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A Week to Make You Strong: Day 3

Introduction

The longer you’re saved, the better you should know God’s Word. Today, we’re going to examine how you’ve been growing in your knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.

Bible Reading

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:12-14)

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1Pe 2:2)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15)

Bible Study

Our first passage makes it clear that your knowledge of God’s Word should grow over time. “When for the time,” the writer of Hebrews says. You been saved long enough that you should know enough to teach others. What about you? Does your level of Bible knowledge reflect the amount of time you’ve been saved?

You’ll only grow to know the deeper truths of God’s Word as you exercise your senses – by consistently studying the Bible. That’s how you develop discernment.

Do you desire God’s Word, or have your lost your appetite? Peter reminded his readers that they should long for God’s Word like a baby cries for mother’s milk.

Bible study takes work. It’s wonderful work, but it’s still work. I worked in an apple orchard right before I joined the Marine Corps. During the harvest, moms often brought their children into the orchard to pick apples. They didn’t have any special equipment, no training, no deadlines. They just got what they could reach from the ground and left after a pleasant visit. Most folks study the Bible that way. Thumbing through the pages looking for something sweet and quitting quickly. But a laborer stays at it, looking on every branch, under every leaf, for each ripe piece of fruit.

Conclusion

  • How has your Bible reading and study improved over the year?
  • Are you hungry for the Word of God?
  • When it comes to Bible study, is it a leisure activity, or a labor of love?

A Week to Make You Strong: Day 2

Introduction

Once you’re saved, one of the most important things you can do to live a godly life is to get control of your time. Today, we’ll take a look at the importance of time management and the role it plays in being the person God wants you to be.

Bible Reading

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
(Col 4:5)

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17)

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psa 90:12)

Bible Study

It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life and lose sight of what really matters. And, sadly, the most imporant things may not cry out for attention like the urgent things do. We are called to redeem, to buy back, our time and put it to good use in God’s service. If you don’t control your time, you don’t control your life, and you won’t be godly.

How many hour, how many days, have you wasted on activities without eternal value? At the end of your life, will you rejoice or regret the hours you’ve spent on soap operas, sitcoms and sports? In these evil days, are you wisely doing God’s will?

To be a good steward of your time, you’ll need to learn how to number your days. Knowing that there are only so many tomorrows will help you live each day wisely. Many folks coast through life on autopilot and are crushed by regret when they get to the end. You can do better by looking down the road and regretting before you waste your life.

Conclusion

  • In what ways are you wasting your time? What do you need to do less of, or stop doing entirely?
  • What important activities are you not devoting enough time to? What can you do to devote more time to these tasks?

A Week to Make You Strong: Day 1

Introduction

This series is a public version of something I’ve been doing privately for years. I do a self-check on my birthday and at the end of the year. It’s often a painful process, but I think I’m better off for having done it. I hope the same is true for you.

It’s easy to drift in life. We get so caught up in day to day activity that we lose track of were we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. This short series is a reset button for your Christian life – something to help you gauge where you are in the important areas of life and get you back on track where you’re off.

Bible Reading

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
(2Pe 3:18)

Bible Study

The point of today’s passages is that you are supposed to grow as a Christian. If you’re not moving forward, you’re losing ground. So, we’re going to consider your progress, or lack of progress, as a Christian.

You’re supposed to grow in grace. That is, you are supposed to experience more and more of God’s help in your life. He wants to answer your prayers, give you victory over sin, make you effective in ministry, so you need to increase in how you let Him help.

You’re also supposed to grow in knowledge. That is, you are supposed to get to know God better over time. Your intellectual understanding of the important doctrines of the faith should increase and you should develop a deeper friendship with the Lord.

All of that assusmes, though, that you already have a realtionship with the Lord, so that’s where we’ll start. Are you saved? Have you ever personally put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior? Without this, nothing else we’re going to talk about this week matters. You can give and serve and still be lost. You can go to church and still go to Hell. So, what do you need to know and do to be forgiven of your sins, have God’s friendship and a future in Heaven?

  1. Do you know that you are a sinner – guilty before God and unable to do anything on your own to remove that guilt?
    • For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
      (Rom 3:23)
  2. Do you believe that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, took your punishment and died for you on the cross?
    • For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
    • But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)
  3. Do you believe that Jesus not only died for your sins, but rose again from the dead?
    • For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
      (1Co 15:3-4)
    • That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)
  4. Do you trust Jesus Christ, and only Him, to be your Savior?
    • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Joh 3:16)
    • For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Rom 10:13)

If you believe these things, it would be good to tell God so in a prayer like this:

“Father, You’re right about me, I am a sinner. I deserve judgment, but I grateful that Your Son, Jesus, took my punishment. I want we He did to count for me – I receive Him as my Savior.”

Just that simply, you can receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

  • Have you trusted Christ as your Savior? If not, what is keeping you from becoming a Christian right now?
  • If you are a Christian, have you grown in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in the past year?
  • What could you do today to make progress in your Christian life?

Portraits From Proverbs (15)

Introduction

Today, we’ll wrap up our study of the strange woman by looking at a case study Solomon observed.

Bible Reading

Pro 7:6-9 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, (7) And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, (8) Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, (9) In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

Pro 7:10-12 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (11) (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: (12) Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)

Pro 7:22-23 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; (23) Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

Pro 7:24-27 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. (25) Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. (26) For she hath down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. (27) Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

A Case Study

Solomon’s home was situated in a high part of Jerusalem. From that vantage point, he watched a young man wandering the street at dusk. The first thing to note here is that this simple youth got into trouble by wondering around with nothing to do. David got in trouble under the same circumstances (2Sa 11:2). Be careful about having time on you’re hands with nothing to do and no one to whom you are accountable.

Next, notice that the strange woman was lurking on every corner. There are plenty of opportunities to be tempted, so it’s important to stay on guard. Avoid enticements. You may think you’re strong enough to handle the temptation, but you’re not. Samson – the strong man – wasn’t, David – the spiritual man – wasn’t, Solomon – the wise man – wasn’t, and neither are you.

1Co 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

The strange woman takes the initiative in the encounter, sparing the young man any doubts or insecurities. She flatters him and makes him feel special. The young man is taken in by her allures. He is so simple that he gives in without resistance. He has no idea the price he will pay for his decision.

Solomon ends the story with a moral: stay away – stronger men than you have fallen to the strange woman. The price is too high to play games with this kind of temptation.

What About You?

  • Are you being tempted by a strange woman?
  • Are you fleeing or flirting?
  • What do you need to do to avoid falling in to this temptation?

Portraits From Proverbs (14)

Introduction

Yesterday, we looked the many severe warnings Solomon gave his son about the dangers of involvement with a strange woman. That alone should be enough to make you steer clear of her. Today, will look a little deeper at how to avoid falling into sexual temptation.

Bible Reading

Pro 5:1-2 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: (2) That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.

Pro 5:7-8 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. (8) Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:

Pro 5:15-19 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. (16) Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. (17) Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. (18) Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. (19) Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

Pro 6:23-25 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: (24) To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. (25) Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Pro 7:4-5 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: (5) That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

Pro 23:26-28 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. (27) For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. (28) She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.

Pro 23:31-33 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. (32) At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. (33) Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Victory Over Sexual Temptation

Heed the Warnings

One element of victory over sexual temptation is to heed the Bible’s many warnings against it. You need to know that God isn’t trying to hurt you, or spoil you fun. He’s trying to save your life.

Solomon told his son to stay far away from the strange woman – not to come near her door. Later, Paul would give Timothy a similar warning:

2Ti 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Marriage as the Cure for Fornication

In Proverbs 5:15 and following, Solomon tells his son that a satisfying relationship with his wife is an important key to sexual purity. He is to “be ravished always with her love.” An intoxicating relationship with you mate is possible, but you have to work at it. A right relationship at home is a great defense against sexual sin:

1Co 7:2-5 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. (3) Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (4) The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. (5) Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

Portraits From Proverbs (13)

Introduction

Solomon took so much time warning his son about the strange woman because he understood the terrible consequences of giving in to her allure. He had grown up in a family torn apart by just such consequences.

Bible Reading

Pro 5:4-6 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. (5) Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. (6) Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.

Pro 5:9-14 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: (10) Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; (11) And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, (12) And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; (13) And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! (14) I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.

Pro 5:20-23 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? (21) For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. (22) His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. (23) He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

Pro 6:26-28 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. (27) Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? (28) Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

Pro 6:29-35 So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. (30) Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; (31) But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. (32) But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. (33) A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. (34) For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. (35) He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

It Cost More Than You Think

The strange woman’s smooth talk makes it sound like she’s a bargain. She seeks you, she takes you back to her place, she even provides the meal, and you’re free to go home first thing in the morning. But the price is much higher than that.

Illicit sexual relationships destroy lives in the here and now, too. Shame, painful sadness, material loss, and physical consequences are some of the painful results of giving in to sexual temptation. On top of all this bitter harvest is the regret that comes from knowing that you had been warned. You don’t get into trouble when you give in to sexual temptation. You get into trouble in the midst of the congregation when you ignore the voice of your teachers warning you about the dangers of sexual immorality. From that moment on, you’re just a disaster waiting for an opportunity.

If you get involved with another man’s wife, you’ll always have to worry about the possibility of being discovered and attacked by a hurting husband. What can you offer him to appease him for your adultery? Nothing you can offer will satisfy his jealous rage.

In the end, these kinds of relationships are bitter and painful. Getting involved with a strange woman will distract you from thinking about what’s important in life. Your choice to give in to the strange woman will enslave you (5:22). Not only that, but God is watching and He will hold you accountable for your choices. Giving in to her seduction can lead you to hell.

Eph 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Heb 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Portraits From Proverbs (12)

Introduction

How does the strange woman work? What makes her so effective? That’s the subject of today’s study.

Bible Reading

Pro 5:(3) For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:

Pro 7:13-21 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, (14) I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. (15) Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. (16) I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. (17) I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. (18) Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. (19) For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: (20) He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. (21) With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.

The Strange Woman’s M.O.

As we mentioned in the introduction to the strange woman, her flattery is one of her most potent weapons. Solomon compared her words drops from a honeycomb. Her conversation is smoother than oil. Even though she is meeting a stranger in the street, she claims to have sought him out diligently. “You’re just the man I’ve been looking for,” she says.

Another part of the strange woman’s appeal is that she is the aggressor. She leaves no doubt that she is available and will to give herself to the man she is stalking. She grabs him and kisses him.

It’s important to note that the strange woman may be religious. She was going to her portion of her peace offering, which had to be eaten the day it was offered (Lev 7:15), with her lover. She mentions paying her vows. It’s almost as if she were saying, “I’m a good girl. I don’t normally do this kind of thing.”

Notice the preparation that goes in to her tryst. She has prepared a beautiful place for the rendezvous. She appeals to sight, smell and touch.

Next, she offers time and attention with no strings attached, inviting him to spend the night with her taking their fill of love. (The word for love here comes from a root word meaning ‘to boil.’) Part of her no strings attached offer is the fact that she has a husband, but that he’s away on a long trip. She is saying both, “I’m not looking for a husband, or commitment,” and “You don’t have to worry about getting caught.”

I’d like to make a sad observation here. One of the reasons the strange woman is so successful is that she does what most married couple stop doing – she makes an on purpose effort to communicate her desire to the man’s she’s after. Many couples stop trying to impress each other after they’re married. They don’t express their desire. They don’t take time and make preparations for their romantic relationship. The longings the strange woman appeals to are meant to be satisfied within marriage.

Portraits From Proverbs (11)

Introduction

One of Solomon’s goals was to give his son wisdom so that he would be safe from the strange woman. In chapter two, we get a brief introduction to this dangerous woman. Chapters five through seven give a much more detailed picture of the strange woman.

Bible Reading

Pro 2:10-11 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; (11) Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

Pro 2:16-19 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; (17) Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. (18) For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. (19) None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.

The Strange Woman

Solomon devoted a huge portion of his writings to the strange woman. One of his goals was that his son would not get caught in her web. In his thumbnail sketch, Solomon points out four basic traits of the temptress.

First, she is strange. The Hebrew here gives the idea of ‘another’ or ‘foreign’. In this context, it is also translated ‘adulteress’. Reading the whole book of Proverbs, you get the idea that this is any woman you have no business being with. She may be a prostitute, someone else’s wife, or someone who isn’t one of God’s people, but the point is, she’s out of bounds for you.

Next, Solomon mentions one of the most powerful weapons in her arsenal – flattery. The idea is that she is a smooth talker (5:3; 6:24; 7:5,21). She tells you just what you want to hear. (We’ll get back to this in later lessons.)

She is unfaithful in life’s most important relationships – those with her husband and her God. (Most commentators believe ‘the guide of her youth’ refers to the husband she married as a young woman (Mal 2:14).) Forsaking her husband was also a sin against God.

Finally, Solomon warned his son of the serious consequences of giving in to the strange woman’s enticements. Apart from divine intervention, men don’t generally recover from this sinful lifestyle.

1Co 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Portraits from Proverbs (10)

Introduction

No one lives in a vacuum – not even a fool. And, as we’ll see, the impact of foolishness often impacts those closest to us.

Bible Reading

Pro 10:1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

Pro 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Pro 15:20 A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.

Pro 17:21 He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

Pro 17:25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

Pro 19:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.

Feeling For a Fool

If you could put all the world’s fools together in a big padded room and lock the door behind them, then they would only hurt each other. But, since we don’t have a room any where near big enough, they get to roam about, inflicting pain to the people around them.

The first to feel that pain are the parents. A wise son makes his father glad, but the father of a fool has no joy. The fool is heaviness to his mother. And, with a fool’s pride, he will usually blame them for the friction between them.

When the fool grows up, they get to make a mess of a family of their very own. The foolish woman tears down her family. She drives her husband crazy like a dripping faucet.

What About You?

  • Is there a lot a friction in your family?
  • Is it possible that you’re contributing to the trouble at home?

Portraits from Proverbs (09)

Introduction

As we’ve seen, the fool is sure he is right. He also talks too much. Today, we’ll see one of the natural outgrowths of that combination.

Bible Reading

Pro 12:16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

Pro 14:17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.

Pro 19:3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.

The Fool and the Furious

With a big mouth and a heart swelling with pride, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the fool tends to have a bad temper. When people disagree with him, he’s quick to communicate their error to them. When they don’t see the wisdom of his rebuke, he gets angry.

Today’s last Bible passage uncovers another interesting twist to the fools anger. The leans on his own understanding, makes bad decisions, and experiences bitter consequences. The fool makes a mess of his life and, then, blames God for it.

What About You?

  • Are you often angry?
  • Are you angry with God because of the consequences of your own choices?

Making Progress… Every Day.