Portraits from Proverbs (08)

Introduction

How do you know if you’re a fool? How do you know if you’re dealing with a fool? One of the fastest ways to tell is by what they say.

Bible Reading

Pro 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

Pro 15:7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.

Pro 15:2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Pro 18:6-7 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. (7) A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

Pro 14:3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.

The Fool’s Words – Echoes From An Empty Mind

One of the first evidences a fool gives is that they talk a lot. (After all, they know everything, so why not share it?) The wise person, though, doesn’t tell all he knows. The wise lay up knowledge. They speak it in due season. They use well the wisdom they’ve laid up.

Fools don’t just talk too much, what they say isn’t valuable. Their quantity doesn’t make up for their lack of quality. One of the common themes in the fool’s conversation is contention – conflict and a call for judgment. The irony is, their words will bring judgment on them.

What About You?

  • Do you have a reputation for talking a lot?
  • Is it possible that the pain you’re experiencing is sending you the message that you need to change your behavior?

Portraits from Proverbs (07)

Introduction

We saw yesterday that the wise man seek wisdom, considers counsel, and receives reproof. The fool does not. So, how is his life directed, if he rejects God’s guidance system? That’s the topic of today’s study.

Bible Reading

Pro 17:16 Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

Pro 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

Pro 27:22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

Pro 17:10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

Study

Fool waste their money looking for help because the problem is in them, not outside them. They won’t listen to advice, and won’t accept reproof, so they end up being directed by discomfort and pain. Problem is, even this isn’t always effective. The fool ends up going through lots of pain before the lesson is learned.

That’s due, in part, to the fool’s pride. The painful consequences must be someone else’s fault. Bad luck, stupid people, mean God – something. It couldn’t be their fault.

What About You?

  • Is there a lot of pain in your life right now?
  • Is it possible that the pain you’re experiencing is sending you the message that you need to change your behavior?

Portraits from Proverbs (06)

Introduction

Today, we’ll begin looking at Solomon’s portrait of the wise man and the fool. These are general categories, and they overlap some of the other portraits we’ll look at later in this series.

Bible Reading

Pro 8:33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

Pro 19:20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Pro 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

Pro 14:16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

Pro 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

Pro 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Pro 18:2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Pro 9:8-10 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. (9) Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. (10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Pro 29:9 If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

Only The Teachable Will Be Wise

According to Proverbs 8:33, you need to hear instruction to be wise. Only by listening to counsel and teaching will you be wise in the end. A wise person takes sin seriously, and obeys God’s commands. When he is confronted about sin, he fears God and departs from evil.

This is a problem for the fool, since he hates knowledge. Why is that? Because the fool is a know-it-all who doesn’t need anyone to tell him what to do. His way is the right way, so what could anyone else add to his knowledge? When a fool seems to be looking for advice, what he really wants is to hear the echo of his own voice. That’s one reason he won’t seek out wise counsel.

Pro 15:12 A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.

If you’re dealing with a fool, be prepared for him to hate you if you try to straighten him out – it’s the nature of the beast.

What About You?

  • Are you teachable?
  • Or do you get mad when people try to give you advice?

Portraits from Proverbs (05)

Introduction

As we’ve seen, Wisdom is dangerous to ignore, and a blessing to have. Today, we’ll consider wisdom’s character. That is, we’ll discuss the nature of true wisdom, so you can recognize it when you find it.

Bible Reading

Pro. 8:6-9 (6) Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. (7) For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. (8) All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. (9) They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

Jas 3:13-18 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (14) But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (15) This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (16) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (18) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Wisdom’s Character

Solomon’s portrait of wisdom shows that she is godly. You can tell by her conversation. She speaks:

  • Excellent things: important, honorable, noble things
  • Right things: equitable, upright things
  • Truth: that which is certain, sure, faithful
  • Righteousness: justice, morality

Missing from her vocabulary are:

  • Wickedness: wrong, immorality
  • Frowardness:
  • Perversion: distorted, false, crooked

James summed this up well when he said, “the wisdom that is from above is first pure.” You can be sure that any advice you get that encourages you to do wrong isn’t from God. Here are a couple of examples of ungodly “wisdom”:

  • A friend tells you that your mate wouldn’t take you for granted if they knew someone else was interested in you. They suggest a little flirtation to help your mate appreciate what they have.
  • You look at the working world around you and come to the conclusion that you’ll make more money if you’re dishonest. You cut corners and shade the truth to get what you want.
  • You’re under a lot of pressure right now, and a friend suggests that the two of you hit the bars to “blow of a little steam.”

All three suggestions are contrary to biblical commands and principles. Following this kind of advice may bring you short term relief, but it will dishonor God and set you up from trouble down the road. Real wisdom will never conflict with God’s Word.

Pro 21:30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

What About You?

  • Do you have godly counselors? Do they encourage you to do right?
  • If not, where could you go to get better advice?

Portraits from Proverbs (04)

Introduction

As we saw yesterday, wisdom’s warning is serious. Today, we’ll look at the blessings wisdom offers.

Bible Reading

Pro. 1:33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Pro. 8:15-21 (15) By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. (16) By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. (17) I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. (18) Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. (19) My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. (20) I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: (21) That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

Pro. 8:32-36 (32) Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. (33) Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. (34) Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. (35) For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. (36) But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Wisdom’s Blessings

Wisdom promotes peace and safety. Wisdom empowers people to lead well. Wisdom offers durable prosper. It enriches in ways that excel and outlast mere money. Wisdom teach us how to live right and how to have good judgment. Wisdom allows us to obtain God’s favor. Wisdom makes these, and many other, blessing available to us.

It’s important to remember, though, that these blessings are offered under certain conditions. They are available to those who watch daily at wisdom’s gate. That means we must make it our regular practice to seek wisdom. Most people only seek wisdom in crisis. To enjoy the blessings of wisdom, we need to look for it every day. Second, we’ve got to obey the voice of wisdom – to harken to it. It’s not enough to know what’s wise, you must act wisely.

What About You?

  • Do you really understand how valuable wisdom is?
  • Is it you consistent habit to seek wisdom?

Portraits from Proverbs (03)

Introduction

In yesterday’s study, we learned that wisdom is eagerly seeking us. What exciting news! Today’s text contains a stern warning – it’s dangerous to ignore wisdom’s invitation. We continue our look at wisdom personified today with a look at wisdom’s warning.

Bible Reading

Pro 1:24-33 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Wisdom’s Warning

As you can see from today’s reading, there is grave danger in ignoring wisdom’s invitation. Refusing to turn at wisdom’s reproof can lead to calamity. Fear, desolation, destruction, distress and anguish await the person who rejects wisdom. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

But it gets worse. When disaster hits your life, you’ll be crying out for wisdom, but this time it will be wisdom’s turn not to R.S.V.P. Instead, you’ll be left to eat the fruit of your own way. Wisdom will laugh at you.

You may think this is cruel – that God is being mean. The truth is, though, that rejecting wisdom can put you in circumstances where there is no good answer. If God warns you that wine can make a fool of you (Pro. 20:1), but you ignore His warning, get drunk, get behind the wheel and kill someone, how do you fix that? There isn’t a good answer at that point. If God warns you to avoid the flattery and beauty of the strange woman (Pro. 6:25), but you think you’re above that kind of sin, what good answer is there when you lose you family, or end up with A.I.D.S.? All you’ll hear then is wisdom’s mocking voice saying, “I told you so.”

What About You?

  • Do you realize the danger of ignoring wisdom’s invitation?
  • Have you already experienced the pain of consequences without a cure?

Portraits from Proverbs (02)

Introduction

The first portrait we’ll take a look at is wisdom personified. Proverbs presents wisdom as a person in several of its passages.

Bible Reading

Pro. 1:20-23 (20) Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: (21) She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, (22) How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (23) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Pro. 8:1-5 (1) Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? (2) She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. (3) She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. (4) Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. (5) O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

Pro. 9:1-6 (1)Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: (2) She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. (3) She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, (4) Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, (5) Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. (6) Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Wisdom Seeks You

The first thing that stands out about this portrait of wisdom personified is that wisdom is seeking you. In each of today’s readings, we hear wisdom crying out to us, inviting us to come to her. Do you think of yourself as a seeker of wisdom? Isn’t it encouraging to know that wisdom is seeking you? Wisdom is available. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that these verses reveal wisdom pleading with you to get to know her. Has it ever dawned on you that God longs for you to be wise?

Wisdom Widely Available

The next prominent feature in this portrait is the wide availability of wisdom. Wisdom utters her voice in the streets (1:20). Wisdom stands “in the top of high places (8:2),” which were traditionally places of worship. Wisdom calls out to the simple, to the foolish, and to the wise. Wisdom is throwing a party and you’re invited.

What About You?

  • Are you seeking wisdom?
  • Do you know that wisdom is seeking you?

Portraits from Proverbs (01)

Introduction

Welcome to a new series that I’ve want to do for a long time. I’ve always enjoyed the Book of Proverbs. Today, we begin a new series called Portraits in Proverbs. Here is some of what we’ll be looking at in the days ahead:

  • Wisdom Personified
  • The Wise Man and the Fool
  • The Righteous and The Wicked
  • The Sluggard
  • The Strange Woman
  • The Scorner
  • The Simple
  • The Young Man
  • The Godly Wife

As you can see, Proverbs often contrasts characters to help you understand them. That’s why we’ll be presenting some of the portraits in pairs.

Bible Reading

Pro 1:1-8 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; (2) To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; (3) To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; (4) To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. (5) A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: (6) To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. (7) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (8) My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

What Are We After?

The Book of Proverbs was originally written by a father to his son to help him become a person of godly character. Solomon also wrote it to help his son deal with life life’s problem people. We’re going to pursue those same goals. Hopefully, you’ll examine you’re own character as you read through this series. You’ll also learn how to better respond to the difficult people in your life.

Prayer

Introduction

For the past two weeks we have been looking at the things that we must do when we come to God in prayer. For this last day in this series we will look at the things that God has promised to do for us when we pray to Him.

Bible Reading

Luk 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

1Jo 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Promises NOT from God

Some people believe that the promises that God gives us in His Word for prayer mean that He must give us everything that we pray for. Most, if not all of us have heard the “name it and claim it” preachers on TV. They tell millions of people that all they have to do tell God that they want something and believe that they are going to get it and God will give it to them. (“If you want that Ferrari just tell God and He will give it to you!”). If they really believed that was true, why do they have to have their viewers send in the “largest check you can write”. Why can’t they just tell God that they want a new custom Gulfstream jet, and just wait for it to come their way? They can’t because they know that is not how God works, they just want to convince their viewers that it is so the viewers will send them all of their money. God is not obligated to answer your prayers because you are a good or nice person. He is not bound to grant you the things that you ask for. God is only obligated to keep His own Word.

The True Promises from God

The question is then, “What does His Word say?” First, let us look at Luke 11. In Jesus’ promise that God will answer our prayers He uses the illustration of a son asking a father for some food. In the illustration Jesus does not say that the father gives the son what he asks for because he was a wonderful or good son, Jesus says that the father gives the son what he asks for because he is a good father. So too, God does not give us the things that we pray for because we are good people and we deserve them, He gives us the things that we pray for because He is a good God. So what is the balance of this idea?

Does that mean we can be horrible, unkind, wretched people and God will give us everything that we ask for? Absolutely Not! Pro 21:13 says: “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”

Passages assuring of that God will answer our prayers must be understood by comparing Scripture with Scripture and understanding them in the light of verses like John 15:7 and I John 3:22. By reading and truly understanding these passages, we understand that God is not giving us a blanket promise to give us anything, anytime, anywhere we ask. We must understand that as we live in Christ and read the Bible, doing the things that He teaches us we will start to desire for our lives the things that God wants for us and as we desire the things that He wants for us we will ask Him for the things that He already wants to give us. Additionally, as we do the things that God asks and tells us to do we please Him and He will be happy to give us things that we want. Looking back to the passage in Luke we understand this in the light of the father/son relationship. When your children disobey and ignore the things that you tell them to do are you inclined to give them gifts that they ask you for? (“No! Dad, I won’t clean up my room, but can I have an X-Box 360?”) We smile at the illustration, but we do the same thing to our Heavenly Father. We ignore the things that He tells us to do but then we want Him to bless us with gifts. So we must understand that as we read and do God’s Word and seek to please Him, He will seek to please us. It’s not that God is mean and evil, but He will not bless us in our disobedience.

What About You?

  • Are you keeping His commandments and doing the things that are pleasing to Him?
  • Are you spending time in God’s Word so that you can know what things God wants for you?
  • Are you ignoring the things that God tells you to do, but still expect Him to grant your every wish?
  • Thank You!

    I’d like to thank Nathan for getting our new year off to a good start with his insightful series on prayer. You can count on hearing more from Nathan as the year progresses.

    Keith Gardner

Prayer

Introduction

Today we will finish our look at the proper types of prayer that we must have.

Praising Prayer

Psa 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Praising prayer is key in our relationship to God. Psalms tells us that when we enter into the gates of Heaven we must do it bearing thanks to God for all He has done for us and all He will do for us. Why were we created? Revelation 4:11 tells us that we were created for the pleasure of God. So why does God answer our prayers and give us all “good and perfect gifts”? God does everything good for us because He loves us and, like any parent, wants His children to be grateful for the things that He does for us. When God answers our prayers He is looking for us to acknowledge Him, to praise and thank Him for the answer. He wants us to acknowledge Him to other Christians for their encouragement, and to the unsaved, so that they will see that He does care for His people.

Persistent Prayer

Luk 11:5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

Jam 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The Bible word for persistence is “importunity”. The story that Luke gives us is of a man in need that goes to his friend to meet that need but His friend does not meet the need right away. The man, Jesus said, would not meet the need because it was his friend asking but he would meet the need because the man would not leave him alone. What Jesus was teaching is that we need to be persistent when we pray. The motto of the youth group at the church I used to attend is PUSH “Pray Until Something Happens”. We persist in prayer, not because God hates us and is bothered by us making requests, we persist in prayer to prove to God and ourselves that we really are serious about the thing that we are asking for. We can say that a relatives salvation is very important to us, but if you only pray for them once or twice how important to you is it really?

Petitioning Prayer

Jam 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Dr. Jack Schaap once said: “We do not pray specifically to ask for things, we pray to acknowledge the One who gives us all things.” I believe that statement is very true. God already knows are needs, even before we ask Him, but still Jesus told us to ask God to provide our “daily bread”. When we come to God petitioning Him, asking Him to meet our needs we are not informing God, we are demonstrating to God that we know that He is the one that give those things to us. We ask Him as a sign of humility and acknowledgement, the same reason that we give tithe. James says that the reason that we don’t have is because we don’t ask for it.

Making Progress… Every Day.