- Title: Walking with God: Living by His Standards and Experiencing His Benefits
- Text: Proverbs 3:1-12
- CIT: God’s plan for our lives brings confidence
- CIS: Take that confidence and live in God’s promises
Introduction: We are experiencing the degeneration of a generation. We’re living in it. We’ve gone from the ‘Greatest’ generation to the Grossest Generation in about a generation! Our abhorrence 30 years ago to our acceptance today. How is it that we’ve bought into the lies being presented to us? What does this hold for our children? What will another 30 years look like?
The book of Proverbs guides us into a better way of life. Oh, that I could have learned them when I was younger – beyond simple knowledge but further – to Wisdom!
We discussed this principle last Wednesday night at our C2C study. The difference between wisdom and foolishness is what one does with the knowledge he has. Wisdom is putting into practice the knowledge you’ve acquired. Foolishness is not putting into practice this knowledge.
Knowledge is coming to a realization that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is the act of not putting it in a fruit salad.
We turn to Proverbs chapter 3.
1st, I want you to remember the teaching from this past week that Proverbs are generalizations – They’re not promises. Big difference.
2nd, I want to bring us some context: This 1st section is about Wisdom.
Proverbs 2 – Wisdom Protects Your Path (rd 2.6-12).
Proverbs 3 – Wisdom Directs Your Path. (our focus today)
Proverbs 4 – Wisdom Perfects Your Path.
3rd, I want you to see the flow of this teaching; The Standard – odd vs; The Benefit – even vs;
There are 6 Standards and 6 Benefits; Read as Responsive reading; 3.1-12; pastor then congregation;
I. God’s Precepts are Sustaining (1-2)
exp.: rd v1-2; two parts to this benefit: quantity and quality; quantity: length of days and years of life; Psalm 90.10-12 (70 years – 80 for the strong; therefore, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom); quality: peace – so, you’ll not only live longer, but you’ll live better – in peace;
ill.: Ps 119.165: Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
Exp.: remember this isn’t a promise, it’s a generalization. I would say the man who lives by God’s law will live longer than a man who doesn’t. Just following the dietary laws would help. Resting regularly. And the list goes on. This isn’t a promise for a long life.
ill.: I think of the man who learns to carry a survival pack with him wherever he goes. His father teaches him how to start and
build a fire. How to eat berries and from other wild plants. He keeps a fishing line and a hook in his survival pack. He learns how to clean fish and cook it out in the wild. He learns how to build a lean to, and other forms of shelter. He father teaches him how to tell direction from the sun and the stars.
In all of this, there is no guarantee that if he is ever lost, that he’ll live. But his chances are greater than that of a city boy who never experienced the wilderness until the day he is lost!
app.: I think the same principle applies here. A man who forgets no God’s teaching, nor his commands will fare better than the man who ignores them.
t.s.: So, what is the Standard: don’t forget His Teaching, nor his commandments. Benefit #2
II. God’s Pleasure is Success (3-4)
exp.: rd v3-4; This is a consistent prayer of mine – that I might find God’s pleasure; Luke 3.22; God’s Pleasure, God’s Presence, God’s Power, God’s Provision, and God’s Protection. So, how can you and I be sure of experiencing this benefit? In the progress of Proverbs, the son has committed his way to the teaching of his father; Now the father says here’s how you can be sure of the promise: Don’t let חֶ֥סֶד and faithfulness escape from you! And this should be done in two ways: Internal and external! Around your neck and in your heart; Steadfast love and faithfulness are anchored internally and expressed externally.
app.: the benefit is God’s pleasure is success. The standard then, is – So, let steadfast love and faithfulness envelope your life.
t.s.: God’s Precepts are Sustaining, God’s Pleasure is Success and the 3rd Benefit:
III. God’s Paths are Straight (5-6)
rd. v5-6; Bruce Waltke says: The son’s confidence is neither in an impersonal created order subject to rational control nor in an impersonal code of ethics inherited by tradition from the fathers, but in Israel’s covenant-keeping God who stands behind the moral order and the heritage and its promises.
exp.: Every believing father enters this moment w/ his son(s); where God is not a rule maker or a tradition to be followed. We want our sons (& daughters) to Trust God; Normally, in the OT – batah (בְּטַח) ‘Trust’ is used in the negative: i.e.: trusting anything other than God – your friends, your own strength, your own intellect; A. Jepsen says: The thing on which one relies turns out to be deceptive, so that the words derived from the root batah are actually used to indicate a false security.
ill.: Graham Cook said: God is consistent, but he is also unpredictable. He is consistent in his nature. You always know where you are with God, but you seldom know what he is going to do next. You cannot find security in what God is doing. There is only security in who God is.
app.: – So, here is the Standard: Trust Him: But how do we trust him? With all of your heart. That means intellectually. Not emotionally. And, do not rely on your own understanding; One commentary said: One is a fool to rely on his thimble of knowledge before its vast ocean or on his own understanding, which is often governed by irrational urges that he cannot control.
t.s.: Listen, The benefit of walking with God is that His Paths are Straight, so the standard you must set for your life is to – Trust and Acknowledge Him…
exp.: The father now moves from his call to Trust God exclusively to exhaustively: In all your ways; how many ways? Acknowledge means to agree w/ God; but there is more here: the Greek word in the LXX means: “to make known, point out, explain; to gain knowledge of”; Delitzch, in his commentary on Proverbs; the verb is not fully represented by ‘acknowledge Him.’ To know him is a better representation;
app.: This same word is found in 2:5; ESV Know Him – Hold him in mind as you make your decisions in life as an awareness of what the Lord wants for your life – let that, whatever that might be, be your desire. And choose accordingly, with Him in mind; then, he will straighten and smooth out your journey.
t.s.: God’s paths are straight, so trust and acknowledge Him! 4th benefit:
IV. God’s Principles are Safeguards (7-8)
exp.: rd v 7-8; Be not wise in your own eyes; Prov 26:1-11; states nothing good about a fool, no one wants to be foolish! – now look at 12 – there is more hope for a fool.
Jimmy Hoffa said: I may have my faults, but being wrong ain’t one of them. Instead, fear the Lord and lit. – depart from evil; “to turn aside from the direction one has set out on”; it can have the connotation to avoid evil;
ill.: Listen: we’re not smart enough to set up our own guidelines; We can’t trust our own standards, because they change like the wind. But God, His precepts are sustaining and his principles serve as safeguards…look at the results; (rd v 8) healing and strength; Bruce Waltke writes: Pr. 15:30 speaks of making the bones fat, 12:4 of their decay, and 14:30 of their rot; all are metaphors for the psyche. Its basic notion physical, but as Dalgilsh notes, it moves largely in the psychical or metaphoric category.
app.: the point is, a right relationship with God leads to a state of complete physical and mental well-being, not simply to the absence of illness and disease. His standards are safeguards to a strong mental health – so, do be wise in your own eyes – Fear Him.
t.s.: Benefit # 5:
V. God’s Provision is Sufficient (9-10)
exp.: Have you noticed up to this point, the way the Father has presented these Benefits and Standards to his son is in the negative? Do not forget (v1); Let not steadfast love (3); do not lean on your own understanding (5); be not wise in your own eyes (7); He will again in v.11, do not despise; This benefit is presented in a positive note; most folks view talking about tithing in a negative fashion. Not this writer: rd v 9-10; vs. 7-8 internal experiences; 9-10 external experiences; you do outwardly, what’s going on inwardly; When God has total control of your being, you begin to do what you know – that’s what wisdom is! It’s taking the knowledge you have and applying it appropriately. It is more than Mental Ascent. It’s Physical Action.
ill.: Gordon Wood: Recently, I tried something different in our worship service. Instead of preaching at the end, I did it first, with music, the offering, and Scripture reading afterward.
As I stood behind the pulpit, I could see people getting ready for the offering, until they realized I was starting my message.
Caitlyn, a first grader in the congregation, was perplexed by this change of routine, and whispered frantically to her mom, “Doesn’t he know we haven’t paid him to talk yet?”
exp.: I think some folks think that’s why we have the offering 1st. You see, if I do a poor job, then it won’t affect the offering! No – lol; Giving is done – not on performance or matter, but out of obedience. Honor the Lord w/ your “wealth”;
Anybody here ever been to a 3rd world country? You know, the poorest of us is among the wealthiest in the whole world.
app.: The Finance Report indicates that we’re doing ok in this area of the church – for the most part, we have giving people who truly honor God with their wealth. While it is true that giving is down, I think we can attribute it to COVID-19 and the self-isolation. If you’re not one of these Christians who give, let me encourage you on how you should honor God by living out this principle: with your first-fruits. Let it be the 1st check you write. If you’re listening online and haven’t been here. Let me encourage you to reach out to Penny and ask her how you can be faithful in honoring God.
I want you to note the progression here: Trust in the Lord (5), Fear the Lord (7), Honor the Lord (9) with your life. Don’t lean on your own understanding in matters; And don’t be wise in your own eyes.
t.s.: the standard is – So Honor Him with your wealth and your firstfruits.
Transition: so, what can we expect when we disobey? Read vs 11 – 12. His discipline means he loves us!
Each of these builds upon the other. I hope I’ve been able to communicate that to you this morning. The truth is, we probably don’t do these to the fullest extent because of v 5: we don’t trust God to do what he says he’ll do. We don’t trust His standards will bless us with great benefits. And what happens then? – this is the 6th benefit:
VI. God’s Persistence is Your Salvation (11-12)
exp.: Punishment vs. Discipline; reproof; this means to correct someone; I connect punishment with Hell; rd v 12; God’s persistence in your life means that He loves you – it means that you’re his child, in whom he delights.
app.: It’s how you know He loves you! If he’s not persistent in disciplining you, then that means just the opposite – you’re not his.
t.s.: So, what will we take home with us this afternoon?
Application: How do we apply these truths? How do we live by these standards and experience these benefits?
I think it is best illustrated by a story told by John Phillips:
My father taught me the grace of giving. He had a small automobile business in southern Wales. He bought, fixed, and sold cars. One a handful of craftsmen in our hometown who were licensed to work on Rolls-Royce cars, he was a generous and consistent giver to the Lord’s work all his life. There wasn’t a missionary or Christian worker in our part of the country who did not know that my father was always good for a free engine tune-up, a meal at our table, and a tank full of gas.
His small business survived the hard times of the great depression but when World War II broke out, my father faced ruin. Food was heavily rationed and gasoline even more so. The government commandeered all private cars; only individuals doing essential war business could own one. No new cars were made for the civilian market; factories were turned over to production of tanks and guns. My father laid off his employees and paced the floor of his workshop as he prayed. He faced certain bankruptcy.
Just then he heard a footstep behind him. He turned and recognized the manager of a large Austin car dealership that owned a fleet of several hundred rental cars. The man said, “How are you, Leonard?”
“I’m not sure, Mr. Brooks,” responded my father. “I think I’m going to have to close.” Little did my father realize that God had sent him an angel unawares.
The Austin dealer was in a similar squeeze. He could not buy any new cars either. Another problem was how to keep his fleet of rental cars running throughout the war years. He had no mechanics; all the men he had were in the arm services.
“Lynn,” He said, “I’d like to bring you an engine to be re-bored and rebuilt. We can get the parts. What do you say?” The next day an engine along with pistons, rings, valves and spark plugs was delivered to my father’s workshop. Two days later my father returned the re-bored and rebuilt engine to the dealer.
A week past. Then once more Mr. Brooks appeared in my father’s empty workshop. “Well, Leonard,” he said, “I have some good news for you. That engine we sent to you was a test. We took it back to our shop, stripped it down, and checked it out. We know there is a big black market for new parts, so we wanted to check not only the quality of your workmanship but also your honesty. You passed the test. Every new part we gave you was in place. Now, how many engines can you re-bore and rebuild in a week? We will keep you supplied until the war ends.”
Here is a story about a father who teaches his son the value of following the Lord. Lynn Phillips placed his life in the Lord’s hands and demonstrated it with his life – as was witnessed by his family.
This story moves me because those folks endured some tough times. We’ve been blessed because of them. I see these young people rioting and looting as they demonstrate, and protest and it sickens me. The truth is: these folks don’t even know what tough times are. There were no stimulation packages for the greatest generation. There were No checks in the mail. There were no ‘bail outs’ for businesses. These folks were left in dire straits. They had just endured the Great Depression. They lived through the Spanish Flu where 50 million people died. They endured WW1, where 20 million people died. Here they are in another war, with 60 millions more to die. But, so many of them trusted in the Lord. So many of them remained faithful to the Lord. So many of them taught us about what it means to passionately pursue steadfast love and faithfulness.
I pray God will raise up amongst us, and our children and grandchildren, men and women who will remember His teaching and commands; who will passionately purse steadfast love and faithfulness; who will trust, fear and honor him; and will comprehend his great love.