Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Two Paths
Preacher: Jenniffer Ogden
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 4:1-27 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble” (Proverbs 4:18–19).
When I was young I was afraid of the dark. Not just a little afraid. It was a fear that curtailed behavior I would otherwise engage in without a thought. In my bedroom at night, when the lights went out, I imagined a family of skeletons that lived under my bed. If I were to expose any limb outside my covers, I would certainly be grabbed by the dwellers of my under-bed cellar. Not sure what they would have done with me after they grabbed me, but I didn’t want to find out. If perchance I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’d leap from my bed to my door so as to avoid being grabbed by the skeleton family. Weird how when the light was turned on, they were simply not a threat.
The most terrifying thing my mom or dad could ask me to do as a child was to take out the garbage. Actually, this was only true if they asked me at night. Our garbage cans were past the porch, around the corner, and behind a gated fence—where there was no light. It was almost completely black back there. If my mom and dad pushed the issue, I’d take the garbage bag to the edge of the porch where the light was at its weakest and then, after a moment in prayer, I’d run as fast as I could to the gate singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of my lungs to ward off any evil that may have been hiding in the shadows. I’d slam dunk the bag into the can, seal the lid (to keep the evil things trapped in there too), and run back to the light.
The Bible has a lot to say about light and dark. It would seem that letting light shine on darkness is always a good thing, whether this is a destructive secret in our lives or shadow-covered lies. The Bible promise is that the light will always expose those things that are in the darkness.
So, what do we do about the darkness in our lives? I can tell you there were times I took the garbage out at night without any fear at all. What was it that quelled my fear and had me march boldly into the darkness with my garbage bag? It was my father. When my father walked next to me, I wasn’t afraid of anything that lurked in the dark because in my mind, my dad was bigger and tougher than anything that was out there, real or imagined.
Recalibrate: Why do you think people are afraid of the dark? What is it about light that quells that fear?
Respond: Pray these words: “Father of light, give me the courage to let Your light shine in all my dark places. Help me to walk in Your light.”
Research: Check out Kris Lowen’s book Hidden: A Book About Secrets.
Remember: “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths” (Proverbs 4:11, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
Cuddle up in a chair with your little one and read Proverbs 4:1-2 (ICB). It says, “My children, listen to your Father’s teaching. Pay attention so you will understand. What I am telling you is good. Do not forget what I teach you.”
Imagine that God, our Heavenly Father, has us wrapped in His arms just like we do our children and He is reading this passage to us. What He is telling us is good. Settle in knowing that God is good—that is who He is and what He does. He invites us to go an the best adventure with Him. Read The Best Adventure with your little one and look for all things good today.
How do you learn things at school? If your teacher tells you something once, or you read or write something once, do you always remember it forever? Probably not. Did you know that everyone has an ideal or “best” way of learning? Some people learn better when they hear something over and over and over again. Others learn better when they listen to something over and over and over again. Some have to write it over and over, and some actually learn best by making something to help them understand what they are learning. Which way do you think would help you remember best?
Did you see all of those ways of learning involve listening or writing or reading or doing something again and again and again. We call that repetition. The book of Proverbs does this quite a bit. Read Proverbs 4:5-6. Does any of this sound familiar? Why do you think the writer of Proverbs wants us to hear the same thing so many times?
I recognize that you are all still a few years away from getting your driver’s license and hitting the open road behind the wheel, but this week’s section of Scripture has a few key phrases that I can’t help but note have as much to do with cars as they do with wisdom. Take a look at Proverbs 4:1,4. Look closely at the words “attentive” and “hold fast.” Both of these words are crucial to understanding what to do with all that wisdom you find on this grand adventure Solomon is taking us on. But the words are also crucial in understanding what to do when you get the keys to your first car and go for a spin.
Without attentiveness and a willingness to hold fast, things can go sideways very quickly. One of the main causes of traffic accidents is an inattentive driver. Whether it be texting, or fumbling with the Google Maps app, or taking your eyes off the road to create an iTunes playlist, not holding fast to the task at hand will inevitably cause you to crash. Travel speeds on the freeway combined with the weight of cars means crashes are almost always destructive to the vehicle and the people inside it.
The same holds true for wisdom. With an understanding of what it means to be in control of insight into the way the world works, and how God sees us, we can cruise along life living safe and sound. But there is another side of wisdom—when we possess knowledge but don’t have wisdom we can do a lot of damage. Without holding fast to wisdom, we can hurt people by telling lies masquerading as truth and saying that God is behind our slander. When we use religion as a weapon, we can scar people deeply.
How might you hold fast to wisdom by keeping these things in mind? Where have you seen someone use wisdom in a way that is attentive and good? Where might you find examples of someone not being as careful as they should be with their power? And how do you think you can navigate the world as carefully as you drive a car?
Do you ever feel like a gray Christian? You know, someone who's not exactly a good Christian but also not that bad a person? For a lot of my life, I considered myself a gray Christian. I would go to church, preach from time to time, give my tithes and offerings, but I knew deep down that I was living a double life. My weekends were filled with things other than church that I knew I shouldn’t be doing, I was talking in ways that tore people down and didn’t build them up, and my mind and heart were focused on everything but Jesus. Yet, I still considered myself pretty OK because of my good deeds. The verse today shines a light on the Christian walk that is very important. There is no such thing as a gray Christian. According to the Bible, in many areas you are either in light or in darkness. You are either hot or you are cold. There is no gray area to Jesus’ command: “Follow me.” Either you say yes or no. Yet here is the good news: Jesus is our righteousness! That means when you accept Jesus and follow Him, you put on His righteousness and God no longer sees a sinner—He sees someone saved. Your life may still be full of sins and troubles you wish weren’t there, but that doesn’t change the way God sees you when you begin to live life in His love. Focus on Jesus. Give your life to Him every day. And the rest will take care of itself.
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 the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.