Today we started teaching the introduction to our next East Asian Bible Institute course—Exploring Proverbs. The longer I spend in this Book of Books, the bigger this truth dawns on my heart. Wisdom is not just a topic or subject in God’s Word—it is THE message of GOD in His Word. Wisdom is found with God and nowhere else. Wisdom is the dividing line. There are only two kinds of people on the planet, only two kinds of people in the world, according to Scripture. There are wise and there are foolish. Those are the only kinds of people that exist. The world is full of fools, and sprinkled among the fools are the wise. I am so excited to teach each of these next ten class hours not just to the 15 students from several East Asian countries, but also to the several hundred others who have registered just this week to join us. Please pray for many to begin their walk with the Lord or renew that walk through the next two weeks of classes we share.
I’m so glad that you’re joining us for this journey through the book of Proverbs. This course exploring the book of Proverbs is a thrilling study that I just had no idea what a blessing it was going to be until I started preparing for it. Basically, if you’ve joined us already online and you’re already taking the courses, or if you’re in the class and right now you’ve started, this video is about how to deepen this course. Actually, it’s the most important part of the course, how to take what we’re learning in the Bible and through adding to it your own personal studies that you write down in a journal.
Now, either in a paper journal, which I use and which I have to say is the most powerful deepening process for our minds by combining, actually the tactile work of writing, with processing, and then putting it on paper, and then looking at it, adding to it little notes here and there – that deepens it the most. Whether you use electronic or paper, you study the word of God, the book of Proverbs and you mark it, as you’ll see all the way through this course. You do what Jeremiah said. Thy words were found, and I did eat them. This whole intro to the Proverbs course is how to eat, how to digest, how to know God personally. Deeply as it says on the board behind me. In a sanctifying way.
Basically, Proverbs is all about life change and those devotionals we’re going to do are all about sanctification. We’ll come back to those in just a few moments.
With your Bibles look with me, down at chapter 1, verse 7. This section of the word of God, I’m going to enlarge it for you a little bit here on the screen, gives the essence of what the book of Proverbs is about. Now think with me for just a moment. The topic of Proverbs is wisdom, godly wisdom, wisdom from God. Many think of that as a topic, it’s not a topic, it is the topic. It’s what the entire Bible is about. There are only two types of people on the planet, there are wise and fools.
Wise – know the Lord, have been born again. Have the wisdom that is from above.
Fools – we’re born that way. Everyone in the world in God’s sight is foolish. In the dark. Headed toward destruction. Most of them are resisting God. They are hardening their hearts and living in the darkness.
So, what does the Bible say? Look at verse 7, it says,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Now back to thinking together. This whole Proverbs class project, which I want to introduce to you today is looking at the difference between God’s way and man’s way. God’s way is all about what the Bible teaches us. Man’s way is what I was born with. So, how do we learn God’s way? That’s basically what we’re going to do as we learn how to do, for those of you taking this course for credit, the devotional class project. For all of you that wanted to deepen, maybe you’re in our 52 greatest chapter study, or you just found this video and you want to deepen your Bible study. You want to get something every day that, that transforms your life. Or you just found this video and the title was interesting. It doesn’t matter. Do you want to have the most powerful impact that God wants to make on your life? Then open your heart to Him through, number one, inviting Him to open your eyes. So, let’s do that now. I’m going to pray. If you want to know what I’m praying, it’s psalm 119 verse 18, which is actually the words of this prayer. Let’s pray.
Father in Heaven, we invite you to open our eyes, the eyes of our understanding, our hearts, our minds, to understand your law. You are the lawgiver, your law is your truth, the way you want us to live. Wisdom. We submit to you and ask you to open our eyes and see truth from your word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Let’s get down to looking at the elements of our course of Proverbs is, what we’re studying. It’s a project and those of you that are actually enrolled in the course, it’s your class project. I’ll explain that in a minute. The whole book of Proverbs is contrasting God’s way with man’s way. That’s really why this book is so fascinating.
Here we go. If we were to summarize the book of Proverbs, we’d say that the fools, and this is a fool, are on this side and the wise are on this side. Fools are everyone who doesn’t know God. The wise are everyone that does know God. When you’re talking about wisdom, you’re not talking about a subject, you’re talking about the subject of the Bible. You’re talking about the most defining reality that can be declared about any of us who know God. We, God’s word says, are the wise.
The word fool, this word is used 42 times in the book of Proverbs. There’s a lot in the book of Proverbs about it. God’s promise is in verse 23 of Proverbs chapter 1. This wonderful declaration, that all throughout human history wisdom is going to be crying in the streets. What is wisdom crying? Wisdom cries, God offers salvation. When He saves us, He gives us the mind of Christ. When we have the mind of Christ, we’re spiritually alive. We become sensitive to God. We who are saved are those, who worship God. See, salvation is equated with worshiping God. What begins to happen in our life is, more and more and more we flee sin.
Now, Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 1:18. You who are being saved. See, there’s an element of future salvation where we’re in Heaven and perfected, but presently God is transforming us. We have eternal life, but we’re being saved more and more and more from the power of sin. Then, I love what Proverbs chapter 4 says so beautifully. Proverbs 4, starting verse 18.
By the way if you’ll take a moment and grab your Bibles, all the way through and as I read these scriptures you should have your Bible open. You’ll notice that anything that’s really important I’ve either putting a note on it or I’ve highlighted it. Just makes your Bible a little snapshot of your whole spiritual pilgrimage. That’s why I’ve worn mine out. I have a stack of Bibles. It takes me two to three years to wear one of these out. It’s all duct-taped, they actually wear out from opening and holding them and underlining and marking them and packing them in your backpack wherever you go. If you would look in your Bibles, look at Proverbs chapter 4 and verse 18, and this is what it says,
“But the path of the just,” that’s the wise, that’s the saved, that’s the born again, that’s those who are going God’s way, “is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.”
Verse 19,” the way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”
Why? They’re spiritually dead, empty minded, callous. They want their own way, which is another way of worshiping self. They mock at sin. God says that there’s only two groups in the world, those who are being saved and those who are perishing. That’s the lost, that’s the fools. For an unsaved person, their path is getting darker every day. Every day, the pathway of the lost, of the fool gets harder, more difficult, and they just can’t understand what’s going on, why it’s so hard, and what is happening.
Now, for those of you who are taking this class for credit, these are your assignments and of course your class leader we’ll give you those. Those of you that are, especially in our Asia class on your TikTok group, I’m sure that all of these are documents you can download. For the rest of you that aren’t, you can on our website, Discoverthebook.org, you can find most of this material is available for you there. Also, the entire course is available on YouTube at our channel DTBM. So, either on the YouTube channel or go to our website. If you’d also like to spend time with others that are involved with going through these courses, we have the Facebook page and group. That’s the 52 greatest chapters of the Bible. No matter how you get through this course, if you’re doing it for credit you have five parts to your course, read the entire book of Proverbs. In a moment I am going to talk about how you do that.
Number two, do 10 of these projects. We’re going to actually go through a project today and you will get to know how to read actively, aggressively, actually marking things, looking as you read through, just don’t just read to get it done. Read every time, like it’s the most precious meal. If you look at the Bible as food or the most longed for communication from someone you love, like if you’re a young person and you’re falling in love with someone, when they send you a text or a video snap or whatever, or they message you, or you talk to them, you just can’t wait. That’s what the Bible is like.
Back to your assignment sheet, number one, read the whole book of Proverbs looking actively, looking for topics to use in your Proverbs project. Memorize two verses, Proverbs 3:5 and 6. For those of you that are actually taking this course, you’re going to be led by the instructor, the dean of the school, whoever is watching over you. Take two quizzes and a final exam.
So, as you go through those elements, I want to show you now how to do the active reading, as we call it. This is how it is, you prayerfully read Proverbs through with a highlighter. Mark the verses that strike you as needed, powerful, helpful, fascinating but notice you either highlight or mark them in some way. Again, look just for a second at my Bible. Every one of these marks is from, you can see they’re all different, there’s blue, red, black, highlighter; each of these is some time that I’ve read through. Now, I’ve read the book of Proverbs but 120, maybe 130 times. So, I have a lot of marks in there, but you go through and look at this you look as you’re reading for repeated themes. As you’ve highlighted things, you’ll say I’ve already highlighted something about money. Proverbs has much to say about money or about relationships. Proverbs has so much to say about God’s way of relationships. Or it could be something about what a fool looks like or a wise person looks like. You start seeing repeated themes and you start seeing key passages, chapters, or sections. They have much to say about one topic. All the time you’re reading you note these in your journal. Now here’s my journal. I work on it every time I open the Bible; I open the journal next to me, I have it right there. I’m writing down, noting. See right here as your notes say, noting in your journal, then you pick out 10 of the key verses. You might think in verses, and you might just find the 10 best verses in Proverbs or topics on relationships, or fools, or wise, or on money, or whatever, or a passage. Maybe you like a section that talks about wisdom or whatever, and do a written out, three-part devotional. Now what exactly is that?
Back to the board behind me there. You see back there on that board; I’ve actually done one for you and marked on the marker board how I would be writing in my journal. So, with this in front of you, each one of these needs to have a title. So, you need to do 10 of these and you put a title. Here’s my title for this one? The danger of sluggards. A sluggard is a lazy person. That’s what I’ve decided to do. Then, I go through all the passages I found, and I just write down what I find. It says that the sluggard turns on his bed, like a door on its hinges. When you go by his field, the weeds are growing. He says, I can’t go outside because a lion might be out there. He has all these unfounded fears. So, that’s what I mean by noting these in your journal. you write down looking at sluggards and you go through all the verses saying that. You find them in the scriptures, and you write down your observations, which you see.
Now everything you do, doing this assignment, don’t try and think what does he want me to say? You are inviting God to open your eyes to His word and you’re saying, I want to know how not to be lazy because a godly person, a wise person, someone who’s going God’s way is not a sluggard. They don’t turn on their bed like a door to its hinges. They don’t fear going out into life, they have all these unfounded fears. That is God’s way. You and I were born foolish, that’s man’s way. God transforms our mind. In fact, James chapter 3 verse 18 says, 17 and 18, “the wisdom that is from above.” See, when we were born again, God downloads to us His wisdom. It grows every day by reading His word.
Back to your project, turn over here. We need to also, after we get these elements, the title and the summary done. So, number one, a title. Number two, is a summary. Here’s the most important part. Number three, an application. I wrote Lord I want to live my life with wisdom. I want to live life your way. I want to be hardworking, disciplined, and repenting of all the foolishness of how I’ve lived without you.
So, this is what your Bible should look like when you get done. This is the book of Proverbs. I just started marking we need wisdom because we are lacking discipline and experience and we need maturity and then here’s verse 7.
Part of what we do in reading the Bible and understanding Proverbs is we see God. Then, I start looking at this here’s repeated words. My son. My son, see how I mark them. My son, this whole, my son over here all the way through. You start seeing repeated words and I daisy link those. I mark them so I understand what’s going on.
Now look at chapter 4. In my Bible, this is Proverbs chapter 4, again I highlighted here – words that stood out. Hear, give attention, retain, keep, yet, exalt, love. You see, those are imperatives, they’re commands. Take firm, hold, keep her. Part of the study is for you to learn to just say, God open my eyes. Let me see what your message is, what you’re trying to communicate and show me. What’s being repeated over and over in the scripture.
Then here, is what I told you a moment ago, Proverbs 4:18 and 19. I wrote in my Bible, the two roads of life. “The path of the just is like the shining sun, it shines brighter unto the perfect day. But the way of the wicked is like darkness; they don’t know what makes them stumble. “ Then he goes back to, see this, my so. My son. Do you see that he, basically Proverbs is Solomon inspired by God to talk to his son. Wow. Solomon’s talking to Rehoboam and he’s saying, I asked God for wisdom, He gave me more wisdom than any normal human has ever had, other than Jesus Christ, he was the smartest, wisest, most powerful minded person in the world? He said, I want to share with you Rehoboam, my son, what God says. Now the sad thing is, Rehoboam didn’t listen, but that’s a different story to hear.
Here is an example of our Proverbs life-changing devotional project. You can pick topics. There’s lots on money, on sex. Chapter 7 is an amazing section on God’s designs for sex and marriage. Much, much in there about alcohol, foolishness and wisdom, pride, how to talk, how to raise children, how not to use your tongue. Also, you can do topics or is I already said, key verses for your project. Some of you might want to do key chapters. Chapter 8 is all about wisdom personified. Of course, chapter 31 is about God’s view of marriage, especially the virtuous woman. Chapter 7 is about temptations, modesty, the wicked woman, and what to not look at, at night.
Going on, this is an overview of what we’re doing. This course project is picking 10 chapters or 10 verses or 10 topics from the book of Proverbs to spiritually digest. That means you pray over them, ask God to open your mind to use what I’m describing here. I call it the devotional method. Which you have a title for each one. So, a title for one and title for the second, all the way through to the 10th. You have on all 10 of them a title, then your summary. I’ll show you a summary in just a second. Then you write out prayers to the Lord.
Now, what is the prayer? Almost everybody when they read the Bible say, Oh, that is a great verse for my roommate, or parents say that’s a great verse for my child, or my husband, or my wife. This is not the purpose of our Bible study. The purpose of our Bible study is the hardest thing to do in Bible study, to say this verse is pointing at me; what God wants me to change. Do you understand that?
See that? I led Bible studies, 10 Bible studies for a year and a half, 10 different groups. We covered the 52 greatest chapters in the Bible and all of them had to do this. They all had to write a prayer, from you to the Lord. Asking Him to change you. Write out this prayer in our group, you have to read them aloud. It petrified the men. I had 30, I think 36 men that were in these 10 groups, scared them to death. Number one, they didn’t want to admit they were struggling with anything. Number two, they didn’t want to make themselves vulnerable to say in front of a group this is what I want God to change my life.
But that’s the essence of Christianity, Hebrews 10. Now let me get back here so you can get this. Hebrews 10 verses 24 and 25 say, “let us consider one another how to provoke to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” but listen to this, “but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
What day? The day that Jesus is coming back and taking me into His presence, glorified forever in Heaven. Part of that is going to be Him looking at my life, what I did with my life. So now, do you see why in this project, everything I want to be changed, I want Him to work on in me, impact me, everything I want to apply from the Bible. That’s what I’m writing out on this prayer. Now, here’s an example. Let me encourage you. We’re going to go through three examples, and I hope in these few moments, because this time it’s not to be such a long course, I want to just go through these quickly. Like we were sitting around a table and you were learning this from me.
My first study in a devotional on fools: Fools are described 42 times by God in Proverbs. One passage, Proverbs 14:9, fool’s mock at sin.
- Here are the lessons:
- Fools walk in darkness
- They cling to sin
- They’re corrupt
- Self deceived
- Empty talkers
This is just every way that Proverbs describes fools.
Here’s my prayer: Lord. I know salvation’s first work was receiving wisdom from you. I want to know you. I seek your wisdom. I want to understand your way. I want to follow your pathway for life. [You know that Proverbs 4:1, I told you about] I repent of the foolishness I was born with. I want to turn from all darkness by your grace. I want to reject sin patterns. I want to abandon corrupt communications. Turn away my eyes from what you say is abominable. I want to avoid as friends, those who patterned themselves in the foolishness of those who are lost and perishing. For Christ sake I ask you to help me in these ways today. Amen.
Wow. Reading that is just a delight for me because it’s such a blessing to think about. That’s really my devotional on fools.
Here’s another one, a little shorter title is: Avoid the choices of lazy people. They’re called sluggards. This is actually a study of the sluggard. Verses Proverbs 6, 12, 15, 19, 20-21, 22, 24 and 26.
Remember the lessons on sluggard says:
- They won’t get out of bed. They’re just sleepers.
- They fear things
- They overeat
So, you write down all the lessons from these, and then you say,
Lord, I see what you see, and I don’t want it to be that way in my life onward.
Here’s another one.
Third one, here’s a big topic: The dangers of alcohol.
Alcohol’s in 20, 21, 23, twice in 31. Look at the lessons:
- It clouds your judgment.
- It disqualifies you from being thought wise.
- It’s so easy to get drunk and to drink too much.
So, then you say; Lord, I don’t want anything to control me. I don’t want to have any substances. You’ve already said be not drunk with wine and it hinders me being full of the Holy Spirit. So, fullness of the Holy Spirit cannot be with drunkenness.
Then here’s another one: A wise woman. Look, especially if you’re a young lady, a wife, or mother of any age, what does God say? These are just a handful of hundreds of different applications you can get. Write down what God says are the elements of a godly woman. Then, either say, and there’s two ways you can do this, you can either say; Lord, this is what I’m looking for as a godly man or if you’re a woman say, Lord, this is what I want to be. I want to become. I want your wisdom. I want to live your way, God’s way versus man’s way. I don’t want my behavior, my conduct, my speech, to reflect foolishness. I want it to be your wisdom. That’s what we can do with this study.
Then, here’s another one that tells us about the other one, a wise man. You can do the same thing and there are many more than this. You write down what you learned, and you write down your prayer.
You could do a chapter, Proverbs 31. You find all of the verses that did impact you. Write down the truths. Then write a prayer from Proverbs 31. That’s when you do a chapter study.
Again, what we’re seeing in Proverbs and this is what we want reflected, every time you open this book, there’s not a subject of wisdom, it’s the subject of the whole Bible. Proverbs is the clearest expression of how to live life God’s way. Now let me remind you what that means.
God’s way: when we were saved, we have His wisdom, His mind, we became alive, sensitive as worshipers of God. Proverbs shows us how to flee sin, how to be more conformed to Christ image every day, that brighter path versus man’s way. That’s how we do these devotional projects. This is my challenge to you. I hope the book of Proverbs will become the greatest study you’ve ever taken in your life. That you will more and more understand God’s way, live God’s way, and glorify Him. God bless you in the book of Proverbs.