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
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.