Monday, September 5, 2011

“From Generation to Generation” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 11, 2011

Purpose: To explore what it means to “keep the heart”

Scripture Text: Proverbs 4:10-15, 20-27 (NRSV)

Proverbs 4:10-15
(10)Hear, my child, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
(11)I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
(12)When you walk, your step will not be hampered;
and if you run, you will not stumble.
(13)Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
guard her, for she is your life.
(14)Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of evildoers.
(15)Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.

Proverbs 4: 20-27
(20)My child, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
(21)Do not let them escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
(22)For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
(23)Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
(24)Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
(25)Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
(26)Keep straight the path of your feet,
and all your ways will be sure.
(27)Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

As I begin writing my thoughts on this lesson, I cannot help but consider the date this lesson will be taught and studied all around the world; September 11, 2011, ten years after the horrific assault on America. Our hearts and minds still can clearly see the images of that day. But, what lesson have we learned from that experience? Immediately following those events there was a spike in church attendance, and for a brief moment it
appeared God had our attention. Unfortunately that soon faded and we seem more intent than ever to remove God's influence from our lives. Now, we have experienced every phenomenon known, floods, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and drought and yet we collectively refuse to hear and see where our help lies.

The lesson our text teaches is obedience is essential to a long and productive life. As we look at this text together there are three different perspectives we can use to influence how we look at this passage. 
  • “I need to hear this,” 
  • “My child needs to hear this,”
  • “I wish I had known this.”
Is it ever too late to follow good advice? Our text appears to be a father advising a son that is about to make his own way in the world, a sort of last best effort before he leaves the nest. But the advice goes far beyond just venturing out, it includes lifetime guidance. Unfortunately we encounter distractions all along our life journey that can derail us from following the correct path. Temptations and peer pressure is not restricted to the young. Setting a standard early of obtaining wisdom is our best guide for future success. A funny thing about proceeding down the path of uprightness and a proven well developed path is there are fewer things on that path to stumble over. Only when we deviate, from that path, do we find those things that cause us to stumble and maybe even lose our way.

Part of seeing the path, is hearing the words of our fathers, and keeping them in our hearts. A well guided heart offers our best chance for an “abundant life” as Jesus promised in John 10:10 …. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

The way that we talk and how we communicate with and about others, can become a distraction and cause us to lose sight of the path, as well as what we are focused on. Talk to any old farmer about plowing a straight furrow and they always tell you to pick out a fence post or tree in the distance and focus on that, and your furrows/paths will be straight. It is impossible to go straight when your focus is always on your next step.

God wants us to establish within our hearts a desire to learn and grow and not repeat the mistakes of our parents or our youth. Look beyond this moment, pleasures and other distractions can cause us to drift or wander. Our goal should be an “abundant life” one that glorifies God and helps create a place where God's will is done, not our will. Following our own will and desires will lead to a life of disappointment and despair. That is not what God wants for you.

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