When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
An outward sign of an inward reality.
This is what the father, writing to his son in Proverbs chapter three, is after. You see, he is pointing the way to wisdom, but it is not because he is aiming merely at his son’s behavior. This proverbial wisdom, these guidelines and commandments, aren’t the end game. The father is aiming at something far deeper.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in Yahweh with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:1-6, English Standard Version)
Did you know that Solomon talks about the “heart” 75 times over the course of the book of Proverbs? You see, that is what he, and what the father here in chapter three, and what our heavenly Father, is after.
He does not want our intellect buckling down and forcing our bodies into submission to the guidance and commands offered here by the power of the will. No, he wants our hearts. The heart is the engine of true and glad obedience. The father is wooing the son’s heart, that it keeps the commandments (v. 1), that it is tattooed with the proverbs (v. 3), that it is the true fountainhead of active and lived trust (v. 5).
Quite simply, a heart enraptured with God is the first requirement for following along on the path of wisdom.
Is that true of you today? If not, or, actually, even if it is, let’s stop for a moment right now. Let’s turn off the radio or TV or iTunes if they are playing, let’s ask the kids to quiet down for a moment if they are near, and let’s push out the distractions buzzing around our minds like pesky little flies.
Let’s quiet ourselves.
And talk with God.
Let’s do that together, shall we?
This morning we confess that our desires are weak, and you don’t have our whole heart. But we want that to change, and are glad that you have promised the Spirit as our Helper and our Guide. Lead us to you, Father. Here’s our heart, take and seal it. We know that if you have our heart, our lives will also be yours. What good news! Make it so right now, and throughout this day. For your glory, and our joy.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Well, we’ve heard from God.
We’ve talked with God.
Now let’s fire the music back up, and worship God.
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
In the book of James, we meet a follower of Jesus who is going to sit us down for a little chat. And fair warning here: James isn’t really too concerned about your feelings, or how comfortable you are with someone you don’t know nor have ever met getting pretty personal with you.
Sunday's Comin' (July 7, 2019)
I think all of us want to be wise. The question is, how do we get there?
Preparing For May 26, 2019
Do you know why the church exists? Do you know who formed the church, and how it was formed?
Just a brief reminder that a great way to prepare for the service this coming Sunday is to read the text we will be studying together.
Preparing For Sunday May 12, 1 & 2 Thessalonians
This last Sunday, I preached the first of two sermons on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Here was the sentence I began unpacking, which is my summary of both letters:
Martin Luther warned that the people of the church are always in danger of their hearts straying from the truth of the good news of the kingdom of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
First, it is Palm Sunday. Which means it is the beginning of a week of remembering the most important events in the history of the world: the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, his last meal with his disciples, his death at the hands of sinful men as the result of a sham sentence in a kangaroo court, his burial by those who loved him, and his resurrection from the dead just three days later. All of it for the salvation and rescue of the world.