The singles group will meet for lunch after church. Call for location/details.
· That God would meet with us this morning
· That people would be changed
· For meekness to receive the word
Message: Brought by Pastor Beals – He has four children and grandchildren in double digits!
Passage to Prepare Us for Worship: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 – What God is doing now.
Prayer for Family Members
· That they would be saved
· That they would be persons who pray
· That they will develop in their walk before God
· That they will live long and well on the earth
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
And the glory of children is their fathers.
Today, dear EBCers, I’m on vacation! And we’re with our German family. Klaus Soltau, the white-haired, and Monica Soltau, the grey-haired, are surrounded by their grandchildren: Six of them at last count. Their three children and spouses are also here. Today is Klaus’s 70th birthday. Happy Birthday Klaus!
Here is the kindness of God. He gives us life, breath, and all things. He places us in families. He bolsters, teaches, encourages, warns us throughout our lives. Oh, and He rescues! And then…He rewards us for all of it! I know you’ve thought of this before, but let is sweep over you again. He enables, and then rewards. He clothes the white-haired with splendor: “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.”
The end – and I mean “goal” – of the life of wisdom is success: for example, the success of having lived well and long in families. Obviously there are other signals of success, but this is the one offered to us this morning. But you have to admit, this “crown” is tough to top!
What does this mean – glory and fathers? I thought of that earlier this week and I remembered children that I know whose father does not live with them. Without knowing exactly what the proverb means, it implies that this father deficit is a severe loss, and our church should be sensitive to it.
Bible Reading: Acts 27
As we said last Saturday: Some things are recorded that seem to be specifically directed to adventurous, 21st century Bostonian kids! Like unheeded warnings, shipwreck, and snakes.
- Church Leadership
- A plan for us to evangelize
- A method of discipleship
- Children’s curriculum
- Pray hard for these things please!
Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
Proverbs is teaching us how to live well; to negotiate the tricky terrain of life; to fulfill our obligations properly. We study Proverbs because we want to be smart, and leave behind stupidity.
What Proverbs will teach us is the unalterable rule of cause and effect. My son, your life will have a consequence intrinsically tied to your actions. Work the causes, my son. Live smart now, so you can live well later! Look down the path, see the dangers, and hide from them.
But in our talk of cause and effect we shouldn’t think that this system is somehow impersonal, detached from the Creator God. In fact, as we figure out how to work the causes, we have to, above all, remember the God. We have to factor Him into what it means to live smartly.
This is the fear of God. To discipline ourselves to recall that the great fact of the cosmos is the Living God Whose opinions – likes and dislikes – are built into the terrain of life. But not just recall – to respond in deed to the great fact of the Living God!
In our proverb this morning we hear of God: the great unalterable fact that the living God has aligned Himself with the poor. Whether it appears so or not, Creator God leans toward the downtrodden. His pleasure is to reverse their situation. This is the truth.
So, to live well, we have to take this truth into account. Proverbs doesn’t idealize poverty – “the poverty of the poor is their ruin” – but it does tersely remind us that God takes up for them. He has not turned away from them in embarrassment. He is still their Maker, and to mock them is to mock Him.
Take this seriously, even as you think on people and their situations. “The thoughts of the righteous are righteous” – the inward sneer or gloat at poverty or the enemy’s catastrophe is noticed, and will be punished. It’s a fact of life.
Bible Reading: Acts 25:13-26:32 – A long section, but you’re hearing again Paul’s testimony. Sometimes the most compelling evidence that we offer to people is what happened to us! Of course, if this evidence comes from a silly, flaky life, it is disregarded. But if behind the testimony is the sense that the testifier is solid and dedicated and “in-touch” – there is effectiveness!
· Unbelieving family members and friends
· Opportunities to speak the Word
· That God would call more laborers into His harvest field
Proverbs 17: 4
An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
And a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
The New Testament speaks of people who are “sold under sin.” Our proverb this morning speaks to this. The wicked are not just sources of wickedness; they are themselves given over to wicked influences. Slaves of untruth.
Again the New Testament talks of people who “suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Sin fires anti-truth missiles, puts on truth-proof armor, builds truth-proof bunkers. Liars have, to varying degrees, lost the ability to distinguish truth from mischief.
Jesus speaks of men who prefer darkness over light, because their deeds are evil. Paul discusses those who refuse to love the truth. Our proverb speaks of a nature that prefers false speech.
In short, liars have lost, or forgotten discernment. And they prefer it that way.
Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist, says that our minds have a “baloney generator.” “The conscious mind is a spin doctor,” he says. People tend to believe things that aren’t true.
Dear EBCers, How do we develop discernment? How do we move forward in our skill to distinguish truth from falsehood? Our proverb hints at a surprising solution: Get used to telling the truth yourself. Learn to love truth by being ruthless with your falsehood: false impressions, cheap flatteries, vagueness, outright lies.
And how do we leave behind our lying? Leave behind the liars! Find yourself around people who speak the truth, love the truth, live from the truth.
Bible Reading: Acts 25:1-12
Paul knows the rules! And he refuses to play the martyr. But everything with tact.
- the Sick
- the Sick of God
- those Absent from us – that people would develop the habit of coming to church
The crucible for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
And the LORD tests hearts.
To hear this proverb properly, you have to understand the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a collection of advice, generalizations about life, and observations. All of these components are intended to give a person insight into life, understanding toward dealing righteously with those to whom he is obligated.
[I should also say, and let the saying sit starkly in a paragraph, that all these proverbs are God-breathed. Put a hand over your mouth and hear.]
OK, so observations that are intended to bring us into wisdom. Observations are for those who are less than attentive (us!) who need to grasp the conditions we find ourselves in. These observations – that we might have missed – of the conditions we find ourselves in are meant to set our expectations.
So this is part of the terrain that you will encounter on the Way of life: the LORD will test your heart. Concentrate now! We’re at the trailhead, ready for the arduous climb. We’re reading the placard that gives the advice for all travelers:
- Beware of adultery (got it).
- Diligence brings success and inverse (check).
- You will succeed as you are able to talk (ok)
And now, another instruction: the LORD will test your heart. And this testing is captured in metaphors of furnaces and crucibles!
PART OF YOUR NEGOTIATING LIFE PROPERLY IS UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE IS A PERSONAL GOD WHO WILL TEST YOU IN WAYS THAT HURT YOU.
This doesn’t come to us as a theological fact (whatever that means). It’s an axiom. It’s a great practical truth. It’s out there. It’s built in. It’s unavoidable. You have to deal with it.
Some of your travail can only be labeled so: “The LORD tests me now.”
So what do you do with this proverb? Well, buy my book: How to avoid the Testing of the LORD (5 easy steps to bypassing the crucible). NOO! What do you do with this true fact? All I can say is: Expect it to happen. Have a nice Weds.
Bible Reading: Acts 24:22-27
V. 25 has always gripped and puzzled me.
- World Situations
- Boston Christians to Humble Ourselves and Seek God’s Face
- Your neighborhood and workplace- that you could find other believers and work together with them in the work of God
A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
And will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
What do you have going for you? Come on, let’s hear it. Don’t diss yourself; don’t flatter yourself. In an even-handed, level-headed way, list those traits, those conditions that lend themselves to success.
Well, here is something true: For most of the history of civilization that question – what you have going for you – was nonsensical. You were at the mercy of the situation you were born into. Blood lines and family connections were everything. Even birth order was crucial. (The third born has always been considered especially talented, and destined for great things.)
But hear the word of the Lord. Wisdom trumps connections. Our proverb this morning is one out of a multitude of proverbs that are espousing the value of wisdom over….everything. “Nothing you desire can compare with her.”
Do you know what you’re going to have to fight on this Tuesday? You’re going to have to fight to believe that these superlatives about wisdom are real-word, on the ground, cutting edge, PRACTICAL EVALUATIONS.
You’re hearing that statement as a pious utterance. Sure you’ll quote, with a quiver in your voice: “The gain from [wisdom] is better than gain from silver/ and her profit better than gold.” But then you’ll board the train, or sit down in front of the computer, and forgettaboutit.
Fight it! Organize your life to pursue wisdom. Which means: Scratch for more time to listen to the Word. Manage yourself toward good speech. Hate laziness! And – oh yeah – practice understatement: leave off the exclamation marks. Check your pride. Leave behind fools. Be scared of adultery.
Hear the word of the Lord. You are not destined to be a product of what might have been a miserable early life. Wisdom trumps blood!
Bible Reading: Acts 24:10-21
Paul pinpointed the crux of the difference between him and his opponents. His particular understanding of the resurrection of the dead. But what was that?
Prayer for Missionaries
Because the psalms muse did not descend on me this week, we will hear the word of God from Proverbs. One Proverb meditation per day, and hopefully we’ll emerge from this week more careful, less silly.
Better is a dry morsel with quiet
Than a house full of feasting with strife.
The given here is that feasting is more desirable than the dry morsel. Never, in the entire counsel of God, is asceticism recommended as a path to the higher or deeper life.
But, when your feasting comes only at the cost of quietness, turn your back on the tenderloins and eat your PBJ in peace. Because, though feasting is better than fasting, peace is, hands down, to be preferred over both.
The important question in life is not, ‘how large is your house’? The big choice is not, ‘Hi-def or CRT’? The important question is: Is my house peaceful?
[Just a tidbit: Tranquility cannot compete with the TV! Large doses of TV fray the ends of the nerves, promote boredom and then irritableness, disrupt equanimity.]
Sometimes, but not always, there is strife because there is feasting. Some of us cannot handle abundance: it’s true! We – some of us – turn everything into a race. Our situation must be better; our life must be of a higher quality; our kids have to be…stellar! We seek good ends without understanding why, and become strained, harried.
Of course, peace doesn’t come with stopping, despite what all the Hallmark cards say! Peace trips down the way, arm-in-arm with humility. It has long been managed by diligence. It’s 30 minutes behind good speech. In short, peace is a concomitant of wisdom!
On Monday, hear again God’s call to peace.
This – seek peace over feasting – isn’t a key to living a sanctified life; rather this advice is toward the smart life. Proverbs purports to teach us, not righteousness, but cunning. Of course, the message of Proverbs is that the smart life is the good life, and that cunning dwells with righteousness.
Bible Reading: Acts 24:1-9
Does Christianity entail cockiness, the end of politic, triumphalism Or is the old word still true: “Gentle words break the bone.” “The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious; and adds persuasiveness to his lips.”
- That God would meet with us this morning
- That people would be changed
- For meekness to receive the word
- For us to understand Jesus’ words to disciples!
Passage to prepare us for coming together: Galatians 5:16-26 – Different lives come from different origins!
Prayer for Family Members
- That they would be saved
- That they would be persons who pray
- That they will develop in their walk before God
- That they will be given a real-life trust in the justice of God. And conversely, that they will be kept from bitterness and all the other traces of a disbelief in the saving justice of God
Psalm 7: 15-18
Look, one spawns wrongdoing,
Grows big with mischief,
Gives birth to lies.
A pit he delved, and dug it,
And he fell in the trap he made.
His mischief comes down on his head,
On his skull his outrage descends.
I acclaim the LORD for his righteousness,
Let me hymn the LORD’s name, Most High.
If you have a kid you should immerse him in the Proverbs as soon as he can take it in. If you are a kid, read Proverbs! If you’re an adult, read Proverbs and occasionally indulge in deep regrets that you didn’t read it more as a kid.
Proverbs wants us to buy into the fixed law of cause and effect: in speech, work, thought, and all other processes that make up life. Birth inevitably means growth. Nothing is static. In everything little causes turn into big effects. Always. Always.
And that’s what this psalmist ruminates on at the end of this psalm. He knows that the wickedness of the wicked will develop into something that will ultimately destroy him. The slanderer is eaten up in slander. The hunter walks into his own trap. The seed of wrongdoing, the pregnancy of mischief, the birth of lies – the whole sinister cycle ends in death.
This is how the world works, the psalmist says. More: this is how the world made by the Righteous Judge works. There is no escape for the unrepentant sinner. His sin will eventually develop into the monster he cannot control.
We acclaim God that He has made the world in such a way where evil NEVER ultimately succeeds. The Most High has never allowed wrongdoing to ascend above Him and out of His control. Wait for Him!
So dear brothers and sisters: Let us fear the Lord and depart from evil. Don’t let our homes be places full of complaints against poor treatment, unfair bosses, unjust situations. Let God be your shelter and don’t dump the problems on your wife!
Bible Reading: Acts 23:12-35
This happened, and that’s enough of a reason for it to be recorded. But sometimes you just know that the Majesty wanted to draw boys – 21st century Bostonian boys – into His story. And so He made sure that incidents like these were included into the Sacred Canon!