Proverbs 8: An ode to wisdom

Proverbs 8: 22-31

The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
a
t the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
w
hen he drew ca circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.

Sometimes i read the daily chapter and … suddenly, nothing happens.

Other times though – other times i feel a stirring in my soul;
I feel like i’ve come into contact with the Father of all.
They are not rare, these occasions, but neither are they commonplace.
It’s just that sometimes, sometimes with Spirit I come face to face.

Today is one such day you see,
Yes, I heard Voice speak to me.
What was said was neither deep nor profound,
Neither shallow nor trite but it was, you best believe, Biblically sound.

All this time we’ve been talking about Wisdom,
But I think not a word have we said about freedom –
Which is ridiculous you know, because after all,
What is there to be wise for if not to be master (mistress?), even now after the Fall?

-Wisdom was there in the very beginning
Of Her bright light there can be no dimming –
I wax lyrical about wisdom, i could go on and on,
For it is right that over Her we should fawn –

But I wont: the writer of proverbs does it so much better (scroll up and re-read the verse posted). I just want to remind you of something we’ve already covered and for today that will suffice:

Proverbs 4:7

Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get Wisdom: and in all your getting, get understanding. 

(link opens in new window)

Need i say more? Let those who have ears hear.

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Proverbs 7 – your harlotry revealed

i’ve often heard comments such as “so&so is a stumbling block for me” but i’ve never, ever, heard anyone confess to being a stumbling block for another.

Reading Proverbs 7 led me to pondering my impact on the lives of others: the following verses refer:

And behold, the woman meets him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
now in the street, now in the market,
and at every corner she lies in wait.

i’m thinking about my colleagues – am i being ‘salt’ to them? am i a branch bearing the fruit of the original vine? honestly, i think i can do better. there is a lot of room for improvement in that area. what about my friends  outside of work? what kind of influence am i? am i enticing them to bad behaviour, or am i the good company that brings value to their lives? am i like the harlot mentioned in this chapter – loud and uncouth, drawing the innocent to their death with ill-conceived ideas?

you see, the woman mentioned in these verses is a prostitute, or very close to one. she is also a married woman, and yet we see her making plans to spend the night with a man other than her husband.

this passage isn’t just about men avoiding harlots and prostitutes and not sexing women who are bent on cheating on their husbands. no. i believe the Word goes deeper than that. the ‘harlot’ is a substitute for anybody who is trying to draw you away from who should be your first love: Christ, and through Him God the Father.

do you have such people in your life? do you tolerate them because well, you’ve known them for years and they’re good people, and they were there for you when no one else was? i’m not saying cut them off, i’m just saying examine your relationship with them and tighten what needs tightening; loose what needs loosening.

more importantly though, and more relevant for me right now, given my other projects: am I that person that somebody needs to cut off? am i out here causing others to stumble, leading God’s chosen to sin? am i?  are YOU?

i dont know about you, but i’m taking a hard look at what i do and the people i do it with and i’m asking God to show me, by His Holy Spirit, how i can be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in the world, and how i can better use what talents i have to bring Glory and not dishonour to His name.

you know that verse that talks about how the Word judges even those innermost thoughts? it is so true that the Word does this. when you feel convicted then the Word is doing it’s job. don’t fall for Satan’s condemnation though, that’s another story altogether.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

…and there is also this:

clean heart

Amen.

Proverbs 6 – easy peasy lemon squeezy

it’s been a difficult couple of weeks, what with starting work again, Grace Curly (my baby girl) deciding she no longer wants to be a big girl and sleep through the night…and don’t even get me started on the supreme annoyance that is a laggy keyboard on a touch screen.

for a minute or two i entertained the idea of giving up on Proverbs but then i thought – let me do one thing and finish it, even if i do so weeks behind schedule. Aluta continua *raises fist*

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

there is much to say about Proverbs 6, much of which i’m sure you already know and should be working on, if you aspire to excellence in all things:

– watch your mouth for the words you speak carelessly can lead to your demise
– don’t be lazy
– God hates it when we give in to our baser instincts, and journey through life as thieves and liars, among other abominations
-don’t have sex with people you’re not married to – there is no restitution you can make for that and you’ll find yourself in a world of trouble with no way out

Proverbs 6, like every chapter so far, is a veritable mine of wisdom and you’d be doing yourself a favour if you took the time to study and apply it’s teachings.

i feel that the verses of Proverbs 6 don’t need a detailed exposition, the advise seems simple enough and the concepts easy to grasp.

go forth, read and apply!

Proverbs 5 – loose the cords of your sin

Proverbs 5:21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
    and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
    and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
    and because of his great folly he is led astray.

In our great excitement for the things of God, in the passion of our faith and in our eagerness to share His Word, we sometimes often forget that God is also a god of justice.

God sees everything we do, nothing is hidden from Him. Take another look at verse 21. This is not a joke. All our thoughts, dreams, plans, all our actions are laid bare before the gaze of Almighty. We sin with impunity (or so we think) and then wonder why we struggle and suffer. It’s simple – there are consequences to our actions. Sometimes the consequences are immediate and painful, but when the effects of our sin are not outright and immediate we are lulled into a false sense of security, thinking we’ve ‘gotten away’ with it.
However, before we come before the throne of Grace to partake of that Grace, it is necessary and vital to confess our sin that we may be purified from it:

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Confession and thus repentance make a world of difference. I know, it’s hard. Some sin is stronghold and it can be next to impossible to break the hold it has over us. Note, I said next to impossible, which means we can be set free. That’s where Christ comes in. But you already know all this. So take this is a friendly reminder: if you’re not experiencing the peace and joy of God perhaps you are still holding onto unconfessed sin. It may be a weakness you have, something you struggle with but that you are enjoying too much to give up – an illicit relationship perhaps? It may be that you are harbouring ill-will in your heart, holding onto unforgiveness and bitterness. It may be that you are envious and jealous, or that you are a gossip and slanderer. You might be an adulterer, or a liar and a thief. Whatever it is, if you have not brought it to the foot of the Cross know that you are blocking your own blessings and not walking in victory. You are basically stealing your own joy.
The goal is to be more Christlike, bearing our crosses, confessing our sin. There is a world of difference between accepting your sinfulness then coming before God with an issue you are struggling with, and living with unconfessed sin. The former is what being a Christian is about; the latter will lead you down that wide path and be the death of you, in every sense of the word.
Examine your life. Accept God’s discipline and the leading of the Holy Spirit, repent and find life, abundant life.

Proverbs 4: Hold fast to Wisdom; get understanding

-To believe I walk alone
Is a lie that I’ve been told.
So let your heart hold fast
For this soon shall pass,
Like the high tide takes the sand.

This is a verse from a Fort Atlantic song called ‘let your heart hold fast’. ‘Holding fast’ is the key to Proverbs 4.

Proverbs 4:7

Wisdom is the principal thing;therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Could it be any simpler? Get wisdom, bearing in mind what we have already learnt: that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. So start there. Seek to have that deep reverential fear of God; seek to be in the will of God always; desire to discern His will, His perfect and pleasing will. That is wisdom. And as you seek all these things i.e. wisdom, seek also to understand. Understand why Solomon placed such great value on Wisdom, why he said the following:

Proverbs 4:6

Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.

A fool cannot take instruction, and a fool cannot go beyond the exact meaning of an instruction. Wisdom is listening to advice and instruction, having a teachable spirit. So, get wisdom. But you need to also have a discerning spirit, you need to know when and how to apply what you have received and  learnt – that is the understanding. As the Word says: get wisdom and in all thy getting get understanding. So: be teachable and as you are taught, know when and how to apply what you have learnt. This is what it means to not forsake wisdom, to be preserved by her and kept by her.

Proverbs 4:13

Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.

No really though, could it be any simpler? Be teachable and hold fast to what you have been taught. Will you have days of sadness? Yes. Despair and sorrow and days when you just want to cry out ‘Lord, why me?’ Yes. But hold fast anyway. Hold onto wisdom, grab a firm hold of instruction. Let your heart hold fast (please click the link and watch the song). Learn the lessons, get understanding, hide the word of God in your heart that you may not sin against Him: your feet will not stumble, your days will be many. (cf.Psalm 119:11; Psalm 4:4; Psalm 37:31)

May God bless you exceedingly and abundantly as you seek wisdom and understanding.

Proverbs 3 – fear God more than you fear public opinion. That is wisdom.

Proverbs 3, continued. Because sometimes, there can be more than one post.

The first few verses of the chapter give you a way by which you can gain God’s favour, and come on, who doesn’t want that? It’s really quite simple:

Keep the commandments of God in your heart.

What commandments you wonder? Christ simplified them thus:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul with all your might and love all mankind as you would yourself.

Actually, those are the words to a well-known chorus (in my circles anyway :-p). The scripture goes like so:

Matthew 22: 39-40
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When you have hidden the greatest commandment in your heart, when you abide by it and by the second one which Jesus said is very like the first, you won’t (you shouldn’t) have any trouble finding favour with the Lord. All your actions will be judged by you against this standard: is this loving toward God? Is this loving toward the next person? If not, don’t do it, don’t say it, run away from it. Things really are quite that simple. It’s amazing how much simpler our lives would be if we just took instruction, which is wisdom, and, you guessed it, feared the Lord.

Whatever issue you struggle with, if you can honestly and without equivocation answer yes to both those questions then you’re pretty much safe.
Want to gossip about your colleague?
Should you loan your neighbour that money?
Should you go on that date?
Truly, if the action is not unloving, then go for it.
*whispering* the second might be tricky: loaning someone money that they can’t pay back will grow resentment between you and them -not a loving action. Loaning money you can’t afford to loan will do the same. Again, not a loving action. In fact, the bible says we are not to loan money but to give it. If you can’t afford to give the money (and you’ve prayed for guidance), then don’t. Yes, it’s that simple.

Too often we complicate our lives by worrying about how people will react to us and our actions, instead of fearing God more than we fear public opinion. We complicate things by taking matters into our own hands, instead of following His commandments, acknowledging His will and trusting God, no matter what we see, think or feel. These are not easy things but if they were then we wouldn’t require faith now would we? We wouldn’t need a blueprint for right living, we wouldn’t need it all laid out for us in black and white. God knew that we would struggle and doubt and fear and so He gave us the Bible. Read it, know it, hide it in your heart, and live by it. End of story.

Proverbs 3: trusting in and acknowledging God

If i were to tell my story in a certain way most of you would be wiping away tears of sympathy by the time I got to the end. I’m not gonna lie, some episodes have been pretty rough. Having said that, I can promise you that the way I actually tell my story usually makes people say ‘God loves you’ instead. While it’s fact that I’ve been through some tough stuff, what is truth is that every time I’ve called out to Him, God has come through for me. Yes, you read that right. Every. Single. Time.
This is not to say that I am immune to crises of faith – I’m not. I went through a period of several years where not only did I doubt the Bible, but the idea of a personal god seemed nonsensical to me, and don’t even get me started on what I thought about prayer as an effective anything, let alone a weapon. Yet, here I am, full almost to bursting with awe and wonder at how God has loved me.
What does this have to do with Proverbs 3? Stick with me.

As you know from my last posting, I’ve been struggling to write this post. Imma tell the truth about why: I didn’t want to write honestly because I felt that would be revealing too much about myself. And, as a result, I found that I couldn’t write at all. I tried and tried and failed time and again till I had to say ‘yes Lord’ and stop fighting.
What I didn’t want to share is this:
At the beginning of this year, the Holy Spirit led me to Proverbs 3, in particular this verse:

Trust in the Lord your God and lean not on your won understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight

The reason I didn’t want to share that is because I’m vain and I felt like that verse is too common for me to say it’s my verse for 2015. There were actually two verses and perhaps I’ll share the other one day. For today though, and for the purposes of this post, that one is enough.
Trusting the Lord in all your ways is easier said than done. However, if we do that, life really does become maybe not easier but definitely simpler. When you trust God you worry less, you should become less anxious and less fearful, understanding that your paths are being straightened, that all things are working together for your good. It means that everything you do, everything you think, is measured against God’s will and submitted to Him. It means letting go of what you want to do and not seeking your own will, but seeking at all times to be in the will of God. Not only that though, the verse speaks of trust and that is not easy because at every turn Satan seeks to subvert the will of God and each day, each decision we make is a fight to trust in God. Not easy. It requires mindfulness and a constant vigilance against anxiety, against fear, against all those desires that have not been submitted to the Most High. Not easy. But, what joy when we live this way, what freedom!
And so, Proverbs 3 is about trusting, about the wisdom of giving control to the Lord and not seeking our own way.
The rest of Proverbs 3 is pretty straightforward and I won’t go into it. I suggest you read it through and think prayerfully about its application.
Stay blessed, and here’s to trusting God and finding wisdom.

P.S. did I mention that every other time I tried to write a Proverbs 3 post something happened to make me quit and ‘save as draft’? My bible app would refuse to open or my keyboard would go laggy making me wanting to scream in frustration. One time I even fell asleep, tablet in hand. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I think it’s because I wasn’t writing what I was supposed to and so the Father in His infinite wisdom made it extremely difficult to follow through. This time, once I committed to writing, everything went smoothly. That is trusting God and acknowledging Him in all my ways, right up to and including the posts I write for this blog. It is amazing how even those smallest paths are straightened, isn’t it?