“Pastor, I thought I was done with homework.”

First of all, I want to give you a couple of links for the “homework” I assigned during my sermon this past Sunday. If you are reading a print copy of this article, simply search some of the keywords below.

The first is a three-minute clip from the S.M. Lockridge sermon “Sunday’s Comin.’” This is the famous section of one of the greatest sermons on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRiIpsbJW8o

The second item of homework is a Breakpoint Podcast episode featuring J. Warner Wallace. Wallace is a former detective with the Los Angeles Police Department and a former committed atheist. Wallace came to faith in Christ after examining the evidence of the claims of Jesus Christ and the evidence for His resurrection.
http://www.breakpoint.org/2019/04/podcast-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-with-j-warner-wallace/

Proverbs: Continually Relevant
If you have ever done a study or even a cursory reading of the book of Proverbs, you know that it is a book of eternal relevance. The entirety of the Word of God is perpetually relevant, and nothing illustrates that more than the book of Proverbs. For example, just listen to this gem: Proverbs 12:15 –”The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

As you read this collection of practical wisdom, you will be amazed at just how fresh and applicable the truth is in the twenty-first century. This is why I believe it is a perfect focus for our next sermon series.

Preaching the book of Proverbs is not without its challenges. At first blush, it can seem like a random collection of very important, yet disconnected nuggets of wisdom. In fact, one title for a sermon series on the book of Proverbs was, “God’s Post-It Notes.” I wish I had thought of that! However, the more you examine the book, the more you see that there are themes that rise to the surface.

Allow me to pull back the curtain for a moment regarding good preaching. Many of you have heard the term expository preaching. Without getting into the manifold variations, expository preaching basically means that you allow the text to speak for itself. The opposite, and I believe poorer practice, is to start with one’s own thoughts, and then attempt to interpret the text in such a way that it supports those thoughts. All too often this practice destroys coherence, draws scripture out of context, and most damagingly, clouds the overarching thrust of the preeminent author, the Holy Spirit of God.

After some good research on the plans that expository preachers have used through the decades, I believe I have some good direction. Practically, I will walk through the first several chapters of Proverbs in sequential expository format. The second part of the sermon series will follow a topical expository format, arranging the remaining verses of Proverbs around common themes that arise naturally from the text.

I would also like to challenge you to make the book of Proverbs a part of your daily reading during this sermon series. Nothing will drive these truths home like your own personal study reinforced by collective examination of the scripture. As you may know, the book of Proverbs contains thirty-one chapters, so that breaks down nicely to one chapter a day for most months.

Finally, I encourage you to come to this series with an open heart and active mind. The book of Proverbs is a book that is continually relevant.

Richest Blessings,

Pastor Mason

 

Puritans Joyful?

I recently read an article on gospelcoalition.com by Joel R. Beeke entitled “Five Reasons the Puritans Were So Joyful.”  If you are like me, this article caught my attention because larger culture had characterized the Puritans as stuffy, stick-in-the-mud, and killjoys not as those who experienced great joy.  Admittedly, I have read enough biographical literature to realize that culture’s characterization is often misguided as a broad-brush sweep of the Puritan movement.  Nevertheless, this was still an intriguing subject matter for an article.

The term Puritan was originally a 16th century term of derision.  In English society there were the Roman Catholic “Papists,” and on the other the Puritans who were characterized by many as ones who believed themselves to be pure and therefore holier-than-thou.[1]  When one reads the original Puritan material, nothing could be further from the truth.  They realized their own sinful frailty as part of humanity

 As believers in the truth of scripture, we should not be surprised that a group of people, striving their best to live by scripture, would be joyful people.  In fact, they faced challenges in the New World the likes of which we cannot imagine.  If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, and that it has the correct answers for all of life and its challenges, we shouldn’t be surprised that those who live by its principles will experience joy.  Yes, we will experience grief, but joy should characterize the believer’s life.

 The first point of joy for the Puritans that Beeke reveals is Happiness in the Fear of God.  Psalm 128 says “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord.” Beeke summarizes the fear of the Lord, as the Puritans understood it, as being “the smiles and frowns of God are of greater value than the smiles and frowns of man.”  It is living reverentially, always valuing what God values.   

 Secondly, Beeke highlights Happiness in Your Work.  The God-fearer sees his work as a calling from God to be done with integrity and diligence, all the while trusting God for provisions.  They also handled disappointments with tremendous maturity, as they trusted in the sovereignty of God for said provision. 

Third, there is joy that comes from Happiness in Your Family.  There is joy that comes from a God-fearing spouse.  There is joy in the companionship in marriage, and joy in godly counsel.

Fourth is a joy in worship that comes from Happiness through Preaching and the Sabbath.  They called the Sabbath the marketplace of the soul.  This was a day that they would gather to hear afresh and anew from God.  They reflected upon the glory of God in their forgiven sin and were overcome with joy.            

Finally, Beeke informs us that the Puritans had a future joy, a joy focused on Happiness Through God’s Covenental Faithfulness.  They saw God’s faithfulness to His people ring true with the people of Israel, and they saw it ring true in lives of Christ followers throughout the centuries.  With this in mind, they knew that God would sustain them through the difficulties of life.

Let me encourage you to follow the link below, or search the title of the article.  You will be enriched with the insightful principles that Beeke brings to bear.  May we too walk in the light of the Word and experience the joy of the Lord.

Richest Blessings

Pastor Mason

[1] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/5-reasons-puritans-joyful/