ST MATTHEW Sunday Aug 16 2015 | Pentecost
Proverbs 9:1-10; Psalm 34:12–22; Ephesians 5:6–21; John 6:51–69
THEME VERSE: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16, ESV)
THEME/TITLE: “Wisdom Reveals what “THE LIFE” in Evil Days Looks Like””
Grace to you and peace from God the Father of Wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Proverbs 9:10, ESV) says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, [In Hebrew poetic style, the thought then expands to include this], and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” This verse literally reveals that “WISDOM” is intrinsically connected to an awesome respect [fear] that is due the Lord of life and of all wisdom. Yet even that is but a beginning. His knowledge is infinite. Ours finite.
(Proverbs 2:6, ESV) then says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;” The point is this: true “Wisdom” is from the Lord God, not humans. How could it be any different? God is omniscient, which means that He is all knowing. Everything that we as human beings know or learn comes from Him who created all things. But natural to our humanity, this gets all twisted and turned around in human understanding so that people think that they are the ones who are getting smarter in and of ourselves. But who is it that gives growth to body and understanding to the mind in the first place? Remove the knowledge of the Holy One from human understanding and you know right where that lands us—relying only on the inadequate wisdom of man. Listen to how Paul addresses this situation with people of Corinth who lived among those who boasted of their great wisdom, even about God:
“And I, … did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. … and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (Excerpt from 1 Corinthians 2:1–5, ESV). It is no different for us today.
We live in a time when people use God’s name rather freely while at the same time, denying His Power. Such do not speak from wisdom, but have taken what God has gifted, then boasted that it is their own. That is not wise. That is foolishness in the Lord’s eyes. That is leaning on one’s own understanding of things.
Just one more thought about “Wisdom” as Paul understood it. When he says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16, ESV), Paul connects “WISDOM” with the word of Christ as it is put to song in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.
Now isn’t God just awesome to combine things like His Word and music just for our edification, education, and enlightenment? And just think, while the world feeds on the fast food of ‘Rappers’, and suggestive choreographies, we get to feast on the simplicity of God’s Wisdom in the eternal bread of heaven. This bread of heaven comes through the means of WORD and SACRAMENT so that we may eat and drink of Him to our bodily good and our spiritual enlightenment. That’s His plan. That’s His purpose. It is all to the glory of God, Jesus Christ and those who are with Him. So, I just love it when God’s plan comes together!
His plan is always so much better than ours, and His plan always leads to a more fruitful, better life and existence for us than anything we can ever think or imagine, … if only we walk in wisdom, His Wisdom. Why? Because “Wisdom Reveals what “THE LIFE” in Evil Days Looks Like”” That life doesn’t exist in the abundance and pleasures of anything the world offers; the lusts of the flesh, the riches of personal wealth, etc.
And yet the satisfactions of life in Christ can only be known when a person dies to self and is reborn in Christ. Now someone is going to say, “But that will take a miracle!” This is where our Lord would have us hear Him say: “I am here and have provided, and will provide all that you need, don’t be afraid, just believe.” Others will say, “I’ve been born again, and that’s that.” How foolish! A believer can no more live in the spirit if not properly nurtured and nourished in Christ than a child can live a good life without proper nurturing and nourishment.
It is precisely when we see our need for help in this life that our Lord would have us remember: “I have died to the elemental things of this age and have been raised again in the glory of new life. Now I give you my life. I am not hampered by the evils of spiritual forces that control the mind of unbelief, which runs wild with lawlessness in things like “sexual Immorality or impurity,” and “covetousness.” I am the Lord your God. Trust and do not be afraid!”
Some believers in Ephesus were making a practice of getting involved in lifestyles and behaviors that so quickly adhere to the flesh and the sinful nature. That grieves the Holy Spirit and puts them in danger of losing their inherited life in Christ. So, to this unseemly behavior, St Paul inscribes these words of wisdom: “Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:7–11, ESV)
(1 John 1:5, ESV) says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” So what do you think is supposed to happen when God indwells and takes up habitation in people like you and me? Let me tell you what wisdom makes happen: His light in us turns our darkness into light so that the old things are exposed. Being exposed they can be repented of, turned away from, and our life lived in obedience to God, that is, in faith and trust that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, because He has become our life. Here is how wisdom says it: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3–4, ESV).
This is the miracle of grace we have in Christ Jesus. It should not be taken lightly as if it were a gift we control or concoct on our own accord. That grieves the Holy Spirit who indwells us. That’s the way the world thinks of Christ. And the fruit of faith like that is plain to the Spirit of God and to those born of the Spirit. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21, ESV) Dear friends in Christ Jesus. We did not learn Christ that way!
This is how we learned Christ: “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”” (Ephesians 5:13–14, ESV). Now isn’t that a great plan? God’s plan! God’s will for us? Let God’s people all say “YES!”
In His plan and action, there is not a “To do list,” that is, a list of things that if you do them, then you will be walking in wisdom. No, wisdom is spiritual and the Holy Spirit knows just how to apply it in a person’s life. So the best we can do is to always let God’s wisdom be applied to ourselves so that we might bear His fruit: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22–26, ESV) This is what it means to walk in wisdom, as the wise children of our Lord God and Creator. “Wisdom Reveals what “THE LIFE” in Evil Days Looks Like.”
So, as “Wisdom Reveals what “THE LIFE” in Evil Days Looks Like,” I find myself undergoing an ongoing conflict between mind and heart. Don’t you? What I mean is this: what do we do when someone we love, a family member, a brother or sister in Christ does things they should not, or doesn’t do things they should, bringing dishonor to themselves, or perhaps, even upon us? Should we not associate with them as Paul here seems to be saying? Should we disown them, cut them off from our love? How does that square with the cross of Christ? Concerning family, how can a person remove his own flesh and blood from himself and live? I am talking about a need for discipline, here; self-discipline.
Discipline comes from the word disciple, which means; to teach, guide, help one learn. That takes effort. And when I try that, I’m not always sure I’m doing the right thing. Trying to disciple one’s self never seems adequate to me. But this is what I do: I ask God for wisdom. I do that because I know I can’t be trusted, God can! We can always count on Him to give us just what we need when we need it. Perhaps confession to another person; perhaps sharing a kind thought with another person; I think that’s what love does. Love responds with understanding, but not with acceptance of what is destructive to one’s spirit, whether it be in one’s self, or another.
Our tendency however is blithely, and unthinkingly to say, or do things without asking for God’s wisdom. And we become the transgressors by slandering the work God has begun in someone’s life, our own, or someone else’s. Discipline, and discipling is difficult. It takes much more than simple human understanding and insight to do this properly and effectively. It takes wisdom from above, the wisdom only God through His Word and Spirit gives. This is all the more reason to keep in mind our text for meditation: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16, ESV)
As “Wisdom Reveals what “THE LIFE” in Evil Days Looks Like” we need to be aware of the unimaginable benefits God has already delivered to each one of us in Love and Mercy and Forgiveness and in the Renewal of the Mind. In this regard, I can’t keep myself from saying: I just love it when God’s plan comes together, and it does come together in real terms simply because “Wisdom Reveals what “THE LIFE” in Evil Days Looks Like.”” Amen.
Now the peace of God and the wisdom of God which is ours in Christ Jesus, will keep our hearts and minds save in Him, now and unto life everlasting. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet