Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Leading Cause of Death in the Proverbs

One of my favorite things about the book of Proverbs is the way the author so accurately illustrates the truth to be communicated. For example, picture a bird slowly walking toward it’s food, while the hunter’s net awaits it’s victim. Or picture the ox that has been faithfully serving it’s master for years being taken on a walk. However, this time it won’t be coming back, as it is being led off to slaughter. Or think of a deer slowly walking into the crosshairs of the hunter’s bow. The deer has no idea that he’s walking into a trap that will ultimately take his life. These pictures are all communicating to the reader that sin is crafty, deceptive and ultimately deadly.

This week at Redeemer we will continue thinking about the book of Proverbs as we consider The Path of the Fool, from chapter 1:8-19. Last week we learned that Proverbs clearly sets forth two paths for us to follow, with two corresponding ends. The vehicle that we use to navigate the path of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (1:7), as those on the other path despise instruction. But what happens when we are driving down the path and we are suddenly ambushed or led to take a side road? How do we, as Christians respond when “sinners entice us (1:10)?” Are you aware of this spiritual battle each day, or are you like the bird who is being lured in by the deceptive hunter? Are you like the child who sits, rolling his eyes, as his parents warn him about walking too close to the edge of the bridge? He thinks he’s invincible…until he finds himself in the icy cold water, gasping for his last breath.

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Have You Considered the Proverbs?

What is more valuable than silver and more beautiful than gold? What is more precious than jewels, long life, riches or honor? The book of Proverbs has an answer for us. How can we truly and consistently turn away from evil? How can we find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man? Proverbs has an answer for us. Where did Paul turn when when he wanted to talk about humility and unity? Where did Peter go when he wanted to communicate to young churches about conceit, dissensions, folly and judgement? Where did the author of Hebrews turn when he wanted to encourage Christians who were enduring suffering? They all turned to the Proverbs…and that is where we are going to turn this week.

This Sunday, we will press pause on our Colossians series as we consider Two Ways to Live, from Proverbs 1. How familiar are you with the Proverbs? Are you familiar with the bright boundaries drawn around characters like “the fool,” or “the sluggard?” Have you been acquainted with the Proverb’s teaching on sexual immorality, friendship, the family, or the very words that come from your mouth each day? Did you know that there was a book in the Bible as practical and theological as this? I say practical because it clearly presents two paths to follow: the way of the wise and the way of the fool. But before you chalk this up to 31 steps to a better life, you should think on the theological root of this choice before us all—the fear of the Lord! You see, the foolish road is not well lit, nor does it display signs reminding you of the destination ahead. In fact, it is designed to trick you into thinking that you are on the right road! It is deceitful, tricky and sly. This path is so dangerous that we are instructed not to rely on our own directions or intuitions as we navigate, but that we fear the Lord (3:7).

So, as you prepare for worship this week, read the Proverbs! In fact, if you’ve been around Redeemer very long, you’ve probably been encouraged to read the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month (Today, that would be Proverbs 20). I think that as you read the Proverbs, you will find yourself coming up a bit short. Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians is crucial for us here: “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that just as it is written, LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” Our hope for Sunday is that the Lord will enable us to truly believe that “the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death (14:27).”

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Sinful Obedience?

It may be an extreme understatement to say that we live in a results-driven society. Companies are concerned about a thick black bottom line, baseball teams are concerned with winning championships, students are concerned with making the best grades, and politicians are concerned with victories. Now I don’t mean to necessarily portray results or goals in a negative light, after all it is a good thing to have an end in sight…something to work towards. As Christians we are all seeking a goal or prize as Paul puts it. However more than results, the Christian life hinges on the much more sticky issue of heart attitudes, or our motivation for the results produced. So, it is entirely possible for someone to be a good employee, good student, good baseball player or good politician and yet be living a life that is completely antithetical to the gospel. So, what determines whether or not our service, efforts at work, obedience to our parents, our bottom lines, or political victories (or defeats) please God?

Join us this week as we continue to listen in on Paul’s conversation with the church at Colosse with The New Life in Home and Work, from Colossians 3:18-4:1. Paul is arguing that the implications of the Gospel do not terminate in salvation, but in fact penetrate every area of our lives! Wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, masters, employees, employers, students, politicians and athletes are called to live gospel-centered lives. How can we do this? Perhaps our goals need to be re-defined. For example, it is a good thing to have children who are well behaved, but should that be the ultimate goal? Or should we be more focused on shepherding our children’s hearts, that they might fear God and seek to please Him first? I think Paul is telling us that there is a way to serve, work, obey and engage in relationships that looks good to the outside world, but that ultimately leads to eternal destruction! He reminds his readers that “…he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” I hope that you will join us this week as we seek to cultivate hearts that fear the Lord and lives that are filled with the joyous hope of the eternal reward to come!

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What Rules In Your Heart? (The Gospel and Forgiveness in Colossians)

When was the last time that you were angry at another person? Think through the scenario again…what did they do to cause you to be angry? What was your thought process? Was the issue quickly resolved or did in linger on…is it still lingering? Was the gospel at the forefront of your thinking as you considered the situation? Why is forgiveness so unnatural for us? I mean, can you really see yourself being perfectly innocent of any crime, and yet being executed for the crimes of others, and then forgiving them on the spot? I think the reason that forgiveness seems so unnatural is because it is! One of Paul’s goals in Colossians is to demonstrate that forgiveness is a necessary implication of the Gospel and those who have been raised to new life are those clothed in compassion, kindness, humility and patience. Is this a description of you?

Our sermon his week at Redeemer is entitled Seek the Things Above, from Colossians 3:1-17. Keeping with the theme of Colossians, Paul centers his instruction firmly on the Gospel. He does not say “grit your teeth and forgive others,” or “just do it.” He reminds those who are struggling with forgiveness to consider their own former state. People who were “immoral, impure, greedy and evil,” characterized by “anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from their mouths.” Notice how this latter list of sins are all responses that we have to others. Someone wrongs us and we respond in anger. Someone talks about me, and I talk about them. Someone raises their voice to me, I can play that game too! Paul says that we should consider our bodies dead to this sort of behavior! But how? Consider verses 12-13: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Remember that Paul is writing to a church. These are Christians who need to put on and put off–this is not natural or automatic!

Let me ask you: How much have you been forgiven? What have you “brought to the table” in your own conversion? What is ruling in your heart–the peace of Christ or your desire to be right? None of us can say that we live this way consistently, but that is no excuse to hold on to bitterness and hope for revenge. How are you being made more like Christ when you are wronged? Join us this week as we seek to “let the word of Christ dwell richly within us with all wisdom, (that we may be) teaching and admonishing one another…singing with thankfulness in our hearts!”

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