Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs (watch the sermon here). One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
Therefore, wisdom, this applied skill, needs to be engaged in our lives in the same way a woodworker understands the grain of the wood she is working with—she operates with the grain of the wood, and not against it. In the same way, we want to operate with the grain of creation, as designed and crafted by God (Psalm 19:1), and not against it.
As we explored yesterday, Solomon himself revealed how wisdom is hardwired into all of Creation, when he presents Lady Wisdom saying,
22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.
(Proverbs 8:22-31, English Standard Version)
Do you see?
One of my favorite preachers, Ray Ortlund, reflects on this passage this way—
“Wisdom was here first, before us.
“Wisdom was God’s first creation.
“He wired wisdom into the cosmos as the inner logic of everything. So wisdom was how everything started and how it still works. We are born into this world long after things were set up so amazingly. [We are surrounded in all of our living with this massive creation, this reality that was, in the beginning, “formless and empty” (Genesis 1:2, NLT), and God crafted and worked on it in order to let his divine excellence stand forth in a finished display of his craftsmanship.]
“So Biblical wisdom (like we find especially in Proverbs 10—31) is more than handy tips. It is the secret code to reality. And in the Bible it is speaking to us, so that it isn’t a secret anymore!”
Which is why this book, as part of the larger wisdom literature of the Bible (along with Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs), is indispensable in the very natural human longing for a good life. In one sense, Proverbs is this kind of instruction manual that helps us see better the hardwiring of how wisdom is already operating in creation, so that we can follow its lead, and work with it, and not against it (Proverbs teaches us the latter would be folly). This is the path toward Lady Wisdom, this is the path toward a happy life, this is the path toward a good life.
It seems like a good idea, therefore, to get as much as we can from a book like Proverbs. So yesterday I proposed we all set aside time each day, for the next thirty-one days, to read one chapter from the book of Proverbs. I would further suggest that you do this alongside of reading the book of the Bible that we are currently studying as we make our way through the Whole Story.
For example, that would mean this week you would read the book of Ecclesiastes, which I will preach on Sunday 19 August, as well as read a Proverb each day. I have included a reading plan for Proverbs below, with tomorrow as our first day of reading.
As a final incentive toward you joining in, also starting tomorrow, I will choose a proverb each day from the chapter we read together. I will spend time meditating on it, and will then write a brief (2-3 paragraphs) article and post it here on the Calvary blog—every day, for the next thirty-one days. We are calling this little writing series 31 Proverbs (yeah, I spent alot of time on that name).
I really hope you will come along with me on this adventure. I am eager to see how God will use the wisdom of Proverbs to shape us more into the image of his Son, who is himself the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24) and in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: ch. 6
Aug. 20: ch. 7
Aug. 21: ch. 8
Aug. 22: ch. 9
Aug. 23: ch. 10
Aug. 24: ch. 11
Aug. 25: ch. 12
Aug. 26: ch. 13
Aug. 27: ch. 14
Aug. 28: ch. 15
Aug. 29: ch. 16
Aug. 30: ch. 17
Aug. 31: ch. 18
Sept. 1: ch. 19
Sept. 2: ch. 20
Sept. 3: ch. 21
Sept. 4: ch. 22
Sept. 5: ch. 23
Sept. 6: ch. 24
Sept. 7: ch. 25
Sept. 8: ch. 26
Sept. 9: ch. 27
Sept. 10: ch. 28
Sept. 11: ch. 29
Sept. 12: ch. 30
Sept. 13: ch. 31
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.