You Won’t be Sorry that You Paid Attention to This Book (July 1, 2018)
You Won’t be Sorry that You Paid Attention to This Book
Intro: Let’s talk about books this morning. Some people are avid book readers and some only touch a book when they have to. I was going to read off the New York Times five “best seller books” but then I realized that might not actually be safe these days as I might unwittingly read off the title of a book that perhaps shouldn’t be mentioned from the pulpit. That’s the way books go. Some of them you CAN read and some you probably SHOULDN’T read. There are a lot of reasons for reading books: entertainment, academics, escape, the powers been off for 10 days and there is nothing else to do. A lot of us primarily use books to get information about how to accomplish some task like operating our software or repairing our cars or cooking a special meal, raising children, even launching careers. And on almost any subject there are probably a plethora of authors and a plethora of books. I don’t know about you but when that is the case I usually read the customer reviews and almost always order the book that has the most five-star ratings. I feel even better if multiple reviewers have written, ‘this book is a “must” read.’
Speaking of a “must read” book. This one (the Bible) is a “must read”. Whether its encouragement that you need, or guidance or just plain “out of this world” wisdom, the review of the Bible in Proverbs 30 tells us that there is no better place to go then the Bible. It’s a five star must read!!
- It fills us with knowledge that we can’t discover
So what’s your problem in life right now? Almost certain death at sea was the fear of the individuals in both of the other scripture lessons for today (Acts 27:13ff; Mark 4:35) . But again, what’s your challenge in life right now? Everything in life turning sour on you for no explainable reason? There’s a chapter of two on that in the Bible (Joseph). Friends becoming cool to you AGAIN and you’re starting to wonder if it’s even worth investing time in relationships anymore there’s a chapter or two on that in the Bible too (Jeremiah). Maybe this is happening in your own family (David). Don’t like what you see in yourself – what you have become? Maybe you realize that you are the problem there are chapters on that in the Bible (David and Judas). Is illness sapping the strength and hope out of you? Have the politics and the direction of your nation stressed you to the breaking point? There are chapters on all these things in the Bible. And even if you are riding high on the wave of life (and there is plenty of that in life, too), there is something to be learned about that in the Bible.
This book is so amazing that the heavenly wisdom in it calls out to us in Proverbs chapter 8 and says: Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. (Proverbs 8:33) Now, to be sure, there are plenty of sources that are willing to offer you answers and solutions and wisdom. There are books on this and that situation in life; well-meaning friends that are full of advice, solicited or not. You can even do your own analyzing and solution seeking. Sometimes, especially if the problem isn’t too big, you might even get by with leaning on these resources. But there is always a better place to go for most of the knowledge we need. Here’s why. The knowledge that mankind has obtained and passes on is always knowledge that is developed from those things that mankind has observed. Now, observed knowledge can be very reliable, but it can also be very unreliable (red rings on real stove vs. red rings of play stove).
- The fact is, I might not have observed enough of the right things to draw proper conclusions.
- Some things no one has ever experienced because we will never be in that location or in that point in time or see all that is going on.
- Furthermore, the conclusions that scholars have come to have been proven on occasion to be a result of personal bias.
- And then, what do you do with things like miracles (one in the gospel lesson) where God in a given moment suspends the laws of nature that he established to intervene and help? The human mind does not know how to process that properly.
So human observation is and will continue to be limited and flawed in obtaining knowledge. God unmasks its limitations when he says “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
The Bible is different because it is God’s wisdom. That’s what the Bible means when it says, “All scripture is God-breathed.” (2 Timothy 3:16) And God is different from us in two key ways. First, He HAS observed everything, everywhere in every time. That’s what is being explained to us in verse 4 of Proverbs 30. Listen: Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!
- I haven’t taken a trip up to heaven and come back with all of the knowledge of what that is all about. Have you?
- I haven’t taken the wind, which I can’t even see and held its swirling mass in my hand, restraining it when I wish and releasing it also when I wish. Have you?
- I haven’t taken the waters of the planet earth and put them in their places saying “this far you may come and no farther, here is where your proud waves halt.” You, here in Texas, know the destructive power of wind and water from the storm surges and flood waters of those hurricanes you have endured.
- I wasn’t the one who put into place and set into motion everything in this universe. Were you?
But there is someone who has done all of this and observed all of this and has perfect recollection of all of it. There is someone who understands perfectly everything from the biological to the spiritual.
Second, God is different from us because, unlike us, His wisdom does not have to come from observation. He possesses wisdom and knowledge innately – no observation or consideration needed! “Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable his ways and his paths beyond tracing out.” (Romans 11:33)
AND, He has written a book! This God of perfect knowledge tells us something about that book. He tells us, “Every word of God is flawless.” The word that is important in this sentence in the original Hebrew is the word צָרַף . (pronounced “TSA-RUPH”) This Hebrew word refers to the smelting process. In that process all impurities are removed from a metal, like gold for example, so what remains when the smelting process is over is one hundred per cent FLAWLESS gold. Every word of the Lord is “smelted” (צָרַף ) – it is FLAWLESS. That is why, this book, the Bible, which contains these flawless words is a “must read.” It is a must read when you want to find help with the challenges in life. It is a must read when you want to know the nature and essence of God. It is a must read when it comes to any spiritual matter. You can’t find any better wisdom!
- It gives you a place to go when you need it
Because of what is in this book, you have a place to go when you need flawless wisdom and its help. That’s why verse 5 of Proverbs 30 says, He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
What a wonderful picture! Years ago a shield was something you wanted to have with you when you went into battle. A shield was something that you ducked behind when you were under attack. Your shield took the blow of the sword and arrow and spear, deflected them or absorbed them, and left you unhurt by them. That is what God will be to you when read and put into practice what is in his holy Word! He will be your shield. Think about all the examples in the scriptures where that is what happened. Here are just a couple. Joseph went through hardship after hardship but he took refuge in the Lord. What did the Lord do? He shielded Joseph from anything that wasn’t part of God’s plan and then took all of the rest and made it work out for his good. Moses and Aaron were two other people that faced insurmountable odds. What was their secret to survival? Moses and Aaron listened to and put their trust in the testimony and promises of the God who shields his people. What did the Apostle Paul do when attacked, arrested and imprisoned? He took refuge in his trust in the words and promises of the Lord. It gave him a whole different perspective on his situation in life. Instead of feeling sorry for himself or complaining about the lot in life that had been handed to him, he held to this outlook in life: I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Phil.4:8) That’s why Paul could be joyful in suffering. What did the tax collector do when the terrible guilt of his many sins finally brought him in repentant shame to his knees before God? He took refuge in the promises of the Lord crying out “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13) and the shed blood of his Redeemer became his shield so that he went home justified before God. (Luke 18:14)
And that is what His recorded wisdom and knowledge will do for you too. Read these words of the Lord. Meditate on them. TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD. Hide behind those words and promises in trust and let them shield you.
Concl: Fellow redeemed, you won’t be sorry if you pay attention to this book. You really won’t! It comes highly recommended because it gives PERFECT knowledge that you won’t find anywhere else AND it will give you a hiding place to go to, a shield and refuge, whenever you need it. Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Amen.