We need a GPS, a global positioning system to help us live a life that pleases God.
A GPS in our car or phone can give us directions because it is linked to a system of satellites orbiting the earth that can pinpoint where we are within 1 centimeter of accuracy. We might be lost or not know how to get from place to place where we are on earth.
But a GPS system, far above us, can see the big picture and correctly guide us.
The book of Proverbs gives us the view of what our behavior from God’s viewpoint should be like that we need when we get lost in the weeds of daily decisions.
In this lesson, we’ll look at the book overall and then we’ll look at some specific situations in life that our world tells us to respond in one way, but the book of Proverbs gives us a different way to respond.
Below is the podcast and video of the lesson and below them the notes/transcript
It’s easy to put the Bible’s advice into a separate “church” part of life
• But is that where it really belongs?
• Or can the Bible give us valuable guidance in every part of life?
• In our lesson today on, I think you’d be surprised and encouraged on how helpful the Bible can be as we talk about…
Proverbs, a reliable GPS for a disciple of Jesus
Yvon Prehn, Bible805
Why we need a GPS, a global positioning system
• A GPS in our car or phone can give us directions because it is linked to a system of satellites orbiting the earth that can pinpoint where we are within 1 centimeter of accuracy.
• We might be lost or not know how to get from place to place where we are on earth.
• But a GPS system, far above us, can see the big picture and correctly guide us.
• The book of Proverbs gives us the view of what our behavior from God’s viewpoint should be like that we need when we get lost in the weeds of daily decisions.
We might also think of Proverbs as our user manual for life
• As has often been said, and as just as often forgotten, that the maker of anything knows what it is designed for and how it will function best.
• A car comes with a manual and advice: change the oil, do preventative maintenance, etc.
• If you do these things, you have a much greater chance of your car lasting and serving you well than if you run it without ever changing the oil, never checking fluids, try to use diesel instead of regular gas.
• Taking care of your car is not a guarantee that you’ll never be in an accident, or you’ll never have problems—but it will run much better for the life of the car if you do what you are supposed to do.
The book of Proverbs, is like that
• GPS or User’s Manual, we need the book of Proverbs,
• For the right direction of our lives, for the best running of our souls, we need to pay attention to what it says.
• We won’t get reliable advice like that anywhere else, not just in overall secular world where the shift away from a default Biblical Christian view is obvious.
• We also won’t find it in ourselves, though that is what the world tells us today where…..
“I did it my way” is celebrated and “trust your gut” taken as the ultimate guide— Proverbs provides a different view
• Proverbs says that I am not the source of what should define my life and behavior, but that:
• The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, Prov. 1:7
• The Message translation puts it this way “Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God”
• Regardless of the translation, the source of our life and what guides it should be God.
A word about “fear,” about “fearing God”
• We are so quick these days to dismiss the idea of Fearing God. We quickly add when we read that verse that we really don’t mean “fear” when we say the word fear—but we mean a reverence and/or awe of God.
• As a result of making this Bible verse acceptable to everyone, many have become overly familiar, flippant, and irreverent, even in conversations about God and they disregard what He says if it doesn’t suit them.
• There is a place for humor, but I am concerned that today we’ve gone far too far on the side of irreverence.
• That is wrong—there are times when “fear” correctly doesn’t mean terror, but a realistic awe because God is God and we have a healthy respect for Him.
• C.S. Lewis said that sometimes people think they want to see God and he replied that they don’t know what they are asking. He reminds us that in the Bible when people were visited by angels or confronted with God their experience was often one of sheer terror and the first words they heard were often, “Don’t be afraid.”
This is not to say God wants us to live in terror of Him
• He is the good God who loves us, who gives us life, who died a horrid death that our sins might be forgiven.
• But a reverent respect is a good thing.
• I think living aware that we are always in His presence is good practice for the time we meet Him face to face.
• A friend of Dallas Willard said that when Dallas died because of his close walk with God and his constant awareness of God’s presence with him, that “Dallas probably didn’t even notice.”
• Proverbs can help us live that kind of life.
Proverbs helps us see God’s point of view in the most mundane details of life
• And it’s in those details of life – that our lives are formed
• “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Proverbs helps us learn and then incorporate into our lives that progression of thoughts, actions, habits with the result of a biblical, godly character.
What is the book of Proverbs?
• One of the poetic books of the Bible, though Biblical “poetry” is a little different than how we normally define poetry.
• The Oxford Bibliographies define Hebrew poetry in this way “Briefly defined, biblical Hebrew poetry is a nonmetrical form of verse characterized above all by verbal inventiveness, a discernible poetic diction and texture.”
• Basically, this means it doesn’t rhyme, but it has a different organization and tone than narrative portions of the Bible.
• Proverbs is also called one of the “wisdom” books as it presents how to live wise life from God’s viewpoint.
• Solomon collected most of it, but others contributed for the next approximately 200 years before it was in its final form.
• Whether we call it “wisdom” or “poetry” it is filled with practical advice on how to live.
It’s important to remember that the Proverbs are NOT promises.
• The analogy of a user manual for a car is useful, because again following what the manual says does not guarantee you won’t have car problems or be in an accident, but all other things being equal your car will run much better if you follow the manual than if you don’t.
• For example, one that is often sadly misunderstood is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
• Many have claimed that God PROMISES that if you train your child to be godly, if they stray as an adult, they will eventually come back to God.
• Sadly, we all know that isn’t true.
• But if you do train your child to be godly, and as importantly they see you LIVE it, it is much more likely they will end up walking with the Lord. The best way we can influence anyone to walk with the Lord is to walk that way ourselves.
• To begin to train ourselves, in the Bible805 Chronological Bible Reading plan, you will read a chapter in Proverbs every other day and you will go through the entire book SIX times in the course of the year.
This repeated reading of Proverbs is important in that
• Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers proposed you needed 10,000 hours of practice (90 minutes a day over 20 years or any combination thereof) to become a master at something.
• Lots of debate over his conclusions on the amount and time required, but nobody says you become good at something without time and practice.
• Reading and thinking about Proverbs repeatedly will help us become experts in Godly living.
• Expert tip: People who write down everything they eat, lose weight even if they don’t make other changes
• Application: journal what you are learning from Proverbs and other books in the Bible, honestly evaluate where you are and what you need to work on and pray for God’s help in areas you see you need help in.
• We’ll now look at some situations of contemporary life, what the often current expectation is of how we should respond and then in contrast, suggested applications from Proverbs.
Situation: an obvious example of the dangers of adultery
• It doesn’t take astute philosophical analysis to see that in our world today sexual faithfulness to one person is no longer a value or even an expectation.
• That is obviously a post-Christian, post-Biblical view as the Bible in Proverbs and many other places teaches sexual faithfulness and purity.
• As one commentator described the current socially acceptable view of sexuality: “We’ve moved adultery from a sin to entertainment.”
• A nicely worded, but obvious observation.
• Proverbs has much to say about being faithful to your spouse and the foolishness of adultery.
• In the Old Testament, Israel’s relationship to God is often talked about as the same as that of a husband and wife.
• And when Israel worships other gods, it is referred to as spiritual adultery.
• On the one hand, this illustrates how personal God’s love is for us and our worship of him much more than an intellectual exercise.
• But these passages are also a great warning of the dangers of straying from our sole and faithful love of God.
• Many of the things that distract people from faithful relationships, can distract us from a focused love and worship of our God.
• Proverbs help us be aware of them.
Situation: someone corrects us, questions how we act, why we did something a certain way
• Current world view—our response: take offense, immediately defend your self, yell, and argue. In contrast, Proverbs says:
• Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid. Prov. 12:12
• If you profit from constructive criticism, you will be elected to the wise men’s hall of fame. But to reject criticism is to harm yourself and your own best interests. Proverbs 15:32, TLB
• People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who will not admit that they are wrong are in danger. Proverbs 10:17
• Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool. Proverbs 17:10
• Also, one for a person who is giving the criticism (because that is never easy either and should only be done with much prayer):
• Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. Proverbs 28:23
• Criticism is a gift—we are not all-knowing and we need God’s Word and people to let us know when we stray in big or little ways.
• We honestly may not know something is wrong.
• Navigator counsel before summer training: Read Proverbs, soften your heart to learn.
• When we are questioned or criticized, how should we act?
• Don’t become immediately defensive and reject it.
• BE QUIET for a few minutes at minimum.
• By yourself, think about it, pray about it.
• Be thankful someone cared enough—it is never easy to honestly confront someone.
• Pray for an open heart to learn from God’s Word.
• If the criticism was merely mean, unkind, or untrue, ignore it and more on.
Situation: Someone upsets or insults you, does something to “make you angry”
• World view: hit back with anger, slander, verbal assaults whenever you feel the slightest insult or misunderstanding
• Worth noting: no one can “make you angry” it is a learned habit/response
• Not to deny something has happened, but Proverbs majors on your response. Proverbs says:
• Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity. Prov.14:29, MSG
• A wise man restrains his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit. Prov.19:11
• Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. Proverbs 11:12
• The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
• A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
• He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. Prov. 16:32 KJV
Application: instead of being destructive with what we say
• The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense. Prov. 10:21
• Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. (and sometimes people didn’t mean it) Prov. 12:16
• YOU DO NOT NEED to tell people how you feel about everything—feelings are fleeting; the hurt of painful words lasts a long time. “OVERLOOK the insult.” We don’t know why we say what we do, why do we assume deep meanings behind every comment from others?
• The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (think carefully of all the ways we can lie) Prov. 12:22
• The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly. (you don’t have to give unasked for advice)
• A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Prov. 25:11
Situation: When we or others make mistakes
• Worldview—either justify or beat ourselves up
• Proverbs reminds us:
• Proverbs 24:16-18 English Standard Version (ESV)
• 16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
• 17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.
Application, v.16, when we make mistakes— God isn’t finished with us yet
• Be kind to yourself!
• It says that righteous people will fall (and 7 is an infinite number).
• But you need to get back up.
• Forgive yourself as you would others.
• A great encouragement from Proverbs:
• But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. Prov 4:18, ESV
Application for v. 17 and 18 when your enemy falls
• We are NEVER to rejoice when bad things happen to people we don’t like
• God does deal with bad people; often we don’t see it but sometimes we do.
• Rejoicing over another’s misfortune is NEVER, EVER the right thing to do.
• We should most of all pray when someone is punished to be like our Lord who is “not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
A good summary verse if someone doesn’t follow Proverbs, or even try
• A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.
Prov. 19:3, NIV
• People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
so why does God always get blamed? Prov. 19:3, MSG
• Don’t blame God if you don’t follow his directions and things go wrong.
In all the situations of life:
There are always two voices
• Jokes about angel and devil, sometimes a caricature. . . .
• But there really always are 2 voices—one of self and Satan, one of our Creator. Proverbs continually reminds us of this, referring to the voice of Satan always as “the fool, the foolish, etc.”
• Voice #1 Satan—who wanted to be god and wants to tempt us to be our own god
• He is never original, you will always hear the question he asked in the Garden of Eden, “Did God really say……?
• So much of what he says doesn’t sound “sinful” the positive thoughts, affirmations, think it; be it, etc. are at core often ways to be our own god.
• But trying to be our own god, makes for a very puny god . . . . . (remember the Hulk, pounding Loki).
#2 Our Creator—listening to His voice what we were made for, what will make us truly happy, fulfilled
• Listening to our God is difficult and challenging in our post-Christian, post-Biblical world where the voices are sometimes loud, sometimes soft, but always constant and contradictory to the Word of God.
• The good news is that one day the voice of evil will be silenced forever—I think that will be one of the greatest joys of heaven.
• Until then—we have Proverbs, we have the entire word of God to guide us, but we need to read and apply it for it to help.
• All this is valid—but there is another very important part of applying PROVERBS that is extremely essential for us to look at and that is….
Beyond making us happy, at peace, fulfilled and blessed
• As I thought about it, I realized if we simply stopped there, we could (sinful creatures we all are) think that Proverbs is all about us—exchanging a sort of worldly selfishness for a more spiritual one.
• But Proverbs is much more than that—it is a practical way for us to grow as a disciple of Jesus—the goal of our Christian lives—to become like the one we follow.
• That is the expertise, the 10,000-hour goal we work towards—to become like Jesus.
• And Proverbs is a great reminder that God always works in little ways.
• Growth as a disciple is founded, not on only what you know, but how kind you are, how you control what you say, how you respond when treated unfairly or criticized, how you handle finances, temptations, and the multitude of details that make up the minutes of our lives.
• We aren’t just checking off a list of readings—we are creating a life.
We started with
a definition of Proverbs and one of them was that they can be a poem
• It reminded me of—
• Eph. 3:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (in the Greek the world “workmanship is” “poema”)
• We are God’s Poem, his message to the world. ….we should be the living examples of God’s way of living, examples of Jesus.
• Proverbs gives us a choice, a GPS, but no guidance system drives the car for us—we decide if we will take its advice or not.
• Ignore it and you could end as a tawdry tale as Shakespeare said, “told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing” or
• Or our life can be written as God’s poem reflecting His way of living to your world and one, as Proverbs says is, “shining ever brighter until the full light of day.”
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