We ended the last year and began this new year with some meditations from the book of Proverbs. At this time of our church life our focus is on the need for biblical wisdom. I have previously reminded you that wisdom is not necessarily obtained by reading wise books . They are important , but the reading of many books does not necessarily make a wise man . “There are”, as one black American preacher once said, “many educated fools”. Spurgeon reminds us in this regard that “Solomon made a book of Proverbs , but a Book of Proverbs won’t make a Solomon.”  Reading the Proverbs itself will not make you wise. It is God who made Solomon wise, and He alone can make you wise. Solomon received His unique wisdom from God Himself (see 1 Kings 3:10-14) and THUS was able to write it down for our benefit. Brothers and sisters , pray that in these sacred pages we may not only read of some amazing wisdom , but that we may be possessed by such wisdom , which is the gift of God to us ! As we face the year of our Lord 2015 I would like to remind you that reading your Bible and coming to church on a Sunday to hear God’s Word explained, will not necessarily make you wise. The Word of God must be combined with humble prayer , as we saw in Prov. 2:2-5 “… making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding… calling out for insight… seeking it like silver… searching for it as for hidden treasures… then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. ”
Let us pray!
We saw last week that Proverbs 3 began with 5 exhortations  to which great promises for believers were attached. We also saw that these blessings ( length of days, favour and good success in the sight of God and man , etc. ) are conditionally given to the believer . Believer’s must learn to obey in order to obtain God’s blessings. We are not here referring to the unconditional gift of eternal life which God gives to us unsought, unearned and undeserved in Jesus Christ His Son . The Bible here refers to what must happen once we have been converted. Having been enabled to believe , we must obey God ! When the Lord Jesus had chosen His disciples, the next thing He did was to tell them, “Follow me!” . My prayer is that you and I may hear the voice of the Good Shepherd clearly in 2015 , and that we may not only hear, but that we may obey Him as we follow Him in the company and the fellowship of believers joined together at Eastside Baptist Church .
From the Scriptures we observe time and again that a united church gathered under the doctrine of the apostles, gathered in prayer and in fellowship, regularly observing the ordinances is a strong and a wise church. 
As Solomon now continues to counsel his son in Prov. 3:11-20 we continue to build on these foundations as we observe three further God –given wisdoms that we ought to prayerfully receive and build into our lives :
1. A Reminder : God disciplines those whom He loves :  My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
This text needs to be read in conjunction with Hebrews 12:5 . As you consider 2015, let this word of wisdom find a place in your heart . Many modern Christians cannot stand the thought of it , as they are trapped in the false , unbiblical wisdom of many popular teachers who prophecy nothing but health , wealth and prosperity, and thus bring about a false sense of peace and security and dependence upon idols and not the LORD . Becoming a child of God means to come into a new household in which we learn under the discipline of our loving heavenly Father . In the light of this fact we are reminded not to despise the Lord’s discipline nor to be weary of his reproof . To despise God means to resent God’s dealings with us , or even failing to see that it is His hand at work in our life ! May the Lord Himself teach you the value of appreciating His loving discipline and learn to make a distinction between chastisement and punishment as Spurgeon does so helpfully in these following words :
“ God’s people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins. God has punished them already in the person of Christ; Christ their substitute has endured the full penalty for all their guilt, and neither the justice nor the love of God can ever exact again that which Christ has paid… but yet while the sin cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned, he can be chastised; … as a son he may be chastised on account of sin. Folly is bound up in the heart of all God’s children, and the rod of the Father must bring that folly out of them. It is essential to observe the distinction between punishment and chastisement. Punishment and chastisement may agree as to the nature of the suffering: the one suffering may be as great as the other; the sinner who while here is punished for his guilt may suffer no more in this life than the Christian who is only chastised by his parent. They do not differ as to the nature of the punishment, but they differ in the mind of the punisher and in the relationship of the person who is punished. God punishes the sinner on his own account because he is angry with the sinner and his justice must be avenged, his law must be honored, and his commands must have their dignity maintained. But he does not punish the believer on his own account: on the Christian's account it is to do him good. He afflicts him for his profit, he lays on the rod for his child's advantage; he has a good design towards the person who receives the chastisement. … The rod has been baptized in deep affection before it is laid on the believer's back. God does not afflict willingly, … there cannot be anything punitive in it; you must never say — “Now God is punishing me for my sin.” … He is chastising you , not punishing you ; …There is no hot displeasure in his heart. …. It is simply because he loves you, because you are sons, that he therefore chastises you.
When we as earthly fathers discipline our children, they may not like it at the time . But Hebrews 12:11 helpfully reminds us : “ For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, BUT LATER it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those that have been trained by it .”
2. An Encouragement : In pursuing Wisdom you will get more than the World can offer!  Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding,  for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.
Having heard this reminder of God’s fatherly chastising of us we may thank God (perhaps only later) that through this means we have been privileged to find wisdom. Many testify to having learned much in the University of hard knocks! Understand this . We are not born with wisdom ! We need to find it, and when we have found it is a source of blessing…. Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding! Solomon says that those who find this wisdom are blessed (see Psalm 1) . This wisdom is so much better than possessing silver, gold , jewels . We are so much richer for knowing God’s truth than the richest man in the world is in having his material wealth . Consider the benefits of wisdom , beginning with v. 18 : She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. The imagery of the tree of life is used three more times in Proverbs ( 11:30;13:12;15:4) and it is obviously a reference to the tree of life in Genesis and in Revelation . So long life in v.16 is really ‘ looooong life’ not necessarily in terms of this life ( some believers do die young) , but certainly in terms of eternal life.
The point is that by pursuing the way of wisdom, a person can obtain the best things God has to offer. What good is an expensive house if there's no happy home within it? Happiness, pleasantness, and peace aren't the guaranteed by-products of financial success, but they are guaranteed to the person who lives by God's wisdom. Wisdom becomes a 'tree of life' to the believer who takes hold of her, and this is indeed a foretaste of heaven.
And again , note the promises associated with wisdom … “ long ,life… riches and honour … pleasantness , peace …”. Alexander Mc Laren reminds us this this regard , “No doubt such promises are to be taken with limitations; but there need be no doubt that, on the whole, loyal devotion to and real possession of heavenly Wisdom do tend in the direction of lengthening lives, which are by it delivered from vices and anxieties which cut many a career short, and of gathering round silver hairs reverence and troops of friends.”
Now here is a necessary warning : If you seek wisdom in order to get these blessings , you will not find her , for the love of wisdom is linked to a person revealed by God to us in the flesh. So once again we must be reminded that the only complete peace, and sense of well- being comes from obeying Wisdom, or what is the same thing, from following Christ. Peace with ourselves, the world, and God, is always the consequence of listening to Wisdom – to our Lord Jesus Christ . Jesus, has become the incarnate Wisdom of God . He is Himself ‘the Tree of Life in the midst of the paradise of God.’ Take hold of Him by faith , and keeping holding on stubbornly to Him through all your temptations that may come to you this year ! slack our grasp.
3. A Vital Theological Principle : Remember the God has made the Heavens and the Earth!  The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens;  by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.
What an important truth to live by as we make it our aim to live wisely in 2015. Solomon here affirms in agreement with Genesis 1:1ff and John 1:1-3,14 and Job 38-41 that God is the Source and Creator . It is particularly John’s gospel that directs us to the fact that Christ is the wisdom of God as we are here reminded that He has created the earth (see Prov. 8: 22-31).
All this has profound implications upon our thinking. What you see around you , did not come from nothing . It did not happen by random evolution. The Bible always speaks about intelligent design. You see there has been a great battle going on for more than 100 years now , contesting the fact that there is a personal Creator –God, who has made the heavens and the earth. Since Charles Darwin (1809-1882) there has been a sustained attack on the biblical account of creation through substituting this with the atheistic doctrine of impersonal, evolution by chance. Proverbs would call this foolish, and so must we. It is important to affirm in our own day what the Bible teaches about the creation of the heavens and the earth . This is the wisdom of God and to move away from this is foolish . No wonder that following this , Solomon says to his son : “ My son , do not lose sight of these- keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul… then you will walk on your way securely …” (vv. 21-23)
SUMMARY : Three principles for wise living along the way into 2015
(i) Remember that God loves you and treats you as His child . This includes the fact that He will chastise you .
(ii) Pursue biblical wisdom and you will get more than the world can offer you .
(iii) Remember that God is the Source of all that is made !
 Quoted by Gary Brady , “ Heavenly Wisdom “ , Welwyn Commentaries , p.13
 See last week’s sermon
 E.g. Matt 4:18,19 ( Andrew and Simon Peter) ; Matt. 4:21,22 ( James and John) ; Matt. 9:9 ( Matthew) ; John 1:43 ( Philip)
 Acts 2:42; 4:23-31;
 A sermon (No. 667) delivered on Sabbath morning, October 28, 1855 by C.H. Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
 See Prov 2:4