INTRO.- Wisdom speaks. But not all wisdom is good wisdom.
ILL.- Two men got out of their cars after they collided at an intersection. One took a flask from his pocket and said to the other, "Here, maybe you'd like a nip to calm your nerves." "Thanks," he said, and took a big gulp from the container. "Here, you have one, too," he added, handing back the whiskey. "Well, I'd rather not," said the first. "At least not until after the police have been here."
What that one driver did sounds like wisdom to most folks, but the truth is, it’s never wise to offer a drink to anyone under any circumstance. We never know where it will lead them.
ILL.- LOS ANGELES TIMES: People of northwestern Montana have been advised to be on the lookout for drunken bears. Black bears and grizzlies have been congregating along the tracks of the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, where a train carrying hundreds of tons of corn derailed some time ago. The corn has fermented, and the aroma is attracting the bears. "The bears are actually intoxicated up there," said wildlife biologist Loren Hicks. And a grizzly with a hangover can be cross as a bear. And people who drink too much can also be as cross as a drunk bear.
Frankly, I know of no good that has ever come from drinking any kind of alcohol but I know of an awful lot of bad stuff that has happened from drinking. Drinking can lead to drunkenness and drunkenness leads to all kinds of evil deeds and foolishness.
Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
KJV “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
To me, any kind of alcoholic beverage is a strong drink and can lead to much trouble and evil if enough of it is consumed. Most people have heard stories or can tell some stories from drinking too much. There are a few rare souls who have never drank alcoholic beverages and blessed, they are.
There is a kind of wisdom that is worldly and it is not always truthful or wise. For example, the world says, “Eat, drink and be merry for you only go ‘round once in life.” In other words, live it up, do whatever you want because some day you’ll die and life will be over. What’s wrong with that kind of wisdom?
James 4:13-17 “Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”
James is giving us the wisdom of our eternal God. He is saying, “Life is short. Include God in everything you do. Seek God’s will for your life.” God is our Creator. We begin life with Him and end life with Him and we need to sandwich Him into our lives every day. Rightfully, we should focus on Him continually, as in “pray without ceasing.”
The wisdom of this world says many things, which most people have bought into, but we need the wisdom of God to avoid evil in this world and not be led astray from our faith in Christ.
PROP.- The wisdom of God speaks to us from the Proverbs.
1- Wisdom says to fear the Lord
2- Wisdom says to avoid sinful men
3- Wisdom says to listen for wisdom everywhere
I. WISDOM SAYS TO FEAR THE LORD
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Fear is a problem with us. We all fear something. Fear often plagues us.
ILL.- It’s obvious that most Americans fear what is going to happen to America, the economy, and their health insurance. The Affordable Care Act is fast becoming not so affordable for most people no matter what their age. We hear horror stories every day about people losing their health insurance or else their premium doubling, tripling and even more.
I read that as many as 100 million Americans could lose their health insurance through their employers next fall because the plans do not meet the standards of Obamacare, a study released on Wednesday by the American Enterprise Institute estimated.
Affecting mostly employees of small businesses, these cancellations would be in addition to the nearly five million Americans who have already lost their coverage since Oct 1, 2013. That’s a real fear that people have! And it’s a very negative fear.
Some fears, however, are positive in nature.
ILL.- When I was kid we lit our gas cook stove by lighting a match and mom and dad said, “Don’t play with matches or you’ll get burned.” I did play with matches and I did get burned.
I didn’t have enough fear for fire until after I was burned. Isn’t this the way it often happens? We won’t take someone’s word for it so we have to find out for ourselves. I’m from Missouri, the ShowMe state. Many of us are no different.
Many people are curious to find out about many things, but curiosity killed the cat. And curiosity and not taking God’s word as our rule and authority in life can get us into deep trouble.
The wisdom of God says we should fear God. How so? Well, I may be somewhat old fashion or “old school” but I think some people should literally fear God.
Jude 22-23 “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude speaks of snatching some from the fire. Does this mean that some people are near the fire of hell by their actions? It could well be. And these are the kind of people who need to literally fear God.
Romans 13:11-13 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.” Some people may be out carousing, drinking, and no telling what else and they need to fear God.
ILL.- I remember when I totaled my 1955 Chevy many years ago. I came out of that wreck without a scratch, but that wreck did something for me. It reminded me that I could have lost my life and I would have been accountable to God for my life and I wasn’t ready to die! And it put a certain amount of fear in me and well it should have!
Many people are playing with fire, thinking they won’t get burned, but they will eventually. THEY NEED TO FEAR GOD. How can we re-institute some fear in people? One way is by preaching the truth of God’s Word.
ILL.- On July 8, 1741 Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon that was to become famous long after his death, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” This was a typical sermon of the Great Awakening, emphasizing the belief that Hell is a real place. Edwards hoped that the imagery and message of his sermon would awaken his audience to the horrific reality that awaited them should they continue without Christ.
Obviously, preachers don’t preach that way anymore, but some should. And many people need to hear the message of God’s Word and begin to fear Him because they are walking on thin ice.
The wisdom of God says, “Fear God” because some day you will stand before Him and give account. We also fear God by being humbly respectful of Him. To fear Him is to praise Him!
Psalm 111:9-10 “He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”
II. WISDOM SAYS TO AVOID SINFUL MEN
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. 11 If they say, "Come along with us; let's lie in wait for someone's blood, let's waylay some harmless soul; 12 let's swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; 14 throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse"-- 15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths;
If sinners entice you. Will they? Yes, they will. Some may well say, “Let’s go get some booze and get drunk.” (or they may suggest getting something else, because drugs are rampant today). In my younger days if someone said something about drugs I thought they meant to get some aspirin. Today it’s far worse, far more powerful, and far more damaging.
Some people may say, “Let’s go do something even if it’s wrong.” People are so bored that their way of having fun is doing something that could get them into trouble.
ILL.- Again, when I was youngster on Halloween the worst thing we did was soap someone’s windows. But I heard of others who would take their BB guns and try to shoot out street lights. That’s a no, no, of course, but today some people will take a real gun and go shoot somebody because they’re mad or upset. And often, it doesn’t take much to upset them.
If sinners entice you, do not give in to them. That’s the wisdom of God speaking. And people of all ages need to listen to it and heed that wisdom.
It seems like young people are more vulnerable to “running with the crowd” than senior citizens, of course. We seniors are either too tired or too old to run with the crowd! But young people must beware! And middle age people who are experiencing a middle age crisis can end up in trouble by running with the wrong people.
II Timothy 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
ILL.- I knew of a nice young family in one church: a mom, dad and two beautiful little girls. I don’t how this happened or who invited them, but they started frequenting bars and apparently running with the wrong crowd and they ended up divorcing. One thing led to another or one evil thing led to another evil thing and destroyed their family.
I Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” Except that we know that it can be far worse than getting fleas. You might get something you don’t want.
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Some people sharpen or improve others in their friendship, but others may well dull others or get them into trouble.
I’ve had it go both ways in life, haven’t you? I’ve had some friends who blessed my life with a good example and I’ve had a few friends who gave me a bad example and tried to get me involved in their sinfulness.
III. WISDOM SAYS TO LISTEN FOR WISDOM EVERYWHERE
20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; 21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares. God’s wisdom is telling us to listen for wisdom in many different places or from many different people.
Moms and dads give us wisdom. School teachers and bosses. Faithful friends and the elderly.
ILL.- When I was a youngster, growing up, my dad said to me more than once, “Steven, pay attention to what you’re doing.” I think dad saw that my attention wandered a lot. THAT WAS THE WISDOM OF A FATHER SPEAKING TO HIS SON.
And it took many years but I have learned to pay attention to whatever it is that I’m doing. It keeps me out of trouble and keeps me from making many mistakes. It’s the idea of “focus on the job at hand.” It’s like, “Watch the road while you’re driving, not what the cattle are doing in the field beside the road.”
ILL.- My first job was sacking groceries at the Foodtown grocery store in Webb City, MO, a long time ago. My first manager was a man named Paul Nichols and I’ll never forget him. Why? Because he was a good manager and a good example to me as a young employee. Not only did he set a good example of good, hard work but he also was kind enough to take the time to talk to me about many things in life. He was also very good when it came to dealing with people. HE WAS WISDOM SPEAKING TO ME. And he was a Christian family man.
We see wisdom or the lack of it in various places.
ILL.- Soon after Elaine and I moved to Cape Girardeau, MO, I discovered something very quickly. We live just about three miles from the mall and where many nice restaurants are located. To get there we must drive a main highway which goes over Interstate 55 and that is one busy intersection! Cars are coming and going, getting on and off I55. I mean, it’s often bumper and bumper and I have seen a lack of wisdom happen quite often. What’s that? I’ve seen many car wrecks where people were either following too close to the car in front of them or else they weren’t paying attention and hit the car in front of them.
WHAT DOES WISDOM SAY? It says don’t drive too close to the car in front of you because you may have to suddenly slam on your brakes and you don’t want to hit that car.
ILL.- When Elaine and I moved to Cape G. we had to change banks. I made some calls prior to our move. I spoke to two different banks but the reception I got from one bank was far superior to the other. So we both decided to bank at that bank. One reason was because it was close to our new home and another very good reason was because that bank manager was extremely helpful and courteous. She did things to help us with our banking transactions and move. Since that time I have also dealt with another bank person who has been extremely helpful.
WHAT DOES WISDOM SAY? It says it pays to be kind. Of course, I realize that banks want you to bank with them but not all bank personnel are as helpful as these two ladies have been.
Proverbs 11:17 “A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.”
Kindness always pays. Kindness is the boomerang that always comes back to you.
Wisdom speaks or calls out from many places and from many people and we need to learn from this wisdom.
ILL.- Thomas Edison: “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
- Henry Ford: “Don't find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.”
I don’t think either of these men were Christians but what they said are words of wisdom. WE MUST LISTEN FOR WISDOM WHEREVER IT SPEAKS AND GAIN FROM IT. The greatest wisdom of all, of course, is from God.
Psalm 119:9-11 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”