Listen: Somebody's Talking

Sermon Summary

This message begins a new series for 2016 titled, "Listen". God is talking to us in many ways but the question remains, are we listening? This sermon, based on Proverbs 8 discusses the fact that Somebody's talking to us and it is in fact God! God's wisdom cries out to each and everyone of us as we go through this life. Wisdom speaks worthy things, right things, true things, just things, and faultless things! Wisdom detest wickedness, crookedness and perverseness! The decision before each of us is whether or not we will respond in a positive way and follow wisdom's instructions. Godly wisdom exist because God exist and God has given us the opportunity to heed wisdom's call. Over the coming weeks we will learn how to listen for and hear God's voice of wisdom.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. There is Godly wisdom and human wisdom. Human wisdom comes as we live and learn through the school of hard knocks. Godly wisdom also helps us learn from the school of hard knocks, but has the added benefit of helping us avoid some of life's hard lessons. Explain your thoughts and your experience of this truth.

 

2. The wisdom writers of Proverbs tell us God's wisdom is crying out on the heights along the way, at the city gates, in the public squares, and the city streets. Why do you think they mentioned these specific places?

Prov 8:2  On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
Prov 8:3  beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud:

Prov 1:20  Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares;
Prov 1:21  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:

 

3. Just what is it that God's wisdom is trying to say to us? Our text gives us a good clue in Proverbs 8:6-9. Discuss how the characteristics of God's wisdom differ from much of the world's wisdom and why it is a good thing to heed Godly wisdom.

Prov 8:6  Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
Prov 8:7  My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.
Prov 8:8  All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
Prov 8:9  To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge.

 

4. What is the appropriate response for us to take when we are confronted with God's wisdom? I think a good guide is found in Proverbs 8:32-36.

 

Prov 8:32  "Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
Prov 8:33  Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.
Prov 8:34  Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
Prov 8:35  For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD.
Prov 8:36  But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."



Full Sermon Notes

Imagine standing in the very presence of Almighty God, thinking about Chris Tomlin's words in that song...
"Eyes like fire
Face like the sun
A voice like thunder
Who was and is and is to come"

What if that God started talking to you personally? What would you do? Would you tremble? Would you try to hide? Would you fall on your knees? The more important question is this, would you listen? Today we kick off a brand new year with a brand new series called Listen! Before we do anything this year, we should first learn to listen!

Let's pray and ask God to help us learn how to listen to His voice.

"Father God, we need to hear Your voice, but not only to hear it, we need to learn to listen to it! Even though Your voice may be as loud as thunder, we sometimes refuse to listen.

At other times Your voice is soft, still, and simple, so we ignore it. But we need to listen because Your words are powerful, just, truthful, filled with guidance, instruction, and wisdom! We live in a world that is busy, noisy, cluttered, hurried, and very distracting! Help us to not only hear, but to listen to Your amazing voice!

I only want to be a vessel of Your Holy Spirit as I bring these words. Thank You in advance for speaking to all the hearts who will listen.
In Jesus Name I pray and I believe!

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Proverbs 8.

While your turning there, let me introduce our message by saying this humanity has spent millions on technology to listen to space. It's called radio astronomy. We have pointed amazing satellite dishes towards outer space to discover things about the universe through radio waves which stars and galaxies naturally emit. But we're also curious if there is anyone out there talking. We're desperate to see if we're all alone in the universe or if there is anyone else out there! I want to say this, somebody is out there and He's been talking to humanity for years. You'll be happy to know it doesn't take millions of dollars or fancy satellite dishes to hear His voice! So what does it take? We'll discover that in our series, Listen!
But first, let's find out who's talking in the first verse of our text…Proverbs 8:1

Who's Talking?

Prov 8:1  Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?

Now I know what some of you are thinking. "I'm pretty sure you just said the somebody out there talking was a He and I'm pretty sure you were talking about God. So why does the Bible say "her voice" when it talks about wisdom and understanding?" Ok, it's a little complicated, but not that complicated, and it's very interesting. When the Jewish wisdom writers wrote the works contained in our book of Proverbs, there were other popular wisdom writings in other cultures and nations they would have been familiar with. Commentator Marvin Tate Jr. says...

"In fact, the non-Israelite wisdom literature is so great and of such antiquity that it justifies the conclusion that the wisdom literature of the Old Testament was the Israelite version of a cultural phenomenon common to the ancient world. There is hardly any basis for doubting that the Israelites adopted and adapted the styles and forms of such literature from the great cultural traditions of the world in which they lived. However, the Israelite sages were not mere copyists who borrowed materials indiscriminately from other people. They made the heritage of wisdom from the ancient cultures their own.”

The big difference between the wisdom of Scripture and the other wisdom writings was the inspiration of The Holy Spirit of God. But what I want you to see is this: God inspired His people to use things that were a part of their contemporary culture and use it to share the truth of God! It's like contemporary music today. They were putting the message of God's Word in a cultural format that the people were familiar with and could understand. It is important to note, when the Bible personifies wisdom, it's not trying to make the concept of wisdom a deity, rather it is acknowledging that Godly wisdom exist because God exist!

It was common back then, even as it is today, when talking about certain inanimate concepts, to use the feminine gender. Like this: Justice, she will prevail!
Our nation, she's a great nation indeed!
The Church, she takes the good news to a needy world!

The Bible acknowledges that there is also a human wisdom that is gained by individuals as they live and learn from living life! That's an important type of wisdom as well! But the wisdom that emanates from God, well that wisdom, she's different and greater than any other form of wisdom in the world!

So my point is this: Don't let the feminine designation for wisdom confuse you. The vital thing we need to realize today is that God wants us to listen to His voice and to have His wisdom, the wisdom that exist because He exist. So who's talking? God is talking! As I said, Godly wisdom exist because God exist and acts with wisdom!

In fact, one of the writers of the Proverbs tells us plainly who is the source of wisdom. Proverbs...

Prov 2:6  For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

And when a person discovers and accepts that God is the source of wisdom, there are benefits…Proverbs 3:13-18

Prov 3:13  Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
Prov 3:14  for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
Prov 3:15  She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
Prov 3:16  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
Prov 3:17  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
Prov 3:18  She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.


WHERE'S SHE TALKING?

"But," one might ask, "where does wisdom speak? Where's she giving her talk, I would like to listen to her!"
Let's look at the next verses in our text…Prov 8:2-3

Prov 8:2  On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
Prov 8:3  beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud:

On the Heights!

On the heights along the way! I love this because wisdom can be found along the way  as you journey through life! That's good news! And off you've ever traversed mountainous regions, especially in developing countries, like Haiti, you know how treacherous it can be. You've got to be a very wise and skillful driver. It's dangerous!
Well, life can be treacherous and dangerous! We need God's wisdom along the way and God's Word tell us His wisdom is there for us along the way. It also says wisdom takes her stand where the paths meet!

Where the Paths Meet!

Why does it say this? Because wisdom is there for us when there's a fork in the road and we don't know which way to turn. God knows what's up ahead in all directions and He is willing to impart to us His wisdom. Wisdom has her stand, her podium and she is speaking.

Beside the Gates and Entrances!

Why here? Because before you enter the gates and entrances to the city, to the hustle and the bustle, the challenges and the temptations, the excitement and the intimidation, the city lights and the city darkness, the promises and the deceptions, you're going to need wisdom! Proverbs 1:20-21 states...

Prov 1:20  Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares;
Prov 1:21  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:

Want to know what direction to go in 2016? Want to know how to make better decisions in 2016? Wisdom is crying out to you and me saying, "I'm here and I'm willing to speak truth into your life, the question is, are you listening?" We all have to decide who we're going to listen to this year! And for many of us it comes down to this… Proverbs 3:5-8

Prov 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
Prov 3:6  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Prov 3:7  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.
Prov 3:8  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

So I guess it comes down to this. Am I going to listen to myself or to God this year? And you just might be wondering if this message is really for you? Well, let's see who wisdom is talking to this morning…Proverbs 8:4-5

Who's She
Talking To?

Prov 8:4  "To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.
Prov 8:5  You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.

To all men and not just men, but all mankind!
God's voice cries out to everyone! He wants us to all have His wisdom. Contrary to what Satan, told Adam and Eve, God wasn't trying to keep His wisdom away from us. He was trying to protect Adam and Eve from the reality of evil. Sometimes people ignore the voice of God because they think He's trying to keep them from having a good time! Nothing could be farther from the truth. He's trying to protect you! Sometimes, failure to hear and heed wisdom's voice can be fatal. Listen to what God has to say about that…Ezekiel 18:23...

Ezek 18:23  Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

And then in the New Testament…One of my favorite of all Bible verses, 2 Peter 3:8-9

2 Pet 3:8  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
2 Pet 3:9  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

And aren't you glad God is not just offering His wisdom to the really, really smart people? Let me read Proverbs 8:5 again...

Prov 8:5  You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.

So God wants the simple and the foolish people of this world to have His wisdom. Now if that offends you, and you don't like to think of yourself as a simple person or a foolish person, we may need to talk. Have you ever heard of foolish pride? People who don't think they've ever been foolish or made bad decisions are being very simple and probably just a little dishonest!
Wisdom knew there would be those with this response. Proverbs 1:22...

Prov 1:22  "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
Prov 1:23  If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.

Can it be any plainer? God wants to pour out His heart to you and make His thoughts known to you. The question is…
Are you listening?

What is She Saying?

Just what is it that God's wisdom is trying to say to us? Our text gives us a good clue in verses 6-9...

Prov 8:6  Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
Prov 8:7  My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.
Prov 8:8  All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
Prov 8:9  To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge.

What a list!! Wisdom speaks worthy things, right things, true things, just things, faultless things! Wisdom detest wickedness, crookedness and perverseness! So why would anyone reject wisdom? Why would anyone not want worthy things, right things true things, just things and faultless things? Why would anyone desire what wisdom despises? I think it comes back to what I said earlier…Some people just don't trust the heart of God! They somehow are convinced that what He wants is less than best! They think He's being deceptive and that chasing the fantasies of the world will be better and more fulfilling.

How many poor souls have bought that lie? Listen to what wisdom had to say about this in Proverbs 1:29-32

Prov 1:29  Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD,
Prov 1:30  since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,
Prov 1:31  they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
Prov 1:32  For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
Prov 1:33  but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."

I think we would be wise to listen to wisdom! What do you think? Be destroyed by complacency or live in the safety and peace that comes with trusting God's heart?
And what about the statement, without fear of harm? Does that mean a person who trust in God will never get sick, have an accident, or die? No that's not what that means. But it does mean that I can live without fear, because I know that until The Lord is ready for me to come home, I can live without fear because that timing is in His hands and no matter what I face in this life I know I have His presence, His power, His love, and His wisdom to see me through! Thank You Lord!

How Should I Respond?

Prov 8:10  Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,
Prov 8:11  for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Looks like we have a choice to make! We can choose to listen to God's wisdom or ignore it! there are consequences to both! Wisdom is crying out for us to choose what is truly valuable in this world! Wisdom tells us that her instructions are better than silver, her knowledge better than choice gold. Wisdom is better than fine rubies.

Nothing we desire can compare with her! Nothing! Why? Because wisdom, she wants to lead you to the God who loved you so much He not only created you, but still loved you even when you went astray! He loved me so much He made a way for me to be forgiven the foolishness of once rejecting His wisdom!

Wisdom even helps us with our decision by giving us a promise…Proverbs 8:17

Prov 8:17  I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

And then wisdom gives us additional help with our response…Proverbs 8:32-36

Prov 8:32  "Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
Prov 8:33  Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.
Prov 8:34  Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
Prov 8:35  For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD.
Prov 8:36  But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."

The first thing is to listen and the second thing is to follow. Over the coming weeks we're going to discover how to listen. How to watch daily at wisdom's door, how to discover the wisdom of God and find the life and favor of God He wants us to have.

Closing comments and Prayer!