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In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020 #12

Warren E. Berkley

 

This is Podcast #12 in this series of brief podcasts based on the book of Proverbs. I post these every Monday. This is being posted on Monday, June the 1st.

In my Bible class yesterday, we covered this passage in Proverbs 23:29-35. Listen to this:

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
    Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who tarry long over wine;
    those who go to try mixed wine.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup
    and goes down smoothly.
32 In the end it bites like a serpent
    and stings like an adder.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
    and your heart utters perverse things.
34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
    like one who lies on the top of a mast.[a]
35 “They struck me,” you will say,[b] “but I was not hurt;
    they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
    I must have another drink.”

This is one of those passages in Proverbs that is almost visual. I mean, as you read these words, you form a picture in your mind – in this case, of a man who is singing “woe is me.” He is injured, staggering, sick, redness of eyes. And, the cause of his condition if given. He has been drinking. He is intoxicated.

Now, wisdom would be – if you have all these awful symptoms, and you know what the cause is – you stop making those choices. In this case, you stop getting drunk.

But the person described here isn’t operating on wisdom. He or she isn’t processing their condition in such a way to chose sobriety. What happens in verse 35?

The drunk gets up and asks for another drink!

In this same context, in the earlier verses, gluttony is condemned.

Now I’ve often said – when fools are described in Proverbs, the purpose is to send us away from that behavior toward wisdom. So in this passage where intoxication is dramatically described – what is being recommended is sobriety, self-control.

Prov. 20:1 says that “wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

I would ask my listeners to consider this about alcohol. I’m quoting from an article written by Sewell Hall in 1989, Christianity Magazine.

“…the very first effect of alcohol is to make one feel a little freer to do things he would not otherwise do … and a little less able to say “No” to things he would normally refuse; to make it a little harder to stand for what is right or even to know what is right.”

While gluttony is to be avoided by self-control. Alcohol is a substance that has impact in our minds as soon as we partake.

“Whoever is deceived by it is not wise.”

Thank you for listening.

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020 #11

Warren E. Berkley

 

This is Podcast #11 in this series of brief podcasts based on the book of Proverbs. I post these every Monday.

So I was recently looking into various passages in Proverbs about wisdom in relationships. This book is a treasure of wisdom for our use in all our relationships, first with God. Then, in all our earthly relationships, we need to be instructed by wisdom.

For example – friendships with people outside the home. I want to share with you some thoughts I had about three passages in Proverbs – we can apply to friendships.

Prov. 27:17 – “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

We often apply this to friends helping friends through encouragement and motivation. Similar to Ecclesiastes four – where one man lifts another or provides warmth. I think that is correct. But, there could be another part of this. When you consider the image of iron sharpening iron – there is friction.

Sometimes, friction in a relationship can carry some degree of pain, but with good outcome. I’m not talking about strife or insults. No. Constructive criticism. We need friends to tell us the truth, to speak the truth in love – correcting us. Earlier in this context, Prov. 27, a related statement: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy,” (Prov. 27:6).

I don’t want my friends just to heap constant flattery on me. I want them to care for me enough, to sharpen me with constructive criticism, crucial conversations given to nurture growth. This is part of the iron sharpening iron.

Then, there was another statement in Proverbs I wanted to comment on, about friendships. In Prov. 25:17, “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of your and hate you.”

I heard something like this when I was growing up. It was called “wearing out your welcome.” The story has been told of a couple who entertained another couple at their house, and the visitors just didn’t seem to have good sense about when to leave. So one time, it was so late at night – the host and hostess excused themselves and came back into the living room with their pajamas on! That was a clear message. Don’t overstay.

Now, when I read this proverb, I decided to attempt a free-flowing paraphrase that sounded like this: “Let your digital footprint be seldom in your neighbor’s newsfeed, lest he have his fill of you and unfriend you.”

I’m going to let you think about that. Before you put your pajamas on, I’m going to make my way out the door. 

Thank you for listening.

 

        

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020 #10

Warren E. Berkley

 

This is Podcast #10 in this series of brief podcasts based on the book of Proverbs.

I’ve recently taught from Proverbs about family life.

In that class, I highlighted various statements in Proverbs about good men, good women, obedient children, the need for discipline and love and I mentioned respect for elderly family members. I used statements from Proverbs sometimes called “God’s text messages” specific to marriage, parenting and family life.

Near the end of the study I made this point: In your application of the Bible in your family, don’t limit yourself to passages that deal specifically with family life! That use the key words “marriage,” “family,” “parents,” etc.

Here’s what I mean. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of passages in the Bible not specific to family life – but demand our attention and application.

There are passages before and after Proverbs and in Proverbs – about temperament, attitude, self-control, justice, mercy, prayer, worship and so many other aspects of relationship with God through Christ – and all of those need faithful application in the home.

I’ve told married couples – put the Sermon on the Mount in your marriage; teach your children from the epistles; be certain there is good attention to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

God’s wisdom for families is not limited to the specific passages that deal with marriage and parenting. He wants us to be acquainted with His total revelation to us.

Put the whole Word of God in your whole life. The history, the poetic passages, the Proverbs, the gospels, the epistles. It is all meant to take us to God, take our families to good living and take each of us to heaven.

Psalm 119:129-131

Your testimonies are  wonderful; therefore my soul  keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.

 

For a more extended study of this subject, please visit my Youtube channel that contains my class material on the book of Proverbs. Find that material at this link:

 

Thank You for listening.

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020 #9

Warren E. Berkley

This is Podcast #9 in this series, derived from the book of Proverbs.

Have you ever heard this expression: “Sticks and stones may break  my bones, but words will never harm me.”

That isn’t written in the Bible. When you consider the sum total of what the Bible says about speech, oral or written – WORDS MATTER.

In Proverbs, for example, there is “the lying tongue,” in Proverbs 6:16 and Prov. 21:6.

“The mouth of fools pours out folly,” in Prov. 15:2. “Slander” in Prov. 11:13. “Harsh words that stir up anger” in Prov. 15:1. “Speech” that is “like a scorching fire” in Prov. 16:27 and then in Prov. 18:20 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

We are made in the image of God and part of that truth is – we are thinking and communicating beings. God gave to us the gift of communicating. Any gift granted to us by God, should be used in keeping with His will and His glory.

So not only in Proverbs, but everywhere in God’s revelation to man, there are warnings and instructions about pure speech; prohibitions against lying, gossip, slander, angry insults and lewd speech.

James chapter three speaks of letting God tame our tongues. When we let attitudes, maturity and good heart content be formed by God’s Word and God’s Son – that enables us to have good speech, to speak the truth in love and avoid words that harm.

Why is this so important? Jesus said, in Matt. 12:36 – “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

For a more extended study of this subject, please visit my Youtube channel that contains my class material on the book of Proverbs. Find that material at this link:

Thank You for listening.

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020, #8

Warren E. Berkley

This is Podcasts #8 in this series, derived from the book of Proverbs. I have comments about chapter seven, which is another step the father takes in warning his son of sexual immorality.

Has this ever happened to you? You witness or know about a devastating moral crash. You gather your teenage sons around you, & describe what happened. Tell them how the temptation came to pass, describe the ruin that resulted and then tell them – BE ALERT; DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU.

That’s the essence of Proverbs chapter seven. “My son,” it begins. It ends like an ox going to the slaughter. The father pleads with his son, “don’t let this happen to you.”

What the Father saw out his window was not an innocent young man being forced to sin. No. The young man who went to the slaughter had no good moral sense, and he took the road to her house.

Likewise, the female in this affair was not forced. She was all that the word “seductress” means. “Dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart, her feet did not stay at home, she seizes him and kisses him, makes promises about the absence of her husband, then takes the young man home.

It is a moral crash. The father saw it and quickly told his sons about it, to illustrate the ruin; to become an occasion to remind them to be discreet and disciplined.

Some fathers may think it wise to never speak to their sons of such scandals. This father believes it wise to sit his boys down and tell them what he saw, using the scene to stress purity, discipline and wisdom.

I’ve said in an earlier podcasts, I believe parents should see this passage and consider the value of frank conversations with their children about this danger.

To that I will give you a couple of bonus statements. (1) If your child has a phone, take that phone from them without warning from time to time, and see what they’ve been doing with their phone. Get someone to help you dig into the depths of that device, behind hidden apps, to see what they’ve been doing, who they have been talking to. I would hope you will find nothing disturbing. But you are putting them on alert. You are reminding them of the danger.

(2) When you talk to your children about these things – don’t let it be just harsh warnings. Speak to them of the positive side of this. The beauty and purity of a marriage between two Christians. Locating sexual activity where God put it.

Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled. But fornicators and adulterers, God will judge. So it is written in Hebrews 13.

Thank You for listening.

 

 

 

 

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020, #7

Warren E. Berkley

This is Podcasts #7 in this series, derived from the book of Proverbs. Let’s talk about something we may find challenging or sensitive. In chapter 5, chapter 6 and again in chapter 7 – Warnings about sexual temptation.

There are at least two challenges we may face as we read and study this part of Proverbs. One is, we may think this is so simple, so obvious, we don’t need it. Christians know all about fornication and adultery. We know this is wrong. So, we may just skip these passages. I think skipping passages due to familiarity is always a mistake.

Two, some readers may find this section to be too graphic, too descriptive, too much information. So again, we just pass by it quickly. I’ll explain why I think that is a mistake too.

Parents may not take enough time to warn their children about this. Fathers, for instance, may have that little talk with their sons and find it so uncomfortable – they just issue a very brief warning and avoid any extended discussion, like what is here in Proverbs. Fathers may say to their sons, “Son, don’t do this.” Mothers may say to their daughters, “just don’t have sex before marriage … that’s all.”

Would you consider please – all this detail, this extended narration in Proverbs may imply – parents need to slow down and spend a little more time with the various levels of this temptation. Perhaps more needs to be said, than just a quick sentence or two.

 

Something else I want to say, before I read these opening verses in chapter five.

This specific narrative is not about every woman, or every young man, though all are warned.

This is about “the forbidden woman” and the “foolish man,” who leaves the wife of his youth. And in chapter seven, the foolish young man who goes to the wrong place at the wrong time – finds the wrong woman and throws his life in the wrong direction.

So, listen now to these opening verses in Proverbs 5.

My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
   incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion,
    and your lips may guard knowledge.
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
    and her speech is smoother than oil,
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
    sharp as a two-edged sword. 

Her feet go down to death;
    her steps follow the path to Sheol;
she does not ponder the path of life;
    her ways wander, and she does not know it.

There is an important key word: “Discretion.” That word is about knowing the difference between right and wrong – and using that knowledge to embrace what is right and refrain from what is wrong.

We are obligated to teach our young people discretion. And discretion is a value produced in people when they love God, love His Word, follow Christ and follow through – discerning between right and wrong.

One more thing – the warnings in this section of Proverbs should not be limited to teenagers or young folks. Who put this teaching together? Who did God use to write this for us? Solomon, who in his life illustrated the ruin of sexual immorality.

Let’s all take heed to this. And make this real in our lives and teach our children well. Paul said, “flee sexual immorality.” More about this in the next podcasts. Thank you for listening.

Proverbs 4

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020, #6

Warren E. Berkley

 

Welcome to these podcasts I’ll be posting at least once a week, and the subject will be – the Old Testament book of Proverbs. This is #6, based on Prov. 4. I would like to call to your attention – these observations from inside of Proverbs chapter 4. I’ll encourage you to read the chapter after listening.

 

  1. There is a subtle shift here, that we may not notice at first. Earlier in Proverbs, the writer uses the father-son model. We’ve talked about the parental pulpit. A father is having a crucial conversation with his son – about temptation, wisdom, discipline, issuing prohibitions, etc. Then we come to chapter four and verse 1, and there is a shift – almost unnoticeable. Back in one, two and three – the father addresses his son, singular. Now here in Prov. 4:1 – “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction.” That may not seem too significant. But I’ll make this point – Parents need to provide wise counsel to each of their children. Sometimes this needs to be done one-on-one. Other times, speaking to the group. Equal instruction and the same instruction, imparted by parents to all their children – about the fear of the Lord, seeking wisdom, and the necessarily discipline that should be taken into every day.

 

  1. In verses 18 & 19, “…the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” This is consistent with Scripture as a whole. Living right with God is often portrayed as light. Living without God, darkness. And in the New Testament, in many places – faithful Christians radiate light, show the way, lead people out of darkness. By our influence, Jesus said, “let your light shine before men,” and Paul said we are to shine as lights in the world.

 

  1. Keep your eyes forward. Verse 25, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” I cannot read this without remembering what Jesus said, in Luke 9:62 – “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Once we embrace wisdom and start making choices to be followers of Christ – there is a DON’T LOOK BACK ATTITUDE WE HAVE TO MAINTAIN. Does anyone remember Lot’s wife?

 

  1. An associated thought – in verse 27 – “Do not swerve to the right or to the left.” I think this goes to the matter so prominent in Proverbs, of temptation. Once we make the choice to take the right path, and we get on that path – drive a straight course! If we start looking around, we can get distracted and drive off the straight course --- into trouble. So the end of chapter four says, “turn your foot away from evil.”

 

One commentator said about Proverbs chapter 4 à the message is – GET GOING, KEEP GOING AND DON’T GET LOST!

Prov. 3:9-12

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020, #5

Warren E. Berkley

 Welcome to these podcasts I’ll be posting at least once a week, and the subject will be – the Old Testament book of Proverbs. This is #5, based on Prov. 3:9-12. Here’s our text:

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first-fruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

The word “wealth” in this passage should not be understood as wealthy in the modern sense of having excess, being something like a millionaire or billionaire. That’s not the idea. If we impose that onto the passage, we are likely to dismiss any personal application. Most of us do not consider ourselves to be wealthy, in the common sense of the term.

Instead, consider this word as meaning – what you have, no matter how it compares with others. Your “wealth” is what you have. It may be monetary, but is inclusive of whatever you have.

The idea here is – use what you have to honor God. In good times or hard times; no matter the pain you may be going through or the suffering you may anticipate. Use what you have to honor God. Because, what you have is from Him.

Now, if we will do that, there is great spiritual prosperity we will enjoy. The barns and vats of this passage are containers – not of literal wheat, grain or wine. The promise is – as we honor God with whatever we have, we become recipients of spiritual blessings far greater than silver or gold; far higher and permanent than wheat, grain or wine.

Now, when bad things happen; when God permits us to be tested and tried – don’t turn against Him!

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves him who He loves, as the son in whom he delights.”

Our earthly parents didn’t shield us from all pain and suffering; sometimes they were the administrators.

What were they doing? What is God doing? Training us, for our good.

More about this is expressed by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews chapter twelve. I encourage you to give that a good read and study. Heb. 12:3-17.

So to summarize this simple little paragraph in Proverbs three.

Whatever you have – time, opportunity, skill, access, money – whatever you have, use it in such a way, God is honored. He is glorified and His cause is advanced.

It will make you spiritually rich. Do that, even in hard times – giving heed to the warning, to not despise the discipline of the Lord.

Listen again before I close.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first-fruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

Thank you for listening.

 

 

Prov. 3:1-8

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020, #4

Warren E. Berkley

Welcome to these podcasts I’ll be posting at least once a week, and the subject will be – the Old Testament book of Proverbs. This is #4 – offered on April 13. Let’s take up Prov. 3:1-8.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
 but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Let me address that last verse. Verse 8 needs some attention as we begin.

If you just read verse 8 – without context – and some do – your impression might be that this is a promise of physical health.

Against that impression, there is context. What is this about? The context clearly reflects that this is about spiritual health. By “spiritual health” I mean – your relationship with God.

Look through the paragraph and you’ll see it. What words and phrases do you see: “teaching, commandments, steadfast love, finding favor with God, trusting the Lord, walking in straight paths, fearing the Lord and turning away from evil.” What does the context indicate? Spiritual health. So the imagery in verse 8 isn’t a promise of perfect physical health. It is figurative language suggestive of the spiritual health of our relationship with God.

All right – that answered – what are we told to do to insure good spiritual health, a fit and vigorous relationship with God?

To be receivers of what the Gracious God of heaven offers – what must I do?

Look back into this paragraph. “…do not forget” the teaching. Let your heart “keep” His “commandments.” The length of days isn’t time on earth, it is time with God (that through Christ can extend into eternity).

So, if I want a strong, healthy relationship with God, I must “let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake” me. Write the words of God on my heart; that’s internal journaling.

“Trust in the Lord will all your heart.” Do not “lean on your own understanding.” “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” Carefully avoid arrogance, “fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

The result of these responses to God? A good, long-term relationship with God that is healthy, strong and perfectly beneficial.

Thank you for listening.

 

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020, #3

Warren E. Berkley

 

Welcome to these podcasts I’ll be posting at least once a week, and the subject will be – the Old Testament book of Proverbs. This is #3 – offered on April 6.

 

I’ll read from Prov. 1:20-33, but I want to set this up. Use your imagination.

 

Picture yourself in an ancient marketplace. A street market, similar to what exists today in some third-world countries.

 

You are weaving your way through the crowd, looking for what you need to purchase, maybe speaking to people you know. There is a lot of noise – a buzz of conversations, movement, transactions, animals, carts – all kinds of sensory overload. You can’t really tune in much of all the sound.

 

But then, like a siren or PA announcement – there is this voice above the chatter and it has an urgent sound to it.

 

I’m reading from Proverbs 1:20-33.

 

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused

 

to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.
32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

 

The world is like that marketplace. There is the noise and roar of competing voices, gathering storms, social media, entertainment, vanity, many varieties of religious practice, materialism, division and appeals to fulfill appetite. It is so noisy all around us.

 

If we can block that out and turn the volume of the world around us down – we can hear Wisdom crying in the street, trying to get our attention and call us to higher living.

 

When you see godly people, hear the Word of God, read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – Wisdom is crying in the street.

 

When you have quiet moments of self-evaluation. When people speak to you of the peace of God that surpasses understanding. When you are exhausted and look to God for hope … wisdom is crying out to us.

 

Are we listening? The passage says – there are simple ones, scoffers and fools who just can’t tune in to the higher frequency. They are captivated by the noise of this present world.

 

The last verse in the chapter contains a promise. Lady wisdom says, “whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

That’s grace, from God through Christ, calling us to turn the world’s volume down and listen to what is wise.

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