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Category: Proverbs

The Hunt for Wisdom

then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:5

Have you ever seen those guys at the beach who walk around wearing headphones and waving a metal detector back and forth in front of them? Sometimes I want to stop those guys and ask them about the best thing they’ve ever found. My motivation is part genuine curiosity and part skepticism because I can’t imagine the return on their investment of time and metal detecting technology is very high. But I have to imagine that for most of those guys, the thing that keeps them out there is the thrill of the hunt and the possibilities of what they might find. After reading through Proverbs this morning, I’m thinking that we should have the same motivation and anticipation when searching for wisdom.

Proverbs 2:5 (referenced above) outlines the blessings of finding wisdom but the first four verses outline the conditions for enjoying those blessings.

  • Receive it – in order to receive wisdom I must be both available and willing to receive it. I must desire it and be willing to extend the effort required to receive it. For me, this means maintaining my spiritual disciplines of reading, studying and mining the depths God’s word. It means approaching my pastor’s Sunday morning sermons with a zeal to listen, learn and apply. I am to value God’s word as divine revelation and acknowledge that it is living and active. I need to prepare the soil of my life that it might take deep root and transform me from the inside out. I pray that God continues to give me ears to hear and a heart to receive His words of wisdom.
  • Seek it – I was reading a story in the news today about a former college quarterback who went missing in the woods after calling his wife from a fishing trip and reporting that he was worried and potentially in danger. In response to this hundreds of volunteers assembled for a search and rescue mission in the hopes of finding him. That is how I am to pursue wisdom; with an urgency and earnestness to find it. I can guarantee you that if I lost my wallet and it contained $1,000 in cash, I would go look for it ASAP and I wouldn’t give up easily. And yet, wisdom is much more valuable than worldly riches. I pray that God gives me a passion and thirst for wisdom that far surpasses any desire that I may have for fortune or fame.
  • Ask for it – the author of Proverbs encourages his reader to “call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding”. Wisdom should be something that I request from God and trust that it is something He desires to give to His children who ask. I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead me and guide me into the truth of God’s word.
  • Treasure it – the commands of God are to be stored up and treasured in my heart. The ability to recall God’s word in order to combat the lies and temptation of the enemy or to offer encouragement, instruction, correction or rebuke is a real blessing. Scripture memory is a vital and beneficial spiritual discipline that I want to pursue more diligently. I pray that the Holy Spirit will help me recall the promises of God in my times of need.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. My desire is to continually pursue the things of God with my whole heart that I might arrive at the end of wisdom. And I desire that, by God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I will instruct my children in the way they should go and it’s my hope that they too will incline their hearts toward wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One. Only by God’s grace and only for His glory.

Praising an excellent wife

Once a week we gather with a small group of people from church to enjoy the fellowship of one another, have some coffee and desert, and spend time discussing the previous week’s sermon. In addition to an outline that is useful for taking notes during the message on Sunday, our pastor also provides a list of questions that are very helpful for guiding discussions during these small group meetings. One of those questions last night had us looking into Proverbs 31:10-31 (describing “The Woman Who Fears the Lord”) to identify what the passage reveals about the husband.

There was a couple of obvious things that jumped out from the passage; things like how his heart trusts trusts his wife, how he will have no lack of gain, and how he is successful and respected. The thing that jumped out to me though was the following verses:

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Proverbs 31:28-29

He praises her. This is so critical. If we as husbands are looking for application, this is the one of which we should take note. This is the gold nugget. It may seem simple, not very profound and even a no-brainer, but I think it is mandatory in a healthy, loving marriage relationship. I also guess that it’s probably not purposefully done enough.

It’s not enough to just think nice thoughts about our wives. It’s not enough to just feel appreciative of all that our wives do for us and our family. Until we share those feelings with them it’s like walking around with a million dollar check in our wallets. It may feel good knowing it’s there, but it’s not going to benefit anyone until it’s cashed.

Our wives need to hear words of praise and affirmation from our lips and our hearts. And if your reaction to reading this is that you will start praying that your wife will start performing in such a way that she earns and deserves your praise, let me suggest a new item for your prayer list. Ask God to give you a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for your wife. Ask God to help you treasure your wife and to treat her and talk to her in such a way that she will never doubt your love for her.

Start today and never stop. Tell your wife how excellent she is. And thank God that He is continuing to make her more and more excellent every day.

Daily Bread

“give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,” Proverbs 30:8

This has been a verse that has stuck with me since the very first time I read it as a “baby” Christian. I’ve often made this my prayer as I have sought contentment and satisfaction with the Lord’s provision in my life. The idea that the eyes of man are one of the things in this world that are never satisfied is not lost on me as I find it a constant struggle to not get caught up in the rat race of keeping up with the Joneses. Because after all, as has been previously pointed out, even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.

I think when most people consider this idea of the Lord providing them with their daily bread it’s in the context that God will provide enough for their daily needs. They think of it in terms of the quantity of His provision and are focused on measuring the volume or amount of what has been provided. I think that perhaps it can go beyond that. I think that maybe it means that not only will God provide you with enough but also with the right kind. Not only will God provide enough food to satisfy my hunger but He will also provide the right kind of food such that I will be adequately nourished. I could stretch my grocery budget a lot farther each month if I fed my kids fast food each day instead of organic fruits and vegetables and it might satisfy their hunger but would it nourish them appropriately? Probably not. I think my Heavenly Father is just as concerned with what type of daily bread I’m consuming.

Perhaps, there are times where it is not necessarily about nourishment but also growth – in faith and trust in Him. Maybe there are times where my daily bread yields a surplus and is useful for revealing things about the condition of my heart. Will I, motivated by fear about tomorrow, stockpile the surplus for my own comfort? Or, will I gladly share it with others who have need? Does God use His provision of my daily bread in this way?

I think about God’s instructions to the Israelites when they were collecting manna in the desert. They were only to collect what they needed for that day. Some would be able to collect more and others less but that was to ensure equity among all of them as those who were unable to collect enough could receive from the all-star manna collector team. It was also a way to ensure that they continued to trust in God as their provider rather than trusting in their manna-collecting abilities.

I also notice that God has never asked me to set my daily bread threshold. I’ve never had to submit a daily bread request form. I’ve never sat down with a Heavenly business analyst to help me define my daily bread requirements. God the Father, as the loving and faithful provider that He is, gives me my daily bread and I trust Him to do so. It’s my hope that I will always receive it with thanksgiving and that I will always receive it as satisfactory. I know that I will never lack any good thing.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Content with crumbs

More often than not, my time spent reading God’s word leaves me humbled. Humbled at the revelation of God and His character and humbled at the example of faithful individuals. This morning, it was a Canaanite woman that has left me humbled and caused me to examine the motives of my heart in approaching Jesus.

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
(Matthew 15:24-27 ESV)

I wonder how often I forget that Jesus’ mission was to call home the lost sheep of the house of Israel and it is only by His grace that I, a gentile, have been ransomed and adopted as a son of God? I wonder how often I have approached God and refused to be satisfied with what He has provided me because I think it’s not enough or I believe it’s not what I need? How often have I been like the spoiled child and picky eater that pulls the chair up to the table, examines  the food on my plate, and request something else that I think I will enjoy more?

I consider these questions in light of a Canaanite woman that was not resentful that she was not invited to sit at the table. She wasn’t even asking for any bread – not even the leftovers. She was prepared, content, and satisfied with just the crumbs. Whatever fell from the faces of those that were eating the bread was enough for her. She believed it was enough because she believed Jesus was enough. She wanted whatever He was willing to provide to her and she would receive it with gladness.

I pray that I would forever be satisfied with whatever Jesus provides for me. And when I say satisfied, I mean that I wouldn’t wonder “what if”. I wouldn’t compare it to whatever He decides to provide for someone else. I wouldn’t evaluate it against what I expected or hoped for. I pray that I would trust and believe that God is good, that His love endures forever, and that He desires to provide good gifts to His children. I pray that I would be more satisfied in Him than in what He provides.

…give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
(Proverbs 30:8 ESV)

Trust – Fear – Honor

I had coffee this morning with a friend that has really been going through the ringer for the past year. During our time together this morning, he was describing how he was changing his tactics for how he was going to respond to his ongoing circumstances. Now, to be fair, he has really demonstrated a desire to be faithful and obedient as he’s wrestled with God. So, I want to be clear that what follows are simply some thoughts that I shared based on some things I heard during our conversation today and were only offered up as points to ponder. They were simply the product of questions that I asked of him in an effort to ensure that he had considered things from a different perspective.

One thing he mentioned was that his focus was on accepting and responding to his present circumstances in such a way that it could be useful in teaching his kids some valuable lessons. I think that is a good motivation to have and find no fault in it whatsoever. But, I reminded him that he shouldn’t focus on that to the neglect of considering the things that are intended for him to learn through this trial. He should not overlook what truths that God desires to reveal about himself. When God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, it wasn’t necessarily to reveal the depth of Abraham’s love for his son. It was a test to reveal the true allegiance of Abraham’s heart and to determine how much he loved and trusted God.

Another thing my friend mentioned was that if he maintained his former course of action, perhaps it would be perceived by others that he was admitting something that he knew wasn’t true. That by not “fighting”, it would essentially be an admission of guilt. The fear of man is a tough thing to resist and I can certainly empathize with worrying too much about what others are thinking about me. However, I reminded my friend that even more important is to be concerned about how God perceives us. Does He perceive us as obedient and as receiving His grace as sufficient? Does He perceive us as faithful stewards of the resources that He has provided? Does He perceive us as faithful and trusting that He will provide our daily bread for us? I tell you the truth, if we seek the favor of man, we have received our reward in full.

The thing I realized after we wrapped up our conversation this morning is that, although my friend is going through deeper waters than I can imagine and although I am unable to empathize with his present sufferings, many of his “problems” are things that are common to man. Alright, let’s be honest, they are common to me. I desire and welcome God’s blessings but not His discipline. I trust in Him for my eternal salvation but fail to trust Him to provide my daily bread. I believe that Jesus has reconciled me to God the Father but I live in disbelief that the power of the Holy Spirit is enough to help me to forgive and love people who have wronged me. My friend and I might be living in different contexts right now but as common men, we both struggle with the flesh. We believe but we need help with our unbelief. We’ll face the giant but, just like David, we’re going to pick up five smooth stones (just in case the first four either miss or don’t do the trick).

All of this reminds me of a few notes I scribbled down on some note paper the other day while I was reading Proverbs 3. My notes included three things t0 do and five things to avoid. If I could just make my daily agenda all about addressing these eight items, I’d probably be doing ok.

Do This:

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart
  • Fear the Lord and turn away from evil
  • Honor the Lord with your wealth

Don’t Do This:

  • Lean on your own understanding
  • Despise the Lord’s discipline
  • Be weary of the Lord’s reproof
  • Forget the Lord’s teaching
  • Be wise in your own eyes

Wisdom

Proverbs 8 has a few things to say about wisdom. Or, rather, wisdom has a few things to say about itself.

One thing I’ve learned as a father to three young children is that they all appreciate attention. One thing I’ve found is that they each have their own unique way of seeking attention. One seeks attention through good deeds and kind gestures, appreciating the public recognition that might come with it. Another has no problem seeking attention through drama or grouchy behavior. And another just comes right out and lets me know that they want attention and Daddy should cuddle with them. One thing I see when I read Proverbs 8 is that wisdom also wants attention.

In fact, both wisdom and understanding are doing everything they can to ensure that the simple (people like myself) take notice of them. It’s almost to the point where they are being obnoxious in their attempts to ensure that the simple take heed. Wisdom stands in the most prominent of places where there’s no way you can possibly miss her and she raises her voice and calls out loud. She has Google maps for all your typical routes that you might take into work each day and she makes sure that you see and hear her everyday as she cries aloud. She’s even handed you a leaflet that clearly states, with expert testimony included, that wisdom is now a valuable commodity. The best analysts have targeted wisdom as a strong ‘Buy’. She is better than silver, choice gold, and jewels. Nothing that you desire can possibly compare to her.

Wisdom even tells us that we should hate evil – things like pride, arrogance, and perverted speech – because that is how you fear the LORD.

Wisdom also explains that those who diligently seek her will find her. You see, it’s almost like a game of hide and seek and we are “IT”. Except, instead of choosing the best hiding place, wisdom is throwing the game and has stood squarely in the middle of the room with nothing to hide behind and is drawing attention to herself. “Look at me! I’m right here! Come and find me!” The only question is, are you looking for her? Because if not, you’re in trouble. You see, the last thing wisdom tells us is that whomever fails to find her, injures himself.

Do me a favor. Don’t injure yourself today. Don’t hate wisdom and love death. Listen for her, diligently seek her, find her, and in so doing you will find life and obtain favor from the LORD.

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