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Sunday, 29 July 2012

'GUARDRAILS'


Rev. Juliet Schimp
-by Rev. Juliet Schimpf   

Rev. Juliet Schimpf  is the Minister of 
First Baptist  Church in Perth, Ontario:

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LINK to CFRA broadcast of Sunday, July 29th, 2012)
http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/6/7872/good_news_011_july29.mp3
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Broadcast Notes:
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Guardrails’

*  Definition of “guardrails” (taken from the work of Andy Stanley):
*  A system designed to keep vehicles from straying    into dangerous or off-limit areas.
*  Nobody pays attention to guardrails, unless you need one.  Invisible part of our driving experience.
*  3 main areas for guardrails:  bridges (little margin for error); medians (when close    to others moving in opposite direction); curves (unexpected conditions in
roadside  conditions).
*  guardrails are not located on the most dangerous part of the road; they are in place a few feet from the most
dangerous part--theory of guardrail:  keep us from moving into the area of danger.....you will do less
            damage to yourself and the car if you hit the guardrail
            *  Guardrails are in place to protect us when we drive: 
            they both direct and protect

* According to Chris Stevens, a “guardrail” applied to our own lives can be defined as the following: "A personal standard of behaviour that becomes a matter of conscience."
*  Personal "guardrails" guide your conscience.  Standards of behaviour that, if you violate, you will feel guilty (i.e. your conscience is bothered).  If you "bump up against it", your conscience is pricked, and you receive a warning regarding finances, dating, marriage, etc.
*  We need to set up some "personal guardrails" so that we have some "conscience crashes" before heading head-on into the terminal areas.
* The Proverbs located within the Bible are like guardrails:  when applied to our lives, they direct us and protect us.


THIS WEEK:  I WANT TO PROVIDE A GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF PROVERBS—NAMELY, I WANT TO DISCUSS:

1.  THE BIG IDEA
2.  THE BASIC TEST
3.  THE BEST PATH


1.  THE BIG IDEA
*  The book of Proverbs belongs to what scholars call the "wisdom literature" of the Old Testament, which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes
*  In 1:1, 10:1, and 25:1, we're told that King Solomon is the author of the proverbs in this book.  But other servants, guided by God's Spirit, were also involved in producing this book.  "The men of Hezekiah" (Proverb 25:1) were a group of scholars in King Hezekiah's day (700 BC) who compiled the material recorded in chapters 25-29.  In Proverbs 30 and 31, you meet "Agur the son of Jakeh" and "King Lemuel" (although many scholars think "Lemuel" was another name for Solomon.  Bottom line:  most of the material in this book of the Bible came from King Solomon.
*  The Book of Proverbs is all about wisdom:  the words "wise" and "wisdom" are used at least 125 times, because the aim of the book is to help us acquire and apply god's wisdom to the decisions and activities of daily life.
*  Derek Kidner:  "The book of Proverbs opens by breaking up the plain daylight of wisdom into its rainbow of constituent colours.  These all shade into one another, and any one of them can be used to represent the whole; yet there is some value in seeing them momentarily analysed and grouped."
*  1:2a, 3a:  "Instruction" or "training"--the first synonym for wisdom, giving notice at once that wisdom will be hard-won, a quality of character as much as of the mind
* 1:2b:  The second synonym for wisdom is "understanding" or "insight"--and it usually appears alongside the words "discern between" (e.g. "discern between good and evil")
*  1:3a:  The third synonym is "wise dealing"--i.e. good sense, practical wisdom, savoir-faire...Its particular character shows in its verb-form, which often means        "be successful"
*  1:4a:  “shrewdness and “discretion”:  the godly woman or man is in the best sense a man of affairs, who takes the trouble to know his way about, and plan his course realistically
*  1:5  "knowledge" and “learning"--implying not so much an informed mind as a knowing of truth and     indeed of God himself

*  Wisdom is no respector of persons.  It is available to everyone--regardless of race, wealth, profession, even intelligence!
*  Education does not necessarily yield wisdom:  I've   met educated fools, and uneducated sages.
*  Intelligence does not necessarily yield wisdom:  I've met intelligent fools, and I've met unintelligent sages.
*  Aging does not necessarily yield wisdom:  I've met   foolish elderly folks, and I've met wise young people.
*  Your past does not necessarily hinder your wisdom.  If you have done something foolish; do not despair:  Proverbs 8:1-4  "Wisdom has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; 'Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!  To him who lacks understanding she says, Come, eat of my food..."

Here's the “big idea” of this book is located in 1:7  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
* There are at least 18 references to "the fear of the Lord" in Proverbs. 
            *  Charles Bridges:  "But what is this fear of the Lord?  It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father's law.  His wrath is so bitter, and His love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please Him, and--because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptations--a holy watchfulness and fear 'that he might not sin against Him."
            *  Several benefits to "the fear of the Lord"--let me highlight just a few:

                        a.  Proverbs 10:27  "The fear of the Lord prolongs life,                                         but the years of the wicked will be shortened."
b.  Proverbs 3:7  "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones."

2.  THE BASIC TEST
*  Wisdom was an important commodity in the ancient Near East.  Every ruler had his council of "wise men" whom he consulted when making important decisions--Joseph was considered a wise man in Egypt and Daniel and his friends were honored for their wisdom while serving in Babylon. 
*  God wants His children today to acquire wisdom:  Ephesians 5:15  "walk circumspectly [carefully], not as fools but as wise"
*  To the ancient Jew, wisdom was much more than simply good advice:
*  Dr.  Roy Zuck's definition:  "Wisdom meant being skillful and successful in one's relationships and responsibilities...observing and following the Creator's principles of order in the moral universe."
*  The word translated "knowledge" comes from a Hebrew root that describes skill in hunting (Gen. 25:27), sailing (2 Chron. 8:18), and playing a musical instrument (1 Sam. 16:16). 
*  The Hebrew root for "learning" means "to lay hold of, to grasp, to acquire or buy."
            *  The word translated "counsel" is related to the verb "to steer a ship"

The “basic test” concerning wisdom is for the person with knowledge to simultaneously obey God.  Let’s look at the life example of Solomon to see whether or not he passed the “basic test”.

*  God gave Solomon great wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-15), so that people came from the ends of the earth to listen to him and returned home amazed (1 Kings 4:29-34; Matt. 12:42)

*  God blessed the first 20 years of Solomon's reign.  He had peace on every side of his kingdom, God blessed him with wealth (an annual income equivalent to $ 328 million in our day); he completed the temple that David his father instructed him to build; he designed and built for himself a magnificent palace.

*  Solomon did not pay attention to the road signs--to the speed limits!

*  SIN 1:  he did not trust the protection of Lord:  God forbade the kings of Israel from accumulating horses and chariots because those could lead a king away from trusting olely in the Lord as his protector (Deut. 17:16)  But Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses (1 Kings 4:26)
*  SIN 2:  he did not trust the provision of the Lord.  The Lord forbade the kings of Israel from marrying foreign women and from amassing large amounts of wealth (Deut. 17:17), but Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3) And he amassed great wealth!

*It would seem, then, that Solomon failed “the basic test” concerning wisdom—namely, he did not apply his knowledge to his life in a way that obeyed and honored God.

3.  THE BEST PATH
*  The first 9 chapters of Proverbs form a unit in which the emphasis is on "wisdom" and "folly" personified as two women:

Proverbs 1:20-23  "Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square.  At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:  "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?  And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?  Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you..."

*  In chapters 1, 8, and 9, Wisdom calls to men and women to follow her and enjoy salvation, wealth, integrity, truth, and life. 
*  In chapters 5, 6, 7, folly calls to the same people and offers them immediate satisfaction but doesn't warn them of the tragic consequences of rejecting Wisdom: condemnation, poverty, wickedness, deceit, and death.

*  According to Andy Stanley, “THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PATH” is the following:  “Direction--not intention--determines our destination”

*           It is the direction that you are currently traveling—
relationally, financially, spiritually—that will determine where you end up in each of those respective areas.  This is true regardless of your goals, your hopes, your education, your dreams, your wishes, or your wants.  The principle of the path trumps all those things." 

*  Think of high level government officials who fall from scandal:  John Edwards, the former U.S. Senator.  How did he suddenly fall?  Actually, there was nothing sudden about his undoing.  His fall was inevitable, and the end of this story was determined years ago when he chose a path that, from the beginning, had dishonor, disgrace, and dismissal as the destination.
*  NASB  Proverbs 27:12  "A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty."  [NLT  A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.  The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”]

*  There's always something about the alternate routes that is powerfully appealing:  it promises shortcuts or more direct and oftentimes pleasurable routes to wherever it is we are trying to go:

            “zero percent financing and no money down...”
            “she makes me feel like I used to feel....”
            “he's mean to me....but he's rich....”
            “that's how business is done here.....”
            “no payments for twelve months....”

*  But the Bible challenges us to follow God’s path.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths."

And so, friends, we need to choose the right path, today. We need to choose the path of wisdom, not folly. Because it is direction (that’s where we’re headed) ---and not intention – that will determine our ultimate destination.

As you can see, the Book of Proverbs is very helpful for directing our lives. Would you join with me in the coming days and weeks to live a life that chooses Proverbs, and chooses wisdom over folly?

Remember the big idea was to fear the Lord; and the basic test was to obey the Lord once He has given us wisdom, and then the best path wisdom over folly.

Would you join with me in prayer?

“Our gracious and Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word. We thank you that it guides us and protects us just like guardrails protect vehicles along the road.

Our Heavenly Father, we need wisdom, badly. We live in a falling world and we need your wisdom, and we ask for it this hour. God I pray for that listener who has not yet surrendered his or her life to you. I pray that they would stop running from you, and just give up and admit that you are God and we are not.

God, we pray this hour that we will love wisdom, and that we will fear the Lord at all times, for that is the beginning of wisdom. Forgive us, Lord, for the pride in our lives; for thinking that we can muster up intelligence. We know that isn’t true. James tells us that the wisdom that is pure and true, actually comes from above, not below; and so, Lord, we cry out for your wisdom. We choose this hour to fear you above all else. Help us, God, to obey, once we cry out for your wisdom. Help us to obey your tenets, to obey your word, for that is the basic test.

And lastly, help us to get on the right path. I’m praying, right now, for that listener who knows that he or she is on the wrong path. Maybe they’re just walking headlong into massive debt. Or maybe they’re seeking love in all the wrong place, perhaps even outside of marriage. I pray that that person would immediately, right now, be convicted by the Holy Spirit, and know that he or she is on the path of folly.

God, we thank you that you are merciful, and that you are the God of a thousand fresh chances; and so I pray that you just gently get us back on the right path: namely the path of wisdom. For we want our lives to bring glory to you in all we say and do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Rev. Juliet Scimpf

To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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