The year was 1695. It was midnight. There were no street lights or electricity. It was pitch black in the house. A ten-year-old boy is tiptoeing down the stairs with only a candle to light his way. He shields the light with his hand to keep the light from spilling all over and waking up the adults. He slowly opens the door to the study, knowing if he pushes too fast, the hinges will squeak and his adventure will be found out. He has a burning passion for music but he has been told that the music used for the church is too valuable to be used by children. He squeezes his arm through an opening in the lattice and he rolls up a piece of organ music and pulls it out. He spends the rest of the night copying the music on another piece of paper, all by candlelight. He cannot wait to play this music the next day.
Let me ask you this question, what sets apart someone who is in favor with God and on the way to enjoy the blessings of heaven and someone who is turning away from God and on the path of destruction? The answer is, what makes you happy. I mean deep down, what you really want to satisfy your heart desire.
Last week we talked about how every thought, every word, and every deed is moving us in a direction. We are going somewhere. In Psalm 1, David says you will be blessed if you don’t go the way of the ungodly, the sinner, and the scornful. It starts with going for a walk, standing, and eventually sitting. It never happens all at once.
As “there are no small things” we are told to “work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23), something as simple as making your bed can do wonders for your happiness and health, and carefulness is a virtue, according to Aristotle, then paying attention to details and concentrating on bettering seemingly unimportant small skills is important for the overall well-being, success, and fulfillment of a student. Thus, the insistence when a teacher makes you put your heading in the correct corner with each piece of information, or makes you use graph paper for math, or makes you re-do an answer that she cannot read—are all examples of an effort to help a student realize the importance of being careful with details.
The sermon uses the metaphor of games for resource allocation and human cooperation to help understand the story of the creation of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 2. Students were challenged to ask themselves about the goals of the various games they play in life (family, school, religious, etc) and whether or not the strategies they employ will lead them to desirable outcomes. The standard is God’s claim that the world is a better place with humanity than without it (Genesis 1:26-31). Are you handling your life in a way that allows you to assess it the way God originally assessed man’s presence in his creation?
It is interesting to me that Psalm 1 starts off negatively. David writes, “blessed is the man who walks not”. You would think that a book that says a lot about praise and worship would start with a “Hallelujah” but if you remember, the first word is blessed. There are amazing blessings in Christ but the first blessing is something you should not do. If you don’t do this, you will be blessed. What is it? Listen to verse 1 again
I am going to let you all in on a parenting secret. The night before Christmas or a big birthday is not always all joy and happiness. It can be extremely stressful. In fact, the weeks leading up to a big celebration are very tense. For example, trying to get the perfect Christmas gift has meant fighting large crowds and driving all over the place to go to the right store that has the right gift. Or it has meant spending hours and hours on the internet searching for something that you end up overpaying for shipping and handling to make sure it gets here on time. When that big day arrives, we as parents are all thinking, it will be worth it to see the smile on our child’s face and as they throw themselves at our feet and wrap their arms around our knees and gush forth in humble gratitude. However, especially when a child is young, they open the gift and…meh. We rush down there and show them how it works and all the noises and buttons. The child begins to play with it and we run around the room giving ourselves high fives. But when we look over again, they are eating the wrapping paper and playing with the box it came in while the toy is lying by itself on the floor.
If you were to ask people around here two weeks ago, what would you be doing on Labor Day? What would the answer be? Hanging out by the beach perhaps. Mow the grass. Grilling out. Lounging around. What if you would have asked people in Houston, Rockport or Port Aransas or any of those surrounding areas two weeks ago, and ask them what would they be doing on Labor Day? Then asked them today, what they actually did this last weekend, you would have had totally different answers. I think this shows how we all get really comfortable with our lives, and the day to day routine of going to school, coming home, and relaxing on the weekends. We are pretty happy with how things are going. Then all of a sudden, everything we know is threatened.
In Genesis, we see that man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Part of what this means can be found in the way God creates. He first creates a formless mass of chaos (Genesis 1:2) and then progressively organizes the world after a fashion that makes it amenable to human beings and their experience of God’s presence. This is capitulated in the story of Eden (Genesis 2:7-15), where God creates a space for man to meet with God that is the ideal composition between chaos and order. If we see God’s creative work as a symbol of what it means to be a human being in God’s image, we can see that man is the being that negotiates between chaos and order on the earth. We do this by finding ways to cultivate nature in a way that brings something new out of it that was not there before without eliminating its potential entirely. A good example might be a garden in which there are no insects. Without bugs, the garden will produce no fruit. It is too orderly. But in a field without cultivation there may or may not be food fit for humans depending upon weather and animal activity. In connection with John 1:1-18 and Colossians 1:15-20, we can see that