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The Way of Wisdom

Wisdom: Studies in Proverbs  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Way of Wisdom

Studies in Proverbs
Grace Church at Willow Valley
August 5, 2018
Intro: Please turn either your print or digital Bibles to Proverbs chapter four.
Intro: Please turn either your print or digital Bibles to Proverbs chapter four. As you do so … since a number of you have asked, I thought it would be simpler to give one update on my health rather than a couple of dozen! This past Monday I saw the nephologist (kidney specialist). He confirmed what my urologist had already told me … no one can really say why I lost the function of my left kidney. So … going forward … the focus will be on the health of my right kidney. Therefore, he has put me on a low sodium diet (which is far more complex than merely keeping the salt shaker on the shelf … sodium is EVERYWHERE) - My nephrologist told me that one of his patients, groaning about the fact that he had to cut down on his sodium intake … told the doctor “salt is what turns a cook into a chef!” In addition to the low sodium diet, I have to monitor my bp … and also go for blood work twice before I see him again in October.
Intro:
All of us are on a journey … aren’t we? It is called life!
From the feedback I am getting, most of you are finding great help for your life journey from our study in the book of Proverbs. Not surprising, given that it is a book of wisdom .. which we have defined as being skilled at life. Now of all the passages in the book of Proverbs … I believe this one is among the most important in all of Proverbs. So let’s pray and ask God to give us attentive minds and receptive hearts.
Speaking of journeys, all of us are on one! It is called life! And the Proverbs is a book about wisdom .. which we have defined as being skilled at life. Now of all the passages in the book of Proverbs … I believe these last 8 vvs in the book are among the most important in all of Proverbs. So let’s pray and ask God to give us attentive minds and receptive hearts.
And the Proverbs is a book about wisdom .. which we have defined as being skilled at life. Now of all the passages in the book of Proverbs … I believe this one is among the most important in all of Proverbs. So let’s pray and ask God to give us attentive minds and receptive hearts.
READ --- PRAY!
Now as I studied and meditated on these verses … three words came to mind …
Now as I studied and meditated on these verses … three words came to mind …
I believe this passage is one of the most important in all of the book of Proverbs. So let’s pray and ask God to prepare our hearts to recieve his Word!
Reality
Reality
Priority
Strategy
A fundamental REALITY (vv 20-22)
Proverbs 4:20–22 CSB
My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body.
Proverebs 4:20-22
What we have here in chapter four (as well other passages in the book) is a father addressing his sons. The father, as we have seen, is King Solomon:
Proverbs 1:1 CSB
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
Proverbs 1:
Now Solomon, as we pointed out three Sundays ago was arguably the wisest man to ever live (with the exception of the Lord Jesus, of course!).
1 Kings 4:30 CSB
Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.
So here in the book of Proverbs Solomon is doing what many fathers have done across the centuries … take his best shot at passing on his wisdom to his son.
Now … just where did Solomon get his wisdom? Obviously from God. When Solomon began his reign, God appeared to him and offered him what amounted to a blank check:
1 Kings 3:5 CSB
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask. What should I give you?”
1 Kings 3:
And how did Solomon respond? Well, he did not ask for riches, or power, or fame. He asked for wisdom … right??? Well, not quite … note his request:
1 Kings 3:9 CSB
So give your servant a receptive heart to judge your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of yours?”
ESV
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?
Solomon does not ask for wisdom directly … rather he asks for a receptive heart … and understanding mind. The Hebrew word here translated “receptive” … “understanding” is the word SHEMA … it is often translated with the English word “hear.” But it also is translated as “listen,” “heed” and “obey.”
Ancient Hebrew did not have a specific word for obeying … to communicate the idea of obedience, this word, Shema, was used. The implication - in the Hebrew mind, to hear God was not just to hear the words he spoke … but to really listen to them … and to obey them by building them into one’s life!
So Solomon was asking God to help him to SHEMA … to hear, listen, and obey … what?
To receive what? To understand what?
The answer to this is found in Deut chapter 17 — where Moses lays down certain requirements for any future king of Israel ..
Deuteronomy 17:18–19 CSB
When he is seated on his royal throne, he is to write a copy of this instruction for himself on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It is to remain with him, and he is to read from it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to observe all the words of this instruction, and to do these statutes.
Deuteronomy 17:
In asking for a receptive heart/understanding mind - Solomon was asking God to help him to hear, heed and obey God’s Word! The Bible of his day … which he would have copied for himself, and would have been reading from every day! In doing so … he would have God’s wisdom! And it was this wisdom gleaned from God’s Word which Solomon was intent on passing on to his sons.
NOW — what is this fundamental REALITY which we see in vv 20-22?
Proverbs 4:20–22 CSB
My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body.
Solomon is driving home to his son that he has a choice to make. He can either choose to embrace what he was teaching him … or he could walk away from it!
Note what he says in the previous two verses:
Proverbs 4:18–19 CSB
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday. But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble.
“Two paths are before you, my son. You can choose to walk the path of righteousness which is full of light … or you can choose the path of the wicked which is so dark when you stumble, you won’t be able to even see what caused you to fall!”
A fundamental REALITY: We all have a choice to make to either walk the path of righteousness or to walk the path of wickedness. There is no other option!
Why does he talk of the path of righteousness in terms of light that shines brighter and brighter?
Because if we choose to walk this path .. we choose to follow the one who said
John 8:12 CSB
Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”
So we follow Jesus … we walk in light. And the further down the path we walk, the brighter the light becomes (because we are drawing closer to him!). But, as Jesus implies, if we choose not to follow Jesus, we will be in darkness! A darkness that grows increasingly dark!
Just as Solomon was urging his son to make the right choice, the choice of following God … I urge you to do so as well!
- If you are here this morning … having never admitted to God that when the Bible declares that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God … that includes you! And you have never come to grips with this truth which is clearly taught over and over again in the Bible … that because of your sin and rebellion against the God who has made you … you are destined for his judgment … one which, the Bible says, will last forever!
If this describes you … then right now … right here I call on you to confess your rebellion against God .. repent of that sin … turning from it and turning to God … and reach out with the empty hands of faith in Jesus Xs … believing that he died in your place, paying the penalty for your sin … which you could never ever pay yourself! Ask Jesus Christ to forgive you your sins … knowing that tho your sins they are many … God’s mercy is more!
- NOW - if you have already done so, then let me call on you to renew right now .. .right here … your commitment to follow Jesus! A call that he asks us to renew each and every day!
Luke 9:23 CSB
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.
PRAY
NOW - if you have already done so, then let me call on you to renew right now .. .right here … your commitment to follow Jesus!
PRAY
PRAY
So in vv 20-23 we see a
REALITY: We all have a choice to make to either walk the path of righteousness or to walk the path of wickedness. There is no other option!
REALITY: We all have a choice to make: to walk the path of righteousness or the path of wickedness. There is no in between!
In vs 23 we come to our second word:
An vital PRIORITY
Proverbs
Proverbs 4:23 CSB
Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
Note the words “above all else.”
Those words are like a blinking red light at an intersection. So what do do you do when you come to a traffic light that is blinking red? You stop and proceed only after looking in all directions! When the coast is clear … you proceed with caution through the intersection.
Solomon throws a blinking red traffic light here on our pathway of life. He wants us to stop … and look in a specific direction … and to look thoroughly. And just where are we to look? WITHIN! For he tells us that above all else … above our commitment to our families, our jobs, our school work, our friends … above all else we are to give priority to our heart!
Now when the Bible uses this word “heart” in this way … what does it mean?
Tim Keller’s definition: “The heart is the seat of your deepest trusts, commitments, and loves, from which everything . . . flows. What the heart most loves and trusts, the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find desirable, and the will finds doable.
(God's Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs)
Keller, Timothy. God's Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of
Keller, Timothy. God's Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs (p. 85). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
So is it any wonder that the condition of our heart must be of utmost priority! As our hearts go … so we go! Simple as that!
Proverbs 16:9 CSB
A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.
Matthew 22:37 CSB
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
NOW - given the importance of our heart … we must guard it (and we must do so above all else … placing this task at the top of our To Do List!)
Matthew 23:
What does he mention first? Our heart!
NOW - given the importance of our heart … we must guard it (and we must do so above all else … placing this task at the top of our To Do List!)
Therefore we must guard it!
And if you need further motivation to make your heart the priority is needs to be, consider these four realities
Why such an urgent call to guard our hearts?
- The battle is real!
Ephesians 6:10–13 CSB
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
I am sure you are familiar with the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Well, unfortunately that is true when it comes to this very real battle we are engaged in. Because we cannot see the spiritual enemy … we forget that we are even in a battle. And this we do to our own destruction and the enemy’s delight!
- Our enemy is relentless!
Our enemy is relentless! ()
1 Peter 5:8 CSB
Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
Satan and his vast horde of demons do not rest … but 24/7/365 they are actively seeking to destroy God’s people and God’s plans!
- Our body is weak!
Matthew 26:41 CSB
Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
; )
)
1 Corinthians 9:27 CSB
Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Sin is deceitful! ()
We are frail people --- and all too often, the enemy attacks us where we are most vulnerable: the appetites of our bodies!
- Sin is deceitful!
Hebrews 3:13 CSB
But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
Sin is a scam. And as you know scams are all over the place. They promise much and deliver nothing but ruin! So it is with sin. So beware of its deceitfulness!
So HOW are we to guard our heart in the face of such opposition? That brings us to our third word (review the first two words):
So HOW are we to guard our heart in the face of such opposition? That brings us to our third word (review the first two words):
So HOW are we to guard it? That brings us to our third word (review the first two words):
A fundamental REALITY: We all have a choice to make: to walk the path of righteousness or the path of wickedness. There is no in between!
An vital PRIORITY: We must make the health of our heart (spiritually speaking) our utmost priority.
An essential STRATEGY: Soak our hearts in the Word of God and the gospel of Christ!
1 Peter 5:8 CSB
Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
Soak your heart in God’s Word!
So just what is this strategy? Here are four steps:
Soak your heart in God’s Word!
Look again at vv 20-22
Proverbs 4:20–22 CSB
My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body.
And the words Solomon would have been calling him to “keep with his heart” would have been the truths, principles, precepts, testimonies he would have received from God!
Note what he says back in
Proverbs 4:11 CSB
I am teaching you the way of wisdom; I am guiding you on straight paths.
Proverbs 4:
So … if you want to guard your heart - and we MUST - given the great opposition which we all face (The battle is real; our enemy is relentless; our body is weak; sin is deceitful) then open your Bibles and soak your heart in it!
In the great love chapter … (not either … ) but in the OT great love chapter …
(which is a love poem written from a heart in love with the WOG) - in this great piece of Hebrew poetry we read:
Psalm 119:9 CSB
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word.
Psalm 119:11 CSB
I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.
Psalm 119:
ILL —> I recently received a note from someone in this church who told me that since 1996 they have been reading through the Bible …starting with Genesis and when he finishes Revelation he goes back to the beginning and starts all over again - doing this many times in the course of the past 22 years! That’s soaking one’s heart in the Bible!
APP —> I wonder … is your Bible collecting dust? Or if you use a digital Bible … how often do you open your Bible app compared with the frequency you open your Facebook app?
If you want to guard your heart … begin by soaking it in the Word of God!
Colossians 3:
Colossians 3:16 CSB
Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:
I wonder if Jesus had Proverbs 4:23 in mind when he said
John 7:37–38 CSB
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”
John
And as we drink from Christ’s well … rejoicing in this gospel, relishing in his words … not only is our thirst quenched … but his living water flows from us and touches the thirsty souls of others! Life is not lived from the outside in … but from the inside out!
This is why Solomon goes on to say …
Watch what you say!
Proverbs 4:24 CSB
Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.
Watch what you see!
Proverbs 4:25 CSB
Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.
Proverbs
Watch where you go!
Proverbs 4:26–27 CSB
Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.
Watch where you go!
Proverbs
You see … Christ wants our hearts … yes! But he also wants our mouths, our eyes, our feet! He wants ALL of us! And in light of who he is and what he has done … should we do less that go give him our all?
Romans 12:1 CSB
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.
Note: Although it is true that life is lived from the inside out … so that if you heart is good, your words and deeds reflect that goodness .... and if your heart is evil, your words and deeds will be also.
Our utmost for his highest!
Luke 6:45 CSB
A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.
The relationship between your inner person and outer person is such that what you say, what you see, and where you go can either help in guarding your heart … or can actually poison your heart!
All this to say … commit yourself each and every day to follow Christ … to follow the mandate thrown before us by the writer of Hebrews:
Hebrews 12:1–3 CSB
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.
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