Proverbs: Life In The Details-Clues To Staying Connected

Proverbs: Life In The Details Clues To Staying Connected

Opening Illustration Hansel and Gretel
How many of you remember the story of Hansel and Gretel?  Hansel and Gretel is a well known fair tale of German decent.  It was recorded by the Brothers Grimm and recorded for the first time in 1812.  Remember, we have the story of a brother (Hansel) and his sister (Gretel).  The two are left deep in an enchanted forest against their father’s will by their evil step mother. Not long after their abandonment they happen upon a fantastic house made of all types of candy and cake.  Naturally, the children are drawn into the house where they meet a horrible cannibalistic witch. After outsmarting the witch, Hansel and Gretel are guided back home by bread crumbs that Hansel left as a navigational tool.  His clues eventually led them back home to their loving father who had done away with his evil wife.  

It is funny when you tell this story you have heard dozens of times over you life how brutal it really is.  So, whats the moral?  The moral is that evil exists in this world and if we are not careful, we can fall prey to darkness and wickedness.  Next, there is a desire for people to leave wickedness.  Smart people will eventually leave clues behind so that they can find their way home.

Point:
In this case, we will read Proverbs 3.  The reason I tell you the story of Hansel and Gretel is because Proverbs 3 reminds me of bread crumbs for a wayward soul.  Proverbs 3 is helpful because it can lead someone back from wickedness to righteousness.  Proverbs 3, if heeded, can reconnect you back to a loving Father.  

Opening Question:
Have You Ever Felt Detached, Discouraged or Disoriented?  Today Is For YOU!

Background:
First, what is a proverb.  A proverb is a short saying that expresses a general truth.  The word proverb means “to be like” thus the book is full of comparisons and contrasts. The purpose of a proverb is to present wisdom in a short and memorable format.  They are simple yet profound.  The Bible refers to proverbs as “sayings of the wise” in Proverbs 24:23.  

In Proverbs 3, we see wisdom being freely offered.  Small breadcrumbs to help a wayward soul return or reunite with a loving Creator.  These are wise words that a loving parent would offer a teenager.  You will see that in Proverbs 3, we hear a lot of “if you do this, than this is what will happen.”  The writer essentially tells the reader that if you do these positive actions, then positive results will flow.  Now remember, Proverbs is not a prophetic work or even a historical work.  Proverbs is considered “wisdom literature” and is meant to guide and direct people to good outcomes.  It does not make promises that if you do right that right will always be done to you.  Rather, doing right has certain benefits that will most likely find you.  

Let’s read Proverbs 3:1-12 together.

Proverbs 3:1-12 ESV
1My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,

2 for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.

3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

8 It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the first-fruits of all your produce;

10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,

12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.


How Can We Stay Connected? Follow The Breadcrumbs Of…

I. Submission vs. 1-2
Proverbs 3:1-2
1My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.

Illustration: Receiving Directions
There are several things men don’t do well.  One of which is asking for directions.  It may not be so much about asking for directions as it is receiving directions from our wives.  For whatever reason, God placed in our DNA a can do spirit that wants to do things our way and that we do not need any help.  This attitude is most often expressed the life of a teenage boy.  Man, when I was a teenager, I new it all.  I had no desire to listen nor be obedient to anyone by my own desires.  Ever been there before.  It was not till about 20 years of age that I finally realized that my parents were not fools after all.  I wished I would have listened to them earlier because it could have spared me so much pain.  Speaking of pain…

Illustration: Medicine Meltdown
I have a two year old son who absolutely hates taking medicine.  Jett has had a cough this week.  It is going around you know.  Angela had surgery two weeks ago and cannot hold anything heavier than a milk jug so guess what, Daddy gets to give Jett his medicine.  Medicine at the time is terrible but we all know that to get better quicker we need medicine.  The first time I tried to give it to him, he was sitting in his high chair.  He kicked and screamed.  He pitched a huge fit.  I finally got the medicine in his mouth.  Do you know what he did next?  That’s right, he spit it at me.  Jett didn’t know that I was trying to help him.  So, what did I do?  I took Jett out of his high chair, cradled him in my arms, held his hands down and slowly gave him his medicine.  Oh boy, he was not happy.  

Friends, that is how we are most times.  We don’t want the medicine of wisdom.  We want to do things our own way and do not want help from God in the least.  Remember, God is trying to help you and he has a plan for your life.  If we could just learn to be obedient, we spare ourselves so much heartache and pain.  

Point: Peace Not Days
Don’t read to much into this point.  Don’t get to lost on making your days long.  That is not what the author is communicating.  What he is saying is that peace flows from obedience.  Disobedience and an obstinate attitude bring death and hardship.  Remember, he opens the statement by saying “my son”.  This is deeply personal and the passion is implied.  This proverb is written to God’s people.  HIs children.  It is the same as a father writing a letter to a son giving him advice.  

Point:
Are you submissive?  Do you have a problem with authority?  If you battle against authority, teaches, bosses or parents, there is a significant problem in your life that will not lead to success.  It will only disconnect you from God’s plan.  

Deuteronomy 11:1 NIV
Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.

The author of the proverbs doesn’t just his son to have a peaceful life, but he also teaches him how to have a prosperous life.  Read verses 3-4. 

How Can We Stay Connected? Follow The Breadcrumbs Of…

I. Submission vs. 1-2

II. Righteousness vs. 3-4
Proverbs 3:3-4
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.

Point:
We live in an unbelievably cynical world.  My wife and I watched the State of the Union address Tuesday night.  Just for kicks I got on Facebook and Twitter and read all the comments as the President talked.  I heard jokes.  I saw racism.  I witnessed bipartisan politics.  That was just from church members.  

It did not get better as I began to read from news outlets.  After it was all over, I walked away down and frustrated.  Things will never get better.  So, what did I do, I began to think about all the things I didn’t like and I disagreed with and then I sat there and did nothing about the problems.  Nothing.  I didn’t even pray about it.  

Isn’t it funny that we live in a world that rewards a cynical attitude instead of people that actually do something that make life better.  

Illustration: The Times New Roman
If you open up your word processing software and start typing, chances are you're looking at a typeface called Times New Roman. It's so common that we take it for granted, but this super-typeface has an interesting origin story.

It all began with a complaint. In the 1920s, the esteemed type designer Stanley Morison criticized London's newspaper The Times for being out-of-touch with modern typographical trends. So The Times replied to his complaint by asking him to create something better. Morison took up the challenge. He enlisted the help of expert draftsman Victor Lardent and began conceptualizing a new typeface with two goals in mind: efficiency and readability. Morison wanted any printing in his typeface to be economical, a necessity in the newspaper business.

In 1926, The Times tested an early version of Morison's new type. After test upon test and proof upon proof, the final design was approved, and "The Times New Roman" was born. In 1932, The Times specifically noted that their new typeface was not intended for books. But at 82 years old, Times New Roman is still going strong, proving that sometimes there's something better than criticism: become part of the solution instead.

Point:
The writer of this proverb is telling his son to embrace love and faithfulness.  He wants him to deploy dependability.  He wants him to meditate on these things day and night.  He wants him to bind truth and love to his soul.  When he does this, he will earn favor of both God and man.  

Point:
Are we loving.  Are we dependable?  Do we focus on the negatives of the world instead of being a positive influence for Jesus.  The author is not just telling how to have peace, but also how to be prosperous with people.  No one likes a cynic.  No one like the guy who constantly finds faults and flaws.  Be a problem solver today.  Be loving, compassionate and dependable.  These are traits that will get you far in life and change people’s attitude about you but more importantly God.  

Luke 2:52 NIV
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

How Can We Stay Connected? Follow The Breadcrumbs Of…

I. Submission vs. 1-2

II. Righteousness vs. 3-4

III. Humility vs. 5-8
Proverbs 3:5-8
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

8 It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.

Illustration:
Sally Smith, the CEO of the wildly popular Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant chain, was asked, "What are some things you've learned about leading and managing people?" She replied:

I'm always seeking feedback. My leadership team does a performance review on me each year for the board. It's anonymous. They can talk about my management style or things I need to work on. If you want to continue growing, you have to be willing to say, "What do I need to get better at?"

That's how I learn. That's how I get better. Getting feedback [as a leader] is really tough. You may be able to find a couple of people in the company who will give you honest feedback. Before we even did performance reviews, I used to go to [one of our key leaders] and say, "I want you to write down four things that I need to work on next year."

Point:
There is a temptation that we all face, we want to lean instead of learn.  We want to believe that our knowledge is sufficient and we tend to depend on our own talents and abilities instead of letting God have control.  The only problem is that we are leaning on something that cannot support our weight.  Our understandings and instincts are often incorrect or flawed.  However, depending on God, totally depending on Him will never fail us.  

Illustration:
A practical illustration of this came two years ago in May.  I was on a work site with Jim Walley and a group of men from our church.  We were tearing up the floor in a bathroom.  I was balancing myself on two floor joists.  I decided that I would simply jump down in between joists and help another church member pull nails from the old beat up boards.  While jumping I would reach and grab a hammer.  I was going to do all of this at the same time all while falling between two pieces of wood.  It sounded like a great idea.  The only problem is that my boot caught one of the nails and instead of jumping down I tripped forward.  All my weight went forward instead of down and I landed on my left arm shattering my radius bone.  Today I carry with me the discomfort of a scar, 7 screws and a titanium rod.  Yes it still hurts.  Yet is a great reminder that my abilities and understanding are flawed.  

Point:
Three commands are given in verses 5 and 6: Trust, meaning “rely on, depend on”; Lean not, meaning do not depend on your own native instincts, and Acknowledge him, meaning have fellowship and intimacy with God in all of life. The result of such devotion is that God will make the paths straight before you.
Here, again, we get into the will of man. Man has to be willing to accept God's help and to give God the credit for the job well done. A Christian must first of all not start anything that the Lord is not in, and then we must praise Him in everything.

Hebrews 13:15 tells us when we should praise the Lord.  

Hebrews 13:15 ESV
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

How Can We Stay Connected? Follow The Breadcrumbs Of…

I. Submission vs. 1-2

II. Righteousness vs. 3-4

III. Humility vs. 5-8

IV. Generosity vs. 9-10
Proverbs 3:9-10
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the first-fruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Point:
This sort of goes without much explanation. It is just good to be a giver.  Not just a giver but a generous giver.  

Giving reminds the giver that it does not belong to him anyway.  We are just temporary stewards of God’s resources here on planet earth. 

Giving should remind us of the attitude of Christ on the cross.  Don’t get hung up on the 10% number that Baptists always focus on.  Jesus didn’t give 10% of Himself on the cross.  He gave it all.  100%.  Period.  If God ever requires that we give it all for Him, we should follow the example of Christ.  Giving generously today will bring blessings. I know that it is controversial in the financial climate that we are in, but the Bible says over and over again that there are blessings when we give generously.  

Scripture:

Proverbs 11:24-25
There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 22:9
He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.

Proverbs 28:27
He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.

Malachi 3:10
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

Acts 20:35
In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give rather than to receive.  

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

Point:
So how should we give.  First, we should give with a good attitude.  God is not forcing you to give anything.  It is your choice.  Second, we should give to God’s causes.  Give to the church to aid in the continuation of ministries, ministers and services.  None of these components can happen without giving.  Third, give generously because there is blessing.  I have seen it first hand.  There are times when Angela and I had difficulty giving yet we continued to remember our commitment to God.  I believe that because of our faithfulness, God was faithful to us.  

Point:
A biblical view of possessions demands using them for honoring God. This is accomplished by trusting God, by giving the first and best to God, by being fair, by giving generously and by expressing gratitude for all He gives. The result of such faithfulness to honor Him is prosperity and satisfaction.

Honoring the Lord goes much further than just attending church and stating that we are a believer. Our heart is where our pocket book and time is.

Luke 6:38 "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

We can see from Jesus' own words here, that if we plan to prosper, we must give both of ourselves and of our possessions.

Malachi 3:10 tells it all. Malachi 3:10 "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it]."

How Can We Stay Connected? Follow The Breadcrumbs Of…

I. Submission vs. 1-2

II. Righteousness vs. 3-4

III. Humility vs. 5-8

IV. Generosity vs. 9-10

V. Forgiveness vs. 11-12
Proverbs 3:11-12
11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

Closing Point:
Simply put, God want to forgive us.  He loves us and demonstrates His love for us by discipling us.  To many times we confuse the Lord’s discipline and reproof for His dislike.  The two could not be further from the truth.  God loves His children.  Especially those who are obedient, righteous, humble and generous.  

“Not despise … chastening”: Since even the wisest of God’s children are subject to sin, there is necessity of God’s fatherly discipline to increase wisdom and blessing. Such correction should not be resisted.
In Romans chapter 5, we read why chastening and trials must come. Romans 5:3-5 "And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" "And patience, experience; and experience, hope:" "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

You see, the only way a baby learns right from wrong is correction of parents.  Sometimes a little paddling makes the lesson easier to remember. This is sometimes true with baby Christians, as well.  When we do not obey God, He has to give us a spanking so that we will remember to obey next time. Just as an earthly parent corrects a child to help him grow in the knowledge of the truth, so does a heavenly Father.
If He cared not what becomes of us, He wouldn't bother to correct us. Read chapter 3 of Ephesians beginning with the 13th verse. It will thrill you that you have been tried. I will give one more Scripture here to show that God loves us in our tribulations and then go on.

II Thessalonians 1:4-5 "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:" "[Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:"

If God loves us, He corrects us; and we take on His worthiness.

Romans 5:3-5 ESV
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.


Follow The Breadcrumbs Back To Him!

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