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Lesson 2: From Ears to Feet *

Introduction: One tip I share with young pastors is that sermons need to be filled with stories. This may seem illogical. If you have 20-30 minutes for a sermon, you need to pack in as much "meat" as possible, and avoid the fluff, right? Wrong! I recall one preacher who went from Bible text to Bible text to pound out his points. Not an ounce of "fat" in his sermon. But, an hour later, no one could recall what he said. If his sermon was heard, it did not stick. Stories make people listen and make your points stick. Remembering a point helps it to shape your decisions. Jesus demonstrated this with His parables. Listening is the starting point for our study this week about making right decisions, so let's jump right into our study of the Bible!

  1. Paying Attention and Health


    1. Read Proverbs 4:20. What is the most important thing about speaking? (Having someone "pay attention.")


      1. Do you think this is easier today then it was when you were a young person? (These days video and smart phones are real competition for paying attention.)


    2. Read Proverbs 4:21. What is the next important thing about speaking? (Having your words remembered. Putting your words into practice.)


    3. I recall a study finding that the attention span of jurors is seven minutes. Imagine that! In a strange setting, a courtroom, when lives or property turn on your decision, and your attention span is only seven minutes! Imagine what it is in church. I've mentioned stories, what else might you do to promote paying attention to your words? (In both my Bible and law school classes I move around a lot when I teach. Asking a lot of questions, audience participation, humor, and visual aids are all part of my strategy of keeping the audience focused. You may have noticed that a great deal of the Bible consists of stories.)


    4. Read Proverbs 4:22. On the face of it this is an odd statement. You want others to learn from you, yet the outcome has to do with life and health. Are you teaching about nutrition? (Recall that the subject is God's wisdom. Following God's plan for your life promotes longevity (see Proverbs 3:1-2) and better health (see Proverbs 3:7-8).)


      1. When Proverbs 4:22 promises "health to a one's whole body," do you think this includes mental health?


    5. Read Proverbs 1:1, Ecclesiastes 9:5 and Ecclesiastes 9:9. Proverbs tells us that Solomon was the writer/editor of the Proverbs. Do these texts in Ecclesiastes sound like they were written by someone with perfect mental health? (My reading of Solomon's writings make me think he suffered from depression. Ecclesiastes 9:5 is often cited regarding the state of the dead, but that makes no sense to me because the next phrase is that the dead "have no further reward." No Christian who believes in heaven thinks the dead in Jesus have "no further reward." This is the statement of a depressed man.)


      1. If I'm correct that King Solomon suffered from depression, what does this say about Solomon's statement that wisdom gives "health to a man's whole body?" (This gives his words more credibility. A person suffering from depression would understand the advantage of following God's wisdom. We know Solomon did not always follow his own advice. Thus, he understood how following God's way helps us deal with health issues.)


    6. Read Proverbs 4:23-25. When you are hearing words of wisdom and trying to put them into action, what should you be doing at the same time? (You need to take some defensive actions. You need to guard what comes into your mind (your heart). This has to do with what you see, what you have as your goals, and what you say.)


  2. Fidelity and Prosperity


    1. Read Proverbs 5:1-4. Why do people have sex outside of marriage? (We like honey. These verses suggest an attraction.)


      1. Why is "smooth speech" part of it? I doubt most people who have affairs do so because of public speaking skills! (I think most people have affairs because of ego. It is a great compliment that someone other than your spouse is attracted to you. That is where "smooth speech" is relevant.)


      2. What is at the end of the honey and ego boost? (Bitterness.)


      3. What do you think is meant by the double-edged sword? (The one with whom you have an affair hurts you.)


    2. Read Proverbs 5:7-8. What is the practical advice for avoiding an affair? (Don't go near, stay away.)


      1. Is that the reaction of most people? (You like the honey, you like the ego boost, so the natural heart gets as close as possible thinking that danger can be avoided.)


    3. Read Proverbs 5:9-10. How does this fate fit with the idea of an ego boost? (Just the opposite occurs. You lose your honor, your dignity, and your wealth.)


      1. Is Solomon just making this up, or does this match your perception of reality?


    4. Read Proverbs 5:15-18. This is an interesting word picture. What does water bring? (Life. Intercourse brings life. The idea is that sexual intercourse is something special between a husband and wife.)


      1. My wife (I've been married over forty years), regularly points out women whose husbands left them when the wife was in her 50's. These men did not rejoice in the wife of their youth. Why not? (Generally, they find a more youthful wife. This is the "honey" aspect of things. The Bible says it turns to gall. Perhaps the gall comes when the new wife realizes she is married to an old man! Couples who have been married for a long time realize the enduring joy in the relationship - at least that is the goal.)


  3. Prudence and Money


    1. Read Proverbs 6:1-2. What is the problem? (You have made a performance promise for your friend or neighbor. A common example would be co-signing on a loan for a friend.)


    2. Read Proverbs 6:3-5. What is the solution to this kind of problem? (Don't do it in the first place!)




      1. What if you already did it? What is verse 3 telling us when it says "give your neighbor no rest?" (You need to hound the one who you agreed to support to make sure that he performs the obligation. The friend needs to be hounded to pay off the loan.)


      2. What other solution does this text give us? (To act quickly. Be prompt about addressing this problem.)


    3. Read Proverbs 6:6-7. Who is counseled to consider the ant? (The lazy person.)


      1. Why does the text point out that the ant has no ruler? (The ant is a "self-starter." He does not need someone to urge him to work.)


        1. Do you think these verses say anything about God's preferred form of government? (It tells us that success in work does not depend on government intervention.)


    4. Read Proverbs 6:8. Why is it important for the ant to gather and store in summer and the harvest? (When the work is there, when it is available, the ant does what is needed.)


      1. What is the lesson for us? (Don't procrastinate.)


    5. Read Proverbs 6:9-11. I recently read a study that found that Americans do not sleep enough. Should those in America reading this text pat themselves on the back?


      1. Why is sleep like an armed robber? (Laziness will deprive you of things - just like a robber. Despite the sleep statistics, this is a caution about putting off work. If you get into that mind set, then poverty is an issue.)


      2. We just finished a study of James, where James has some cutting things to say about the rich. While Americans may not be getting enough sleep, a 2013 study shows that only 58.6% are working. What does this suggest about the source of poverty? (People need to look at the ant and to work when they can.)


    6. Friend, we have covered a lot of ground! What is our lesson in one sentence? Listen to God, put His words in effect, and you will enjoy health, have a better marriage, and have more money. Will you take this path to success?


  4. Next week: A Matter of Life and Death.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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