This is the sermon for Wednesday, November 12th, 2008.

Do’s and Don’ts.
Proverbs 14:22-27.

I’m horrible when it comes too instructions on how to put things together. We’ve bought desks and chairs and things of that nature from places like, Office Max, Office Depot, and Walmart. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about? They come boxed up and you have to put them together. There is usually a set of instructions, tools, and bolts, and nuts…everything you need to make sure it all goes together. It also usually comes with an approximate time to put those things together as well. They usually may say from 45 minutes to 2 hours. But they forgot about people like me. For a 45 minute job it usually takes me about 4 hours. For a 2 hour minute job it has taken me up to 8 hours. Why? Well because I struggle with understanding the instructions. But while it takes me a while, I do eventually get done. I can tell you one thing though, if I didn’t have instructions, then I would be in serious trouble.

Similarly, how many of you wished you that you had blue-prints, or instructions on the right way to live you life?

Well, the good news is that God has given us an instruction manual for living our life. And while there a many passages that we can look at, tonight we are going to keep our focus on Proverbs 14:22-27. God has given us some specific instructions in this passage on the proper way to live.

God has do’s and don’ts that if applied will benefit our everyday living.

Before we go into the Scripture, let’s pray and invite the Holy Spirit to bless the preaching of the Word.

1. Don’t make evil plans, but good plans.

Proverbs 14:22 ESV – Do they not go astray who devise evil? Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.

To devise and make evil plans is to go astray. The word, “astray” in Hebrew means, “To err, to wander, to be seduced, to be deceived, to become intoxicated, to be misled.” Think of it this way, this is different than the mess up type of sin, or the sin of emotion, like lashing out in anger or jealousy. But this is planning out the evil, making plans to do wrong, either to yourself, or to others. To be seduced or deceived; to become intoxicated with doing wrong or evil. This is the manipulative type of plans that bring deception and can often either hide truth, or try to destroy others.

I like the definition “intoxicated.” That is what the person who makes evil plans is like. They can become intoxicated by power, or some other thing whereby they will not think clearly, but make plans in this intoxicated, seduced state. To do so is to go astray from truth.

On the other hand there is a benefit of making good plans. That benefit is steadfast love and faithfulness.

Steadfast love means, “kindness, favor, and mercy.” When you make plans for good and not for evil God will show kindness favor and mercy toward you.

Faithfulness means, “Truth, assuredness, stability, reliableness.” This means that God will continue to deal with you and reveal to you His truth, He will be reliable toward you and you will be stable with Him.

So in making your plans, don’t give the Devil a foothold. Make plans to do good toward yourself and others and not evil. Don’t entertain evil thoughts. Plan how to bless the Lord, yourself and others and not how to tear down, manipulate, and harm.

Let’s look at the next set of do’s and don’ts mentioned.

2. Don’t just talk about plans, but work hard to accomplish them.

Proverbs 14:23-24 ESV – 23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty, 24 The crown of the wise is their wealth, but the folly of fools brings folly.

I want to look at this passage in the context of this sermon – do’s and don’t’s for everyday living.

Many people talk about their problems. They go on and on, ask for help, ask for prayers, and things of that nature. But they never pray and ask for the Lord to give them a true solution to work through that problem.

Many people also talk about the dreams and the visions that they have for their life. But they never prepare and never work to see those dreams and visions fulfilled. So they begin to blame others, and blame God, but they refuse to ever blame the one truly responsible – themselves. There is an old expression that can apply, “don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.”

Don’t just prepare, but put action to your preparation and work.

What kind of work is this passage talking about? Well the word, “toil” in Hebrew means, “Painful diligence or labor.” This means whether things go your way or is easy or not, you stick too it, work through the pain; don’t give up until you accomplish the task.

What is the benefit of this hard work? Wealth. This word, “wealth,” in Hebrew means, “wealth, profit, abundance, having plenty.” It goes much deeper than monetary wealth.

One commentary states this about verse 24, “The wisdom of the wise, which is their crown of glory, constitutes their wealth.”

The Believer’s Bible commentary states it this way, “The glory of the wise is their riches. They have something to show for their wisdom, whether we think of that wealth as spiritual or material. “

Let’s look at the next set of do’s and don’ts.

3. Tell the truth, do not lie.

Proverbs 14:25 ESV – A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.

I know that this one is a rather obvious one, But just because it is obvious doesn’t mean that it is always done.

The setting here is actually not day to day living, but in a court of law, or in a dispute. This is according to the Hebrew word for witness. We could apply it to today I feel in how we judge others, or what our determination about people is. We sometimes judge others by our own likes and dislikes, our own thoughts of what is right and wrong, our own opinion about things. Our first judgment should never be about others, but about ourselves.

How do we stand compared to God’s Word?

James 1:22-25 ISV – 22 Keep on being doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at himself in a mirror. 24 For he studies himself carefully and then goes off and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the one who looks at the perfect law of freedom and remains committed to it—thus proving that he is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of what it requires—will be blessed in what he does.

2 Corinthians 13:5 ISV – Keep examining yourselves to see whether you are continuing in the faith. Test yourselves! You know, do not you, that Jesus Christ lives in you? Could it be that you are failing the test?

If we follow these two New Testament commands, then our focus will always be on our walk with Christ, and not others. We will recognize our own shortcomings before others.

There is another truth here, a truthful witness saves (rescues) lives. This means that innocent people will be delivered from wrong because of your truthful witness about them.

A false witness breathes out lies. They are looking to destroy others. They lie as if it is their very breath. Remember, God hates a false witness like this.

Proverbs 6:19 TNIV (LORD hates… V.16) a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up dissension in the community.

4. In all our plans and actions – fear the Lord.

Proverbs 14:26-27 – 26 In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

The word “fear” here means, “Awesome respect, to revere above all others, piety.”

Notice the benefits of fearing the Lord. Strong confidence – He is in control and you respect His will, so your confidence is in Him. You children have a refuge. Fearing the Lord is a fountain of life. To fear the Lord is to turn away from the snares of death.

Some believers say that it is wrong to fear the Lord today. Well, let’s just look at a few New Testament passages concerning fearing the Lord.

Romans 11:13-22 ISV – 13 I am speaking to you Gentiles. Because I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I am glorifying my ministry 14 in the hope that I can make my people jealous and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the first part of the dough is holy, so is the whole batch. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 Now if some of the branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive branch, have been grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not boast about being better than the other branches. If you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were cut off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 That’s right! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you remain only because of faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid! 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly will not spare you either. 22 Consider, then, the kindness and severity of God: his severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness toward you—if you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off.

1 Corinthians 2:2-5 ISV – For while I was with you I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 It was in weakness, fear, and great trembling that I came to you. 4 My message and my preaching were not accompanied by clever words of wisdom, but by a display of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.

2 Corinthians 5:11a ISV – Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people.

2 Corinthians 7:1 ISV – Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit by perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We’ve just looked at the blue print for general living tonight. Let’s take this and apply it to our lives. Make good plans, not evil; work hard to make sure you accomplish the good that God wants you to do; be truthful when it comes to other people, don’t lie or give a false accusation against another believer; and in all that you do and say, let it be governed by your fear of the Lord.

If we follow God’s blueprint found here in Proverbs 14 it will not only build us up in the faith of Christ, it will also be an effective witness to those outside of the faith.