Teaching Series
Wisdom That Works
Sunday—Wisdom for Life at the Extreme

Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Wisdom for Life at the Extreme
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
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 3:9-12 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: “Honor the Lord with your wealth” (Proverbs 3:9).

I believe in spiritual gifts. I believe some people are given the gift of tongues. Others the gift of healing. Still others the gifts of teaching, prophecy, or hospitality. I don’t believe Paul (or any other Bible author) has given us an exhaustive list of all spiritual gifts. One I think was left out (at least in my reading) is the gift of making money. I know people who have as their primary spiritual gift a divine talent for turning one dollar into millions. They are just really, really good at making money. 

Spiritual gifts can be used for the benefit of others or for selfish gain. 

I have a relative who was gifted at making money to the point that he dropped out of high school in the tenth grade because, in his words, “Why should I waste my time in school when I can be making money?” 

By the time he was in his early twenties he was a millionaire many times over. He had his hands in everything from gold mines to earth moving equipment; from corporate helicopters to exotic animals for zoos. His home boasted priceless paintings.. He had a huge building on his property to house all his vintage automobiles and toys of every description. He had the Midas touch, no doubt. 

And then he died. 

All his life his ambition was to make more and more. This ambition cost him several marriages. It cost him friends. It cost him relationships with his children. From all outward manifestations and observations, he was a selfish and petty man. 

The wisdom writer admonishes us to honor the Lord with our wealth. That is to say, when we are blessed, it’s our task and obligation, but more than that, our joy, to bless the world with the blessings we have received. When we do, our joy, our relationships, our peace of mind, our relationship with God and people will be blessed. It’s not something God necessarily orchestrates this way, it’s just how love works. When love is received, it’s given away. And when the circle works as it’s designed, His Kingdom comes, on earth as it is in heaven.

Recalibrate: Assuming you give, why do you give? Is it out of a sense of obligation, guilt, or joy?

Respond: Pray these words: “Lord give me a heart of generosity. Help me to learn to give as I’ve been given to.” 

Research: Read Wealth Can Make Us Selfish and Stingy: Two Psychologists Explain Why by Paul Piff and Angela Robinson. 

Remember: “The Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects the child that He likes” (Proverbs 3:12, ICB).

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

Have you ever played Pass the Parcel? It’s a game played at kids parties where little gifts are wrapped up one after the other after the other until you have a large present. You sit in a circle and each child takes turns unwrapping the layers of paper and passing the gift on to the next child. The fun is in the unwrapping, pulling the paper off to see what is inside. Play Pass the Parcel with your little one. Play it with your family or pretend with a circle of toys. However you play, play with the joy of passing the parcel on—expectant and joyful at what the next person or toy is going to unwrap.

What is your most valued possession? I think my most valued possession might be my computer. Not because it cost a lot of money, but because it is the place where I can see all my photos, write down all my thoughts, and connect with friends and family who live far away. Those things mean very much to me, and my computer makes them possible. Why is your most valued possession so special? The Bible tells us that our special things aren’t our own and that we should be sharing them and using them for good. Some of the ways I use my computer for good include sending nice messages to people and writing things like this Daily Walk. What is one way you can use your most valued possession for good?

“Honor the Lord . . .” (Proverbs 3:9). I want to start this morning by discussing how loaded the word “honor” is in the section of Scripture above. To be clear, this is only a portion of the verse as it continues on to look at the ways we honor the Lord and by what means. But just for a moment, let’s freeze at these first three words.

Have you ever tried to buy a gift for someone who already has everything? It’s super tough to come up with a plan to purchase something that is equal parts thoughtful, useful, and surprising. It’s usually pretty simple to get something that is one or two of those things—but all three is difficult. Apply that same idea to God and ask yourself this: how in the world do we find a way to give something meaningful to God?

Solomon tells us to gift God with our honor.

But I’m not the most honorable person? What if I have broken promises? What if I have been rude to my parents and gone against their wishes for me? Is it still good to give this tainted honor to God?

Honor is understood to be high respect or great esteem. Which means its something set apart that we only give to the people to whom we are closest. Honor is more than respect or kindness; it’s the holy version of those things! And if it’s holy, then it’s meant for God. 

How might you show honor to the Lord? How would you go about figuring out what showing honor would look like? Where can you go to learn about honor in order to practice it in other relationships? How might showing honor to God change how you relate to Him?

When I was in high school, I was on the cross country team. Now cross country races are about three miles, and so instead of pacing yourself as you might in a marathon, you essentially sprint the whole time. Or at least that’s what I did! When we would train throughout the week, our coach would have us do long eight mile runs, short sprints, ab workouts, and the oh-so-famous high knees and butt kicks. Something else our coach told us to do to maximize our endurance and speed was to have rest days. In other words, she told us to have one day a week where we don’t run or do any intense workouts, but instead to just rest. She told us we would actually become stronger and our bodies would heal from the short relaxation period

This can be applied to all areas of life, and especially to our spiritual lives. Not only is it important to take a day in the week as a break from school and crazy activities, but it is also important to take moments throughout the day to breath and put life in perspective. Proverbs 3:5-8 says that if we trust in God with all our hearts He will make our paths straight. But more than that, trusting and resting will be healing for our bodies and strengthening for our bones. By taking moments to rest in God, we become healed and strengthened. So before this week begins, find some time to be still.

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.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.

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