Series: Wisdom That Works
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 International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!” (Proverbs 1:18).
I’d like to take a moment today to introduce some Thursday Theology. One of the realities of sin is that it is self destructive. This counters the idea that somehow God destroys sin and sinner. Instead, I’d like to introduce the thought that sin destroys the sinner and because of this, will lead to its own final destruction. God is not the destroyer; Satan and sin are the destroyers.
Here are but a few Bible readings that help us understand the suicidal nature of sin versus the saving redemption of Jesus:
Romans 6:23: The wages of Sin is death.
James 1:15: Sin when it is full grown brings forth death.
Psalm 34:21: Evil shall slay the wicked.
John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.
Now a few thoughts from the prophet Ellen White:
He will say to the angels, “No longer combat Satan in his efforts to destroy. Let him work out his malignity upon the children of disobedience; for the cup of their iniquity is full. They have advanced from one degree of wickedness to another, adding daily to their lawlessness. I will no longer interfere to prevent the destroyer from doing his work.” (Review and Herald, September 17, 1901 para. 8)
This earth has almost reached the place where God will permit the destroyer to work his will upon it. (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, 141.1)
Satan is the destroyer. God cannot bless those who refuse to be faithful stewards. All He can do is to permit Satan to accomplish his destroying work. (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, 388–389)
God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejectors of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. (The Great Controversy, 36.1)
Sickness, suffering, and death are work of an antagonistic power. Satan is the destroyer; God is the restorer. (Ministry of Healing, 112–113)
The Wisdom Writer in Proverbs warns us that sin is its own snare. Sin is its own punishment. Somehow along the way we’ve been fooled into thinking that God is the punisher and the destroyer. I suspect this has something to do with the “dragon” in Revelation 12 deceiving the whole world.
Recalibrate: Have you ever seen sin destroy a person? When this happened, did blaming God for their destruction ever cross your mind? Why do you think people attribute destruction to God?
Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, thank You for being the life giver and the saver, not the destroyer. Help me to know the difference.”
Research: If you have Amazon Prime, take the time to watch the documentary Hellbound?
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.
We are going to play Follow the Leader again today, but this time do it in through our everyday tasks. Play Follow the Leader as we eat, clean, and play today. Eat some fresh fruit and vegetables and talk about how good they are for our bodies. When we clean our teeth, talk about how food is not meant to stay on our teeth. We need to clean our teeth so they stay strong. When we play, talk about how we are kind and gentle with people and toys because we want them to stay strong too. Lead your little one in gentle strength, showing the way, seeing if they follow. Know that Jesus does this with us every day. Play with Him. Follow Him and lead and love well.
Have you ever heard of a habit? There are “good” habits and “bad” habits. A habit is something you do over and over again until it becomes something you just do without even having to think about it. Can you think of some habits you have? Brushing your teeth? Packing up your backpack in the mornings? Everyone has habits and the more you do them, the easier they are to do. I’m sure we all have habits that we do when we get home from school every day. What do you do when you get home from school? Do you do your homework first thing? Do you take your dog for a walk? Do you turn on the TV or play a game? The more we do the same thing every day, the easier it becomes. Proverbs tells us that people who choose to do bad things over and over and over again hurt themselves. Why do you think it hurts someone if they do bad things? Have you ever done something bad? How did it make you feel? Probably not so good. Like I told you earlier, when I didn’t listen to my mom and left our house, I felt awful afterward. God doesn’t want us to feel awful. He wants us to feel full of joy and strength! What are some good habits you can start doing that will make you feel happy and strong?
When I was in college, the school I attended decided they were going to install a fence all the way around the outside of the campus to make sure nobody who was supposed to stay on the outside got inside easily. They also issued all students an ID card that had a microchip on the inside that would allow them to scan their card to open the gates when driving on campus after the sun went down. Because I had spent so much time there without needing a card, I often forgot to bring it with me when I left campus. So when I returned from driving around town, I was always locked out!
On one particular night, I left my card in my room and went driving only to return to find the gate was closed on one side of the street. But, much to my delight, someone was leaving the campus driving on the other side of the road. If I timed it just right, I could wait for the car to pass by and drive on the other side and sneak in before the gate closed again. Without checking to make sure the coast was clear, I threw the car in reverse, hit the gas, and pulled my car around to the other side. Right as I started to drive through the gate, I saw out of the corner of my eye the distinct outline of a security patrol car waiting just on the other side of the gate.
Proverbs 1:17 reads (in the Message Bible), “Nobody robs a bank with everybody watching.” That’s pretty good advice coming from Solomon (though it probably should say, “Don’t rob a bank whether or not anyone is watching!”) all things considered. Most often, we do the things we shouldn’t only after making sure no one is watching. But true fools risk committing crimes while people are watching. Those people truly have no regard for the law. Solomon is trying to teach us to be people who know the law, follow it, and have a respect for it. Respect means doing the right thing, even when people aren’t looking.
Have you ever tried to get away with something you knew you shouldn’t do and got caught? What happened to you? What lessons did you learn from it? How will you make better choices in the future, knowing what you learned?
Have you ever tried to reason with someone who would not budge from their opinion? This summer I had a conversation with someone who had mistreated my family. He could not see or understand the damage that he had done and was set in his ways, and so I concluded that it probably wasn’t wise of me to continue with the conversation. It’s hard to try to reason with someone who is stuck in their mindset and won’t see that what they are doing is wrong. (I’m sure my parents think this about me all the time!) Proverbs 1:17-18 talks about people who are set in their ways and how it is useless to reason with them. Are there areas in your life where you have refused to be flexible? Take some time this week to examine things in your life that might be harmful and see how you can be intentional about overcoming them.
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.