Proverbs – Genuine trust and wisdom will be proved by love

GENUINE TRUST & WISDOM WILL BE PROVED BY LOVE

 

Proverbs 3:1-35

 

INTRODUCTION [v1-2]

 

In chapter 1 – focussed on some of the many voices that call us to follow.

In chapter 2 – the two basic paths we can follow through life – God’s or our own.

In chapter 3 – genuine trust and genuine wisdom and the proof of these by genuine love – the chapter ends with alternative ways in which God’s deals with people – two ways we have to choose from will obtain two different responses from God.

 

We cannot pretend to trust God or to accept his wisdom – our genuineness [or lack of it] will be revealed – both in our relationship to God and in our relationship to our neighbour.

 

A passage like this speaks about the health and wealth and happiness that will be enjoyed by those who follow God – towards the end of the chapter speaks about how those who ignore God will be judged by him.

 

Yet when I look at people around me – people who live with out ref. to God they appear to be healthier, wealthier and and happier than many Christians.

I sometimes wonder if this Christian life is really worth it? Sometimes there appear to be more problem being a Christian than not being one!!

 

So when I read

Proverbs 3:2

2 for they will prolong your life many years

and bring you prosperity. (NIV)

I wonder if this is true!!

 

Do you sometimes have thoughts like that?

 

How do we deal with it?

We need to look at the deeper meaning of these verses, we need to see them in their context and also take an eternal view – look at God’s promises in the long term.

 

V.1-2 is a general introduction urging us to be attentive to teaching and commands and the benefits this brings.

These teachings and commands are not the random thoughts of a parent – The language that is used is the vocabulary of the Torah [the Jewish books of the Law – Ge., Ex., Le., Nu., Dt]

Teaching – meaning direction – Reminds us of

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (NIV)

 

Each generation is responsible to teach the next one about God – Are we? If you are a parent you are teaching your children – the question is ‘What are you teaching them?’

 

The promise is life and prosperity!

The idea is not simply a long life BUT a full life – what Jesus called an abundant life – it may mean a long and happy physical life – but ultimately it is eternal life. No matter how long and happy this life may be it will end in death [Unless Christ returns before you die].

Prosperity does not refer to material riches – if that were the case people would be queueing up to get into Church – you may be blessed with material riches but that is not the primary meaning of the promise – The Heb. word is ‘Shalom’ – peace – in that word there is meant peace, happiness, wholeness, fullness of life!

 

This full life is what is promised to those who take to heart the teachings and commands of God!!

 

1. ATTITUDES TO GODLY INSTRUCTION. [v3-12]

 

1.1. We are to be stedfast in our commitment. v3-4

 

Proverbs 3:3-4

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;

bind them around your neck,

write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 Then you will win favour and a good name

in the sight of God and man. (NIV)

 

Love and faithfulness are a key pair of words in the OT –

Psalm 25:10

10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful

for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

 

Proverbs 20:28

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;

through love his throne is made secure. (NIV)

 

ILLUS.: Israel’s relationship to God  was described by God as being like a marriage – when they move away from God and worshipped foreign gods God accused them of breaking faith and not loving him.

 

God is loving and faithful to us — our response should reflect those same characteristics to God AND to other people.

These need to become part of our very being – ‘… write them on the tablet of your heart…’

 

promise attached – we all like to be thought well of by others – living God’s way will give us that – not only from other people but also from God.

 

1.2. We are to be dependent in our thinking. v5-6

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)

 

This is contrary thinking to the world in which we life – we are constsntly encouraged as are our children at school to be ‘independent thinkers’  [this is a point up to which this is true] – we are not to be mindless, passive followers – God has given us brain and the ablity to think and we need to do so …

… BUT our thinking is to be guided and moulded by God and his word.

 

We can’t pick and choose which part of God’s word we can accept and which parts we can reject -[Yes! certain parts are difficult] — our whole-hearted trust must be in God and his word.

 

‘Lean’ [v5] not to incline towards – as to lean against a wall  – it is support – thus think rather of the floor on which you stand rather than as the wall against which you lean.

 

-promise-

The ‘..make your paths straight..’ is more than God offering guidance [it includes that] but has the sense that God will bring you to his appointed goal for you.

 

 

 

1.3. We are to be humble in our obedience. v7-8

 

Proverbs 3:7-8

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the LORD and shun evil.

8 This will bring health to your body

and nourishment to your bones. (NIV)

 

The first temptation that humankind ever faced was to be like God – to gain wisdom by disobeying God. Garden of Eden –

 

Genesis 3:6

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (NIV)

 

Illus.: Ever been in a situation where you are trying to explain something to a child – but they have an answer for everything – they know it all –

 

Sometimes we treat God like that – we think we have all the answers – so God is left out – what does he know anyway!!

 

Or maybe we don’t leave him out as much as we set ourselves up as judge and pitt our wisdom against God’s

God says ‘Love your neighbour’

We say ‘Yes Lord but with regard to Harry I don’t I should love him, after all look what he did to me.’

 

Not only ‘not wise in my own eyes’ BUT also ‘fearing God’ – Realising that this God is not a celestial Santa Claus – he is awesome, fearful, he is judge and redeemer, he is the one who wants our allegience and complete and humble obedience.

 

1.4. We are to be lavishly generous in our giving. v9-10

 

Proverbs 3:9-10

9 Honour the LORD with your wealth,

with the firstfruits of all your crops;

10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,

and your vats will brim over with new wine. (NIV)

 

NB – it is with the firstfruits – often we only give God what is left over – everything we have we have from God – he has first claim – Not only our money!!

 

While I agree with planned giving – e.g. tithing [10%] – I prefer to think of this as follows:- God has given me this life – my abilities – possessions – time -etc.—- I must put him first in my life – how best do I use all these things for him.

 

Maybe you think it would be easier if you had more – ‘Lord if I had XX then I would gladly give it to serve you’

 

ILLUS.: Pig Farmer and vicar in Wiltshire

Vicar ‘Would you give £1000?’                  Farmer ‘Yes’

V. ‘Would you give £2000?’              Farmer ‘Yes’

V. ‘Would you give 10 pigs?’            F.‘Come on, you know I have 10 pigs!’

 

God wants us to give him the best of what we have –

Does that mean more Church activities – NO! Not necessarily – maybe less – more time with children; that needy relative; that friend from work; less activity and more time alone with him in B/study …..in other words Put God First.

 

1.5. We are to be submissive in our experience of affliction. v11-12

 

Proverbs 3:11-12

11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline

and do not resent his rebuke,

12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,

as a father the son he delights in. (NIV)

 

Resentment is often a natural response to hardship.

‘What have I done to deserve this?’

‘Why should this happen to me?’

 

Sometimes hardship is self-inflicted — sometime a consequence of our our actions.

But sometime God allows things to happen to us to teach us – to mould us – to bring us to be mature Christians.

 

Hebrews 12:5-11 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIV)

 

Far from hardship and discipline being a sign of God’s lack of love it is exactly the opposite. It is a sign that he loves us – he wants us to share in his holiness.

Hardship and discipline in itself does not produce holiness –

How do we respond? – despise it??  resent it??  – that will produce no holiness –

It is struggling through it – accepting it from him – trusting him [like Job].Not pretnding that it it is easy – no discipline is!!

 

These attitudes – responding to God’s teaching this way will result in a full and meaningful life both in this present earthly life [not necessarliy materially] but ultimately in the after-life!

 

2. BLESSING OF GODLY WISDOM. [V13-20]

 

Dealt with this before so will not dwell on it here!

 

Wisdom in Proverbs – personified as a woman – the charm of a girl or the maturity of a married women

Folly is her opposite number – protrayed in the silliness of adolescent or the irresponibility of a disillusioned married woman.

 

2.1. in creation [v18-20]

 

This wisdom should be taken seriously – she is seen active in the creation of the world [v19-20]

 

She is seen and the source or fountain of life itself

 

 

 

2.2. in life [v13-17]

 

Investing in wisdom – or rather allowing wisdom to invest in you – will bring far greater returns than any monetary investment.

“Wisdom makes you a rivher person than money ever will.”

 

What is this wisdom?? It is to obey God’s teaching and instructions for life.

BUT not just adherence to a legal code!

This wisdom offers life and peace. –

In the NT Christ is this wisdom – He offers these things!!

 

John 10:10 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)

 

John 8:12

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)

 

John 14:27 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)

 

If you want the blessings and benefits of wisdom you must come to Christ – wisdom by any other way is wisdom in your own eyes. We will see in a moment the dangers of such a road!!

 

 

3. PROVING GODLY ATTITUDES AND WISDOM by:-

 

3.1. practical discernment v21-26

 

God’s wisdom is to be our constant companion “… do not let them out of your sight ..” [v21]

We are to be attentive to this wisdom – because it is this wisdom that “..will be life to us…” [v22]

 

As Christians we have the Holy Spirit and the Bible to guide us – the more we assimilate God’s word and become mature Christian the more we will begin to think in a spiritual way and live wisely.

 

Romans 12:2 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

 

i.e. – practical spirituality!

 

3.2. practical neighbourliness v27-31

 

God’s instructions and wisdom are never left in an airy-fairy abstract – always brought to a practical level.

Here in a series of  “Do not …” statements.

Do not hurt others in any way – and do not with hold help if you have the where-with-all to help – I wonder if Jesus had these verses in mind when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

Like Cain we may ask “Am I my brothers keeper?” – answer is an emphatic “YES”.

 

Illus: extractand poem  from Eddie Askew “Facing the Strom” pp.64-66

 

4. GOD’S WAY – GOD’S BLESSING :: MY WAY – GOD’S CURSE.

                                                                                                           [v32-35]

As seen so far in Proverbs – constantly presented with two ways – two choices – two options – and here two responses from God.

 

Going God’s way comes with a promise of God’s blessing – not necessarily material blessing – not comfort and ease – sometimes hardship and suffering as the Lord disciplines those he loves — But a confidence that we are his; that we have an eternal hope in Jesus and peace of heart knowing our sins are forgiven and that we are right with God.

 

The alternative is going my way – But you say “I am not opposing God – not hurting anyone – I am just quietly living my owm life. — Maybe I’ll miss some of the blessings that the super-saints receive but I will be okay in the end!!”

Going MY WAY will not simply result in loss of blessing from God – it will in fact incur God’s curse.

 

Matthew 12:30

30 “He who is not with me is against me……..

 

God has give us his instructions – he has also shown us his love by sending his son. When we reject these things God is not happy – in fact he is very angry.

 

John 3:36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (NIV)

 

We have so emphasized the love of God – and we need to – but in so doing we have neglected the wrath of God. There will be nothing more terrifying than being on the receiving end of God’s anger – HELL is a reality whoever goes their own way ignoring God – that is where they will end up!

 

Jesus was quite clear about this.

Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you ….

41 “Then he will say to those on his left,[GOATS] ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. …..

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV)

 

God’s way leads to blessing – both in this life and the one to come!

God’s way is through Jesus Christ:

John 14:6

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)

 

Going my own way might appear to have benefits BUT they are short-term and ultimately my way instead of God’s will incur his wrath!

 

Look at what God gives to those who follow him:-

Proverbs 3:32-35

32 ….. takes the upright into his confidence.

33 ….. he blesses the home of the righteous.

34 ….. gives grace to the humble.

35 The wise inherit honour,……

 

 

Proverbs 3:1-35

 

 

     INTRODUCTION [v1-2]

 

 

1. ATTITUDES TO GODLY INSTRUCTION. [v3-12]

 

          mwe are to be stedfast in our commitment. v3-4

          mwe are to be dependent in our thinking. v5-6

          mwe are to be humble in our obedience. v7-8

          mwe are to be lavishly generous in our giving. v9-10

          mwe are to be submissive in our experience of affliction. v11-12

 

 

2. BLESSING OF GODLY WISDOM. [V13-20]

 

          min creation. v18-20

          min life. v13-17

 

 

3. PROVING GODLY ATTITUDES & WISDOM. [21-31]

 

       mby practical discernment. v21-26

       mby practical neighbourliness. v27-31

 

 

4. GOD’S WAY – GOD’S BLESSING.

                           MY WAY – GOD’S CURSE. [v32-35]

 

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Proverbs – The paths of life

THE PATHS OF LIFE

 

Proverbs 2:1-22

 

INTRODUCTION

 

If chapter 1 was about some of life’s voices then Chapter 2 is about life’s choices!

 

Choices about everything –

  • Cornflakes – crunchy nut; honey coated; sugar coated; chocolate coated
  • Car – Make … model … engine size … manual … auto …colour … sunroof .. electric windows … electric mirrors … seat heating … leather or fabric seats …

 

While we live in a world that appears to have a multiplicity of choices about everything — sometimes I think that life in a poor country where there is only one type of bread is far easier and certainly less stressful —

However in the midst of these innumerable options the Bible presents us with two possible options

– the possibility of going God’s way

– the possibility of going our own way

 

If Proverbs does nothing else it show us clearly that there are two paths each with a different destination.

If we are to choose the right path then we need to know what they are.

 

1. THE NEED TO RECOGNISE THE DIFFERENT PATHS.

 

In order to recognise the different paths we need to recognise the Biblical Wisdom.

 

1.1. Recognizing biblical wisdom

  • The reality of good and evil – that there is moral good and evil and that there are such things as absolute standards against which we are to be measured. Evil is not only a breaking of these standard but an offend against the one who put them there.

 

  • The reality of God and Satan – that there is a supreme creator God who not only made the universe but has a vital interest in it — to whom creation is accountable.  And that there is an evil being [Satan] who is a creature and not a creator BUT who is nevertheless very powerful and who does everything possible to oppose the creator — and to hinder every other creature from worshipping the creator.

 

  • The reality of heaven and hell – accepting that this life is not all there is – that there is an existence after death in one of two places – heaven or hell

 

  • The reality of  life and death – life is a gift from God – death is not simply the cessation of life – rather it is a theological statement – death cries out ‘This is not how things were meant to be!’ – God agrees – death tells us that there is something wrong with this universe – something wrong with us that only God can put right!

 

1.2. Rejecting popular wisdom

 

  • Everything is relative – Relativism is one of the dominate philosophies of the day and age in which we live – basically teaches that there is not such thing as absolute truth in terms of morality – so what is wrong for you may not be wrong for me —

ILLUS. adultery is not always wrong – if all the parties involved know about it and agree to it and ‘it is not hurting anyone’ then why should it be wrong.                                                                       ILLUS.: TV – Last week – KILROY [chat show] – happened to turn on in middle – subject strip-tease and tabletop (women strip on or next to a table of customers) – some of strippers there (fully clad!!) — defending their occupation (it is not hurting anyone – not doing harm but, in fact, providing entertainment — while others opposed.

Relativism in full flight!!!

 

  • God is irrelevant; Satan is not existent – many don’t believe in God – and if they do believe it is vague understanding of a deity who is remote and irrelevant — most people don’t believe in a personal devil — that is not to say that people are not interested in the spiritual because they are and the evidence is the huge interest in the occult, eastern religions, New Age, etc. ….                [ILLUS.: news this week of mother accused of murdering her 6 yr old boy then laying out in a sacrificial manner in a woodland area]

 

  • Heaven – a state of mind; Hell – a medieval concept.  –

ILLUS.: Ken Lancaster – B/Study – ‘Hell is a state of mind and I have been there.’

The same can be said of heaven according to many – for some it is achieving a kind of utopian existence on earth except I don’t know of many who have!!                                                                                                        If  there is no belief in a personal devil then it is not surprising that hell is considered and figment of medieval imagination – even within some theological circles.

 

  • Life is what you make it; death – try to ignore it – humanism tells us that this life is all we have —  so live for now and get all you — be as comfortable as possible — it is no wonder that materialism is so popular. If this is all then we don’t want to think about the end — but do everything in our power to put it off.

 

So we have biblical wisdom and popular wisdom — God’s way and our way!

 

Proverbs Ch.2 teaches us about the:

The certainty of discovering the right path  — as well as —

The possibility of taking the wrong path.

 

Choices – [video  Sun. p.m. – Stuart Briscoe] – we have the ability and freedom to choose which path we will take – we have a certain freedom to make decisions – what we don’t have is the freedom to choose the consequences of our choices.

God says, ‘If you choose the path the leads away from me then be sure that there are certain consequences that will follow as sure as night follows day.’

 

BUT there is …

 

2. THE CERTAINTY OF DISCOVERING THE RIGHT PATH

 

2.1. God is committed to revealing the right path.

The basis of knowing the truth – of attaining wisdom – of having knowledge and understanding – the basis for all these is revelation. We can know nothing about God except that he chooses to tell us.

 

It is God’s nature and character to reveal himself – he tells us!

One of the first things we know about God in Scripture is that he speaks:-

Gen 1 And God said, …

Gen 12 God called Abram

Ex God speaks to Moses

Pss God speaks thru’ his creation

 

Hebrews 1:1-2

1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (NIV)

 

So here in Proverbs

Proverbs 2:6

6 For the LORD gives wisdom,

and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (NIV)

 

 

This  knowledge – not only spiritual knowledge  but all true knowledge – about the natural world and everything else. All true knowledge and understanding originates with God.

However this passage moves beyond general knowledge to knowing God – to fearing him.

 

The means of discovering the right path is revelation – Does that mean we are simply passive recipient??

While this wisdom is only received by revelation that does not absolve us from searching for it!!

 

The means is revelation – it is also exploration

 

V.1 – must be a willingness to receive the Word

NB the starting point of this exploration for wisdom is revelation (words & commands)

The method of exploration for wisdom is not free speculation BUT it is treasuring and exploring the revelation received. i.e. In other words we can’t say  ‘I will find God in my own way and on my own terms.’

Must be a willingness to come his way.

 

V.2 – there must be a readiness to apply the heart –

– not just a matter of the brain – wisdom is not academic – its purpose is to change lives.

– unless there is a readiness to accept then understanding will not come –

– can’t expect to know God’s wisdom if we are not going to accept it –

– so often our cry is ‘I wish I knew what God wanted me to do?’ Q> ‘Are you obeying what you DO know?

 

 

V.3 – a carefulness to beseech (plead with) the Lord –

Often we don’t have this wisdom and understanding because we don’t really want it – we say we do!! — But do we??!

Are we hungry for God??

Lord I want you more than anything else!” – passion!!

We want the blessing – Listen to Jesus

Matthew 5:6

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled. (NIV)

 

V.4 – is there an eagerness to pursue wisdom until we find it –

more precious than hidden treasure or silver

ILLUS.: Parables of pearl of great price and treasure hidden in a field.

 

V.5 – God never disappoints those who seek him!

‘IF’ – [vv.1, 3, 4] – if .. if.. if.. then  .. the fear of the Lord [AWE] & the knowledge of God [INTIMACY]

In a very real way we don’t find wisdom and knowledge IT [HE] finds us!

 

Who can find Him?? everyone – because God has spoken and still speaks – he commands ALL to repent and come to him…

Acts 17:30 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands [SPEAKS] all people everywhere to repent. (NIV)

 

When we seek God we will find him – and what we find is what he gives – discovery and revelation are inseparable!

 

V.7-9 show us that to know the Lord is to know how to live –

– we receive his provision – protection – guidance – and an understanding of what is the right path to follow.

 

2.2. We must be committed to following the right path.

 

NB V.10 – this wisdom and knowledge becomes part of those who receive it – it enters the heart

Jeremiah 31:33

33 “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel

after that time,” declares the LORD.

“I will put my law in their minds

and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

and they will be my people. (NIV)

 

Far from being a burden – knowing God is pleasant – we often make it burdensome because of all the baggage we drag with us –  What is in that baggage << bitterness, resentment, stubbornness, tradition, judgemental spirit, selfishness, persistent disobedience, spiritually apathy, ……>>

 

If there is a right path then that presupposes that there is a wrong path.

 

3. THE POSSIBILITY OF TAKING THE WRONG PATH.

 

Those who reject wisdom follow the path of the godless – not necessarily violent criminals – murderers, rapists, child abusers, fraudsters, etc.. although they are included BUT it includes ALL those who live life ignoring God – it is possible to come to church but still to ignore God by stubborn disobedience.

 

V. 12-19 give two examples of the godless – godless men and godless women –

– as is often the case in the bible we are given the extremes as examples but these are there to warn of the seriousness of following the wrong path –

— and to show the calamity that is at the end

 

Godless men of corruption      } not that women are never corrupt

Godless women of seduction.  } nor that men never seduce anyone!!!

 

3.1. Godless men of corruption

v.13 – they reject uprightness – the pattern of life is deception – not only the Robert Maxwells and Nick Leeson’s of this world but all who in everyday things

ILLUS.: exaggerating a little to look good — phoning in sick to work when you are not — claiming money that is not rightfully yours — telling half a story to put someone down — …….

 

v.14 – they rejoice in unrighhteousness  — not only following this pattern of life but actually enjoying it – it gives them a buzz to live like this —

 

3.2. Godless women of seduction.

v.16 – flattery with words

– she offers a taste of life but sell you death —

— the word for adulteress is not the normal one for immoral women but mean ‘alien women’ or ‘stranger’ — these are committed to foreign gods so not only led astray sexually but religiously as well

Her path leads away from God – to religious unfaithfulness

 

v.17a – forsaking the ‘partner of her youth’

– she has broken her marriage vows – she is characterised by unfaithfulness — what makes you think that her path is a faithful one — what makes you think she will be faithful to you — God has the same accusation against the men in:-

 

Malachi 2:13-14

13 Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. (NIV)

 

reflection of relationship with God

 

v.17b –  forgets the ‘covenant made before God’ –

 

This goes much deeper than a marriage covenant – God calls us into a covenant relationship with him and by ignoring him and following other paths we are guilty of spiritual adultery.

OT –  Israel – God’s people portrayed as God’s wife – anything that damages that relationship is seen as a seductive adulteress and is to be avoided.

 

3.3 the consequences of godlessness

 

These passages are not simply descriptions of wrongdoing – they are warnings of the calamity that this wrong path leads to!

Sexual sin is wrong BUT here even more than that it is stupid!

‘The pressures of our own world glamourize sexual self-expression in the name of love; it is commonly only afterwards that people discover that the pain and loss are hardly worth the pleasure.

 

see…

v.19 – loss in this life – the path we choose has consequences – we can choose the path but not the consequences!!

 

v.22 – lostness in the life to come – ‘land’ – ‘Promised land’ – in OT seen as God’s inheritance for his people – the wrong path leads to exclusion from God’s inheritance – i.e. eternal life!!

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Choices:-

  • – 1st – finding the right path [Illus. Narrow road to life and the broad road to destruction]
  • – 2nd – on the narrow way there are wise choices that need to be made

[Illus.: African pastor – Mfundzi Inkwanazi at Intewerni Church – at cross roads – uncertain which ways to go – spits in hand and slaps – goes way spit shoots]

– some choices God will bless whichever way we go –

 

OR [ training in wisdom – as in sport e.g. cricket – study every aspect – practice in nets so when games is on right choices become part of your very character and being]

The more we learn and practice and train at making right choices the wiser we become – not necessarily easier!!

 

If Bad choices – always a way back !! — back to beginning — seek God because he is ready and willing to show us the right path – that what he is committed to ‘revealing the right path’.

 

Wisdom and insight and understanding and knowledge of God are there to be found – he wants to give them to us – We need to desire is above all else – to search for it – And God says ‘I will give it to you if you come my way!’

 

Are you prepared to give all that you have and are in order that you may have all that God has to give you!

This is what is expressed in our closing Hymn :-

“Take my life ..

…take my skills and abilities …

… take my possessions …

… take my passions…


THE PATHS OF LIFE

Proverbs 2:1-22

 

1. The need to recognise the different paths

      

       Recognising biblical wisdom

              the reality of good and evil

                the reality of God and Satan

                the reality of heaven and hell

                the reality of life and death

      

       Rejecting popular wisdom

                everything is relative

                God is irrelevant; Satan is non-existent

                heaven is a state of mind; hell is a medieval concept

                life is what you make it; death – try to ignore it

 

2. The certainty of discovering the right path

     

      God is committed to revealing the right path

              by revelation

                by exploration

      

       We must be committed to following the right path

     

3. The possibility of taking the wrong path

      

       Two examples of godlessness    

                godless men of corruption

                godless women of seduction

      

       The consequences of godlessness

 

Proverbs – Some of life’s voices

SOME OF LIFE’S VOICES

 

Proverbs 1:8-33.

 

 

ILLUS.: On Monday I went to Elinor Judd’s home in Blackheath – at the cross roads in the village is a sign-post with three signs pointing along three of the 4 roads – Why there is not a 4th sign I don’t know – possibly because that road leads to a dead end. The three signs read as follows ‘THIS WAY’ – ‘THAT WAY’ – ‘SOMEWHERE ELSE’

 

Throughout our lives we are pointed in so many directions – there are so many things that influence our lives – so many voices that shout to be heard. Which voices are worth listening to? Which influences are good and which are bad?

 

Proverbs gives lots of advice about these many voices. This passage tells us about some of those voices

 

1. THE VOICE OF GODLY PARENTS [v8-9]

 

The bringing-up of children is certainly a subject of great interest to parents – at least it should be – it is also a subject of great debate as to how that should be done.

What should they be taught?

How should they be taught?

How should they be disciplined? if they should be disciplined at all!

 

Notice in these verses that there is a partnership of both Father and Mother in the raising of children.

How do we know that the teaching and instruction is good?

How do we know that these are godly parents? Are there not some parents who give their children bad counsel which they would be better off ignoring?

 

We know that these are godly parents because of the advice that is given!

 

We constantly heard reports of juvenile delinquency – our youth remand centres are full to overflowing – speak to George Wilson who will tell you the kind of youngster who he has to deal with.

 

 

There are basically two reason why juvenile delinquency occurs:-

a) Parents have failed to instruct and teach their children correctly

b) Children have failed to obey their parents’ teaching

 

This lays a great responsibility on both parents and children.

It is no easy task raising children. It is more difficult for those who are single parents – in many ways you need greater wisdom, strength and patience. Many show just that by their dedication to the task.

 

No parents are perfect – we know that – [our children need to know that also]

When children are wayward  our hearts break – Where did we go wrong?! There are always things we could have do better!  BUT as children grow they must take more and more responsibility for their own lives – Yes! children have rights but they also need to grow up learning to take responsibility.

 

Good instruction and teaching from father and mother is a prize well worth having – a garland [crown] for the head and a chain for the neck [lit. a bejewelled necklace]. Teaching received and obey has this quality to it – it is the teaching that has been allowed to mould the character of the child.

This is the reward for listening to the voice of godly parents.

 

2. THE VOICE OF EVIL ENTICEMENTS  [v10-19]

 

Here is some of the content of godly parental teaching.

vv.10&15 – a warning

vv.11-14 – describes the enticements that are offered

vv.15-19 – describes the end result of following these enticements

 

The first voice of parental instruction has none of the flashy appeal of this second voice.

Its appeal is mainly to the young – money, power, comradeship and excitement.

Don’t be one of the ‘out group’ – “Come with us – join us, we are strong and powerful – we can get what we want” There is an attractiveness about this lifestyle – esp. to impressionable youth

Here we have the pack mentality – the ganging up against the vulnerable and weak of society.

 

Naturally we think of the yobbish behaviour of some section of society – we think of the criminal element. BUT we, of course, are not like this, are we?

We don’t beat people up – or plunder their homes.

 

Often in these kinds of passages things are overstated to make a point!!

Are we not affect by the gang mentality – respectably we call it peer-pressure –we don’t want to be different – we want to belong!!

Possible to have a respectable face on heartless greed – the desire for material possessions and money and power – ignoring the plight of the weak of society – indeed even taking advantage of them.

Let’s face it – not everybody benefitted from the boom years of the 1980’s.

 

This way of life can appear exciting and very attractive – and often is just that. We must never fall into the trap of thinking that sin is unpleasant – it is not!! Sin is enjoyable!

Very often such peoples described seem to have everything they want. They appear content and happy. They appear to be successful and popular. Is this not what a parent should desire for their child??

 

Why the warning to avoid such people and behaviour?? “Don’t fall for these enticements – don’t even set one foot along this path because it is a slippery slope!”

 

Because while sin and evil practice [we don’t use these terms] may be enjoyable and exciting – it will not last forever – it has a short shelf life – and is quickly past its sell by date.

 

There is a sting in the tail – when justice and mercy is dethroned and appetite becomes master the final outcome is not difficult to predict. In fact to any wise, thinking person the outcome is obvious   Proverbs 1:17

17 How useless to spread a net

in full view of all the birds! (NIV)

 

Life is in many ways a boomerang – “What goes around – comes around”

The sting is that while they lay a trap for others it is themselves that are finally the victims of their greed and selfishness – they are so intent on having the bait that they do not see the trap.

Proverbs 1:18-19

18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;

they waylay only themselves!

 

19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it. (NIV)

 

 

Reminds us of Jesus words in the gospels —

 

Matthew 16:25-26

25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (NIV)

 

The voice of evil enticements is always calling – it doesn’t come dressed up as evil – it usually comes in respectable, seemingly legitimate dress but it leads to destruction and those who avoid its call are the wise ones.

 

3. THE VOICE AMONG MANY VOICES [v20-33]

 

Wisdom in Proverbs is personified! [cf.ch.8]

 

-the place where wisdom speaks [v20-21]

 

Wisdom calls in the streets and public squares.

Wisdom is not reserved for the elite in University Halls where scholarship is pursued.

Wisdom is for the man and woman in the street – it is for the business of living.

Here wisdom presents herself in the noise of the marketplace.

 

Those whom she addresses are not sitting in solemn silence waiting with open minds. There is tremendous hubbub – many voices —

– those who are indifferent to what wisdom has to say

– those who are opposed to what she says

– those who wish to stop anyone else from hearing

 

Today – [Evangelicals Now Oct.’96] – new journal ‘Kategoria’ – anything Christian is dismissed – READ –

– Christian content on TV now is ‘bad’ side

OR comic e.g. ‘Nuns on the run’ – TV comedy about lady vicar –                                                                                 ??name??

-Talk shows – how quickly a Christian opinion moved away from and made     light of.

 

While many wish to ignore God’s wisdom – she still calls –

As God’s people we need to know the true wisdom – and to speak it – BUT people don’t want to listen so what is the point??

 

 

ILLUS.: Legend – man went to Sodom [Gen. God destroyed because of wickedness] – hoped to save city – tried to talk to people – ignored – Sandwich board w. ‘REPENT’ – again ignored. Tried shouting in streets and marketplace that what they were doing would destroy them.

People laughed at him but still he shouted.

One day asked why if no one listened. Why did he continue to shout!!

His reply: “When I arrived in this city, I was convinced that I could change them. Now I continue shouting because I don’t want them to change me!”

 

 

There was a time when Christianity was attacked – we needed to defend.

NOW it is ignored – more dangerous – we need to promote it.

 

– the portrait of those addressed [v22]

 

‘simple ones – mockers – fools’[moral NOT intellectual] – this is wisdom’s description of those who will not listen to her.

There is sadness in her voice – ‘love – delight – hate’ words that show they enjoy the way they are because they are blind to where it is leading and deaf to the warnings of wisdom.

 

Wisdom’s urgency ‘How long ..?’ – reminds of Jesus

Matthew 23:37-38

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. (NIV)

 

nothing as sad as watching someone heading for disaster BUT they will not heed advice! Such is the portrait of those who will not hears the voice of God’s wisdom –

 

– the promises to those who accept wisdom [v23]

 

Wisdom’s call is a call to change – to repentance – the call throughout scripture –

REBUKE – turn around – stop going your own way – go God’s way – repentance and confession is necessary before you can know God –

BUT look what is offered ……,

I would have poured out my heart to you

and made my thoughts known to you. (NIV)

 

 

NT Acts 2:38

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

 

God’s wisdom is ultimately Jesus Christ – in him is God’s final revelation – we can’t know God’s wisdom without knowing Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:30 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (NIV)

 

Ephesians 3:10-11 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

 

Colossians 2:3 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (NIV)

 

Wisdom longs to give us love – pour out heart

Also knowledge – my thought made known to you – THUS vital we know word of God because in the Bible are recorded for us the thoughts of God.

 

– the prediction about those who reject wisdom [v24-32]

 

many stubbornly refuse to accept Wisdom – ignore her call.

Result – lost opportunity.

 

Warning – may come a time when these seek wisdom but she will not be found!

Some calamity – some distress – some disaster in life – and the cry will go out but there will be only silence! Too late! Too late!

 

Constantly rejecting God – saying ‘One day I will turn to him.’

 

ILLUS.: Nation of Israel thought like that – we will return to God on our term – in our time – Listen to God’s response

Zechariah 7:13

13 ” ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty. (NIV)

 

A constant rejection of God and his wisdom and a determination to pursue one’s own agenda – one’s own goals – one’s own desires and pleasures –

And God says IF you reject my advice and spurn my rebuke [v.30] – then you will get what you are pursuing – you will reap the fruit of your desires

Proverbs 1:31

31 they will eat the fruit of their ways

and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. (NIV)

 

Sometimes getting what you want is worse than not getting it!!

Devastating words of –

Romans 1:18-32

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 ….

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity ….etc.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. …..

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them. (NIV)

 

3x God gave them over

 

This passage says one thing in two ways:

~ The dangers of listening to the voice of waywardness

~ The dangers of NOT listening to the voice of wisdom

~~ the end result is self-destruction!!

 

 

– the peace of heart and mind

 

BUT – Proverbs 1:33

33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety

and be at ease, without fear of harm.” (NIV)

 

 

Not always physical – although very often it is so –

But there is a peace in knowing God through Jesus Christ that is in spite of  physical peace and ease.

 

John 14:27 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)

 

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

 

Choice – Listen to the voice of waywardness!

OR  –  Listen to the voice of wisdom!

 

 

[next week Proverbs 2 ~ ‘The Paths of Life’ ~ ]

 

SOME OF LIFE’S VOICES

 

Proverbs 1:8-33

 

1. THE VOICE OF GODLY PARENTS [v8-9]

      uparents are responsible to teach

      uchildren are responsible to learn

 

2. THE VOICE OF EVIL ENTICEMENTS [v10-19]

      v10&15 ~ warnings

      v11-14 ~ describes the enticements on offer

      v15-19 ~ describes the results of following the                       enticements

 

3. THE VOICE AMONG MANY VOICES [v20 -33]

      u the place where wisdom speaks ~ v20-21

      u the portrait of those addressed      ~ v22

      uthe promises to those who accept

                                                wisdom ~ v23

      u the prediction about those who reject                                                             wisdom ~ v24-32

      u the peace of heart and mind

                  to those who accept wisdom ~ v33

 

 

 

The Choice ~ Listen to the voice of waywardness

                  or Listen to the voice of Wisdom!

Proverbs – The wisdom of Proverbs

THE WISDOM OF PROVERBS

 

Wisdom as a topic of the whole book but with a focus on chapter 8.

 

 

Wisdom is one of those words that is rather like a diamond with many facets. There is no simple one line definition to describe wisdom – To use another illustraion; it is like a rainbow with many colours but the distinvtion between the colours is not always clear cut – there is overlap and the colours run into each other.

 

Wisdom is a major theme of the book of Proverbs – the writers use a number of words to convey their message about wisdom.

 

There are 5 words use in Hebrew which if we have a closer look at, will help us to understand the overall meaning of Biblical wisdom.

 

1. ASPECTS OF WISDOM.

 

a) Instruction or training.

 

These carry with them the idea of sternness ranging from warning to chastening. Does not always mean this but this is the usual meaning.

 

Proverbs 3:11

11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline

and do not resent his rebuke, (NIV)

 

Proverbs 23:13

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;

if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. (NIV)

 

The attainmement of wisdom involves discipline – from the Lord and from the rod. {the context is love} – modern trends want us to believe that smacking children inevitably leads to abuse and psychological damage to a person. [of course this kind of physical discipline can be abused]  Smacking must be in love, meaured, not in anger, and as a small part of overall love and discipline. Proverbs is quite clear that physical punishment is part of training of children.

 

The consequences for lack of discipline are seen very clearly in our society – juvenile delinquency and yobbish behaviour have risen markedly in the last generation.

 

The companion word that goes along with ‘instruction’, is ‘correction’ [or reproof]  – the idea is verbal, rather than physical persuasion. i.e. appeal to reason and conscience.

 

Wisdom marries the verbal and the physical

Proverbs – God in the Book of Proverbs – an overview.

PROVERBS

God in the Book of Proverbs!

 

BACKGROUND TO THE BOOK.

 

Proverb in English means a short memorable saying that embodies some commonplace fact – ‘A stitch in time saves nine!’

 

The Hebrew word for proverb is much broader  – sometimes short two-liners expanding up to what we might consider a discourse rather than a proverb.

 

The Book divides quite clearly into three sections:-

ch. 1 – 9                applying the teaching of the wise and avoiding adulterous                                  relationships. Not unrelated, sexual unfaithfulness is supreme                            folly.

10 – 22:16             mostly one verse sayings broadly linked together but each                                  saying complete in itself.

Recurrent themes are as follows:-

nature of wisdom

sexual relationships

nature of righteousness

use of words

relationships in the community

work

wealth

kingship

22:17 – 31:31        mixed in form and content. Ending w. one final poem of 22                      verses about the ‘ideal wife’ – ‘ Complete women’ ….

 

Authorship –

Proverbs 1:1

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: (NIV)

Further on – chs. 30 and 31 contributions from Agur and Lemuel.

We know that some of this material predates Solomon – he is not the originator of all these proverbs but it likely that under his patronage as King of Israel that they were collected into this form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one takes the Book of Proverbs and casually reads through it one will find that it is a treasure trove of advice, counsel and warning about many issues.

 

Many of the proverbs are such that one would not be surprised to read them in the ‘Points to Ponder’ section of the Reader’s Digest.

 

If one reads the wisdom saying from other religions – in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc. there are similar proverbs. Even secularists who may not believe in God at all would accept many of these proverbs.

 

The question that needs to be raised is this – ‘Is Proverbs about moral rules?

 

1. IS PROVERBS ABOUT MORALISTIC RULES?

 

Proverbs 19:6

6 Many curry favour with a ruler,

and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts. (NIV)

 

Proverbs 27:8

8 Like a bird that strays from its nest

is a man who strays from his home. (NIV)

 

Proverbs 27:1

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,

for you do not know what a day may bring forth. (NIV)

 

Proverbs 25:16

16 If you find honey, eat just enough —

too much of it, and you will vomit. (NIV)

 

Many of these saying would be considered common-sense – you don’t have to be a believer in God – if you simply live by these moral rules and principles and treat others as you would have them treat you then you are assured of a good a prosperous life.

 

Work hard and live right and you will be successful – isn’t this what the proverbs are about asks the hostile reader – God is mentioned but you don’t need God – after all – “Man is the Master of his own destiny”  – ‘If you want a helping hand look at the end of your arm!!’-

 

This is just a collection of Human wisdom – it is common-sense – God is mentioned simply because people are religious and it is part of human tradition.

 

Is this what the Book of Proverbs is about??

 

OR —

 

2. IS PROVERBS ABOUT MUTUAL RESPECT?

 

Probably one of the most well known verse in Proverbs among Christians is

 

Proverbs 9:10

10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

 

Many outside the Church would agree that we should really have a respect for God – after all we do not want to get into his bad books. If you want a successful life then you had better ‘keep in with God’ …

 

There are many in our society who live like this.

Believe that there is a God out there somewhere – not too sure about where he is or who he is and we really don’t want to get too close to him for fear that he may interfere in of comfortable lifestyle. We want him to be there at christenings and weddings and funerals and to bail us out when we get into trouble but for the rest of the time he must stay in the background and allow us to get on and enjoy life!!

 

May be not just the people out there – that nebulous faceless somebody –

Maybe it is some of us in here!! We come to church and pay our respects to God on a Sunday – after all we don’t want to fall out with him –

It is an attitude of ‘God you keep your distance  – don’t make too many demands and from time to time I will doff my cap to you!’

 

But despite what people might think and say about what the Book of Proverbs is about we have to let the book speak for itself –

 

It is not just about rules and respect – keeping in with God

Proverbs is clear that we are to live not ‘keeping in with God’ but ‘in keeping with God’!! [GR]

 

 

 

 

3. IS PROVERBS ABOUT MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIP?

 

God is mentioned about 100 times in the book that has almost 950 verses – considering that he is mentioned twice in some verses it is not very many.

All but about 12 of those mentions uses the covenant name of God – Yahweh – the name that God used when he revealed himself to Moses –

What is the significance of this name? — It is a name that show that God is not distant and remote but he is a God who has entered into a close covenant relationship with his people  –and it is this God who is speaking —

–NOT some distant benevolent deity who wants an occasional visit like some distant rich aunt who we keep occasional contact with in the hope that one day we will be the beneficiaries of their estate.

 

The writer of the Proverbs were those who knew this covenant God.

 

~ they had a real sense of sin

 

There can only be a sense of sin when there is a sense of offending a holy God.

Proverbs 20:9

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;

I am clean and without sin”? (NIV)

 

Proverbs 16:6

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;

through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. (NIV)

 

Proverbs 28:13

13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper,

but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (NIV)

 

There is an acceptance that no-one is without sin and that sin must be atoned for – further there must be a confession of sin and a renunciation – a practical moving away from a sinful way of life.

 

~ ‘the fear of the Lord’ –

 

if there is a motto to the book of Proverbs it is this – but this ‘fear’ is more than healthy respect for the Almighty.

 

Two verses where this appears are

Proverbs 2:5

5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD

and find the knowledge of God. (NIV)

 

Proverbs 9:10

10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (NIV)

 

In both these verses wisdom is linked – in fact – is almost synonymous which knowledge. But this is not an academic accumulation of facts – this is a very intimate knowledge

 

Proverbs 3:6

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)

 

Lit. ‘know’ – God doesn’t want us to know him as we know a distant Monarch – he wants our relationship to him to be intimate – same word use to refer to a husband and wife knowing each other intimately [not only sexual knowing but that relationship where two people know each other well and are comfortable in each other presence]

 

This is the aim of the new covenant that God promised in the OT and which is available to all who know Christ.

Jeremiah 31:34

34 No longer will a man teach his neighbour,

or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’

because they will all know me,

from the least of them to the greatest,”

declares the LORD.

“For I will forgive their wickedness

and will remember their sins no more.” (NIV)

 

God takes us into his confidence —

Proverbs 3:32

32 for the LORD detests a perverse man

but takes the upright into his confidence. (NIV)

 

          ~ the fear of the lord involves trust –

 

For all its emphasis on commonsense [human wisdom]  Proverbs exalts faith to a higher place –

Proverbs 3:5&7

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

6 …..

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the LORD and shun evil. (NIV)

 

We are not talking about blind, mindless faith – when you become a Christian you don’t throw your brain out the window –

‘Study to show yourself approved to God ..’

‘ .. by the renewing of your mind..’

 

But there comes a point where we don’t understand – God doesn’t tell us everything – but there are times when we need to say ‘Lord, I don’t know, I don’t understand but you have proved yourself and I trust you!’

 

Faith acknowledges that life’s plans are subject to God –

Proverbs 19:21

21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart,

but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (NIV)

 

          ~ possessions / equipment guarantee nothing

Proverbs 21:31

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,

but victory rests with the LORD. (NIV)

 

We can’t ultimately rely on human resources – God will always have the final word!

~ human power / institutions guarantee nothing

Proverbs 29:25

25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,

but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. (NIV)

If we look to people for our final security and safety we will be disappointed – there comes a point where human ability to help runs out – your bank manager can no longer help — your doctor can no longer help – your friends and family , as much as they want to, cannot help —- without God there is no ultimate security.

 

~ not self-reliance but faith

Proverbs 22:19

19 So that your trust may be in the LORD,

I teach you today, even you. (NIV)

 

Don’t get the wrong impression – Faith is not a last resort when commonsense has run out – faith is to be a pattern of life!!

These everyday commonsense things, when they are in line with God’s thinking, are ‘God’s sense’ –

 

There is such a thing as God’s common grace that allows people, who might not even acknowledge him, to make right, commonsense decision – that is God’s general goodness ———-

 

Following God’s pattern is holy living is the pattern for life – we sometimes think of holiness or godliness as the exclusive property of super-saints who walk around with a sanctimonious look on their faces singing hymns and quoting scripture in 17C English.

NO! godliness is in the everyday things of life – these things that proverbs addresses – family life, business life, sexual relationships, community life, speech, ……………   i.e. godliness does not come in celestial robes but in working clothes!!

 

Life lived by the principles of God –  not cold impersonal laws but a living relationship with a who wants to be so involved in our lives that he sent Jesus to make such a relationship possible!!

 

God wants to takes his people and build godly character into them and to bring them to maturity – Proverbs might seem to contain a majority of commonsense things and little of what we might consider ‘spiritual advice’ but the everyday, hard facts of life are just as much a means of God grace as the so called ‘spiritual things’

 

A relationship with God that is patterned on his principles is what will carry us through this life and secure our eternal future.

 

How are we building our lives??

 

ILLUS.: Boat-builder – member of yacht club – build a yacht – spared no expense – wanted to have best boat in the club – best teak deck – best brass fittings – best sails – he wanted everyone to see what he had built –

Day came when finished – whole club assembled to see him sail out to sea – glowed at all the congratulations and approval – best boat club ever seen –

Sailed out in glorious sunshine – away from the waving crowd and into the ocean – a storm came up – yacht capsized and he was lost at sea – weeks later yacht washed up on beach – club members saw how foolish he was he had not built enough weigh into the keel – he was only concerned with what was above the water line –   [GORDON MacDONALD]

 

 

How are you building your life? Your relationship between you and God that no-one else knows about – not even your spouse – are you building below that water line or just for show – what people can see – will you make it through the storms of life –

 

The storms will come — redundancy – a wayward child – a marriage break up – the death of a loved one — and if perchance you don’t suffer any of these things there is one storm you will have to face — DEATH!  No-one can weather the storm of death unless he/she has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ because Christ is the only one who has been through the storm of death and beaten it – he did that for us so that in Him we could beat it also!

 

Proverbs shows us God’s pattern for life –

It is God’s “Sound sense for successful living!” [Stuart Briscoe]

 

 

PROVERBS

 

Background to the Book

 

‘Proverb’ – broader than English meaning.

 

Book divides into three sections:-

 

   ch. 1 – 9       applying wisdom

                        avoiding adulterous relationships

 

   10 – 22:16     mostly one verse sayings

                        Recurrent themes:-

                                    nature of wisdom

                                    sexual relationships

                                    nature of righteousness

                                    use of words

                                    community relationships

                                    work

                                    wealth

                                    kingship

 

22:17 – 31:31  mixed in form and content                                  one final poem – ‘ideal wife’

 

Authorship –

      Solomon [not all original to him]

      also Agur & Lemuel

 

 

PROVERBS

 

IS PROVERBS ABOUT …

 

1. …MORALISTIC RULES?

     keep the rules and you will succeed

      “Man is the Master of his own destiny”

 

2. … MUTUAL RESPECT?

      keeping in with God

                  or

      in keeping with God

 

3. … MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIP?

      a real sense of sin

      “the fear of the Lord”

                  intimate knowing 

                  trust / faith

                                    not in human possessions

                                         not in human power

                                         not self-reliance

            BUT life’s plans subject to God’s pattern