- Holy, Holy, Holy
- Open The Eyes Of My Heart
- Be Exalted, O God
- Our readings for this morning are no doubt familiar to many of you. However, as always I encourage you to listen carefully to God’s Word, as if you were hearing it for the first time.Our Old Testament reading comes from Exodus 20:1-17, and it is the Ten Commandments. Let’s listen to God’s Word to us:And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”Our New Testament Reading this morning comes from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25:For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.And finally, our Gospel reading today is from the Gospel of John, chapter 2, vs. 13-22.The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.These readings are from the Holy Word,Thanks be to God.Let’s prayAlmighty, powerful, sovereign God, we have gathered in this place at this time to once again put you first. We admit we need to be reminded often of your ways and to follow you instead of chasing after our own follies. God we ask to hear from you this morning, speak to each one of our hearts as we make our best efforts to listen to you. In your great love show us your grace. In your grace, open our spirits and align them with yours. We pray this in the Name of Your Holy Son, Jesus, AMEN.I believe we can all think of a time when despite our best efforts our wisdom was lacking. Years ago, I heard this story of a brick layer whose work and time saving idea went awry.He had submitted a claim to his insurance company for numerous injuries, but all that he put on the claim form was “Lost presence of mind.” Because of the size of the claim, the insurance company requested more information. The man gave the following response:Dear Sir,I am writing in response to your request for additional information in block number 3, with reference to my accident where I put “lost presence of mind” as to the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust these details will suffice.I’m a bricklayer by trade, and on the day of the accident, I was working on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I discovered I had about 600lbs of bricks left over. Rather than carry them down by hand, I decided to lower them down in a barrel by using a pulley which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up on the roof, swung the barrel up, and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back down to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 600lbs of bricks. You will note in block number 11 of the reporting form that I weigh 165lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked up off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and I forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down and this explains the fractured skull and the broken collar bone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep in the pulley — and this explains the lacerations on my right hand. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and I was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my great pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50lbs. I refer you again to my weight of 165lbs in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building, and in the vicinity of the third floor I met the barrel coming up — and this accounts for the two fractured ankles and the lacerations of my leg and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me down and lessened my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks — and fortunately only three vertebrate were broken. I’m sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks, in pain, unable to stand, looking up at the empty barrel six stories above me, again I lost my presence of mind and I let go of the rope.And you thought you were having a bad day.Suffice it to say, we’ve all done some pretty stupid things and “lost our presence of mind”.When we consider our wisdom and the wisdom of God there is no comparison. Paul writes,For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.Our human wisdom cannot even compare to the foolishness of God, nor can our greatest human strength.Some of our greatest scientists were involved in putting NASA’s Perseverance rover on the planet Mars. Truly that is an amazing feat. The craft was launched from earth on July 30, 2020, about 7 months prior. Now if you think about it, Mars was not at the same place in it’s orbit around the sun when it the craft was launched from Earth. So calculations had to be made based on our knowledge of the Earth’s orbit and Mar’s orbit around the sun, how fast the craft would be flying, and where Mar’s would be 7 months later! Now for those of you who don’t follow these things, NASA had to make a few tweaks to it’s trajectory over those 7 months to insure that it would land on the planet and then land where it was supposed to.Human beings are indeed capable of astonishing feats. I continue to be amazed at the technology available to us. It’s all around us. Most of us are currently in possession of a computer that has more memory than the computers that put man on the moon, or filled the first space shuttle. And it fits in our pockets.But when it comes to God we are all really neophytes. We look at the 10 commandments and we think like the Israelites in the time of Moses, “I can do that.” But we can’t - and never could! That was the whole point.And we know that throughout the Old Testament we get a bunch of laws beyond just the 10 commandments. In the end there are over 600 laws. Many of them having to do with proper sacrifices and offerings, and so we come to our reading in John, it’s during the passover, a time when offerings and sacrifices were prescribed.Man, in his wisdom thought, “Hey, here’s a need and I can provide a service.” And so a whole economy is set up based on the need for the Jews to make sacrifices. They can purchase their sacrifice right there at the temple. So we find Jesus clearing the Temple. It was to be a house of prayer - Mark records Jesus as saying.So we have the 10 commandments, and the other 620 some odd commands of the Old Testament and we were unable to keep them. Despite all of humanities efforts. Throughout the Old Testament when commands are given by God, you find Israel responding with something along the lines of, “Everything you have said, we will do.” And then just verses later we find they don’t.Are we any better?Wisdom & FollyNo, we’re not.Years ago while serving a church in Chattanooga, I was standing in a grocery line that was moving slow and so the woman in front of me started a conversation. We chit chatted for a while and she mentioned my accent and asked what I did. I told her I was a pastor. Immediately she said, “I don’t got to church, they’re all a bunch of hypocrites.”I casually responded, “Yes, we are.”She got very upset. “How can you say that! You’re a pastor!” the irony made me laugh. Apparently it was okay for her to throw judgment but not for a pastor to be self aware.I said, “Easy, we say, ‘Don’t sin,’ and then we continue to do so.” I then told her we’re all dependent upon the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus.Paul wrote:For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.Think of it, the power of God is displayed in the cross.When Paul was preaching to the Corinthians, he focused on the saving fact of Christ’s crucifixion, a method of execution considered “so crude it was not even mentioned in polite company.”Crucifixion has been deemed by scientists as the cruelest ways ever invented to put a person to death. It maximizes the amount of pain the person must endure pitting their body’s natural reflex to work to take a breath against the agony of being supported by nails through the bundles of nerves in the carpal and metatarsal areas of the hands and feet. In agony the crucified would eventually succumb to the pain and exhaustion and ultimately suffocate. It was a process that could take days.The cross, oh, that wonderful cross!It is a powerful symbol and reminder of what God has done for us! But the fool says, I can do it myself. The fool says, in my human wisdom I can.Yet over and over again we see through Scripture, “I cannot...”I cannot by my own power be made righteous, even if I tried to follow every law in the Bible:But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,The cross, is a symbol of God’s grace. And I will say whether your’e looking at a cross where Jesus is displayed hanging on the cross, or an empty cross - both are symbols of God’s grace.Yes, it is folly to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.Paul wrote to the church in Rome,For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.The word of the cross to us who are being saved is the power of God.We are preparing for Communion today. And it was while preparing for communion in 1707 that Isaac Watts wrote in his famous hymn, “When I Survey”. It is a deeply moving and personal expression of gratitude for the amazing love that the death of Christ on the cross revealed.One theologian called this the greatest hymn in the English language.In closing, I’d like you to listen to these words penned by Isaac Watts over 300 years ago.
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most—I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small: Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.Oh, that wonderful Cross.Wisdom & FollyAs we prepare for Communion this morning, let’s think about that wonderful Cross and the power of God it is and how it demonstrates God’s love for each one of us and God’s abundant grace.
1 Corinthians 1:18–25ESV
1 Corinthians 1:25ESV
1 Corinthians 1:18ESV
- Break Thou the Bread of Life
- O Lord , You're Beautiful
- Benediction Song
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