Category Archives: Instruction

“My son…”

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments…” – Proverbs 3:1

In order to fully appreciate the first two words of Proverbs 3:1, you need to either be a loving parent or the child of one. I don’t know how else to put it.

But if you are not a parent, or if you have never experienced the love of a caring father, let me see if I can explain the emotion I sense in these opening two words.

I hear begging. I hear pleading. I hear crying.

I can feel the tenseness in the temples. I can feel the tightness in the chest. I can feel the weight on the shoulders that push one down to the floor.

I can feel the pressure put on knees as prayer is being offered up. I can feel the grip on the pen as it’s squeezed mid-sentence, the fingertips turning white as one searches for the right word to pen next.

My son…” It’s an address used 27 times in Proverbs; three times in this very chapter. They are the words of a parent who has been down the road of life, found the potholes, suffered the pain, and longs for nothing less than his children to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Can you put yourself in that position? Imagine knowing the worst that life has to offer: all of the people out there who want nothing more than to destroy your kids, the most precious people in your life, those gifts from God…and you’ve now got one shot to give them the best advice you know.

“My son!” “My daughter!” Do you have children? Do you ever wish you could know just for once that they were really, truly listening to what you are saying? You pray that they will enjoy long life and peace (v. 2), but the odds are they will forget what you tell them, so you say “tie this around your neck” (v. 3).

And yet, we have the Word of God…

…a letter from our Father…

How often we must break His heart!

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The Preciousness of Wisdom

Hello, Dear Reader. I am a rarity to this blog, but I have come to share with you some truths of Wisdom which I have gleaned.

Last Summer, I found myself in a particularly tough place in regards to dating relationships. The person I was with for a period of three months was someone of immoral character and rebellion. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak, and I, being the naïve woman looking for a nice and caring fellow, fell into the trap of enticement.

During the last couple of weeks of my relationship, I was interested in reading Scripture, but it was rooted in how I wanted to prove to my parents that this person I spent time with was worth the time I had invested. I began to read through Proverbs for a short time, but once my relationship ended I began to have a bitterness fester within my heart due to some underlying problems with self-image and self-value.

I have always hated the possibility that one day I would live up to my middle name which means “bitterness,” yet that is exactly what I had become: a bitter young woman, full of rebellion against my upbringing. I spent a majority of my time during the last half of last year and the first part of this year in hate and corruption of the mind and heart, and the worst part was that I knew exactly how to remedy that pain I put myself through.

In a paper I wrote at the beginning of this semester, I stated:

“I know that God is real and loving and forgiving; I know with all certainty that He wants me to come to Him. Even so, I do not want the help that He has to offer my wounded and rotting spirit. I do not want to muster up the courage it takes to allow Him to scrape the putrid rot from my soul, just as a doctor must scrape and clean a burn victim. I do not want the comfort that He sends me through the gracious acts of others as they hold me and speak life into my heart. I do not want what I need. I want my own efforts to win over. Never have I understood so clearly how a dying man fights for his last breath – until now. I know that God is real, but I would rather trust my fingernails for security.” – The Strength of My Own Fingernails

Now, as I am recovering from this season of life, I can look at Scripture again with a refreshed mind and soul. Here is what I have learned from Proverbs 2:

Wisdom is:

  • A protector via discernment (v. 3)
  • A saving grace from wicked people (v. 12-19)
  • Something which only comes from the Lord (v. 6)
  • Something which must be sought out (v. 1-5)
  • Something which has value (v. 4)

Sterling Silver

In verse 4, Solomon refers to the value of Wisdom as being like that of the value of silver. This precious metal has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, including a piece which is now on my left ring finger. I wear a sterling silver band for several reasons, one of which to serve as a reminder that God’s Wisdom is something to be cherished. If only I had listened to the teachings of this Word and my parent’s concerns before taking my course of actions last year! I would have saved myself so much heartache and regret!

Wisdom is worth seeking out; it is a treasure to obtain. The catch is this: you must be willing to sacrifice your personal agenda in order to journey to find this treasure. It was only after I sacrificed my lifestyle and my hurt to Christ that I was able to access the Lord’s Wisdom again. If you want this treasure, it must be the only thing you seek.


Make Insight Your Priority

Wisdom

I have priorities. I have plans. I love to plan. But, do I have the right priorities? There is a difference.

Insight should be my top priority. I must search for the direction God wants me to go. Jesus challenges me to love. I need insight on how to do it. It isn’t always clear to me.

There is a treasure for me to find. I must search like an adventurer. I must be on a quest to gain insight.

“Fear-of-God” keeps me on course. It is easy for me to wander off and lose focus.

That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. ~King Solomon – Source: Proverbs 2:1-5 (The Message Bible)

Insight is the spiritual quality that enables a person to appreciate God’s mind and will in matters of behavior, truth, and providence, especially where right perception is not obvious. Insight is akin to wisdom and understanding. It is given by God and is to be sought by believers.

Insight is given by God. That is a huge thing for us as believers. That is some very good news. God loves to give me insight. I must make it a priority.

Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. | 2 Timothy 2:7 (NASB)

Jesus gives us insight through His teaching. How can I understand the scriptures? It is through the Holy Spirit and what Jesus says to me! Jesus will open my mind. Jesus will explain everything to me. Understanding can be mine in Jesus.

Luke 24:45–47 (NASB) — Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,  and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:27 (NASB) — Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Matthew 16:12 (NASB) — Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Now, this is really sweet! God is so very good. If I want insight, all I have to do is ask. Our God is so very generous.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. | James 1:5 (NASB)


More Than Knowing

To know wisdom and instruction… – Proverbs 1:2a

As I looked at the first few verses of Proverbs chapter 1, I thought to myself, “What have I not seen?”

I looked for something to write about. I looked for something to share.

But in reality, what good is it if I write a post about wisdom, yet never heed it? If I’m going to spend time in God’s word only to write blog posts, what good is that? A devotional on wisdom from a writer who didn’t apply it? Pretty sad.

Verse 2 starts off with “To know wisdom…” In other words, these proverbs are a gift to us…the product of experiences (much of which we should want to avoid). They were written for us to learn, to know

The problem is that knowing something is different than doing something. Having access to wisdom is not the same as putting that wisdom into practice.

The same can be said about Jesus. It’s one thing to know who He is; it’s another thing to know Him on a personal level. The more we have a personal relationship with the Wisdom of God, the more our choices and actions will reflect it.

So, as I share my thoughts on these proverbs, may they be more than comments on what I see, but a calling to a deeper relationship with Wisdom Himself.


No More the Fool

Proverbs 26:5

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation. (NLT)

Back in 1978 when I was second mate on a 100,000 ton bulk carrier we had a first-trip engineering cadet who quickly gained the nickname ‘village idiot’. The problem was that while everyone on the ship recognized that this lad wasn’t blessed with significant brainpower, he thought he that was. The other problem is that idiots are not easily tolerated on ships.

To be fair, most first trippers begin their careers as idiots. I did. There is so much to learn. The key is being willing to learn. A superiority complex never goes down well on a ship, but a first trip cadet with a superiority complex is quite intolerable. Inevitably life becomes intolerable for the intolerable one as he or she is brought down to size. It would be foolish to allow a foolish seafarer to become wise in his own eyes, but also potentially dangerous given the working environment on board ship.

Solomon was spot on with his advice. It is important to let a fool know that he is a fool. Fail to do so and the fool will believe that he knows better than everyone else. Lack of experience combined with lack of wisdom might then have disastrous effects.

Challenging as it may seem this proverb speaks to everyone. It is important to know and understand our limitations and focus our energies on what we do best. This is particularly important in church where sometimes we place or find the wrong people in ministries where they simply do not belong. The out-of-tune choir member might make an excellent Sunday School teacher, but someone needs to identify this and gently guide the croaky crooner to the place where God can really use him. And that does call for wisdom.


It’s Black and White

Proverbs 19:16

“He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.”

Black

When we boil some things down to the basics we find that there are, in the bottom of every pot, little things called “black and whites.” Believe it or not, even though we live in a world of fifty shades of gray, blacks and whites are always among us.

It is not easy to label all the “blacks.” Nevertheless, some of the blacks have horrible consequences. When a man chooses not to keep the commandments of God he runs the real risk losing everything, including his life.

When will men and women ever learn that choosing to “despise” God’s way is not only selfish, but shows how messed up our priorities and preferences must be. How crazy is it that men will purchase destruction with their own rebellion?

Black and White

A wise man understands that there is a great price to pay when he breaks God’s commandments. The wise man keeps the Word of God because he knows his soul is more valuable than any temporary pleasures.

IMG_4120It is not always easy to tell between black and white, but God gave us his Word – in black and white. On those pages we can read what leads to life. We are warned of the things that lead to death. Yet, the fools of the world often choose to blur the letters on the page, smudging the ink until the page is gray and anything goes.

Dear God, we may not always keep your commandments, but we repent and ask for help to do what is right and holy. Even though we may fail at times, give us a heart with a desire to keep your Word, not despise it.


Listen to the Teacher

Proverbs 14:6

A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.

Memories of School

When we were children we were regularly told that we would one day look back on our time in school as the happiest period in our lives. Really? As a child I knew that even a minute in school was wasted time. I was far happier outside the classroom playing on the rocks and the old fort at Grandes Rocques. It wasn’t that I scorned the wisdom of my teachers; it was just that I thought that I had better things to do with my time. I wasn’t the only one.

I recall the day that the headmaster took our class down to the old watchtower at Le Guet. The Germans used Le Guet during World War Two because of its commanding view out across the Atlantic. We were given tasks relating to the flora around the watchtower, but most of the class were back in the 1940s pretending to be either German or British soldiers engaged in a battle for the watchtower. When we returned to school and found out that we were expected to write an essay on the visit to Le Guet we had a problem because we hadn’t listened to our headmaster. To say that he did not appreciate our work is an understatement.

Legalistic or Simplistic?

While there are often pupils in school who are difficult to teach, surely that is part of the daily challenge for a teacher? This was a problem that Jesus would have recognized. Strangely, many of those who failed to listen to Jesus or benefit from His wisdom were the most educated men of the day. These Pharisees and teachers of the law were so focused on their legalistic approach to religion that they failed to grasp the simplicity of Jesus’ words. If only they had remembered this verse from Proverbs. “Knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23: 23-26 NIV)