The Wise and the Otherwise (Lydia Calder)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am August 15, 2021
Led by Lydia Calder
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Elder: Nick Nation
Children’s Time: Lydia Calder
Vocalist: Vivian Houg

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting:

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you

P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: God’s word is a lamp to guide us.
P: God’s word is a light for our path.

L: God’s teachings are our heritage, an eternal possession by which the wise are guided.

P: When we are filled by God’s Spirit, his teachings become the joy of our hearts.
L: God calls us to hear and to follow. Blessed be the name of our God.

Opening praise: Love the Lord your God

Love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind

with all your strength (repeat)

 With all your heart, with all your soul,

With all your mind, with all your strength

Love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind

with all your strength

I will serve the Lord with all my heart

With all my soul, with all my mind

With all my strength (repeat)

 With all my heart, with all my soul,

With all my mind, with all my strength

I will serve the Lord with all my heart

With all my soul, with all my mind

With all my strength

Songwriter: Lincoln Brewster © Universal Music Publishing Group.
Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​.
All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship

L: Come, people of God. Come to hear the teaching of the Lord.

P: Happy are those who delight in the law of the Lord.

L: God’s teachings are perfect and sure and right and true.

P: Let us worship God who gives us wisdom, guidance and truth.

Prayers of approach and confession

God of grace and God of glory, we gather today as your people to worship you and to be strengthened by your wisdom and your power. We thank you that your ways are greater than our ways and that your purpose for creation is loving and life-giving. May we hear and receive your message this day. Speak to us clearly that we might be healed and empowered; that we might live in your wisdom and walk in your truth. We call on your name, O Lord. Raise us up in the light and peace of your presence.

Almighty God, your wisdom includes an understanding of what is fair, what is logical, what is true, what is right and what is lasting. Made in your image, we too desire a world of truth and justice. Yet, we squander our lives on objects and activities that contradict the very things we say we believe in. We are sure that we are clever, and yet instead we can be so foolish.  We imagine that we are humble before you, yet we are puffed up with our own importance. Father, take us to the place where we are saved from our own pride and arrogance.  Take us to the place where we’re no longer looking up at the mountains we face, but looking down upon them, where we can see clearly and our decisions are flooded with Your light, truth and justice.  We pray in the name of the Saviour. Amen.

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Our wise God knows that human beings need forgiveness and restoration. Jesus Christ sacrificed his life that we might have salvation and be reconciled to God through him. Rejoice, we are forgiven.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

We give you all thanks and praise, O God, for your wisdom and humility are the source of true greatness and you draw near to all who draw near to you. You nourish us with the fruits of the earth and the wise teachings of your Word.

Yet, even in the midst of our praise we are burdened for the pain we see around us. The sick, the dying, the bereaved, the lonely. Those without food, shelter, employment. Those without love, faith, hope.

God of Compassion, help us shape this troubled world into a better place. May we never become so accustomed to the images  of suffering that we fail to respond in ways that bring tangible help to those in need.  This week we especially remember the people of Afghanistan as their country falls inexorably into the hands of the Taliban.  And also the victims of yesterday’s earthquake in Haiti where the people seem to go from one disaster to another in the midst of great poverty.

God of transformation: help us shape a society where all are free of the burdens of racism, violence, greed, abuse and exploitation; where all people are able to work with dignity, are rewarded fairly, and respected fully;

God of dignity, help us shape a community where violence is not tolerated, where the weak are protected, where the elderly are honored for their experience and children are cherished for their gifts.

God of unity, help shape churches that are united in worship and devotion and bound together in a search for justice for all people.  We pray for the congregations in this city and neighborhood; let our common calling as faithful people not be hampered by the differences of our traditions.

God of all times and places, we pray for our families and our friends, for those we see each day and those we have not seen for a long time. Bless them and keep each of them in your care.

We especially remember Jack and Joyce Brown in the death of their granddaughter, Erin. Lord, please bring comfort to this entire family as they grieve the loss of a beautiful young woman who had so much life ahead of her. May they be able to give thanks for the time they had with her and be free of any regrets.     God who hears the still small voice, listen now as we offer you our prayers in silence:

Your Word, O Lord,  declares that we can come to You for wisdom. And so, we come. Instruct us, O Lord and teach us in the way we should go. Direct our footsteps and correct us when we have gone astray. Grant us calm spirits and clear thinking, the commitment to study your word and the conviction to live by it.

Grant that we might live humbly before you, relying on you for direction and discernment. And that we might live graciously before others, that our lives might declare the good news of Jesus, in whose name we pray, Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time                  

Gradual: Jesus loves me

Story

Oh, Hi.  Sorry for ignoring you. I was just looking at something interesting on my phone.

Original cell phones were just telephones you could carry with you. But over time they became more and more fancy. Back when these fancy models were introduced people called them smartphones because they can give information right away.

We can do all sorts of amazing things with a smart phone.  We read books, play games, get the news and the traffic reports and the weather. We can take photos and videos with a phone. That’s because it really isn’t a telephone as much as it is a computer we can use for talking to each other.

What’s silly is that a lot of people use their smart phones for stupid things.  For instance, while they’re driving a car or walking across the street.

n an October day in 2019 a 47 year old man named Tedzu  set out to make a live-stream video of a climb up Mt Fuji. Mount Fuji is a very famous, tall mountain in Japan that is open for climbing mainly in the summer months.  Tedzu called his live stream  “Let’s Go to Snowy Mt. Fuji.”

If you were going on a hike in the mountains how would you dress?  What would you take with you? Now a person can find that kind of information on a cell phone but Teju didn’t check.  He wore regular street clothes and regular shoes. The only special things he took were gloves and a pair of ski poles.

At a certain point he wondered if he was on the right path – and he wasn’t.  He was going up the path that was meant for coming down. Then he got to the snow, then deeper snow.  He complained that his hands were cold and numb and he wished he’d brought hot packs with him.  He started slipping and sliding because he was wearing shoes instead of hiking boots.

So here’s a question for you?  Was Tedzu being smart? Was he making good decisions?

Even though he had a smart phone with him he still made dumb choices.

Sometimes very smart people make very stupid choices.  They are smart – but they are not wise.  That means they don’t know how to best use the information they have.

The Bible tells us that recognizing God’s power is the beginning of all wisdom.  Reading the Bible, going to church and Sunday School, talking with wise people who love Jesus are all good ways to learn about God and the things we need to know in order to live good and happy lives.

Smart phones are great.  The Bible is great too.  We need to use both of them well.

And we need to remember that being smart isn’t nearly as important as being wise.

Prayer: Thank you God for the Bible … and for the lessons we can learn from it… Help us to follow Jesus… Help us to become wise people…  Amen

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Song: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet  496  

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path (repeat)

When I feel afraid, think I’ve lost my way,
Still you’re there right beside me
And nothing will I fear as long as you are near
Please be near me to the end

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (repeat)

I will not forget your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus be my guide and hold me to your side,
And I will love you to the end.

 Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (repeat)

Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Michael Whitaker Smith. Thy Word lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, DistroKid  Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Scripture readings:                       
Old Testament: 1 Kings 3:3-14
Psalm 111
New Testament: Ephesians 5:15-20

Response: Glory to the Father            

Message: “The wise and the otherwise”

Starting in 1985, or thereabouts, smart-aleck citizens of what would one day be called the internet began sharing of stories of bizarre, tragic or just plain silly deaths. Eventually Wendy Northcott a scientist with a degree in nuclear biology started to compile them for publication. Since these victims were said to have contributed to human evolution by ‘self-selecting’ themselves for extinction she named them The Darwin Awards.

During the children’s time I told the story Tedzu, the guy who climbed Mt Fuji using his phone to live stream to an audience. He chose the wrong time of year, the wrong path and the wrong equipment. When he should have stopped and turned back, he didn’t.

The last words he ever spoke were, “Wait, I’m slipping.”

His viewers alerted authorities and his body was recovered the next day. Tedzu won the 2020 Darwin Award.

One of the elders in Knox Church New Westminster who had a degree in psychology and ran a private practice once said to me, “Lydia, there are a lot of stupid people in the world.”

Our Old Testament lesson this morning from 1 Kings tells us of Solomon asking God for wisdom.  He said “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”

Never has the world needed wisdom as much as we do today.  This generation is probably the most knowledgeable the world has ever seen.  We have the answer to so many questions right at our fingertips.   But wisdom is in short supply.

What is wisdom? Dictionary definitions for the word wisdom include:

  1. Common sense
  2. Good judgement
  3. Accumulated learning

Charles Spurgeon was a famous preacher of the late 19th century. He define wisdom as “the right use of knowledge.” He wrote, “ To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. To know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

Those of us who are blessed to live in developed countries, are well-educated and well-informed. We like to think we know a lot, that we have our lives pretty much under control, we’re doing just fine, thank you very much.

Then we are faced with a pandemic that turns our world upside down and we realize how little we know, how very vulnerable we are. There have been benefits to Covid 19 – one of them is the realization that we do not know it all and we cannot solve it all.  We have been crippled by something we can’t even see.

The truth is we know practically nothing about virtually everything. In order to become wise, we must first acknowledge that we are ignorant.

Albert Einstein said that wisdom is the product of a lifetime attempt to acquire it.

Yes. But even then, what we will have attained is minuscule. God is the only omniscient being.  God is the source of all knowledge and understanding.  True wisdom begins with God.

Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  The word fear in this context does not mean fright, but rather reverence. If a person does not know God who created all things, revealed truth, and established values, he or she cannot be truly wise.

This is an important detail. If we do not face up to our lack of wisdom, we are lost before we begin. It is the arrogant person who thinks he never needs counsel. It is the foolish person who refuses to admit her need for wisdom.

And of course, a person whose heart is divided between allegiance to God and the allurements of the world isn’t fully committed to the attainment of wisdom. He’s just shopping for answers that fit what he wants to do. “Yeah, I’d like to know what God wants just so I can compare it to other opinions. If God’s wisdom sounds good, I’ll follow it. But if Oprah’s wisdom sounds better, I’ll follow that.”

“The Chinese have a saying, “Doubt is standing in two boats, with one foot in each.” You can easily see the problem there.

There are vacillating Christians who cannot decide from one trial to the next whether they will really trust the Lord and follow the path of wisdom. The on again-off again Christian should not expect to receive anything from the Lord because they don’t really want it.

Ask God. After we acknowledge our need for wisdom then we must ask for it.

Hear the words of  James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Wisdom is a divine gift. You don’t get it just by living a long life or experiencing lots of  different things. We all know people who are just as ignorant now as they were 20 years ago.

You get wisdom from God. And God will give generously. God is not stingy with this gift because he knows how badly we need it. The word James uses here means “without reserve.”

God delights to give us wisdom. God wants us to come and ask for it. To ask as many times as we need it (which for me is often).

Is there a magic formula or incantation?  No.  Do we need to sprinkle holy water on a consecrated altar.  No.  Do we have to work for it or earn it or buy it?  No.

Instead we go to the Bible with an open and inquiring mind.  Don’t just get information, but meditate on what you read, think about it and how you can apply it to your life.

Learn what God is saying in the Scriptures. Follow the teachings. Observe the consequences. Evaluate. Ask questions in the light of what you have learned in the Scriptures. What made this work right? Could I have done better? Why didn’t that turn out the way I wanted it to?  Why did they respond that way? What could I have done differently?

Also, connect with wise people. Talk to them about the way they live, how they work, how they apply God’s teachings in their lives. Talk to them about how they are obedient to God and how God blesses them.

Pastor Warren Wiersbe (Be Mature [Victor Books], p. 29) tells of a woman who was going through difficult trials. She’d had a stroke, her husband had gone blind, and then he had to be taken to the hospital where, as far as they knew, he would die. Wiersbe saw this woman in church one Sunday and assured her that he was praying for her.

She startled him by saying, “What are you asking God to do?” He replied, “I’m asking God to help you and strengthen you.”

“I appreciate that,” she said, “but pray about one more thing. Pray that I’ll have the wisdom not to waste all of this!”

CONCLUSION

Earlier we read about Solomon.  He could have had any earthly thing he desired. But Solomon’s request was that God grant him a discerning heart – wisdom. At the height of his spiritual power wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7).

Sadly, in later life he ceased to fear God and began to depend on human wisdom.  King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. His downfall was that he had many foreign wives of royal birth who led him astray. In 1 Kings11 we read, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods…He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.  The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away…”

Solomon was no longer the world’s wisest man. He was the world’s most knowledgeable fool.

Do you need wisdom today?  Do you face a problem which has exhausted your best efforts to solve? Are you looking for answers which seem to evade you?

There is hope. The One who is All-wise delights to give wisdom to those who ask with a trusting heart.

Daniel 12:3 says, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens.”  WoW! I want to be one of those people. I hope you do too.

Let’s acknowledge our need for wisdom. Then go to God and Ask. Ask. Ask. Amen

Song: O Christ, the Word, incarnate    505                v1,2

O Christ, the Word incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky:
we praise you for the radiance
that from the hallowed page,
a lantern for our footsteps,
shines on from age to age.

Your people hold this treasure
from you, its source divine,
a light that to all ages
throughout the earth will shine;
it is the chart and compass
that all life’s voyage through,
‘mid mists and rocks and tempest,
still guides, O Christ, to you.

Words: public domain Music: public domain

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

We give thanks, Lord God Almighty, that in wisdom and power, you created all things. May everything that has breath acknowledge your lordship.

We give thanks that you are reflected in human skill and creativity and for all the work that is done in your name and for your glory.

We give thanks for human love and friendship and for all that enriches our daily lives.

We give thanks for the church, the body of Christ and especially those who are part of Dayspring.

We are grateful for those of your disciples who seek wisdom, who daily keep laying aside their immaturity and ignorance, who want to grow up, who want to pray and ponder, who think clearly and are not afraid of hard thoughts.

We give thanks, O Lord, for the salvation that we have through Jesus Christ, and for the hope he gives us for today, tomorrow and eternity.  Amen

Response: Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Reflection on giving

We have been giving faithfully throughout the pandemic. This reflects our commitment to continue the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

For those of you in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelops with you— simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service  today.

Song: God of Grace and God of Glory  490                v1,4,5  

God of grace and God of glory,
on thy people pour thy power;
crown thine ancient church’s story;
bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.

Set our feet on lofty places;
gird our lives that they may be
armoured with all Christ-like graces,
pledged to set all captives free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
that we fail not them nor thee,
that we fail not them nor thee!

Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the search for thy salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving thee whom we adore,
serving thee whom we adore.

Words: public domain Music: descant © Kevin Mayhew Ltd, 1990.  Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: God to enfold you

Postlude

(Zoom breakout rooms)

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” – Abraham Lincoln


Some of this material may have been previously published by Lydia Calder. Lydia Calder retains the copyright on all original material. As far as the writer is aware, the illustrations used are public domain.  Reference sources available on request.

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Posted in Recent Sermons.