Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 21 2019 - Proverbs 2 – What our children learn from us

In these opening chapters of Proverbs, Solomon is seeking to pass on his God-given wisdom to his son, particularly, no doubt, to Rehoboam who will succeed him as king. But his words are not for Rehoboam alone; they are recorded here for our learning that we too may live to please God.

This is how Solomon begins his instruction:

My son, if you accept my words
   and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
   and applying your heart to understanding –
indeed, if you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
   and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
   from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  (Proverbs 2:1-6) 

But children learn not only from our words of exhortation; they learn even more effectively from the pattern of our lives. Solomon may have pleaded with his son to live wisely, but he failed to practice what he preached. He allowed himself to be seduced by the trappings of kingship: wealth, splendour, power and women. He allowed himself to be led away from the Lord and into idolatry. He was planting seeds that would spring up to destroy his kingdom in the reign of his son, Rehoboam.

What are our children learning from us? And not just our children – you may not have any of your own – what is the younger generation learning from our lives as older Christians? What are young Christians learning from those of us who have professed to be Christians for many years? They may have heard us speak often of the importance of trusting Christ for salvation, following his calling and devoting our lives to the service of God. But what have they learnt from the pattern of our lives and the priorities displayed in the way we behave? Words are not enough.

Like Proverbs 1, this chapter also emphasises the need for us to listen – for us to turn our ears to wisdom. How well are we listening to God and applying to our own hearts the things he is saying to us? God is always ready to give wisdom to those who ask him (v. 6, cf. James 1:5); he delights to help his children learn and grow. Why not start each day asking God in prayer for the wisdom you need to respond to the demands of that day in such a way that you will be enabled to live well. The life well lived is not a burden or a chore but is "pleasant to the soul" (v. 10), as well as being a beautiful witness to others.

It is only as we live by the wisdom that God gives us through his word and his Spirit that we will enjoy the rich blessings he has for us as his people (see vv. 20-22). Encouraging younger generations, whether or not they are our own children, to live well for God is vital if the church is to thrive under God's blessing and to be the source of blessing to the society where God has placed now and in years to come.

Father, forgive us that our lives have sometimes drowned out our words and have turns others away from following you. Help us to be more like Christ, the word made flesh. May your word shape our lives, enabling us to live wisely and well. May our lives lived under your blessing, and the testimony of our lips, draw many others to follow the Lord Jesus in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. So may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

May 21 2013 - John 11:45-12:19 – The whole world has gone after him

John loves to record occasions when Jesus’ enemies spoke more profoundly than they realised. In these verses we read of a meeting of the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish leaders. The leaders of the nation are deeply troubled at the growing influence of Jesus, particularly after the raising of Lazarus from the dead. His popularity may lead to such excitement at the coming feast in Jerusalem that the Romans might intervene by force, maybe even destroying the Temple. Caiaphas, the high priest, tells the rest of the Sanhedrin not to get so agitated. It is better for one man to die on behalf of the people than that the whole nation be destroyed.

Caiaphas meant that when the moment came, they would hand Jesus over to the Romans and so save their own skins; the one who could give life to the dead cannot be allowed to live. But John adds that Caiaphas spoke better than he knew, he spoke prophetically. Jesus’ death would be a sacrifice through which the people will be saved: “Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one” (John 11:51-52).

From this moment, John tells us, the Jewish leaders plotted Jesus death.

Two great dramas are being played out here. On the one hand there are the plans of human beings driven by selfish ambition and a determination to preserve their own power, position and control. On the other hand there are the eternal purposes of God – God's great plan to reconcile the world to himself through the sacrifice of his own beloved Son. And these two are not separate dramas; the purposes of God are being worked out through the evil plans and devices of human beings. As Peter was later to declare on the day of Pentecost, "This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him... God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah" (Acts 2:23-24, 36).

Those who hold positions of power in this world still believe that they can shape history to their own ends. But God has not given up his dominion to them. He is still working out his own purposes.

In 12:19, John records a similar remark, though this time without adding his own comment. As the feast arrives and Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey he is surrounded by crowds proclaiming him their coming king. The Pharisees, we read, are deeply troubled and, in their frustration declare, “The whole world (the cosmos) has gone after him.” John surely intends us to read this also as an unintended word of prophecy. Jesus is the King of Israel, the promised Messiah to whom the nations must offer obedience. He is the Lord of the whole cosmos to whom every knee shall bow.

Sovereign God, I praise you that your kingdom purposes cannot fail. Lord Jesus, I gladly bow the knee to you and acknowledge that you are Christ the Lord. Thank you that you are able to work through the confused actions of my own life to bring glory to your name. Help me always to be a willing and active agent in the work of your kingdom, so that many more may come to own you as Lord and serve your purpose to bring life and healing to the world. May the whole world go after you.

Peter Misselbrook