Christian Education Devotionals (104)

These devotionals were originally written by Hope PR Christian School (Walker, MI) teacher Brian D. Dykstra for his fellow teachers. They are posted here for their broader significance and for broader use by Christian parents and other Christian school teachers.

Get Wisdom and Understanding

Get Wisdom and Understanding

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI

Proverbs 4:5: “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.”

Solomon continues in Proverbs 4:4-5 to instruct his children of the importance of wisdom. As we keep in mind that these verses are inspired Scripture, the value and importance of these verses is that here God instructs His children, too. Here we are told again of the superior value of wisdom.

Wisdom is the knowledge of God as He reveals Himself and His truth to us in His Word. This wisdom is the same word used in the book of Exodus when God has given Moses instructions on how to make the tabernacle. God told Moses that He gave wisdom to certain women so they could work with fabric to make the curtains. There were men who had the needed wisdom to work with wood and metal to make the furniture and equipment used in the tabernacle. Wisdom is skill. For us, this is the skill we need to enjoy fellowship with God, not in an earthly tabernacle, but the fellowship of living with Him through Jesus Christ in a godly life. Through wisdom, we enjoy the covenant He has established with us.

God commands us to do something. This is not an area of life in which we are given a choice. God commands us to “get wisdom.” This “getting” is not the getting with which we as teachers see our students often struggle so much. This is not an intellectual understanding of a concept. As teachers, we are well aware when our students just don’t “get it,” such as how to do long division. This getting does not refer to grasping something with the mind.

This getting is to obtain something so that it is your possession. It is yours. To obtain something, you have to work for it. We are not speaking here of a gift. People don’t work for things unless they believe it has value and benefits them in some way. Consider the labourer, especially one whose work demands physical exertion. He has bills to pay so he can support a wife and family. He will work in summer’s heat and winter’s cold. He makes demands of his body to do his work and often suffers the consequences. He might be the surveyor who endures the discomfort of bug bites and poison ivy, or the cement contractor whose back and knees grow stiff and creaky. However, to get the money needed to live in our society, the physical strength is spent, the sweat streams, and the soothing ointments spread and therapeutic ice packs are applied. The worker values the money he earns because he needs it as the means to obtain his daily bread.

Do we attribute such value to wisdom? How much exertion is wisdom worth? What are we willing to endure in order to get it? Without God’s regenerating Spirit working in us, we would have nothing to do with God’s wisdom. The natural man sees God’s wisdom as worthless. However, by the working of God’s grace in us, we often pray for God to grant us wisdom. However, God does not package wisdom in a neat, little bundle and implant it in our hearts while we sleep. How much would we value wisdom if it were that easily attained?

Getting wisdom takes work. Children do not know the value of a dollar until they have had to work for it. God makes getting wisdom take great effort so we will value it. We have to read good spiritual, Bible-based material. We have to read His Word and meditate upon what we have read. Most importantly, we have to endure the tough mental and spiritual exertion of paying attention during each part of the worship service, especially during the sermon when God speaks to us, to get wisdom. It is hard to keep the heart focused on worship for an hour and a half to get wisdom.

Just getting wisdom is not enough. God commands that we also “get understanding.” In the following verse, wisdom and understanding are referred to as “her,” singular, as though they are the very same thing. However, one commentary I read said that wisdom and understanding are not identical. There is a subtle, yet interesting difference between the two. I do not think that in this verse we have a repetition of the same idea using synonyms in order to stress a point through repetition.

Understanding is the intelligence to put something to use in practical living. One might have the wisdom or skill to do something, but without the understanding of putting the skill into practical use, the skill is of no benefit to the individual or those around him or her. First, we must have wisdom to know the right way to live an obedient life before God, but then we must have understanding to put that wisdom into actual practice. It doesn’t do the church any good for our children to have wisdom, if, when they are faced with negative peer pressure, they simply give in, keep quiet, and go along with the crowd and do something which they know is not right. Children need wisdom to recognize sin, but then they also need understanding to warn others about the effects of the temptation they face.

That’s why we cannot forget wisdom and understanding. If when we are in the heat of a spiritual battle, Satan is placing temptations in our paths, and then we forget wisdom and understanding, we will fall into sin because we will follow what looks good to our flesh. The same is true when we decline from the words of God’s mouth. God’s wisdom is high. When we leave the heights of His wisdom, and live our lives on the lower plane of our wisdom, we decline into the way of sin.

May God work in our hearts and the hearts of our children that we value His wisdom. Then we need grace to do our part to get the understanding we need to walk in covenant fellowship with our heavenly Father.


A Father's Son

A Father’s Son

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI.

Proverbs 4:3-4: “For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”

Solomon continues to explain why we should listen attentively to the instruction he gives. We noticed last time that the doctrine Solomon gave was good and that we should not forsake the law. He now points out that the understanding he desires us to obtain is the same as that which he obtained because of the instruction of his parents.

Solomon speaks first of his father, David, “For I was my father’s son.” David had many sons. We know little about several of them, but what we know about three of David’s sons troubles us.

There was Amnon, a source of great shame to the family. He lusted after his sister Tamar, sinfully plotted with his confidant about fulfilling his evil desire, forced Tamar to be a participant in his sin against the seventh commandment, then finally threw her out of his house, hated her and refused to ask for her to become his wife. What must the people have thought about David’s family when news of this despicable story spread? What a source of shame a son such as Amnon was! Amnon’s behaviour must have caused the people to regard him as nothing but a fool. Amnon’s heart did not retain David’s words about keeping the commandments.

Then there was Absalom. He sinfully rebelled against his father and caused the deaths of many thousands as he fought to take David’s throne for himself. He was brazen in his sin. David had left ten of his concubines behind to maintain the palace. Absalom took advantage of these women and used them in his adultery to show how extreme was his despising of his own father. Absalom did not retain David’s words either. He also did not live.

Finally, we mention Adonijah. He attempted to take the throne just as his brother Absalom had done. He recruited the help of several influential people in the kingdom, such as Joab, as he stubbornly resisted what he knew to be David’s choice, God’s choice actually, that Solomon should be Israel’s next king. He also walked in the foolish way of sin and died violently.

David had not displeased these sons by telling them, “no.” I Kings 1:6 reads, “And his father had not displeased him [that is, Adonijah] at any time in saying, why hast thou done so?” How much of these family troubles, then, must be placed at David’s feet because of how he raised these sons? In today’s language, we might say David wanted to be a “cool dad.” David did not refuse his sons anything they wanted.

But Solomon claims for himself, “I was my father’s son,” just as Isaac was Abraham’s son, not Ishmael. Jacob was Isaac’s son, not Esau. Solomon was David’s son in a manner in which his full- and half-brothers were not. Had David learned, through bitter experience with the three sons previously mentioned, that he had better change his tactics in raising Solomon?

Solomon states he was “only beloved in the sight” of his mother. Bathsheba and David recognized God had set Solomon apart even at the time of Solomon’s birth. The prophet Nathan came and revealed that God had a different name for Solomon, Jedediah, “Beloved of the Lord.” God had singled out this son to be the next king and had renamed him. We too have been given new names. We, who were children of the devil by nature, are now called after the name of Christ, Christians, because we have been redeemed by grace.

The matter of Solomon’s instruction then took on primary importance for David and Bathsheba. Although Solomon was a prince, his parents saw to it that he studied his books, God’s Word, in preparation for the time when he would rule. Christian parents, out of true love for their children, will instruct them in the fear of God. They are not ashamed to instruct them according to the old paths of God’s truth so ridiculed by the world.

David instructed Solomon to have his heart retain his words. What might these words have been? God told David that Solomon would be a man of peace and head a kingdom at rest. David would not have to pass on instruction about military tactics. We have an idea from I Kings 2 when David, near his death, tells Solomon to “shew thyself a man.” How? Exercise? Buy the fastest chariot? Party? No, not even close. David says, “Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses ...” Solomon was to show he was a man by living a godly life.

This is what Solomon was to retain in his heart. This way of life must be sincere, not merely an external show. The same is true of keeping the commandments. God knows our motives. In this way Solomon would live, unlike his three foolish brothers who died before their times.

May our students also retain their parents words, words of instruction given them out of love for them and God’s truth, words godly parents have instituted this school to teach, that covenant children will keep God’s commandments out of gratitude for redemption in Jesus Christ and live.


Know Understanding

Know Understanding

Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PRCS in Walker, MI.

Proverbs 4:1-2: “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”

In my previous devotion, I spoke about Solomon’s call to his children to hear him and to give their attention to him. However, before moving on to verse two, I want to take the time to make a remark or two about the very last part of verse one: “to know understanding.”

Solomon just told his children to listen to his fatherly instruction and attend to what he says that they might know understanding. Solomon is not interested in mere knowledge, the command of facts. Knowledge of many facts can make one knowledgeable, and a person who has command over a great many facts can do quite well for himself in the world, but that is far different from being wise or having understanding.

Solomon is interested in something deeper than knowing facts. Solomon’s goal in his instruction is that his children gain understanding. Understanding is knowing how what the world calls facts relate to God’s truth.

For example, it is one thing to know the various tasks performed by bees in their hive and to know how to manipulate a hive in order that it yield the most honey possible, yet still maintain the health of the bee colony. It is quite another matter to confess with the psalmist while tasting the fruit of all that work, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (cf. Ps. 19:10). The latter is a true understanding of the handiwork of God.

Also, the world possesses the knowledge of a great many facts enabling them to perform incredible things. In August of 2012, the United States was able to land the Curiosity probe in Gale crater on the surface of Mars. Technicians guided the flight of that probe for over 150 million miles and landed on an oval target not even three miles long. I can recognize the ability, talent and tremendous knowledge required to achieve this. These same intelligent people, however, then showed themselves to be fools, to lack true understanding, with the proclamation that they were now ready to explore the beautiful topography of Mars which they estimated was some two billion years old. They sinfully refuse to recognize God as Creator. If it were not for God having created all things in such an orderly and mathematically predictable fashion, NASA’s probe would never have arrived safely at its target. Yet they refuse to acknowledge their Creator. Our smallest children here have greater understanding than that.

In verse two, Solomon tells his children to hear him because he gives them good doctrine. Can you hear the apostate church and those churches which are departing from or departing even farther from the truth sigh and groan? Who is interested in doctrine any more? Has Rob Bell reached such a large audience and become so popular because he gives his followers good doctrine? Is that why he appeared in Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world today? Preachers who give their congregations good doctrine will not preach to an audience of thousands as can be found in the mega-churches of our day. Rather, faithful pastors will be fortunate to preach to a few hundred. I cannot help but wonder how much of the true church today worships in groups of a half dozen or less.

Because God has worked in our hearts by His Spirit, we understand why it is necessary for us to hear Solomon’s good doctrine. Through good doctrine we understand the way of salvation, a way in which God is everything and man is nothing. We understand that salvation is certainly ours and cannot be lost, not because we have earned it, chosen it or met certain conditions. Our salvation is certain because it is rooted in election, an election which took place in eternity, not an election which took place because God foresaw that we would exercise faith. Election and salvation are rooted in God’s sovereign grace.

Having this good doctrine, we are commanded, “forsake ye not my law.” Many who say they are Christians do forsake that law. Much of the church world today lives in adultery because many denominations approve of divorce and remarriage. More than half of the marriages of evangelical Christians end in divorce, not much different from the world. Much of today’s church does not worship in the way God commands in His first two commandments. What about keeping the Sabbath day? That law is forsaken, too. Many congregations which used to hold worship services twice on Sunday, now have only one. What used to be the Sabbath day, has become the Sabbath hour.

The antithesis, an understanding of which helps us to keep the law and live a godly life, has become an antiquated concept as well. Common grace indeed became the bridge between the church and the world. Many live as though Jerusalem and Athens are reached by taking the same exit off the highway. It is not true, as has been claimed since Paul wrote the epistle of Romans, that the doctrine of salvation by sovereign grace is a doctrine which sets you free from sin so one can live as the world. Those who are saved by grace in Jesus Christ will flee from sin, live an antithetical life and not forsake God’s law, because God is sanctifying us.

May God use our schools to give His children understanding, to support the doctrine of our churches and instruct covenant children not to forsake God’s law.


Hearing a Father's Instruction

Hearing a Father's Instruction

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI

Proverbs 4:1: “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.”

In Proverbs 4, Solomon begins a discourse on the supreme importance of true wisdom in the life of God’s children. Solomon begins by commanding his audience to “hear.” For the children to “attend to know understanding,” they must listen to the instruction Solomon gives. The children must sit quietly, not let their minds wander and grasp the meaning of Solomon’s spoken words according to the level of their ability. Listening can be difficult intellectual work.

We already have a problem, don’t we. Observation of our society brings one to the realization that we are no longer a people given to hearing. Solomon will influence the spirits of these children by making his instruction enter the portal of the ear. In our modern society, much instruction enters the spirit of men through the portal of the eye. We no longer listen. We watch.

To illustrate, allow me to point out some observations of today’s music entertainment. I thought about this after the events of August 2011, when a portable stage collapsed before a concert was to be given by the country duo Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Sudden high gusts of wind brought down the stage, resulting in the deaths of five concertgoers.

Don’t take this as an endorsement from me to go to these concerts. I couldn’t name one of Sugarland’s songs for you or tell you the names of the people in the group. I feel safe in assuming this duo does not use their musical ability to extol the blessedness of a godly life or even the “positive virtues” of a bye-gone era. The pictures I saw printed in news articles simply caused me to reflect on today’s world.

The duo Sugarland are supposed to be musicians. They are supposed to appeal to their audience’s ears. Why did they need such a large stage for that? A couple of microphones, large speakers, a guitar or two and possibly a couple of stools should be all these musicians need. That’s not what I saw in the photographs. Large steel supports held scores of lights. There were large screens on which images could be projected. Evidently it is not enough to play instruments, sing and make music pleasant for the ear to hear. For musicians to entertain, they must also dazzle their patrons’ eyes.

God’s instruction, however, often enters our hearts through our ears. As we read the Bible, we hear an internal voice. We hear the gospel preached to us. We hear the prayers of fellow saints. We hear the truth of Scripture when we sing the Psalms. The sacraments appeal to senses other than hearing but much of the instruction we receive during the sacraments enters through our ears when the forms for administering the sacraments are read.

Satan so often uses the eyes. In the very first temptation, the serpent pointed out to Eve the physical attractiveness, the appearance, of the forbidden fruit to her eyes. Eve, at that moment, disregarded the instruction she had been given through her ears and looked carefully at the fruit. The forbidden fruit did not look any different than the other fruit growing on the other trees in the garden in the sense of its quality or texture. It didn’t look rotten or gross. That was Satan’s point. Ignore what God has told you about something, what you have heard Him forbid to you, then that which Jehovah prohibits looks desirable to the eye. What we have heard God say with our ears is too often overridden by what we see with our eyes. What God forbids looks to be something which would make one happy and better off. God very often commands us to listen. Satan desires us to look.

Solomon also tells us to “attend” that we might “know understanding.” We have to apply ourselves to the instruction we are given. We must recognize what Solomon is telling us is very important and is for our spiritual well-being. He cares about us. After all, he has called us his children. We all understand the importance to us of those whom we call children, whether our own children or the children in our classroom. Solomon has also referred to himself as “father.” Solomon doesn’t refer to himself as king or address his audience as his subjects or servants. He indicates the deep, personal relationship he feels toward those to whom he gives instruction. Keep in mind as well, that this instruction in Scripture ultimately comes from God, our heavenly Father. God certainly cares about His children or He wouldn’t have sent His only-begotten Son to pay for our sins.

Solomon wants us to “know understanding.” We must have an intimate knowledge of the understanding which Solomon desires us to have. This understanding is true, spiritual intelligence, the wisdom about which Solomon will write in the rest of this chapter. It’s the knowledge of God’s Word. Godly wisdom will be likened to a beautiful woman whom we would hold and never let get away because our very life depends on her company. Solomon’s understanding realizes the ultimate end of the wicked: death and terrible destruction. He will warn his children not even to enter the same path as the wicked, no matter how enjoyable or prosperous that path may appear to be. The appeal of the way of the wicked is just as devious as the appeal of the fruit which hung on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the end of that way is just as bitter as the effects of eating that fruit.

May God work in the hearts of our students so they understand the true nature of the instruction which their parents are making available to them in our schools. May God also comfort us as teachers by reminding us that weakest means fulfil His will.


The Wise and the Fools

The Wise and the Fools

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI

Proverbs 3:35: “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”

Solomon presents us with another contrast. The contrast is stark. In this verse, we do not face a broad spectrum of possibilities. We face an either/or situation. There cannot be anything in between. Glory and shame are the only possibilities, and there is no transferring from one to the other. The wise inherit glory. Fools ascend no higher than shame.

The wise who inherit glory are not the men and women of renown in society. Although God has given some of His people great talent and ability, and although some have even risen to positions of prominence and wealth, such is not the general condition of God’s people. Being wise has nothing to do with one’s standardized test scores or IQ. Wisdom is not the intellect so valued in the world of how to ascend to the higher rungs of the social ladder through the dedicated use of one’s wits and cunning. Wisdom is the fear of God which leads to faithful, diligent study of His Word which the wise recognize as the standard of all truth.

Solomon tells us about who these wise people are in the preceding verses where Solomon has given us instruction by means of other contrasts. The wise are the righteous of verse 32. When God’s people confidently affirm their righteousness, there are spiritual confessions to make. Our righteousness is Christ’s. Just as our sins have all been laid upon Him, His perfect obedience is laid upon us through faith. Because of Christ, we can stand before our heavenly Father as those who have kept His law perfectly.

The wise are the just of verse 33. The just strive to deal with their neighbours as Christ instructs them. The just try to keep God’s law throughout all the interactions of their day-to-day personal relationships. They will not take advantage of people or figure that as long as their behaviour is legal in the eyes of men, everything is fair game. The just live by the higher standard of God’s perfect law.

The wise are the lowly of the verse 34. The lowly know what they are of themselves. They cannot be proud when they examine their innermost hearts in the light of God’s perfect law. There is no boasting from those who know what it means to be the corrupt fruit of a fallen Adam.

The wise know to live according the great reality which is denied, often vehemently, by the wicked. The great reality is that there is a God in heaven who is just and who will not be mocked. There is a God who when He speaks of the consequences of sin, He means it. The wise also confess the reality about themselves, their need of a Saviour and their obligation to live thankfully before their merciful heavenly Father.

The wise inherit glory. Nobody inherits the fruit of their own labour. Someone else has done the work, and in their love for those dear to them, gave others the benefits of what they have earned. That is true regarding the glory we inherit as the children of God.

The wise inherit glory. This glory is not a perishable good. This glory is not subject to the ravages of time. Moths cannot damage it and make it useless. Rust cannot take away its lustre. This is the glory of being with God and experiencing His fellowship without the fear of it ever being lost again because of sin. This is the glory of being a living member of the perfect church of Christ. This is the glory of being perfectly suited for the work which God will give to each of His redeemed children in His everlasting heavenly kingdom.

Fools will not have it so good. The fool says that there is no God. A fool lives life as though there is no sovereign Judge who knows all that the fool does and thinks. This denial of God is made despite the fact of the clear testimony of all of creation, as well as of Scripture and the true church.

The greatest height which can be attained by fools, is shame. That is their promotion, the highest rank they can achieve: shame. This is what they have earned, unlike an inheritance. A promotion is something you have worked for long and hard. You exerted yourself and made sacrifices to earn your promotion. Fools worked hard to achieve shame. Shame makes us want to hide our faces and not be seen by anyone again. You just want to creep away and disappear because now people have come to realize what you really are. There will be no more proud lifting up of the head. Fools will know the shame pronounced upon them by God is the sad condition which they have so richly earned. It takes a fool to work so hard and long for the ultimate rank of shame.

That is quite a contrast. The fool has earned his terrible destiny. The fool’s everlasting shame has been won through hard work. It takes much hard work to convince one’s self that there is no God. Many smart people have earned high-powered engineering degrees to design and build very expensive equipment to try to learn the basic principles of the observable universe, when all the while they deny the most fundamental truth of matter, the fact that God made everything.

The truly wise, those who take God and His Word as truth, receive glory, a glory they inherited because of the hard, sacrificial work of their Saviour on the cross.


The Scorners and the Scorned

The Scorners and the Scorned

Brian D. DykstraTeacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI

Proverbs 3:34: “Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.”

We are all too familiar with scorners. Our society is full of those who scorn God, His Word and His true church. Look at the area of science and medicine. Those who believe the creation account of Genesis 1 are ridiculed as backward, throwback hicks. Anyone who stands for the truth of creation outside of our circles, and a precious few other groups, will be met with open ridicule and contempt. How could you possibly be serious! A creation week! The world is a mere six thousand years old! Don’t you have any sense? Are you totally blind or ignorant of all of the scientific discoveries of the last century? You really believe that Bible stuff! Standing up for creation in public universities, and, sadly, even in Christian colleges, is to make oneself open to sarcastic comments.

If some Christian dares to write to the local newspaper and express the thought that some human activity currently in the news is sin and brings the punishment of God, we can all anticipate the response. It will not take long for an atheist to take a shot. Often the agnostic will point out that the Bible also commands people not to wear clothing of mixed fabric, to stone those who violate the Sabbath day and that those who dash the small children of the enemy against rocks will do so with joy. Who in their right mind would take seriously a book which contains commands and attitudes such as that?

How does the world view a godly lifestyle? What do they think of our striving to be faithful in marriage? You mean you didn’t live together first before you were married? There was no sex in your relationship until you were married? You’ve been faithful to your spouse ever since? Who are you people? We all know someone who has gone through the harsh pain and deep scars of divorce. You mean to tell me that you are still faithful to your spouse even though they left you and remarried? You now live your life alone and still regard that person who cheated on you as your God-given spouse?

Think of how our family lives and the relationships in our homes are viewed by the world. Male headship? Submissive wives? Children are spanked? Parents supervise their children and judge their behaviours and attitudes by the standard of God’s law? Do you know that recent studies have shown that less than half of American families have two parents who are married to each other under the same roof? Any outsider who happens to be a social worker or anthropologist would not believe their findings if they were to do a study of the family structures found in our denomination’s families.

Unfortunately, we can see some examples of scorn in our own Christian classrooms. Some students will put others down either because of their own insecurities or from haughty pride. Sometimes you can even see the pride in their faces as they look with disdain at those of lower social status. The godly advice we give our classes is not always met with universal approval either.

The root of scorn is pride. Man thinks he has developed enough over the years not to need the antiquated fable of creation. If God were to inspire the Bible today, He would realize that we could handle the concept of the universe developing over the course of billions of years. Society has matured to such and extent that we no longer need the structures of old-fashioned marriage. The world is no longer as dangerous as it once was, so you should let your children experiment more with their own lifestyle and modern attitudes. Your children will be outcasts if you don’t.

God scorns these scorners. He righteously hates them. Who do they think they are? Can they really do anything to God? They can ridicule and dismiss God as much as they wish, He still reigns supreme in heaven. The world can persecute His church and torment us in life and seek to be rid of us. He will still comfort us, raise us from the dead and cause us to rule with Christ over all the new creation.

God hates pride because He knows what we have made ourselves in Adam. We are nothing more than totally depraved sinners. We are incapable of any good apart from Him. We cannot save ourselves. He holds our every breath in His hand. Knowing how weak and sinful we are, we had better not be proud.

God’s scorn will also have a terrible effect, unlike the scorn of the proud. He is powerful enough to bring a terrible judgment upon sinners. When Christ returns, even the wicked will bend the knee and acknowledge that God is just and righteous in all His ways.

Here is God’s just antithesis. We have seen God’s attitude toward the proud, but God gives grace to the lowly. God’s grace is given—given, not earned. Grace is not given to everybody. God gives grace to the lowly, the humble: the centurion with the dying servant, the publican with lowered eyes, Mary Magdalene with her former disreputable life.

In his commentary on this verse, Charles Bridges quotes Leighton’s commentary on I Peter 5:5 which is a quotation of this verse: “He pours (grace) out plentifully upon humble hearts. His sweet dews and showers of grace slide off the mountains of pride, and fall on the low valleys of humble hearts, and make them pleasant and fertile.”

May we and our students be blessed with the grace which our heavenly Father gives to the lowly.


Blessing and Cursing

Blessing and Cursing

Brian D. Dykstra,  Teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI

Proverbs 3:33: “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.”

Solomon wants us to consider the living accommodations of two men, the wicked and the just. This wicked man is one who does wrong. He is not blatantly evil. We would not find him keeping company with murderers and thieves. His name is not associated with some heinous crime. He is not infamous. The wrong which he commits will not result in his appearing before some judge awaiting a punishment to be declared against him. He simply does what is wrong, but not criminal. He knows how to make a business transaction turn more to his favour. He knows the little tricks of the trade which encourage a little extra money to find its way into his pocket rather than the one with whom he is doing business. These would be the little things of which it can be said, “Everybody does it. It’s no big deal. It’s all just part of doing business. In the end, it all just kind of balances out anyway.”

Solomon notes that this wicked man lives in a comfortable house. He is not living in a tent or some temporary shelter made of branches and palm fronds. Perhaps this house is a bit nicer than average since he seems to know how to make a dollar go just a little farther for him than most other people do. He is doing well for himself and is comfortable. From an earthly point of view, he has no complaints.

Despite these appearances, which might cause us to feel a touch of envy, God’s curse is there. Solomon writes that God’s curse is not just on the house of the wicked, this curse is in the house of the wicked. This curse is not just on this house as a thin film of oil which, once it is cleansed, leaves the interior just fine and none the worse for wear. God’s curse is in this house through and through. There is no little corner or closet where one could escape this curse. God’s curse permeates every room and possession there. God’s curse cannot be easily wiped away. This is just disgusting rottenness all the way through to the core.

Solomon contrasts this with the just. This man has not reached perfect obedience through a supreme effort of his own will. He would not be pointed out by others as a man who has never done any offence to another. He too has his faults. He is just in the eyes of God because God has cleansed him from his sin. The sins of which he is guilty have been taken away.

This just man, however, has only a habitation. It is a mere temporary shelter, more of a sheep-cote than a permanent house. He isn’t rich. What he does have and experience, however, is the blessing of his heavenly Father. He can live his life in spiritual joy, even when God brings him through times of hardship or sorrow. He knows the blessing of his Father is with him.

Think of Jezebel and Elijah during the days of dreadful famine in Israel. Jezebel does not strike us a one who would say, “My dear subjects are suffering and sliding into poverty. I should give up some of my luxuries to show my willingness to take up my part of this burden.” She would maintain her wealth and status if for no other purpose than to provide for Baal’s prophets and persecute God’s prophets. She was born a princess and is now a queen and would live her life as such. Her household, no matter how fine, was cursed by God through and through.

How was Elijah doing at this time? For a time he lived by the Brook Cherith. I don’t suppose he had what we would normally call a house. He certainly wasn’t living sumptuously. Yet, God blessed him for obediently doing His will and gave him his daily bread.

Then Elijah went to the widow of Zarephath. There was no fine living here either. Widows were not very often rich. When Elijah met her, she was down to her last handful of meal, a bit of oil and had a couple of sticks to prepare her last meal. Yet, the widow’s household knew the blessing of God. The barrel of meal did not fail. This barrel was not always full being refilled to the brim each time the widow took out the needed meal. She emptied it, only to find that when it was time to eat again, there was just enough at the bottom of the barrel once more. The same was true for the oil.

Yet, this poor widow and Elijah knew the blessing of the Lord. They shared the joy of knowing that some day God would send the Messiah to save His people from their sin. There is no middle ground. There is a curse and a blessing. God does not change either. Those who are under His curse, shall always be under God’s curse. Those whom God has justified, will always be blessed by Him.


Envy Not the Oppressor

Envy Not the Oppressor

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI

Proverbs 3:31-32: “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination of the Lord: but his secret is with the righteous.”

As we Christians go through our day to day lives, we are to have our eyes open. We are to be aware of what is happening in the world around us. News events have a deeper meaning for us than simply being interesting topics of conversation. We see evidence of Christ’s return as we see events unfold. He warned us about what the last days would be like.

There is a danger for us, however, as we go through life this way. If we do not view the world with the proper perspective, we fall into sin. Christians can become envious of the wicked. Scripture contains many warnings about this, so the danger is more common and is a greater threat than we might first think. Job spoke about the prosperity of the wicked with the friends who came to comfort him. David warns us about this in Psalm 37, as does Asaph in Psalm 73. Although verses 31-32 come near the end of only the third chapter in Proverbs, Solomon has instructed us before on nearly the same topic.

Solomon introduces us to an oppressor. This oppressor is a man of violence. He takes things away from people. There were robbers in biblical times. Bands of robbers hid in the hills near highways. They would wait for a caravan of merchants, small groups of tradesmen or the lone traveller. They ambushed their victim and shared the spoils.

However, this violence does not have to be physical. Oppressors twist the law to take advantage of people. Christ was angry with those who did not honour their parents by supporting them if they needed help in their old age. These oppressors claimed the money they had was set aside for a gift. Therefore, they could not assist their parents and they could keep their money. Houses and property were stolen by deceit and corrupt judgment. Merchants used false balances or corrupt measures to cheat their customers by small degrees. Add together enough small thefts, and profits increased.

Why would we envy these people? They are dirty, rotten scoundrels! Does society really honour them? But, you see, they get away with it! They can live comfortably, perhaps even in luxury, but they haven’t really earned it. We can then become too earthly minded and envy what they have. We labour diligently, striving to treat the neighbour as we should, but what is there to show for it? We struggle, work hard and carefully manage what we have simply to try to make ends meet. Obedience does not profit! We may even begin to wonder how often we have been taken advantage of. How much of our hard-earned money goes into the velvet pockets of these crooks?

Solomon warns us not to choose any of his ways, not even one. Perhaps we thought we could try just a couple of the tricks which aren’t so dastardly. Such practices are fairly common, and could even be viewed as part of doing business. Do I have to be the only honest businessman here? Are these temptations greater given these challenging economic times? Wages decrease, are stagnant or rise at a snail’s pace. We begin to view the government’s taxation as legalized theft. Why not try one trick of the oppressor to even things out?

Solomon tells us God’s point of view and why we should not be envious or try any of their ways. We must have a long range view of what is happening. The oppressor, now called the froward, someone who is perverse and has twisted truth and right past recognition, is an abomination to the Lord.

What do we think about something that is an abomination us? Would we keep it close to us? Would we let it stay with us in the house? Would we hold it tenderly in our hands? Would we cherish it? Would we give everything we had to preserve it? The oppressors may prosper here but the day comes when they will fall into the hands of a God who is angry with them. Their end will not be prosperous. God drives them away and has no tender fellowship with them.

On the other hand, God will have His secret with the righteous. We share secrets with those who are dear to us and whom we trust, not strangers. A secret implies a level of friendship and fellowship. There is closeness as well. We don’t discuss secrets in crowded, noisy, public places. The righteous will have fellowship with God. He makes known to us His love for His church. He reveals the way of salvation and friendship with him in Jesus Christ.

These blessings are for the righteous. Our lives can be difficult. Obeying God means we will have to make sacrifices. We must keep in mind what God has in store for His people in the end.


Devise Not Evil

Devise Not Evil

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI

Proverbs 3:29-30: “Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.”

Solomon continues to instruct us about how we are to treat our neighbour, our Christian lives as related to the second table of the Law where we are told to love the neighbour as ourselves. Living in such a way serves as proof that the love of God is in our hearts and that we love our Creator. Although we could consider any commandment from the second table of the Law, the instruction not to do evil against the neighbour and not to strive with him deals more closely with the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” than with the others.

God commands us to do much more than merely avoid taking somebody’s life through violence or negligence. God further forbids “envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge.” We are “to love our neighbour as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good, even to our enemies.”

We know that Christ has instructed us, especially in the parable of the Good Samaritan, that all men are our neighbours. However, here we have a neighbour who dwells securely by us. This would seem to be more than just a passing stranger. These are the people with whom we come into contact in our daily living. These people have become familiar to us. Perhaps we work with them. Perhaps they live near our houses and we know their names and speak with them from time to time. He is confident that he will be treated well. He does not think there is any risk to him because he has us for a neighbour. He has not been losing any sleep because he is worried about what we might do to him next.

They may or may not be fellow saints. It doesn’t really matter, but although these people might not know much about us, they have noticed that there is something different about the family routine on Sunday. They might not know much about our church affiliation, but they would be able to put us in the category of being Christians. How we treat them will influence their attitude about the Church and God’s people. Will we claim to be members of the Kingdom of God, then treat the neighbour, believer or unbeliever, in a way which even the ungodly would condemn?

We are not to devise evil against our neighbour. Devise means that the evil is intentional. There are times when evil is done to a neighbour with no deliberate intent. In my younger days, I’ve broken windows and done some damage to flower beds while playing in the neighbourhood. Solomon speaks here of someone who thinks of a way to do deliberate harm. He comes up with some plot, a new idea to do damage in some way. This might be some way to cheat the neighbour out of some money. Years ago I worked on muck farms. Sometimes we were paid according to how many crates we could fill of a certain vegetable when the crops were harvested. Some kids would sneak filled crates from other’s rows of crops and place them in their own row with the result that they were paid for work they did not do, while someone else was not paid for the work they performed.

Other examples could be pulling pranks for the thrill of doing some damage or seeing if one can get away with something rather bold and daring. We might remember Tom Sawyer and his buddies “lifting” pies or sweet meats to supply their pirating adventures. We might take something a neighbour has carelessly left outside, take something from his garden or let the air out of tires. These are not innocent pranks, as some might claim. Neighbours of Christians have every reason to expect to be treated well, that their neighbours are not greedy opportunists.

We are also told not to strive with someone if they have done us no harm. This “striving” refers to contending with them in a legal manner. If a neighbour has done us harm, justice must be served, but we must also forgive. We often hear of frivolous lawsuits in our court system. Lawyers and so called “victims” are looking for a rich payday so they take somebody to court and sue. Some want to profit at the expense of others or to get someone whom they regard as a nuisance out of their lives. Jezebel fabricated charges against Naboth to take property. Jeremiah was falsely accused of being on the side of the enemy, when the Babylonians held Jerusalem under siege, so God’s Word could be muted.

Students sometimes pull tricks on one another. Pencils are hidden. Sweets from lunches mysteriously disappear. It is fun to watch the owners try to locate their missing property. False accusations about others are brought to the teacher to get someone into trouble. False reports are spread from student to student to damage someone’s standing in the class. Children have their own style of courtroom trials and justice for their peers. It is part of the social dynamic, and we could give more examples.

God certainly is an example for us. He does not devise evil against us, but He is gracious. We may dwell securely not only by His house, but even in His house. God could strive with us before His throne of judgment for we have certainly done Him harm. Yet, because of the perfect obedience of Christ, which obedience has become ours through faith, we are treated as though we have never done any harm to our Lord.


Withhold Not Good


Withhold Not Good

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI

Proverbs 3:27-28: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”

God commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Part of this is the command, “Thou shalt not steal.” As our catechism explains, this means more for us than not being thieves and robbers or dealing fraudulently in business. We are to promote the advantage of our neighbour in every instance we can or may. Solomon now gives us instruction in this.

In this instance, we have something in our possession to which our neighbour has a legitimate claim. It is “due” them. Perhaps we owe them money for some service which they have rendered to us or we have made some purchase on credit. We may not keep back from paying them. “Withhold not.” Not to pay what we owe—and here we are told that we do have the ability to pay—is to steal from our neighbour.

Solomon is not dealing exclusively with our monetary dealings with each other. We are not to keep back “good,” as he says. He is not speaking merely of gold, silver or some form of currency but “good.” This is the same word used to describe God’s judgment upon His handiwork throughout the creation week. We are dealing here with something that is favourable, attractive, suitable for a purpose and commendable. This is something that has benefit. We may not withhold something which is right, that has a positive quality from our neighbour who has a right to it.

Each of us has troubles and challenges in life. Some of our neighbours’ struggles we know and perhaps there are even more which we do not know. Economic times are tough and we might wish our government printed its currency on rubber or latex rather than on paper so that we could make each dollar stretch farther. However, the problems we have which can be solved just by spending some money are not the worst of our problems. There are plenty of problems which money cannot solve.

We each struggle with sin and our fallen natures. Because we love the city of God, we all work hard to make sure this is a Christian school more than just because the word is on the sign by the street. We see sin in ourselves and in the students. When a colleague comes seeking advice or just needs a listening ear, we are not to send them away, telling them to go live on their own little island. If we have the ability to help, we may not withhold that help but we must give what good we can. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a claim on one another. The closer that friendship or relationship is as given by God, the greater the extent of the neighbour’s claim to what good we can give.

Solomon also tells us about when to give good to the neighbour. When we have that good right now, we do not tell the neighbour to come back tomorrow and we will give then. God has placed that neighbour with that need on our path at that time. If God commands us to help and do good, even to our neighbours who are our spiritual enemies, how much more should we be willing to help those who live with us in the city of God. Good given when it is needed is much better and more valuable than good given when perhaps the storm has let up somewhat or has already passed.

There are times, however, when we cannot give to the neighbour. Solomon recognizes this as well. Sometimes it is not in our power to help. We do not have what the neighbour needs or we do not know what advice to give. The neighbour’s need can be greater than what we can supply or our wisdom may not be sufficient for the trouble he faces. We do what we can.

God deals with us this way. He does not keep back the good that is due to us. We do have a claim to His good. Our claim is not based upon our works, what we are of ourselves or the choices we have made in life. Having been raised in the Reformed faith, we all know this. Thus, we can confidently knock on the door of God’s house and ask for help because Christ has merited all blessings for His elect. Just as our sins have been taken from us and placed on Him, so His perfect obedience has been placed on us. It is also certainly in God’s power to do good for us as well. As the Almighty Father, He is both willing and able to give His children every good thing.

However, from our point of view, it does often appear that God makes us wait for good. It seems God does wait, sometimes many days, to give us good. We bring our needs to Him in prayer, and the granting of our petitions does not seem to come as swiftly as we would desire. God makes us wait and He is under no compulsion to tell us why. Then we must humbly remember that His wisdom is vastly superior to ours. As the Creator, He may do whatever He wishes. His delays are based on his wisdom and love for His elect. He will give us His good as soon as He pleases.

Students can learn to give good to each other. Some are more sensitive than others to their neighbour’s needs and situation. This godliness needs to be encouraged and prayed for. Helping one another is one of the beauties of our schools where covenant children are learning to be part of the life of the church.


Subscribe to this RSS feed

Contact Details


  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Reading Sermon Library
  • Taped Sermon Library

Synodical Officers

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Interim)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Synodical Committees

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Classical Officers

Classis East
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Classis West
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.