Teaching Series
Wisdom That Works

Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Violence
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 1:8-19 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: “My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them” (Proverbs 1:10).

I’ve been enticed. I admit it. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an insatiable appetite for trying new things, even if I knew the new thing stepped outside the bounds of my values.

I had a unique neighborhood situation in my growing-up years. Our houses were quite close together and my neighborhood had dozens of kids my age. Each summer night, we’d all pile into a large treehouse just across the fence from my yard. This is where we’d tell jokes we didn’t understand, talk about the deep things of life (as deep as a 10-year-old can get), and play truth or dare. And sometimes we’d sleep. 

The problem (I’m sure you’ve identified several problems in this situation by now) with allowing a bunch of kids the freedom to hang out with no parental supervision is that there are always one or two kids who are, let’s say, more adventurous than the others. One of those kids was Kenny.

Kenny was a year older than me and a lot more dangerous. It didn’t seem like he had any boundaries when it came to what he said or did. He would often intimidate me and my friends into doing things we normally wouldn’t do. 

One particular night, Kenny brought cigarettes to the treehouse. Most of our parents smoked but as 10-year-olds none of us did. Yet. 

I remember that night because when we saw that Kenny had brought cigarettes for us to try, we all stood firmly on the idea that we would never smoke. We all knew it was wrong, and who in their right mind would light something on fire and then suck it into their lungs?

But then Kenny started in on us. He (at 11) could blow smoke rings and french inhale. It wasn’t long before all the 10-year-olds in the treehouse lit up and through fits of coughing and tearing up, were saying things like, “Wow, this is really great!” We all wanted to impress Kenny.

I wish this was the only time I’ve shoved aside the better angels of my nature to listen to the enticements of an evil person. As I look back at my life I can remember countless times I’ve acted against my values—against the little angel on my shoulder. Each time I’ve regretted it. The Wisdom Writer gives us good advice here. 

Recalibrate: Have you ever used intimidation to get someone to do something that they didn’t want to do? Have you asked forgiveness for this sin?

Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, give me the strength to shun intimidation toward me and never use it to coerce others into my way of thinking and acting.” 

Research: Read Psalm 1.

Remember: “My child, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” (Proverbs 1:10, NIV).

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

Go for a walk with your little ones today and show them how to cross the road. When I was growing up Hector the Cat taught us how to cross the road. (I remember singing this song as a kid. Sometimes it still plays in my head when I come to the curb.) The current road safety rules recommend that if you’re under the age of eight to hold the hand of a grownup. Remember to hold on to the hand that loves you before you cross the road. No one loves us more than our Heavenly Father. Hold His hand. He can see what is on the road ahead and you can be confident that He will get you safely to the other side.

In Proverbs 1:8, we are told to follow the good teachings and advice of our parents. Verse 9 says, “Their teaching will beautify your life. It will be like flowers in your hair or a chain around your neck.” Have you ever made a crown out of flowers, grass, or leaves? Go outside and find something to make a beautiful crown or necklace from. Just like pretty colors from the plants we find outside can make our outsides beautiful, the things our parents teach us can make us beautiful on the inside. In what ways are you beautiful on the inside?

When HMS Richards passed away, he left behind a library full of books in his study. For a time, they stayed there on the shelves, not to be disturbed or touched by anyone. But after a while, those books were donated to La Sierra University in California to be used for the School of Divinity. While I was at La Sierra, I was given the opportunity to walk through the library and pick up a couple of titles of his and flip through the pages. These were no ordinary books inside, as Richards had taken endless notes in the margins of each. One of the more memorable books I read had an entire journal section in the front of the book that outlined notes that followed. The quotes served to give little sermons based on the book. Before even reading a single line, I had a taste of the Good News hidden inside!

Proverbs 1:9, when talking about the life lessons taught to us by our parents, reads, “they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” 

Flowers for your hair, jewelry for your neck, and rings for your fingers, all passed down from your parents to remind you of the good things they taught you. We may not always have our parents, or wise leaders like Dr. Richards, but we will have the reminders of their wisdom if we hold on to their memories and the lessons they taught us long after they are gone.

Are there any treasured keepsakes you have from family members? Why are they so important to you? What is it about those things that remind you of your loved ones? How are those memories connected to the good advice they gave you? How can you use that advice to share the same Good News to your friends and family today?

When I was a freshman in college, I was desperate to find a group of friends I could join. I would talk to pretty much anyone and agree to hang out with anybody who asked me because I just wanted to have a friend group. Eventually I found a group of people I was able to connect with to some extent and I began to settle in with them. However, I started to notice that their morals didn’t align with mine and I began to compromise some of my beliefs in order to hang out with them. After some time, I came to the conclusion that I needed to be more intentional about who I was spending my time with, so I slowly started to fade away from that group and found people who were a better influence on me. It wasn’t easy! But the quality  of my life improved when I became intentional about who I spent time with. Proverbs 1:10 says, “My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded.” I am not saying that my first friend group in college was a bunch of “sinners.” But what I am saying is that it is easy to be drawn into a group that doesn’t align with your morals just for the sake of having a group. What are some ways that you can be intentional about staying true to your beliefs?

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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