PROVERBS KEEPS TELLING US:
IT ALL BEGINS WITH THE HEART
OUR OWN LIZZY PLEADED FOR A PLAY–DOH HEART:
MALLEABLE IN THE HANDS OF THE POTTER
IT’S NOT JUST IN PROVERBS — IT’S THROUGHOUT:
EZEKIEL: A HEART OF STONE OR A HEART OF FLESH
SOLOMON: A FOOLISH HEART OR A WISE HEART
JESUS: A HEART THAT IS LIKE POOR SOIL OR RICH SOIL
THIS SUMMER I SAW THAT GOOD SOIL IN AMY,
A YOUNG WOMAN WHO JOINED OUR WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY.
IT WAS SO STRIKING, SO RARE, AND SO BEAUTIFUL,
IT TOOK MY BREATH AWAY.
Amy is young, vibrant, and passionate. When she said she’d like to join our evangelistic study I was both pleased and cautious, for she’s like this little flame that can light up the room or overpower it. The first time she came I could tell it was an “overpowering” day for she was facing a genuine dilemma in her life, and she was dominating the discussion with her concerns. I knew I had a responsibility as the facilitator to talk to her, so I asked the Lord to give me an opportunity, during our coffee break, to do so. I asked my co-leader, Twila to pray, and no sooner had we prayed, that Amy walked into the little alcove where we were standing. So I took the plunge.
“Amy — we need your help. You and I talk easily, but we have some non-Christians here who need pauses in order to gather courage to speak up.”
Amy looked a bit trampled, and asked, timidly, “There are non-Christians here?”
“There are — and you could be so good at encouraging them — like you already did with Sonja.”
She brightened a bit. “I did?”
“You did! You told her she’d had a great insight.”
Quietly Amy returned to the living room and sat down. Had I put out her spirit? Would we lose her? I prayed not!
But in the next session Amy was WONDERFUL: drawing others out, encouraging, being that little flame that brightens the room. So when I got home I e-mailed her about how amazing she’d been.
In response she wrote an e-mail like I’ve seldom received, so rare it brought me to tears. In her humility of heart, she’s given me permission to print it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Dee!! I told Eric tonight that the study this afternoon was a good “reset” for me. It gave me something else to think about and helped me keep things in perspective. Sometimes I have a tendency to only think about what I am going through, while giving little/no thought to what others may be dealing with. Having a strong leader like you keeps me from indulging my “tunnel vision.” I also don’t want my naturally outgoing tendency to silence the quieter ones, and this is a good chance for me to learn how to do that.
Now that I know what’s what, I will definitely be lifting up these women in prayer.I will pray with all the passion and intensity God has given me for these women! I love you too and cannot fully express what The Orchard and now your study have been doing in my life. I am convinced that God timed all of this to happen exactly when He knew I would need it, and that it is the vehicle He will use to transform me from the inside out.
One of the first signs of a teachable heart is how you respond to counsel. Next is to consider if you are truly seeing the fruit of a teachable heart in your life. That’s what we’ll consider this week.
We have reached the point in proverbs where Solomon writes: “Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge?” (Proverbs 22:19) He’s actually written much more, a myriad of wise words that we need to receive in hearts that are tender and teachable. May the Lord give us each that kind of heart. Consider how you are responding to the following, for that will reveal if you have a heart that is like the good soil.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. How well do you respond to counsel, criticism, even rebuke? Be as honest as possible.
Monday – Thursday: Important Concepts in Proverbs
Protecting the Poor
This is so important to the Lord — it’s throughout the prophets, the parables, the proverbs, and the teachings of Jesus. Prepare your heart with this from Sara Groves:
3. Read Proverbs 22:22-23. What is the command and what warning comes with it?
4. God is always concerned about the most vulnerable in our society. How do you see this in Proverbs 23:10?
5. And again in Proverbs 24:11-12. Command and warning?
6. Jesus talks so much about the poor. What parallel teaching do you see in Matthew 25:31-46?
7. Are you seeing growth in your life in this area? How could the gospel nourish this growth?
TRAINING THE YOUNG
8. What are the basic teachings of Proverbs 23:13-15. See also Proverbs 19:18 — a proverb that helped me so much as a young mother.
Ellen Davis comments: The sages’ advocacy of physical punishment of young children may be challenged in light of modern insights. But two cautions should be observed before a saying such as this one is wholly dismissed. First, the key word here is “discipline” (v. 13) which for the sages denotes primarily an internal disposition, not an application of force. They are wisely insistent that it is the parent’s responsibility to help the child acquire discipline early in life (“while there is hope”) Failure to do so is the most grievous form of child abuse.
On a personal note, I remember the tape I heard as a young mother said “Many rules, many infractions.” What Steve and I kept in mind three points for discipline: disobedience (willful); disrespect; and dishonesty. I have also so appreciated Paul Tripp’s teaching on getting to the heart instead of just encouraging outward obedience. I watch today’s children speak disrespectfully to parents, teachers, and see the society unraveling. It is so hard to establish authority when they are older — we must do it when they are young. As Solomon says, “If you refuse to discipline your child, you will ruin his life.”
9. How do you, with young children, teach them obedience without crushing their spirit and provoking them to give up? Give an illustration of how you get to the heart.
This summer I have had my grandchildren here a lot. Sadie has been here the most, so we are beginning to learn the Reformed Catechism for Young Children. Here is the link, and here is Sadie! Reformed Catechism for Young Children
10. Read Proverbs 23 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.
11. Why, according to Proverbs 24:1-5 should we not envy evil men?
12. In America and in the western world, persecution as been, as Keller says, more like a “sneer” than actual losses of freedom or life — but that is changing. How would you apply verse 10 to your life?
Rescue Those Being Led to Death
13. How do you apply verses 11 and 12?
14. Why should you not rejoice when your enemies fall according to verse 17?
15. Read Proverbs 24 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.
16. Share your notes or thoughts.
17. What is your take-a-way and why?