Thursday, October 14, 2021

God's Way--It's for our own good

 Read Proverbs 15

Solomon composed quite a collection of quips and comments for this chapter.  We find several on the wise and the foolish, which we discussed in the first service.  We see discernment and correction but we also see many quips about wickedness. We see counsel regarding gentleness and I return once again to there is God’s way and there is everything else.

Consider verse 24 especially in the context of God’s way and everything else.

The path of life leads upward for the prudent

    to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.

I have been preaching God’s way and everything else ever since we began the Proverbs. Is this the first that we have heard of God’s way being better for us?

Of course not.  Consider the words of God delivered to his people through Moses.

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

God told his own chosen people who had come out of bondage in Egypt to do things his way and only his way.  Why?  It’s for your own good.

It’s for your own good!  Living God’s way is for your own good.  The everything else is marked by death and destruction.

God’s way is for the wise.  Who are the wise?  Those who accept and receive and follow God’s way. Wow!  That sounds like circular logic, but understand that it’s a good circle.  It’s God’s circle and worth the buy-in.  Be wise.

But this is Old Testament wisdom, right?

Let’s turn to the words of a fisherman you should know well. This will be from Peter’s second letter.

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. (Now there’s a man after my own heart.  He is writing to stimulate good thinking). I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (Just because we live in this age of grace does not mean we disregard the directions we have received before).

Now back to Peter’s words.  Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

How do you forget creation and the flood? People deliberately forget the mighty acts of God and say where is his coming? How do you omit creation and the flood?  Deliberately.  If these things don’t fit your narrative, you just leave them out.  It’s a deliberate choice and not an oversight. It’s right on target for today.

Consider Solomon’s words in this context.

Mockers resent correction,

    so they avoid the wise.

The mockers, the scoffers, the fools, and those who hate wisdom simply avoid the wise and the facts for they have no sound basis for argument.  We live in this world that both Solomon and Peter describe.

What can we do in the midst of this unrighteous turmoil?

We don’t dive into every argument with a fool.  We are counseled against this.

We live lives that the Lord would find holy, blameless, and spotless.  It’s an impossible task on our own, but with God, we can stay the course.  With God, when we miss the mark, we confess and God is faithful and just to forgive.  He puts us back in our race of faith.

Peter tells us that we have been warned ahead of time what is coming and how much the world will contest the will and righteousness of God.  His counsel is to be on guard so that we won’t be carried away by the spirit of lawlessness that will surround us and we must know how deceptive it will be. 

It will not attack head-on but use subtly to undermine what you know to be truth.

Anchor yourself in the knowledge of Christ Jesus and grow in the grace that he has given to us.

What does all this mean?

There is God’s way and there is everything else.  We may venture into the everything else from time to time, but the grace of God that we know in Christ Jesus invites us to return to God’s ways. Return to God’s way.

In other messages and commentaries, I have compared everything else to a minefield.  I don’t know if you have ever been in a minefield, but if you haven’t don’t put it on your bucket list. In Iraq, you had now you see me, now you don’t minefields.

The wind moved the sand and either hid or uncovered the minefields and the cleared roads that went through them.    That could be interesting.  I served at the end of the first Gulf War and was assigned to the United Nations mission in Iraq and Kuwait. 

One day, I was coming back to my sector having visited a patrol base in the central sector.  I had a captain from Indonesia with me and he wanted to drive.  I let him drive and after a couple dozen kilometers, we hit some sand drifts.  He was doing ok for a while and then got stuck in a big drift.

If you drive enough in the desert, you will probably get stuck at some point.  This young captain popped out of the vehicle grabbed the shovel attached to the back of the Land Cruiser and was about to thrust it into the sand surrounding the front of the vehicle when I grabbed the shaft of the shovel.

The captain gave me a funny look until I showed him the metal objects that looked like olive drab softballs.  They were cluster bombs that did not explode on impact.  They were not duds.  It’s just that the sand cushioned them enough to let them land undetonated. They were designed to explode when they hit a hard surface such as an armored vehicle.

The blade of a shovel also works just as well.

Do you know how long it takes to move about a quarter yard of sand?  About two and a half hours if you are doing it in handful size scoops, some of them with a cluster bomb in them.

It wasn’t a minefield by design, but it met the qualifications and produced the same results.  You wanted to get out of it as soon as possible. You wanted to get back on the safe path. You did this with all deliberate speed.

The path of life leads upward for the prudent

    to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.

There is God’s way.  It may seem like it is uphill most of the time, but it leads to life.  The everything else leads to the realm of the dead.

God has given us direction for our own good.  Sometimes it came as commands and directives.  Sometimes it came as wisdom.  Sometimes it came in the flesh as God with us—the only flesh that has ever fulfilled the law. 

But know that what God has given us in commands, directives, wisdom, and even in his Son has always been for our own good.

Doing things God’s way is for our own good.

When you think of this mantra that I think resonates with most of you by now, think for my own good whenever you think of God’s way.

Think of landmines when you venture into the everything else.

God’s way—for your own good.

Everything else—landmines.

The path of life leads upward for the prudent

    to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.


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