July 31, 2017 Supernatural Law- Proverbs 10:1-5, Romans 6:23

consequences

A wise child makes a glad father, but a foolish child is a mother’s grief. Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. A child who gathers in summer is prudent, but a child who sleeps in harvest brings shame. – Proverbs 10:1-5 (NRSV)

The book of Proverbs is considered to be a book of wisdom. It has been attributed to King Solomon, as is Ecclesiastes, another wisdom book of the Bible.  Much of what Solomon teaches has to do with cause and effect, or “natural law,” which is the principle that actions have consequences.  Even in science this basic concept is found in Newton’s Third Law, which is, “Every action in nature has an opposite and equal reaction.”

In Scripture the apostle Paul gives us a theological truth that is very similar to Newton’s Third Law:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 6:23 (NRSV)

No matter how hard we try, sometimes we are wise children and other times we are foolish children. We can be deceptive and petty and downright evil in our dealings with others.  We can be slackers and miss opportunities to participate in the life of God’s kingdom. There are so many ways we fail God and fall short of His will every day even if we try to do the right things.  God demands perfection, and we just aren’t capable of it.  He gives us His best, and even our best efforts can’t measure up.

On the surface, and here in the natural world, we humans are doomed to the consequences of natural law. Our physical bodies are going to die, and those physical bodies are subject to all of the entropy, apathy and decay that is rampant throughout this world. Both Paul in his letter to the Romans, and Newton in his Third Law underscore inevitable truths about the natural world.  Sin results in death.  Actions have consequences. That is the Law of God, and it is universal throughout His creation.  The Gospel- the good news- is that Jesus took on the consequence of death for us.  Since Jesus conquered death and the grave on our behalf, we are free to live.  Life in Jesus, the good news of the Gospel, is supernatural law.

Solomon taught wise principles, even if he didn’t always adhere to them himself. He gave many instructions to follow to make our lives here on earth more God-pleasing and prosperous. It is always good for us to read the teachings of the Proverbs- and a blessing for us that they are part of Scripture, because they give us good and healthy standards for living.  But apart from the grace of God in Christ we don’t stand a chance of living up to those standards.

Wisdom says we need to to run to Jesus, to go to the foot of the Cross and ask for His forgiveness and mercy and grace. We have the confidence in Him that we shouldn’t try to have in ourselves alone. His supernatural law transcends the inevitabilities of the natural law of this world.

How can we find ways to run to the foot of the Cross and find help in Christ when we are overwhelmed?

July 28, 2017 – The Gift of Wisdom, (Ask, Search and Knock) – 1 Kings 3:5-12, Luke 11:9-10

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At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”  And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted.  Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this, your great people?”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 1 Kings 3:5-12 (NRSV)

(Jesus said): “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10 (NRSV)

King Solomon was considered to be the wisest human being who ever lived. Yet his greatest act of wisdom was in his request to God when he became king of Israel.  He asked for understanding and discernment. He did not ask for the things that human nature normally craves.

If God told us He would give us anything we asked for, most of us would automatically think of a few things. Wealth, the heads of our enemies, prestige, an attractive appearance, power, longevity, etc. come to mind almost as knee jerk reactions. The more altruistic and gentle of us might ask for family harmony or world peace, or even for knowledge, but how many of us would go straight to asking for understanding and discernment?

Knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. Knowledge is a component of wisdom, but knowledge without understanding and discernment is simply a set of memorized facts.

God hears and answers our prayers- especially those that underscore His will for us. When we admit our inadequacy and ignorance (as Solomon did) and ask for God to supply us with understanding and discernment, He gives those things to us, generously.

The most difficult petition in the Lord’s Prayer is, “Thy will be done.”  It is human nature to think that what we believe and know is best, but many times we do not have the wisdom to step back and consider every side of a situation.  It is more difficult, albeit much more wise, to put our pride and illusions of superiority aside and ask, search and knock on God’s door.  He will answer our questions and supply our needs far more abundantly and completely than we can dream of doing on our own.

 

July 26, 2017 – The Legacies We Leave – 1 Kings 2:1-4

legacyWhen David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying:  “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.  Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’ 1 Kings 2:1-4 (NRSV)

In many ways, King David is one of the best Scriptural examples of what not to do, especially in regard to family life. Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba- the son born after their first son, who had been conceived in adultery, had died. (2 Samuel 11-12)

David’s family life could have been featured on the Jerry Springer show. His domestic drama is a rather sordid tale of polygamy (which unfortunately was culturally acceptable in his time) as well as of adultery, murder, incest, betrayal and tragic death. (2 Samuel 13-14)  There hasn’t been a soap opera written with more tragedy and pathos than can be found in the life of King David.

Nathan the prophet had even warned David that the sword would never depart from his house, and that he would face public shame for the murder of Uriah and his adultery with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 12:10-12)

Still, David held on. All through his trials and triumphs and disappointments, his heart stayed open to God in spite of his failings. As it came close to David’s time to die, he couldn’t tell Solomon that he had followed God perfectly all his life, but David could tell him (because he had to learn the hard way) that following God’s way is the best way.

Some of us as parents and grandparents, like David, have a bit of the Springer style drama in our families that we have brought on ourselves through our own mistakes or poor judgment. We might feel hypocritical teaching our children healthy, Scripturally based habits such as regular prayer, worship and Bible study if we didn’t culture those disciplines in our youth.  We might feel hypocritical teaching and helping to enforce healthy Scriptural boundaries, such as saving sex for marriage, or staying married to one spouse for life, if we didn’t honor those boundaries ourselves.

At times all of us are examples of what NOT to do, especially if we have learned the hard way. Others might learn from those examples of what NOT to do much more quickly and thoroughly – and comparatively drama-free – if they have a candid witness to the potential fallout.  Candor and honesty (especially with children or grandchildren) can be difficult for those of us with checkered pasts, but authenticity goes a long way in reinforcing the message.

The good news is that God’s grace is stronger than our failings and shortcomings. Because of grace, every day is a new opportunity to embrace God’s forgiveness and try again. David understood this concept.  Even though we still have to live with some of the consequences of our actions, there is healing, redemption and forgiveness in Christ.  That is a message we should be happy to pass on.