And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 44 November 08 2009
In this issue:
And unto man he said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
The pursuit of wisdom has been one of the great pursuits of the ages. For generations, people have sought out wisdom and have attempted to preserve it for their descendants. Yet, unlike technology, advancements in knowledge, and other such pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom seems to begin anew with every successive generation. Why is it that we can learn about tools and information from those who came before us, but not wisdom?
For far too many, wisdom is considered as folly. We in the twenty-first century have “advanced” so much, and our forefathers were “ignorant” and “misinformed,” in their view, so what can we really learn from them? They may not have had cars, computers, cell phones, or quantum physics. In our new age, things are “different,” or so it is believed.
In reality, there are no greater fools than those who repudiate that which was learned by the experience of those who came before us. The fact of the matter is that while technology has advanced, nothing has really changed. Humanity is beset by the same woes that have always beset humanity: foolishness, sin, isolation, despair, temptation, and the like. The Preacher was quite wise in Ecclesiastes 1:9: there is nothing new under the sun!
One of the greatest tragedies of humanity is how each successive generation seems incapable of learning from the mistakes of their ancestors. Each successive generation either follows the paths of their fathers directly, or they decide to entirely repudiate that path and go to the other extreme. Parents make irresponsible financial or relationship decisions, and the children go and do the same. Parents raise children one way, and the children feel compelled to raise their children in the entirely opposite way. Neither of these reflect wisdom: our fathers made many mistakes that we would do well not to repeat, and over-reactions tend to produce different problems, but problems nonetheless, than the problem that was attempted to be solved in the first place.
Why is wisdom so hard to communicate? Job understands many of the difficulties as he reflects on wisdom in Job 28. Wisdom is not like precious metals or ore which can be discovered and mined (Job 28:1-2). Wisdom is not a faraway destination that requires great skill and an epic journey (Job 28:3-4). Wisdom is not gained by considering animals or nature, since it is not with them (Job 28:5-11). Thus, we cannot go anywhere to find wisdom, we cannot find the resources with which we could purchase wisdom, and we will not find it in death (Job 28:12-22)! The challenge of wisdom is that it cannot be obtained or discovered using the preferred means of human beings.
Instead, wisdom belongs to God (Job 28:23-27). Wisdom is not like knowledge -- it cannot be forced upon anyone, and it requires a certain disposition to receive it. Wisdom must begin with a particular attitude and a particular perspective: the fear of God (Job 28:28).
This is why wisdom is so terribly hard to pass along to every successive generation. Wisdom is generally gained through hard learning. It is easy to give lip service to the “fear of the LORD” when one is young-- the fear of the LORD is often gained through humbling experiences and challenges. We humans tend to insist on our own ways until we discover their folly and their end (Jeremiah 10:23). Until a person recognizes that they are the creation and not the creator, that they are in need of instruction and cannot figure everything out on their own, and that they need to trust in the LORD and His understanding and not their own, they can never obtain wisdom. Wisdom requires humility-- the recognition that there is much to understand and learn that we do not understand and learn, and that we ought to keep ourselves in proper perspective.
When we come to terms with our own weaknesses, and can learn to trust in God Almighty, we can truly begin understanding that which is wise. Its basis is in the fear of the LORD and turning away from that which is evil (Job 28:28). If we understand that God is our creator and that He seeks what is best for us, we will trust that all things contrary to His will are detrimental to us, and we will avoid them. We cannot do that until we have humbled ourselves and have come to the realization that blazing our own trail leads to death and destruction (cf. Proverbs 14:12, Romans 6:23).
It is natural for every successive generation to attempt to strike out on their own trail. That is why many wise fathers end up with children acting foolishly, but it also means that some foolish fathers may, despite themselves, end up with wise sons. Wisdom can only be gained and understood when we realize that no matter how things change, things stay the same, and that we are really no better than our ancestors or anyone else. Wisdom can only be gained when we realize that we are the creation, God is the Creator, and life can only be found through Him and His will. Let us seek after wisdom, having hearts prepared to receive it!
is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your
getting, get understanding. (Prov 4:7)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 101:1-4
1. We are adept at raising monuments to events, places and people.
I. THE LEGACY OF OUR LIFESTYLE, Psa 101:2.
Example is the Best Teacher”, Exo 12:25-27; 2 Chrn 30:26; Matt 5:14-16.
II. THE LEGACY OF A WHOLESOME, SPIRITUAL ENVIRONMENT, Eph 6:4 (1 Sam 1:27-28).
A. Put the
Word Of God into Our Children’s Hearts, Deut 6:6-9; Prov 22:6.
III. THE LEGACY OF RESPECT FOR GOD ABOVE ALL ELSE, Matt 10:37.
A. Be on the Lord’s Side When Decision Time Comes, Exo 32:25-26; Josh 24:15 (Abraham, Gen 18; Eli, 1Sam 2-3.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 15:1-9
1. Opponents of Jesus become increasingly frustrated as His fame spreads,
Matt 14:34-36 (15:1); Mk 6:53-56.
I. THE SINS OF HONORING HUMAN RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS.
Tradition is a Doctrine and Practice that is Handed Down, Mk 7:13; Matt
7:29; 2 Ths 2:15; 3:4.
II. OBEYING THE COMMANDS OF GOD.
Requires Sincerity (Genuine) of Heart, Matt 15:8-11, 5, 13.
Conclusion. Defiled hearts demand compliance to human traditions at the expense of God’s commands. Good hearts carefully obey.
Worldly Reasons to Worship
Canines at Covenant is a worship service at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles that invites people to bring their pets to the pews. “The concept is the entire family; two footed and four footed. There’s love, there’s God in some form or fashion. And when we love a dog or a dog loves us, that’s a part of God and God is a part of that”, said Rev. Tom Eggebeen (LA Church Putting Pets in Pews, AOL News). The purpose is to bring in new members and boost the church’s connection with the community. [Well, so much for the drawing power of the gospel (Jno 6:44-45; Rom 1:15-16).]
Then there is the Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, Illinois, where a lucky churchgoer wins a cash prize if he or she sits in the right seat.
“At each of the three Sunday services, the Rev. Dan Willis pulls a number of one seat from a bag and the worshiper in that seat wins a cash prize. Two of the churchgoers win $250 and the third gets $500. The church gives away $1,000 each Sunday, Willis said.
The cash prize is part of Willis’ recent focus on helping his congregation pay bills and begin a debt-free life, he said…
Willis concedes the cash prize is a gimmick to fill the pews. But he’s unapologetic about the plan, because it’s working. On a typical Sunday, his church draws about 1,600 people to its three Sunday services. But since the money giveaway started, about five weeks ago, the congregation has grown to about 2,500 each week, he said”, (Church’s money giveaway: Alsip pastor’s cash prizes fill pews, Chicago Tribune, Nov 2, 2009).
The end justifies the means at the “cash church” – but not in God’s sight (Rom 3:8). Jesus rebuked those who followed Him hoping to receive physical food (Jno 6:26-29). Homage of God, not handouts for men, motivates true worship (Jno 4:24; 14:1-3).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/09/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA