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What Guides Us

January 1, 2017 | PB

Today we answer the question of “What Guides Us” as we set out on 2017. We’ll explore five verses of Proverbs 30 and find that God has set some strong lessons in the behaviors of some rather small creatures.

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Sermon Notes

I was impressed this past year with a book by John Maxwell. I’m not always a fan of his writing, but he is a leadership speaker and a former pastor and rather well known. So when he wrote this book and I saw that it was a book that told his life story, the things that were most important to him, I got a copy and read it. The title of the book is “Intentional Living” and he shares his thoughts on what makes for a life that matters. The key, John Maxwell says, is “Living each day with intentionality.”

Would you say you live your life on purpose or with intentionality?

Letting life just happen to you is a poor way to live. Many people just go along with life pressures, demands, and don’t feel they have any control over their lives. Well that can change step by step, if you make some determinations and plan with the Lord’s help. You can make that a part of your 21 days in prayer and God will help you!

The Bible teaches intentionality under God. With God’s help, by the Holy Spirit, you can live, on purpose, a most significant life. But how do you know what to aim for?

One thing we’ve done a lot of over the years, is visit zoos: Rochester, Buffalo, Baton Rouge, Florida, Ft. Wayne, Toronto, Guangzhou, China – and we’ve seen some crazy things. The variety is amazingly creative, as are the strange behaviors. But do I usually go to a zoo to learn life lessons?

Today we’re going to study a very practical part of God’s Word, one that outlines some very important principles to intentionally apply to life this year.

Proverbs 30.24-28

24 There are four things which are little on the earth,

But they are exceedingly wise:

25 The ants are a people not strong,

Yet they prepare their food in the summer;

26 The rock badgers are a feeble folk,

Yet they make their homes in the crags;

27 The locusts have no king,

Yet they all advance in ranks;

28 The spider skillfully grasps with its hands,

And it is in kings’ palaces.

God has put some powerful visual examples on the earth to help us see what’s important. So yes, going to the zoo can be instructive.

He starts out with this:

24 There are four things which are little on the earth,

But they are exceedingly wise:

There’s a lot of comfort in this verse. You can be rather small, but you can become extremely wise. The way it says this in the Hebrew tells us that the tiniest, the smallest – in reality and in their own eyes – can be “wise-wise.” That’s right: wise-wise. So take some comfort here, whether you are seemingly insignificant or not, you can apply the principles of God and find yourself very significant.

So here are the four principle illustrating creatures He mentions for us:

25 The ants are a people not strong,

Yet they prepare their food in the summer;

First of all, ants. Really? I mean, we step on ants, kill them with pesticides, bake them with a magnifying glass. It seems cruel, but then again, they’re in the way and unpleasant and “ew.” They’re small and seemingly insignificant.

But then again, God says they’re wise-wise. Why is that?  Because when they are in a season of plenty, they store up for the non-summer months. There’s so much you can take from this. What do you do when things are going well? The human tendency is to forget about God, not take Him seriously and drift; until trouble comes. When things are going well, we need to store up relationship with and gratitude to the Lord through the Word and through prayer, and then when winter comes we have something to fall back on.

The same is true with many other things, like finances. Do you have a savings plan and a budget so that you have an emergency fund? Are you storing up time in your schedule so you have some margin for your family, so that when things are hard (for some reason) you have relationship capital? The list goes on!

Question: what do you need to spend some energy on in order to store up for another season?

Think ahead: Are you storing up for another season? If ants can do it, you can.

Second example.

26 The rock badgers (hyrax) are a feeble folk,

Yet they make their homes in the crags;

It’s tough to be at or near the bottom of the food chain. All the predators are a lot tougher than you, faster than you, and they are set to eat you up. So what’s a ‘hyrax?’

A hyrax is a small, football sized creature, and looks like a cross between a woodchuck and a guinea pig. Cute little guys, eh? They’re delicious to every species of predator you can imagine: ones that can fly and ones that run fast, all with big teeth, beaks, or claws.

What do they do to survive?  They depend on strong, external defenses. They live among the rocks, and when they see somebody coming, they run to the rocks because they know that they can’t handle what’s coming. They do not trust themselves to have the answer to the predator problem.

What do you do to survive the predators? You need something external to yourself that is stronger than what’s coming at you. First and foremost, get to be a part of this local church through developing good relationships. Try that in a small group or in working out relationships with those who are maybe more mature and able to help when the inevitable hawk comes along.

There are also very practical things here too, like building your resume’, getting the right education, and having the right amount and kinds of insurances, because it’s not a matter of if, but when, with difficult situations.

Trust in God Himself is your best defense. Get near Him and hide in that closeness of relationship and trust.

The third example: locusts.

27 The locusts have no king,

Yet they all advance in ranks;

Another bug. But this time, one that overwhelms whole regions.

Why would we learn from them?  What would we learn from them?

They progress together in “ranks”. That means that they know how to keep order, stay together, and follow the leader. Even though they have no formal structure to their little locust society, they know how to do this, and they are unstoppable when they move together like this.

How can you become unstoppable in the good things that God has for you, like your job, family, or any other arena? Stay in ranks. Get others to join you and then make sure you understand the authority structure and stay under it. Can you work with other people, do you play well with others? Or are you a loner and can’t fit in? Do you ignore authority or do you see it as God’s empowerment for you? There are generally four areas of authority in the world: civil, family, spiritual, and employer. Are you listening to them and consulting with them and working with them? That’s a part of being unstoppable.

And the fourth example:

28 The spider (lizard) skillfully grasps with its hands,

And it is in kings’ palaces.

This could be a spider or it could be a little lizard, but either way, it’s small. Both of them have a great gift. Those little sticky feet enable them to hang upside down, go up walls and basically get everywhere. Yeah, so are there spiders in the White House? Or in the Capital building? Sure. Are they in your basement? And if you live down south, do you get those little lizards everywhere? Yes.

So even though they’re small, they have honed their God given gifts to the point that they can get everywhere and anywhere. There’s another proverb that says that “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men”.

Increase your skill with your gifts, purposely, and you will go places you would never have dreamed possible. Are you administrative? Get your gift to the next level. Are you musical? Practice, take lessons. Are you a small group leader? Study and apply the best small group practices. Whatever you do, do it heartily and as unto the Lord, and you’ll find that your gift will create opportunities for you.

Which one of these four do you need to pray over and improve in? Preparation and planning? External defenses? Walking in order with others? Improving skill with your gifts?

Pick one area that you need the most improvement in and make it an object of prayer during the fast and prepare steps for change. Let’s live our lives intentionally.