A Whole Body Walk 

Proverbs 4:1-7

1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;

2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.

3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,

4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.

5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

Have you ever tried to walk a straight line with your head turned to the side? It’s very hard to do. Ask a child to do it and it’s a quick example of how off course one can get if they are not looking at the goal. Or think of of people walking while texting on their phones and running into things. Some have even injured themselves walking into poles, the street, or cars. Not looking up and forward will get you the wrong place and is potentially dangerous. 

When I go out walking and taking public transportation in this busy city, I am constantly telling my sons to pay attention. I don’t want them to walk into something they shouldn’t; to step too far away from me; or cause others discomfort or anger from bumping into them. It’s an active walk, to get from one place to another, and it requires the whole body to move the right way and do the right thing to get from A to B. When we miss a transfer or turn down the wrong street we have to reorient ourselves to our destination and make the corrections needed to get somewhere. Like a GPS recalculating, we don’t change our destination, we move forward to the place we need to be. 

Proverbs 4:20-27

20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.

21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart;

22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.

26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.

27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4 is a plea to pay attention, it uses physical descriptions to help one understand the cause and effect of where we walk and what path we take in our lives. Various parts of the whole body are mentioned: ears, heart, flesh, feet, mouth, eyes, and eyelids, the instructions for each are also spiritual. 

With our ears, we are to listen to instruction. Active listening is seeking to understand what is being said, we should be actively pondering wisdom. In this chapter, wisdom says: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil.” (Prov. 4:14) “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18) Then we are told to use our whole selves to give attention to these things. Our hearts are to be filled with instruction, our eyes should be looking forward to the right path, one that won’t be taking us down the one of wickedness, but towards the path of the just. Our mouth should be speaking true and just things, and our eyelids should be open. Our feet should be moving us in the direction away from wickedness. 

This isn’t a passive response to the wisdom, but an active and moving response. For me, my movement constantly needs focus. I daily need to get my mind attentive to wise things, mainly God’s Word, the Bible. Then I have direction, to go throughout my day not stumbling in darkness, but with eyes wide open, looking to finish each day in light of the truth of scripture. Do I have days when I go off course? Yes, can it change by the hour sometimes? Yes. Instead of continuing the wrong way though, it requires a refocusing of the mind, heart, and eyes onto the wisdom from God to get back on course. It is easier to correct direction when less wrong turns have been taken. Where do you need to actively move to be on the bright and shining path of wisdom?

Trust is a Funny Thing

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Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Trust is a funny thing.

I was thinking about trust, and placing trust in either inanimate objects or in an animal, or in a person. I know I have tiers of trust, that are often complex and hard to break through.

I will sit on a chair without checking the handiwork of it for its soundness. In my experience, a chair has never let me down; so placing my confidence that one will hold me up is an easy feat.

Trusting an animal, a pet for instance, is easy also. I know my own dog will not bite me, I can play with it, take its food away, give it toys, throw a stick, or grab a ball from its mouth and I know I will not be harmed. I can trust my own dog, because I know it, and I am the hand that feeds it. I wouldn’t put my face near a dog that was not my own though. I know boundaries exist among pets and animals. It is something I assume and rely on, even though my experience has never gotten me bit by a dog. (Trusting a cat is an entirely different matter…)

How about people? Do you trust people readily? I tend not to. Perhaps it is my skeptical personality, maybe my upbringing, maybe just my own evaluation of myself causes me to doubt others. I have a very close and small circle of persons I will trust. Maybe a total of 4 people whom I trust entirely. I can think of who they are with no hesitation, and I think they would know who they are if they read this.

Have you ever sent a package in the mail? You trust the postal service will get it to its destination, in one piece. I was sending a box of books, to an unknown recipient, who purchased those from me, at a reasonable price; and I suddenly felt like I wanted to rush out of the post office and not send them, but I didn’t. I am counting on a relatively unknown to make good on their word to also have sent me the check for said books. In “good faith” I sent the package, and I can only hope that the person will also send their check, in same “good faith” that I will post the books as agreed upon. Not a simple test of faith exactly, but it was for me an act of trust. (I’ll certainly let you know if they fail to keep their end of the deal.)

I have no reasonable cause for doubt, I just doubt because it seems reasonable to do so. Continue reading

Life lessons are not often without clean up required.

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So, I was doing something nice, making tea, getting a tray ready. A croissant toasting, and the pot of tea brewing. I reached up into my cabinet and took out my newest teacup that I acquired at a flea market. Turned around and a little dude had snuck behind me silently, I was startled and the cup dropped. Well, china and ceramic tile don’t mix, and it shattered.

Unintentional accident. I dropped my cup, my toast burnt while cleaning it up. I shouted, then cried, then I apologized. Sounds like words to a country song. I initially placed prize value on my now broken cup, instead of the not-so-little one who had snuck up behind me. Of course it was accidental, and partially rule-breaking, as I have told them before not to come in the kitchen.

The thing is, life is more fragile than a teacup, and of much greater value than a rare find. Kindness was required and care in cleaning up both the shattered pieces and also in the relationship being brought to tension.

Proverbs 3:3-4 “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.”

The human heart is so fragile, when an incident occurs, if even a thought or word is shared harshly, it can cause damage in so many ways. Broken relationships are a bane of our lives, and occur all too often. Perhaps sometimes it is because we are all valuing the wrong thing and not responding in the right way to life.

In my small incident this morning, I did not make myself known for my soft response initially. I was the harsh person who forgot what kindness is. That was quickly remedied when I paused and looked at my son and remembered a material thing is not so important. I picked up the pieces of the cup, placed them on the counter and asked God to put that gentleness in me. We all have those moments, when we want to lash out, and then feel that prodding of the heart, to be kind.

When I chose the kindness, there was restored favor. My son was able to ask and inquire if I could fix the cup. I told him no, but I could still do something with it perhaps. He needed to know that the favor was there and that it was not the end of the world. I think that despite my initial reaction, the circumstance was valuable and able to show me a lesson of life. I now, with a different teacup, am able to sit and contemplate and enjoy favor. The boys are back to their happy play and it is nice and calm.

This verse in Proverbs was what I had planned on writing about today, I suppose I required this reminder first: That kindness goes a lot further and the result that comes when kindness is shown is favor. This verse is speaking of having integrity, having kindness and truth as your name tag. While many might think of integrity for large things only, it is a lifestyle of integrity even in the small stuff, even in the daily tasks of interacting with others in your home. Having integrity bound to us is living a godly wise life. We are to wear our integrity as a beautiful adornment both inside and outside. When we are known by integrity, kindness, and truth, we have both favor and a good reputation before God and before those around us.

The beauty is that, even if we mess up at first, there is often a second chance with God. He will gives us the opportunity to practice kindness and to walk in integrity. I am so glad there is forgiveness and glad I too get a second chance at living in kindness and picking up the pieces.

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Do Not Forget

Lincoln county, NM

 

[Proverbs 3:1-2 NASB]

My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commands;

For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

To forget something can be both accidental or intentional. By definition, to forget can be either; to loose remembrance; to treat with inattention or disregard; to disregard intentionally: overlook; to give up hope or expectation of; to cease remembering or noticing; to fail to become mindful at the proper time. (Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.)

When we consider what it is that we are instructed not to forget, the importance weighed upon it makes sense. Solomon here is not just referring to the commands of a parent to perhaps do or not do something; but rather, given the context, he is speaking of the Law and Commands of God. While some instructions parents give their children may have this weight, it is so much more so when we consider the commands of God. The result of remembering the commands is long life and peace. 

As a parent, I give my children many many instructions, I cannot say that all of my rules are things they have to keep for life; like don’t try to drive the car, or don’t plug in a lamp yourself, those, among many of my rules, they will outgrow. At least I should hope so as they mature and have more years added and general common sense increases. The instruction, teaching, law, and command from God has longer lasting value to it than words from any human. The results of obedience are lasting when one chooses to obey the truths of God. 

There is great reward when a child of God chooses to obey His commands. In my own experience, I have certainly found this true. For example, Jesus commands us not to worry (Matthew 7:25-34). I myself sometimes catch my thoughts heading in the direction of worry. I will admit, it is not peaceful and it does not feel like I am lengthening my days because of it. There was one occasion it actually caused some physical distress for me. While worrying has become less and less of an issue I struggle with. I can only say that it was overcome through obeying that particular command of God not to worry. When I really took those things to mind, remembered, not forgotten, in the right time, and intentionally obeyed that instruction, I had an overwhelming sense of peace. It was not because of myself though, but rather because I took God’s words to be true in my heart, God’s word came through powerfully in my own life. 

Of course that is just one example, but I am sure many of us can testify to the blessing of truly following God’s teaching and holding it in our hearts. In the commands of God, one can find secure peace, comfort, and rest. It is a conditional choice to have that kind of peace, reliant upon each of us personally holding on to the law of the Lord. This is so practical, it isn’t some theory or abstract thought, it is a simple set of guides to follow: Obey the Law of God + Keep His commands in your heart = Length of days and Peace. 

 

 

If and Then

Beautiful Sunset

Actions always have a result. Newton’s third law of physics states: “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.” Proverbs 2 shares how our choices and actions result in something great when we take action towards wisdom.

[Proverbs 2:1-22 NKJV]

“My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you,

So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;

Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.

For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;

He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.

When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,

Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you,

To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things,

From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness;

Who rejoice in doing evil, And delight in the perversity of the wicked;

Whose ways are crooked, And who are devious in their paths;

To deliver you from the immoral woman, From the seductress who flatters with her words,

Who forsakes the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God.

For her house leads down to death, And her paths to the dead;

None who go to her return, Nor do they regain the paths of life–

So you may walk in the way of goodness, And keep to the paths of righteousness.

For the upright will dwell in the land, And the blameless will remain in it;

But the wicked will be cut off from the earth, And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.”

If… you receive, treasure, incline your ear, apply your heart, cry out, lift up your voice, seek, and search. These actions, while they may not require physical strength, they require determination and active engaging of the mind, heart, and soul. The wisdom, discernment, commands (from the word of God), and understanding, are described as treasures; like silver being sought out and hidden gems. Silver is incredible stuff, by the way, although I am no expert, (and mainly did research using the web) silver is awe-inspiring. So many appreciate the beauty of silver in jewelry, coinage, and ornamental things. Silver is also an extremely valuable metal in machinery, industry, musical instruments, solar panels, water purification, scientific studies, medicine, and much more. Comparing these principles of wisdom, discernment, and understanding to this, is really remarkable, and very appropriate, as it is fitting for all aspects of life.

So, what is the outcome of this active search? 
“Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God,” verse 5 states (NASB). When you have searched out these things and cried out for them, there is a result; discerning the fear of the Lord. To discern is to perceive, understand, and distinguish something. When you have asked for the wisdom from God, He enables you to understand what the fear of Him is and to have access to His knowledge. Knowledge can come from many sources, but we have the ability to obtain the knowledge of the One who made all things, who knows all things, and is above all things; while I love a good book, nothing can come close to the depth, richness, and expanse of the knowledge God has. His wisdom is sound, and plentiful, and without any error. 

In addition to the knowledge of God, if we act upon these “if’s” the Lord becomes our shield and guard. Those who have sought out and listened to wisdom, are protected by it. Verse 9 continues, “Then you will discern righteousness and justice.” The counsel and commands of the Lord God are black and white, we can see right from wrong within the standards of God’s word. In a way, following in the wisdom of God is like putting on glasses that enable one to see clearly. I myself am particularly bad at seeing anything without my glasses, sometimes I need someone who can see to find mine if I set them down and forgot. I need a prescription lens to see. The wisdom from God clarifies, as a lens, and gives those who have it an ability to distinguish what is just, of equity, and good. And, unlike a pair of glasses, it becomes part of our very beings; entering our hearts and pleasing our soul. God’s wisdom becomes personal, guarding you, delivering you, and keeping watch over you.

Verses 12-19 share how wisdom is able to keep one from evil doing, from wicked men, and from seductive women. All very practical and good things that Solomon goes more in depth on later in Proverbs.

“So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of righteousness.” [Prov. 1:20]

Here is the cherry on top: the conclusion of doing as instructed brings sure footing in life. The upright, the good, who follow wisdom, they are blessed. It is a good path that wisdom leads to, unlike the wicked who will face calamity. Even if you or I were the only ones following wisdom and were put off by others for it, true knowledge leads to life, goodness, and nearness to God. The opposite, the one who rejects the instruction towards wisdom, will face bad consequences and removal from the good life. 

As I ponder these verses, I sense an urging within to cry out for that discernment and to raise my voice and plead for understanding. The beauty is in not only seeking these riches, but in the fact that God will answer from His limitless wisdom, and He will give of it freely. Ask, pray, and seek discernment along with me; God will not disappoint, and He has plenty to give.

[Isaiah 55:6-7 NKJV]

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

Hearing Wisdom’s Call

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Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;

At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:

“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?

Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.

Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;

And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof;

I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,

When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you.

Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,

Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD.

They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof.

So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices.

For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.

But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

In the previous verses we already saw the persons who love to neglect wisdom (you can read that post, here). Now we look at the contrast with the Wise. While the sinner’s call was that of enticement, Wisdom here, calls out a warning to all who will listen. 

First, we notice wisdom is not some secret whisper, it isn’t for a select few, it is shouting in the public places, calling out in the busyness of a city square. Wisdom, while seemingly elusive, is really out there for anyone who is willing to listen. Wisdom itself is open, available, and commanding attention. 

I typically don’t like name calling,  and I reprimand my children not to call each other stupid, dummies, or say mean things to one another. Wisdom has a point to make here and in this, I would follow the example of wisdom. In the Messsgae translation, it calls these  people Idiots, Cynics and Simpletons who each don’t regard the words of wisdom. Sometimes people need to be called out for their own foolishness. Wisdom mentions 3 distinct groups of those who won’t listen to her. I like Warren Wiersbe’s explanation and would rather use his words than my own:

 “The simple are naive people who believe anything but examine nothing. They’re gullible and easily led astray. Scorners think they know everything and laugh at the things that are really important. While the simple one has a blank look on his face, the scorner wears a sneer. Fools are people who are ignorant of truth because they’re dull and stubborn. Their problem isn’t a low IQ or poor education; their problem is a lack of spiritual desire to seek and find God’s wisdom. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Skillful. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

We see that the failure to listen to wisdom has consequences. Calamity, dread coming like a storm, distress, anguish, and eventually death and destruction. Now, if you read this just thinking of common sense type of wisdom, that seems a bit extreme. While failure to follow practical instruction, advice, and counsel can cause physical damage, Solomon also points us back to his first instruction: The Fear of the Lord. The root cause of all of their downfall is a failure to listen, heed, desire, and receive wisdom; and ultimately to ignore the Lord. In Romans 1:21-22, Paul wrote, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…”

God is not going to force the foolish to choose Him and to follow His wisdom, He beckons, calls and invites all to listen. The wisdom found in the world, won’t lead to a happy end, but the wisdom of God brings hope, peace, and life. 

There is a promise for those who listen; they will live securely, and live free from the impending doom of evil. Even the simple-minded, scoffer, or fool has the opportunity to listen if they choose. They don’t need to face the consequences of their ways; all it takes is listening to wisdom. Can you hear it calling?

I find myself often succumbing to the news articles, advice of friends, and other sources to find information, but how often am I listening to the wisdom of God? There is a book that is full of His words, written down for all to see; it is the bible. While it may not be as exciting as a multicolored how-to book, it is much more valuable for my life and the messages contained are richer than anything else available. The wisdom of God is ready, waiting, available, able to transform lives. Let us each listen to the voice of wisdom and pay attention when God is calling to us through His Word.

Don’t Follow Them

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Don’t Follow Them

Proverbs 1:10-19

My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

If they say, “Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause;

Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;

We will find all kinds of precious wealth, We will fill our houses with spoil;

Throw in your lot with us, We shall all have one purse,”

My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,

For their feet run to evil And they hasten to shed blood.

Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net In the sight of any bird;

But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives.

So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors.”

Just for clarity, here is another translation of the words said by the sinners:

Proverbs 1:11-14 (NLT)

“They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!

Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.

Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.

Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.”

If this was the enticement to go along with someone, most people would automatically say, “No way!” That doesn’t sound like an attractive occupation of their time; murder, looting, and bloodshed?!

When I first read these verses, I pictured the ‘Enticing Sinner’ kind of like Jafar from the Disney movie Aladdin. It was that caricature I had kept in my head through a bit of my childhood; that the sinner is one who is visibly dark, broody, and scary. Kind of like the false image of the very real satan, with a red cape, horns, and a long dark face. Those two images are far off from what the villains in life actually look like. I won’t go in to detail, but the Bible calls Satan’s appearance like “an angel of light.” Basically, not so recognizable as my childhood version would be. In a similar way, the “Enticing Sinner” (as I will call this person), is not always so dark, scary, and wicked in appearance as I once thought to be, although the direction they are heading is still evil.

The attraction is so clever sometimes; “Don’t you want a little more? Don’t you want spoils that should be yours? Why not just take what you don’t have? Why not speak lies about the innocent in order to get yourself ahead?” We may not agree to murder, but how many compromises have each of us made with the goal of filling ourselves up regardless of whom we injure on the way? 

Sins often don’t go alone, they like a crowd with them. So, they call for more to join, more to follow the path that goes towards evil, wickedness, and bloodshed. Unfortunately so many follow them, but the pathway is entirely wrong. Crime, sin, wickedness, theft, and all kinds of evil will face judgement, and those who pattern their lives after those things will incur the wrath of a Holy God. Some get caught, fined, jailed, and lose their reputation here on earth; but in the end, the life lived without repentance will come to destruction, and their own lives are forfeit.

Do not be willing to consent to those plans! This is wisdom. Don’t give in, don’t follow their footsteps, don’t walk in the path they are taking. Those who do such things are essentially writing their own condemnation. They ruin their own lives as well as the victims of their villainous behavior. Do not walk in that way. As black and white as this is, perhaps a little help would be in order. Don’t keep bad company, but rather keep good company. Spend time with those who do follow instruction, who are disciplined, and who follow what was shared earlier in this chapter: Fear the Lord and love instruction.

While these verses are more of an obvious warning to some, it is still an important message; a basic principle for living a life in wisdom.

Listen and Learn

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Proverbs 1:8-9

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching;

Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.

The first teacher most of us have are our parents. They are the ones who form the early years of life, and often continue on until one becomes an adult. It seems as though the principle of a father and a mother instructing their child was a point that Solomon took as fact. Later within the book of Proverbs, we will see methods and other guidelines of being the instructor. In this verse though, it is emphasized that the child be the one to take action. 

“Hear” and “Do not forsake”. These are the responsibilities of the son. Hearing, initially shows a readiness to listen, a willingness to listen. It is not a passive listening to the instruction given by the father. The other interesting word to note is “instruction.” It seems to be used interchangeably with discipline in the Bible. 

I remember from a young age being told ‘no,’ and the response I was to give was obedience. Sometimes this occurred because I had broken the rules and I was receiving correction for my behavior. Other times the instruction I was given was proactive, it was cautionary and guiding my life. Some were basics, like don’t touch a hot stove, others more moral, like not telling lies. In any circumstance, those things are valuable lessons and worth listening to. The ‘teaching’ one is to not forsake or turn away from is instruction, the law, the rules. All valuable and in many cases are given to bring a child to safety, security, and better behavior as a whole. 

As a mother myself, it is crucial for me to instruct, discipline, correct, and guide my own children. Sometimes it is basic, like look both ways before crossing a street. Often I find myself guiding my own children within the bounds of the moral guides given by Scripture. Do not steal, do not lie, do not cheat, do not murder, do not covet…these instructions are of great value.

Verse 9 describes those instructions as a ‘graceful wreath and ornaments to ones neck.’ These are descriptive of fine jewels. Matthew Henry wrote, “Those are truly valuable, and shall be valued, who value themselves more by their virtue and piety than by their worldly wealth and dignity.” (Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Pro/Pro_001.cfm?a=629009)

There is so much value when a person holds character above other things. Even within our entertainment, movies, and books there is a great appreciation of the person with right character. The heroes are often the most just, honorable, right, giving, kind, and loving person within a story. We prize the character of the man who lives rightly. God Himself values the person who follows instruction. 

I love when my children obey. I am sure every other parent has at some point felt the joy when their child follows instruction by themselves without having to reinforce the laws of the house. I myself had a blessed moment today when this occurred. Today was our first day of the school year. It was one I half longed for but also was slightly dreading. Getting the children back into routine, on schedule, with very distinct instructions to follow. It was in this that I had my moment of real calm and such happiness when they all willingly went to their desks, opened their books, and listened to the words to teach them. While not every day will be like this; I have been homeschooling long enough to know of the October slump, the spring fever and all the bad days that ensue, I know that the heading of instruction truly is a beautiful thing. I couldn’t help but take a few pictures while they were unaware, just to capture the graceful moment. My boys knew it was a good day, and the enjoyment was seen even on their faces.

I think of God being my Heavenly Father and the instruction He has given; and I am both gladdened and convicted. How often do I follow and take head of the instructions in the Bible? Do I follow those things closely, or do I go my own way? The wonderful thing about parents, is that Love often brings forgiveness and grace. It is the same with God our Father. He is willing to forgive, and so desirous of us to follow His Instructions. To listen and learn is graceful, beautiful, and a wonderful adornment to person who does those things. 

Oh, I do hope to wear the adornments of obedience; And to  have a crown of grace about me as I obey the instructions of God. Is this your desire too?

Meet the Fool; or Fear the Judge

[Proverbs 1:7 NASB]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge;

Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Have you ever done something, and mid-way through, you think, “Is this really how this should be done?” All of a sudden, it falls apart, the instructions were not followed and it’s a wreck. I have had this experience, probably more times than I would like to admit. (Cooking wrecks, too much seasoning causing a terrible smell for days, fallen cakes… for a small confession on my failure to follow instructions, not to mention a speeding ticket along the way. Yikes.)

Instructions are a part of most of our lives. We learn some things early on, like how to drink from a cup, how to tie a shoe. The information grows as we do, like how to make yourself a PB&J sandwich, or teeth brushing. Instructions will get more complex, to how to drive a car, how to pay your bills, how to do a job correctly; those contain much larger consequences when not followed. Usually with those kind of examples, instructions are fairly universally followed.

This verse in Proverbs points out the person that has chosen to disregard wisdom and instructions; The Fool. Guess what “fool” means in this text…fool. Now in biblical terms, a fool is defined by this verse as well as many others. They despise wisdom and instruction. In other scriptures you can find a fool is one who loves to quarrel, who mocks, and is perverse. We will get a real, in depth look at the fool throughout Proverbs. He is talked about 59 times as “fool/fools” in this book. Also referred to as “foolish” 11 times. The wicked are talked about 84 times. In contrast, we see “wisdom” 48 times, “wise” 62 times, and “instruction” 16 times. The “righteous” are mentioned 66 times. Proverbs is all about the foolish and the wise, and what makes them different. Proverbs is written with a lot of caparison and contrast between these characters.

In this verse, we see where wisdom and instruction begin in “The fear of the Lord.” So, what is this fear? By definition, it is a reverent awe, respect, terror, and fear. (Strong’s Concordance, Strong’s Number H3374) The beginning of knowledge is knowing that the Lord God is someone to be feared, and fearing. Not so soft and fluffy, is it? But that is who God is. He spoke, and the world came into existence. He formed mankind, designed us with perfect precision. He commands the wind and waves. He is an awesomely terrifying real being. You may have heard “Baby Jesus, meek and mild” but that is not who the all powerful God is. Who terrifies you the most? Is it your dad, the police, the government? They have nothing on the Lord of all.

Picture you are driving down the road, you are speeding, running late; and all you can think is that you need to hurry. There is little regard for following the 35 mph limit, you just check your mirror, fearful. The car you just passed, was is a cop? Heart racing, adrenaline pumping…the lights flash, you know that you are caught. Sunk, saddened, angry, afraid you are going to also be fined for the broken light in the back, no seatbelt. It is not fun, and most of us know the strain that causes. But guess what, the policeman (or woman) was just doing their job. So, why picture that? Because we are all caught. We have all broken the law. Not the one set by a government, but by that awesome, holy, pure, all powerful God of the universe. Fear Him.

It is wisdom to fear the Lord. He is holy (which means without spot or blemish) and, by His own nature, He will judge the world of sin (which is a stain on all of us). No on ever had to instruct me to lie, cheat, or be selfish; and those things, by God’s law, are wrong. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one is exempt. Fear Him!

[Psalm 96:13 b NASB]
For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.

He is coming, He will judge. It is wise to understand this fact. Before a holy God all will be found guilty. Now, If I were to stop there, we’d all go to bed at night trembling, because no one will go unpunished. There is good news in this: God brings not only judgement, but grace. Yes, we are to be in awe of the Lord, to fear Him; but through Jesus Christ we can also gain forgiveness of our sins. God is holy, completely without sin, and He Himself came to earth, in total perfection and took your and my judgement. He paid the ticket, so that we wouldn’t have to. Although we deserve the punishment of God; because of Jesus offering Himself in our place, dying on the cross, and being raised up again, we can be holy. We can be right before God. (For more on this follow this link Know God)

I know this got very preachy and maybe you do not like this message, or maybe you love this message. Each of our opinions about it, won’t change the fact of it. While I myself do not have all the answers, and I am often doing things that would put me in the fool category, I can start with knowledge. Those who already do fear the Lord, be excited! We have already begun with knowledge, and are wise in the sight of the Lord. I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 It helps us understand that the message we follow, is wisdom of God. Fear the Lord!

Seeking the Black and White

Black and White

A Study in Proverbs; Seeking Wisdom

I am no scholar, I often end up with my foot in my mouth, I don’t always think everything through, although I try. So, I am often looking for the secret to doing, saying, and thinking through things wisely. I find that when I read Proverbs, it makes so much practical sense. Of course there is Spiritual Wisdom, as it is the God given Word of Scripture; yet there are moments as I delve into the Proverbs, I think, “Wow, this is so amazingly useful for everything!” Of course, while certain aspects do seem cultural to the time period in which they were written, the principles found in the book of Proverbs have application for each person.

[Proverbs 1:1-7 NASB]

“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding,

To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity;

To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion,

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

So who wrote it all? Short answer: King Solomon.

Solomon was born into royalty. In 2 Samuel 12:24, we find out something interesting about this prince. It says “The Lord loved him.” That’s our first introduction to this person. He was the son of David, who was also given a nickname, “A man after God’s own heart.” Those are some impressive distinctions. While I would love to go into a history of David and Solomon, there are many good scholars and theologians who have already done this and I would encourage you to find that out.

I would like to mention one thing about Solomon though. He had an encounter with the true God at a young age. It was in a dream that God spoke to him and told him to ask for anything from God Himself. Solomon could have asked for anything it seems, but what he requested was wisdom. Here were his words, “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” [1Kings 3:9 NASB] God was pleased with this request, and on top of it gave Solomon riches and might…Under the condition that Solomon was to walk in the ways of God and His commandments. Sweet deal, right? (You can read the rest of this story in 1 Kings 3.)

So keep in mind, as you look at the book of Proverbs, the wisdom shared is not just wisdom coming from man; it is the wisdom of God. With that comes weight; if a scraggly looking person, with no known abilities, connections to you, or authority, told you, “Don’t cross the street.” You might look at them strangely and cross anyway. On the other hand, if you saw a person of reputation, with a uniform on, having authority, who said the same thing, you would more likely listen. These words in the book of Proverbs, don’t come from a man, they don’t come from a nobody, they are breathed by God Himself. The all knowing, all powerful, never failing God. So, while some things may seem simple, do not take the words of proverbs lightly.

Why Proverbs? Well, because they are words that will increase learning, give instruction, direction, knowledge, and understanding. I love the verse above that says, “To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, Justice, and equity.” I believe there are absolutes, and we all seek a sense of justice, holding everything to an absolute standard. Proverbs makes life a lot less complex, it is black and white, right and wrong. I like that. Of course I may face situations that are a little more grey; like what to wear, eat, or drink; yet the truth is, Proverbs bring wisdom to many circumstances in life.

So, this is the first post on Proverbs. I hope to go through the whole book, all 31 chapters, bit by bit. (Although no doubt it will take me some time…if I am able to complete it at all.)

Thanks for reading.