Sunday February 10 PM Sermon
5 Things Every Child Needs to KnowBr Proverbs 4
OPEN IN YOUR BIBLES TO PROVERBS 4
Admiral Richard Byrd told a story of some tense moments during his first expedition to the South Pole. For a time he was living alone in an isolated hut, far from any other members of the expedition. One day he left the hut, only to be engulfed in a sudden blizzard which left him hopelessly lost. There was nothing to give him any sense of direction. If he failed to find his hut, chances are that he would freeze in the storm. He had a long pole which he always carried to feel for holes in the ice, so he stuck it in the snow & tied a scarf to it. "That was my center," he said. "If I failed to find my hut, I could return to the center & try again." Three times he tried & failed.
In his fourth attempt, he stumbled upon his hut. Just as the pole & scarf were the center to which Admiral Byrd continually returned & by which his life was saved, so in our society the home is the center.
As we come into this world & as we grow up amid the complexities of life, it is the home which is our center. To it we return again & again. In it we find rest & strength. It furnishes us a base from which to operate & without it we are unstable & insecure.
The Book of Proverbs is written like a father teaching his son.
No responsibility is more important . . . no journey more incredible . . . no task more significant . . . than parenthood.
*A pilot had spent years building an antique prop plane. One day, he decided to take his treasured plane for a flight. After carefully placing his plane on the runway, he went to the nose of the aircraft and spun the propeller. The engine sputtered for a few seconds and then settled into a sweet idle as all of the cylinders began firing. The pilot kicked the blocks from under the tires & was making his way around the plane when something unexpected happened. Suddenly, the airplane darted forward & proceeded down the runway. It quickly picked up speed and in a matter of seconds was airborne. The pilot stood sadly & watched his plane circle overhead before it headed out toward the Atlantic Ocean. He never saw his beloved plane again.
Like the pilot, parents pour their energy & emotion into the growth and development of their children. Time is spent "constructing, fine-tuning, and, polishing," knowing that one day the child, too, will fly.
1. What do children need to know in order "to fly"?
2. Proverbs 4 presents five things every child needs to know.
The Book of Proverbs is written like a father teaching his son.
1. Again & again a new section starts with "my son" or its equivalent. Chapter 4 begins: Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And be attentive, that you may gain insight; For I give you good precepts: do not forsake my teaching (verses 1,2).
2. Then there is a new twist. One writer calls it "a charming little piece of autobiography": For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He also taught me, and said to me: "Let your heart retain (hold fast) my words; keep my commands, and live." (verses 3,4) The writer is Solomon. The father referred to is David, and, the mother is Bathsheba.
3. Solomon uses the phrase, "I was my father's son," to indicate that he & his father, David were close. We use a similar phrase today: "He's his daddy's boy," referring to similarities between father & son. "Tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother," also illustrates that Solomon & his mother had a special relationship.
4. Bathsheba had other children besides Solomon, but Solomon believed as if he was treated in a special manner. The mother of a dozen children said: "I love each one of them the best." Only a mother would understand that apparent contradiction.
WHAT DOES EVERY CHILD NEED TO KNOW?
EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW HE HAS PARENTS WHO LOVE HIM
Parents who love him so that he feels special to them. They love him so much that they will teach him what he needs to know. "Because I was loved," Solomon says, "my parents taught me."
The most meaningful teaching; life-changing teaching; takes place in an atmosphere of love.
1. This says something to Bible class teachers, etc., but most of all it says something to parents, doesn't it.
2. The most natural place to teach is the home.
3. The most powerful place in which to teach is a home where love abounds.
B. One afternoon while a father was mowing the yard, his four-year old daughter came to the back yard & shouted, "Daddy, how do you spell love?"
1. He gave her the four letters to the word love & she placed them in a drawing which she later proudly presented to those she loved.
2. How do you spell love? Spelling love is more than a matter of placing 4 letters of the alphabet together in a correct sequence.
3. We spell love as we express it & live it in our personal relationships. In that way, love may be the most misspelled word in people's vocabulary today.
C. Disastrous consequences result from misdirected & inadequate love.
1. The child whose parents have given her everything but the gift of their presence & love.
2. A battered spouse victimized by one who had earlier said, "I pledge to you my love."
3. The words whispered in the ear of a date as the car stops in front of a motel: "You love me, don't you?"
D. Children are asking the same question: "How do you spell love?"
1. Love can only be spelled with God's help.
2. In 1st John 4:7-, the apostle John said: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
E. Every child needs to know he has parents who love him.
1. Solomon did. He knew his parents loved him. He felt special to them. We see that in verse three. Our children need to know our love for them is not based on their grades, achievements, or, what they accomplish. Rather, it's an unconditional love. We love them because they are our kids. A gift from God.
2. Solomon knew his parents loved him because they taught him what he needed to know. We love our children so we take opportunities to teach them: hiking in the woods, sitting in the stands at a ballgame, eating around the dinner table, prayers at bedtime, allowing them to catch us reading the Bible.
3. In this atmosphere of love, Solomon tells what else his father, David had taught him.
EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING TO HIS PARENTS
Hear, my children, the instruction of a father . . . 4:1 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings . . . 4:10 My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them . . . 4:20-22
(Jesus many times would say, "He who has ears to hear let him hear.")
Every child needs to know the importance of listening to his parents because what they say comes from God.
1. The Lord gives wisdom, Solomon says (2:6).
2. Seeking God in prayer; opening His Word gives parents wisdom (James 1). So children are urged to listen to parents because what they say comes from God.
Children should also listen because a parent's own life experience has confirmed what God has said. A parent is able to speak with personal authority: "my law" (vs. 2), "my sayings" (vs. 10), "my words" (vs. 20).
1. Solomon now urges his students, readers, "Listen. I've been over this ground before. I've had experiences you have not had. I've been to the top of the mountain while you've just started up the slope."
(Mark Twain quote about dad getting smarter as Twain grew older)
Third, they should listen because this will be the best for them: Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a fair garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown (Proverbs 4:8,9).
1. To encourage the young person to listen, the father uses every possible approach. He appeals to their intellect, emotions, and will.
2. There is a message here for us today. Children did not automatically listen to their parents then; nor do they automatically listen to parents now.
3. They must be taught to listen, to be receptive to their parents' teachings.
This says something to children: learn to listen respectfully to your parents. After all, what they have to say is important.
E. This says something to parents: you must teach your child to be respectful & receptive.
1. At the same time, we need to be worthy of respect.
2. One way we do this is to live a life consistent with our teachings.
3. One of the most important ways to teach our children to listen respectfully is to treat them with respect! Solomon does not "talk down" to his readers, instead he takes care to explain both what is right and why it is right.
EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE IS A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM (Proverbs 4:5-9)
We go from two general principles to the first specific truth that was passed from David to Solomon, to Solomon's "children."
1. The importance of acquiring wisdom.
2, To this point in Proverbs, Solomon has again & again stressed the importance of wisdom: Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding (3:13).
B. Now Solomon notes that his father had emphasized the same thing in teaching him: For I was my father's son . . . He taught me, and said to me . . . Get wisdom, get understanding . . . Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you (Proverbs 4:3-6).
C. We have heard the story, in 1st Kings 3, of God offering Solomon whatever he desired - power, honor, wealth, etc.
1. Solomon asked for an understanding heart, for wisdom.
2. In Proverbs 4 we are told how Solomon was able to make such a wise choice; this was what he had been taught by his father. David taught Solomon many fine lessons (1st Kings 2:2- . . . David's final words to his son Solomon; 1st Chronicles 28:9; etc.)
3. But no lesson was more important than the need for wisdom. Listen to David's words to Solomon in 1st Chronicles 22:11-13: Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as He has spoken concerning you. Only, may the Lord grant you wisdom and understanding, that when He gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord commanded Moses for Israel.
D. No doubt Proverbs 4:5-9 is a summary of all David said to his son Solomon on the subject of wisdom.
1. Solomon is not talking about what often passes for wisdom, a worldly sophistication that Paul calls "the wisdom of the world" (1st Corinthians 1:20).
2. Rather he is talking about the "wisdom that is from above" (James 3:17), that has its origin in the very nature & character of God.
Wisdom is "seeing things as God sees them, understanding them as God understands them, striving to have (as best we can) the mind of God."
1. To impress upon his readers that nothing is more important than acquiring this wisdom, in verses 6 & 8, Solomon compares wisdom with a woman greatly to be desired: "Do not forsake her" "Love her" (vs. 6)
"Prize her highly" "Embrace her" (vs. 8)
2. Just as a person searches for the best companion, and when the choice has been made, he/she makes a lifetime commitment to that person, even more, should the person search for, and then hold on to wisdom that comes from God.
As parents we constantly teach our children priorities . . . that many things are important, but nothing is more important than learning what the Bible calls wisdom.
1. Attaining wisdom must be the most important thing to me regarding my agenda for my children.
2. More important than their being popular, making the team, etc.
3, Certainly we are proud of what our children achieve (I'll be glad to tell you about Erin & Brandon's achievements.)
4. Yet, we must convey to our children that their knowledge of God's Word & being right with God is more important than anything.
EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW THAT THERE ARE TWO WAYS HE CAN GO, AND THE NECESSITY OF CHOOSING THE RIGHT WAY (Proverbs 4:10-19)
In this section there is a contrast between the right path (vs. 11-13, 18) and the wrong path (vs. 14-17, 19).
1. This concept of two ways, one acceptable to God & the other unacceptable, is found throughout the Bible.
2. Jesus, for instance, encouraged His listeners: Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13,14
B. Today the world has largely lost sight of the concepts of right & wrong. People seldom think in terms of black & white; most everything has become a shade of gray.
C. To encourage his listeners to choose the right path, Solomon draws a sharp contrast
between the two paths.
1. The path that is right is the way of true freedom: When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:12
2. The right path is a straight & level pathway on which you can travel with speed and safety.
D. This is in contrast with the evil pathway that twists up & down, and, from side to side.
1. Some people are surprised that the right way is designated as the way of freedom. Many think of the good pathway only in terms of being "narrow" (as Jesus expressed it), having boundaries on the sides.
2. They exhaust themselves by trying first to break through the boundary on the left & then trying to crash through the boundary on the right, crying out against the restrictions.
3. If only they would learn that those boundaries have been set up for their protection, and if they would set their hearts to go in that way, they would learn that this road is not that hard to follow.
E. In contrast, "the path of the wicked" is the way of bondage: For the wicked cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made some one stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence (4:16,17).
1. Here is an upside down morality; here are people with perverted consciences. The conscience of one on the right path will not let him sleep if he has done wrong (he will make the call, write the letter, etc.); the conscience of one on the wrong path will not let him sleep unless he has done wrong.
2. Doing wrong becomes like a drug; the addict cannot rest until he gets his fix, so the wicked cannot rest until he has done all the wrong that he can.
3. The person who walks on the wrong path may think he is in control, but if he does not repent & turn back, in the end that wrong will control him.
F. Solomon says that the right path, the path of wisdom, is the way of life: Keep hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life vs. 13
1. Going in the right way is a matter of life & death.
2. Make every effort to hold on to what is right: keep hold, do not let go, guard her.
3. One might imagine an armored car guarding its bags of money or a museum guarding its treasures, but the picture is more vivid.
4. That which can be lost is not merely something of great value; it is life itself! Visualize a man lost in the wilderness grasping his compass, or, the drowning sailor clinging to a piece of floating wreckage
Solomon says that the right way is the way of light: But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day (vs. 18).
1. The picture is that of a sunrise, the sun peeking over the horizon, and then climbing higher & higher in the sky until all the earth is bathed in its life-giving rays.
2. As the young person strives to walk as God wants him to walk, the way of God will become clearer as the days go by.
3. As the song says, he will be "walking in sunlight" all of his journey until at last he enters that place where "the Lamb is the light" (Revelation 22:23).
4. In contrast, the wrong path is the way of darkness, the way of ignorance & danger: The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble (vs. 19).
a. The word translated "darkness" means thick darkness, the kind of darkness that can be felt, like the plague that came upon Egypt (Exodus 10:22).
b. Those who disobey God may believe they are the smart ones, the enlightened ones, but really they are stumbling along in darkness, heading toward the place of "outer darkness" (Matthew 25:30).
5. In fact the father now almost exhausts his vocabulary to urge his boy to stay away from the wrong path: Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on (vs. 14,15).
a. A teenager might call this repetition "nagging"; parents call it "trying to get across the point."
b. The father certainly understood how easily his son could be tempted, so he begs his child again & again to avoid temptation: Don't check it out; don't take a peek to see what it is like. Don't see how close you can come to it.
c. Stay as far away from sin as you can. Stay away from that first drink, that first joint, that first bet, etc.
Every child needs to know this. As parents, we do our best to teach them, to show them the value of the right path.
EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW THAT THE WAY TO DO RIGHT IS
TO KEEP HIS HEART RIGHT (Proverbs 4:20-27)
This final section is a fascinating one. Are you ready for a thorough spiritual "medical examination"?
1. Many parts of the body are mentioned: Ear (vs. 20) Eyes (21-25) Mouth (24) Feet (26,27) Hand (27)
2. Yet, the emphasis is on the heart (21,23): the center of the intellect, emotions, will. *What's the key to telling the truth, not slandering others? Keeping your heart right: Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).
3. If we are to be right & do right we must keep the heart right: Keep your heart with all vigilance; (guard it, protect it) for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Parents, we have no more important task than to teach our children to guard their hearts & minds . . . to become sensitive to the long-lasting effects of what they think, see, and listen to. To teach them to think on things that are honest, just, pure (Phil. 4:8).
EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW . . .
*He Has Parents Who Love Him
*The Importance of Listening to His Parents
*The Most Important Thing in Life is a Knowledge of God &
A Right Relationship With Him
*There Are Two Ways He Can Go, and, the Necessity of Choosing the Right Way
*The Way to Do Right is to Keep His Heart Right
Erma Bombeck has written "When the Children Have Grown Up"
Solomon was not a perfect man. Did he always listen to his parents? No. Did he always choose the right way or keep his heart right? No. Read the Book of Ecclesiastes & watch Solomon's quest to discover what mattered most in life. His discovery? Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole (duty) of Man Ecclesiastes 12:13
1. *What enabled Solomon to choose again the right way, even after he journeyed down the wrong? To make his heart right? To make his relationship right again with God? Parents love & teaching. *What enabled the prodigal son in Luke 15 to return home?
Memories of home (Luke 15:17)
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