January, February, March 2015

Want to learn more about Proverbs? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: The Call of Wisdom (Proverbs 1 & 2)
Would you like to be smarter? Would you like to know exactly the right thing to say in difficult situations? In the employment related courses that I teach in law school, I include a "mini-course" on Bible-based emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is nothing less than wisdom. There are numerous studies that show that employees who are emotionally intelligent are more successful. Here is something you might not know: Employees are not generally fired because they are incompetent. Most of the time it has to do with their inability to get along with others. The Bible texts I use to teach emotional intelligence generally come from the book of Proverbs. The great news is that our study this quarter is the book of Proverbs and wisdom. Let's dive into our first lesson!

Lesson 2: From Ears to Feet (Proverbs 4-6)
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!

Lesson 3: A Matter of Life and Death (Proverbs 6 & 7)
This morning I was reading an article about an atheists' rally. At the rally, they were making fun of Jesus and comparing the atheist rights movement with the homosexual rights movement. The writer of the article pointed out that homosexual rallies do not make fun of heterosexual marriage. Why would atheists make fun of Christians? I've noticed that some former members of my church do not just leave, they attack the church and make fun of it. Why is that? I think it has to do with one of the points of our lesson: our religious instruction as a child stays with us. Those who leave the path of their instruction feel guilty, and so they have to make fun of their former beliefs to help "get over" them. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what new things we can discover about religious training!

Lesson 4: Divine Wisdom (Proverbs 8 & 9)
Does truth vary for each person? Someone recently wrote to me "there are many paths in life," to which I responded, "but only one leads to the right destination." Lawyers understand this intuitively. The "rule of law" means that you have only one law. Rulers cannot do anything they want. Neither can the ruled. Instead, we agree on what should be the rule of law for a country. You might disagree on how to apply it, but there can only be one law if we are going to have any sense of order. Our study in Proverbs this week is on wisdom. God operates based on the rule of law, and wisdom is a rule about how to live. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out more!

Lesson 5: The Blessings of Righteousness (Proverbs 10, 11-13)
Do you know someone whose life is out of control? To be truthful, does your life seem to be on the edge of losing control sometimes? We could all use a little help. Normally, we pray that God will help us with our problems. But, did you ever consider that God has already helped us? In Proverbs God gives us His advice for living a better life. What do you think about people who are too lazy to read instructions, and instead call to be told what to do? Let's plunge into our study of God's instructions for living a better life!

Lesson 6: What You See Is Not What You Get (Proverbs 14-15)
Computers interested me from the time they were available to the public. I recall purchasing a Timex Sinclair which had 2K of memory. After I bought it, I decided that its best use was as a door stop. (It had sort of a wedge shape.) Early on, I had a hard time getting the "vision" of what computers could do to make life better. Bible-based wisdom is like that. We don't realize how much following God's way improves our life. This week our study of Proverbs helps us to better understand what it means to live a good life in accord with God's will. Let's jump into our study!

Lesson 7: Dealing with Fights (Proverbs 17 & 18)
There are many reasons that the Internet is wonderful. One is that it makes it easy to be in contact with many friends and acquaintances. With greater contact, however, comes the serious problem of the lack of civility. People feel free to say negative things through the Internet that they would never, if they had any refinement, say to your face. Most of us have a "filter" that we use to refrain from saying the things we are thinking - things which would be harmful to others. Have you met people who seem to be lacking a filter? People who seem to thrive on fights and drama - especially face-to-face? Most of us want to improve our "filter," so lets dive into our study of the Bible and obtain the wisdom to do that!

Lesson 8: Words of Wisdom (Proverbs 20-22)
"Miscellaneous maxims" is how one Bible commentator referred to a portion of our study this week. That brought a grin to my face, because our readings in Proverbs this week seem disjointed and repetitious. Repetitious is good - at least for me. I need to have things repeated to get them to stick in my mind. In my law school classes, I teach some of the Proverbs we will study today. Even though I teach them, I need to remind myself about them - which is the advantage of miscellaneous repetitive maxims! Just last week I had a difference of opinion with one of my bosses. I thought he was wrong, but the Proverb came to mind about avoiding the wrath of the king. Let's dive into the Bible and read about the wrath of the king and other instructions for a more successful life!

Lesson 9: Words of Truth (Proverbs 23-24)
Do you want to know the truth? Sometimes fooling ourselves seems more pleasant, but generally we want the truth. The Bible tells us that we can be fooled by what others say. But, if we learn to view the situation through the eyes of wisdom, we would be able to see the truth. Let's dive into our study of Bible-based wisdom and learn more!

Lesson 10: Behind the Mask (Proverbs 25-27)
This week I read a saying that goes something like this: "A person with a difficult past gives good advice." The proverbs we have studied so far suggest that those who have been wise in the past are the best source of wisdom. But, this saying highlights an important point: the rebukes and challenges of life add to our wisdom. Our study this week considers the issue of how we can acquire more wisdom. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 11: Living By Faith (Proverbs 28 & 29)
Two topics we discuss this week are the law and transparency. You might guess this means, "Those who live behind glass windows should not throw stones." But, you would be wrong. Instead, "transparency," means letting people see all of what you do. No secrets. This helps you to live by your standards. If God's law is your standard, then if you believe that something should be secret, that is a clue that what you want to keep secret is something you should not be doing. Let's dive into our study of the Proverbs!

Lesson 12: The Humility of the Wise (Proverbs 30)
The Proverbs repeatedly tell us that wisdom brings wealth and happiness, while being a fool or lazy brings poverty and grief. When people are doing very well in life, are they generally humble? My observation is that they are not humble, and for a very simple reason. Since what they have been doing in life has turned out well, they think their opinions are superior to those whose lives have not turned out as well. Perhaps they are right. The problem is that the Bible cites humility as a virtue, and proud people are not being wise. Let's dig into our study of Proverbs to better understand the virtue of humility!

Lesson 13: Women and Wine (Proverbs 31)
"Women and Wine" sounds like a song, right? Women, thinking this might not be heading in a direction that will put them in a good light, are asking, "Why not Men and Beer?" The Proverbs have given us positive advice to improve our lives and this, our last lesson in this series, will be no different. We will not only study God's positive message for women, we start out with a woman's wisdom. Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn!

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