A short introduction

Hello ladies! I do get excited when I read the Proverbs. As my faith and learning has grown through the years, the book of Proverbs excites me for two reasons. I find great comfort in being reminded of specific blessings that I have in my life because I have applied things I have learned – the principles – from the book of Proverbs. It is always a blessing to see that something works. My life is better because of the book of Proverbs.

The other reason I am excited is because, without fail, I see something that I need for my today. I see a truth that will help me with the struggle I am having. Or I see a truth that will help me to help someone else. As many times as I have read through the book of Proverbs, my mind does not always retain these principles. Though I don’t truly forget these principles, I need reminded of them. Their truths are not always on my mind at the moment I need them. This is not necessarily a weakness in character on my part. God has given us His Word with the intent and desire for us to read it over and over. He created our minds so he knows that this practice of repetition is important.

We don’t want to be foolish minded and convince ourselves that because we believe in God that every day should be happy and filled with joy. We will have struggles and sometimes trials that we feel may break us. But be encouraged, one difficult day does not have to turn into a difficult month or a life that is lived entirely with a shadow of despair over it. We all want to be happy, but ultimately or in the end, being happy is a choice that we make and our commitment to our choice to be happy is reflected by the decisions that we make on a daily basis.

We are going to be spending time in the third chapter of Proverbs today. I would like for someone to read through that chapter very carefully, clearly and not too quickly so that everyone can understand the words. Others of you can just follow along.

READ PROVERBS 3.

Proverbs chapter 3 begins again as a father would speak to his son. “My son.” He reminds his son not to forget the law – his law. And reminds him to keep his commandments. How can we do that if we don’t remember them?

That is right. We hold these commandments, the law, in our hands. We have them in our homes. We can read them as often as we like in order to refresh our mind to the things that we need to be doing. Does anyone here make lists to remind yourselves of important things that need to be done on a particular day or during a particular week? Before you go to the market, do you write down the items that you wish to purchase so you don’t forget? When you get the market and begin looking around you forget all of the things that you needed to buy. What do you do? You reach for your list and then you read it. But you already knew what was on the list… Why would you read it again? The mind does not retain everything it has read and we need reminders.

By reading just a chapter of Proverbs every day we are reminded of many of the important principles to give us a better life on this earth. And ladies… We are not under the law but we have all the liberty of a New Testament Christian. Occasionally I will be reading a proverb and a series of verses stops me. I need this; I need it for my life. This can help me. If I read something and it is exactly what I need for the day, sometimes I read no further. I will reread those verses that stopped me and meditate upon them and sometimes I look at other verses that come to mind when I read those verses. I may not finish reading that particular chapter of Proverbs, but in all likelihood I will read it the following month. The Proverbs are there to help us. I love that Wisdom is referred to as a woman. As surely as I look around this room and count each of you as friends of mine whether I am here with you or somewhere else in the world I know that our friendship remains. Wisdom is a friend that stays with me at all times… Perhaps I should clarify that statement. Wisdom will stay  with me so long as she is welcome. Consider that for a minute. Think of all your friends and how important they are to you in your life. Do you count Wisdom as one of your friends? Do you spend time with Wisdom or do you neglect her for long periods of time? As women, we make genuine attempts to spend time together regularly to nourish and grow our friendships. If Wisdom is your friend, a real friend, then you will make time for her regularly.

One of the things that I desire for each of you most of all is that your lives be happy and peaceful. I cannot make your lives happy and peaceful, but I can remind you of the One that can. Without exception, I am sure that each of you immediately brought the name of God into your mind. After all, we are here – in church – talking about God and learning about Him. Let us not forget how practical God is. He gave us rules and commandments as well as salvation and infinite blessings in our lives. And He freely offers wisdom to help us obtain and manage our lives on a daily basis in such a way that cannot be done without Him.

Let’s go down through a few principles and some things I want you to consider/truly meditate upon in Proverbs, chapter 3.

  • In the first verse, the father does not simply tell his son to obey his commandments. Notice that he pleads with his son to allow his heart to keep His commandments. Doing the right thing is always good; doing the right thing with the right heart or attitude is even better. Let me just give you one example that you will all be able to relate to. We all go to church on Sunday or I hope we do. Why do you go? We go because it’s the right thing to do, because God is worthy of worship and to protect our testimony. None of those are bad reasons for going to church on Sunday. But the difference happens when our heart obeys and our heart seeks to worship. I immediately think of a verse in the book of Psalms. It reflects the heart’s attitude.   I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Psalm 122:1.  When David wrote that, it is obvious that his heart was following commandment. Part of growing in our faith and walk as Christians is the desire to do right because it feels right in our hearts. 
  • Notice that the first verse does not end with a closed statement, with a period at the end of it. Verse 2 offers encouragement and explains the benefits of having a right heart. So often when God teaches us something, He reminds us that obedience brings blessing. This should be very easy to understand for a mother. When our children obey and do it with a good attitude, we bless them. Verse two tells us how important obedience with the right heart attitude is. We will live a long and peaceful life. That is a simple thought and promise, but is phrased so much more beautifully in the Proverb. The Bible that we hold is a work of art and a piece of literature for all the ages. The more we read it, the more appreciation we will have for that beauty. I promise you this. 
  • Ladies: look at verses 3 and 4: Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.   
    1. What has wisdom counseled us to do?
    2. Why has wisdom told us to do these things?  (Discuss the answers in class.)
  • Verses 5 and 6 are very familiar verses. I would say that some of you have memorized these and could recite them without reading them. But let me ask you: when is the last time that you meditated upon these words? I hear the young people quote these verses during special services frequently. They are important verses to know but they are even more important verses to live by. You know them well, so I am not going to spend time talking about them today but I would like to give each of you homework. I would like for each of you to write these verses on one of those cards I gave you or on another small piece of paper and every day – get alone by yourself – and pull out that card and meditate upon it. Think about what God is telling you, through wisdom, for your life. You need these truths deeply embedded into your souls. I am going to do this exercise also. Like you, I need reminders. I need to be reminded how closely God wants to be involved in my life and how closely he will be if I will allow him.
  • Keep in mind that many of the Proverbs apply to the natural world, the world that doesn’t know God, some of the Proverbs and promises are dedicated especially for the children of God. Look at verses 7 & 8. Who doesn’t want to feel good? Aren’t we happier when we are healthy? Verse 7 gives us a health tip that has nothing to do with what the doctor will tell you. The Bible does address wise ways to eat and stay healthy, but the book of Proverbs contains frequently unknown ways to ensure good health. If you would like to know the secret tip – that is not so secret –read verse 7 again. 
  • The doctor will give you a list of things you need to do in order to feel better. Wisdom does the same thing for us:

1. Don’t think you are so wise. Know that there is always something else to learn. This guidance basically is telling us not to think so highly of ourselves. Isn’t that an odd prescription or directive to better health? It may be, but I just read it in Proverbs 3:7. A humble heart leads to improved health? 

2. Fear the Lord. These are three simple words that a child of God can become so familiar with that we neglect to take them seriously. One of the best ways to prevent this is to think about who He is and an easy way to do this is to read a list of his names. His names describe who he is. 

3. The third instruction we are given is to leave evil. This is not complicated, but without practice it will not be easy either. When we think of evil, perhaps mistakenly or perhaps with self pride we think of the evil things that are in the world that we would never participate in. Evil is present in every part of this world and every day we must make the choice to avoid it. By making this choice, it is more likely that we will not be faced with making the kinds of choices that the lost world makes every day. 

I was thinking about giving you some common examples of evil that might be among children of God. Then I remembered some verses in Proverbs. Since we are doing a study in Proverbs, let’s look to Proverbs 6:16-19. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischiefA false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

What a list! The thing that is most amazing about these six things – no seven things – is that all of these things may be found in the church as well as in the darker parts of the world. Without a doubt, it is more tragic to find these things among believers because we should know better and we proclaim the name of Christ for our Father.

Aren’t you glad that we have a father who always forgives? If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1John 1:9) Being cleansed from unrighteousness will add joy and peace and beauty to our lives individually, but just imagine what it could add to the church of God.  Think about it: we have to do so little. We have to confess, and God does the rest.

I want to end this class with an admonishment because I want the very best for each of you in your life. When I tell you to think about a verse, or to consider it – it is because within the simplicity of the words are deep and life-changing truths if we will but have faith in our hearts and that faith moves us to taking the right steps. 

Have a great week and I hope by the time we meet together next week that your hearts will be just a little bit lighter because you will have allowed God to make transformational changes in your life. This is more than my hope for you – it is my prayer.