40 is kind of a scary number. It is one of those numbers of Biblical proportions, like Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. In the Bible 40 is a number of testing, preparation and completion. We figure since we have completed this wilderness wandering now we are ready for the Promised Land of marital bliss. We’ve been told the first 40 years are the hardest. Since I am preaching on my 40th anniversary I thought I would take it as an occasion to offer some Biblical reflections on marriage and the secrets of long marriages. But what about those here who aren’t married? The teaching in Scripture about marriage and family has many applications. It is not just limited to those who are married. Our understanding of these parts of God’s Word will help us in all your relationships. So on many levels it is valuable for all of us to be a part of biblical conversations about the home. Being married and having kids are two of the hardest things you can do. Especially when you factor in how long it lasts. Marriage is one of the most sanctifying things anyone can do. Having kids is another. Those two things expose your heart, your sin, your selfishness like few other things. This doesn’t mean you can’t be sanctified if you aren’t married or don’t have kids. God is very creative and can accomplish that in a thousand ways. A roommate, health issues, a job, a boss, parents, siblings, the driver in front of you, the list goes on and on. Whatever it is in your life that God is using to sanctify you, that thing is being used by God to make you more like Jesus. We can resist and rebel, or we can submit and cooperate. Marriage is a spiritual battle ground. Instantly after the first marriage Satan was there to destroy it. He is the enemy of all marriage because marriage is a reflection of Jesus and His Church.
This is a pretty challenging Mother’s Day for several reasons. For some mothers their children and grandchildren can’t come and visit or have dinner or share the day. For some mothers that would put their health at risk. You have to settle for phone calls and cards. For other mothers it is sort of an opposite problem. They have all the kids are around all the time and the added stress of trying to figure out homework and homeschooling and juggle everything else. I am hearing some stories of real tension and burnout. Rather than have everyone around, you would like a little peace and quiet, a day off from being mom. On top of the home and family concerns come added financial pressures, added relational pressures, and depressing news 24/7. Then there are those who wish they could be moms and those who have lost their moms. To call this Mother’s Day happy might be a stretch. For some there isn’t a lot to be happy about, not much to laugh at. So a sermon with the title, How to Laugh at the Future, comes off sounding rather pie in the sky, especially on Mother’s Day 2020. For some thoughts of the future make us sad or want to cry. And it’s not just moms. All of us have been overtaken by the unknown and this particular version of the unknown has a lot of death associated with it. Life seems more risky now than ever. Covid-19 has created a future that is fearful. How can we laugh at that?
Did God really say? We are considering the lies Satan propagates through our culture, through media, through politicians, through unbelievers, as he carries out his assault on all that God has created and called good. Last week we saw why and how Satan hates babies and his greatest weapon to that end, is abortion. But Satan’s assault doesn’t stop with babies in the womb, it continues full force after they are born. This morning I want us to be wise to Satan’s attack on children. Satan’s attack on children. Why does Satan hate children? For the same reasons he hates babies. We read one reason last week, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such at these.
Thank you to those of you who turned in questions. I got about 15 cards with about 30 questions that were all over the map, or should I say all over the Bible. Some were topics, some were issues of our day, some were specific passages of Scripture or single texts of Scripture. This evening we will focus on one of those texts, one that is bigger than we might first think. Let me begin asking you, what are you afraid of? We all have fears or phobias. Phobias typically fall within five general categories: • fears related to animals (spiders, snakes, insects, rodents, Suriphobia- fear of mice) • fears related to the natural environment (heights, thunder, darkness) • fears related to blood, injury, or medical issues (injections, broken bones, falls, dentist) • fears related to specific situations (flying, riding an elevator, speaking in public, crowds) • other (choking, loud noises, drowning) • today social media has created some more related to being alone, being disconnected. I came across a couple I had never heard of before: pogonophobia, fear of beards Pentheraphobia- Fear of mother-in-law. (Greek penthera-mother in law) There is even a fear a duck is watching you Most of us think of fear as something we want to get rid of, it is a negative thing, not something we want more of. For some of us the fear of the Lord is a negative thing. Maybe we grew up afraid of God, afraid of going to hell, afraid of God’s punishment for our sin, that He would make our lives miserable. If we grew up in a home with a very strict and severe father, who was demanding, punishing, one we could never please, one who never expressing love or compassion then we would view God the same way. We learned no sense of God’s love and grace and mercy. But sometimes someone will say about a person, he is a God-fearing man. When we hear that we think of it as positive, it is saying something good about that person and the way they live. What does that mean? Scripture has a lot to say about the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of fearing the Lord.
Today is Reformation Sunday, the Sunday before October 31, the day credited with marking the beginning of the Reformation in 1517. On this occasion we celebrate the providential goodness of God for the history and heritage that is ours because of His great grace. This evening I want to focus our attention on one of the great and central pillars of what it means to be Reformational and Reformed people. The sovereignty of God. What metaphor would you use to describe the sovereignty of God? It is the bedrock of Reformed Theology. It is the foundation and the pillar of Reformed Theology. It is the shining crown jewel, the heart, the head waters, the continental divide. It is affirmed from Genesis to Revelation in countless texts. Let’s consider one together, one that happens to be a personal favorite for some very practical reasons.
What is this weird book called Proverbs? On July 1 I challenged you and your families to read the 31 chapters of Proverbs during the 31 days of July. Some of you have been doing that, some started but have had trouble keeping going, some never even tried. Those who have been trying have some questions. Let’s face it, Proverbs is a weird book, there is no other book in the Bible like it. Reading it you feeling like a BB in a tin can, as the verses ricochet all over the place. There is no flow, no rhyme or reason. Almost no two verses are on the same topic. Let me begin with just a bit of background to this book. King Solomon is said in Scripture to be the wisest man who ever lived. In I Kings 4 we read that when he was starting out as king God asked Solomon in a dream what he would like God to give him. Remarkably of all the things he could have asked for, he asked for wisdom and this pleased God very much.
The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is about cultivating Christian character out of which flows God-glorifying conduct. Faithfulness is another essential characteristic of a Holy Spirit filled Christian. Character of Faithfulness. Faith and faithfulness go hand in hand. What we believe translates into action. Faithfulness is the outward visible sign of the inward reality of faith. Faithfulness is easy to define. There is a veritable cornucopia of synonyms we can use. Trustworthy, steadfast, reliable, dependable, constancy, fidelity, integrity, loyalty, devoted, honest, responsible, conscientious, principle-driven, true to one’s word. Furthermore, being faithful means all those things over the long haul. Hebrews 11 is a long list of saints who showed faithfulness over the long haul. They practiced a long obedience in the same direction. We just finished a study of Daniel. When his enemies tried to find some grounds for charges against him “they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him” (Daniel 6:4).
I heard recently about a new Survivor reality TV show. “Six married men will be dropped on an island with 1 car and 4 kids each, for 6 weeks. Each kid plays two sports and either takes music or dance classes. There is no access to fast food. Each man must take care of his 4 kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, and do laundry. The men must wear makeup daily, which they must apply themselves, either while driving or while making four lunches. They must attend weekly PTA meetings; clean up after their sick children at 3:00 a.m., and get a 4-year-old to eat a serving of peas. The kids vote them off the island, based on their performance. The last man to win gets to play the game over and over again for the next 18-25 years...eventually earning the right to be called ‘Mother’” (Mikey’s Funnies). I want to bless and encourage the women of First CRC this morning. It is Mother’s Day and my thought will certainly apply to all mothers, but I want to give this word to all the women here, mothers, grandmothers, wives, single moms, single women. First CRC is blessed among churches to have many godly women and Scripture is clear, women who love and fear the Lord are to be honored and praised even in public. Our text is a familiar one and a common Mother’s Day text. Proverbs 31:28-31.
Our text is Proverbs 31 and the famous Proverbs 31 wife/woman. This section of Proverbs is a well-known acrostic poem based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. That means that the author sat down and decided to write 22 praiseworthy things about his wife. It is a string of pearls in praise of a woman who fears the Lord (31:30). That’s the focus of the whole text in particular and of the whole book of Proverbs in general. Proverbs 1:7 starts us off by giving the theme, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” And it ends as it began. A praise of someone who has taken this wisdom to heart and lives it. The woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Let’s look more closely at the closing verses of this text which deals with the special virtues and rewards of a woman who fears the Lord. Please apply anything specific I say about mothers to all women, single, married or widowed.