Proverbs on Parenting

You can’t study Proverbs without reading the many passages on parenting. Children are gifts from God and parenting is a high calling. We have the opportunity to impart to the next generation skills to help them succeed and a knowledge and love for God that will be passed for generations to come. In Proverbs, we read that godly parenting involves teaching, timing, and truth.

 

The Teaching Factor

Proverbs 1:8 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” It is the role and responsibility of a father and mother to instruct, educate, and train up a child. The bible does not say raise up a child, but train up a child! “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). To not train and discipline your child is a form of child abuse. Say and show affection often. Never miss the opportunity to tell your kids you love them. But, also show that love through disciplining them and training them. The “ABCs of Discipline” are a few ways we can train our kids. A – Have authority over their attitude and actions (Eph. 6:1). The family is not a democracy. B – Boundaries for their behavior. Set clear guidelines for your kids to protect them, but also that give them a little freedom. C – Consequences with consistency. Discuss expectations and consequences and keep your word. Obedience is not optional. Ultimately, remember that parenting is not about rules, but relationships. John McDowell said, “Rules without relationships lead to rebellion.”

 

The Timing Factor

The time for training children is when they are young. A child’s basic values and behavior systems are set by age 6. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten your son while there is hope,” and Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who loves him disciplines him promptly.” Dr. James Dobson says parents must learn discipline is not something you do to a child but for a child. Love your children too much to allow them to act out destructive patterns of behavior. The world views spanking as archaic or barbaric, but children have not changed. God knows more about the heart of a child than the experts! We do not evaluate Scripture through the eyes of the culture, but we evaluate the culture through the lens of Scripture. The bible is clear that there are two forms of discipline. “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15). Spanking can be the only way to get through to a young child. However, a verbal reprimand almost always works better as a child gets older. The rod of correction is not advocating child abuse! “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Prov. 29:17). The goal is not just good kids, but godly kids.

 

The Truth Factor

“… And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). The verdict is out on all of us. None of us have crossed the finish line yet. Proverbs 23:14 says, “You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” Children can come to know Christ at a young age. Jonathan Edwards was saved at age 8. Charles Spurgeon was saved at age 12. 90% of all missionaries are saved before age 11. The ultimate goal in parenting is that your kids have a loving relationship with their Creator. Our children are not really ours at all. They are on loan from God. They are gifts from God and will return to Him one day. The Bible is the owner’s manual. We do not want to help them gain the whole world and lose their soul. What is better? Teaching them to have a bigger house and more expensive car? Or, a better relationship with God, a prayer life, knowledge of God’s word, and a love for the church and the things of God? The greatest need of the children born into our family is to be born again into God’s family.

 

Children are often viewed in the world as an inconvenience. But, what the world sees as a burden, God sees as a blessing! Parenting is not just a job, but a joy! It’s an opportunity to share Christ with generations to come.

Proverbs on Sex

Proverbs is so practical! In chapters 5-7, Solomon has a conversation with his son about sex and immorality. What a great reminder that conversations about sex should start at home. Children are learning about sex. Whether it’s from their friends, music, TV, or the internet, what they hear from culture is incomplete and immoral. Adults, too, are inundated with what culture says. Talk to your kids! Teach them, and remind yourself, what the Bible says. Sex is a blessing and a gift from God, but disobeying God’s design can cause great pain and severe consequences.

 

The Gift of Sexuality

Look at Proverbs 5:15-21. You will see phrases such as “may your fountain be blessed,” “may you rejoice in the wife of your youth,” and “may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” God is the one who made us male and female. He put Adam and Eve in a tropical paradise naked, unafraid, and unashamed and said it is good! So how did sex become taboo and dirty? Satan perverts everything. He does everything he can to get you to have sex before marriage and then everything he can to keep you from having sex after marriage! We must reclaim the gift of sex God gave us and talk about it at home and in the church. Hooking up and breaking up does not lead to a great sex life. Sex is God’s gift to a husband and wife. It is not dirty but is a blessing! Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” God’s gift of sex is for oneness – one man, one woman, worshiping one God, in one church, living in one house, sleeping in one bed, sharing one bank account, loving each other for one lifetime. Growing old together. The most fulfilled, successful couples today are those in their 80-90’s still holding each other by the hand, caring for each other in sickness and health, till death do they part!

 

The Guilt of Immorality

Everyone has been guilty at one time or another. Jesus said if you look at a woman and lust, you’ve committed adultery in your heart (Matt. 5:28). Proverbs 5:3 says, “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” Solomon is reminding his son that immorality starts with conversation. It can be communication, texting, talking with an old friend on Facebook. If you are married, have each other’s passwords. You don’t mind unless you have something to hide! Verse 8 says, “Keep to a path far from her.” Do what it takes to avoid the temptation! Get rid of your computer or your smartphone if that’s where the problem is. Solomon warns, “lest you lose your honor… your dignity… lest strangers feast on your wealth” and you “groan.” Immorality can cost you your job, alimony, child support, attorney fees, and in the end, someone else is sleeping in your bed, with your spouse, in your house, raising with your kids, with your money! Sin can cost you your wealth and your health.

 

You may be thinking, I would never do anything like that. Proverbs says pride comes before a fall. There is none good, no not one. We all are capable of any sin given the right circumstances. Most affairs begin as friendship and emotional before they become physical. Some of you are in an unhealthy relationship that will become unholy if you stay on the same path. Solomon reminds his son that those who play with fire will be burned (6:28), that the shame will never go away (6:33), and that immorality will cost your life (7:22). Flee the temptation!

 

The Grace of Recovery

If you are struggling with the guilt of sexual sin I have good news. God’s grace is greater than all our sin! Proverbs 7:2 says, “Keep my commands and you will live.” The world has made an idol out of sex and it has left so many people damaged and disappointed. What did Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery? “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He paid for our sin. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Jesus brings healing. He will wipe away your tears and make all things new!  You can have a new marriage, a new start, and a new heart through Him.

 

Solomon knew something about sexual sin and the gossip surrounding immorality. His father David had a scandalous affair with his mother Bathsheba when she was still the wife of Uriah. This lead to the pregnancy of a child who later died as a result of God’s judgment. David repented, married Bathsheba and their second child was Solomon who would succeed David as King. God is the God of a second chance! You can be an overcomer today! You can be forgiven and cleansed of your sins today.   

 

Proverbs on Planning

What a great day we had at Liberty on Sunday! We praise God for the grand opening of the York River Campus and for the additional service that launched at Harbour View. What an awesome privilege to be a part of God’s work here! This week we continue through our series in Proverbs, talking about planning. All of us have plans. Students plan to go to college. Singles plan to get married. Couples plan to start a family. Maybe you are planning for vacation or retirement. The key to finding God’s plan for your life is found in Proverbs 3:5-6. “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.”

 

Decisions

Life is a series of decisions. Every day we make decisions, large and small. Every decision involves trust. Think about it. We eat food and don’t know the cook. We get on a plane not knowing the pilot or the co-pilot. We trust these people with our lives! The only way to make wise decisions is to trust God. “Trust in the Lord….” Before you buy a car or house, take a job, choose a career, choose a mate, etc., consult God. Pray and ask God what He wants and surrender to His will.  “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Prov. 16:3). Does this verse say plan and ask God to bless your plan? No. Commit whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Commit your actions to the Lord and you will make wise plans. When we rush to conclusions, relationships, purchases, etc., we don’t always make wise decisions.

 

Direction

“…Lean not on your own understanding.” The wisest man in the world, Solomon, said to lean not on your own. Don’t trust your intellect, instinct, information or insight. Lean not on your own experience and knowledge. Have you ever tried to put something together without reading the directions? I have!

It takes time to read directions! It may add 30 minutes before you start. But, it might save you 3 hours in the long run! That is what it is like trying to live life without reading God’s directions. Take time to read your Bible and ask God for direction. He can do more in a moment than you can do in a lifetime!

 

Last week I read George Muller’s autobiography. He prayed for hours about everything.  He never asked man for anything, but asked God for everything. He took his plans to God for confirmation. God gave direction through the Word, the Holy Spirt, wise counselors (Prov. 19:21, 15:22, 20:18), circumstances, his conscience, through a check in spirit. God will give direction to you and me the same way!

 

Destination

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” All means all avenues and aspects of life relationally, financially, vocationally, recreationally, etc. Direct means to clear a path. Andy Stanley wrote a book called The Principle of the Path. Here’s the principle: “Direction, not intention, determines destination.” For example, if you want to go to the Outer Banks from Hampton Roads you have to go south. You can pack your swimsuit, get sunscreen, beach chairs and towels, but it does not matter how much you intend to go to Outer Banks, you will never get there from Hampton Roads going north! The path you are on determines your destination. Here is my take on it: Decisions determine direction, and direction determines destination. Are you going in the right direction? Proverbs 4:26 says, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

 

Be honest. Are you where you wanted to be in your life, relationships, finances, health, etc.? What did you expect based on your decisions? Hope is not a plan! You have to do something to change! God’s plan is not just a roadmap but a relationship. It is not trust in a plan, program, or philosophy, but in a person. If you stay on the path you are on, where will you end up?

Proverbs on The Heart

Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the heart. In the ESV translation there are 77 references to the heart in just 31 chapters, and that doesn’t include allusions to the heart with words like desire, love, long, etc. For Solomon, a heart of wisdom is central to a life of wisdom. Consider Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Keep (or guard) your heart with all vigilance. Diligently defend your heart. And this is why—because FROM it flow the springs of life. Pastor Dalton worded it like this:

The condition of your heart determines the course of your life.

In the book of Proverbs there are only two paths to take: the path of wisdom or the path of folly. Your heart is the source that determines the course of your life. From it flows your whole life. God knows if He has your heart he has your life, and Satan knows it too. The stakes could not be higher! So, if you are going to guard your heart effectively, you must first understand that there is a battle for your heart.

The battle for your life will be won or lost in your heart. You’ve never lost a battle against temptation that you didn’t first lose in your heart. So, here’s the question: How do I guard my heart? In the preceding verses, Solomon tells his son to incline his ear to his sayings and to keep them in his sight. He’s showing us a connection between the eyes, ears, and heart.

Your eyes and ears are the doors to your heart.

Consider the fall of humanity. Genesis 3:1 says, “He said to the woman…” Genesis 3:6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes…” He SAID. She SAW. They SINNED. When they were listening to the wrong voice and looking at the wrong thing, their hearts were turned away from God. And from that day forward, every person has been born with a heart that’s on the path of folly. We don’t love God, and we do love sin. Solomon would later write, “Who can say I have made my heart pure (Prov. 20:9)?” No one! But that’s what the gospel is all about! We couldn’t clean our hearts and lives, so out of love for us (1 John 4:19, Rom. 5:8, Eph. 2:4-5), Jesus gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

The gospel changes the direction of our lives by changing the condition of our hearts.

And yet I sense that our hearts are prone to wander. There’s still an ongoing battle for our affections. We love the wrong things too much, and the right things too little. Here’s a principle that should guide our love: Your love for something should be proportional to its significance.

We need bigger hearts for God and people and smaller hearts for less important things. To do that we need new habits and routines with our eyes and ears. What we desperately need are habits and routines that reinforce our regeneration. So, what are you looking at? You are becoming what you are beholding. And what are you listening to? What lies are you believing about God, yourself, etc.? No one talks to you more than you do. Stop listening to your carnal self and start preaching the gospel to yourself! More than anything, look to Jesus and become like Him (2 Cor. 3:8, 1 John 3:2). Listen to Jesus and live (Proverbs 4:2, Proverbs 4:22)!

Proverbs on Friendship

The book of Proverbs has much to say on friendship. True friends are rare and limited. It is estimated that most people have between 500-2500 acquaintances, about 10-20 core friends that they see somewhat regularly, but only 1-7 intimate friends. Most times, you can count them on one hand!

 

The Basis of Friendship

At creation, God made everything and said, “It is good.” The only thing that was not good was loneliness. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone…’” (Gen. 2:18). In every stage of life, you make friends almost instantly. In childhood, toddlers play together in the nursery. Teens want to belong and be accepted.  Adults forge friendship with other adults in the same season of life. Senior adults still enjoy social interaction even when their health is declining and many of their friends are dying. Friendship has so much to do with season of life. When seasons change and you no longer see close friends very often, they are not failed friendships! This is something that is natural and normal. God gives you those friendships to make it through that season of life. You need them to make it through that period of time. Due to graduation, a marriage, a job change, a move, etc., you may leave behind friends. Years later though, you can thank God for the joy they brought you on the journey.

 

The Building of Friendship

Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully….” You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Show me your friends and I will show you your future! Proverbs has much to say about building the right kind of friendships. We are warned against being friends with an angry man (22:24) and are told that wealth brings friends so we know to be cautious with fake friendships (14:20, 19:4,6). We are also warned against friends you can’t depend on (25:19) and against friends who gossip (16:28, 17:9). When it comes to being a good friend, we are encouraged to be friendly ourselves (18:24), to be sensitive to others (27:14), and not to overstay our welcome (25:17).

Making friends is one thing.  Maintaining friendships is another.  Les and Leslie Parrott, in their book on Relationships, say that friends to die for have the following qualities: Loyalty, Forgiveness, Honesty, and Dedication. A real friend walks in when everyone else walks out. What kind of friends do you have?

 

The Benefits of Friendship

“He who walks with wise men will be wise…” (Prov. 13:20). Friends are like buttons on an elevator, they can take you up or they will take you down. I thank God that He took some people out of my life and brought other people into my life. Faithful are the wounds of a friend… And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Prov. 27:6, 9). A friend will tell you the truth even when it hurts. They give good advice. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). Every time you are around a godly friend they make you a better person. I married my best friend. She makes me better. The devil does not want you to have a godly friend, or to be in church with a group of Christian friends. Jesus had the crowds, He had 12 disciples, and He had three men in His inner circle. If Jesus in His humanity needed friends, how much more do we need friends. The native Indians had a word for friend that meant “he who carries my sorrow on his back.”  That is what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the friend of sinners. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends… (John 15:13-15).

 

Jesus is the best friend of all. His arms are opened wide. He will never leave or forsake you. Just like Abraham was the friend of God, you can be the friend of God. A friend knows all about you and loves you anyway. Even the best of earthly friends will disappoint you and let you down. But not Jesus.  He will never leave us or forsake us. Today you can know the greatest friend of all, Jesus.