Have you ever thought of writing a letter to your younger self? What would you say if you did? Would you keep things lighthearted or somber? Would you share something with yourself you wish you had heard when you were younger? What would it be?
It this section, we can imagine the Teacher writing a letter to his younger self (Spoiler: he's not actually doing this, but the approach fits the tone). We'll walk with him as he leads us through what it means to walk with God in a fallen world.
How does the Lord show mercy to those who prefer human wisdom to God's authoritative Word? Isaiah 30 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord's Day. In these thirty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that if men prefer their own wisdom to God's Word, it is a mercy when God visits their plans with devastating failure.
When Paul stared death in the eye, it was so that he could trust God more. We learn that God is able to deliver in the past, present and future, with our ultimate deliverance in the resurrection. Never under estimate prayer, for it is God's means of allowing us to work with Him in fulfilling His purposes and plans for His glory.
"If only I had a curriculum! I don't know enough to teach my children well about God. I don't have anything short and memorable that sums up everything they need to know about their Savior. We're not good at memorizing things, I'm terrible at writing music and making up songs, and the Bible is so big and complicated!"
To all the moms and dads who have ever felt that way, this sermon is for you. Would you believe it if I told you that God has provided ready-made, memorable, theologically precise and aesthetically gorgeous teaching and memory aids that the most humble Christian can use to learn about Him and to teach her children about Him? That these aids have been used in every church, in every country, in every century, and that to know them is a passport to instant Christian fellowship? That you can not only know what was on Jesus' playlist, but you can sing those same songs? All of that and far, far more is to be found in the one hundred and fifty Psalms that lie before us this morning. Sisters, mothers — you have everything you need to be a theologian, right here in these Psalms. They are literally for instruction, as we will see in a moment discussing Psalm 1. Let them set your priorities in teaching your children. Let them be what your family memorizes, what you sing together, what serves as the soundtrack to your most important moments. Why are we letting Nashville, Motown, and Hollywood create the music that accompanies our lives and trains our desires when we have the songs of the great king to guide us in the ways of righteousness?
It's no secret that everyone suffers. However, believers sometimes suffer because of poor choices and sin. Typically, punishment and consequences are viewed as discouraging because it's unenjoyable. In Amos 4, God uses Amos to speak His words of discipline towards the Jews. When you read this passage, you could view God as unloving and cruel, we could even say that in our own lives. Is God loveless in his discipline? Is God void of care when He punishes those that claim to love Him? Come dive into God's Word with Pastor Patrick Cross as he discusses the importance of discipline and it's purpose.
Two major ideas in this passage are opened up here:
I. Christ's suffering calls us to a radical break with sin.
2. Christ's coming calls us to a radical commitment to the will of God.
These two truths are bedrocks of what it means to be a Christian.
In this chapter, we hear the words of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. He is "the Lord" who opens the prophecy. Jesus is presented as a Sovereign Savior, an All-Seeing Savior, a Willing Savior, a Suffering Savior, and a Justified Savior. We know this is the Christ of the New Testament because He said in verse six, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to that plucked off the hair". A careful reading of the Gospels declare the suffering of the Savior.
Many claim to believe in Jesus Christ, but do not hold fast to Him. They perhaps have said a prayer, but they fall prey to false teachings, are surprised by suffering and eventually they turn away from the Lord. Here the Apostle closes the letter with his personal autograph, again, encouraging the church by what he says in order that they may persevere in their faith to the very end!
While passages like Genesis 39 can be ripe for various hermeneutical errors, they can also provide a good way of describing how to approach Scripture, with an eye toward understanding the intent of God in that passage and how that fits into God's overall story of redemption, before we decide how we might apply certain principles from such a passage into our own lives as believers.
Even though Joseph had been sold off as a slave by his brothers, taken to Egypt, and then falsely accused and thrown into prison, the text tells us during it all that "Yahweh was with Joseph."
Instead of coming to a passage like this with the question, "What does this mean to me?" it's probably better to ask the question, "Is God with me?" The answer to that question makes all the difference.