December 2009

God Gives His Obedient People a Great Gift of Understanding

Proverbs 8:33

Central Theme:  Obedience means that God will give us wisdom and understanding.

Introduction–I am one of the wealthiest people in the world.  Show checkbook.  Not in my checking account or in my wallet.  My wealth is not in money.  My wealth comes from the Bible and the church.

                    Have a member read Proverbs 8:33.

       I.     Tell how Joseph was in prison but wherever he went he was blessed by God.

              A. In prison, he was the favorite of the head jailer.

              B. One day, the king, Pharaoh, had a dream.

          C. God helped Joseph to understand the dream and he became the prime minister–like the President of the country.

      II.     Understanding things make us people of power and trust.

              A. This is not knowing things about people.

              B. It is like wisdom–it is a gift that God gives to everyone.

              C. It is like when you know something about a situation that you should not know.

     III.     What does understanding do for us.

              A. Helps us with everyday problems

                   1. I had a squeaky van–my friend, Sam had the answer for me.

                   2. Sam is able to solve problems because God gives him answers.

              B. Understanding helps us in times of trouble.

                   1. I know of a family in SG who gave away everything they had to build a house to a family in need.  They are now able to begin building their house.

                   2. God’s understanding makes us people who know that is important in life–I don’t have to own every pretty thing to enjoy it

Conclusion      God understand and wisdom are better than being rich in money and stuff.

It’s my birthday.  It’s the one that proves that I’m old.  However, I’m traveling from SC to VA and I’m happy to be healthy and traveling with my husband to visit two of our children and their families.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.  Thank you, Lord for another year of blessings and joy!

For years I struggled to write a relevant sermon for Christmas and Resurrection Day.  Then our executive director gave me some wise advice.  He said, “Years ago, an older pastor told me that people come to church on Christmas and Resurrection Day for one reason.  They want to hear the story.”

That changed my approach to sermons at this time.  It is The Story that makes people come back again and again.  This year, tell the story in its simplicity, beauty and power.  Emmanuel, God with us.  How much more relavant can we get than this wonderful story of God who became man to save us from ourselves and our sins.

Solomon warned at the end of Ecclesiastes that we need to be careful about what we study.  He said, ” People are always writing books, and too much study will make you very tired.”  Another translation says that there is no end to the number of books that you can read. 

Paul additionally warned Timothy that there is a danger in some knowledge (I Tim 6:3-5).  There is knowledge that puffs up.  This is the kind of knowledge that makes us vain and unpleasant people to be around.  We all know those kinds of folks.

My children once told me that I had a song for every occasion.  I took that as a compliment.  Later, a friend said that I had a “story for every occasion.  No matter what I say, you will be able to top it with an anecdote that you have read or from your own life.”  I did not take that as a compliment.  I understood that she was giving me some sensible and needed correction.

I think one of the things that makes our members endearing to people who visit or who have a casual relationship with them is the fact that they almost never have an “I can top that” attitude.   Delores listens politely to the flow of conversation that buzzes around her when her family is gathered.  Unless she is engaged in a one-to-one conversation, she seldom tries to interrupt to interject her thoughts and ideas.  This is endearing to those of us who always have another wise-crack or enlightening suggestion that must to be push into the minds and hearts of our family and friends. 

However, Solomon had said, “Wise words are like sharp sticks people use to make their animals go the right way.  Those teachings are like strong pegs that won’t break.  You can trust those teachings to show you the right way to live.  Those teachings all come from the same Shepherd (God).  So Son, study those teachings”  (Ecc 12:11 and 12).

Most of us want to know the right way to live.  We all desire to make wise and prudent decisions.  Not all knowledge is good.  Yet, the wise teachings from the Scriptures and godly adviser will guide, teach and give correction.

Because almost everyone is much too busy to check their computer for new updates on this blog,  I’ve not been too concerned about having trouble with my computer.  Over the months it has been doing some pretty interesting things.  However, I learned to NOT turn it off and it seemed to operate slowly but with the grace of an old sted my grandpa owned named Prince.

My computer Prince was dying.  When I could not longer trick it into starting, I called my good friend, Sam.  He dropped all his commitments and came to help me and Prince.  We had a wonderful time with his family over a supper of pasta.  Then he worked for hours.  His diagnosis for Prince was that I would lose it in a couple of days unless major surgery was done.  We (he) replaced the hard drive and the ram.  Now it’s running like a charm and the renovation only cost me $150.   I have 1 tarabyte of memory and 1 gb of ram. 

Can we ever replace good friends and family?  As we run around getting gifts and groceries for the perfect dinner and Christmas day, keep remembering the Sams who give up their time and bring their families to share and repair.  Thank you to all the folks who sacrifice to help me and my family.  We are blessed.

I have a good friend, Eric Wright of Journey Church, who has taken some pretty hard knocks over the past three years.  In fact, when you google his name on the web, there is a website devoted to what this person claims are his mistakes and bad behavior.  After a lot of research, I found that none of these accusation and claims are true.  He isn’t without sin but these accusations are not valid.

He has proven to me to be a man of integrity.  Even more, he has been the one person who has looked at our family with love and compassion during some pretty rough time.  He not only befriended us but he also tirelessly prayed and put his prayers into action.

During this Christmas time, I wanted to give him and his family a gift of love.  Perhaps you have come across the other website but I hope you will balance out the fact that he has chosen not to retaliate with harsh words.  While others complained about his greed, he sold his home to pay debts that others made and to insure that the Church would not be stuck with unpaid bills. 

In a conversation with a good friend, I commented, “I wonder why this has happened to them.  They are such people of integrity.”  My friend said, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”

That is true but perhaps it a time for internet shower to bless my good friend again.

A few days ago, I spoke with a woman who is coming into her place in ministry.  God is moving in supernatural ways in her life but she desires to remain grounded in sanity and God’s word.  It is hard to not believe your own press releases, even if you know you are the person who wrote them. 

S/he is a wise person who will follow Paul’s advice given to Timothy in his first letter chapter three.  Paul told his young disciple that Timothy should prove himself first.  The Bible often speaks of the importance of the church not fostering the promotion of the novice.  However, this is a different warning.  Paul puts the responsibility for monitoring on the back of the young pastor, Timothy.  As he was being promoted, Paul said that it was Timothy’s responsibility to see that he had been proven. 

About ten years ago, a young woman in Special Gathering came to me.  She had just graduated from high school.  Minnie is high functioning and possesses the A-typical Downs Syndrome personality–pleasant, kind and amiable.   Minnie was also ambitious.  She wanted to be made a deacon.  Other than her youth, she seemed to be qualified.  I explained to her that she would have to wait until she was older in the Lord.

Amazingly, Minnie didn’t argue with me.  Minnie was willing to wait.  However, she didn’t sit idly by as she waited.  She worked at any job that came across her path.  She began to write poetry.  Her writings are often published in our monthly newsletter.  She moved chairs.  She helped serve food.  She pushed wheelchairs.  No job was too large or too small for her to tackle.

After almost a decade, Minnie is ready to fulfill her dream of becoming a deacon.  Of course, there needs to be a vote from the congregation, but everyone  in Special Gathering recognizes her leadership. 

The thing that has impressed me about Minnie has been her willingness to prove herself before she is given a title.  She still has a great desire to be a leader but she has come to understand that leadership in the Church is an outgrowth of servanthood–not prestige.

As a young woman I had one friend with whom I could be totally honest.  I remember a telephone conversation in which I blurted out, “I have something to say!”  I can imagine my friend’s smile as she held the phone to her ear. 

“I know,” she said, “But if that is true, you will be wise to wait until God opens the doors for you to teach and minister.” 

It was a long, hard wait; but somehow from that conversation, God gave me the grace to monitor myself.  Perhaps it was the silliness I felt after I blurted out what my heart-felt.  However, even after four books were published and there were lots of opportunities to be published and to speak, I knew there was something missing in my ministry.  When I walked into my first Special Gathering, I found the essential, missing piece. 

Specialized ministry isn’t a showy place in the church or a spectacular splash.  But it is where I belong and I’ll be eternally grateful for my wise friend who gently scolded me and gave the same advice Paul gave his young protegé.  “Prove yourself first.  Then move into what God has called you to do.”

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