Monday, November 22, 2010
How quickly is the class topic or sermon subject forgotten after Sunday or Wednesday? As the closing prayer of worship is led and we ask God to “help us apply the lesson to our lives,” has it already been forgotten? “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you” (Proverbs 3:1-2). What an encouraging idea for those who trust in God. This sounds like one of the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). Good health, eating right, and exercise are crammed down the modern culture’s throat in order to live longer. When was the last time you heard to keep God’s commandments in order to have longer life?
Follow these principles and you will not be disappointed, “So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:4). When we trust in the Lord with all our heart, do not rely on our own logic, and acknowledge him in everything, “he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Solomon even has some medicinal advice, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7-8). Some people discuss how to get rich in the stock market, investing in mutual funds, buying real estate and owning businesses. One of the richest kings in history wrote, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10). What a paradox, give and you will prosper.
An important concept to understand in the Proverbs is that these are wise principles to live by, not promise equations. If someone dies at an early age, it does not always mean they were disobedient to God. Likewise, if someone lives to be old, that is not necessarily a mark of a faithful life to God. By following these principles though, we can be assured that we are in the favor of God. Things may not always go your way, but always trust in God giving him your firstfruits and you will be satisfied.
at 4:27 PM
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
“If” statements imply some sort of condition. If you do this then that will happen. I came to understand the significance of these statements very early in life. “If you try your best then I will be proud of you,” my Dad said. “If you do your chores then you will get paid,” said my Mom even though we really did not have a choice in doing the chores! Probably the most impacting “if” statement of my childhood was, “If you do not do what we say then you will be punished,” my parents said. We tried our best not to push the envelope because we knew from experience they were certainly not bluffing on the promise of punishment.
When we see “if” statements in the Bible, we can know that whatever condition is set before us is reliable. Proverbs 2 is such a chapter that lays out some conditions about our relationship with God. “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” (vss. 1-5). The three “ifs” found in these verses are part of the condition of understanding the fear and knowledge of the LORD God. He promises that if we receive his words, call out to Him, and seek Him then He will give us wisdom, be a shield for us, we will understand righteousness, we will be delivered from evil and can avoid corrupt men (vss. 6-15).
With fornication running rampant in the American society and ungodly sexuality being pushed by all forms of media, these “ifs” in Proverbs 2 also give a way for escape from the “adulteress” (vss. 16-19). When Paul wrote, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16), surely he had these three “ifs” from Proverbs in mind. Hope is found in Proverbs 2:20-22, “So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.” Do not be rooted out, but plant your faith in God.
at 10:11 AM
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Wisdom is all around begging for someone to listen. It cries aloud in the street, in the markets, at the head of the noisy streets, and at entrance of the city gates (v. 20-21). Solomon’s point is that wisdom can be found if we will simply open our eyes and ears. If we truly want wisdom, we will stop loving to be “simple” and stop delighting in scoffing because “fools hate knowledge” (v. 22).
It is comforting to know that God reveals himself to those who seek him. God does not hide out in a dark corner as seekers pass by, but Solomon assures us that he “makes his words known” to us, he calls us, and he stretches out his hand for us (v. 23-24). We do not have to worry about missing God. He makes himself known to those who pay attention, but “laughs at your calamity” if you ignore him and “mocks when terror strikes you” (v. 25-27).
Why is it that people who do not have a relationship with God seem to go to him when things get bad? They either go to him for comfort or they point to him in blame. If there was no prior relationship or seeking of God’s wisdom prior to a tragedy, “Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. 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” (v. 28-31). God is very blunt about our timing in seeking him. If our relationship with God was lacking before disaster, what reason do we have to hope for help in disaster?
Words of encouragement are written for those who hear wisdom’s cry. Justice and mercy are for those on both sides of this discussion, “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster” (v. 32-33). Let us seek the wisdom of God and seek a relationship with him constantly in good times and bad. God does not ration out wisdom, but “gives generously to all without reproach,” (James 1:5). Wisdom is crying aloud. If you have not heard it, open your ears and do not ignore it.
at 1:55 PM