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Sunday, September 30, 2018

[Matt's Messages] "Everywhere"

“Everywhere”
September 30, 2018
Proverbs 15:3

I fully intended to get us back into the Missions Discourse in Matthew chapter 10 this morning, but I did not reckon on being locked out of my office all week due to the mold clean-up!

By the way, I am so thankful to all of you for working together so well last week to get the mold cleaned up. From Cindy discovering it, to Marilynn running the communications, to Bob leading everything, and the Elders and the Facilities Team and the whole congregation being unified. I am so grateful to God for all of you.

I’m sorry I missed the meeting last week. Everybody told me that it was awesome. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

So, if I couldn’t get to my office to study Matthew this week, what should I preach on?

And about Thursday I decided to preach to you the same text that I preached last Sunday to the Hope Evangelical Free Church of Fertile, Minnesota.

By the way, I bring you greetings from that church. They are not a Swedish Evangelical Free Church. They are full of Norwegians! When they found out I came a historic Swedish EV Free church, one of them said, “Oh them?!” We had some fun with that.

Of course, they are pastored by an old seminary buddy of mine who used pastor in our district, Dennis Wadsworth. And Dennis is Italian, not Norwegian!

This Summer the adult class at Family Bible Week studied the Proverbs together. And we looked briefly at this one. Some of you will remember.

And my youth boys’ class knows all about Proverbs, too. And we’re going to get into Proverbs chapter 14, the chapter right before this one this coming Wednesday at 7 at Family Bible Night. So this should whet your appetites for that, guys.

Today’s message is on just one verse, a proverb.

What is a proverb?

A proverb is a special kind of biblical writing. It isn’t like other kinds of writing in the Bible. It’s not like an epistle. It’s not like Law or History or a Psalm or a Gospel.

A proverb is its own thing.

A proverb is a short statement of wisdom.

A proverb is a pithy saying in just a few lines, often just one two-lined sentence, that gives wisdom for living skillfully in God’s world.

A proverb is a short saying that is meant to make a person think about biblical living in the world that God rules.

And here’s a real key to reading and understanding and using the Proverbs:

Treat them like a piece of gum.

[Take out Wrigley’s Doublemint.  Invite everyone to start chewing.]

Some of you will remember when the adult class did this with some Lifesavers.

The way to really understand a Proverb is to chew on it. To meditate on it.

Proverbs 15:3

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

It’s best to memorize a proverb and then to just chew on it all day long.  It actually won’t lose its flavor!

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

King James:

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

Let’s chew on this for a while.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

How does that make you feel when you first hear it?

How does that make you feel when you hear it the second time and the third?

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

The first thing I think about are these eyes.

Does God really have eyes?

No, not in the sense that there are these great big heavenly eyeballs with divine retinas and corneas and pupils and optic nerves.

Saying “The eyes of the LORD” is using anthropomorphic language to help us to understand God.

“Anthropomorphic” is just a big word that means to use human (anthropos) traits on our level to explain some facet of God’s traits on His divine level.

And we have to stretch our human categories up to understand His categories.

He sees.
He looks.
He knows.
He has vision.

What we do when we look with our eyes, on our own level, He does when He looks with His “eyes” on His level.

“The eyes of the Lord.”

He is the God Who Sees.

“El Roi” in Hebrew (Genesis 16:13).

The God Who Sees.

Where are these eyes?

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere [or in every place], keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Everywhere.

Let’s chew on that for a little bit.

Everywhere.

Right here in this room.
And outside.
In every room in this building.
In every room in your house.
The living room.
The TV room.
The kitchen.
The den.
The bedroom.
The bathrooms.
In the medicine cabinet.
The closet.
The laundry room.
The porch.
The garage.
The shed.
In the smithy.
The chicken coop. 
The dog house.
Back in the woods.
In your neighbor’s house.
At school.
In the lunchroom.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

At your locker. Students?
In your desk.
In your backback.
On the football field, in the gynasium.

Sometimes we say, “The LORD must have been watching me!”  And He was.

But not just then and not just there.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

On the school bus.
In the backseat.
In the corner.
In the principal’s office.
In the computer lab.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

When I was chewing on this, I had this image come to mind of turning on the computer and seeing these big eyes looking back at me through the screen!

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Everywhere.

At work.
In the boardroom.
At the reception desk.
In the shop.
In the truck.
In your office.
In the hallways.

At the doctor’s office.
At the restaurant.
Out on the open road.

In the halls of power.
In the back rooms where things really get decided.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Have you ever used Google Earth?  Do you know what I’m talking about?

There is this computer program attached to Google that allows you to go just about anywhere on the planet and view composite satellite pictures of just about any spot on God’s green Earth.

Now, it’s not in real-time, so you don’t see people walking around and everything, but it’s pretty amazing how you can zoom in and see millions of places in the world–firsthand! Like something out of science fiction.

But there are places you cannot see.  And rightly so!

But God sees it all.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Does anyone here know where ROBERT WILLIAM FISHER is hiding?

Probably you don’t know who that is.

ROBERT WILLIAM FISHER is the man at the top of the FBI’s ten most wanted list.

(I know this because I looked it up on Google!)

“Robert William Fisher is wanted for allegedly killing his wife and two young children and then blowing up the house in which they all lived in Scottsdale, Arizona in April of 2001. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Robert William Fisher.”

No one knows where he is.

This man has outwitted the FBI since 2001.

No one knows where he is.

But the Lord knows where Mr. Fisher is. God is watching him right now.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Is that mind-blowing?  It should be.

It should lead us to worship God.

The theologian-word for this is omniscience. God is omniscient. He knows everything.  He sees everything.

Nothing is hidden from Him.

Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

This should cause us to worship. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And it’s the beginning of worship, too.

To realize that God is God-like-that, should direct our hearts to revere Him.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Now, remember, this is a proverb.

It’s not just a statement of fact.  It’s a statement of wisdom.

Now the boys in my class on Wednesday nights know one of my mantras for Proverbs. What is it?

“The Proverbs are not just informational. They are transformational.”

Proverbs 15:3 is not just here to inform us, but to transform us–to make us wise.

It’s not just “Oh that’s interesting. God see everything. How factual!”

No, we are supposed to be changed by reading Proverbs 15:3.

How are we supposed to be changed by Proverbs 15:3?

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Let’s chew on that for a little bit.

Notice that in the B-line, Solomon divides people up into two categories: the wicked and the good.

The ad guys and the good guys.

The black hats and the white hats.

The people who are against God and the people who are God’s people.

There are two paths, two ways to live.

That’s a common theme in the wisdom literature.

Now, we all know that there is a little good in all bad people (we call that common grace), and that there is still a good deal of bad in all of the saved people (we call that indwelling sin).

But there are, ultimately, just two paths, two ways to live, two kinds of people.

And God “keeps watch” on which one?

Both of them.

So, I think that meditating on Proverbs 15:3 will probably create a least 2 different applications, depending on which path you are on, or which path you are acting like you are on.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

How you encounter this verse may say something about your conscience.

For many of you, you had very happy thoughts when you first heard it.

When I first read it, I was made uncomfortable by it.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere...”

Even when I’m 225 miles from home, taking doctoral classes in Philadelphia?

I've told this story before, but it’s a good one.

About ten years ago I was a doctoral student at Westminster Theological Seminary where I did my doctoral project on gossip, and for four weeks over two years I took classes on campus there in Philadelphia.

I drove 225 miles away from home and stayed in a “foreign city.”

Almost nobody there knows me.

I can order 2 suppers at Chik-Fil-A and nobody need to know!

When I came home, Heather went through my receipts for me and put them in order and in our envelope for receipts, and she clucked at my little forays into gluttony.

Two chicken suppers?  Two sandwiches at McDonalds?  A late night snack of a PapaBurger meal at A&W?

I’m glad that she kept me accountable. [She probably needs to do that for last week’s meals, too....]

Because I felt at the time like nobody was watching.

One of my professors told a story in my classes about heading off to an airport in a foreign country and being accosted by the pornography in the bookstore of the airport while he was waiting for his plane to take off.

He said that there are no plastic wrappers, no fences to keep the porn away from people to make it hard to buy.  It’s just right there beckoning you to take it.  And here he was in a foreign country, done with teaching his classes, nothing to do and no one anywhere that knew him to keep him from doing something that he shouldn’t.

My professor reminded himself that God is everywhere. And he walked right on by it and found his seat by a window to wait for his plane.

And then, you know what happened?  The class he had been teaching had decided to all come to the airport to find this professor and see him off.

What a terrible thing it would have been for them to find him leafing through the pornography in the bookstore instead of quietly reading his book at the gate!

But whether or not the class came by, God was there!

And God is the most important person in the universe!

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

This proverb is meant to build some of the fear of the Lord in us.

Especially if we are being wicked.

We like to think that we can hide, that we can “get away” with something.

But the Bible says that we can be sure that our sins will find us out.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Friends, there is no such thing as secret sin.

Perhaps, there is something you have done that nobody but you knows about and you hope it stays that way.

But there is at least One other who knows.  He watches.  He sees.

And there will be accountability.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

The more that I chew on this proverb, though, the more I realize what good news it is!

At first it felt intrusive. That was my sinful first response.

But it’s becoming more and more comforting to me as I respond in faith.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Keeping watch on the righteous.
Keeping watch on God’s chosen.
Keeping watch on God’s children.

These are my heavenly Father’s eyes.

These are the eyes of the LORD.  Capital L-O-R-D.

Whenever you see those capital letters for LORD, what you have untranslated is the covenant name for God–YHWH.

This is God’s special name to declare His covenant faithfulness to His people.

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

That’s Whose eyes are everywhere!
My heavenly Father’s eyes.

They are caring eyes.
They are loving eyes.
They are concerned eyes.

They are eyes that are fixed on my good!

That changes things doesn’t it?

For His children, He’s watching to help.

Are you afraid right now?

Are you attacked by all kinds of fears?

Worry, anxiety, panic attacks, spousal attacks, attacks at work–fears for yourself, your family, your job, your financial security, your health, your church, your country?

Hear this proverb:

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Maybe you’re under a heavy load right now.  Maybe you’re experiencing some persecution.  Some trouble on the job.  You’re being hurt by someone.

1 Peter 3, quoting Psalm 34 says: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.  He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”

He sees. And He hears. And He will act.

It might not look like the kind of action that you want or expect, but it will be right on time and best for you and me.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Maybe what you are struggling with seems small.

Maybe it’s a little decision that you need to make and you don’t think it’s worth God’s time to bring it up.  So you’re just going to worry about it instead.

He knows. He sees.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Nothing is too small for Him.  He’s watching things on the microbe level. At the sub-atomic level right now.

“The eyes of the LORD are [at the subatomic level], keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

This last summer my two oldest children got driver’s licenses.

Robin and Andrew are road legal! Stay off of the sidewalks.

And now they can get in a car and drive really far away from me, and I can’t see them.

And that’s not been that easy for dear old Dad!

I want to keep my eye on them.  I want them to back to bicycles where I could yell their names out the front door, and they would come back into view.

But they’re getting old enough that I need to allow them to spread their wings.

And this helps me as I chew on it:

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

I can’t be everywhere.

I can’t keep up with everything.

I can’t see it all and control the information and the context and the setting and the details.

When I found out about the mold last week, I got to worrying. I worried about the mold, about my books, about how the meeting back here would go.

And I had to remind myself of this very verse! Even when I was preaching it to the folks at Fertile!

I can’t see it all and control the information and the context and the setting and the details.

And that’s right. I’m just a man.

But God can. And I can trust Him with them.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Let’s put this into 2 direct points of application this morning.

Two take-homes:

#1.  REPENT.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

So, repent.

If you and I are wicked or are acting like the wicked, we need to be called up short and turn from our wicked ways.

He sees us. And we won’t get away with it.

Sometimes, we like to pretend in our vain imaginations that there are places where God does not show up!

But “The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

If you have been giving in to secret sin, this proverb is a call to repentance.

It is wisdom!

Turn.

And turn to Him.

Don’t just turn away from secret sin.  Turn to the Savior.

Confess your sins to Him.  He knows them already. You’re just going to be agreeing with Him about what they are!

And ask for help.  Ask for grace to cut off your love affair with your secret sin and live righteously!

He’ll give it!  He delights to give it.

This require faith in Jesus.

If you have not yet placed your trust in Jesus as your Savior and your Lord, now is the time to do so.

You see, God’s eyes were on Jesus, too.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

And everything God saw Jesus do was GOOD!

Jesus lived a perfect life before the face of God!

And then, God laid upon Him our sins, our transgressions, our iniquities, our secrets, our wickedness.

And, then He poured out His punishing wrath on His One and Only Son–in our place!

Jesus absorbed the justice that we deserve.

So that everyone who turns from their sins and puts their faith in Jesus are forgiven and made righteous in God’s sight.  They become “the good.”

So that the eyes of the LORD keep fatherly watch over them.  Not storing up wrath for them on the day of judgment.

But, make no mistake, if you do NOT trust Jesus as your Rescuer and King, then that’s exactly what the eyes of the LORD are doing.  They are watching your life and preparing the justice that you deserve.

Repent!

#2: TAKE HEART.

If you belong to Jesus, then Proverbs 15:3 is gospel-goodness for you.  It’s good news.

Your Heavenly Father is watching over you.

You are not an orphan.

You know, sometimes we act as if we’re all alone in the universe.

I felt alone a number of times when I was away in Philadelphia ten years ago and a few times last week in hotel rooms in Minnesota.

I’m used to 5 other inhabitants in my life–my family, especially my wife.

But was I really alone?  Ultimately alone?

No.

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Take heart, believer!  Your Father is watching.

Chew on that.  Turn it over in your mind, again and again and again.

Let it sink into you.

One my favorite Old Testament verses is 2 Chronicles 16:9 which Marilynn put on the cover of your bulletin. Where God tells King Asa, “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

I get this picture of these eyes ranging through the year, searching, looking into every nook and every cranny, every heart.  And then strengthening those whose hearts who are fully committed to Him.

Let that be you and me!

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

And that’s proverbially good news.

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