Studying The Word
Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. Proverbs 4:25-27.
a. Learn how to find the rules of engagement.
b. Setting your own boundaries
c. Communicating to others what your boundaries/rules of engagement are
III. Materials Needed:
a. Your Bible!
b. For the activity: Notecard with markers, etc., to write down the bible verse from the lesson that speaks to you and encourages your behaviors to line up with your beliefs about God.
a. Our behaviors should line up with our beliefs about God.
b. Proverbs 4
c. Breaking Proverbs 4 down to really understand what it practically means for our daily life.
i. “Take my words to heart. Follow my commandments, and you will live.”
ii. “Get wisdom.”
iii. Turn away from evil.
iv. Let God’s word for you “penetrate deep into your heart.”
v. Be practical.
vi. Be encouraged.
V. Lecture: (15-25 minutes)
Being someone, whose goal is to follow Jesus, is more about how we live and move and act in the world than what we profess to believe in when we go to church. This does not mean that beliefs are unimportant. Have you ever heard this quote? “Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.” Behavior almost always trumps belief. You can certainly behave morally with no religious beliefs.
The scripture of this lesson is Proverbs 4:25-27. I think that it helps to understand this verse more by rending the entirety of Proverbs 4, which is titled “Get Wisdom at Any Cost.”
1 My children, listen when your father corrects you.
Pay attention and learn good judgment,
2 for I am giving you good guidance.
Don’t turn away from my instructions.
3 For I, too, was once my father’s son,
tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.
4 My father taught me,
“Take my words to heart.
Follow my commands, and you will live.
5 Get wisdom; develop good judgment.
Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
Love her, and she will guard you.
7 Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
8 If you prize wisdom, she will make you great.
Embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will place a lovely wreath on your head;
she will present you with a beautiful crown.”
10 My child, listen to me and do as I say,
and you will have a long, good life.
11 I will teach you wisdom’s ways
and lead you in straight paths.
12 When you walk, you won’t be held back;
when you run, you won’t stumble.
13 Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go.
Guard them, for they are the key to life.
14 Don’t do as the wicked do,
and don’t follow the path of evildoers.
15 Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way.
Turn away and keep moving.
16 For evil people can’t sleep until they’ve done their evil deed for the day.
They can’t rest until they’ve caused someone to stumble.
17 They eat the food of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence!
18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.
They have no idea what they are stumbling over.
20 My child, pay attention to what I say.
Listen carefully to my words.
21 Don’t lose sight of them.
Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
22 for they bring life to those who find them,
and healing to their whole body.
23 Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
24 Avoid all perverse talk;
stay away from corrupt speech.
25 Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil.
From reading this verse – what do you think that the main takeaways are that we could apply to making sure our behaviors line up with our beliefs about God?
Here are the main takeaways that I have used to apply to my life, personally:
1. “Take my words to heart. Follow my commandments, and you will live.” This requires work on your part. In order to know what Jesus’s words are and know what his commandments are, you have to seek God. Fortunately, you have all the tools that you need. God will speak to you through the bible. God talks about his commands in Exodus 20.
a. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
b. Set your boundaries based upon God’s commandments.
2. “Get wisdom.”
a. Did you know that God promises to give us wisdom if we ask this of him? He tells us in James 1:5 that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” This is something that you can ask for from Jesus, and you can count on his promise that he will give this to you. Personally, I pray for wisdom every day. Looking back on my life, I can see that God has provided me with wisdom in decisions that I have made.
b. Satan wants you and me to be distracted and take the wrong path. In life, you can be sure that you will always have temptation. However, if you ask God for wisdom, God will give this to you! You can have confidence in God’s promises. Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
c. Before God promises us that he will give us wisdom if we ask, God tells us to “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4).
d. God even promises us that if we listen to him, “you will have a long, good life.” This is the best hope!
3. Turn away from evil.
a. Do not detour into darkness or even set foot on that path. Stay away from it; don’t even go there! They feed on darkness and drink until they’re drunk on the wine of wickedness.
b. Often times, we tip-toe toward sin instead of run away the even the slightest temptation of sin. Proverbs encourages us to completely stay away from sin.
c. Every decision that you and I make is either moving us towards death or moving us toward a more abundant life. The analogy of food and wine is used here because it is easy to understand. We are either feasting on the “bread of life” or the “bread of wickedness”. We are either drinking from the true vine or the wine of violence. Run of the temptation of sin and cling to life.
4. Let God’s word for you “penetrate deep into your heart.”
a. God directs you and I to fill our thoughts with his word. This is how we stay steadfast, with our behaviors line up with our beliefs.
b. You’ll notice when reading towards the end of Proverbs 4, God is really focused on the heart. I think that this is because our greatest affections in life come from our heart. If we keep wisdom in our hearts our life will produce “springs of life”.
5. Let’s be practical.
a. Proverbs 4: 24-27 gives us practical advice on how to live.
b. Words that we say, what we look at, and where we go is going to be an indicator of whether or not you have or lack wisdom. Having pure words, a clear vision, and walking on a straight path are what will indicate to you that you are living out a life of wisdom. This is a way to measure whether or not your life is on track.
c. Instead of seeking advice from what you see on TV, on the Internet, remember that the only person that you should really seek advice from is God and his word. I encourage you to find Godly mentors, and root yourself with the belt of truth (God’s word!).
6. Be encouraged.
a. Hebrews 10:35 states “Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!”
b. God’s word promises you and I that there is great reward in having confident trust in Jesus.
c. Unfortunately, it is so easy seek confidence in what the world wants you to be chasing after – such as, exceling at sports, winning at a competition, being popular, and even going after a lofty career. But, Hebrews 10:35 does NOT tell us to be confident in your worldly endeavors, but instead tells us to be confident in who God is. You should be confident in who GOD is IN YOU. Culture bombards with messages that tear you down, but God wants to speak truth into your life that you can always be confident in Him!
d. Your identity can only truly be found in being the person God says you are. Confidence is found in God’s plan for you. Anywhere else that you see confidence other than God, is simply a delusion. Confidence isn’t based on what you can bring to the table, instead, it is based on what you never could bring to the table on your own. When we realize that confidence is found in God, we stop searching for the right things in the wrong places. Let God give you your identity.
e. Remember who you are and what is of the utmost importance to you.
f. Don’t be afraid to communicate to others what your boundaries are because God is your entity and your confidence is found in God.
Pick a bible verse that we went over in today’s lesson to write down in locations that you are going to be forced to look at daily. For example, your mirror, your car, or your screensaver. Pick the bible verse that really speaks to you and encourages your behaviors to line up with your beliefs about God.