Teaching Series
Wisdom That Works
Sunday—What a Life of Shalom Looks Like

Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: What a Life of Shalom Looks Like
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Proverbs 3:1-8 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3).

When the wisdom writer asks us to bind his instructions around our neck and write them on the tablet of our hearts, it makes me think that these are supposed to be permanent additions to our lives. Like a tattoo.

I used to teach an entry-level Bible class at Pacific Union College that was designed to introduce someone with little to no knowledge about the Bible to the Bible. This would prepare students with basic biblical literacy that would come in handy in more advanced Bible classes. Consequently, I got a lot of young people from our men’s and women’s basketball teams in my class. 

At that time, PUC would recruit players from junior colleges (mostly from the Bay Area) to play on its team, many of them with little church or Bible background. And there they would sit, in front of me, taking a mandatory biblical literacy class.

What a joy it was to introduce these young people to their first taste of Jesus through a simple reading of the Scripture. 

One week, I decided to invite all the kids in my class from the basketball teams to my house for Friday night supper. I decided on BBQ (the biblical term for this would be “sacrifice”) and about 20 kids showed up. I’ve never seen any group of people eat more food in one sitting in my life. 

At the end of the meal, we were all sitting around on my deck when one of them said, “So, aren’t we supposed to do something religious or something? I heard on Friday night Seventh-day Adventists do religious stuff.”

I said, “You mean like a vespers?”

“Yeah, that’s the word. Vespers. What are we supposed to do?”

I looked at him and said, “For vespers tonight, I’m going to have you show me all of your tattoos, at least the ones you can show me with some modesty, and I’d like to know why you got each tattoo and what it means to you.”

There were a lot of tattoos. 

One by one we went around the circle, men and women, and each person shared their stories. Almost every tattoo had a memory attached to it that was either tragic or victorious. And each tattoo was an attempt to never forget that special or tragic event. It was a solemn event, mixed with some laughter, and a few times tears. After the last person shared, I prayed. I prayed a blessing over each of them and then sent them back to their dorms.

These young people took what they wanted to remember and bonded those memories to their necks and wrote them on their hearts.

Recalibrate: What are some tangible ways you have bound important things to your heart and mind?

Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, bind your thoughts to my thoughts, and Your mind to My mind. I want to be bound to you for the rest of my days.” 

Research: Read Believers Mark Their Faith With Tattoo

Remember: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3, ICB).

Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.

Read The Best Adventure with your little one. Imagine all the adventures you could go on together. You could go exploring in the jungle or diving in the deepest seas. Know that the best adventure is the one Jesus has for us. For a Jesus adventure all we need to do is let love lead.

How do you remember something? Do you just think about it really hard once? When I need to remember something, I think about it many times in my head, over and over and over again. What really helps me remember is if I write it down over and over again. What are some other ways you think could help you remember something? Maybe telling it to another person or making a song up about it? Proverbs 3:1 says, “My child, do not forget my teaching. Keep my commandments in mind.” Choose one of your favorite ways to remember something and practice it every day as you learn the Words to Remember (Proverbs 3:3).

If you are anything like me when I was a student, you spend most of your time studying for a test trying your best to cram information into your head where it can be stored for only a very short time and then forgotten. I wish I could still recall exactly where in Romans Paul talks about a certain subject, or the Greek word for some powerful concepts Jesus uses in the New Testament. But unfortunately for me, those things have fallen out of my memory banks over time. But you know what has stuck in my memory?

The jingle from the Lucky Charms commercial.

For being the smartest part of my body, my brain sure can be dumb sometimes!

Why do you think we remember some of the most trivial things but can’t seem to hold onto the important stuff we cram in there? If we take a look at Proverbs Chapter 3, I think the wisdom writer had a clue as to why. 

In Verse 1, Solomon tells his readers that they are not to forget his teaching but “let your heart keep my commandments.”

See the difference?

Not only are we to put all these wise words in our brains to keep them, but we are supposed to allow them to change our hearts. In the same way I have totally forgotten the words that come after “We hold these truths to be self evident” because I only memorized them because I had to in order to pass a test, I have somehow plastered the jingle, “Hearts, stars, and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons, hourglasses, rainbows, and tasty red balloons!” into my mind forever. Somehow that song sticks in my head (and in my teeth) because Lucky Charms are magically delicious, but they also made me feel something! It’s only when you turn what you know into what you feel that you know what it means to have your heart hold on to something that will be meaningful in the future!

What is something meaningful you’ve been taught that has always stuck with you? Why do you think it has stayed with you for so long? What about something not so important that has somehow lodged itself into your brain? Why is that silly thing still hanging around in your mind long after you heard it?

Have you ever been told, “Don’t forget!”? My wife Annie tells me every Tuesday night to take the trash out. What did I do yesterday? I forgot! It is so easy to forget things, isn’t it? Often we are told not to forget something when it is very important. It is fitting that we are told not to forget the teachings and commands found within the Word of God. What are you doing in your life to remember the Word of God? Maybe it looks like journaling. Maybe it looks like memorizing verses. Maybe it looks like opening up the Bible and spending a few moments in it. If nothing else, I want to encourage you to think of some new ways you can remember the Word of God.

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Kyle Smith is associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.

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