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Posts Tagged ‘God’s work’

For me it is interesting to note the different emphases of the various gospel writers. For instance, Mark is the shortest gospel, but when it tells stories about Jesus they are usually the longest and most lively. Matthew and Luke are longer gospels, but have shorter stories and then use that space to record more of the teaching of Jesus.

And then there is the contrast between the emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of Luke compared to that of the Gospel of Matthew. Luke has quite a bit more material on the Spirit. Yet, having said that we have in Matthew two statements about the presence of Jesus with us that do not show up in Luke or anywhere else and have to do with what we understand to be the work of the Spirit, that is, making Jesus present to us. (more…)

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This was a team sermon from Proverbs by our Elders: Paul Nolt, Tim Mangan, Kevin Baer and myself. The audio is available, but I am just posting my input.

Paul Nolt: Proverbs 2:1-8 – 1My child, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.”

William: 1. Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his (or her) lips is prudent.”

The meaning is straightforward – too much talking gets us into trouble. There is a correlation between the amount we speak and our susceptibility to sin with our words. This is because, as James says, the tongue is a “restless evil, full of deadly poison” – 1:8. And also, I think, the more we speak, the more easy it is to become careless with our words. We don’t use our filter. Proverbs  15:28 says, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Are you a ponderer or a pourer when it comes to your words?

This is why we need to be “slow to speak” as James says in 1:19. We need to think before we speak. Our proverb talks about “restraining” our words. We need to pause and consider before we open our mouths. This is the way of wisdom.

When we don’t restrain our words it leads to lots of problems: things like gossip, breaking confidences, angry speech, critical speech, boastful speech, impure speech, and so on.

Now, I’m a fairly quiet person, at least when it’s not a Sunday morning. But this verse still challenges me. Here’s one example – I like to think that I’m funny or at least I try to be funny at times. I especially like to have a clever quip here and there. But this verse teaches me to be very careful with this, because in my desire to be funny, and it requires that I speak quickly, I can and have said things that are hurtful to others or things that are not edifying. So I still need to learn wisdom in this area, and to choose wisdom over trying to be funny more often.

Tim Mangan shared on:

2. Proverbs 12:25 – “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” 

3. Proverbs 16:9 – “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Kevin Baer shared on:

4. Proverbs 20:25 – “It is a snare to say rashly, ‘It is holy,’ and to reflect only after making vows.” 

5. Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”

William: 6. Proverbs 14:4 – “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

The phrase “the manger is clean” can also be translated, the manger is “empty,” or there is “no grain” in the manger. I am going with the ESV here because it makes good sense of the Proverb.

I am a perfectionist, at least at some things in life (I’ve been told I have a bit of OCD). By and large I like things in order and nice and tidy.

I wasn’t always like this for sure. I used to be a real slob. When I went to college my freshman year, I had one of the  messiest dorm rooms at my school. But I guess I got it out of my system and have learned to like having things in order.

So this Proverb challenges me because there is very little that is orderly and nice and tidy in pastoring. This is one reason I have this Proverb posted in my office, so that I can see it regularly.

Here’s the meaning: If you want a good crop, you need oxen. But to have oxen means cleaning up some manure. So you have to pick – have things nice and clean, but no harvest. Or have a good harvest, but clean up some messes.

More generally, if you want to get something done in life – or in the work of God – you need people, you need to take risks, and you need to be open to some chaos, and so there’s going to be some “manure.” So I have to choose: have things nice and tidy, but get nothing done. Or get things done, but clean up messes like: conflicts, misunderstandings, failures, making people mad, and dealing with some craziness.

Wisdom calls me to accept this, so that God’s work can be done.

Paul Nolt: Proverbs 3:13-15 – 13Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, 14for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. 15She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”

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