Wisdom Seeker: Day 20

Proverbs 20

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

Proverbs 20:3

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

Proverbs 20:22

As usual when reading the proverbs, there are several potent verses I could focus on. Today, however, I really want to look at two that caught my attention as related and highly relevant in the tense climate propagated on social media.

Maybe especially with another Presidential election campaign looming like a seedy circus freak show, I see the wisdom in verses 3 and 22.

Goodness, people. Please, please let’s not have another embarrassing repeat of 2016. I’m not talking about the winner or loser or any of that; I’m talking about the way we behaved as a nation.

The fact that our “debates” have denigrated into a sideshow where candidates primarily take cheap potshots at one another and at their opponents’ follow ought to mortify us. What happened to gentlemanly disagreement? To actually and intellectually covering the issues we face as a culture? To reality, for Pete’s sake??

Then the behavior of the supporters of Clinton – throwing a real-life, honest-to-goodness pity party complete with “cry rooms” in colleges and mourning as if a 4-year term was a harbinger of the world’s end!

What in the world have we come to? Playground politics? Do we need to re-institute nap times and snack times? Revisit the preschool days where we learn not to pull Sally’s hair, to share with Billy, to take our turn on the slide?

OK, enough of my little rant. Sometimes I just gotta say something, I guess.

But in reality, is there any actual use for a rant? Probably not. My words aren’t likely to change anyone’s mind or behavior. In fact, they could potentially incite a quarrel.

And that’s what I want to address today.

When it comes to social media, it behooves those of us who know Christ not to enter into the fray of social media vitriol.

Oh I’m not saying we should say nothing. Far from it! After all, I did have my little rant, did I not? However, when it comes down to it, before we type any words, we need to think first.

Does what I’m about to say honor God? Does it dishonor Him in any way? Is it useful to others? Does it need to be said? If it does, am I saying it in a truthful and modest way? Is my interest in defending the Lord’s honor or mine? Am I more interested in justice or in being right?

There are a million other questions we can ask, but all in all, keep verse 22 in mind. It reminds me of another passage:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:19-21

Ultimately, justice will be done. It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. Where there is evil in the world, we ought to expose it – especially if it dwells in our own hearts. So have your little rants (like mine) in an appropriate forum. But for heaven’s sake, don’t enter into a quarrel or controversy over them!

If there is truth in your words, the Lord will bring it out. If He compels you to write something, be obedient by all means! But if it’s just you speaking, well… keep it behind your teeth (or off the screen, in the case of social media).

If some point or bit of Scripture you speak about brings the sting of conviction to someone else, let the Lord handle it. After all, that is His job.

Sometimes, the backlash we hear and try to defend against is nothing more than a fellow human being wrestling under the weight of conviction. If that is the case, have compassion, Believer!

Remember how it feels to be under conviction and keep silent. Don’t offer a distraction by entering into a squabble. Just let the Holy Spirit do His glorious work and pray for those who threaten or curse you. It really isn’t about you and me, after all.

Remember, our enemy is not the other political party or the guy on the other end of the social media commentary war. Our enemy is the one who deceives and hates, the one who thrives on division, strife, and conflict.

Let’s not be party to the old snake’s devices, ‘mkay?

PS: I felt it necessary to add a post script to this one. Concerning my rant, do I really think and feel those things? Absolutely, yes. Do I normally spout them out on the internet? Rarely – and more and more rarely as the Spirit of God convicts me to stick to His truth and keep my opinions to myself.

Today I used my unvarnished opinion to (hopefully) elicit an emotional response and lead into my point. Truth is truth, and I’ll stand behind the truth of God’s Word if it costs me my life. My life is His, anyway. But my stuff? Well, that’s just mine. Take it or leave it. 😉

Wisdom Seeker: Day 19

Proverbs 19

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Proverbs 19:2, ESV

Also, without knowledge the soul is not good, and he who hurries with his feet sins.

Proverbs 19:2, LITV

I’m low on time today, but thought I’d nerd out for a quick sec.

Perhaps because I’m in a hurry, the second verse stood out to me as I re-read the Proverbs chapter today. Let me confess that I was re-reading due to the fact that I breezed through it the first time since I’m low on time.

And whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way… Yeah, that.

My hurry is actually costing me time because I’m having to go back and do things twice or dropping them and adding a mess to my already-stacked agenda. Funny how God directed my attention to this verse, huh?

Anyway, nerding out now…

I’ve seen this verse in various translations and they are all a little bit different. As part of forcibly slowing myself down, I went and read it in Hebrew.

And it isn’t super-clear.

The truth is, the first word of the verse could be yet, even, although, also, or even. It can be used to emphasize or associate items, or when combined with a negative particle like it is here (kinda), it can negate.

The second word consists of a negative particle prefixed with a preposition, usually translated in, at, with, by, against, into, or within.

Next there is the word for knowledge and a word variously translated as soul, life, living thing, neck, or throat.

The second translation I put above is the more literal one, but without trying to make it sound smoother in English, you could also read it as: Yet (or even) with no knowledge, a soul (or living thing) is no good.

There really is no Hebrew word that corresponds to our English is or was, so you have to dive into context a little when you have a verbless clause like the one that occurs at the beginning of verse 2.

Either way you slice it, the import of the phrase is that a lack of knowledge is kind of a soul poisoner. It’s interesting that it is paired with the bit about hurrying with your feet (which, by the way, is far simpler to translate).

I don’t know about you, but when I hurry off on my way, I tend to do it without the knowledge I need. I tend to jump in without first looking where I’m jumping when I’m in a rush. Not good. Well, there’s an understatement.

So this girl is slowing down today. I guess I’ll get done what I can and not worry about what I can’t (like reading other lovely blogs – sorry!!).

And I’ll try to remember that knowledge of where I’m heading is pretty critical to actually arriving there, whether figuratively or literally speaking.

Wisdom Seeker: Days 17-18

Proverbs 17 and 18

There is so, so much in both of these chapters that I hope will prayerfully read through them! I don’t normally blog on Sundays but I had to take a moment to share two verses today – one from each chapter.

Though it’s hard to narrow down in such rich chapters, there is a single verse in each one I want to focus on. First, from chapter 17, let’s peek at verse 3:

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.

Proverbs 17:3

Now I’m not sure how much you know about assaying, but it’s the process of testing a metal ore to determine its purity and quality. It’s done by application of either heat or chemical solvents which break down the metal or ore and separate any impurities.

This is the idea behind the phrase, “The Lord tests hearts.” It isn’t like some spiritual ACT test or college placement exam. He’s applying the heat or solvents needed to break us down into raw parts in order to determine what is actually in our hearts.

This process is often painful, but well worth it in the end. A person whose faith has been broken down into its fundamental parts and assayed is a person who knows what he believes and why.

And that, my friends, is where the going gets good. One reason this verse grabbed me, though, is that it reminds me of the very first passage that ever leapt off the pages of Scripture and pierced my heart:

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

Isaiah 48:10-11

Early in my walk with God, He showed me that all the affliction I had endured to date, whether self-inflicted or circumstantial, was meant by Him to draw me to Himself. It was a refining, a revealing of the impurity of my heart, and a stone-cold reminder that glory is due Him, not me. It gave me hope, perspective, and purpose all in one.

Now that’s a rather long story, but I promised to address another verse so it will have to wait. Time is short, so let me just say the following verse was one of the early ones that followed the passage from Isaiah in stabbing me with conviction and beginning the process of sanctification in me.

It’s these powerful, convicting, purposeful, and personal words from the Scriptures that make this book a Living Word. It’s what I love, even when the process hurts my pride. Who am I kidding? It kills my pride, but the thing needs to die anyway.

Oh, how I love my God! And He continually reminds me how I need to be vocal about it. Why? Well, let’s look at today’s verse:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 18:21

Wisdom Seeker: Day 16

Proverbs 16

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 16:25

Almost didn’t make it today! A 6:30 am prayer meeting, busy day, and a migraine nearly kept me from writing, though not from reading. Still, here I am…

Before I go on (and I will be brief today for sure – the migraine is caged but pacing it’s cage angrily), tomorrow is my son’s college move-in day and Sundays I tend to go unplugged. I might check in tomorrow but it depends! You can bet I’ll be reading, though. I’m a Bible addict. For real.

Anyway, just a quick thought or two about today’s focus verse. I know this one from my experience as an atheist. There were plenty of ways that seemed right to me at the time – worldly wisdom and all.

You know, partying with friends, the “enlightened” modern form of morality (which really is immorality), late nights, hook-up culture. All kinds of fun.

But it wasn’t fun. Not really. When I was alone and sober, there was a sense of reeling. Of incompleteness and purposelessness. A terrible, yawning blackness of sorrow which I tried filling with shallow friendships, long hours at work, and alcohol.

It was a little death. I grew tired of having the same conversations over a couple of shots and a beer. I grew weary of chasing the handful of times I actually had fun with a million nights of drunken nothingness. Frustration. Emptiness. Yuck.

It was like dying slowly without the mercy of an end. Then again, my end would have been far from merciful if I’d been snuffed out in those days – alone and without God. I lived a little hell. Death would have ushered in the real thing.

That is why I am so sold on God’s way now. Ironic, isn’t it, that in my youth when I had my health and freedom, before migraine robbed my strength and my days, that I had no joy. None. There were moments of happiness, but no underlying joy. Just that horrible blackness waiting to suck me down in a single, undistracted instant.

But now, with frequent pain and so many things to do each day that I sacrifice sleep to spend time with my Lord and in prayer, I have so much joy.

Then, I had only myself to serve. It gave me nothing but sorrow.

Now, I have my husband, my three biological kids, my countless part-time, semi-adopted kids, friends, dogs, a cat, a job, and health issue. And I have joy.

Pure, undiluted, lovely joy that comes straight from knowing my Savior Yeshua, being loved by Father, and being guided by the Holy Spirit.

Wouldn’t trade this life for the old one for ten billion dollars. True story.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalms 16:11

Wisdom Seeker: Day 15

Proverbs 15

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3

I know of a family – not a personal friend or even an acquaintance – who lost a 15-year-old son in a horrific circumstance. Though I have no personal contact with them, the story broke my heart and I pray for them.

The circumstances of the child’s death amount to homicide. Accidental, I’m sure, yet still a young life has been snuffed. From what I have heard, there were multiple witnesses and even a video of the event that ended up in a fractured skull and death.

Yet still the death is “under investigation.” Evidently, the video has been withheld. Lies have been told. It’s ugly.

Today I am reminded that nothing goes on that the Lord doesn’t know about. I hurt for the family who lost a son. But I also hurt for the ones who believe their lies are a safety net. I ache for the one who now sees a murderer in the mirror every day.

Even if they manage to keep the truth hidden from the authorities, no one hides truth from the eyes of God. Better to come clean on this side of eternity and face the consequences while there’s still hope for forgiveness in Christ.

It’s a sobering reminder – not just for those who are covering up “big” evil like homicide, but for all of us who are covering up “little” evils like lust, discontent, or so-called white lies. Sin is sin.

And the all-seeing God is a just Judge. One way or another, in this life or in eternity, He will see justice done.

But Christ gave Himself up to the Judge, taking our punishment on Himself instead, if only we will submit ourselves to Him and trust our lives to His hands. None have to face eternal torment. Eternity is a long, long, long time. I have a hard time wishing that on anyone.

Even if the consequences for our sin are difficult to face in this lifetime, better to have our eternity secured in Him than risk extending the hell of guilt and separation from God forever.

Father, forgive us for we have all sinned. Help us to trust in You for ultimate justice and not to fret over what we cannot change. In the case of the murdered child, let justice be done. Comfort the family and let Your grace be sufficient for them in loss.

Save those who are responsible and bring them to repentance over their sin. Save those who witnessed it and make them to think carefully in future choices in the future. And break our hearts for other people, never letting us forget the dire consequences of unrepentant sin, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 14

Proverbs 14

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 14:23

As usual, plenty of good stuff in the proverbs reading today, but of course time constraints mean I have to be prayerfully selective. Today, as I prayed through the reading, this is the one which grabbed me.

It may be a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to working for a living. After all, it takes work to make a profit. No one gets paid to watch Netflix all day.

But… until God brought my eyes again and again to this verse, even as I tried to skip over it, I’d never considered it in a spiritual sense.

Today it occurred to me that we have a bad habit in the church in America of doing lots and lots and lots of talking. We talk about the Word, we talk about the teachers we love, we talk about being a light and all of that.

But what do we do about it?

Are we good about confessing our sin and exhibiting genuine repentance? Do we really “put our money where our mouth is” and demonstrate our love of Christ by our lifestyles and choices? Is our entertainment glorifying to Him?

Do we behave with Christlike love and patience when someone wrongs us? Are we open and honest when we wrong someone else?

I know we say we truly love the Lord, but do we live as though we truly love Him? Do we live as though eternity is real and that our time with God in listening, serving, and obeying Him is the most important thing we do each day?

Some food for thought. Let’s live in such a way as to profit the Kingdom by our work. Our labor of love for Christ. Even our sacrificial toil in humility and in doing justice and loving kindness as we walk before Him each day.

Father, show us where we need to make our walk line up with our talk, then don’t let us feel comfortable until we are doing it. Teach us to be consistent in word and in deed, and incline our hearts to loving obedience of Your commands in all things, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 13

Proverbs 13

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13:20

A couple of these stood out to me today. I’ll keep it pretty brief.

First, this reminder that it truly does matter who we choose to surround ourselves with. Yes, yes, I know – Jesus was a friend of sinners. I’ve heard it, too – loads of times. More on that in a second.

For now, I want to state for the record that I am in no way suggesting you completely ditch your atheistic friends or refuse to ever go visit your former college roommate who has embraced New Age and is always going on about the energy of a place while waving around crystals and oils and stuff.

After all, if you truly love them, don’t you want to see them come to know and love our Lord? Doesn’t love want the best for the beloved, and can you think of anything better than eternal life in the presence of the Almighty?

Bringing the Gospel of salvation through Christ to those who do not know Him is our primary function here on earth, so share freely and liberally with them! Which reminds me – I have a phone call to make.

BUT… remember that to say, “Jesus was a friend of sinners” is the same thing as saying, “Jesus befriended human beings.” He is literally the only person whose feet ever struck the soil of planet earth that never sinned. So yes, He associated with sinners.

And all the while He talked, dined, and taught them about the Kingdom of God. He called some of them a “brood of vipers.” He taught that if we have two sets of garments, we should give one to someone in need.

He told us that to follow Him, we would have to take up our crosses, and He never flinched at saying, “Go and sin no more,” or reminding His followers that persecution would come. In fact, He said and did many shocking and uncomfortable things to those sinners He “hung out” with.

He also lived a sinless life, then willingly took on Himself the inconceivable heaviness and darkness of all our sin, then suffered the wrath of God on our behalf. He gave up His life in one of the most brutal methods of execution humanity has yet conceived to pay the price of our sin. My sin. Yours.

So if we are going to pattern ourselves after Him – and we should! – let’s just go all the way and not stop at “hanging out” with “sinners” (as if we are excluded from that group -haha!). Let’s love them enough to lay down our lives for them…

But I digress. The proverb is more a warning not to habitually surround ourselves with the foolish – those who choose the world over Christ. We may need to bear witness to them, but we need solid, Godly companionship to hold us accountable, to confront us when we stray from the Truth, and to pray for us and with us all the while.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14

So much for brevity. Let me just say that verse 24 hits me every time, too. I’m so thankful my Father has never spared the rod from me. This is one way I know He loves me.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

Oh my King, how thankful I am that You came to save me, a sinner! Never let me lose sight of the wonder of that. I welcome Your discipline, for though it may sting for a bit, in the end it is what keeps me from evil and corrects me when I stray from the path to eternal life!