God for assistance and deliverance (vv. 17–26).
     There is nothing better for us than what David says here to his people and, by means of the avenue that God gave him as Prophet and writer of His Word.  We can think of them in ideas that, because they are ours in short basic ways:
1.      Remember and Rehearse
2.      Render Praise and Worship
3.      Respond with Confidence
4.      Render Prayer to the God Who Responds
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<![CDATA[The Hand of the Diligent]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 17:14:31 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/the-hand-of-the-diligentPastor Bill Farrow
“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” - Proverbs 12:24 (10:4; 13:4; 22:29).
     One of Solomon’s concerns throughout Proverbs is the matter of “diligence”.  The Hebrew word doesn’t have any special or unique meaning contrasted with our modern English word.  The form here is what is called a “passive participle” meaning that it speaks to the verbal sense of being diligent because something outside of yourself has caused you to be so.  It also implies an ongoing action which isn’t really much different from the English idea.  In our world we are diligent largely because we are motivated to be so for some exterior reason: gain, family, advancement, approval, and the like. 
     Interestingly, it is translated as “gold” six times, our current rendering “diligent” five times, of a “decision” twice, and of what was known as a “threshing instrument” twice, something “sharp” once, and the multiple of that, of “sharp things” once, and even of a “wall” once. Notice that all of those renderings are of something that does its’ “job” faithfully and without any failing.  Of course, a number of those uses speak to inanimate things or actions, but the idea translates well to the human experience.
     Note that the use here is joined with a “hand”.  When Solomon speaks, as he does here, of the “hand” of the diligent he is speaking of the agency of mind and heart in the doing of what is referred to.  The “hand” of course is most often used to refer to the appendage at the end of the arm.  It is what, many times is used to do what is the aim of the individual.  Most kinds of work or other physical accomplished by the person in view.
     In this use is speaks generally to all kinds of things that a person sets themselves to.  Combined with the idea “diligence” already address it speaks of Solomon’s concern that a person not only do a  given thing, but that he/she do it with a real aim to seeing it done, rightly and “sharply”, the idea of doing what is needful to getting it finished.
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<![CDATA[Yearning for God in the Midst of Distress (Psalm 42)]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 14:11:38 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/yearning-for-god-in-the-midst-of-distress-psalm-42Pastor Bill Farrow
     Just by way of introduction we ought to note that as in the case of Ps. 9 and 10, Pss. 42 and 43 were originally probably one together. Some ancient manuscripts put them together; Ps. 43 has no title while the rest around it do. In form, Ps. 42 may be considered an individual lament. This psalm also exemplifies a primary characteristic of Book II of the Psalms, the preference of the ascription “God” (or parallels to it) for the Deity. The occasion and situation of Ps. 42 are historically unspecified; however, what is obvious is that the psalmist’s situation was intense and greatly aggravated by his surrounding mockers. Consequently, Ps. 42 is a dirge of two stanzas:
1.     Stanza One: The Psalmist Sings of His Drought (42:1–5)
     A.    The Content of This Stanza (42:1–4)
     B.    The Chorus of This Dirge (cf. v. 11) (42:5)
2.     Stanza Two: The Psalmist Sings of His Drowning (42:6–11)
     A.    The Content of This Stanza (42:6–10)
     B.    The Chorus of This Dirge (cf. v. 5) (42:11)
The song begins with a poignant expression of longing for God himself, using the image of thirst:
As a deer pants for flowing streams. For the pious, the answer to this longing comes in public worship;
     ·     This is clear from the phrase
appear before God (i.e., at the sanctuary; cf. Ex. 23:17), and from
     Ps. 42:4, which recollects the former participation in sanctuary worship.
     The singer represents himself as separated from this worship and subject to taunts from those who despise his faith. The singer closes the stanza by encouraging himself that God will return him to worship. (Observe that the first words of v. 6, “and my God,” belong with the refrain.)
     Has God Forgotten Me? The second stanza sharpens the description of the singer’s situation. He is in the land of Jordan and of Hermon, and near the otherwise unknown Mount Mizar; this would probably locate him north of the Sea of Galilee (at the source of the Jordan River)—but at any rate he is far from Jerusalem, where the sanctuary is. He knows that God is not literally absent (v. 6), but he also feels that the sanctuary is where he meets God most fully; hence his separation has left his soul cast down within him (v. 6), because he wonders why God has forgotten him (v. 9). This stanza ends, like the first, with self-encouragement.
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<![CDATA[Obedience to God’s Word]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 15:43:00 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/obedience-to-gods-wordFrom "Strength for Today
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”
1 John 2:3

True believers obey God’s commandments.
     Before Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, He gave the following Great Commission to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20). Notice that a true disciple was to observe, or obey, all of Christ’s commands.
     The apostle John understood well the Lord’s instruction. He knew that obedience to the commands of God produces assurance—the confidence of knowing for sure “that we have come to know Him” (1 John 2:3). The Greek word for “keep” in that verse refers to watchful, careful, thoughtful obedience. It is not an obedience that is only the result of external pressure; it is the eager obedience of one who “keeps” the divine commandments as if they were something precious to guard. Such obedience is motivated by love, as John indicates in verse 5: “Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” That’s supported by the word translated “commandments,” which refers specifically to the precepts of Christ rather than laws in general. Legal obedience demands perfection or penalty, while 1 John 2:3 is a call to gracious obedience because of the penalty Christ has already paid.
     However, those who claim to know God and yet despise His commandments John calls liars: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (v. 4). “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).
     How can you determine if you are a true Christian? Not by sentiment, but by obedience. If you desire to obey God out of gratitude for all Christ has done for you, and if you see that desire producing an overall pattern of obedience, you have passed an important test indicating the presence of saving faith.
Suggestions for Prayer:
     If you have found your obedience is predicated more on the act of obedience than on gratitude for God, confess that now and seek to change your attitude. 
For Further Study:
     Memorize 1 Samuel 15:22 as motivation for the right spirit of obedience.
<![CDATA[The Integrity of the Upright]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 14:32:51 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/the-integrity-of-the-upright2024176Pastor Bill Farrow
“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” - Proverbs 11:3.
     The verse here is divided in to two sections, each addressing a different “kind” of individual.  The first uses the Hebrew word “tummȃ” (toom maw) which is a relatively uncommon word in the OT, being used but 5 times.  It carries the idea of purity, innocence, respectability and the like.  It is what is known as a “construct” form of the noun.  The idea is that the form given of the noun is tied in a definite way to  the verb hat follows (shall guide).  There is, in this statement, a definite and sure relationship between the “integrity” of the one in view and guidance that this “integrity” yields or provides to him/her.  There is also the implication here that (or shall) guide them as they walk through life and face life’s issues and trials.
     I think that we all have at least a bit of a grasp on the idea of integrity and the way that this character trait has the profound effect on a person.  For many, this concept of human integrity and the effect that it can have (and hopefully DOES have) on our behavior is fairly common.  It is commonly thought of as a positive and valuable quality, to be seem with esteem and developed with some real zeal.  The word is one rarely used in the Hebrew OT.  “Toom-maw” being used only 5 time in the OT.  It could be rendered as purity or innocence and so, in the context of one’s character carries the idea of innocence or respectability, speaking of a spotless character. 
     Solomon, in this particular place, has this spotlessness in character in his view in this first part of our verse.  He does not seem to be speaking of the idea of innocence so much as the idea of that moral capacity which has led to the innocence in the first place!  As we have seen as we have considered other, nearby passages, King Solomon has been making clear a contrast in life and conduct in matters of work, diligence, ambition, speech, truth, stability, honesty, integrity, fidelity, guidance, graciousness, kindness, and so on that he began back at the beginning of chapter 10 and will continue through to the end of chapter 11. 
Many commentators to note (here and many other places in Proverbs) that what Solomon describes in terms like he uses here speak in numerous fashions of the path of righteousness and, Solomon being a Prophet of God, is ultimately descriptive and prophetic of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the perfectly Righteous One (John 14:6). Here and in other places in the Book, we can clearly see that all other ways lead to destruction (cp. Matt. 7:13–14; Acts 4:12).
     Taking the verse as a whole, it contrasts two lifestyles, affirming the value of integrity. The upright live with integrity—blamelessness—and that integrity leads them in success and happiness. Those who use treachery will be destroyed by it.  That is actually the essential point of the second phase of the verse. 
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<![CDATA[Hiding Hatred and Uttering Slander]]>Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:54:51 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/hiding-hatred-and-uttering-slanderPastor Bill Farrow
“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” - Proverbs 10:18 (Cf. ver. 2; 26:24).
     Solomon, rightly, seems very concerned about what goes n inside of us as we walk about our lives and interact with those in our circle of living.  This is another of those passages that challenges us to look critically at just how it is that we “feel” about those in our circle of life and how we interact with them.  He often uses the editorial phrase “He that…” to set a very general frame of reference in which to consider just how it is that we live in life, close at one time and otherwise at other times.  The “He that” intro is intended to make a general application of what will follow and is largely the same as leading in with an “everyone that…” kind of thing.  It is intended, wherever we see it, to get us to think in terms of the generality AND to lump ourselves, at least theoretically, into the group being considered.

     There are a couple groups in view here:
  • First, it speaks of one who hates with the implication that they ought not be hating in the first place.
  • Second, it speaks of one who has, in some way or another, sought to hide that hatred, or the actions that demonstrate it (or something like it).
  • Third, it speaks of that which is a definite sin in the eyes of God (not that the hating of another is NOT a sin, it surely is).  The sin in view here is that of lying, telling an untruth in one way or another.
  • Fourthly, it speaks of the matter of slander and the spreading of that slander.
  • And Fifthly, by way of conclusion, there are those who do the things in view - the fools!!
“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” - Proverbs 10:18 (Cf. ver. 2; 26:24).
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<![CDATA[The Scripture is a Great, Great Blessing!!]]>Tue, 27 Jun 2017 20:45:31 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/the-scripture-is-a-great-great-blessing
<![CDATA[A Tree of Life]]>Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:22:15 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/a-tree-of-lifeby Pastor Bill Farrow
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” - Proverbs 11:30.
     This is one of the more “well-known” verses we find in the Book of Proverbs.  It might also be one that can easily be misunderstood, or at the least, be over-simplified.  It is in this past two chapters (10:1-11:31) that we find some real contrast in life and conduct is made in matters of work, diligence, ambition, speech, truth, stability, honesty, integrity, fidelity, guidance, graciousness, kindness, and other such personally known matters. 

     One thing we ought to note is that the Hebrew phrase translated “whoever captures (or wins) souls” is used elsewhere in the OT in places where the sense is “to take life” or “to kill” (e.g., 1 Sam. 24:11; 1 Kings 19:10, 14; Jonah 4:3).  It seems clear that the reference here is not in the idea of causing death but in drawing a parallel in the drama and extent of what is happening in the spiritual realm. 

     And so, this proverb appears to be purposely playing off the usual sense of the phrase to focus on the effect of the fruit of the righteous. The life of the righteous leads not only to blessing for themselves but also provides fruit that “captures souls” in the sense of leading people off the path that ends in death. It is almost certainly referring to idea of evangelism and the matter of preaching and witnessing the truth of the Gospel with the result that, as a result, persons come to know the Lord. 
     For similar declarations, cf. Dan. 12:3, equating “those who are wise” to “those who turn many to righteousness”; see also James 5:20, where the one “who brings back a sinner from his wandering” will “save his soul from death.”  This is basically the idea here.  is that the one who knows the Lord, who gives evidence of the presence of “the fruit” of possessing the righteousness of God is, likewise, one who seeks to bring those around him/her to know the Lord Jesus.
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<![CDATA[Safety is of the Lord]]>Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:39:00 GMThttp://vfbaptist.org/blog/safety-is-of-the-lordPastor Bill Farrow 
The horse is prepared against the day of battle; but safety is of the Lord -
​Proverbs 21:31
      The horse, quite logically and very well-known, was a common and familiar part of the life and surroundings of the normal Israelite.  We’ll note that there is no “enlargement” on the type of horse and so we’re talking about just a generic horse, working or riding.  The reference to “battle” suggests that we are talking about a military horse that would have been used in various aspects of military use.
      “Prepared” here, in the context in which we are speaking, is referring to the training that results in the horse being ready and able to do what is needful.  Of course, the implication that people can be trained as well.  Note the reference to “the day of battle” which directs our attention to the intense training the horse receives to prepare it to do what is needful to carry the rider even in the traumatic times when, normally, it would turn and flee. 
      The turmoil of the battle events would normally cause the horse, along with virtually all other “animals”, not to mention many, if not mast men, to flee for safety.  But Solomon’s point here is that the right training can enable the horse, and also the rider of the horse, to do what is necessary to attain the goal needed to win the fight.  This not to imply that fighting or war is ALWAYS a good thing, but it is, at times, a needful or unavoidable thing.  Likewise, some will argue that it is always avoidable; but a realistic and honest look at time and society must admit that it IS a true characteristic of how men conducted themselves over the centuries and millennia they have be present in this world. 
      Solomon’s point is basically two-fold.  First, if there is to be any real hope to survive conflict that comes the way of the various societies of which man is a part, there must some getting ready for it so that one side is not simply overrun by the other. 
      Secondly, and most significantly, Solomon underscores the truth that the training given to ones’ mount in a fight is NOTHING compared to what ought really by our perspective on life as a whole!! 
The horse is prepared against the day of battle; but safety is of the Lord
      A good, well trained horse is surely reliable in battle.  However, the believer ought not place more than just a bit of his trust on what he is sitting upon!!  “Battle” is actually quite an interesting word.  It is the Hebrew word “milh͙a̅mâ” (said “mil khaw maw”) and can speak a wide variety of different forms of conflict.  It appears 319x in the OT and is given as “war” 158 times, “battle” 151 times, as a single “fight” five times, as “warriors” or the one who fight twice, in a participle form, as “fighting once, and speaks of the “war” as a unit or at large occurrence once, and in “wars” as in a plural editorial use once. 
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