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Be Discerning

Sermon Series:

Words To Live By

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Proverbs 24:1-4


I'm not gonna debate this, but whether or not our response to the pandemic was needed in order to save humanity, what we do know now is that it is very detrimental to the generation born during the pandemic. It's setting them back generations. Now, IQ is not the be all to end all. We know this, even the inventor of the IQ said this. But for the fact that we've seen marked increase in our average IQ over a hundred years, only to see it now begin to decline, it's concerning. And we don't know exactly why that's happening. There are theories that are coming out and maybe we'll discuss some of those during our That's a Good Question. But I don't think anyone is going to discredit this thing's contribution to that. Our phone, if you're listening on podcasts. And it's so ironic, isn't it? Isn't it so ironic because the information that is accessible through this thing is greater than all the libraries that have ever existed? And yet, is this part of the contribution to us becoming all dumber? Add to this the fact that so many people in our world are getting their worldview and their moral compass from memes and whatever is trending at the moment. It's clear we're losing something. Knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom seems to be at the top of this list. And today we're gonna march into the new year looking at wisdom. Wisdom that has stood the test of time. Today we're starting a sermon series called Words to Live By looking at wisdom the world has lost. And to do this we're gonna look at Proverbs chapter 24. So go ahead and turn in your Bibles now.

If you've used the Bibles we provided, that's on page 693. But if you're using your own Bibles, put a bookmark in Proverbs 24, because that's where we are going to be for this entire series. But let's talk about Proverbs for a moment, just to kind of set the stage here. The book of Proverbs, it's a book largely of simply wise sayings, just kind of these random wise saying, these Proverbs. Now we call them Proverbs, listen here, we call them Proverbs, not promises for a reason. Because they are great principles, they're not guarantees. Listen, things don't always go well for the wise person, but that doesn't make these statements any less true. Now, this book is a compilation by King Solomon. He probably did write some of them, but we see these proverbs written in other places in history. So he compiled these words, because all truth is God's truth King Solomon being the the son of David and as you read this book It's very clear that this book is basically a curriculum for parents to train their children in the ways of wisdom and the book starts off right off the bat with something so important that kind of underlines everything about wisdom Proverbs 1:7.

We see these words the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Meaning, meaning everything, everything we talk about in this series, all the wisdom and understanding all of this finds its grounding and its rooting in the fear of the Lord, meaning a reverent acknowledgements that God is greater, wiser, and above all, meaning that wisdom starts by knowing our place in the universe, that there is a God in heaven and we are not him. That is the beginning of knowledge. That's the beginning of wisdom. And I think part of the reason that we're all getting dumber is because we've forgotten our place. We think we are the smartest beings in the galaxy, and we're not. The Lord is. So church, having a holy fear of the Lord, that is the beginning of true knowledge and true wisdom. And as we see this book unfold, we come to chapter 24. And what we're going to do is we're going to cross-examine the words here at times with some of the conventional wisdom of our world and we'll see which one proves more true. So with that, would you hear the word of the Lord? Proverbs chapter 24. Today we'll start by reading the first four verses. Hear God's word. Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence and their lips talk of trouble. By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established. By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord remains forever. Thanks be to God. Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray.

Father in heaven, we thank you for the truth of these words. Would you help us now by the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit to help us to not just to hear these words, but to receive them into our hearts that we might become more like our precious savior, Jesus Christ. And it's in his name we pray. And everyone said, amen and amen.

So as we look at these first four verses here in Proverbs chapter 24, it may seem like there's two different thoughts going on here. Because in Proverbs, it feels like there's a lot of just like these random sayings, but here's what I'd say. If we could tie these two thoughts together in these first four verses, for something that I think we need to hear today, here's what I'd say to you, and here's our main point for today. Be discerning about the environment you keep and create. Be discerning about the environment you keep and create.

Now a quick word about discernment, because that's kind of the main thrust here this morning. Discernment is noted as a spiritual gift. Discernment means to judge rightly. The Bible says that it's the ability to distinguish spirits, meaning meaning that we can know that we can know what is of God and what is not of God that we can tell the difference between good and bad between wisdom and folly but I can tell you this in my time as a pastor of all the spiritual gifts or all the personal qualities that Christians say that they have discernment is one that I hear so many people say they have but they really don't. And I say this through experience. So many people who I've talked to think they have the gift of discernment, but I've come to realize, you know what they really have? They really have an unhealthy cynicism matched with misinformed opinions. And they put those together, and they're the people who say, I know what's really going on here. And they think they can see behind a curtain that they don't even know what building it's in.

Now, thankfully, those people, I'm not sure I can say to anyone here at Peace Church, but in my time as a pastor across the ages, that is something I come across every now and again. Now, listen here, we got our own sins. I'm not saying we're perfect, but I'm saying let's not people who confuse an unhealthy cynicism matched with misinformed opinions with the biblical gift of discernment. Now as we dial in, we need to truly seek a God-given discernment that informs us of what is from Him and what is not of Him. So to do this, we're going to look at our passage through two different lenses, two different ways here. Number one, be discerning about the environment you create. Let's get going. Be discerning about the environment that you keep.

Look at your Bibles, look at verses one and two. If you don't have it, it'll be on the screen. Solomon tells us, "'Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, "'for their hearts devise violence "'and their lips talk of trouble.'" Okay, hold on a second here. I don't know if you realize this, but we're already into controversial territory. What do you mean evil men? I don't know if you realize this or not, but our world finds it impossible to call anyone evil. Anytime an evil man does an evil act, you know what our response is? We try to justify this, right? We talk about how people are sick or they're disturbed or it's because they were rejected by society or they're reacting to trauma. We make every excuse we can to avoid calling anyone evil so we don't have to acknowledge evil in the world so that we don't have to acknowledge the evil in our own hearts.

Now if you're someone who would tell me there are no evil people in the world, then you are telling me that you've lived a privileged, comfortable life without telling me you've lived a privileged, comfortable life.

When it finally came time to adopt our son, after a five year grueling process, we went to Africa. We went to Africa to adopt our son and to bring him home and we were so excited and we got there and our guide said, okay, we're going to go into the city. And here's what I can tell you about cities. Interest is up and the stock market's down, but you only get mugged. There are some country boys in here. Not a fan of really going into the city, but it was part of the package.

So we went and one of the things he prepped us with is when he said, when you get down there, don't give money to the kids. We're like, what? He said, don't give money to the kids. They're gonna come up and they're gonna beg you, but don't give money to them. We got down there and sure enough, I mean, our van pulls up and these kids, cute as you've ever seen in your entire life, come up to the windows and they're banging on the windows and they're wanting money and they're like, they're taking their hand and they're putting it into their mouth like they want food so bad. And they got this desperation in their eyes and your heart is just breaking in two. And this little boy comes up to me and he's missing a hand and half of his face was burned. And I'm like, I gotta give this kid something. So I go to our guide and I'm like, please, can I just give this kid 10 bucks?

And he said, that's the last one you should give money to. And I judged him at first. I said, oh, you just don't want me to give it to him because he's like, has some disability. And he said to me, these kids aren't collecting money for themselves. Someone is forcing them to do this. And this someone who's forcing them to do this this knows that if they scar or wound a child, then a bleeding heart like yours will give them more money, which just tells them to continue to do that to kids so they get more money. If you don't believe there are evil men in this world, then it's because you've been privileged enough to never have had to face it. wicked evil in the world. And we need to recognize it's out there.

The biblical truth is that evil is the twisting of what is good. God created everything and he called it very good. And sin is the twisting of things until they become evil. And the great story of the Bible is the final redemption of all things when the evil people will be punished. And they will. And part of the beauty of God's story is the redemption and the renewal of all things that have been broken.

And our passage is telling us be discerning about the environment you keep verse 1 Look at it says do not be envious of evil men nor desire to be with them. Don't be in the company of men or people who take part in twisting what God's good plan is Even if it's celebrated and popular. For their hearts devise violence and their lips talk of trouble.

Do not admire these people, do not have an ambition to be with them. So let's take this prohibition and turn it into a proactive statement for a moment here. The people who you bring into your life, your friends, should be people who point you to what is good, who create a positive environment and promote God's plan in you. Now, if you're like me, you'd probably stop right now and be like, well, wait a second here. Hold on a minute. Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors.

Now listen, here's what I'd say to this. This passage isn't saying that we shouldn't care for our enemies or minister to those who are opposed to us. This verse is talking about who we look up to and who we long to be like, who you follow on social media, the type of people that you want to be around. Are you around people who follow God's plan or not? Are you around people who twist God's plan? We need to be discerning about the people who influence the environment that we are in. So you need to ask yourself, do the people in your life, do they bring you closer to God or do they pull you away from Him? Yes, we are to minister to the downtrodden and the broken, and the sinners of this world. Of course, we are.

But who controls the environment that you are in? One of the hardest but wisest things we can do is allow, is only to allow those in who bring us closer to God. Now, I want to stop for a moment and I want to be crystal clear about something. I have a friend in my life who is not a Christian, and I love this person, and I want this person to know Jesus. And in my years of ministering to them and sharing the gospel with them and sharing faith with them, I've come to pinpoint something that happened in their life that I think took a bitter root that has really kept them from ever embracing the Christian faith. See when they were in elementary school, they went to a Christian camp. And the camp speaker that week told all the kids, if you are a Christian, then you should not be friends with people who are not Christians. And that never sat right with him. And that told him something at a heart level about the Christian faith that he didn't want to be a part of. Now listen here, I don't think the retreat speaker actually said that. But for a fourth or fifth-grader, that's what he heard.

So you need to hear me on this. I am not talking about shutting out people who don't follow God, but I am saying you don't allow them to control the environment. And if they do, then you can't be part of that. Do not desire to be with them. We need to be around those who promote the things of God. And if you can't control the environment you are in, then that should tell you something. Of the people in our lives, we need to be discerning about who controls the environment. And parents, we need to help our kids with this. I can tell you right now, as a former youth pastor, parents are not teaching their kids this lesson. Fathers are not sitting down and reading Proverbs 24:1, with their children and explaining what it means for them today as little kids or as adolescents. So what we're talking about here goes not just for the friends that we keep, but for the families that we create. So we need to be discerning about the environment we create.

Look again at verses three and four. By wisdom, a house is built and by understanding it is established. By knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. I'm not usually like this, but I really feel like I need to share something, I need to go back for a moment. If this is rubbing against what you think should happen, I'm not saying that I'm perfectly right all the time, but I'm saying if you feel a rub, maybe that's the spirit trying to teach you something. So let's go back. Be discerning about the environment you create, verses 3 and 4. By wisdom, a house is built and by understanding it is established. By knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Okay, I know I was like really loving on you guys this morning. I'm going to continue to do it.

One thing I really love about our church and the people of our church, and I may be canceled for this, but I'm going to say specifically the men in our church, is that for all of our three services, at any one of our services, I know that there are enough tradesmen in those services that we could build a house by the end of the day. Where are my tradesmen at here? Where are the plumbers, electricians, construction workers, concrete guys, drywallers, you guys too? They're always a little off, right? No offense, Corey. One thing I know about the men of this church or the tradesmen of this church is that we know how to build a house. The men I'm telling you, we are called to build a home. We are called to build a home. And the men who don't know how to swing a hammer, but will pray with their kids, is more of a godly man than those who provide for their family, but don't pray with their family.

Now, personally, I think men should be providing and praying with their families, but I don't fault the Christian men who aren't skilled at the trades, but who still spiritually lead. You're the type of men God wants in this world, the spiritual leaders. And if you're gifted in the trades, God bless you. God's going to use that for great things too. So men, let me speak to you for a moment. I think this verse says specifically something to men that we cannot miss. This is a message that men should be living and instilling in their children, especially their sons.

Hear me on this. You are either building up or tearing down your home. It's one or the other, and there is no middle ground. I know the culture at large wants to say that men are expendable, that we really don't have any distinct value, that the future is feminine, and that men and women are interchangeable. Lies, all lies. And it's corrupting a generation who believes this. Men, hear me on this. No one can take your place in the home. It is your job and yours alone. So are you doing it? The hard reality of this is that we are either building up or tearing down our homes. And the harshest thing about this is that in our world, you can tear down your home in a day, but it takes a lifetime to build it. You know, we laugh when we say that a house is never fully finished. I mean, I built my house five years ago and I'm still putting trim up in places. Yes, in the sense that a house is never fully finished, but I'm telling you right now, a home is something we're always building. If you like to build houses, I've got a great job for you. It's building a home because we're always doing it. But how? How? How do we build a home? Now, some of us may say, because we think the Christian answer here is going to be love. How do we build a house? We build a house with love. Now listen here, love is critical. Can't do it without love. It's a necessary component.

But what does our verse say? By wisdom, a house is built. By wisdom, a house is built and by understanding it is established. Meaning you have to be wise, you have to be discerning on how to build your home It's not based on our own thoughts or opinions what we feel in the moment, or whatever Most recent guest is on Oprah. We build our homes based on God's proven eternal good and holy Wisdom that's how we build homes and families that last and stand the test of time You have to discern you have to know the the forces that are against the godly home in this world. You have to know what is crushing the heart of your children or your grandchildren. You have to know what is keeping your marriage from all that God wants it to be. Men, I'll tell you now, I'll give you two things this starts with. This starts with self-control. That you have yourself under self-control. That you walk in step with the Spirit and you only go where He goes and you only say what He says. You have self-control and in a quick second is boundaries. You've got crystal clear good and godly boundaries around your home. And that is the job that I think God's called men to do as men and women partner together to keep those intact.

But then we have verse 4. By knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. What's that all about? Okay, let's hang on to this for a second. This is not to say that if you have wisdom, that you'll have a house full of expensive furniture. But if we have wisdom that is rooted in the fear of the Lord, then we'll know how priceless it is not to have a mansion in the Hamptons but to have a holy and happy home. And we'll know how that is so much more valuable than an expensive house. That's more precious than all the money in all the world. And I'm not saying that you are called to be poor, but I am saying that you're called to have perspective, and that perspective is godly wisdom. If you look at your life and you want wisdom, then let me remind you of James 1:5. The Bible says that if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously without reproach, and it will be given to him. If you want wisdom, remember it starts with a holy fear of the Lord, humbling yourself before your heavenly Father who loves you and you ask him for wisdom.

And church, this is so different from our prideful world that thinks that we can google the answers to life or that meaning is found in popular opinion. But for those who belong to the Lord, we need to remember, we need to be discerning about the environment that we keep and the environment that we create. So where do we go from here? Well, as always, we should turn to God's word.

And as we do, we'll find these words from our Savior Jesus, who said to us in Matthew chapter 7, he said, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and it beat on the house but it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock." And here we see Jesus Christ himself bring up an age old teaching that we are to build our house upon wisdom from God. If you read the stories of Jesus, if you read the words of Jesus, he always responded with wisdom. He was always wise, he was intelligent, articulate. Jesus was witty at times, but he was always wise. We can lean on him and lean on his word.

So here's my challenge for you. As we continue into this new year, 2023, what is your life built upon? And how you can answer that is by looking at the environment of your life. The environment of your life is indicative of the foundation it's built upon. You may think it's good, but my question for you is, is it godly? Is it godly?

Is it in wisdom built upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ or not? Jesus Christ, who left the throne of heaven to be born in that manger, we just celebrated it. Starting off as a baby boy so he could live a full human life, the life that we should have lived but didn't, a life of perfect obedience, perfect love, perfect wisdom, perfect love. He lived the life that we should have but we didn't and the reason we didn't is because we got this thing in our life called sin and it twists things and it's evil and it clouds our mind and clouds our heart. See, sin, sin is a crime of our actions but it's also a condition of our heart. We all stand guilty before God. We all deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, He came to take the punishment that should have been ours. And on the cross, Jesus assumed the wrath of God that is rightfully ours. And it killed Him. And He lay dead, stone cold dead in a tomb for three days, and that's the death that we all should have died. But after three days, he rose again from the dead. See, the Word of God who was made flesh is Jesus, and he's the eternal Word of God. He defeated death, he defeated sin, and in his resurrection to new life, that is the promise and the guarantee that if we place our faith in him, then that's the new life that we get. And in this new life, we get fellowship, we get relationship with God, we get wisdom of God, and we also get communion with God, which is what we're going to celebrate now. Amen? Amen.

Let's pray.

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