Sermon Transcript


Well, I’ve titled this morning’s message “Secrets of a Successful Life.”  I think we can all probably get on some common ground this morning by saying that every one of us in this room want to live and experience success in life.  And I want to suggest to you right out of the shoot here that that has everything to do with the skillful application of godly wisdom.  See, I’ve been a pastor for more than 20 years, and I’m a pretty simple guy.  I just happen to believe this book that we hold in our hands, the B-I-B-L-E, is God’s Word.  And it’s not only God’s Word, but it’s the best-selling book of all time.  Do you know that?  It’s the least-read bestselling book of all time.  But it’s the best-selling book of all time because it’s God’s Word.  And it’s not only God’s Word, it’s His love letter to us.  How would you read a love letter if you knew you got a love letter in the mail?  You might read it a little differently.  And not only that, it’s a success manual for life.  It’s God’s plan for how He redeems us and bring us into a relationship with Him.  It is certainly that.  But in a very practical way too, it is a success manual for life.  Every one of us want to be successful.  But I want to suggest to you we need to learn success and experience success from heaven’s viewpoint by downloading some wisdom from above and applying that in a skillful way.  Wisdom is the ability to take God’s truth and apply it skillfully in our lives.  And that’s what the book of Proverbs is all about.



Proverbs, as you might remember from our first week of study, is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.  There are five books of wisdom in the Old Testament.  There’s Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and the book of Job.  Real quickly, Job is God’s wisdom on pain and suffering.  If you're going through a difficult time, you need to read the book of Job.  Get God’s perspective on it.  Ecclesiastes is God’s wisdom on the meaning of life.  Song of Solomon is God’s wisdom on love, marriage and sex.  Now, some of you are gonna go home this afternoon, you’re gonna turn off the Super Bowl, and you’re gonna read that book.  You didn’t know that God talked about love, marriage, romance and sex.  But it’s right there in the Song of Solomon.  And the book of Psalms is God’s wisdom in terms of our vertical relationship with Him.  Proverbs, which is the focus of our study these weeks, is God’s wisdom in our horizontal relationships.  It’s a gritty, useful, everyday spirituality that’s aimed at applying it into our everyday life.



And so we’ve come to chapter 3 in our study.  And we’re looking at verses 1-12.  I just summarize it by calling it “Secrets of a Successful Life.”  Now, this may not be success like you learned it from some motivational speaker or something like that.  This is God’s definition in this little section of scripture here of how to live life successfully.  Some of this you may say, “No, duh, Pastor.”  And it may just be a reminder of truth you already know.  Some of this may blow your minds and your categories.  And you say, “I had never thought that, and maybe that has some reason to do with why I’m not as successful as I’d like to be.”  So let’s dive into this.  Six secrets to successful life.



Number one, remember the wise instruction you received.  Solomon is instructing his son.  We see that word “my son” again in verse 1.  “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”  You need to know as we go through these six secrets that they start with a command or a principle followed by a reward.  That’s the pattern.  The command, the principle, followed by a reward.  And the first principle is to remember something.  Remember the wise instruction that you have received.  In the context of Proverbs, Solomon is an engaged father.  We said in week one he’s not a passive dad.  No, he is proactively involved in the moral instruction of his children.  He is really raising the next generation of leaders in Israel, maybe the next king. That’s why over and over again in Proverbs you see that “my son, my son,” and one time “my sons” plural.  And it’s a reminder to us, dads, we need to stay engaged in the home.  You can’t delegate the moral instruction of your kids to the Christian school or even to the church.  We have a role to play in that, but it starts with dads.  And here Solomon is reminding his son and pleading with his son, encouraging his son, “Son, remember the wise, godly instruction that I’ve given to you.”  Because Solomon probably has kids like I have in my home.  They remember when their baseball game is, but they forget their homework.  You know, we kind of remember the things that are most important to us, and we forget or block out those things that are maybe not as important to us.  And as young people we remember trivial things and forget important things.  And as we get a little bit older, we remember the things we should forget, and we forget the things we should remember.  And so living life successfully, one of the secrets, as simple as it sounds, is to remember the wise instruction that our parents poured into us.



Now, some of you say, “Well, I didn’t grow up in a home like that, Pastor.  I didn’t grow up in a Christian home.  I didn’t in a home where I had wise parents.”  Okay.  I understand that.  Start where you are.  And one of the places where you can get wise, godly counsel on a regular basis is right here in a church like this.  Because we’re gonna open up the pages of God’s Word.  And we’re gonna find out what God has to say about something, and then do our best in His strength and His power to apply it into our lives.  And one of the things that we do to help you remember that wise, godly counsel is give you some notes with some fill-in-the-blanks.  Because I have found that when I listen to something, I remember that much of it.  When I listen to something and write it down, I remember this much of it.  The problem is you’re gonna get up tomorrow morning, Lord willing, and by noon you’re gonna forget today’s sermon.  If you’re not intentional about remembering the wise, godly counsel you’ve received from the Word of God.



Now, the Bible has a lot to say about remembering things.  You may remember one of the Ten Commandments says remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy, because that’s an easy thing to forget, the Lord said.  All throughout the Old Testament you read about God’s relationship with His chosen people, the nation of Israel.  And He says over and over again, “I will remember My covenant with you.  I will remember the promises that I made to you.”  Fast forward into the New Testament.  Jesus is with His disciples on the night before He was crucified.  And He tells them to do something in remembrance of Him.  He doesn't say, “Remember My teaching,” or, “Remember My miracles,” or, “Remember the day that I was born.”  He says, “Remember My death.”  He was just hours from the cross.  And He instituted this things called the Lord’s Supper, communion, as a memorial, as a way of remembering the most important thing, and that’s the death of Jesus Christ, the atonement for your sins and for my sins.  He went to that cross and shed His blood to pay the penalty for your sins and my sins.  We dare not forget that as followers of Jesus Christ or as people who might casually appear at a church once in a while.  It’s all about the cross of Christ.  And Jesus said, “Here is something you need to do in remembrance of Me.”



Psalm 77:1 the psalmist says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”  The first secret to living life successfully is to be on the receiving end of wise, godly counsel.  And then make sure, as you go out into the world this afternoon or tomorrow morning and you’re bombarded with a whole host of voices that are trying to get your attention—advertisements, 24-hour news, social media, whatever it is—it easily crowds out the memory of the good stuff we’re supposed to remember and apply to our life.  So be regularly in church.  I’m not saying that because I’m a pastor and I want to fill up seats.  I’m saying this because your spiritual life and, yes, the success of your life depends on the regular intake of wise, godly counsel.  I had a seminary professor once say to us, “Everybody needs to be under the teaching of God’s Word.  You also need to be in it for yourself.”  And that includes the preacher.  I need to be under the teaching of somebody’s word, receiving and instructing myself in wise, godly…not just for the preparation of a sermon, but because my spiritual life depends on it as well.  So the first secret is to remember the wise instruction you’ve received.



Number two, I would say it this way.  The secret is to give and receive love.  One of the secrets to a successful life is that ability to give and to receive love.  Here is how Solomon says it to his son.  Proverbs 3:3-4, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”  Do you want to experience good success in the sight of God and man?  Solomon says, “Let steadfast love and faithfulness go with you wherever you go.”  And, by the way, these are qualities that we find in God’s character.  His steadfast love, the Bible says, never fails.  It’s that wonderful, rich Hebrew word hesed, translated a number of different ways in our Old Testament, but translated here as steadfast love.  It’s the idea of covenant love, loyalty, a commitment to.  God loves us in a steadfast kind of way.  He is loyal to us.  He is committed to us.  The marriage relationship is based upon that covenant.  Marriage is not a contract between two parties.  Marriage from God’s perspective is a covenant based upon steadfast love that says, “I’m committed to this person in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, until death do us part.”  It’s that kind of commitment and faithfulness and love.  And Solomon says, “Son, if you’re gonna be successful in life, you need to learn how to give and receive love and be committed in relationships.”  In a broader sense, I would say this secret is all about healthy relationships.  And how true is that?  You can have the highest IQ in the room, but if you don’t know how to give and receive love in a healthy way and develop healthy relationships, you may find yourself in the basement of some organization, you know, using your IQ some way.



When I hire a person in ministry or otherwise, yeah, IQ is important, that intelligence quotient.  But I quickly look at the RQ, the relationship quotient.  Does this person have healthy relationships?  Is there evidence of them being able to give and receive love in a healthy kind of way?  Are their relationships long-term, committed relationships, or is there a trail of broken relationships behind them?  Not only marriage relationships, but friends and even professional relationships.  I go from IQ to RQ.  I quickly then go to EQ.  EQ is the emotional quotient.  What’s going on inside that person?  You know, we all have baggage, some more than others.  But a person who is not emotionally healthy has a difficult time developing healthy relationships and even giving and receiving love.  And everywhere they go it’s drama- the drama king or the drama queen.  And it’s not long before they bark all over everybody emotionally and relationally.  It just isn’t working in the organization.  Oh, they may have a high IQ.  They may have the best education in the world.  But they haven’t figured out there is other secrets to a successful life, and that’s binding your heart and your neck and everything about you with steadfast love and faithfulness, those people skills that we look for in life.



The Bible tells us in Luke 2:52, it gives us a little glimpse into the childhood of Jesus.  And it says, “He grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men.”  It just describes the holistic, healthy way in which, yes, He was the Son of God and the perfect Savior of the world, but the way in which He grew up “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”  Here Proverbs says, “Let steadfast love and faithfulness not forsake you.  Bind them around your neck.  Write them on the tablet of your heart.”  In other words, take them wherever you go.  “So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and in the sight of man.”  It’s a just a simple thing but, oh, so important, so important for any success that we experience in life.



Here is a third secret.  We read on in verses 5 and 6.  The idea is to put your complete trust in the Lord.  Here is how Solomon says it.  He says, “My son, trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Another translation says, “And the Lord will direct your paths.”  How many of you want the Lord to direct your paths?  Maybe you’re in the midst of a decision-making season in your life, and you need some direction.  You need some wise counsel.  We’re quick to kind of run to reward side of these principles and rewards.  But the Lord directing our path has everything to do with us putting our complete trust in the Lord.  If I were to ask you, “How many of you are trusting in the Lord today?” a lot of hands would go up.  But are you trusting Him completely?  First of all, we have to trust Him entirely with all of our hearts.  He says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart.”  Jesus said it this way.  “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Give all of yourself to Him, not just to a part of Him, not just Sunday morning for an hour- you know, check the box and do the God thing.  But you are trusting Him entirely with all your heart.  Trust Him exclusively.  Do not lean to your own understanding, Solomon says.  You know, there are a lot of us who become edumacated in life.  We got degrees and we’ve got experience.  We might have some resources.  And it’s easy to lean on those things and to trust those things rather than trust the Lord.  Isaiah the prophet, Isaiah 31:1, he says, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong but do not look to the holy one of Israel or consult the Lord.”  He says, “Woe to those,” you know, be on guard against yourself and others who trust in all of these things that the world says are trustworthy.  “I’ve got a big bank account.  I’ve got lots of experience.  I’ve got lots of degrees.  I’ve got the corner office.  And I’m leaning to my own understanding.  I’ve got this figured out.”  That’s what a lot of us say.  “I’ve got this figured out.  My gut is telling me this.”  Well, I hope it’s a sanctified gut and it’s a gut through whom the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God is speaking.  Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our god.”



Now, the world may not tell you this.  The world is not gonna say one of the secrets to a successful life is to trust in the Lord completely.  But the Bible tells us to do that.  Here is the problem.  Here is the challenge for us.  Some of us have trust issues, don’t we?  We’ve been through hard things in life.  We’ve maybe experienced something that has broken our trust.  Maybe a spouse lost your trust in some way.  Maybe you grew up in a home where you were physically or emotionally abused and it’s hard for you to trust people, let alone the most trustworthy being in the universe, the Lord God of heaven and earth.



I grew up in a broken home.  My parents divorced when I was in high school.  And it wasn’t until probably my early 20s, maybe my mid 20s that I figured out how much my ability to trust had been broken.  I was in Houston, Texas as the time.  And I was in sales and marketing in the medical industry.  And this was before I went into the ministry and to seminary.  And I was sitting with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants on Wertheimer Boulevard, Mama’s Café.  If you ever go to Houston, go to Mama’s Café and order an Uncle Willie’s.  It’s not on the menu, but it takes four plates to serve the breakfast.  It’s fabulous, okay.  So, you know, some of my buddies and I, we’d hang out at Mama’s Café.  And I was talking to one of them who was getting his Master’s degree in psychology at the University of Houston.  And he just kind of dropped into the conversation…they were discussing something in one of their classes about how children of divorced parents always fear that someone is going to leave them.  I said, “Excuse me.  Rewind that for a moment.  You were talking about what?”  And it was the first time I began to come to grips with and understand (0:19:00.0) what had happened in that little earthquake that took place in my family when my parents divorced and my dad physically left the house.  I would go into relationships, dating relationships, always fearing that she was going to drop me, not me her.  You know what I’m talking about?  And that just governed every relationship that I was in.  And I realized there was a trust issue that I had.  Somebody whom I wanted to trust, my parents, there was something broken there by the divorce.  And now I was going through life fearing that somebody…oh, it wasn’t real external.  It was part of that EQ in me though.  It was part of that emotional quotient that just wasn’t quite right.  And it was shortly after that that the Lord reminded me of a verse of scripture that I memorized as a young boy, where He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Oh my.  “Really, Lord? (0:20:00.1) I’ve had the most important people in my life leave me, and it’s hard for me to trust.  You want me to believe that You will never leave me nor forsake me?”  And that’s exactly what He promises.  He is the most trustworthy being in the universe.  And I can say from experience, friends, that if you let Him rebuild that broken trust in your life, you’re on the road to a healthier existence.  It was just several years later after that that I met my wife Cathryn.  And suddenly gone were those fears that somehow this relationship wasn’t gonna work out because she was gonna depart.  And we’ve been married for more than 20 years now.  There is never a day that goes by that I think she’s gonna walk out on me.



Trust in the Lord, in the Lord with all of your heart.  If something or someone has broken trust in your life and you say, “Oh, I could never trust again.  That church hurt me.  I could never get involved in organized religion again,” trust in the Lord with all of your heart.  Lean not to your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He has an amazing way of drawing a straight line with a crooked stick.  He’ll make your paths straight.  He does it every time.  And He is trustworthy.



Here is a fourth secret.  Number four, respect God’s commands.  You want to live life successfully and skillfully?  Here is what Solomon said to his son.  “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”  And here is the reward.  “It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”  You need some healing to go on in your life?  Hey, it starts with the fear of the Lord, a healthy respect for who He is and what He says.  Solomon is coming back to a theme that he began with in the beginning of Proverbs 1 where he says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom,” this wisdom from above.  We’re not talking about the kind of fear where you cower in His presence and you’re afraid of Him.  Oh no, for the believer in Jesus Christ the Bible says, “He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  This kind of fear is respect, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  That kind of respect.  Do you respect the Lord?



Now, I want to suggest to you that arrogance will get in the way of the fear of the Lord, the kind of arrogance that says, “I know better.”  The kind of arrogance that says, “I’m wise in my own eyes.”  Remember from a couple weeks ago Mr. Worldly Wiseman and Mr. Smarty Pants, okay?  Solomon says to his sons, “Don’t be that.  Don’t be wise in your own eyes.”  Don’t be a Mr. Smarty Pants.  Don’t be a Mr. Worldly Wiseman.  Understand you don’t know what you don’t know.  Be humble enough to admit that, especially before a sovereign God who knows everything, who has never been to school.  Nobody has ever taught Him, but He has perfect knowledge and perfect wisdom in every aspect of life, whether it’s quantum physics or who is gonna win the Super Bowl today.  He has perfect knowledge.  Nothing ever surprises Him and nobody ever taught Him.  So we humble ourselves before Him.  We have a healthy respect and fear for who he is.  And the fear of the Lord is that awesome respect and what He says, such that it makes you turn away from evil.  That’s what Solomon says to his son.  He says, “Be not wise in your own eyes.  Fear the Lord and turn away, turn away from evil.”



Now, I learned a little bit about the fear of the Lord playing high school football.  I didn’t go on in college to play, but I played quarterback of my high school football team.  I didn’t start playing football until my sophomore year in high school.  I played a lot of baseball growing up from, you know, wee little ages.  And my eighth grade PE teacher saw me throwing a football in gym class, and it was natural to me.  And he says, “Hey, we need a guy like you on the team next year.”  So I played football in high school.  I liked the idea of quarterback because you got to wear the red jersey in practice, which means “don’t hit him.”  Smart choice on my part.  I started my junior year on the JV team and then junior and senior year I was a starting varsity quarterback.  I remember it was so new to me.  And I was so green.  I remember the first time the coaches put me in in practice to run the offense.  I was just nervous as nervous can be.  Coach said, “Hey, Jones, you know, you’re up.”  So I run out there, put my helmet on.  And the play comes in.  I get the play.  I call the play.  We break the huddle.  Everybody goes to the line of scrimmage.  And I do what a quarterback is supposed to do, you know, kind of walk up there with that swagger and scan over the defense like I knew what I was looking at.  I didn’t have a clue as to what I was looking at.  Then I put my hands up under the right guard.  He did one of those.  How ‘bout them Bears, right?  I was so embarrassed.  And my coaches are back there doing this.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  I don’t know where that old boy is, but I don’t think he ever recovered from the experience.  You can tell I haven’t.  But here is what I learned about the fear of the Lord.  This was back in the day where they sent plays in from the sideline. And after every play, you know, they’d send somebody in.  The guy would whisper the play to me, and I’d call the play in the huddle.  Now, I’d be a Mr. Smarty Pants and a Mr. Worldly Wiseman if I said, “Okay, good idea, coach,” and then called my own play.  Doesn’t work that way.  I would not be fearing and respecting the coach who calls the play.



And so this is what Solomon is saying to his son.  “Son, if you want to win the game of life, if you want to live life successfully and skillfully, be not wise in your own eyes.”  Don’t go around saying, “Oh, I’ve got this figured out.  I know better than…”  Certainly, than God.  No, fear the Lord.  Turn away from evil.  And then it will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.



Here is a fifth secret.  It’s found in verses 9-10.  Put God first in your finances.  Oh boy, here we go.  We’re gonna meddle a little bit.  But listen to this.  This is just practical, practical wisdom from above.  Verse 9, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”  Let me take the agricultural reward here and put it in our day and age.  How many of you want investment accounts and Wall Street accounts that are just, you, teeming over with prosperity, where everything is up and to the right in a bull market.  Does anybody want their investment accounts to do that?  I certainly do.  It’s kind of hard today, but, you know.  Back in Solomon’s day they talked about barns being filled with plenty and vats that were bursting with wine.  It was an agricultural thing that the harvest was plentiful and everything was in plentiful supply.  We all want that.  We all want a successful financial life.  Well, I have an undergraduate degree financial planning.  So I’ve been kind of a financially planned guy over the years.  But here is something I never learned in my financial planning schooling, and that is to honor the Lord first with your wealth.  That’s what Solomon says.  “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.”  Again, an agricultural analogy here.  They would come to harvest time, and they would take the first crops in.  Those were given to the Lord, then they would go out and harvest the rest.  And it wasn’t because, well, “This belongs to the Lord and the rest belongs to me.”  No, that firstfruit harvest that was given to the Lord was an acknowledgement that it all belonged to Him anyway.  And this is the principle of the tithe in scriptures where we give to God the first tenth.  Not because, “Oh, You get 10 and I get 90, Lord, and I can do whatever I want with it.”  No, it all belongs to Him.



I learned a long time ago that as a follower of Jesus Christ, that my spiritual life and my financial life need an intersection point.  I need to download God’s economic principles into my financial life if I’m going to have a successful financial life.  And the first of those principles is to move from an ownership mentality to a stewardship mentality.  A stewardship mentality says, “It doesn’t belong to me.  All that stuff I’ve got in bank accounts and savings and real estate investments, it doesn’t belong to me.  It belongs to the Lord.  I’m just His steward.  I’m just His manager.”  That’s the teaching of scripture.  And so that means that every financial decision becomes a spiritual decision because you’re spending God’s money, not yours.  And the Bible says that one day we will give an account of how well we managed the Lord’s wealth.  So we come to this wonderful principle in Proverbs 3:9, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.”  In other words, put God first in your financial life.  You can’t say Jesus is number one in your life if He’s last in your budget.  It doesn't work that way.  If he’s the last check that you write, the last thing you think about, if it’s, “Oh, if I have anything left over, I give to God,” then the latter half of the verse, God is not obligated to make your vats, you know, beam over and the harvest to be plentiful.  But here is what Cathryn and I learned a long time ago, and we started our marriage this way, friends.  I’m talking from personal especially here, not just from ivory tower, you know, pastor things.  We began our marriage 20+ years ago on the 10/10/80 plan.  I didn’t learn this in my financial planning school.  But the first 10 was a tithe that we gave to the Lord.  We gave to God first.  Get a paycheck.  First check I write is not to mortgage, not to this.  It’s to God, 10% right off the top, starting point.  So you give to God first.  Then you pay yourself second.  That’s the second 10.  You do that little by little over a long period of time, that’s how you build wealth.  It’s not by buying a lottery ticket and expecting, you know, this windfall to come.  No, you give to God first, pay yourself second, live off the rest.  And we’ve adjusted the numbers, hopefully the first one up higher.  If you’ve never done the savings and investment thing and you’re among the 76% of Americans today that have less than $1000 in the bank, you’re gonna have to jack that second number up and jack the third number way down, way down.  The problem is I think these numbers are still true.  The average American spends $1.10 for every dollar that they bring in the door.  That’s called debt.  You know, too much house, house-poor, car-poor, you know, all those kinds of things.  You prioritize your finances according to God’s principles.  And you do that over time.  Trust me.  I’m not Donald Trump, but I’ve got more than $1000 in the bank.  Now, it could all be gone tomorrow.  I understand the whims of the stock market and all of that and the economy that is out of our control.  But God has honored, in the Jones family and many, many others that I know of in this church and in other places, has honored the fact that we honored Him first.  It takes faith to do that.  Some of you have more month than you have money right now.  And you say, “There is no way I can do that.”  No, the first thing you do is you honor Him.  And what I have found is when you honor the Lord first, it’s amazing how He takes care of the rest.  And even in the ups and downs of economies and all that, God takes care of those who, in a very tangible way, put Him first in their life with their finances.  And some of you with those trust issues, you have a hard time trusting in this area of your finances.  It’s the only area in the Bible where the Lord says, “If you don’t trust Me, then put Me to the test.”  Just try it out, try it out for 90 days.  Take the giving test and see what the Lord does.




All right.  The last secret of a successful life is found in verses 11 and 12.  We’ve touched on some incredible areas, haven’t we?  Remembering wise instruction, giving and receiving love, putting your complete trust in the Lord, respecting His commandments by the fear of the Lord, putting God first in our finances.  I mean, Proverbs just covers a gamut of just practical, everyday gritty, useful spirituality.  And then we come down to this last one about the Lord’s discipline and accepting the Lord’s discipline our life.  And Solomon says, “Now, my son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”  And Solomon is fast forwarding, and he is anticipating that maybe his son is not going to take this wise counsel and put it into practice as best as he needs to.  And there may be some times there is an area of his life that is not rightly related to the Lord.  And his heavenly Father, then, needs to step in and engage in a little bit of discipline.  The writer of Hebrews picks up on these verses from Proverbs.  You can go to Hebrews 12:5-11.  Read it when you have some time this afternoon or this week.  It talks about how nobody likes discipline at the moment, but a father who loves his son disciplines his child.  Don’t be afraid of that word “discipline,” parents.  We’re not talking about abuse.  Don’t go to that extreme.  Don’t truncate or abandon wise and godly and parental discipline in the home and with your children just because some say that all of that is abusive.  It’s not.  If you don’t discipline your child, you’ll end up with an unruly child.  And it’ll hit you in the teenage years.  And you’re like, “Oh my, what just happened here?”  Start young.  A loving parent disciplines his child because he or she loves that child.  Well, our heavenly Father does the same thing.  He doesn't condemn us.  “There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  But if the Lord sees an area of our life that not rightly related to Him that needs to be reprioritized or adjusted, He may send some loving discipline into our life.



Solomon is anticipating that time when his parental has maybe changed.  His son will move out one day and be on his own.  And not that the relationship is broken in any way, but you know how that changes, parents.  Now kids are making their own decisions.  And he just says to his son, “Don’t despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him who he loves.”  If you call yourself a believer in Jesus Christ and you’ve never been disciplined by the Lord, the Bible says you might not be one of His children.  Okay?  So the presence of discipline is an indication that we belong to Him as one of His children by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.



That’s a lot to digest this morning, isn’t it?  It’s a lot for me to communicate.  But these are just some simple things, secrets of a successful life, the skillful application of God’s wisdom in just some very practical areas of life.  And as we talk about it, yeah, it steps on our toes here and steps on our toes there.  But, hey, take those notes and the notes that you made.  Remember this this afternoon, tomorrow.  Ask God to weave this into your life and into your heart.  Bind it on your heart and on your forehead and just carry it with you wherever you go.  Have conversations as a couple and as a family about these things as well.  And watch God do some amazing things in your life when you being to say, “Listen, whatever it takes, Lord, whatever it takes I want to walk in the fear of the Lord.”  And you know where that begins?  It begins at the cross of Christ when all of us, as sinners who need a Savior, say, “Lord, You know better than I do how to fix this thing between You and me.”  Because the Bible says apart from Christ we are enemies of God.  Strong language, but that’s the diagnosis of scripture.  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  God’s way of fixing that was the cross of Jesus Christ and His shed blood.  And He didn’t just die on the cross and go into the ground.  He rose triumphantly from the grave three days later.  Everything about Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Christ.  And here we are 2000 years later still proclaiming it.  The wise person is the one who says, “I don’t know what I don’t know, even about my relationship with God.  And I’m gonna make a beeline to the cross and begin there, receiving God’s grace and His forgiveness, receiving His love, so that I’m in a better position to give love to others as well.”  Will you do that today?  If you’ve never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, just know your heavenly Father loves you so much.  But He loves you too much to leave you the way you are and to leave me the way I am.  And He’s done something about that in the person of Jesus Christ.  And He’s offered us the free gift of eternal life for anybody who would receive it.  And I want to encourage you to do that today.  Let’s pray together.



Father, thank You so much for Your Word.  Thank You for wise, practical everyday wisdom that You’ve given us to help us live life successfully.  And I pray that every one of us in this room would take this word to heart.  That we would not be a Mr. Smarty Pants or a Ms. Smarty Pants, that we would not be Mr. Worldly Wiseman, thinking we know better from our perspective and our own wise.  But, God, give us humble hearts who can receive Your truth and skilfully apply it into our lives.  And I pray this in Jesus’s name and for His sake, amen.



“Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Romans 8:28 MSG