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The Way of Life

Proverbs  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Choose the path you walk on wisely so that you don't end up dead in hell

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Walk by Faith not Sight

If we rely on our own ability to determine the direction of our lives we are going to find ourselves in trouble. No matter how smart we think we are and how much investigation we do, the truth is, our eyes lie to us.
what we can observe through our fallen human eyes and hearts will lie to us.
Jeremiah put it this way...
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
So if you take the advice of this world and follow your heart. Do what you feel like is best and what is going to make you happy you will find that you have been lied to and tricked and decieved.
You will be sold out by your own heart and your own desires. The truth is when it comes to choosing which way to go in our lives we are biased. We will choose ourselves and our own best interest over God’s if we listen only to our hearts and not to HIs Word and His Spirit.
For our last time in proverbs I want us to walk through the warnings we find here and also the solutions we find on choosing the path that is best for our lives...
Proverbs 14:12 ESV
12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
This proverb is repeated again in another chapter because it is really important. It is a really important reminder to us that if we simply look at something, a path for our lives and do not consider God’s Word on that path we will find ourselves headed toward destruction.
The way that seems right to a man is a way that look like a good road. A good path that is going to take us where we want to go.
It looks smooth and easy. But the destination it leads to is death.
You will have a really nice ride but the end of the road is not life it is death.
the point he is making here is that if we are left to make our choices on how things look to us and on how they make us feel then we are going to choose wrongly.
I mean think about it.
Say you didn’t have a GPS or a Smart phone to get you to New York. And you left out of here and you did not pay attention to the direction you were going.
You just picked the best looking easiest road you could find. Oh well 70 is nice I’ll drive on that road for a while.
well I 40 and I 30 are both pretty terrible so I’m going to get off on this exit. Well I really don’t like this road either so I’m going to take this one over here.
and well that road looks a little crowded so I’ll go down here.
Until you are hopelessly lost and have no idea where you are and depending on which neighborhood you end up in it could be really bad for you.
Like when I first moved to go to seminary over in Memphis I was a country boy who if I was real lucky might get to drive to little rock every now and then .
Well next thing I know i’m in Memphis TN. And one night about 2 oclock in the morning I had to go pick up my roommate from the air port. The memphis Air port is not the safest place you’ve ever been anyway.
but after I picked him up I didn’t know which way to go so I just took the road that looked the best then i did that again a few times and before I knew it we were at the back end of a neighborhood at like 2 in the morning and those people were not asleep.
Let’s just say it was clear we were not welcome there nor did we fit in.
It was not a fun moment for us. I had to back up for a while before I could get turned around and back on the road. If we do not consider where we are going along with the choices we make in life we will end up on the road to destruction guys.
So we don’t pick our paths based on our own understanding we allow the Lord to choose the way we are going to behave because he knows better than us.
Listen to...
Proverbs 12:15–16 ESV
15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. 16 The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Proverbs 16 ESV
1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. 3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. 5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. 6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. 7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. 9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. 10 An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment. 11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. 12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. 14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it. 15 In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain. 16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. 17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life. 18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. 21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. 22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. 24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. 25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. 26 A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on. 27 A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. 28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. 29 A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. 30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things; he who purses his lips brings evil to pass. 31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. 32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. 33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
If we are going to choose rightly we need a lot of humility. Like a whole lot. The book of Proverbs makes this really clear. If we believe we know it all then we won’t listen when the Lord attempts to correct us.
Teachable is so important on the way of life. We have to be open to the fact that we may in fact be wrong. No matter how much pain it causes admitting we are wrong is key to finding the way of the Lord.
Proverbs 28:13–14 ESV
13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. 14 Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
If when God rebukes you and corrects you, your response is to dig in your heels and refuse to say I’m sorry Lord I was wrong then you are on the road to destruction.
When you read the truth of His Word your first thought should not be, oh man I need to tell them that they are wrong over there cause they don’t do this right. No your first response should be oh man am I guilty of this.
Don’t cover over your wrongs confess them and get mercy from the Lord. He won’t forgive you until you do.
Proverbs 16:1–9 ESV
1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. 3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. 5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. 6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. 7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. 9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
The plans of the heart belong to man,
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Proverbs 16 ESV
1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. 3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. 5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. 6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. 7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. 9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. 10 An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment. 11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. 12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. 14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it. 15 In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain. 16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. 17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life. 18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. 21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. 22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. 24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. 25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. 26 A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on. 27 A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. 28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. 29 A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. 30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things; he who purses his lips brings evil to pass. 31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. 32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. 33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
As you walk through these 9 verses you’re reminded…oh yeah God is actually in control and knows better than we do no matter how much planning or desire we put into something. It is at the end of the day up to him.
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
I mean we can try our best in our hearts but apart from his mercy and grace what comes out of our mouth could still be wrong.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
8 Better is a little with righteousness
Remember what Jesus said.
than great revenues with injustice.
than great revenues with injustice.
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If our hearts are not full of him and instead full of our won desires and plans then when we speak even if we want it to be good it’s still likely to end up badly.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
9 The heart of man plans his way,
Verse 2 is really a problem for us isnt. You see he reveals something about the way we look at ourselves. OUr actions if we judge them ourselves end up being good in our own eyes. Like if it’s up to us we are getting a 100 on every test. We are never going to give ourselves a bad grade.
but the Lord establishes his steps.
but the Lord establishes his steps.
We believe what we do is right. It is pure it says here. And I mean we know this true. Look at our culture today. We have gotten to the point that man has decised that whatever we want to do is ok and pure and good and just.
Our world tells us that Homosexuality is no big deal, in fact it’s wrong to say that they are wrong. That’s what the world tells us, even though the Bible has a completly different answer for us.
I don’t know if ya’ll saw the video of the guy on Facebook the other day. He was standing out there with a sign telling people to stop giving money to panhandlers that they are just enabling people to continue to feed their addictions and avoid work.
Well there was a guy who had been there panhandling and got mad so the guy who had just been asking people for money pulls an Ipad out and starts recording the guy with the sign.
how ironic he’s there asking for money with an Ipad in his backpack. And then he started calling the other guy satan.
Anyway he didn’t see anything wrong with asking for money instead of going to work.
In his eyes his ways are pure.
we live in a world that has forgotten how to blush. Sin no longer emarasess the people in our culture. In their eyes everything is just fine as it is. They are not the problem.
But God weighs the spirit. In other words we are not the measuring stick. We are not the ones who decide what is right and what is wrong.
that is not up to us. just because we decide something is ok does not make it ok.
God has a very clear standard on right/wrong it’s not up to us. He makes the rules we don’t.
Dr. Phil Oparah the View they don’t decide what is good and what is Bad. God has already made that judgement.
Verse 3 tells us about our work.
Commit your work to the Lord and He will establish it.
So the process of work does not begin with us deciding how to do it and for what purpose but instead committing it to him. It’s hard to halfway work when you are working for the Lord.
it’s also hard to do things for a selfish purpose when it is committed to the Lord. If we put God first in our work he will bless that work and he will establish it.
This is reminding us to do all that we do with Him in mind.
Verse 4 tells us that all things have a purpose that we get our purpose from him not ourselves. You see this should change the way we think about who we are, our idenitty and the purpose for our lives.
Our lives are not our own. they are not meant to be used for our own purposes but for God’s purposes.
And whether we like that or not He will use us for his purposes even the wicked those who refuse to bow to him will fulfill his purpose through judgment.
Verse 9 though really reminds us that our lives are in the hands of the Lord.
The heart of man plans his way but the Lord guides his steps.
Even when we think we know where we are headed God is the one who is guiding our steps. Like if you think back to when you were younger you thought you had it all figured out.
you thought you knew how things were going to go but you really didnt. Not really.
How did you get to where you are?
One step at a time. One choice at a time. One crisis at a time. One relationship at a time.
We really have no clue what is going to happen moment by moment and day after day guys. It is totally and completly up to the Lord. We are called to just follow him one step at a time.
One day at a time sweet Jesus....right...
so what is our response to looking at the world realizng we have no answers and realizing God’s ways are the best?
Complete and total surrender...
Proverbs 30:1–9 ESV
1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. 2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. 3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. 4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! 5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. 7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
What’s he saying?
I don’t even know what is best for my life.
This is a guy who is exhausted I mean he has tried to figure things out and know what is good and where he should go and he’s just worn out.
he is lost. He is at the point wehre he realizes that he really doesn’t know anything after all.
and really until we get to this point God can’t get through to us.
The prodigal son comes to mind.
remember he left home thought he had it all figured out.
and there he was broke no friends feeding pigs
And Jesus said that’s when he came to himself.
that’s when he woke up and realized the terrible mistake he had made.
Until we realize that we are like this guy, too stupid to be a man we are going to keep telling God how he should run the world and to get out of the way so we can run our lives because we know so much better than he does.
So first admit that you don’t know and that you are not able.
and then realize that God is and does…look at verses 5-6
Every word of God proves true he is a shiled to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
so God knows what is up and he knows what is best trust HIs word and not your own. Don’t try to twist his word or add to it.
instead trust him. and depnd on him.
That means study his word
Memorize his word
Live his word
obey his word.
they are true.
His word is the test of truth not public opinion.
Not the law of the land.
Not how you feel about something.
No God’s Word is the only thing in this world we can trust.
I mean look at how dependent this guy is on God
7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
What is he saying?
he is saying, God i don’t trust myself to even know how much or how little I need. You know the answer to that. He is saying, God i’m good with how much ever money you think i can handle. Don’t give me so much that I forget you and don’t let me have so little that i curse you.
His point guys is that God knows his heart and he does not. So he is going to be content with what God gives him. Imagine if that is the way we trusted the Lord?
with this motivation that says Lord I don’t care how much or how little you give me because I don’t know how strong I am.
but Lord you do so you give me what you think is best.
Imagine how much less worry, and stress and greed we’d have in our lives and in this world...
We must put our hope and trust in God’s plan for our lives not our own.
And above all allow our respect of HIm to rule...
Proverbs 14:27 ESV
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
The problem we have is that very often it is not the fear of the Lord that guides our lives it is the fear of man. We are more afraid of disappointing other poeple than disappointing God.
We should never allow what people think or how people feel about us to determine whether or not we are going to obey the Lord.
We find ourselves in snares constantly when we let our own desires or other people’s opinions guide our path. You see the things you love the most and the things you fear the most actually lead you the most.
If you love money you will do things because you fear you are going to lose your money and not get more.
If you love having people talk good about you you will do whatever it takes to make sure they continue to talk good about you because you are afraid of losing that praise from them.
If you love being in control you will do what it takes to keep that control out of fear of losing it.
But if you love God and want to see him glorfied then you will obey him because you are afraid of being used by satan to bring him dishonor and shame.
You will point others to him away from you with no fear of not being honored because you are a child of the most high king the greastest honor there is.
So when the Lord is who you fear you find a fountain of life because you are not led by your own fears and desires but by his guidance.
Let’s finish up our study of proverbs with what Jesus has to say on the subject of which path we take...
Matthew 7:13–14 ESV
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
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