Faithlife Sermons

The Straight Path

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Opening Illustration

It’s kinder fun driving in a place you don’t know .. like the south Island .. Tasmania
Small place .. but in getting around you still need a map .. or these days a Sat Nav .. GPS in the car ..
You confidently punch in the address and this lovely lady quietly and demurely .. tells you where to go .. makes a straight path for your destination
Well it worked MOST times except .. like .. the FIRST time we used it .. Launceston Airport to Sheffield .. everything was fine until the last turn .. approaching the T intersection .. is it left or right .. waiting .. waiting .. the lady was quiet .. was the bloke in the satellite asleep ? .. fortunately there was a sign post .. LEFT for Sheffield .. OK
BUT .. then .. every time you go to punch in the address of the next place there is this DOUBT .. can I really TRUST this SAT NAV .. is this LADY WISDOM
has that well loved .. well known couple of verses
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
and lean not on your own understanding;
Come with me .. lets unpack that together
6 in all your ways submit to him,
REVIEW:
and he will make your paths straight
OK .. let’s refresh our thinking as we get our heads around WISDOM in Proverbs .. Chapter 1
vv.5-6
“let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.”
Let the wise listen .. there’s guidance needed .. requires thought and discernment .. there are riddles and sayings ... parables ... pithy little one liner proverbs .. 700 mini sermons ..
Proverbs has lots of different things in it .. But what we need to realise from the outset is that a single proverb is never intended to apply in every single circumstance of life.
A Proverb is more like a TOOL than a RULE
Proverbs is not giving us rules for life that are always true in every situation .. some IRON CLAD GUARANTEE .. something that will always succeed no matter what .. the book of Proverbs is more subtle than that .. Not ABSOLUTE RULES or PROMISES
The real genius of the book of Proverbs is that it gives us KEY lessons on how and when to use these proverbs .. which one to go for at any particular time .. just when should you answer the fool
Not ABSOLUTE RULES or PROMISES
The central theme : the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge
We also have looked at Chapter 9 .. TWO LADIES .. Lady WISDOM and Lady FOLLY .. both call out but who will we listen to?
FOLLY is the loud .. undisciplined enticing voice and we have a tendency to follow her seductive voice coz it’s all about us
Lets be aware of the loud .. undisciplined voice of LADY FOLLY for she is enticing and we have a tendency to follow her seductive voice
WISDOM calls from a deep concern for us too .. she wants us to see God’s way … one more time for the dummies “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
““The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Lady Wisdom know the way that will ultimately be BEST for us .. and the GLORY of God
Life is CHOICES and it boils down to WISDOM or FOLLY … WISDOM (fear God) which leads to LIFE OR FOLLY (mock God) which leads to death .. the grave
WISDOM (fear God) which leads to LIFE OR FOLLY (mock God) which leads to death .. the grave
BY WAY OF EXPLANATION .. As Beate was reading you might have thought .. “Hang on .. this is sounding very much like PROSPERITY GOSPEL
The wise father-figure offers us “length of days and years of life” (v. 2), “favour and good success” (v. 4), “barns … filled with plenty [and] vats … bursting with wine” (v. 10), and “riches and honour” (v. 16). Is this the prosperity gospel ...the idea that God is out to make you healthy and rich and comfortable and put you on top of the heap because you are his child. DO this GET this.
NO! .. PROSPERITY GOSPEL is just materialism tarted up with religious garb. It’s LADY FOLLY speaking.
The WISDOM LITERATURE in the Bible can be described as NEAT WISDOM and RADICAL WISDOM
NEAT : Fear the Lord and He will bless you!
Be lazy and you’ll soon be poor
RADICAL : (Job) Fears the Lord and suffers terribly
(Ecclesiastes) Work hard but it’s a waste of time - you die and someone else gets everything you worked for
The book of PROVERBS is a collection of wisdom that broadly fits the NEAT category. We’re going to look at a range of topics or themes as we continue in proverbs .. what does God say about LIFE and how to live it?

LIFE AND LISTENING

There’s a very heavy stress on LISTENING to God as we’ve been reading Proverbs .. as Ch.3 opens it’s more of the same .. father with his son under his wing My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, 2  for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Y’see .. here’s a dad who wants a QUALITY LIFE for his son .. a BLESSED LIFE … a FULL LIFE .. life that really counts .. don’t baulk at the image here .. of course, all parents want their children to have that sort of life
The link is clear the FULLNESS of your life depends on how well you listen to God .. the QUALITY and the DIRECTION of your life linked to how well you LISTEN
Which isn’t just about PHYSICAL HEARING .. vv.3-4 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favour and good success in the sight of God and man.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Here’s the dad saying .. “Dear boy .. keep this in your heart .... adorn yourself with this tattoo ... bind this around your neck .. what ? Silver and gold ? Diamonds and rubies?
So you will find favor and good success
LOVE and FAITHFULNESS!
in the sight of God and man.
Trust .. obey .. there is blessing .. a blessed life. And yes in OT style, if you take God’s word seriously there are OUTWARD BLESSINGS .. an obvious sign is long life .. being prosperous..lots of kids .. wealthy .. lots of crops/animals etc
There’s the same principle in the NT .. LISTEN and TRUST and the blessings are INWARD and ETERNAL
We are blessed as we’ve listened and reacted to the Word of God .. as we trust the gospel we are blessed in a way that that NOTHING in this world can compare with
Jesus comes to a woman .. shady past .. going about the daily duty of getting water from the well .. you need water to live
Jesus says what you need is LIVING WATER .. you need me! Bubbling up for eternal life .. or Jesus the BREAD of life
The KINGDOM is this PRECIOUS PEARL .. give up EVERYTHING to get that pearl .. go sell everything you have and follow me .. NOTHING .. NOTHING compares with listening to God .. obeying .. and the blessing that follows .. QUALITY and QUANTITY of life .. life in ABUNDANCE
APPLICATION
Living life is not just about being HEALTHY .. FIT .. HAVING FUN .. LOOKING GOOD .. and having the FUNDS to do it all
What would you say our society focuses on
The challenge here is .. what do we really want for ourselves and our children .. a lot of voices loudly calling out .. you need to go to university .. you need to achieve .. you should be pursuing a career .. you should be going to the gym .. cross fit .. you happy with what you see in the mirror
Now .. the balance .. there’s a difference between being TIGER PARENTS .. the hard line parents who push and instil the need to work hard .. pressure to achieve academically .. stand over the kids while they learn the violin or piano .. age 4 but then threaten to disown them if they want to be a musician and not a doctor
or FREE RANGE PARENTS .. just let them loose .. be independent .. do what you like .. limited parental influence .. just enough supervision to keep them safe
We have to check in every now and then and ask ourselves .. “What am I saying VERBALLY or NON VERBALLY to my family .. to my kids as to what I value in life .. I want you to be successful, happy, famous
Where does reading the Bible fit in my life .. in the family .. where does the church family fit .. serving in the body of Christ ? What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus for us .. for me?
Now I want to say that it is not easy to read the Bible .. no .. we are not always in the mood .. there is always so much to do .. but we need to be making the room in that business of life to listen to God
I read a great quote this week .. “There is nothing so USELESS as doing efficiently that which should NOT be done at all” .. what’s the priority?
We are people with deep needs .. we need direction .. a straight path .. wisdom to make real decisions .. we endure hard things .. trial .. are we convinced that the real power is in God’s word to address all these needs?
Life comes from LISTENING and not ACHIEVING

TRUTH AND BLESSING

Let’s drill down a bit further
You notice in that every ODD number is a call to DO something and every EVEN number shows what God will do .. take a look at these well known verses ..vv. 5-6
5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
This is where the rubber hits the road .. TRUST .. who do we trust?
It’s easy to say “TRUST the Lord” and who’d disagree? What does that mean day today?
A wise man once said “We would be foolish to trust our thimble of knowledge when God has an ocean of wisdom” (Bruce Waltke)
And yet we seem to make decisions with our ideas .. the “gut” feeling .. this will be best for ME
And here’s a dad with his son TRUST God and the path will be STRAIGHT
Perhaps there are times when this dad .. with tears in his eyes .. just hugged his son and said “Son .. I’ve been down all those dumb paths you want to walk down .. I’ve tried all that .. and I crashed and burned .. they are all dead ends .. they go NOWHERE”
God’s word is flawless .. it’s the way to really live .. the 700 sayings in the Proverbs are not 700 bricks you have to carry but 700 bricks that form a path for us to follow
The Bible is always about support and not a burden .. God’s word is about being a BLESSING and not PRESSURE
GOD is committed to your life .. it’s QUALITY and QUANTITY .. He is not some comic kill-joy who want to make life as difficult as possible
And while the call is to trust God we are also told not to lean on your own understanding .. I take it we are called on to use our common sense .. to work at solutions .. to think through possibilities .. read around the topics we have to make decisions on .. ask a good friend .. whatever BUT don’t LEAN on that .. don’t focus there
lean on your own understanding
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
So much of decision making is about TRUSTING GOD
Yes we know where our country has gone with issues like same sex marriage .. the gender debate .. abortion .. euthanasia .. it’s a world that has long ago abandoned trusting God
God’s good gifts get abused .. when God says :
sex is my gift .. trust me .. it will be a whole lot better if you save yourself for the one that you marry
alcohol is fine in moderation .. trust me .. drunkenness is bad
work is part of life .. trust me .. don’t be lazy and make sure you get some rest
money is a great resource .. trust me .. don’t hoard it up .. use it .. bless others with it
Etc etc .. in all of life, will we trust God
We are “normalising” lifestyle that God is clearly saying is NOT the best .. and are in fact not the answer, quite the opposite
God says HONESTY and INTEGRITY are His way ; not lies and gossip .. but it’s easy to slip into crooked habits
How do we raise our kids in this current climate .. how do we lead them .. guide them?
However moveable our society gets, sticking to trusting what God has said is WISE and leads to a QUALITY LIFE .. BLESSED LIFE
Now that gives a STRAIGHT path but not necessarily an EASY path .. that STRAIGHT path is God’s way .. the way of WISDOM .. the BLESSED life And there are times when even as we are seeking to honour God it is tough .. people react to us .. or our health is challenged .. family strains and pressures .. God has not deserted you .. it’s that deeper call to TRUST our Saviour
Friends .. this in not easy and the great encouragement today is that God has not left us ALONE
Jesus has walked before us and if you are a disciple of Jesus everything is secure
Jesus is the One that feared the Lord perfectly .. obeyed the Father’s will and purpose with joy .. He the WISDOM OF GOD died for the foolish .. like you and me .. the self-centred .. the proud
Now we have the Spirit and He will lead us into all truth
And those times we’ve made poor decisions .. where we’ve really listened to lady FOLLY than Lady WISDOM .. there is forgiveness .. even though we suffer the consequences
Conclusion
Living a FULL LIFE is a deep seated longing in everyone .. we all want something substantial on our grave stone
We need to be convinced that the blessed life in being a faithful follower of Jesus
Even when our OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES are not looking good .. health is deteriorating .. there is constant pain .. there are daily struggles and trauma .. family issues .. kids rebelling .. no job we tend to look at other people .. they don’t seem to have the same struggles .. fit .. healthy .. happy .. made something of their life
Yet .. the blessing that counts in INWARD and ETERNAL
What have we gained in life if we are not really ready for the courtroom of God
TRUST in Jesus .. believe the gospel .. He has dealt with our sin and judgement
...we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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