Daily Bible Study Notes

Friday September 22, 2017

Easy to Forget

 

Read Proverbs 2:2, 3:1-4, 3:5-6, 4:23.

 

As we read through Proverbs, it’s easy to forget that the original audience was in a covenant relationship with the Lord. Such a relationship was never designed to be legalistic or perfunctory. God’s plan was always to redeem a people for himself and to have His people love Him with their heart, soul, mind and strength.

As such, the great commandment about love is echoed and repeated throughout Proverbs. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,’ comes through regularly in Proverbs. Even the second commandment, which is also about love, is echoed throughout Proverbs. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ is regularly rephrased throughout this book of wisdom. The first of the Ten Commandments, about worshipping Yahweh alone, at the exclusion of all other so called gods, forms the backdrop to the Book of Proverbs.

True and proper worship of Yahweh is a response of love for his salvation and redemption. True worship emanates from the heart. It’s no wonder that the book of Proverbs has so much to say about the heart. Going through motions or approaching God with a divided or deceitful heart is an abomination to the Lord. We are told that the Lord detests people who have a perverse heart (11:20).

The God fearing person, contrary to the double minded person, is called to store up the commandments in his heart (3:1). He is to write love and faithfulness upon the tablet of his heart (3:3) and is to apply his heart to understanding (2:2). God, in gracious response, will pour wisdom and knowledge and understanding in that person’s heart (2:2). They will receive the covenant blessings promised throughout the Torah and even more (4:4).

It is precisely because of the covenant relationship with Yahweh that the one who fears God is commanded to guard their heart, above all else (4:23). Guarding the heart is more important than guarding one’s speech, one’s ears and one’s eyes. The reason is as simple as it is profound. The heart is the well spring of life. The heart is the source of life. A good heart, dedicated to Yahweh, leads to life and peace. The heart is the place where God speaks. It’s the place where good or evil finds a resting place. It’s the place from which our words emanate. A bad heart leads to folly, to sin and ultimately, to death. Guarding one’s heart is akin to guarding the covenant relationship one has with Yahweh Almighty.

We are told throughout Scripture that God knows the heart. He looks beyond the external and sees the internal. God knows the state of each and every single person’s heart. God tests the heart (17:3). The analogy to silver and gold being refined suggests that the testing is meant to purify and refine the heart, much like heat purifies silver and gold. God does not test the heart so that He can see what’s truly there. Given that He already knows what’s in each person’s heart, we can surmise that He tests the heart so that we can see what is truly there and by repenting, we can purify and guard our heart. God drives out the latent evil and wickedness in our hearts by testings, often in the fire of life.

New Testament believers have been bought into covenant relationship with God through the sacrificial work of Christ at Calvary. To make sense of the Proverbs, we have to read them through the cross of Christ and apply them through the lens of the Gospels and the New Testament. Considering the heart, we find that New Testament believers have been washed, sanctified and purified by Jesus’ blood. We have been made a new creation and have been given a new heart, in fulfilment of all the Old Testament prophesies. As a New Testament believer, God is purifying our hearts and deepening our walk with Him. The victory of Christ is being enacted more and more in our lives each day as we are guided by the Spirit and live according to the Word of our Lord

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that there is no hint of sin dwelling within Him and that He is totally pure and perfect in every single way.

Adore God for being a God of love who cares about the state of our heart and who wants us to be filled with love as He is love.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that when anyone comes to Christ in repentance and faith, he or she is given a new heart in fulfilment of prophesy.

Thank God that He continues to grow our heart in love and faithfulness as we mature in Christ.

 

Supplication:

Pray that our youth would grow in love and faithfulness.

Pray that the youth leaders would model love and faithfulness in all their ways, even outside of youth group hours.

Pray that God would be preparing us to hear from His Word this weekend and that we would sit joyfully under the authority of the Word.

Pray that the Word would change us and mould us to be more like Christ Jesus.

Discuss

 

1.What does the heart refer to in the Old Testament?

2.Does this change in the New Testament?

3.Why does worship have to come from the heart?

 

 

Thursday September 21, 2017

Trust

 

Read Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:20, 2 Corinthians 5:7.

 

Trusting in the Lord could be a cliché that is far too easily bandied around and thrown out to those who are struggling or being tempted. When someone shares, for example, their concern over their wayward son, we can all too easily make the reply, ‘Just trust in the Lord.’ When someone is struggling with their health, to give another example, we can all too easily chide them for not trusting God.

 

Trusting in God is something every Christian knows of. It’s a deep inner knowledge that we all have. But there is far more to trusting God than easy clichés that slide off the tongue like water off a duck’s back.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 calls for such trust. 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. The command to trust in the Lord with all your heart is far more than a cliché, even though it’s become one in the modern church. Trusting God with our entire heart means that we have a deep inner desire to do something God’s way, rather than our own. We trust that God’s way is far better than our own way.

 

As an example, consider Majib in the Old Testament. He knows well the command not to work on the Sabbath. But he sees the foreigners outside the city wall each Sabbath. He knows that if he takes his wares to the city gate on the Sabbath, he’ll make good sales. The money will feed his family and assure their health and vitality. The excess can also be a freewill offering to Adonai at the Temple. For Majib, trusting Adonai wholeheartedly means not selling and working on the Sabbath. It means putting Adonai’s Word into practice in his own life and refusing to entertain the temptations that are before him. Even though he has very good reasons to break the Sabbath, trusting Adonai means choosing to walk in Adonai’s pathways, not his own.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 also calls us to lean not on our own understanding. The contrast has to be read into the Proverb. The understanding that we are not to lean on, is an understanding that is contrary to, or different to, the Word of the Lord. If we have an understanding of the Lord’s Word and know His will then leaning on that is a good thing to do. The understanding being referred to, is our human, natural understanding which excludes God.

 

At the most fundamental level, when we choose to trust our understanding and when we choose to reject God’s ways, we are implicitly and explicitly stating that we do not trust God to provide. We are putting ourselves in a position above God because we feel that God simply cannot be trusted.

 

The New Testament believer is in the same position as the Old Testament believer. We are called to live by faith and not by sight. What this means is that we take a course of action based on faith and not what is before us. We do not let the situation determine our actions. We let God determine our actions. Our faith forms our actions. The situation does not.

 

If we wish to be blessed by the Lord then our life must be a life lived in trust. Our life must be a life of faith - trust put into practice.

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He can be trusted.

Adore God that He is faithful and true.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that you have the Word of God to lead you in your decision making.

Thank God that you have brothers and sisters in the Lord to give you wise counsel and advice to lead and guide you in decisions.

 

Supplication:

Ask the Lord to grow your church in trust and faith.

Pray that each and every single believer in your congregation would be living a life of trust in the Lord in all things.

Pray that God would grow the Session in their trust in God and readiness to follow Him in all things.

Pray this too for the Committee of Management.

Pray this for every ministry in your church.

Discuss

 

1.What is faith?

2.What is trust?

3.Explain what Proverbs 3:5-6 means in the Old Testament and what it means in the New Testament.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday September 20, 2017

Talk With Gladness

 

Read Proverbs 8:13, 3:7, 23:17.

 

As I listened to the conference panel on same sex marriage and same sex attraction, I was deeply saddened that the panel seemed to talk with gladness and joy and with a sense of pride about their struggles. Years earlier, the same mindset was seen in those struggling with pornography. Years before that, the Christian church was regaled with conversion stories where the individual spoke with fondness of their wanton life of drugs, alcohol, violence and the like. I even read on-line of one group that ministers to people struggling in a particular area. They wear the title of their struggle with great pride. It’s put forth as a badge of honour.

As a Christian church, we have to deal with the real issues of the world. We have learn to minister to people in the world dealing with real issues. We simply cannot play pretend and dish out pious platitudes to those who are struggling. We cannot pretend that becoming a Christian will automatically remove all sin and temptation from our lives. We have to minister and serve our brothers and sisters who fight with wild beasts (1 Cor 15:32, a metaphor for sexual temptation) and who struggle with all kinds of temptation and sin. We have to equip, train and build up the church to deal with all kinds of issues.

Proverbs gives the counter-balancing weight. Our fear of the Lord should lead us to turn away from all evil. Our fear of the Lord should teach us to hate all evil. If God has declared something to be evil, we should hate that particular thing. We should not envy sinners or seek to imitate them.

As the church continues to minister and serve and as it continues to grow and be equipped to minister and serve in very sensitive and touchy areas, we need that sense of balance. We have to communicate very clearly that we do not condone sin or approve of it, in any way, shape or form. We have to hate sin in all forms. But beside this, we have to minister and serve in a way that encourages and urges others to holiness and righteousness. We need to fill people’s hearts and minds with the joy of the Lord, not a passion for sin. We need to find our strength and our joy in the Lord.

The key, according to Proverbs, is to cultivate and grow a healthy fear of the Lord. The key is to allow the fear of the Lord to lead us away from sin and evil. A healthy fear of the Lord, in both Old and New Testaments, flees from evil. As such, with a healthy fear of the Lord, we refuse to entertain evil. We refuse to dwell on it, to linger around it and to dwell next to it. A healthy fear of the Lord causes us to flee evil in all forms.

As Christians, we should not boast or take pride in any sin that we once engaged in. That sin cannot and should not form any part of our identity in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 6:9-11 is particularly helpful. Paul says, ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’

According to Paul, the Corinthians were engaged in all manner of sinful activities. But he does not label them according to their sin. He says that they were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are no longer immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor homosexual offenders. That is what they were. Note the past tense. Now they are in Christ - washed, sanctified and justified in Christ. No sin can be used as a label for them because the old is gone. The new has come. They are a new creation in Christ Jesus.

As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, do not let your old sins label you or define you. You are a new creation in Christ. You are a saint, not a sinner. God has washed you. He has sanctified you. He has made you holy. It’s time to let go of anything that pulls you backwards.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is perfectly holy and righteous.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that He is able to wash, sanctify and justify us in Christ Jesus.

 

Supplication:

Pray that God would grow you and move you away from sin as you grow in the fear of the Lord.

Pray that our Small Groups would be havens of holiness, seeking to grow and mature each disciple in Christ Jesus.

Discuss

 

1.What is meant by the fear of the Lord?

2.Define the key terms in 1 Cor 6:9-11, namely washed, sanctified, justified.

3.Why should Christians turn away from sin and evil?

 

 

Tuesday September 19, 2017

Positive Aspects

 

Read Proverbs 14:2, 26, 27, 15:33, 19:23, 10:27.

 

Picture Charlie. Charlie attends the local church and wants to live a life pleasing to God. He has no desire to sin, but often finds himself falling into old habits and sinful ways.

 

Let’s spend a day with Charlie to see how the fear of the Lord could change his day and equip him for a life of worship. As the day begins, Charlie rolls over in bed with a moan and groan. But, rather than jumping straight out of bed and getting on with the day, he grabs his Bible and reads a Proverb. Proverbs 14:2 smacks him on the cheek. He’s convicted that his faith must lead him to walk in uprightness. He prays for the strength to live a life of upright worship.

 

As Charlie drives to work, he again has another driver dangerously cut in front of him. It seems to be a regular occurrence in peak hour traffic. But he recalls the Proverb and rather than swearing and cursing, as he did yesterday, he prays for the driver ahead, obviously infected with the stress of the rat race. His anger soon dissipates.

 

At work, the boss is her usual irritating self. More of a boss than a leader, she grates on Charlie’s nerves. As she turns to leave, the other employee rolls his eyes and grimaces awkwardly. Charlie is tempted to laugh and to continue making fun of the boss. It’s a national past time for so many. But the Lord brings Proverbs 15:33 to mind and Charlie prays for wisdom. Rather than joking and poking fun, he quietly remarks, ‘She must have so much stress on her plate.’ The other employee nods in bewilderment and slinks away.

 

Over lunch, the guys sit around and, as usual, share their weekend drinking and partying exploits. Like fishing stories, they are also exaggerated and more dream-filled than reality. Charlie has confidence in the Lord that he need not join in the exaggerated story telling. He is confident that his identity need not revolve around drunken binges and sexual exploits. He sits and listens quietly. He tries to strike up a serious conversation with another workmate.

 

At home, at the end of another tiring day, Charlie wonders if it’s all worth it. He chose to come home rather than to sit in the pub with his work mates. He chose to be with his family rather than to be out to all hours, drinking even more. Was it a good choice? Was it worth it? As he drifts off to sleep, the Lord wafts Proverbs 19:23 and 10:27 through Charlie’s heart. He’s content. Actually, he’s down right happy and glad he chose to serve and fear the Lord.

 

As we think about Charlie’s day, we see an example of how the fear of the Lord can guide us. It helps us make wise and life-giving decisions. It helps us to choose paths that please the Lord and give glory and honour to Him. In fact, it’s the times when we forget the Lord that we give way to temptation and fall into sin.

 

The fear of the Lord is a great way to make decisions and to choose our actions. As we contemplate each next step, we need to learn to ask ourselves if the action we are about to do or the word we are about to speak will bring glory and honour to God. If the answer is no, we should take an alternate course of action.

 

As we walk in the fear of the Lord, we grow in life. We gain life to the full as Jesus promised us (John 10:10) and our assurance of eternal life strengthens. As or assurance strengthens, we are less prone to want to sin and we are more equipped to say no temptation.

 

The fear of the Lord has many positive benefits in our life. The fear of the Lord is not an optional extra but a mandate given to us by God. Let’s make every effort to walk in the fear of the Lord.

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is worthy of our worship and deserving of our praise and adoration.

Adore God that He is holy and perfect and demands that we, likewise, walk in holiness and perfection.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness

 

Thanks:

Thank God that we can live a life of worship because we are Spirit filled and Spirit driven.

Thank God that Jesus has given us victory over our sinfulness and that sin is no longer our master. Praise God that we have a new master, Christ Jesus Himself.

 

Supplication:

Ask the Lord to give each person in your congregation a growing sense of their victory in Christ Jesus so that they would live a life that shines brightly to the glory and honour of God.

Pray that God would allow you the joy of overcoming any long term, stubborn sin in your life through Christ’s grace and victory.

Discuss

 

1.The fear of the Lord is often thought of as a bad thing. Show how and why it’s a good thing.

2.Explain what Proverbs 14:27, 19:23 and 10:27 mean in the Old Covenant.

3.Explain how these Proverbs are to be interpreted in the New Covenant.

Small Groups

 

 

Read Proverbs 4:20-27

 

 

Spend time in adoration and praise as you sing to the Lord.

 

 

 

Having read Proverbs 4:20-27, consider the following: What does God call us to do in these verses?

 

 

 

Which ones are external and which ones are internal?

 

 

Explain what each one of these might look like in today’s world.

Having read Proverbs 4:20-27, consider the following:

 

why should we store up God’s Word in our heart?

 

In what way do they bring life?

 

 

From what must we guard our heart today?

 

 

Discuss the ways that a believer can guard his/her heart.

What does it mean to look straight ahead?

What does it mean to put perversity away from your mouth? What does it mean to make level paths for your feet?

To correctly interpret and apply the Old Testament, we have to read it in the light of the cross. All Old Testament applications must come through the cross.

 

How does the cross modify OT application in general?

 

 

Consider Proverbs 4:20-27, how does the cross modify our application?

 

What errors arise in OT interpretation, if we don’t read it in the light of the cross?

 

Going Deeper

 

 

Maslow has been with his work place for the last 4 years. He’s recently seen a report that suggests terminations could be made in the near future. Profits are down and the company looks like retrenching several workers to increase its financial viability.

Maslow thinks he might have 2 weeks left before he’s let go.

 

Consider how Proverbs 4:20-27 might apply to Maslow’s situation. What wisdom might Proverbs offer Maslow?

From what must Maslow guard his heart?

 

What temptations to perversity could Maslow face?

 

What should he do with these temptations?

 

What would it look like for Maslow to look straight ahead?

 

What might it look like for Maslow to make level paths for his feet?

 

In what ways might he be tempted to swerve to the right or to the left?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having read the study on worship in Proverbs, spend time in prayer. Make sure to include

 

Adoration Confession Thanks Supplication.

 

 

Groups

 

 

 

A lifelived in worship of Jesus to draw people to Christ.

 

 

 

 

Monday September 18, 2017

Coming Up this Sonday September 24, 2017 Proverbs Worship

 

 

This week’s memory verse Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

The Fear of the Lord

 

Read Proverbs 1:1-7, Isaiah 33:6.

 

The book of Proverbs has simultaneously caused much joy and blessing as well as grief and anguish. In and of itself, it’s a hard book to read with many Proverbs appearing to contradict each other and many Proverbs being far beyond our grasp or understanding.

Even more so to our Western mindset which is vehemently antagonistic to anything reeking of fear. And so, as we read Proverbs 1:7 and notably the call to fear the Lord, we are struck and taken aback. Our minds instinctively race through the New Testament looking for a verse, any verse, to take away this scourge and whip from our backs. Fear has no place in our easy and comfortable lives.

But biblically speaking, the fear of the Lord is not an experience of terror. The fear of the Lord, according to the New Bible Dictionary, equates to worship and submission. The fear of the Lord is a God given ability to reverence God’s authority and to obey his commands and thus to shun and hate all forms of evil.

Worship should never be equated solely with the church’s Sonday gathering, even though that might be called a service of worship. Worship includes our Sonday gathering but is far more. Worship is a way of life. Worship is a way of life that seeks to live in obedience to the Lord’s commands.

To those who feel the urge to rise up and shout slogans of Sola Fida - saved by faith and faith alone (to which I give a hearty and loud AMEN) - I remind you that we are talking about the Christian life, not salvation. Jesus called the disciples, in Matthew 28:18-20, to make disciples and to baptise people in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is evangelism. But He also called the disciples to teach them to obey all that He commanded. Obedience to the Lord is not an optional extra that new converts can take or leave. Paul in Romans talked about the obedience that comes from faith (1:5). Jesus taught that not all who call him Lord will enter the Kingdom, but only those who do the will (aka obedience) of the Father in heaven.

The Lord is a store of wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the Lord is the key that opens the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord. As we fear the Lord and live a life of worship, God’s treasure store will be more and more opened for us. We will indulge ourselves in the wisdom, salvation and knowledge of the Lord.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is wisdom in its fullness.

Adore God that Christ has become for us the wisdom of God, that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that Christ has come into the world to save us.

Thank God that all who believe in Him have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the Committee of Management would have the wisdom of God to handle our financial and temporal affairs in a way that brings Him glory and honour and praise.

Pray that the Committee of Management would be kingdom focused and willing to do everything in its power to grow the kingdom.

Pray that each person in your congregation would fear the Lord and seek to live a life of obedient worship in every area of their life.

 

Discuss

 

1.What does it mean to fear the Lord?

2.What is worship?

3.What impact does a life of worship have on the non-believing world?

4.How do we unlock the treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge?

 


Saturday September 16, 2017

The Way of a Fool

 

Saturday September 16, 2017

Read Proverbs 12:15-16.

 

Self justification or excuse making is a huge mountain to overcome. But unfortunately, we can rarely see our own self justifications as clearly as we see it in others. What we see as a pimple in ourselves is seen as a huge gaping wound in others.

But, to help us see through the self deception, we need to recall the phrase ‘but this is different.’ As soon as we think this phrase or speak it out, then we are more than likely, about to make excuses or self justifications as to why we are allowed to sin. “I know I shouldn’t say this. I know it’s gossip, but this is different. He needs to know.” My gossiping is justified and I’ve effectively cleared my conscience so that I can freely gossip.

The way of a fool seems to right to him because he makes self justifications and excuses as to why it’s the right path. Whether or not he actually believes the lies that he tells himself is irrelevant. What matters, in his own mind, is that his conscience is clear to go down that pathway. Eventually, his conscience will be seared, as with a hot iron, and he will need less and less excuses or self justifications to indulge in sin.

The wise man, in complete contrast, listens to advice. In fact, he goes out of his way to seek advice, especially in grey areas of doubt or uncertainty. When he knows for certain that a particular pathway is wrong or immoral, he refuses to entertain that option any longer. A sinful or immoral pathway is not optional for the wise man.

Pity the person who seeks to correct a fool that has started on his path. The fool shows his annoyance at once. The fool snaps back and attacks the one seeking to bring correction or rebuke. He mocks and ridicules the one bringing the rebuke. The fool can give 100 “good” reasons, without needing any time for thought, as to why he should go down that path. The fool can spit out justifications and excuses for his actions. The fool is quick to hold up a mirror and to bring counter accusations. He has made up his mind. The runway to sin has been cleared. Offense is the best form of defence to stop anyone getting in the way of him soaring into his delighted pleasures.

But, the wise man can overlook an insult. He can consider the value and quality of a rebuke. He can and will grow through the encounter. The wise man listens and considers the content of the words spoken to him. He does not regurgitate an immediate response. He does not drip annoyance or vengeance. Counter claims or counter accusations have no place in the mouth of a wise man.

As believers in Christ who seek to be wise and discerning, we can learn a lot about people by their reactions. We can see into a person’s heart by the way they react and speak. Even those who seek to hide their true heart will eventually show their true inner self. Jesus tells us that the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart (Matthew 12:34). What’s inside cannot be kept hidden for long. It will come out in words, in actions and in our mannerisms.

As believers in Christ who seek to be wise, we can take the time to listen to advice. In fact, we can actively seek advice from those who have proven themselves to be wise and discerning. If, and when, we are mocked or ridiculed, probably by the unwise and the foolish, we can overlook that offence. The wise man can overlook an offense because he knows that his ways are pleasing to the Lord.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is infinitely wise.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that He gives us wise Christians from whom we can seek advice, guidance and comfort.

Thank God that we have the Word of God to guide us in all our decisions and directions.

 

Supplication:

As we gather together tomorrow for church, pray that the wisdom of God will grow in each one of us.

Pray we would press into Christ to gain more wisdom and that the wisdom of Christ would bear much fruit within us.

Pray that the church would grow in number as more people put their faith in Christ Jesus who is the wisdom of God.

Pray that all the believers in your church would be in discipleship relationships where they are growing in wisdom, in knowledge and in godliness.

Discuss

 

1.Brainstorm possible reactions that show a person to be a fool.

2.The pathway of a fool seems right to him. How can we work out if a particular pathway is right or wrong?

3.How can God’s grace change a fool?

 

 

 

Friday September 15, 2017

What Gives You Pleasure?

 

Read Proverbs 9:10, 10:23.

 

What is it that gives you pleasure? What do you enjoy doing? It may be hard to fathom, but our likes and dislike show whether we are truly wise or deeply foolish, seeking only to live out a façade of Christianity as we attend a particular church.

To come to grips with this notion, we have to delve into the meaning and intent of the phrase ’the fear of the Lord.’ Many New Testament believers have wrongly jettisoned the fear of the Lord as an outmoded Old Testament concept that has no relevance in their lives.

But it only takes a rough perusal of the New Testament to realise the place the fear of the Lord still has. In Luke 12:5, Jesus specifically tells us to fear God, over and above fearing those who can only kill the body. We are to fear God because He the power to send you to hell. In Acts 9:31, we see that the church was living in the fear of the Lord. In Acts 10:35, Peter preaches that God accepts men from any nation. He accepts all who fear him. In 2 Corinthians 5:11, Paul says that he and his companions know what it is to fear the Lord. In Philippians 2:12, we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

When we truly fear the Lord we understand something of God’s holiness and righteousness. We know that God demands His people to be holy and blameless (Eph 1:4-5) and that He will not tolerate any sinfulness among His people. We know that God does not show favouritism and that any sin in my life, no matter how small or insignificant, is completely inappropriate. In understanding the fear of the Lord, I seek to please Him in everything, rather than seeking to anger Him or to displease Him.

As an example, Jackson has a strong and healthy fear of the Lord. He comes home late one night from work and turns on the TV. He sees naked men and women on TV. Jackson loves and fears the Lord. He turns off the TV because he has no desire to indulge in such a sinful activity and engages in a more wholesome activity. The phone rings and a fellow Christian, after going through the normal pleasantries, begins to berate and gossip about a fellow believer. The fear of the Lord causes Jackson to interrupt and to stop the conversation. He politely explains that such gossip is ungodly. He encourages the brother to speak directly to the other person and changes the topic so that neither he nor his blood-brother are displeasing the Lord.

So how do this ‘fear of the Lord’ and our pleasures reveal whether we are wise or foolish? If we fear the Lord, we refuse to find pleasure and enjoyment in the things that God hates. Watching pornographic or semi pornographic images on TV is an abomination to the Lord. Finding pleasure in such things, shows one to be foolish, not wise.

The same can be said for harsh and rude joking. God makes it clear in Ephesians 4:29 that such coarse or rude joking is at odds with the fear of the Lord. The Christian who gains great pleasure in telling and hearing rude jokes reveals that his heart is a heart of foolishness and not of wisdom.

A fool, we are told, finds pleasure in evil conduct. What is evil and what is good is not determined by my thoughts or by what I like or dislike. What is good and bad is not determined by the world or by others. Adam and Eve made that mistake in the Garden of Eden. We’ve been suffering ever since. What is good and what is evil is determined solely by God. There is no other standard! God tells us in His Word, the Bible, what is evil and what is good.

If I list my likes or the things that give me pleasure, I can measure that against the Word of God. By such a comparison, I can work out whether I am truly wise or truly foolish. But for this exercise to work, we have to abandon our self justifications and excuse making. We have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and measure ourselves against the standard of God’s Word. Only when we take the Word of God as it truly is, will we grow in wisdom and understanding.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is perfect in His righteousness and that His standard of righteousness is perfect and pure.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that everyone who believes in Jesus has the righteousness of God transferred to them through Jesus.

 

Supplication:

Pray that God would raise up a growing desire for what is right, fair and just among the youth. Pray that they would mature and deepen in their faith.

Discuss

 

1.What does it mean to delight in wisdom?

2.How do you know if something is evil or good?

3.How can you find out if something that is not talked about in Scripture is evil or good? For example, you might think of stem cell research.

4.What should a Christian do if he or she discovers that they are finding pleasure in something that God has said is evil?

 

 

Thursday September 14, 2017

A Tree of Life

 

Read Proverbs 3:13-24.

 

Playing Lotto or Powerball each week is a favourite past time for many, including many Christians. The dream of being able to ‘take it easy’ and to rest for the rest of one’s life is a huge attraction. The opportunity to spend up big, to cruise the world and to live like a star are obviously tempting to more than the average Australian, Christian or non-Christian. Australians spend, according to the fountain of all knowledge and wisdom (ie the internet), about $20 billion per annum on gambling. It appears that we are desperate to win a motza.

 

Further away from the gambling scene, Australians also spend much in planning for retirement. While this is not necessarily negative, in and of itself, we have to note the huge amounts of money and energy that go into planning for retirement.

 

Interestingly, Solomon describes the person who finds wisdom and understanding as blessed. The word ‘blessed’ means to be favourably looked upon by God. The Scriptures never assign the word ‘blessed’ to the person who retires well or who wins a motza on Lotto. But the one who finds wisdom is blessed.

 

Even more so, Solomon tells us that wisdom is more profitable than silver. It has better returns than gold. It is more precious than rubies. In fact, nothing we desire can compare to wisdom.

 

But of course, we think and reason to ourselves that wisdom is valuable. But surely Solomon is using a metaphor. He’s exaggerating to make a point. Wisdom is great but it doesn’t put food on the table and doesn’t pay my electricity bill. I attend a small group and I go to church somewhat regularly. Surely, that’s enough wisdom for now!

 

Such excuse making and self justification does not square with the picture of seeking wisdom that we saw yesterday. Nor does it do justice to the language that Solomon uses. Perhaps Solomon, to fit into our wealth obsessed and comfort coveting nature, should have written, ‘If you get time and if you can be bothered search for wisdom. I don’t know if it has any value but somewhere along the line, it might be useful.’ I hope you can hear my tongue-in-cheek tone.

 

Solomon valued wisdom above silver, gold and rubies. He then stated that wisdom is a tree of life to all who embrace her. The reference is clearly to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. In this fallen and broken world, the wisdom

of God leads us towards a fullness of life that Adam and Eve shared in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. Read John 10:10 and you’ll Jesus reaffirming this.

 

Stories abound of Lotto winners who found no value and meaning in life, even after gaining a life of riches. Anecdotes of the rich being abundantly unhappy, even miserable, in their wealth abound. Wealth cannot bring meaning, purpose and value to our lives. But even so, perhaps we still long to side with the comic who once said, ‘Money can’t buy happiness. But I’d like to find out for myself.’

 

But wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her. Jesus picked up on this when he said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ Being the wisdom of God, Jesus gives eternal life and fullness of meaning and value in this life to all who search for Him. Everyone who seeks Him will find Him.

 

If you want a retirement that’s filled with meaning, value and adventure or if you want a life of blessing and peace, it’s not to be found in money or assets. Real life comes from knowing Christ Jesus and from growing in Him, the true wisdom of God. The same wisdom by which the Lord laid the earth’s foundations and set the heavens in place and by which the deeps were divided, is available to you in Christ Jesus. Such wisdom cannot be bought with Lotto winnings or with accumulated wealth. It’s found by those who seek God and Christ, who has become for us the wisdom of God.

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is a God of love and compassion.

Adore God that He accepts all who come to Jesus in repentance and faith.

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

Thanks:

Thank God that His love has been poured out upon you and that you have His peace and His plan for your life.

Thank God that His wisdom is far better than silver, gold, rubies and all wealth.

Supplication:

Ask the Lord to bless you with immense wisdom in the areas where you currently need it the most.

Ask the Lord to bring a deeper understanding of His Word and His will to both yourself and everyone in your congregation.

Pray that your congregation would grow in number as more and more people put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Discuss

 

1.How can we seek the wisdom of God?

2.Why is wisdom described in such high and exalted terms?

3.Why is wisdom referred to as a tree of life?

 

 

Wednesday September 13, 2017

As Much As We Chase Fantasies

 

Read Proverbs 2:1-22.

 

At the end of any long, hot summer’s day at any particular beach, you will probably find scavengers scouring the beaches. Often armed with metal detectors, these scavengers seek coins, jewellery, watches and any other valuables that may have been lost or inadvertently left behind. Perhaps some fantasize about finding a small fortune. Perhaps others simply enjoy the thrill of the chase. Still other might seek to supplement their meagre income with a little tax-free booty.

 

Proverbs reveals to us that wisdom is to be sought after as much, if not more, than the fantasies that some chase. Seeking wisdom is by no means a passive activity where be we sit and chant, waiting for some celestial waiter to bring our heavenly order to us.

 

The verbs in Proverbs chapter 2 are active, not passive. Words like accept, store, turn, apply, call out, cry out, look and search picture an energetic, and perhaps even enthusiastic, scouring, much like our intrepid beach combers after a long hot summer’s day. As Solomon sits with his son, he encourages the soon-to-be-king to look for wisdom as some look for silver and gold. He urges him to seek wisdom as some seek hidden or buried treasure.

 

The imagery of Proverbs 2 suggests that wisdom can be elusive and hard to find. But the search is never in vain - unlike the many beachcombers who return home as broke as when they arrived and perhaps broken-hearted. God promises that he who seeks will find. Verses 5 and 6 are definitive. There is no shadow of doubt.

We read in vv5 & 6, ‘then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.’

 

Solomon expounds even more benefits of searching for wisdom.

Proverbs 2:9 (NIV84)

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.

Proverbs 2:10

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Proverbs 2:12

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse,

Proverbs 2:16

It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words,

Unlike searching for buried treasure or playing Lotto each week or combing the beach for lost treasures, seeking wisdom will bear fruit. God will bless all who seek.

 

But how do I seek wisdom? How do I look for it? How can I find wisdom? Without the understanding the difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant, the question could be miss-answered and the seeker could be led astray.

 

In the Old Covenant, the seeker of wisdom would seek to know the Lord through the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings. The seeker would seek the face of the Lord through the Temple and the priests that ministered there.

 

In the New Testament, Christ has become for us, wisdom from God. Seeking wisdom equates to seeking Christ. The more we know Christ, the more we will see the benefits and fruit of wisdom. But as we saw yesterday, knowing Christ Is not just about knowledge. Even the greatest fool can speak words of knowledge. Knowing Christ is about growing in relationship with Him and growing closer to Him.

 

As such, it’s clear that the seeker will be immersed in the Word of God. The seeker will be constantly in prayer and meditation. He or she will surround themselves with godly men and women who will draw them closer to Christ. He or she will avoid those people who pull them away from Christ.

 

The seeker of wisdom will grow closer to Christ and out of that relationship will flow a fear of the Lord that leads to an unequalled holiness in life. Such holiness will be witness to the fruits and treasures of wisdom. The seeker of wisdom will be blessed with finding a great treasure.

Prayer:

 

Adoration:

Adore God that He loves you and wants you to search for His wisdom.

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

Thanks:

Thank God that everyone who seeks will find and everyone who knocks will have the door opened.

Supplication:

Pray that God would reveal to you the sin in your life and the areas where you need to repent. Pray that you would be wise and accept the Word of the Lord in you.

Discuss

 

1.List all the benefits of wisdom in chapter 2.

2.Why does God want us to search for wisdom?

3.How does this searching for wisdom work in with the promise of James 1:5 in the New Testament?

4. If you were to explain God’s wisdom to a non-believer, what would you say?

 

 

Tuesday September 12, 2017

Purpose

 

Read Proverbs 1:1-7.

 

Solomon wrote most of the Proverbs for us but was by no means the only author. Even so, the prologue to the Proverbs (1:1-7) applies to the entire book of Proverbs and shows us their purpose or intent.

 

The first point raised along with the last in the prologue, sum up their intention. Solomon wrote the Proverbs so that the reader would attain wisdom and prudence in life. Wisdom could be defined as the knowledge of God applied to life. The wise man knows the will of God and the desires of God and puts that will or desire into practice in every day life. The fool, who rears his ugly head many times in Proverbs, knows the will of God but refuses to put it into practice.

 

The Proverbs lead the wise person in doing what is right, just and fair. The wise person looks at life from God’s perspective and acts, speaks and reacts in ways that bring glory and honour to God. Doing what is right, just and fair will always bring glory and honour to God as long as the bench mark is set by God. What is right, just and fair in the eyes of the world, could be contradictory to the ways and desires of God and could dishonour God greatly.

 

The wise person will listen and learn and will add to their learning. They will gain even further guidance. As they grow, they will understand more and hence, their life will grow in wisdom and godliness. A simple graph illustrates this well.

 

Imagine that concentric circles represent a person. Each circle represents a particular area of that person’s life. The concentration of lines represents levels of godliness or wisdom. Darker areas represent areas of greater wisdom. More sparse areas, and hence whiter areas, represent areas where wisdom and discernment are lacking. Each person has a range of shades or intensities in their life.

 

The wise person will be constantly growing and moving closer to God. The darker areas of greater intensity will flow outwards into all the areas of their life. As they mature and grow closer to God, they will have less and less sparsely filled areas in their life.

 

The wise person seeks to be close to God and desires to have all areas of their life come under the lordship of God. They willingly and joyously repent of anything that reeks of foolishness or sinfulness. They value rebuke. correction and scriptural admonition.

 

The fool will see the opposite pattern. The lightly filled areas will grow and take over more and more areas in that person’s life. He or she will despise, hate, mock and even attack those who seek to bring godly counsel, wisdom or rebuke into their life. They will build up walls of self-justification and defences for their actions. The foolish person might even put on a strong façade of knowledge - speaking the right words, giving the right answers and pretending that they are godly and wise. They might even pray the most grandiose prayers to impress all who listen. But, all the while, sin is growing and maturing in the deeper recesses of their life. Ultimately, though, they are fooling no one except themselves. God sees through the façade and looks at the heart. Pretty soon, other believers will see the contrasting areas and their entire house of cards will come crumbling down.

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He has infinite wisdom because He created wisdom.

Adore God that He gives wisdom abundantly and without fault to all His children who ask of Him.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness

 

Thanks:

Thank God that we have the Proverbs to grow us and stretch us in our wisdom, our obedience and discernment.

Thank God that His wisdom is not only for the elite or the super spiritual but that each one of us can ask for His wisdom and be assured that He hears and answers us.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the Session of your church would be wise in its leadership and discerning in the way that it deals with and engages with people.

Pray that God would give our Small Group leaders great wisdom to lead the groups, to disciple the group and to draw out the best and godliest in all the members.

Ask the Lord to grow the number of people in small groups.

Discuss

 

1.Why did Solomon write the Proverbs?

2.What does it mean to fear the Lord?

3.In what way is the fear of the Lord the beginning of knowledge or wisdom, as it says in other places?

4.Why should every Christian read through Proverbs?

 

 

Small Groups

 

 

Read Proverbs 1:1-7

 

 

Spend time in adoration and praise as you sing to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

Having read Proverbs 1:1-7, consider the following. List the reasons why Proverbs were written.

 

 

What is a Proverb?

 

 

If Solomon wrote the Proverbs, what role did God have in their composition?

 

 

 

Why should a fool listen to Proverbs?

 

 

 

 

Why should a wise man listen to the Proverbs?

 

 

 

Every culture has Proverbs? How are these Proverbs of Solomon different to the other proverbs we seen in different cultures?

Having read Proverbs 1:1-7, consider the following:

 

Who were Proverbs written for?

 

What can we gain from reading and digesting the Proverbs?

 

GodiscalledLordintheProverbsover90times.What is the implication of this?

 

What is the link between Proverbs and relationship?

Given that Proverbs are not laws to be followed, how should we read Proverbs?

 

How should we read Proverbs differently to other books of the Bible, notably the commands we read?

 

As New Testament believers, we belong to the New Covenant. How does reading the Proverbs change as we move from Old Covenant to New Covenant?

Going Deeper

 

 

Maryanne is a successful business woman. She’s running a multi-million collar company and attends church when she’s in the country. She’s been a Christian for many years ands genuinely wants to serve God and honour Him.

 

What help can the Proverbs give such a person?

How can Proverbs apply to Maryanne, regarding her

head (the way shethinks)?

hands (the way she acts andspeaks)?

heart (the way shefeels)?

What role does the fear of the Lord play in Maryanne’slife?

 

 

Having read the study on Wisdom in Proverbs, spend time in prayer.

Make sure to include

Adoration Confession Thanks Supplication.

 

 

 

The fear of the Lord is a phrase that has caused much angst, debate and uncertainty in Christian circles. Many New Testament believers have wrongly jettisoned the fear of the Lord as an outmoded Old Testament concept that has no relevance in their lives.

Without a healthy fear of the Lord, sin becomes very easy and very tempting. While love may be a motivating factor to avoid sin, an absence of the fear of the Lord makes sin very easy and very very attractive.

 

It only takes a rough perusal of the New Testament to realise the place the fear of the Lord still has. In Luke 12:5, Jesus specifically tells us to fear God, over and above fearing those who can only kill the body. We are to fear God because He the power to send us to hell. In Acts 9:31, we see that the church was living in the fear of the Lord. In Acts 10:35, Peter preaches that God accepts men from any nation. He accepts all who fear him. In 2 Corinthians 5:11, Paul says that he and his companions know what it is to fear the Lord. In Philippians 2:12, we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

If we fear the Lord and allow that fear to guide us, we will have a great impact in society. The fear of the Lord will lead us to stand up for what is right, fair and just. As we stand up for these and as we take a stand for those who cannot stand for or defend themselves, we may not be popular. But, we will be respected. The world will see a level of integrity in us that it has not seen for some time. The world will see a church that has the courage of its convictions.

Such a view can only be a blessing to the world. Many will be challenged to come to Christ in repentance and faith. Many will enter the churches, seeking to find the source of our courage and integrity. Many will be find the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The fear of the Lord is not meant to be taken as a terrible dread of the Lord but rather as a reverential awe. We are to stand in awe of the Lord and to desire to please Him rather than to upset or anger Him. A healthy fear of the Lord understands the character of God, the holiness of God and the impartiality of God towards anything sinful.

As we fear the Lord, our lives will reflect His holiness and His majesty. As the world sees God’s character and qualities in us, they will be challenged to reverence and worship Him as well.

 

 

{tag_blogposttitle_nolink}