“For the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” – Proverbs 15:15
Who could disagree with that? That when we are happy, life is great – a continual feast, full and vibrant. The struggle is in finding a happy heart. The struggle is in maintaining a happy heart.
Our culture seems to impress upon us that the way to find happiness is to do great things, achieve fame or success, or to pursue anything of that nature. In essence, happiness is equated to really big moments, mountain-top experiences and big highs.
The writer of Proverbs, though, has a different take. For him, happiness isn’t always found in the big moments, but often in the regular ones, such as a word of encouragement (Proverbs 12:25), some good news (Proverbs 15:30), a smile (Proverbs 15:30) or laughter (Proverbs 17:22).
The point being, we look for happiness in the big moments, but it’s often found in the everyday moments.
And, what is interesting is that social psychology is teaching us the exact same thing. Author, Ron Friedman, puts it this way: “Small, frequent pleasures can keep us happy longer than large, infrequent ones.” Not only is that true, it’s biblical.
So, today, rather than just seeking happiness in the large, giant things, seek to find it in the small and frequent things, such as a good cup of coffee, a smile from a friend, relaxing with your kids or whatever else it may be.
Because, it will not only be good for your soul, it’ll make your life a continual feast.
On Sunday we opened up the book of Proverbs to learn about friendships. Friendships are these things that are all around us, that I think we end up taking for granted so often. But this is something that not only do we need to change, that Solomon would argue we must change to have a full life.
So we jumped in looking at various different sayings of Solomon pulling out three key points:
Friendship can matter more than family
Friendship will determine the quality and direction of your life
Friendship based on deep trust is all that matters
So first we looked at how friendship can matter more than family. This is something pretty shocking to say; not only in our day but in Solomon’s day and age. Because in his day and age you had no health insurance, crop insurance, or retirement. Your insurance or safety net was your family. Family was obligated to help in a time of crisis.
And this is actually why Solomon says that friendship can matter even more than family. He writes, “there are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother”. (Proverbs 18:24). Friends can stick closer than family.
And Solomon’s point is that any relationship built on chosen love, rather than obligation will be stronger and better. And this is just true. He’s not saying family doesn’t matter, but that friendship can run deeper than just family relations. Any relationship (family based or not) built on love, and choice will always beat any relationship based on obligation. And this is why we need to invest in our friendships and why they matter because they are formed by love and not by obligation.
Secondly, we learned that friendships determine the quality and direction of our lives. Solomon writes this, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” and this is true. That the people we are close to rub off on us for good or for bad. This is another reason that we need to choose our friends carefully, and invest in them wisely. We choose our friends, but once our friends have been chosen they will choose our destiny. This is why we need to continue to see and raise the importance of the value of our friendships.
And also, but not least, Solomon reminded us that if our friendships are not based on deep trust that they aren’t really friendships. That if someone lies to us and laughs it off, they are worse than a destructive killer (Proverbs 26:18-19). That a true friend will not let us walk into difficulty but will warn us (Proverbs 27:5-6). That true friends provide heartfelt care and counsel, not just what we want to hear.
So on Sunday from these three general themes: friendships matter more than family, friendship determines the quality and direction of our lives and true friends are built on trust; we came to our main theme. Our main idea was simple but needed: We need to choose and invest in good friendships.
We need to choose and invest in good friendships.
If we want to have a strong start we will not regret investing in good friendships, and key relationships. We will never regret strengthening our relationships, and distancing away from difficult ones.
So we gave a challenge to choose and invest in good relationships. To seek out good ones and to cultivate them. No relationship just “starts” and becomes amazing without work and effort. Friendships require cultivation to be forged. So we challenged one another to actually put the effort in. To put the time into the good relationships built on trust, and limit the ones that cause harm. To seek out good friends and invest in them with our lives.
One thing is sure if we want to have a great 2016, a strong start, it won’t happen with poor, nonexistent, or shallow relationships. A great year starts with great friendships, so start investing in them today.
The Chinese have a proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The best time to invest in friendships was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
Big Idea: We need to choose and invest in good friendships
Three challenges: Serve weekly, connect with God daily, journey with 2 others
“Is it wise” is always a better question than “is it wrong”
Friendships are more important than family
Relationships built on love beat relationships built on obligation every time
Friendships determine the quality and direction of our lives
We choose our friends, but once our friends have been chosen they will choose our destiny
True friends are honest and trustworthy friends
We need to choose good friends
We need to invest in good friends
Friendships are not “found” but forged and cultivated
Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself. C.S. Lewis
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival. C.S. Lewis
The best time to invest in friendships was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Chinese Proverb
Adult Discussion Questions:
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? Had you thought about friendship being more important than family before? What do you think of that? How have you seen it be true that friendships determine the quality and direction of our lives? Who are your closest friends? Are they trustworthy and honest? Who should you be investing in? And how can you be better investing in them?
Discussion Questions / Responses for Young Families
Talk to your kids about the importance of friendship and how it determines our quality of life. Ask them who their best friends are? And ask them are they wise friends? Do they make good choices? Help them to think through making the best friends.
Challenge for the Week: Choose to invest in friendships this year.
So on Sunday we pursued one question that I think will change your life. It will lead you into becoming a wise person. The question is this: what is the wise thing to do?
And at first glance it’s such a simple question that it doesn’t even seem that helpful. But if you think back to your greatest regret, failure, or mess up – I bet if you had asked that question, and followed through with it – things would be different.
So that’s what we looked at on Sunday; one simple question and 4 different responses to it. In Proverbs there are 4 types of people mentioned and each type of person has a different response to this question.
The first type of person Proverbs says are “simple”. These are people who do not know enough yet to ask this question. They are the young, naïve, and innocent people. These are our kids, and others who don’t have enough maturity or experience yet to ask this question – what is the wise thing to do.
The next type of person is a foolish person. This is someone who knows enough to ask the question, and knows the answer but doesn’t care enough to follow it. If you ask a fool what the wise thing to do is, they can often tell you. But they don’t care to follow it. This is because as Proverbs says Doing wrong is fun for a fool. Proverbs 10:23. So they know that dropping out of school, going to that party, not showing up for work isn’t wise. They just don’t care enough to change. That’s what Proverbs calls the foolish person.
The next person is the mocker. Proverbs descirbes them as someone who has given up on the question. They don’t care about being wise, they care about being in control and cutting people down. They want to be the best in the room, but rather than focusing on being wise to gain respect, they focus on being critical to lower others around. They know what is wise, they just don’t care about the question, or those who follow it.
And then the last type of person is a wise person. This is someone who knows the question, what is the wise thing to do, unlike the simple person. This is someone who cares about the question, unlike the foolish person. This is someone who hasn’t given up on the question, unlike the mocking person. The wise person is someone who asks the question, and follows through on it.
They ask, “What is the wise thing to do?” And then they do it.
That was our challenge this week. To ask that question each and everyday, and also to make it personal. To say in light of my stage in life, my finances, my future, my past, who I am etc. What is the wise thing to do? Because what is wise for you and for me might be different because we are different. So we challenged everyone to ask that question and to make it personal.
Here is the beauty of the question, what is the wise thing to do. Even if you come to a situation where it is so complex and difficulty you are unsure what is the wise thing to do – the question still works. Just ask, “What is the wise thing to do, when you don’t know the wise thing to do”. The answer is pretty simple – go to God, go to others that are wiser, and move slowly.
So this one question I believe can prevent so much regret, start to heal relationships, and set our lives in the right direction. And all we need to do is ask it, and follow it.
What is the wise thing to do?
Being wise is about knowing how to apply knowledge
Being smart does not equate to being wise
What is the wise thing to do?
Four types of people: Simple, Fool, Mocker, and Wise
Simple people don’t know enough to ask the question
Fools know enough to ask the question, but don’t care enough to follow it.
The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense. Proverbs 10:21
A foolish person didn’t care enough to think.
Eventually being foolish isn’t fun
The mocker has given up on the question.
Ask this question, “What is the wise thing to do”, and follow it through
Is it wise for me to do?
Adult / Group Discussion Questions
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?
Have you ever in life been, the “simple person”, “foolish person”, or “mocking person”? How do you think asking the question, might help? What major decisions are before you right now, or major issues or situations? What would be the wise thing to do? Who can help you to do the wise thing?
Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families
Talk to your kids about today’s topic. Teach them the question – “What is the wise thing to do” and explain it to them using some examples. Maybe as an example, eating a few treats is great, eating all of them isn’t wise as you’ll get sick. Get into the habit too of asking them the question when they come to you for advice.
Challenge for this Week
Ask the question: what is the wise thing to do, and follow through.
On Sunday we are jumping into the book of Proverbs and we are going to discover one question that will change your life
I know we say that a lot – that something will change your life. Everything from an new exercise machine, to a new type of taco. But I truly believe this one question will change your life. It will prevent heartache, it will lessen regret, it will change the direction of your life and move you closer towards God.
So obviously I didn’t come up with the question, Solomon did. As the wisest man, we are going to learn from him how to be wise.
But before we get there why not spend sometime today reading Proverbs. The very fact that we are still reading something written 3000 years ago – means that it must be good to have lasted. I doubt anyone will read anything I write in 3000 years, but Solomon’s wisdom was so deep it is still shaping people today.
So before Sunday why not read through some of Proverbs. They are short, easy, and some will strike you as dead on true. So here is one of my favorites that we’ll talk about on Sunday.
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. Proverbs 26:11
So on Sunday we looked at the sensitive topic of gluttony. We started in an odd place, a discussion of math, statistics, and the inverted U curve.
Here is how Malcolm Gladwell discusses what an inverted U curve is:
Inverted-U curves have three parts, and each part follows a different logic. There’s the left side, where doing more or having more makes things better. There’s the flat middle, where doing more doesn’t make much of a difference. And there’s the right side, where doing more or having more makes things worse.
We used this framework to begin to talk about gluttony. Gluttony is really about too much of a good thing that becomes a bad thing. So, for example ,some food is good, a middle amount doesn’t really help or hurt, too much gets unhealthy. But the inverted U works for than just food. It also works for working, stress, and a whole host of things. Working is good for health, but too much work (i.e. being a workaholic) becomes incredibly unhealthy for physically and relationally. A little stress is helpful to stay motivated and in the “flow” – too much becomes an ulcer.
The point of the inverted U is things that are good in small to moderate amounts can have really negative consequences in large amounts. And this is actually the same thing we learn from Solomon, the wisest man on earth. He says this, “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. (Proverbs 25:16)
A little honey is good, it’s sweet, it’s delicious, and it’s good for you. Too much honey will make you vomit. The logic of Solomon is really clear: gluttony is really about too much of a good thing. It’s about a lack of moderation and balance. Most things in life are only good in moderation, overabundance or overconsumption leads to difficulty. This is true in all sorts of things. Work is good, being a workaholic isn’t. Being flexible and saying yes to things is good, being a doormat isn’t. Watching TV is relaxing, watching 16 hours in a row is a rut. Having some “me time” by yourself is great, doing it so much you disconnect from your family is a bad thing. Buying new shoes can be fun, buying 100 pairs and drowning in debt isn’t.
The point is that gluttony isn’t just about how much we eat, but how we live. And there are things in our lives that are a good thing, but that without discipline, quickly become a bad thing.
So on Sunday to make this personal we asked ourselves one question: Is there a good thing that has become a bad thing in our lives? Is there something good that has become too much and become bad?
Are we working too much?
Are we texting and spending too much time on phones?
Are we spending too much?
Are we too busy – connecting with people?
Are we saying yes to too many things?
And as we asked that question we simply collectively said a one word prayer: help. Help God for me to find balance. Help God for me to find strength. Help God for me to find moderation in this good thing that’s gone a little bad.
So that’s what we learned on Sunday but hopefully it isn’t something that we just learn about – but practice. Because the truth is we feel better when we are in the middle – enjoying a little honey but not so much that we throw it up.
Big Idea: Gluttony is about a lack balance and moderation
Ground Rules #1: Posture of Grace not Guilt
God convicts of sin, but he doesn’t shame us for our sin.
Ground Rules #2: Personal Introspection
Sin leads to unhealthy lives
Ground Rules #3: Safe and Transformational
Rather than rooting out our sins, we try to keep them under control. Micahel Mangis
Gluttony believes that if a little is good, a lot will always be better. Michael Mangis
Gluttony is too much of a good thing that leads to a bad thing.
Is there a good thing that has become a bad thing?
God Help me in this…
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?Have you ever thought of gluttony not just in terms of food? What are maybe some “good things” that have become unhealthy things? How can you start to get some more balance in your life? How can God help you find moderation? Last but not least – can you give it up for Lent? If so who can help to encourage and cheer you on?
Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about the sin of gluttony. Why not actually act out the verse? Have the kids taste some honey and how good it is. Ask them what might happen if they were to eat the entire jar of it right now. Share with them how Solomon says they’d throw it all up – and how there is a lot of good things – that too much becomes a bad thing.
Challenge for this Week: Give up on good thing that has become a bad thing