Recently, Jim Hamilton had an opportunity to deliver a Julius Brown Gay Lecture at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on “The Typology of David’s Rise to Power: Messianic Patterns in the Book of Samuel.”
Paul said “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” It was through the word that Ezekiel saw dry bones transformed into life. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to the word of God. I am so thankful to be at a church where I look forward to hearing the Word of God preached and exulted over every Sunday. It has been a joy to walk through Paul’s letter to the Colossians and examine the robust contours of the gospel. We have seen wisdom’s cry through the pen of Solomon in the first chapter of Proverbs. And now we are about to set out on a new journey through the book of Daniel. Are you as excited as I am?
Join us this week as Jim Hamilton opens this series with “Holiness in the Land of Shinar,” from Daniel 1:1-21. The book of Daniel begins in 605 B.C. as Babylon has conquered Jerusalem. We read in chapter one that “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it…the LORD gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah into his hand…” Why has this happened? What would this mean for the future of the people of God? It seems the first order of business for the new king was to brainwash some of the finest young men in Israel to the Babylonian gods. He even gave these men new names representing these gods and commanded that they eat food and drink wine that symbolized their new found pagan allegiance. How will these young men respond? How would you respond?
We will see that these men will be distinct from their contemporaries. They will not defile themselves so easily. Now, the distinction in this text is not about diet or carb counts. Daniel and his three friends were pursuing holiness. This is what sets the people of God apart. Are you pursuing holiness? Is there a difference in your life, or would you be described as the typical American? How is our church displaying a distinction from the outside world? Where do we truly gain knowledge and wisdom? Daniel’s name means “God is my judge.” Is He yours? What other judges do you have in your life that you bow down to? Join us this week as we seek to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
Perhaps you are familiar with the term incorrigible. If not, here’s Webster’s definition–
incorrigible: incapable of being corrected or amended: as a (1): not reformable : depraved (2): delinquent b: not manageable : unruly c: unalterable, inveterate.
I’m betting that as you read this definition, you could imagine a picture to go along with the definition. Did someone come to your mind who is unable to admit when they are wrong? Do you know anyone who is unwilling to change or accept correction from others? In the world in which we live, correction is not popular. In fact, from a modern standpoint it’s downright rude and uncivil. After all, how can someone correct someone else without appealing to what is objectively right and objectively wrong? But, my interest in this e-mail (and the upcoming sermon) is not to give a cultural commentary, but to think about the Bible’s view on correction and rebuke. And for this, we turn to the book of Proverbs.
This Sunday at Redeemer, we will be concluding a series of sermons on the first chapter of Proverbs. This week we will be considering Wisdom’s Rebuke, from Proverbs 1:20-33. What becomes immediately apparent in this text is the necessity for the wise to accept (and even welcome!) rebuke. Now, this should not come as a surprise at all to Christians who are reading this e-mail. After all, the very essence of being a Christian is the acknowledgement that we are wrong. The Bible teaches that we’ve sinned and sought to rebel against the Holy God that created us. Christians are those who repent (turn away from their sin) and believe (trust in Christ). But Christian, how do you normally handle correction now? Surely your conversion experience was not the only time in your life when you’ve admitted that you were wrong and pursued repentance. Are you someone who welcomes correction, or is your picture (in the mind of others) alongside the definition of incorrigible?
What happens if we ultimately refuse wisdom’s reproof? Well, as you read this text this week, think especially about verses 26-28 as an answer to that question. Although complacency might be considered cool today, it ultimately leads to death. There will be a day when all of our second chances have run out. When will that day come? How much time do we have to listen to the call of wisdom? Friend, I hope that you will join us this week as we reflect on these sober realities. My prayer is that we will “all listen and live securely…and be at ease from the dread of evil. (v.33)” Are you at ease from evil? You can be. Join us this Sunday as we continue to think about the wisdom held out for us in the book of Proverbs, made plain in the Gospel.
Have you had many conversations with non-Christians lately? How did that go for you? Do you think the conversation left a sense of desire in the person’s mind to know more about you and your motivation at work or your attitude? Or, was the centerpiece of the dialogue sports or the recent elections? Did you pray before the conversation…or had you been praying for this person for some time? How should we interact with outsiders? How should we pray for the lost?
This week at Redeemer, we will be considering Prayer and the Gospel, from Colossians 4:2-18. Paul exhorts the Colossians to be devoted to prayer with an attitude of thanksgiving (verse 2). But at the same time, we should be praying for God to “open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ…(verse 3)” Paul says that as we are praying we should also be “conducting ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders…making the most of every opportunity…seasoning our speech with salt. (verses 5-6)”
So, are you frustrated with evangelism? Have you been fervent in your prayers for the lost? Have you been devoted to prayer and thanksgiving for who God is for us in Jesus Christ? Do you look to make the most of every conversation, hoping that God will open a door for the gospel? What would it look like for you to begin to approach your conversations with non-Christians with wisdom? Join us this week as we consider these things, praying that the Lord would indeed open a door for His Word to be revealed!