March 8, 2010

Proverbs Study – Chapter Four: Applying God’s Word to Everyday Life

I can’t believe four weeks have passed so quickly. As we end this study, my heart is sad. I have loved every minute of our time together. God has taught me much through my time of preparation as well as through your candid answers and comments. Your words reveal that God has been faithfully been at work in and through our time together.

Even though I cannot see you face to face, I have prayed for you. You have shared from the depths of your heart, and that means so much to me. It has been my joy to walk side by side with you through the living and active Word of God. My prayer as we have studied Proverbs together is that you have seen how it speaks to the situations, opportunities, issues, questions, and decisions you may encounter. May He now take all that we have learned, and what we will learn this week, and plant it deep within our hearts so that it will take root and begin real life transformation.

So, before we say goodbye, let’s open our Bibles one more time. Your only reading this week will be what you find in your homework. So please, grab your cup of coffee (or sweet tea), your Bible, and your journal, and let’s join God in His Word.

We have talked about wise choices these past few weeks. I think all of us, when faced with a problem or question, truly desire to make the wise choice. We want to do the wise thing. But we do not always know what that is. Sometimes the answer to our question is not spelled out in Scripture. There is no chapter number. There is no page number. We can infer from God’s Word what He wants us to do, but it is not stated in black and white. So, when there is no page number, when there is no verse speaking directly to your situation, what do you do?

HOLY SPIRIT

First, we look to John 14:15-18.

Jesus spent three years walking side by side with His disciples. He taught them all the knew, encouraged them daily, and they depended on Him for all their needs. But, Jesus knew he had to leave them. He knew that when He departed they would feel frightened and abandoned. He wanted to comfort them and prepare them, so He spoke these words:

If you love Me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with yo and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

Jesus was speaking some radical, powerful words to His disciples. He told them that the Spirit of Truth that at that time was living with them would soon be in them. Think about the ramifications of that promise. The Spirit of the Living God would come to live inside of each one of them. God made good on this promise and transformed this bumbling, fearful group of misfits into some of the greatest evangelists that ever lived.

God desires the same result in each of our lives. The Spirit of God dwells inside you and me. It is the gift of His Spirit that allows us to love the unlovable, overcome the unthinkable, and believe the impossible. And what’s even more amazing is that God gives us this gift without measure!

The Holy Spirit is how we understand God’s Word and His Will for our lives. When we don’t know what to do or what steps to take, we need only ask God to fill us with more of His Holy spirit and manifest His Presence in a very real way in our lives.

WISE COUNSEL

Sometimes after much time in God’s Word and prayer, we still struggle to hear His “answer.” That is when we go back to our first lesson. Solomon repeatedly tells us that one of the secrets to being wise and to making wise decisions is to surround yourself with wise people.

Wise people seek wise counsel.

Listen to these verses:

Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance. Proverbs 1:5

The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faith. Proverbs 10:8

People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray. Proverbs 10:17

The heartfelt counsel of a [godly] friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9

Plans succeed through good counsel. Proverbs 20:18a

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15

When we are confused and cannot “see” or “hear” God’s leading in a particular matter, we should pray for the Lord to bring us wise counsel. She might be a friend, a mentor, a parent, a spouse, a pastor, or a teacher. But how can we ensure that the one whom we choose really is “wise” counsel?

Ask yourselves three questions:

Is she a godly person?

Does she spend time in and know the Word of God? Is she a woman of prayer? Does she surround herself with godly friends? If you see evidence of these in her life, you can be assured she will provide wise counsel.

Has she been down the path upon which I am traveling?

As a mother of a teenage daughter, I seek out godly women with daughters a few years ahead of mine. They have completed the journey on which I am about to embark. They have godly wisdom as well as practical experience. Ask yourselves: Do their lives glorify God? Are the choices they have made in marriage, parenting, career (or whatever your issue) God-honoring?

Is this someone who will speak truth to me?

Yes, you want wisdom from someone who will speak truth to you even when it is difficult. Anyone can tell you what you want to hear. A godly advisor is not afraid to speak truth in love. They have no mixed motives. Their hearts are pure.

One day I received an e-mail from a good friend and someone with whom I was a co-leader in Bible study. She sent the e-mail to a large distribution list. In it, she jokingly used crude and foul language. It bothered me. We had been in Bible study together for years and everyone knew it. I prayed about whether or not to speak to her. I feared risking our friendship. But, her words continued to play repeatedly in my mind. I knew God wanted me to speak truth to her.

Finally, I obeyed and sent her an e-mail. I shared how her words not only reflected poorly on her but also on us as Christians and as leaders in our Bible study. I felt sick as I pressed “send.” Immediately after I sent it, I prayed for her heart to receive it in the love with which it was sent.

Her response amazed me. She was so appreciative and said she never once thought about the effect or impact her e-mail would have on God, His character, on her, and on our study. We had a great conversation about how we are salt and light in this world. How we need be in the world but not of it. She thanked me for holding her accountable. It was a wonderful place of trust and growth in our friendship. Since that time, she has done the same for me.

Godly friends will lead you back to God’s Word every time. Godly friends will pray for you and encourage you every step of the way. The will not give a flip answer; they will wait to hear from God. They will speak TRUTH in LOVE.

As we end our time together, never forget….God gave us His Word so that our faith would grow.

Romans 10:17 says,

Faith comes hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of God.

God gave us His Word to speak into our lives today.

2 Timothy 3:16 says,

All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that men of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible is a book written by God to be read by us so that we may KNOW God and KNOW who we are in Him. No matter where you are…seeking Him for the first time, a new Christian, or someone who has walked with Him for years, He will meet you where you are. But, it is up to you. No one else can take your journey for you. He is waiting to reveal Himself and His wonderful plan for your life!!

Answer the following questions. You can do as few or as many as you have time. May God take whatever time you have and use it to speak a fresh Word in His heart.

Meet me here next week and share your comments about the study, most especially how God used it in your life and the life of your family. We will share these comments with the publishers to whom I have submitted the Proverbs curriculum. From the comments I receive, I will select a name to receive a copy of the full 5 week curriculum.

1. As you follow the path of wisdom and walk in the righteousness that is yours in Christ, God promises many blessings. The first is divine guidance and direction. Read the following verses and share what you learn:

Proverbs 10:9 Proverbs 11:3, 5 Proverbs 13:6 Proverbs 14:16, 26 Proverbs 16:1, 3, 9

Proverbs 19:21 Proverbs 20:24 (relate to Proverbs 3:5-6) Proverbs 21:5, 21, 23

Proverbs 23:19-21, 29-35

2. Read Proverbs 8:17-21 and Philippians 4:19. What does God promise in these verses?

3. Read Matthew 11:28-30. God wants you to trust Him with your needs. Let’s pray together for you to surrender…your needs, your doubts, your questions, your burdens, and your frustrations and trust Him to take care of them today.

Heavenly Father, I thank You that You promise me a sound mind, one uncluttered by fear, anxiety, and worry. I ask You help me to trust You and trust Your Word. Help me to hand [blank] over to You. May the Truth of Your Word be firmly established in my heart so that my faith in You grows brighter and stronger and my worries, fears, and anxieties grow dim. I know that trusting You with these things is a choice, and I CHOOSE today to trust You. May my faith from this day forward be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Instill in me a confidence that You will work everything – all that concerns me, that keeps me awake, that makes my heart race, that causes stress and headaches – together for good to accomplish Your plan and Your purposes for my life. Father, Your Word says that without faith it is impossible to please You and that she who comes to You must believe that You are who You say You are and that You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You. Today, Lord I believe You , and I commit to diligently seek You in the midst of my circumstances. I ask for Your peace and Your blessings as I take this step. In Jesus Name. Amen.

4. Another blessing we receive as we walk the path of righteousness is godly counsel. However, as with other blessings it requires ears to hear and a heart to obey. Read the following verses and note what you learn:

Proverbs 10:32 Proverbs 12:15, 26 Proverbs 13:14, 20 Proverbs 14:7 Proverbs 18:4

Proverbs 25:19 Proverbs 27:9, 17 Proverbs 15:7, 22

5. When a problem arises in your life, to whom or what do you turn first? Scripture warns against relying on human wisdom and ungodly counsel. Instead God directs us to listen to the experience of those who have journeyed the path of wisdom before us. Name some godly influences and how they have impacted your life. Take a moment to drop them a note or an e-mail and thank them for what they have meant in your life.

6. Part of God’s plan also requires wise women willingly accept discipline. Read the following verses and share what you learn:

Proverbs 10:17 Proverbs 13:1, 18, 24 Proverbs 15:5, 31-32 Proverbs 16:20

Proverbs 18:15 Proverbs 19:18 Proverbs 29:18, 19 2 Timothy 3:16

Is it hard for you to accept that sometimes God may use His Word to discipline and correct you? How do you respond when you hear His Word correcting you?

7. Proverbs 27:19 says, As water reflects a face, so a [woman's] heart reflects the [woman]. I hope you have learned through these past weeks that the condition of your heart reflects your true character. Honestly examine your heart today.

What are the parts of your heart you love and that are pleasing to the Lord. And YES, you must do this exercise!!! There are wonderful parts of you that God has created, shaped, and molded. Pray for Him to open your eyes to see them. Write a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking Him and praising Him for those beautiful parts of you that reflect His heart and His love.

Now what are the parts of your heart that sadden you, that fail to reflect God’s character. As you do this, read Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 51, both written by King David. Write a prayer asking the Lord to help you change these parts of your heart and make your heart more like His.

8. Read Proverbs 24:3-4. These past few weeks, you have learned how to gain a heart of wisdom and how to seek out God’s treasures. As you consider this verse, ask the Lord how to reveal to you how you can live out these truths in your home? How can you build your house? Share your ideas with us.

LOVE YOU GIRLS!! ENJOY YOUR WEEK AND SEE YOU HERE NEXT WEEK TO HEAR WHAT’S ON YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR NEXT STEPS!!!

Comments

  1. Wendy, this study has been wonderful. You make studying the Scripture interesting & thought provoking. I look forward to seeing it in print. One word to your publishers, please ask them to publish your study electronically. I use the Kindle & find it almost impossible to find good Christians books that I can download to my Kindle. If publishers can do sudoku on the Kindle they should be able to do a bible study. Thank you.
    Blessings & Peace Mary

  2. patricia e says:

    Wendy,
    Thank you for your work with this study. You and provided me as well as others an indepth look into the book of Proverbs. There are so many verses that provide guidance and wisdom and much needed support on so many levels. I will keep these last 4 weeks of lessons and go back and redo many times over. You have reminded me that I can never have enough knowledge and that I need to keep in His word daily. To connect with verses that speak to me on a daily basis and to become familiar so much so that I can recall when needed. I need to work on that. I was drawn to Proverbs 24:3-4. It all starts with a good foundation and we need to build upon that each and every day. That what is not seen is the most important piece of that building foundation. To trust that He will provide what I need and to surrender everything to Him and know that he will take care of me and be with me always. Thank you Wendy for sharing so much of your heart to us.xx

  3. Lynn - JnL4God says:

    Wendy,
    Thanks for the nice comment on last weeks study. I'm working thru and will come back when finished. Have a great day!
    Lynn

  4. Sylvia Goode Basham says:

    The great thing about this online study is that if I couldn't make it here yesterday, you're still all here waiting for me today :-) Looking forward to digging in this week….

  5. Wendelijn says:

    Wendy just thanks for all the work you've done, youre such a shining example and as proverbs is one of my favorite books I have enjoyed it very much, even sent the study to a searching for The Truth friend of mine.

    Thanks and much blessings,

    Wendelijn

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Wendy for doing this online for those of us that don't live nearby. I am still catching up since I started late, but am loving every minute. So thankful for my friend for suggesting your name and study to me. I will continue to return here and learn from your Godly wisdom.

    Thank you,
    Gwin

  7. Lynn - JnL4God says:

    Wendy this is so good. I am not quite through it all but will finish up tomorrow. Fri morning I finished the reading and got done with 1-5 now I just need to finish 6-8. What I'm really seeing is that I need to tighten my lips even more. Sometimes we think we are ok in an area and it takes a study like this for God to speak into your heart. I found some areas that I want to go to the next level in. God is so good He baby steps us, pushing and nudging and I feel His nudge, come closer, go deeper, its time for the next step – but first lets tighten those lips. :) Thank you I have really enjoyed this study. Ever feel like something was just for you. But I know, God's so good He can make it just for all of us and reach each of us where we are.
    Lynn

  8. Danielle says:

    It is the gift of His Spirit that allows us to love the unlovable, overcome the unthinkable, and believe the impossible. This struck me in such a powerful way. There are so many things in our lives that we think we have the power to do, that we have the power to overcome, but it's truly only through God, through His Spirit that we are empowered for great things.

    Godly friends will lead you back to God's word every time. I prayed for years that God would bring a True Sister into my life… He brought me 3, and then some! I know that I can go to them for anything and always get what I need. It may not be what I want to hear sometimes, but in the long run, it's always to my benefit.

    Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established. How many times in my life have I gone off half cocked without asking the LORD for direction and then later realized it was so off base? Too many to count. I should be giving my hopes, dreams, and wants to God and He will take care of them. He will establish them and place them on the Solid Rock if they are of His will and purpose for my life.

    You prayed… May the Truth of Your Word be firmly established in my heart so that my faith in You grows brighter and stronger and my worries, fears, and anxieties grow dim. Oh, my it be. This truly resonated with me. Especially right now when I feel there is so much to do, so much to accomplish and I just don't have it in me to complete even one thing. But God is so able. He can have it all done, and done right, if I would just get over myself and my worries.

    Number 6 said: Part of God's plan also requires wise women willingly accept discipline. That is such a hard thing to admit. To say that I need discipline, and to accept it. How often do we tell our children that discipline is for their own good and that we do it because we love them. So true with ourselves and our walk with the LORD.

  9. Rosemarie says:

    I am just starting this study with my daughters (ages 21 & 15). So excited already with what I have read. I know God is going to show up and speak to us in wonderous ways. Just looking for a bit of clarification. Is it a 4 week or 5 week study? I see notes/lessons/homework for 4 weeks, but mentions in several places of 5 week study? Don’t want to miss a moment of it! Thank you & God Bless.

  10. Rosemarie, I taught it live here in Charlotte as a 5 week study but made it 4 weeks on-line…that is probably the confusion. so sorry if my wording mixed the two up!!

    Blessings,

    Wendy

    • Rosemarie says:

      Thanks so much for clearing that up!!! My girls and I are going to be starting this study together soon. So looking forward to what God will do! Be blessed and thank you for your ministry. Has blessed me in so many ways, and I hope, helped me be a blessing to others!

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