My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
It is with joy that I write to you today! Yesterday was a snowing mess in Colorado but by the grace of God and the faithfulness of so many we still gathered for worship! I thank God for each of you who helped to make this possible. If you missed our service you can listen to the sermon from Romans 15:13 at our website: www.fcchurch.org
As we begin a new year with our theme verse: Christ in you, the hope of glory, I am persuaded to offer you again this year our Encourage0grams. I hope that these short devotionals will inspire us to walk in the genuine hope of God’s infinite glory!
I was reminded in this story from Preaching Today of the importance of words.
“A routine taping of Jeopardy! became social media meme fodder recently when a contestant incorrectly pronounced a well-known 90s rap anthem.
Host Alex Trebek read the clue to contestant Nick Spicher: "A song by Coolio from 'Dangerous Minds' goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton classic." Most pop culture aficionados would recognize these two titles and mash them together, which is what Spicher attempted to do in his answer: "Gangster's Paradise Lost."
Everything proceeded normally until later in the taping, Spicher was approached by a producer with bad news—the judges had to rescind his previously awarded money ($3200) after reviewing his answer, because he had incorrectly pronounced one of the titles.
Coolio's rap song is named "Gangsta's Paradise." And according to the explanation on the Jeopardy website, the word "gangsta," is wholly distinct from the word "gangster."
This makes some sense, as the words evoke different cultural situations. The word "gangster" evokes Eliot Ness and Al Capone wearing pinstripes and carrying "tommy guns" circa 1920s Chicago. The word "gangsta" evokes Ice Cube and NWA holding sideways Glocks circa 1990s South Central LA. Two different words, two different times, two different meanings.
Spicher was a good sport about the gaffe afterward, saying on Twitter, "I will be forever proud of the moment that Alex Trebek taught me how to say 'gangsta.'"
This is an important lesson to anyone who wants to provide effective interpretation of a text, whether from the Bible or elsewhere: cultural context matters.”
For a few weeks in these devotionals, I want to highlight Proverbs 1:1-7. In this introduction to the book, Solomon uses several words to define the wisdom of God.
The word translated “wisdom” is used in other contexts of skilled craftsmen (Exodus 28:3, 31:3). I define it this way: wisdom is skillful living that glorifies God. It includes knowledge but it is much more than an intellectual comprehension of facts. Wisdom is practical and it affects all dimensions of life. Timothy Keller in his excellent devotional on the Proverbs says, “Wisdom is making the right choice even when there are no clear moral laws telling you explicitly what to do.” This explains why we are to pursue wisdom as precious treasure! (see 2:1-5). Wisdom is at the same time is a gift from God (Proverbs 2:6-8). Keller explains the tension between these two truths in this paradox: “If it were all up to us, we would labor under crushing anxiety and burn out. But if God only worked apart from us, we would lose all sense of initiative. The paradox gives us enough incentive and enough assurance to pursue the knowledge of God all our life long.”
So I ask myself: What am I doing today to seek wisdom? Do I know the Lord better today than a year ago, a month ago, a week ago? Am I taking my dilemmas to the Lord? Do I pray before I act or speak? These and many other questions will help us to pursue this beautiful diamond we call wisdom.
James reminds us that God warmly invites us to pray for wisdom in 1:5-6:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Lord help us to pray with faith for wisdom! Thank you for your generous heart to give us wisdom without finding fault! Amen.
This Wednesday, the Dominium Group, who is buying five acres of land from us, will host an open house at the church from 6:30-8:30. We invite you to join us!
Next Sunday, we conclude our study of “Certain Hope in an Uncertain World.” The sermon text is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17. I look forward to gathering with you around His Throne of Grace! Pray with me that the Lord will fill us with hope to face the challenges of life.