Good Morning!! May I tell you how you have blessed me this past week as you have shared what God has taught you in His Word. For some of you this is your very first Bible study, and I am OVERJOYED and HONORED the Lord brought you here to begin that journey.
Today we are talking about what it means to walk in obedience to God’s Word. God sets boundaries for us in His Word. Those boundaries are meant to protect us, our families, and our relationships from evil and harm. Let’s travel forward a few centuries to the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote this letter to an audience of Jewish and Gentile believers who made up the Ephesian church. Paul knew these people were desperately trying to live a godly life in a pagan culture. There were temptations all around. Their culture was pulling them in one direction and their faith in another.
Does that sound familiar? It could easily describe our world today.
In Ephesians 5:15 Paul writes,
Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…
In the original Greek language it says, walk circumspectly. Circumspectly derives from the Greek word “akrothinion,” which expresses accuracy. By using this word, God is asking us to walk accurately and carefully according to His Word. This is where our struggle as humans begins. More often than not, the world, our feelings, and/or our emotions direct us one way and God another. What our culture deems acceptable and what God says is acceptable often conflict.
Sometimes the lines are hard to draw. The reality is very few of us intentionally plan to make bad choices. But we also do not plan NOT to make bad choices. Quite often it’s simply that we speak and/or make decisions without much thought, without thinking through all the consequences. We make small compromises in what seem to be minor decisions. And then one day those small decisions eventually turn into something bigger that can destroy our families, our marriages, and our lives.
God gives us the boundaries, rules, and commandments to obey. If we learn and commit to obey those ahead of time, when we are faced with the choice, our decision is already made. We do not even have to think about it.
Paul puts us on the right path in Ephesians 5:15-17 because he tells us how to plan NOT to make bad choices:
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise….Don’t act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (NLT)
Proverbs teaches fools live in the world. Though we too live in the world, we are not to be of it. Listen to Romans 12:2:
Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (NLT)
Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (NIV)
As we mature in our walk with God, overtime we become more and more like Him and less and less like the world. How do we accomplish this? By renewing our minds? How do we do this? By lining our thinking up with God’s.
The best way I can teach this is by sharing a story.
I vividly remember one night last summer when I had prepared a wonderful dinner for my family as a surprise. Monty told me earlier in the day that he would be home at 6:30, so I planned dinner to be ready at 6:30. The kids and I sat down for dinner at 6:30…no Dad. 6:35…no Dad. 6:45…no Dad. No call from Dad. By 6:50, when the phone finally did ring, I was fuming and did not answer. I told the kids to eat. When he finally walked in at 7:00, I was so angry I would not even look at him or speak to him.
I reacted selfishly based on my hurt feelings and my emotions.
Friends, this night would have ended so differently had I been prepared with God’s Word in my heart and on my mind. I would have had a weapon to combat my feelings and emotions. Instead, they ran wild.
Let’s replay the night but this time I have prepared my mind. 6:30 arrives, no Monty. The thoughts enter my mind: Where is he? Why hasn’t he called? He knows we eat at 6:30 every night. He always calls when he is late. My anger begins to rise as time ticks away. But then I remember some verses I posted above my kitchen sink. I walk over and read them:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
A fool gives full vent to [her] anger, but a wise [woman] keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
In the heat of my anger, I look up and read the powerful, life-giving, life-transforming, mind-renewing words of my Savior who only wants the very best for me, my marriage, and my family. When I read them, I am reminded of God’s character and who He wants me to be. The Holy Spirit softens my heart. So when the phone rings at 6:50, I answer it. I hear my husband’s sincere apology and accept it. He walks in the door at 7:00, after a long day’s work, forgiven and ready to enjoy a wonderful meal with his family…experiencing grace, love, forgiveness, and joy.
Which is the better scenario?
If there are places in your life where you struggle to live out God’s Truth, where you follow the ways of the world rather than the ways of God. Don’t give up. Find verses that address your situation. Read them. Immerse yourself in them. Pray them. Apply them. Persevere. Believe God at His word. He will renew your mind and do a mighty work in your specific circumstances. As you continually expose your heart and mind to Truth, He will renew your mind.
Let today be the day you commit to feed the Spirit of God living within you, yield to His control, submit to His Word, and renew your mind, so He can transform your life, your marriage, your family, your job, and/or your home.
Homework: Read Proverbs Chapters Three and Four and answer the following questions. You can do as few or as little as you have time. May God take whatever time you have and use it to speak a fresh Word into your heart.
1. In Proverbs 3:1-12 Solomon gives four commands that if obeyed result in great blessings. Find the four commands and the resulting blessings/rewards. (Hint: Proverbs 3:5-6, 3:7-8, 3:9-10, and 3:11-12).
2. In Proverbs 1:22-33 explain what wisdom says to fools.
3. Read the following verses and explain why in our world today, people reject the wisdom of God.
a. Mark 4:3-20 b. John 3:19 c. 1 Corinthians 2:14
4. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” One author writes that the kind of trust spoken of here means to “lie helpless face down.” It is placing your entire confidence in God…in who He says He is, in His wisdom, His power, and His goodness.”
How are you at trusting God wholeheartedly?
What, if anything, keeps you from trusting God with your whole heart?
What would help you trust Him more?
5. What is the promised blessings in Proverbs 3:6b?
Upon what is the fulfillment of this promised conditioned? (hint: Judges 2:17)
Read Romans 12:2. If you choose to walk in obedience to this command, what, if anything, would you have to change in your life?
6. Read Colossians 2:2-3. Paul writes these words to the church at Colosse because he wants to encourage them. he wants them to be filled with a rich and deep understanding of God that cannot be shaken no matter what troubles may come. When all other comforts fail, when answers cannot be found, when sense cannot be made of circumstances, Paul wants them to know the answers will be found in Christ.
Read Habakkuk 3:17-18. Habakkuk learns a great lesson of faith – to trust in God’s providence and His Wisdom regardless of circumstances. What do his words speak to you today in your circumstances.
7. Read Proverbs 4:10-12, 18. Describe the path of wisdom. Contrast the path of wickedness as described in Proverbs 4:14-17, 19. What is wisdom’s advice to the wise in these verses?
8. Does the path of wisdom described in Proverbs differ from the path upon which you have been traveling? How?
9. Read Proverbs 4:20-21, 23-27. This is one of my favorite passages.
List the body parts Solomon speaks of and the instructions given for each one.
Write out Proverbs 4:22. Based on what you have studied, what does this verse speak to you personally?
Heavenly Father, Creator and Author of Life, I come before You with a thankful heart for all that You have taught me this week. Thank You for revealing Truth to me! I humbled myself before You and asked that You fill me with Your Spirit of Truth and You were faithful to do so. Help me never to forget all that You have taught me. Remind me daily that within me I have all the riches and treasures of Your wisdom and knowledge. Continue to give me a heart that loves Truth and seeks after Truth above all else. Keep my eyes fixed on You. Guard my heart. If I ever turn from Your path, reveal Yourself to me in very real and powerful ways and draw me back. Make my heart tender to hear Your voice and give me recall of all that I have learned so that I may stick with You. I love You, Lord. AMEN.