Friday, June 14, 2013

Building the Home With Wisdom

These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king— Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.  There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.  Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.  Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.                            Proverbs 1:1 - 8 (TMSG)

A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense.  Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.  The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.  So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.
Proverbs 24:3 - 6 (NLT)
After church and the baptism of his baby brother, the four year old little guy cried all the way home.  His father asked him three times, Johnny, what’s wrong?  Finally Johnny replied, When that man bapatized Christopher he told you an' Mom God wanted him an’ me raised in a Christian home; but I wanna stay with you guys.
A Christian (Biblical) home is set-up by wisdom, strengthened by good sense and
filled with everything you need by knowledge.  John Wesley’s wisdom painted that very picture with four main areas of focus he claimed would build a healthy Christian life.  In recent years this has come to be known as the Wesleyan quadrilateral.
The handout you were given shows the four focus areas.  Of these, please note Scripture is on top, meaning it is more heavily weighted than the others.  Really, in Wesley’s thought, Scripture governed the others.  That is to say, the other three could not be considered over Scripture.  God’s Word is our main guide.
When it comes to building a home with wisdom, there is nothing which truly expresses “family values” than the Scriptures, reinforced by loving parents, with reason, the tradition of the church and knowledge, or experiential learning of Christ’s way.
The picture on the handout is of my son-in-law, Shannon, with his two boys, Micah and Jonah.  I’m proud to say that Carrie and Shannon are setting a fine example as Christian parents who are employing these Scriptural principles in raising their boys.
This morning I want to talk about how living out these principles is the key to establishing, strengthening and growing a family.  Along the way we will also see how to acquire and activate what Solomon calls “wisdom, good sense and knowledge”.

I.           wisdom (reason)

Acquired by reverence for God

For the reverence and fear of God are basic to all wisdom. Proverbs 9:10a (TLB)
True wisdom is not merely the accumulation of a great deal of information, or even knowing where it’s stored.  Anyone with an               I-Phone™ and an internet connection has more information at his fingertips than he could possibly read in a thousand lifetimes.
True wisdom is discernment, the ability to judge between right and wrong, good and best.  It is, in part, being able to sense the will and heart of God.  Without this kind of wisdom we can miss the mark so often.  Truly worshiping God brings you close enough to hear his heartbeat; you know when God is speaking.

Activated by a life of prayer

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.     James 1:5 (NRSV)
There is no PhD required to be a person of wisdom.  I’ve known some people who were in a seemingly lifetime pursuit of education and had little (if any) Godly discernment.  But I can give you quite a list of folks who hardly made it through elementary grades, yet other people beat a pathway to their door for advice when they were facing tough decisions in their lives.
No matter what your “formal” education level, ask God for wisdom and show Him you’re serious by reverencing Him in worship, establishing a lifestyle of prayer.  You will find that discernment becomes that internal growing sense of confidence in God’s ways.

II.        Good sense (tradition)

The tradition of the church (as Wesley called it) is that counsel of wisdom developed over the last 20 centuries.  “Good sense” in the original language gives a word picture of the strong steering ropes attached to the rudder of a large ship[1].  With those ropes (tradition) the helmsman (God) brings the ship safely to port.
But good sense finds itself constantly engaged in a battle with foolishness.  That is the nature of good and evil.  In every generation foolishness says the church is out of date, too constricting or judgmental.  But the tradition of the church is that hard-earned wisdom from suffering centuries of immature folly – when Christian saints fall-away from God’s Word and way, only to experience the heartache of the consequences of sin.  Tradition became the developed memory of believers who saw how departing from God’s way is dangerous; keeping God’s way is profitable.  How do you get “good sense”?

Acquired by counsel of the body of christ

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.   Proverbs 1: 8 (TMSG)
Father and mother refer to more than our biological parents; it includes those who are father and mother in the faith…and brothers and sisters.  The body of Christ – the church, this church and the worldwide Christian church takes counsel together to understand the mind of Christ.  This is the “good sense” that is wise counsel.

Activated by submission in the body of christ

This kind of “good sense” is available to those who, in faith, take a step of confidence towards the body.  In short, becoming a full part of God’s church – membership, declaring your allegiance and support-for/continued presence and prayers – this is how you initiate the wise counsel of God’s church in your life.
My daughter and her husband united with a church and have immersed themselves in the life of that congregation, seeking not only friendship within that body, but accepting the counsel of their pastor and fellow church members. 
Just this week our daughter posted on Facebook this picture of her sons
delivering flowers to residents at the nursing home.  Shannon is a deacon-servant in their church; he and Carrie are committed to visiting those in distress, and sharing God’s Word.  He is training his sons to do these things too.  They understand they do this because Jesus gave to us this ministry of care for each other.  That is the tradition of the church.  My son in law is bringing wise counsel to the table to build his house with wisdom!

III.      knowledge (experience)
Knowledge is what fills the house with what’s worthwhile.  In the Wesleyan sense, experiential faith is that which God teaches you as you live your life for (and with) Him.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians (3:10)…to know him.…  This is the essence of knowledge, or knowing God through fellowship with Christ.  This is what fills your life and household with precious treasure…knowing Jesus Christ!

Acquired by investment in relationships

True experiential knowledge of Christ is found in a daily conversation with Him, and others.  When asked about the greatest (most important) of the commandments, Jesus said it was to love God with everything you’ve got…and the second was to love others.  Think of it as the vertical (up towards God) and horizontal (outward towards people) of knowledge – loving God, loving neighbors.
Genuine, precious treasure is never measured by your performance on a job, or how much money you have in the bank.  Rather it is that daily conversation, or interaction (with God and man) that makes investment in other lives. 
Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding. Proverbs 9:10b (TLB)

Activated by accepting christ as lord of life

Knowing Christ is something that happens in your spirit…deep in your spirit.  And it is begun by choosing to follow Christ as a disciple.  It goes beyond merely knowing “about” Christ, or just accepting the fact that He is God’s son who was born in a manger…all those facts are easily “knowable”, information-wise. 
To genuinely know (experience) Jesus Christ as Savior is to choose Him as Lord over life…your life!  It means you choose to follow Him every day of your life, on His terms.

time for choice

Solomon was the wisest man of his time.  He experienced virtually everything that was available, everything under the sun.  He understood Scripture.  He could discern people and even divide a child between two arguing women.  In the end, he decided there were only two important things to which we need to pay attention:
Here is my final conclusion: fear God and obey his commandments, for this is the entire duty of man.            Ecclesiastes 12:13 (TLB)
How do you fear God?  Believe what the Scripture says about Jesus being your salvation.
How do you obey his commands?  Ask Him for wisdom, follow the wise counsel of the body of Christ and immerse yourself in a daily conversation (prayer life) with Christ and others, so that you can know Him.
And if you’ll build your own life with this kind of wisdom, those children and grandchildren of yours will get it; they see much more than you could ever say with words!  
You’ll build your home with wisdom!

[1] Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionary

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