August 30, 2009: God’s Church is an Oasis for Thirsty Souls

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for making us a part of Your kingdom! Thank You for pouring out the Spirit upon us. Thank You for enabling us to quench our thirsty souls with the water of eternal life. And thank You for having a well spring of love and grace that never runs dry. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF THE CHURCH

TEXT: Proverbs 9: 1-6

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

Do you know why the scientists are so interested in exploring Mars? Why not Venus or Jupiter? Well, Mars, the red planet, is unique in that it has ice caps. Without water there can be no life as we know it. However, since Mars has ice, it has water, and perhaps, they think, it might also have some primitive life forms. Also, if humans ever wish to colonize Mars, those ice caps might prove to be invaluable since our lives are sustained by water, too.

I’ve read that you can live several weeks without food—some us might even make it longer considering those middle-aged pounds! But, without water, you can live only about 3 or 4 days. That’s why in the desert there are timeworn paths across the caravan trails snaking to the oasis’ that dot that region. I’ve often called God’s Church, and its presence here at Pinewood, an oasis. Why? Because we live in a spiritual desert of a dog-eat-dog, might makes right, society. However, here God’s love and compassion flow forth. Here people are caressed by God’s grace. Here we don’t play favorites.

God’s Church, His invisible army of believers both in this world and in heaven, is a place of solace and rest for weary, parched souls. And today, you’ve come to His Church to drink deeply from His well of eternal life. Let’s do just that by looking at this little lesson written by King Solomon and be reminded in the process just how much:

GOD’S CHURCH IS AN OASIS FOR THIRSTY SOULS

I

In the ancient Greek language, the word for wisdom is: Sophia. Today, the closest relative we have to that is the word: sophomore. That is, sophomores always seem to think they are so wise before added schooling starts to reveal otherwise! Many ancient churches adopted the name: Sophia, because God’s Church is the ultimate in true wisdom. Solomon, under the inspiration of the Spirit, knew that. After all, he was the wisest man that ever lived. And so, in our lesson when he refers to “wisdom” building her house, that is a direct reference to how the Christian Church builds up God’s people. Listen again to his words: “Wisdom has built her house; she (remember the Church is a she as it is the Bride of Christ) has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.”

II

God’s Church is a creation of the Holy Spirit. And in poetic terms the work of the Church, under the Spirit’s direction, is laid out. Those seven pillars holding up the Church are a reference to the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit, poured out upon her. Isaiah 11 verse 2 and 3 catalogues those gifts in specific terms. After prophesying the coming of Christ and speaking of Him as a “shoot that will come from the stump of Jesse” we hear these words concerning the fruit Christ’s work will bear: “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” So, from ancient times, the seven fold gifts of the Spirit are: 1. The Spirit of the Lord. 2. The Spirit of wisdom. 3. The Spirit of understanding. 4. The Spirit of counsel. 5. The Spirit of power. 6. The Spirit of knowledge. And 7. The fear of the Lord.

God’s Church is a very special place because of these seven gifts. And note well that all of them are contained and found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. By being given His Spirit you’re given a new heart, a pure, cleansed one. Christ did that on the cross when He made us right with God, washing away our guilt over sin with His blood. With that comes wisdom, or the ability of focus on making Godly judgments. Also, true understanding of what’s really important in this world and the one to come, comes via the Spirit. Then comes counsel, or the ability of think and ponder profound thoughts about eternal things. Lest anyone think this is just a lot of hot air, power is also included. Yes, you and I have the power to move mountains via prayer and the power to direct God’s heart towards even more good. Knowledge is important in all this, too. Knowing in your innermost heart what God’s will for you truly is keeps the devil at bay and you humble. And all that leads to fear, or respect towards God for giving His all to save your soul. These are the principles, the pillars, upon which God’s Church, or Wisdom, is based and founded. And, as always, Christ is the chief cornerstone.

III

Pinewood truly is an oasis for thirsty souls! She calls, or invites “All who are simple and lack judgment” to come in and receive it. Every Sunday for 125 years she has done just that. For a century and a quarter, she has helped to instruct and feed the young via Sunday School, held countless confirmation and Bible Classes, communed thousands, baptized hundreds, and fostered a community of blest believers within her walls. And every step of the way her message has remained the same since the time of Solomon: “Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.”

Recently my lovely wife told me a story. A woman she works with remarked one day: “You’re always so calm and don’t let the turmoil of the company bother you. Why is that?” My wife responded: “Well, if you’ve got the big issues of life taken care of by God, there really is no need to worry about the little ones.” Unfortunately, that woman couldn’t grasp that concept. It went right over her head because God’s peace and His gifts don’t rest upon her right now. That is what Solomon is referring to when he speaks of leaving your simple ways and you will live. Each of is blest beyond human understanding. Each of you knows that God will always take care of you. Each of you realizes that He invested the priceless blood of Christ in you. Each of you realizes that the worst thing the world has to offer: death, is actually the best thing you can ever receive because it leads to heaven! The peace, calmness, and understanding such knowledge breeds within is worth more than all the money, gold, and diamonds in this world. And it’s all yours—for free—in Christ!

For 22 years I’ve harped that Sunday morning is the most important time of the entire week because here at Church your hearts are cleansed and your lives are transformed. It is because of that reason that God’s Church truly is an oasis for thirsty souls! Amen