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!

Wisdom Seeker: Days 11-12

Proverbs 11 and 12

Missed a day. It was bound to happen, especially since I often take a tech break on Sundays. But I’ll try to do two brief ones today, even though there’s a lot of good stuff in these two chapters. First:

The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

Proverbs 11:18

Now there’s a good reminder for the weary soldier of the Lord and a convicting dart for the one who cares nothing for the King of kings.

Yes, wickedness seems to prosper here on earth. Often, there are very greedy, very nasty people who do quite well for themselves. They amass wealth and live in comfort – even in decadence.

But it is oh, so deceptive. Even if they make it through this whole life lolling on the very lap of luxury, there’s nothing pleasant for them in eternity. And eternity is long enough to make even the longest earthly lifespan count for nothing.

Unfortunately, however, the lap of luxury isn’t even all that comfortable here on earth. A look at the headlines will tell you how unsatisfied those who recline there seem to be. Divorces, suicides, and all sorts of substance abuse problems… those are not the problems of a happy and healthy spirit. Just sayin’.

Next:

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 12:1, 15

It’s hard to choose just two here. That one about rash words like sword thrusts… ouch! I’m afraid I’ve been convicted by that one once or seventeen million times.

Still, today I want to focus on the humility needed to realize we just don’t know it all. Verse one uses some pretty strong language to describe the person who hates being corrected. Stupid.

That was the dreaded “S-word” when my kids were small. Not a nice thing to say, maybe, but utterly true. Hating correction means a person is uncorrectable. And that means that they’re likely to march right through the wide gate to destruction with their eyes tightly closed and chin stubbornly raised high.

So I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning on being all too sure about belting helter-skelter down the path of my own making. Nah, I’ll pick up the Word of God every day and look for advice, and I’ll spend time seeking the wisdom of Godly men and women who are older than me.

Sounds a little bit safer and a lot less stupid.

Father, thank You for words of wisdom; for words that sting and remind us of our need for You. Thank You for keeping us humble. Please, as we search these ancient proverbs, bring them to life for us and help us to hear the very words that point out the sins we need to address each day, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 10

Proverbs 10

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

Proverbs 10:19-20

There’s quite a bit in today’s proverb collection about the use of the mouth. In fact, I believe we’ll find that subject comes up often throughout the book of proverbs.

Why? I think it’s because our speech so clearly reflects what’s truly in our hearts. Our mouths don’t cause us to sin; they reveal the sin that is already in us.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

But don’t fret! That is actually a very good thing. Think about it. If the use of my tongue reveals sin in my heart, it’s a gift! It’s out in the open now, so here’s my chance to acknowledge and confess the sin and repent.

So when I bark out harsh or angry words to my teenagers, it becomes my chance to confess the sinful anger I’ve harbored and repent – both to God and to the unfortunate teen who caught the sharp side of my tongue.

I can attest to the fact that this works. Trust me. I’ve spoken more than my share of harsh and angry words in my day.

But the good news is, over the years of habitually using my spoken works as a spotlight to reveal dark areas of my heart, those harsh and angry words don’t come as readily to the lips. In truth, there’s less anger in my heart to spawn them – thanks be to God!

So there’s my challenge to you today. When your words reveal some ugliness in your heart, go ahead and make it into a confession. And apologize sincerely, both to the person (even if they didn’t hear you mutter!) and to God. Then you can borrow the prayer I’ve borrowed from David:

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Psalms 141:3

Wisdom Seeker: Day 9

Proverbs 9

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Proverbs 9:8

Today’s reading begins with Wisdom personified as a woman and ends with Folly, similarly illustrated. Both women offer the same invitation: “Whoever is simple, turn in here!”

And in between the two, a few nuggets of truth to help us understand which direction we lean. Are we the scoffer who rejects correction and resents the one who corrects him?

Or are we the wise person who appreciates correction and responds in gratitude and love?

Not much else to say today. Just a couple of questions for us each to prayerfully ponder in our hearts.

Loving Father, we know that You discipline those You love, and we love You for it. Show us today where we are behaving like scoffers, ignoring correction and blundering straight into Folly’s house. Change our hearts from arrogance to humility that we may accept rebuke and be improved by it, amen.