Read Proverbs 24:10-22
Saying 25 is about trouble. It is not a matter of wondering if you will have trouble in this world. You will.
Don’t take my word for it. Jesus tipped us off when he said, “You are going to have trouble in this world.”
Sometimes Jesus used parables and metaphor and other literary devices, but this time he just said that we would have trouble.
The question is, how will we handle it?
This is not about the stiff upper lip that we might show the world, the stoic response to adversity, or trying to come across as the superhero.
This is about revealing our true self. It is about handling adversity when only God is watching. You can’t hide anything from God.
A man by the name of Shakespeare once had his lead character share these words:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep.
What are the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?
That’s the stuff of life that comes at us from all directions. Sometimes they are self-inflicted. Sometimes they are like a tornado that doesn’t care what good you did or failed to do.
In this world, we will have trouble. How will we handle it?
God sent Joshua into the land promised for over 4 centuries and now well defended and he told him to be strong and courageous.
Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” He tells us this so we may live courageously and with peace.
We are going to have trouble, but will we be courageous and continue to trust in God and even live with peace that goes beyond the circumstances that we can understand or will we shrink back from the world because we just don’t trust God.
I believe that we will find that the more we trust God in the small trials, the more courageous we are in the middle of the big ones.
This proverb calls for us to be strong not only for our own sake, but so that we may lead others to safety as well. We are called to rescue others who are not as strong and courageous as we are.
In this age, that means we lead them to Christ.
We must prepare ourselves to lead others to salvation not only on the sunny days, but on the stormy ones, scary ones, and in the midst of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Saying 26 is about honey, well, not really. It is about wisdom once again. Once you taste wisdom, you have tasted hope. You have tasted a good future.
It seems like the proverbs just won’t let go of this wisdom thing.
Here are 3 things that I learned about homiletics.
1. Include the good news in the sermon.
2. Connect the good news to our situation.
3. Repeat critical items.
4. Repeat critical items.
5. Repeat critical items.
The authors of the proverbs must have gone to the same school. Wisdom is central, important, key, critical, essential, beneficial, and a whole bunch of other good words, and it tastes like honey too boot!
If you make it all the way through the proverbs and say, “Yeah, that was some interesting stuff,” then you have wasted several months
God, through his teachers, is telling us to get wisdom. It is desirable and beneficial. There is a design to this creation and wisdom is the key to understanding how to live in harmony within that design.
I have a key hanging in my office. Sometimes people ask me what does that go to?
It is just a skeleton key, but I tell them that it is the key to wisdom. My wisdom professor gave it to me several years ago. It represents a huge paradigm shift.
I have gone from reading the wisdom literature of the Bible as good stuff to know to reading it as treasure to be unlocked and released into my life.
We have just begun the evening series of Financial Peace University. Had it been just a finance class, we probably would not have allocated our Monday evenings to it. But it is about unlocking biblical wisdom as we deal with money.
After one class, I hear the locks turning. Treasure is being released.
Wisdom tastes like honey. Once you taste it, you have a chance to stay the course in a troubled world.
Saying 27 is also about dealing with adversity.
When those who trust in the Lord fall, they get back up. They have what it takes to pick themselves up again and again.
When those who walk the path of wickedness fall, they may just keep on falling.
There seems to be some finality and catastrophe to this proverb as most blessings or lack of them were perceived to occur within this short span of years we live in these bodies.
Today, we never give up hope and sometimes even rejoice when someone running away from God or living in rebellion against him hits rock bottom.
We don’t rejoice because he his comeuppance, but because he may finally be able to see the truth.
Saying 28 is for the benefit of the wise.
It says don’t get your joy from the sorrow of others, even if it is your worst enemy. Self-righteousness is a poison pill.
We walk the path of wisdom because God told us this is the way.
We enjoy the path of wisdom because it pleases God and benefits us.
We garner our joy from the Lord and his ways and do not give into false joy that comes from the sorrow of others—even if they deserved it. This is false joy. It doesn’t last and doesn’t actualize us like real joy.
It is an state of emotional insecurity like gossip that says I will feel better if I can put someone down.
Our God is a God of mercy. We must teach ourselves to be merciful when our sinful nature tempts us to be self-righteous.
Saying 29 says that God wins.
We must not worry about those doing evil. God will balance the scales with justice and mercy and we neither have contempt for those getting away with evil nor do we fear them.
Contempt says that I would like to get away with that too, but since I have chosen this other path, I can’t. I would really like to, but I can’t. Ouch!
Contempt of others says that we do not trust God to administer justice and mercy in the right proportions. We are people who trust God. That’s how we live, not in contempt of others.
Fear also has no hope. Fear says that we don’t trust God. We are people who do trust God.
I talk to people on a regular basis who are concerned about the country going to hell in a handbasket. They ask, what can we do?
I answer, Trust God. Don’t fear. Trust God.
Most people were hoping for something a little more complicated, but I am confident that fear not and trust God are 4 of the most powerful words we can remember.
Saying 30 is about having awe and reverence for God and government.
We get fear God, revere God, be in awe of holy God. We get that.
In the aftermath of 13 rebellious colonies that gave the king the boot, rebelling against our own government is just in our blood.
Today we are 50 states united as one nation, plus a few territories, and have divided up the powers of the king among different levels, branches, and even reserved some to individuals. We use the ballot box to give power to individuals.
We even survived a civil war so as to preserve government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Yet more often than not our natural disposition is to have contempt or even disdain for our government.
Wisdom says respect authority.
Wisdom says revere proper authority.
Wisdom says do not feed your rebellious nature.
We are blessed to know grace that always reaches a little farther than we can rebel. That is a really good thing, because we struggle with this authority paradigm.
We want to fear and revere and stand in awe of holy God and at the same time look God in the eye and tell him that he is not in control; otherwise, these yahoos would not be governing over us.
But God is in control and to rebel against the king—regardless of how we cloth him these days—is to rebel against God.
Some medicine is harder to swallow than others, but we need to swallow this medicine.
These last 6 sayings of the wise are about trusting God and staying the course.
· In times of trouble
· Desiring God’s wisdom like honey
· By picking ourselves up in adversity
· Without giving in to self-righteousness and delighting when others are humbled
· Full of trust and void of fear even when surrounded by evil
· Revering God without exception, even if we don’t like the knuckleheads who govern us. God is in control.
Do you remember the part about repeating critical items? Let practice that.
GOD IS IN CONTROL.
GOD IS IN CONTROL.
GOD IS IN CONTROL.
My hope for you this day is that you crave God’s wisdom like honey or chicken fried steak with gravy or something else that is extremely desirable for you.
My prayer is that you get a real appetite for God’s wisdom and get to eat your fill.