Sermon Options: June 12, 2022

January 21st, 2022


PROVERBS 8:1-4, 22-31

Who really is Lady Wisdom? The virtuous incarnation of common sense? The whimsical bridge between secular Near Eastern wisdom writings in Egypt and elsewhere and the good news of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate? How we look at the images in the book of Proverbs is determined by our theological perspective. In Proverbs 8 there is a beautiful picture of Lady Wisdom that, for the Christian, begins to blur or merge into the Johannine portrait of the preexistent Christ.

I. The Beckoning of Wisdom
In verses 1 through 4 of this chapter, Wisdom takes her familiar place and role as the guardian of the way of peace and meaning in life. She stands beckoning to men to turn from the paths of error and set their feet again on the solid way. She stands squarely in competition with the way of the world, with the delights and snares of the city; she stands where the paths converge from village, meadow, wood, and city. She also stands where the "Adulterous Woman," her counterfeit and competitor, also waits and beckons.

While a philosophic view contrasts in this passage the values of moderation and reason versus the life of indulgence, as Christians we bring a Christocentric mind-set. Wisdom in her beckoning becomes the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit calling to every man, convicting and convincing and leading to the fullness of life in Christ Jesus.

II. Wisdom's Relation to God and Creation
Verses 22 through 29 stress the priority of the creation of Wisdom. The first creative act of God was the creation of Wisdom. "From everlasting . . . from the earliest times . . . when there were no depths . . . before the hills was I brought forth." This is an echo of the inspired record of the beginning of the Gospel of John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" John 1:1-2). As one writer put it, "When anything that ever had beginning began, the Word was."

III. Wisdom's Part in Creation
Verse 30 gives a vision of Lady Wisdom present at the creation of the universe, and even having a hand in it. When God established the heavens, made firm the skies, fixed the springs of the deep, set the boundaries of the seas, and marked out the foundations of the earth, "then I was beside him, as a master workman; and I was daily his delight, Rejoicing always before him" (NASB). Wisdom as a master craftsman, creating this world! And apparently doing it in a way that delighted God the Father, and filled Lady Wisdom with rejoicing.

The Christian eye sees here the presence and role of Jesus, preexistent Son of the Father, coequal in the Trinity. John's Gospel says of Jesus, "All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being" (John 1:3) . Jesus was not merely a village carpenter in Nazareth; he is the architect of the universe.

And there is a hint of the delight and rejoicing of verse 30 in the statement of Paul in Colossians 1:15-17, in which he tells us that all things in this universe were made through Christ, made for Christ, and in him all things hold together. And as God in this passage in Proverbs is said to delight in Wisdom's presence and creative work, so we are told in the Gospels that at several points in the earthly pilgrimage of Jesus (his baptism, transfiguration, and so on) he is affirmed and pleasing to the Father.

IV. Wisdom Delights in the Sons of Men
Wisdom is said to delight in this created world, this good creation of God. But even more amazing and important for the spiritual victory of mankind, the Wisdom of God is said in verse 31 to delight and take pleasure in the sons of men. So we hear the underlying gospel that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, delighted not only in the perfect creation, and not only in the first man as he was created; Jesus, our Wisdom and our Righteousness and our Sanctification and our Redemption, delights in fallen humanity (1 Cor. 1:24, 30). He sees not only what we are, but also what we can become through the sacrifice he made for us on the cross. So Jesus came not only preaching, but also delighting in you and me. (Earl C. Davis)


ROMANS 5:1-5

On July 1, 1983 my family moved from the suburbs of Chicago. We left behind the fantastic shopping malls, the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox, O'Hare Airport, Ginos Pizza, the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Brookfield Zoo, and other "big city" attractions, to settle in a town of 7,500 people.

Our "shopping mall" consists of a video store, grocery store, jewelry store, a Hallmark card shop, and a clothing store. We have a "zoo" of about nine animals (eight now—the burro died), a few fast food chains, and a new K-Mart.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love our little town—I've been there fifteen years. But the "excitement" is minimal compared to the Windy City. When I traveled across town from my suburban home to make a call at one of the Chicago hospitals it was between forty-five minutes to one and a half hours one way. When the people in my town talk about "across town" it's five minutes—on a busy day. Call me crazy, but there is another "attraction" I miss—the traffic! I miss the eight lanes of bumper-to-bumper cars, the sound of beeping horns, the sight of the trucks, the potholes, the overhead oasis with fast food restaurants where you can look down on the cars below, and the fumes of the cars all along the freeway. That brought joy to my heart.

Paul uses a Greek word, kauchasthai, which means "rejoice." He believed that Christians need to be reverent some of the time, but at times they simply needed to rejoice—to be joyful along the freeway of the Christian life.

I. Rejoice Along the Freeway of Life with Peace in God
Our world understands little about peace. Since World War II, the world community has waged over one hundred wars. Nothing in life is more elusive than the state of peace. Violent crime increases yearly while child and spousal abuse cripples and kills more annually. Murder among all ages is up, but the murder of children by children multiplies rapidly.

Christians talk about peace, but many have never discovered the certainty of God's perfect peace in their lives.

Lloyd Ogilvie relates a wonderful story about a piccolo player who was the most consistent orchestra member getting ready for a grand performance. Week after week for months this piccolo player attended all the rehearsals and followed the guidance of the conductor.

One day the maestro wanted to publicly acknowledge the piccolo player's faithfulness to rehearsals. He wanted the rest of the musicians to follow the piccolo player's example. The conductor had the man stand and began a lengthy praise for his orchestra member. Finally the piccolo player raised his hand and replied, "Sir, I want you to know that I can't make the performance, but I've been here at all the rehearsals just to make up for it."

Ogilvie commented, "I know many 'piccolo player Christians' who are at all the rehearsals, but won't show up at the performance. They have not discovered the reality of God's peace in their lives. There are still walls in their hearts" (Enjoying God [Dallas, Word Publishing, 1989], p. 75).

What roadblocks are along your freeway to peace? Unconfessed sin? Shattered dreams of "success"? Loss of purpose? Despair? Doubt? Fear? Hatred? Prejudice? or Loneliness?

Paul says we don't have to live like that because God's deep peace through Jesus Christ brings salvation, direction, hope, certainty, knowledge, love, and companionship.

II. Rejoice Along the Freeway of Life with Salvation from God
Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. The Lord offered his own sinless life as a substitute for all sinners. Why did he die? So that believers may have eternal life with God (John 3:16) . The reality that Jesus brings salvation to those who repent so they are treated as though they had never sinned is the central theme of Paul and all New Testament writers.

Salvation is not simply an extension to life, but a quality of life. God's desire is that we allow him to save us.

At Tunbridge, England, there is a monument erected in memory of a group of gypsies. Thirty gypsies were coming home one late afternoon after working in the fields, driving rapidly and carelessly on their wagons. As they were singing and laughing the horses bolted and the wagon crashed through the railing throwing all into the river.

One young gypsy seized a horse drifting downstream, and once remounted, watched anxiously for his mother. After awhile he saw her and went to rescue her; but she struggled in such a way that he was unable to save her. When the gypsies were being buried that young man threw himself around his mother's coffin, and in blood-curdling screams cried, "Mother! I tried to save you! I did all that a man could do, but you wouldn't let me!"

Jesus offers salvation to everyone, but not all will be saved because they refuse the lifeline he has thrown to them. Don't miss the peace and joy Jesus offers today.

III. Rejoice Along the Freeway of Life with the Holy Spirit
At Pentecost God poured out his Spirit through the risen Christ. The outpouring filled the disciples with divine love and sent them into the streets of Jerusalem to preach Jesus. Later he sent them into the uttermost parts of the planet to tell about Jesus. He still empowers and cleanses his people with divine love to tell the world about Jesus! To be empowered by this agape love we must be willing to be possessed by the Spirit.

William Greathouse writes: "Peace, joy, hope, and love, the true fruit of the Spirit—fill the hearts of those who have been justified by faith. The guilty past has been canceled; the glory of the future is assured; here and now the presence and power of the Holy Spirit secure to us all the grace we need to endure trial, to resist evil, and to live as those who wear the beautiful name of Christ" (Beacon Bible Expositions, vol. 6 [Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1975], p. 91).

May the joy of God travel with you on the freeway of life! (Derl G. Keefer)


JOHN 16:12-15

Jesus knew that the disciples were not yet ready. They understood so little and misunderstood even more. They were in serious need of more teaching and guidance. That's why, on the eve of his departure, he would ask the Father to send them the Holy Spirit. The Spirit would be their teacher and guide in his absence.

It was as if God, Jesus, and the Spirit were on a relay team. God had run the first leg, speaking, teaching, and guiding his people directly from heaven. Then Jesus, coming to earth in the form of a man, took the baton and ran the second leg. He taught and guided his followers while in their midst. Now Jesus is ready to hand off the baton to the Holy Spirit, who is to run the third and final leg of the race. The Spirit was to come and continue to teach and guide the believers as he lives within them.

I. Too Much, Too Soon
Jesus tells the disciples that he had so much more to tell them but that they were not ready to bear it all (v. 12). What did Jesus mean and what more did the disciples need to know?

While no one knows for sure, it seems to me that Jesus knew that, for one thing, the disciples had still not fully grasped who he was and what he was trying to accomplish. Their concept of "Messiah" was still misplaced as seen by their behavior on the last night and the subsequent week. They thought everything was over when Jesus died on the cross instead of seeing that event as just the beginning. Second, they still had to search out the implications, for themselves and others, of the teachings of Jesus. What would it mean to love your enemy, for example? Or to love one another? And most important, they had to examine and face the consequences of acknowledging Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Christ, and the Son of God. How would that proclamation change their lives and the lives of those around them?

But at that point in time, on the night before the crucifixion, the disciples were still wrapped in blankets of innocence and ignorance. Oh they had seen the power of Jesus and had even called him Lord, but they still had so much more to learn and to face. All these things and a thousand more were still to be faced by the young, fragile band of believers and any who would later come to faith. They would need help in sorting these things out. Jesus knew it. And the Holy Spirit would provide that help.

II. The Spirit of Truth
The Holy Spirit would continue on with the disciples' development and teaching (v. 13). He would do this by "guiding them into all truth." In fact, Jesus called the Holy Spirit the "Spirit of truth" (v. 13; 14:17). First, the Spirit will not speak or teach on his own but only what the Father and the Son have taught. There was continuity and harmony in what was to be taught to the believers. It will not contradict or radically alter what has been taught by Jesus.

Second, the Spirit would help the disciples by reminding them of what Jesus had taught them while he was among them (14:26). This would aid the first disciples. This teaching also carried within it the seeds of the apostolic writings that we would eventually come to know as the revealed and inspired writings of the New Testament. The Spirit, then, was and is also concerned for the development and teaching of all disciples, past and present.

Third, the Spirit of truth would reveal the depth of the teachings of Christ and their real implications for the future. One example of this can be seen in Acts 10 where we find the Spirit guiding Peter to reach out with the gospel to Gentiles. This proved to be a major step in the growth of the kingdom and a radical step away from the practices of the early Jewish church (as can be seen by the controversy that followed in Acts 11 , 13–15).

III. Glory to the Father and to the Son
The Holy Spirit brings glory to God and to the Son. The Spirit does not seek his own glory. The Spirit does not seek his own followers. The Spirit does not seek to displace God or Jesus. No, the Holy Spirit seeks to serve and to serve well, and in so doing brings glory and honor to the Father.

We could learn a valuable lesson from the Spirit's example of servanthood. As the Spirit serves both God and us, we should serve both God and others. As the Spirit often works behind the scenes, so we should work without seeking the limelight and without feeling jealous of others who may be more visible. As the Spirit teaches and guides believers to better understanding of the truth, so we should humbly teach and guide younger, less experienced believers in how to walk with Christ. The essence of the Holy Spirit is service. Service to God, to Jesus, to believers, and to the world. Is that not also the essence of being a Christian? (Michael M. Jones)

About the Author

Ministry Matters

Ministry Matters™ purpose is to equip, connect, and inspire visitors through articles, interviews, blogs, videos, read more…
comments powered by Disqus