Wisdom Seeker: Day 4

Proverbs 4

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life… Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 4:23, 26-27

I love that the proverbs embodied in this chapter are addressed from a father to a son, and by extension, from our Father to all of us who are sons and daughters of God through Christ.

Maybe it’s because I’m in a later season of life, but I truly appreciate the truth behind this section of Scripture. In my adult life, I’ve walked carelessly and I spent nearly a decade of my adulthood without the Lord.

It’s for good reason the reader is urged to use vigilance in keeping his heart or carefully choosing his footing along the path of life’s journey. It’s all too easy to veer off course just the tiniest bit and suddenly find yourself floundering in a swamp you never meant to get caught up in, uncertain of how you got there and less certain of how you’ll ever get out.

Any wrong turning – whether it be unfaithfulness in marriage, murder, or what have you – starts with a single step away from God’s will. Then another. Then another and another until, over time, you find yourself far away from where you should be. Far away from God.

Instead, let’s resolve to really ponder our steps before we take them. Think through our choices to their logical conclusions.

Perhaps, even, we should consider the private fantasies or daydreams we may entertain and whether or not they affect our hours for better or worse. For even our thoughts need be brought under the control of Christ if we are to successfully remain by His side.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

2 Corinthians 10:5

Wise Father, help us to guard our hearts and ponder our steps. Show us the end of the path we are on so we are not unaware of the direction our choices are leading us. If we have taken steps away from Your perfect will, please Lord, prick our hearts to repent so we can turn back to You. Thank You that You are always willing to receive our honest contrition and forgive, amen.

What about you? What steps are you taking to ensure you keep your feet from straying away from our Lord?

Wisdom Seeker: Day 2

Proverbs 2

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-5

I just love the consonance between the first and second chapters of Proverbs.

Yesterday we saw that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Today we work backwards, starting with receiving the words of Wisdom personified and tracing them back towards the origin – which is, of course, understanding the fear of the Lord.

We’ve come full circle. He is the originator of wisdom whether we start with the Source and work outward, or we start from outside and follow the threads back to their beginning.

Either way, El Adoni – God my Lord – is the Beginning and the End. All true wisdom flows from Him and leads back to Him.

I love the reminder, too, to seek the knowledge of God out as if it were treasure. Why? Well because it IS treasure. He is our treasure. Seeking His wisdom means seeking Him, and that is the greatest Treasure any seeker could ever find.

So will you join me in seeking out some practical wisdom for today through the ancient words of a Jewish king held to have been the wisest man in his day?

What part of this chapter stands out to you?

Wisdom Seeker: Day 1

After a month of bloggy silence, I’m back in action. My plan? To blog through the Proverbs. One brief post a day for the next 31 days. Not a bad way to start the school year, huh? Well, we shall see. Migraine still steals far too many days from me, but I’m giving it a go!

But before I get into today’s meditation, I want to mark this day as an odd one for me. As is my habit for the last 13 years, today – August 1 – is my new year.

But for the first time in that 13 year period, I’m not actually homeschooling anyone. My youngest is entering her 3rd year of private school, and my part-time blonde daughter graduated in May. So it’s a new year in several ways.

Enough about me: on to the Word!

Proverbs 1

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance… The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:5, 7

So let’s begin with the fear of the Lord. What a perfect way to begin a year – or a month, or a day, or even a new moment! That proper fear of the One who made you and who could unmake you, if He chose – that is the beginning of knowledge.

As I read through this first chapter today, I can’t help but note the heavy implication that underlying the pursuit of wisdom is the inclination to be teachable.

Trust a former homeschool mom in this: if a person already believes they know it all, there’s little you can do for them. Any engaged parent can tell you the same. Perhaps for this reason, the last portion of the chapter – verses 20-33 – really grabbed me this morning.

Note the frequency of some form of the word reproof. If we are very honest, not many of us enjoy being reproved. It stings the old pride, doesn’t it? However, by not accepting the reproof of God, we are only managing to be mulish fools, stubbornly set on our own way.

Note the similarity between the words of two of my favorite authors:

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.”

C. S. Lewis

Certainly, Solomon says as much, though in different words:

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.

Proverbs 1:29-31

If we reject the fear of God and the wisdom and knowledge that comes of surrendering to Him as the only One who really does know what He is doing, then all that is left is for us to have our own way.

And if I’ve learned nothing else in my 45 trips around the sun, I’ve learned that my own way is all too often misinformed by my tricky emotions or selfish inclinations. To be honest, I’ve had my fill of my own way, and I’d rather not, thanks. I’ll take the Way of the Lord instead.

Before I go, I need to note that some may point out the last verse of Proverbs 1 as contradictory to the truth:

“…but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

Proverbs 1:33

I’ve heard the argument. What about those who are martyred for the cause of Christ? Or what about Christians who are poor, who are sick and don’t get well, who suffer horribly through their lives?

A slick person could even point to my chronic migraine as a situation which gives lie to that promise. So what gives?

Perspective.

For those of you who haven’t yet tasted and seen that my Lord is good, I can only offer you my perspective. You see, the promises of security and safety are not necessarily applied to the 80-odd years spent on this ball of rock in a constantly aging body of animated meat.

The promise for those who trust in the Lord – in the sufficiency of the sacrifice of His Son, Yeshua and in the new life offered through His death and resurrection- that promise is not just for a handful of decades.

It’s forever. For eternity. Time so long that the worst of your troubles today will only be recalled as a dim and distant memory before you’re even a fraction of the way in.

It’s eternity with Him, and His presence is what makes it good. Because He is good. And this girl? Well, I love this creation and all my people, but I honestly can’t wait to begin my real life after this bag of bones has returned to dust…

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

Psalm 16:11

Tuesday Prayer: Wisdom

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

All-knowing God, You are the Source of true wisdom, for it is by Your knowledge and power that all things were created. As the Beginning and the End, You encompass the fullness of reality – in fact, reality is Yours to define.

When we begin to think of You in this way – Your eternal magnificence, Your unfathomable power, and Your absolute sovereignty – we are overcome by worship. You truly are the great and mighty God who knows all and who works all things according to Your perfect plan. May Your name be forever praised!

Teach us to look to You and You alone for the wisdom we need to navigate this world and make the best use of our time. We confess our weakness before You; our tendency to get caught up in the “wisdom” of this world which is foolishness compared to Your eternal perspective. We take our eyes off of Jesus and we forget to keep our minds fixed on the things above rather than the things on earth.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

But Lord, remember that we are dust and that the events of this world seem so long and so very real to us as they happen. Have mercy and strengthen Your servants. Teach our hearts to see all of life through the lens of eternity and to redeem the time we are allotted, not using the minutes and hours for self-gratification but to bring honor and glory to You. 

You have given us the Living Word to keep our hearts in check, but again we must confess: Too often we neglect it, or we rush through it as a check-list item on our agendas rather than savoring the Word and ruminating on it throughout the day.

Lord, today we humbly ask that You will firmly plant in us a strong and growing desire for Your Word. Teach us to long for it, to meditate on it, and to cherish it. May it be that our first response to crisis or a need for guidance is to open the Book and search its pages for wisdom from You. May our hearts surrender to the truth we read there, holding nothing back.

Our God, make us a people of the Word, holy and pure before You and useful to You in this world. From this day forward, may it be that never a day passes but that we seek Your face in the pages of Your Word and in prayer, humbly bowing ourselves before the Throne of Grace.

And when we receive our marching orders, make us to set out with confidence, knowing that whatever may happen to our bodies in this world, we share in the victory already won by Jesus Christ our Lord. To Him be the praise and the glory in all things, amen. 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:56-58

Tuesday Prayer

Somewhat erratically, I have posted a prayer for the Church. Many of these have sprung from prayers for my own local church body, but nearly all are applicable for the wider Church – the Body of Christ which exists worldwide and transcends differences in complexion, language, geography, or any other. So why not post them here? 

Why not, indeed… Let’s shoot for weekly and see what we get. 

Light of the world, You are the only source of true wisdom, revelation, and love. There is no dark side to Your inclinations nor any taint in your purity. You are good and holy and just, compassionate in Your dealings with us and patient to the extreme.

We worship You not only for the incredible works You have done but for who You are. Our God. Our King. You are enough. Your grace is sufficient for us.

Lord, as you know, we live in an age where even reality is called into question – as if there can be multiple realities based on nothing more substantial than the fluctuating mood of capricious beings such as we. In such times, You are the firm foundation which does not change; the solid Rock to which we can cling as the cultural storm rages around us.

But Lord, You are so much more besides.

You are also our Strength so that in You we do not merely cling to a dubious existence, barely getting through. Instead and by Your power at work in and through us, we are more than conquerors, able to thrive even in adversity and live out our trust in You day by day. Because of our salvation, we can even feel joy despite pain and loss.

Your Holy Spirit who gives us the strength to love the unlovely and to forgive those who hurt us in unforgivable ways – because we know we have been loved and forgiven so much more by You.

It is You, also, who gives us the boldness to stand firm on the Word of Truth even when the very idea of absolute truth is unpopular. Not because we are an argumentative and hateful people, Lord. May You forgive us if and when we are!  But instead, by Your Spirit we are a people who love others enough tell them the truth and to answer rejection and even persecution with forgiveness because we realize it is You they are rejecting, not us. And again, You are enough for us.

And we thank You, Lord. We praise Your name for the many prayers You have already answered and the many more You will answer. We thank You for the lost who are saved and for our loved ones whom You will save in time. We praise You for the healing of broken families and for families You will heal in the future as Your Spirit works in hearts and lives.

We honor You for setting us free from sin and we choose to live as an example to others, daily dying to ourselves so we might live for You.

We long to see Your Kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven, and so we set ourselves to faithful diligence in doing our part to see it done.

We recognize to fully engage our world with the Good News of salvation from sin, we must first engage it within ourselves. Before we lead others to the Gospel, we must believe it enough to live in continual humility, accepting responsibility for our sins and repenting fully – not once only but as a practice in cooperation with You for our sanctification.

And as a body, we hold one another accountable within our church local churches, loving one another with such a balance of grace and truth that our oddity stands out to the world as clearly as a city on a hill in a full blaze of electric lights in the dark of night.

Light of the world, let Your light shine in us as a beacon of hope for the disillusioned, the miscreant, the prodigal, and all who are deceived and lost so they may find their way home to You, amen.