Proverbs – Week 38 Notes

By December 27, 2020Sermon Notes

WELCOME/ANNOUNCEMENTS

-Maddi and Corbin Osburn as new members

-The next two years: NT letters: beliefs, values, behaviors (head, heart, hands)

-Giving/Building: check online

-Prayer

CHILDREN:

-Breaky not bouncy

-mind, body, others, God

-God loves you even when you are breaky

-God loves you so much he wants to help you become more bouncy

-EARNEST

2020 a Year in Review: The wisdom of a “two Dial Lifestyle”

I love analogies…if you know me very well you might say “well, that’s an understatement.”

I’ve been known to use a number of them in a single conversation.

But we all think and very often speak in “analogy”

If you show this image to a child at a certain age…they will say that the “grass” doesn’t belong.

Why? Well because a frog and a lizard and butterfly are “like” each other in ways that grass is not.

We often use analogy to describe something unknown or less known by something more familiar to us.

Or we simplify something more complex by using analogy.

An analogy is something that shows how two things are alike, but with the ultimate goal of making a point about this comparison.

“Life is like a box of chocolates” Forest Gump would say…to communicate that like a box of chocolates, life always has an element of unpredictability to it.

And the implication…is that that’s not necessarily a bad thing (like biting into an unknown chocolate)

Analogies are imperfect…so beware the analogy literalists or pharisees.

“Well, you do know, Forest, that some boxes of chocolate have a guide printed on the inside of the box top…so you actually can know what you are getting.”

Okay, dude, thanks for that…but you know what he meant.

Analogies are not perfect…but they are often helpful.

The “simple this”(a box of chocolates) helps makes sense of the more complex “that” (life’s uncertainties)

So, my favorite analogy for this year (as in I’ve used it more often than any other and for many different situations) is…

“Life has two dials” you must keep your hands on both and you must keep tuning both if you want music and not noise.

So, Forest Gump might say “Life is like an analog radio”

“If you want music and not noise you gotta keep your hands on both dials.”

This year with Covid, politics, and social unrest…and all the resulting differences of opinions the “two dial” model has fit well into many conversations.

In addition, we have spent the year looking at the wisdom of Proverbs…wisdom in the Scripture is in its essence a “two-dial” life.

It is full of the wisdom of maintaining balance: Here are a few examples from Proverbs.

Answer a fool/Don’t answer a fool (need to know what kind of fool)

Plan for the future/Don’t presume on the future

Listen to advice/avoid the advice of fools (know the difference)

Be diligent and save/Be generous and give

Listen & don’t talk too much/Speak wise and helpful words often

Gifts open hearts/Bribery is wrong

Work hard and you find good outcomes/Trust God, he alone controls outcomes

I could go on…because most of the path of the wise could be described as living with tensions, keeping appropriate balance.

If life were a digital “one button” experience…it would not require wisdom.

Having the endurance and commitment to keep hands on both dials is one part of wisdom…the ongoing effort part

Having the experience and understanding…the “trained ear” if you will…to know how to tune which dial appropriately is the other aspect of wisdom….the gained skill part

So, wisdom in Proverbs, could be described as an analog radio…two dials…there is no digital tuner…

This wisdom requires the discipline to keep your hands on the dials AND the learned skill of knowing how to tune them just right.

Wisdom in the bible is a combination of knowledge, character (endurance), and commitment practiced over time…wisdom is what we might call skill.

But skill from a good heart…because wisdom in Scripture is not just the ability to get stuff done it is being a certain kind of person…ultimately a person who is becoming more like Christ.

Skilled living…living well in the world God has made, with the Life God has given us to live.

This means wisdom is not easy to gain and maintain…it takes intentional effort.

But it also means that growth in wisdom is available to anyone willing to commit to the process…it is not just for a select few.

What is the process exactly?   Or to use Proverb’s favorite analogy…what does walking the path of wisdom look like?

We looked at this way back in the beginning of 2020…seems like 10 year ago.

One Proverb that describes the essence of the path of wisdom…is a sort of famous one: Proverb. 3:5,6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5,6

It describes a faith/effort life of balance.

Or a “Trust and obey” lifestyle…two dials.

Look at a few ideas from the passage:

  1. Trust God not self, God alone grants true success.

-“Trust” is who or what you rely on for ultimate security.

-It is where you place your foundational confidence

*The confidence of many has been shaken this year:

-Confidence in health, the future, government, others, self

-This year has been like an earthquake testing our foundations of confidence.

-Some have seen their lives crumble, as their foundation has failed.

Some have become terribly fearful, some bitter, angry, judgmental…suicide, divorce, drug overdose rates have soared.

The foundation for our lives…will always be tested…this year has been a time of wide spread testing.

Jesus said, how we build our foundation is essential for how we will survive the inevitable storms…and the ultimate storm of death.

  1. This trust is a full-life commitment.

-We trust him with all our heart and in all our ways.

-The most used Proverb for this year was “Above all else guard your heart, it is the well spring of life.” 4:23

Wisdom is not a set of techniques…it is a heart wrapped around God…put into everyday practice.

This heart for God shows up in real world choices…what we do with our time, talents, and treasure.

Trust with all your hearts.

In all your ways

We determine our life direction by setting our heart affection.

*What do we do in our lives flows from what we have learned to love.

We set our affection(we learn to love) by choosing our investments.

*We learn to love who or what we give our best investments to.

If you love God and others more now than when this year started…it is because you invested in your relationship with God and others this year…in actual, practical ways.

It’s not a mystery or magic…it is really is about investment.

Change is from the heart out to our choices and from choices back into our heart.

*Two dials there…see them?

  1. The negative and the positive contrasted:

*Don’t put your full weight on your own understanding (don’t lean)

*Do give God his proper place in everything (in all your ways acknowledge him)

Clearly, we are to seek understanding, we are to use our whole minds to love and follow God…but we must not put our full weight of confidence on ourselves (lean on our own understanding)

-Because we are fallible, we are easily deceived, we are sinful, we don’t have God’s perfect vantage point.

We are instead to crown him Lord in everything (in all your ways acknowledge him)

*If an officer and an enlisted military member in uniform pass on the street…one initiates a salute to the other…it is a sign of mutual respect and an acknowledgement of a certain rank structure.

To acknowledge God in all our ways…is not saying we merely render a token salute to God (since he does, after all, out rank us all)

“Morning sir”

That’s an analogy by the way.

Token displays of who God is in contrast to who we are (rank structure)…do not describe the reality of this verse…

“Acknowledge” is not a symbolic salute…it is full-life surrender.

God has the right as God…to direct every aspect of our lives…wisdom recognizes this as a reality…and not a bitter one…but a sweet one.

It’s not. “I have to submit…he is stronger, he out ranks me…but I don’t have to like it, or love him.”

We are made by him and for him.

To acknowledge him as Lord is to live a life of total commitment and surrender.

He does get to tell us what to believe, what is valuable, and how to live our lives…because he is smart and he is good.

You hear kids say to other kids, usually to a bossy older sibling…. “You’re not the boss of me”

God is actually the boss of all of us.

He doesn’t owe us explanations, or even conversations…he has the right as creator to do whatever he wants to do.

But he is not a dictator…he is our Father.

When we see him as such…we delight that he is our “boss” rather than rebelling like silly children against the reality of his authority.

4.The Good life revealed: He will make your paths straight;

-As I said, the two-path life is the favorite analogy of Proverbs

-Straight path is the good life

-Crooked path is the messed-up life, the foolish life, a life that fails to thrive

This full commitment life is a straight path life…the good life.

Where do you see the two dials in this passage?

It looks like a single dial…trust God, he will make your path straight.

But It’s there…Trust God…a straight path will emerge for you to walk…he will walk it with you…but you must walk it.

What do you do with a path? You walk it…step by step.

Again…Proverbs favorite analogy is that life is a path to walk…there is a wise, good path, and a foolish, bad one.

There is no moving sidewalk, no escalator or elevator…there is a path that we WALK living in full confidence in God not self.

Grace is not opposed to effort but to earning…wisdom is about grace empowered effort.

This two-dial life is “trust and obey”

Probably the greatest example of a two-dial tension or reality is “God is sovereign/in control” and “We are responsible/we must make choices”

You see this tension throughout Proverbs.

When this great tension is lost all kinds of problems follow.

-It’s all on God…my choices don’t matter…leads to disastrous life choices (or rather, lack of choices)

-It’s all on me…God is not a factor…leads to disastrous life choices (heart hardens, ingratitude takes over, fear, pride…lots of bad stuff)

God is in control AND my choices matter…is the music of a life well-lived.

Think through how this wisdom/two dial approach helps make sense out of what we see in the world around us.

Covid:

One dial: Freedom (live life)

Another dial: Safety/security (don’t die or get sick make others sick)

Racial tensions:

One dial: Bad things have been done by and to people

Another dial:   Lots of good things have been done by and for people.

*Reading Booker T. Washington’s autobiography “Up from Slavery”

-He had a very different vision for how black people would be helped than his contemporary W.B. Dubois.

Booker’s life was changed by a white Union general officer who ran a college for former slaves…Hampton, VA

Booker was often mistreated…terrrible so…but he maintained a two-dial balance and it served his very well.

Political parties:

-Well, you get the point.

But in all of it, the most important tension to keep(on a personan level) is not: Freedom vs. Safety, America is great vs. America is not perfect

*It is: “I must live out what I believe…AND I must love and respect others who believe differently”

*hard to do at times…it takes…wait for it…WISDOM.

This becomes especially true when…others are not interested in applying this approach to me.

So, let’s finish with some practical points regarding wisdom and a two-dial life

Since wisdom is, after all, practical, not merely theoretical.

  1. There are some challenges that we will face as we try to live the balance:

Because, as I mentioned, not everyone in our lives are in pursuit of God’s wisdom.

  1. There is only one dial

-Safety is freedom

-Freedom only matters

-America is terrible, America is perfect

-Clearly Trump…clearly Biden

-God is sovereign, period

-Humans have choices, period

How will you deal with people who are convinced life is a digital, one push button radio?

Takes wisdom doesn’t it…answer a fool, don’t answer a fool.

  1. You are an idiot if you tune the dials differently than I do.

-Or wicked

-Or naïve

How will you deal with people (and have peace in yourself) when others attack you for not agreeing with them?

You must be connected to others…but well-differentiated.

“I want to be in relationship with you…but I don’t need your approval to be okay.”

I have seen people become very frustrated because they cannot control others…this frustration has led to separation rather than agree to disagree.

  1. There is no way we can get along in anything if we don’t get along in everything.

This is simple unwise, unsustainable.

So, Paul said, “As far as possible, as much as it depends on you, life at peace with all people.”

Wisdom doesn’t mean we don’t hurt when others reject us…it does mean we understand who we must ultimately please…and who we answer to.

  1. Don’t over apply the two-dial analogy

There is absolute truth.

This analogy applies to issues that require life balance, it does not apply to ultimate reality…or matters of absolute truth.

So there are valid differences of opinion on disputable, non-essentials…but this is not so on matters that are absolute.

The idea of absolute truth is sometimes mocked…but everyone believes it.

I have said it many times before…but all you must do to answer someone who says there are no absolutes is to ask them “are you absolutely sure?”

It is a self-refuting idea to deny absolutes…and therefore it is a false one.

Jesus is Savior and Lord…he said “I am THE way, truth, and life…no one gets to the Father except through me.”

This is an absolute truth.

Two dials does not apply here… “Jesus is Lord” and “I am my own master” or “there are other ways to be saved.”

No…this is absolute…this is “either/or” not “both/and”

Jesus is Lord, Liar, or Lunatic…there is simply no other choice.

  1. Finish with combining….Two dials and absolutes: Simplicity on the other side of complexity

All this can seem unnecessarily complex…but it’s not.

Wisdom is necessarily complex(life is complex)…and yet there is a fundamental simplicity for knowing our problem, solution, and purpose.

Wisdom in life choices, interpersonal relationships, understanding cultural differences…how to respond to the times…is complicated.

That’s why Proverbs is 31 chapters of diverse sayings describing a wise life…it’s not 31 easy steps to wisdom.

Walking the wise path requires constant tuning…continually getting back on track.

But knowing the wise path…what it really, truly is…is simple.

Simple enough for child to know and walk.

“In Christ are hidden all the treasure of wisdom” Col. 2:3

Hidden doesn’t mean we have to have deep, mature wisdom to find them, no secret code, …it means that when we give our lives to him, when we “get him”…we get access to all that goes with him.

Including wisdom.

Faith: transferring trust from self to Christ is to enter into a relationship with the source of all wisdom.

Faith: a life of continually following Christ is the path to growing in actual, actionable wisdom.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…is the heart of all true wisdom…and it really is that simple.

A child can understand it…and enter into relationship with Christ.

An adult can surrender to it…and also have this relationship with Christ.

Don’t confuse the complexity of living the two-dial life…with the simplicity of entering into a new life with Christ.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, in all your ways acknowledge him…he will make your path straight…now go walk that path.

Trust him with your life…then trust him with the complexities of life…trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus.

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