Ask (and Listen) for Wisdom

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. -Proverbs 8:8‭-‬9, KJV

God does not lie nor deceive.

Why, then, do more people not hear the truth of God’s Word?

People ignore God’s truth or devise ways to disregard it.

Case in point:

But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Luke 9:45

Firstly, fear and pride might get in their way. They are too intelligent and independent to simply ask (and then listen). Or they are afraid of the implications.

Secondly, God conceals it. Whether this is by not allowing them to understand or simply allowing them to remain ignorant, they never hear the truth.

Further:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Romans 1:21‭-‬23

They refuse to understand.

Therefore, break from the mold. Seek truth. “Ask God, who gives generously to all, and he will give wisdom.” (James 1:5)

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Can I Ignore a Disciplined Life?

Intentional DiscipleshipThere are a few really critical factors in living a life of wisdom. One of them is discipline.

  • I can’t ignore living a disciplined life. Wisdom doesn’t come by a haphazard approach. When Jesus teaches me a lesson, I must put it into practice every second of every day.
  • I must choose to live wisely. I get to decide. I can be foolish if I want to be. I get to decide to live a life based on the wisdom Jesus has given me.
  • I must resist the temptation to squander what Jesus has given me. My standing with God is a gift. I can reject the gift of God.

“Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
    don’t squander your precious life.” | Proverbs 8:33 (The Message Bible)

What is God’s goal for me? Primarily God wants me to grow up and not be a child my whole life. Growing up requires discipline from a father. God is in a good mood and disciplines me for a reason. It is out of true love. So, what is the goal of discipline? “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)”

Is discipline the same as punishment? The short answer is no. Discipline is a method of teaching a child self-control, confidence, and responsibility. The key to discipline is teaching a child what behavior is okay and what behavior is not okay. — Punishment is quite different from disciplinePunishment may be physical as in spanking, hitting, or causing pain. The focus of punishment is always past tense: “First you did this, then you did this, and now you have to pay the price.” In His mercy, God wiped away all eternal, spiritual implications of our pasts; He doesn’t treat His children according to the rules of punishment.

Discipline is future-focused, always pointing toward future acts. It has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption. Whereas the purpose of punishment is to inflict a penalty for an offense, the purpose of discipline is to train for correction and maturity. The origin of punishment is the frustration of the parent, the origin of discipline is a high motivation for the welfare of the child.  The result of punishment is fear and shame, the result of discipline is security. Discipline always holds the child’s best interests, not the parent’s anger, in the forefront. It is never out of control.

God’s goal is for me to love discipline. Now that is tough to do but the more I am disciplined, the more I know and grow. Consider Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.”

How do I know that God loves me so very much? King Solomon has a lot to say about discipline.  Proverbs 13:24 “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” It is in fact proof that I am a child of God when God disciplines me. “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:5)”


Wisdom Calls To All Children

“To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. -Proverbs 8:4, ESV

The call of wisdom is available to all – young and old, male and female.

Everyone.

This verse should serve as a reminder that God expects us to not only respond to the call, but to do all we can to help others hear it, too.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:7

Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Psalms 34:11

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children
Psalms 78:5

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 11:19

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

Especially when they are young.

But something to remember is that, in God’s eyes, we are all children.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4


She Still Calls

Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice –Proverbs 8:1 NKJV

Common Sense?

There used to be this thing called common sense. It was employed by many people to not do stupid things.

Then the late-1990’s came along, quickly followed by the early-2000’s. They brought with them shows and movies that focused on stupid pranks and stunts to get a laugh.

Our society thought it was okay. Harmless, even.

But they let so many people get away with these stunts that more people found it entertaining and okay.

The common sense of the land became “whatever brings you happiness.”

The New Sense

What has this fostered?

  • Open flagrancy of rules to make a dollar
  • Truth is relative
  • Happiness is the ultimate goal, regardless of the cost … to others

The only thing that is common is that “I can do what I want, so leave me alone.”

She Still Calls

If this is true, then how can we claim that “Wisdom cries out” in the midst of a selfish, uncaring society that seems to ignore wisdom?

Because we still hear the desire:

  • “But that’s not fair!” -Where does a sense of fairness come from?
  • “Give us justice!” -Where does justice find a voice?
  • “I should have known better!” -Some people still learn.

People still hear Wisdom’s cry, even if only a little. They desire the effects of Wisdom, but they ignore the warnings.

And this is why we need strong preaching and teaching in the Church. Wisdom often speaks through others. And Christ, the wisdom of God, calls His Church to proclaim to a lost world. The Church, His bride, has made missteps, true.

But she still calls.


Defiled From Within

Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. -Proverbs 7:25‭-‬27, KJV

Proverbs chapter seven, as we have abundantly discussed lately, is a warning against an immoral woman.

As Anthony pointed out, women are just as guilty as men as regards aggressively pursuing physical satisfaction. And as Dawn reminded us, we need a lot of reminding of the dangers.

Hence, the New Testament did so, too, reminding us as usual that it goes farther than just sex:

  • And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
    2 Peter 2:2, ESV
  • They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
    Ephesians 4:18‭-‬19, ESV
  • Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    Galatians 5:19‭-‬21, ESV
  • For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
    Mark 7:21‭-‬23, ESV

I highlighted one word in particular: sensuality.

Why?

Our western culture is so steeped in sensuality that we barely notice it, but Peter, Paul, and even the Lord Jesus warned us that (outside of marriage) it is a dangerous tempter straight out of and that leads straight to hell.

And sensuality (and other things) lives in us.

This is why we need so many reminders.


Are you listening?

headphones-152341_1280I am at a venerable point in life when my adult children, (all in their 30’s at this writing), have been saying thing like,

“Mom, I heard you coming out of my mouth!”, or…

“Is that how Dad would treat Mom?”, or…

“I’m ‘channeling’ you, Mom”, and one of my personal favorites after the birth of a granddaughter,

“Mom, I’m sorry for all the #*@!! I put you through.”

It’s a time when you realize that something, by God’s grace, got through, is still getting through.  Sometimes it sure seems like our kids just aren’t paying attention.

But they are.  In more ways than one.

I love the New Living Translation header for Proverbs chapter 7:

“Another Warning about Immoral Women”

Emphasis on “another”.  Just in case you missed the first one or two. 

Can’t you just see the kid rolling his eyes?  That whole oh-mom-do-we-have-to-talk-about-this-again attitude. 

To which the obvious answer is emphatically affirmative.  Because it’s critically important that the child is told why.  Because they have friends who haven’t been told.  Because there’s a society drooling in anticipation to ensnare him in something dangerous and deadly.

Like chapter five, this chapter isn’t just for the guys, either.  And actually, taken as a whole, it can be seen as something more than sexual promiscuity, something far deeper and far more insidious—

Seduction.

How interesting that Babylon is personified in Revelation as a prostitute.  Babylon, the representation of all that is anti-Christ, all that would seduce me away from Christ and set up her own kingdom within my heart.  If I read Proverbs chapter seven and insert the word “Babylon” in place of “woman”, it brings out a whole new context.  It forces me to look at myself, my decisions, my desires in an uncomfortable light. 

Seduction.  Undoubtedly, sex is one of the vehicles that the enemy perverts for this purpose.  It’s definitely a strong one, but it’s only one.  He has many options when it comes to seduction.

  • People’s applause and affirmation, (including family, loved ones, people whose opinions “count”),
  • Financial security, (an oxymoron, BTW),
  • Emotional comfort zone

You know, like sex, all these can be good things!  We need affirmation, I appreciate my husband’s detail to retirement preparation, and emotional security is important to every other kind of health, so that’s not the point.  Instead, when these things (and there are many others) draw us away from God’s intended purpose—intimacy with Himself—then Seduction is at work…overtime!

I appreciate the in-your-face strategies that given in this same chapter, including 1st-person observation revealing the woman’s tricks, calling attention to the son’s heart (something sorely neglected in our day), the use of flattery, the lie of anonymity, and the advice to not even start down that path.  It reminds me that I need some strategies as well…

“…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”

The words of the Parent ring just as true today, in all areas of life.  I aspire to be an attentive child.

 


2 Corinthians 2:11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

2 Corinthians 2:11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Brazen Church Girl

Today I decided to post a rerun from 2012. I couldn’t say it any better if I re-wrote it today.

Proverbs 7:13-15

“So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.”

One of the greatest myths is that all church-going girls are “good” girls. These verses are a good example. Not only has this woman been waiting in the dark for her prey, she is openly religious, and uses her surface piety to lure the fool. But let’s break down these verses one at a time.

“So she caught him, and kissed him..”

Look who is the aggressor; it’s not the man. Conventional wisdom (not godly wisdom) has taught us that men are always the aggressor and that women should be wary. However, there are plenty of young women, as young as middle school, who know exactly what they want, and how to get it. Consider the words of this mother…

“I have a very outgoing, charming, attractive 15-year-old son. I have literally been chasing the girls away from the door ever since the seventh grade. … The aggressiveness and promiscuity of young girls nowadays is beyond words. Their dress is so alluring and inviting to a young man, what’s a guy to do? Moreover, what’s a mom to do?” (source, Family Life Today)

“Impudent face…”

It is amazing how people can look you right in the eye and tell a bold-face lie. That is what this woman was doing. The Hebrew word translated here as “impudent” could also be translated as brazen. She just looked this naive boy in the face and told him what he wanted to hear.

“Peace offerings…vows…found thee.” 

It is obvious in verses 14 and 15 that something doesn’t add up. Why is it that a woman of the night would be telling this young man about how she went to church? Oh, it’s pretty simple, really. She was just saying what a good Jewish boy wanted to hear.

Here was the total, irresistible package: a young, gorgeous and religious woman calling out to be rescued from breaking the Law. “I am so glad I found you! You’re the answer to my prayers! This must be God’s will,” she essentially said.

In the Old Testament, when a peace offering was made, the leftover meat was to be eaten that night, and no later (Lev. 7:15). She presented her case in such a way that said, “We have to do this now!” She played to his religious chivalry.

When this woman grabbed the man, kissed him, lied to him, and trapped him, she did it with everything that said: “This must be a good girl – she’s only trying to do the right thing – and she likes me!” I can almost imagine him repeating the words of an old Debbie Boone song, “This can’t be wrong when it feels so right.”

A Prayer

Oh, Lord God, open our eyes to the tricks of the Enemy! Give us the wisdom we need to discern between a treasure far above rubies (Prov. 31:10) and a trap. Help us to teach our sons and daughters to be godly. Help us to be parents who set the example.