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Have you Given Your Heart to Jesus?

Proverbs 23:19-26 NLT

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[19] My child, listen and be wise. Keep your heart on the right course. [20] Do not carouse with drunkards and gluttons, [21] for they are on their way to poverty. Too much sleep clothes a person with rags. 

[22] Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don't despise your mother's experience when she is old. [23] Get the truth and don't ever sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and discernment. [24] The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure it is to have wise children. [25] So give your parents joy! May she who gave you birth be happy. [26] O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes delight in my ways of wisdom.

There is a time when children gain control over their destiny and become adults who make their own decisions. This text was originally written from a wise father whose son had passed that threshold. The days of control are over for this father. Over time, his role transitioned from one who controls his son to one who guides his son to a father who advises his son, but allows him to make his own decisions. Parents and children alike relate to these life passages.

The father gives a lot of advice in this text-good practical advice that will benefit all who follow it, but the primary focus of this text for us today is a sentence from verse 19 and one from verse 26. Solomon wrote, "Keep your heart on the right course," and "O my son, give me your heart."

He gives some sound advice for a young man trying to keep his heart on the right course. In verse 20-21, he tells his son to watch who he associates with. He warns against spending time with drunkards, gluttons or lazy people because their behavior leads to poverty. Does he mean physical or spiritual poverty? He doesn't spell it out, but I believe these kinds of people experience both. Our faith tradition is quick to criticize the first type of behavior-even segregating ourselves from them while celebrating unhealthy eating patterns. One of the lies I told myself when I lived a gluttonous lifestyle was that as long as I was spiritually healthy it didn't matter what I did with my body. I regret that attitude and have repented from that lifestyle. Clearly the scripture teaches otherwise. Holiness is a matter of body and soul. "Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again." (1 Thes. 5:23 NLT) Notice Paul's emphasis in this verse on "soul and body." Recently during a time of private prayer with an out of town friend, he said, "Thank you Lord for Jim's spiritual health that is evidenced by his physical health." I've remembered his prayer many times since he prayed it. It has become a source of strength to me each time I'm tempted to return to my old lifestyle.

Verse 22 reminds the son that he is never too old to listen to his parents. I just returned from my annual trip visiting my parents a few weeks ago. During our time together, I learned several things about life from them-most of them small practical things, really too insignificant to mention, except to say that even as a grown man, I still covet the guidance of my parents and pray that I'll conduct myself in such a way that my children will covet mine, regardless of their age.

In verse 23, Solomon emphasizes four things to his son: truth, wisdom, discipline and discernment-four solid pillars that form a good foundation for life. Children who have these things and live their lives with them brings great joy to their parents, as the following verses point out.
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