The First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, July 2, 2023)
Rev. Dwayne M. Doyle, Guest Preacher
“The Pearl of Great Price”
1 Kings 3:3-15, Matthew 13:24-52
If you could have anything you wanted in the world, what would you ask for? And you can’t ask for a million other wishes either. Would you ask for a long life? Good health? Riches? Wisdom? To be famous? Solomon was asked that very question by God after becoming the King of Israel. He didn’t ask for the things that most people ask for, instead he asked to be able to have good judgment to rule the kingdom that was handed down to him by his father, King David. God was so impressed with Solomon’s answer that he blessed him with great riches and a long life (with the condition that he followed God’s Commandments), as well as good judgment or wisdom (discernment). We know that Solomon had great wisdom by those that reported visiting him like the Queen of Sheba. He also demonstrated his good judgement by how he dealt with difficult situations, like the two mothers who claimed that each one of the other killed their baby in the night, or switched their dead baby for the live baby. In the morning one of the babies was dead and the other alive. They brought their case before Solomon who said the answer is, “I will cut the baby in half and give each of you your half”. The true mother said, “Don’t kill my baby, give my baby to the other woman”. Solomon reasoned that that was the true mother. And all Israel marveled at his judgement. Solomon wrote many of the Proverbs, the Book of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. He was known as the wisest, richest kings in all of the world!
Yet Jesus said that in His coming to the world there was something greater than Solomon here. Matthew 12:42 The Queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here-but you refuse to listen.
The Book of Proverbs speaks about seeking after Wisdom, Sophia, as you would seek after hidden treasure. Our scripture in the New Testament today is about the Pearl of Great Price. A man went out to seek for a pearl of great price, when he had found it, he sold all that he had to get it. What would you be willing to do to get wisdom?
When I was in college, I determined I was going to be like Albert Schweitzer, a great missionary doctor in the deepest parts of Africa. That plan didn’t work out. Instead, I began studying the Bible and eventually ended up as a minister. While in college I determined that if I could spend the rest of my life studying the Bible, and make a living at it, I would be the happiest person in the world. What is it that you would be willing to sell or give up to have the most important thing in the world? Some people would say that love is the most important thing to have in the world. The Apostle Paul said in 1Corinthians 13:1-3 that you might have everything, but if you have not love, you have nothing.
He said, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” How true, how true.
Love conquers a multitude of sins. And perfect love casts out all fear. Where would we be without love? And Paul concludes, three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13.
Maybe we should ask what or who is Wisdom. If we are talking about knowledge, or intellect, or common sense, we may not be looking for what we should really be looking for.
Proverbs 2:1-12: “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for hidden treasures. For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.”
Matthew 6:33: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
James 3:17: “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”
1 Corinthians 1:17-30: “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say; I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” (Isaiah 29:14)
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit, God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “if you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:24)
Point #1 Seeking after wisdom
Point #2 Acquiring Wisdom
Point #3 Practicing lessons learned from wisdom
Point #4 Sharing the wisdom we have learned with others
The kind of wisdom God has revealed to the children of God is not of this world. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The human race was in a state of separation from God the Creator, and the only way that the relationship could be fixed was for God himself to fix it. The way He fixed it was to come Himself as one of us. He lived the perfect sinless life. He was punished for the sins of the world. Jesus died for us and on the third day rose from the dead. All who put their faith in Him, whether Jew or Gentile, will be saved!
This is the gospel or ‘good news’. To understand this truth is true wisdom.
We must first understand that we live in an imperfect world. It was created to be perfect, but it became flawed. God was upset with the human race and destroyed almost everyone but Noah and his family. He started over with Noah and then selected one man, Abraham, and his wife Sarah to begin his mission to redeem the human race. Through the faith of Abraham, He would one day produce a Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Although Jesus came specifically to His own race, His mission was much broader. Anyone who put their faith in Him would be saved. This kind of wisdom does not come from the world, but is from above.
I went to a liberal arts college and received a good education. I studied philosophy, politics, economics, science, math, art, music. I have been fortunate to have traveled to see different places where people practiced other religions like Buddhism, Islam and different forms of Christianity. I have studied world religions and have studied Christianity. I studied about Community Development and how to help people in places where they are not so well off as we are in the United States. I am thankful for the education that I have and would encourage anyone to get an education and continue to learn all that you can to be helpful to people, animals, and our creation. Knowledge is amazing. I thank God for doctors, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, engineers, lawyers, politicians, astronomers, physicists, musicians, actors, dancers, artists, etc. We need you all. But the most important thing that I have learned about is to know Jesus and to make him known. With this knowledge I know where I will be spending all of eternity. This knowledge to too precious to keep to ourselves. There is a world dying to know it.
Some of our famous Presidents also knew that they needed to ask God for wisdom when they took office. Two such historic figures were President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln.
A PRAYER BY GEORGE WASHINGTON:
Almighty God: We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbpe.20803000/?st=text Library of Congress 07/30/2023
Abraham Lincoln once expressed the importance of seeking God in prayer for wisdom. He said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” Abraham Lincoln
A PRAYER BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
What is your ‘Pearl of Great Price’? What are you willing to give up to get wisdom? Sometimes God does call us to give up everything like St. Francis of Assisi. What are you willing to give up to get to know Jesus better? Remember our task is ‘Seek after Wisdom’, ‘Acquire Wisdom’, ‘Practice the principles learned from Wisdom’, and to ‘Share that Wisdom’ with those around us’. Knowing Jesus was never meant to be just a personal thing or for our church. There is a world out there just waiting to hear about the hope that we have found in Jesus Christ. Think about it.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Pray that you will meet someone this week that you can share your faith with. I will be looking forward to seeing you when I come back next time. God Bless.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.