I’m going to be very honest with your to start this edition. There are a couple of things that I’ve really wanted in my life that are proving to be the proverbial indian head penny. They are things that I’ve wanted for quite a while, but every time I start to get close to being able to get them, something happens.
The two things are a cool old truck that I can actually use to haul stuff and a weather station. I’m not talking about the kind of weather station you can pick up at Radio Shack. I’m talking about the kind that can measure pretty much every weather event we experience.
I especially want to be able to measure the wind. Where we live, we have winds pretty regularly. And pretty strong winds at that. I have been able to find some people not to far from me who have weather stations and share their readings on line. (Yes, I could hear you say just how cool you think I am.) The thing is, one weather station – the closest one to us – has wind measurements that are way lower than others further away. This station doesn’t measure wind as regularly as the others do, so I think it misses the strongest winds.
So, I want a weather station that will measure the winds regularly enough to catch the strongest winds. And I want a cool old truck that I can use to haul wood and tools in. I don’t care if it’s beat up pretty bad. I just want it to be reliable and something I can work on. And old enough to be EMP proof. (I just keep revealing more and more coolness…)
Anyway, I’ve done a lot of research on these items and know which ones I would get if I had the money. The thing is, every time I think we might be able to do one or the other, something happens and the dream gets pushed aside.
And that’s what our proverb for the day is about. Not about the weather station or cool old trucks (but how cool would it be if there were a book of proverbs about that!), but about searching. And not just looking for something once, finding it and moving on. No, we’re talking about the kind of searching that gets deep within us. The kind that drives us to go to great lengths to find the thing we were looking for. Like Benjamin Gates in National Treasure. That’s the kind of search we’re talking about.
But the reward is much more than a truck or weather station. It’s even much more than Silver, Gold or precious rubies.
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who obtains understanding.
14 For her benefit is more profitable than silver,
and her gain is better than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies,
and none of the things you desire can compare with her.
There is a song that you probably used to sing at church that is based on this verse. The song takes this verse and applies it to the Lord, which is a good thing. However, I’m not sure it’s the best use of this verse. The reason I say that is because I think it gives some of us the wrong impression about wisdom. What I mean is that it makes us feel weird to think about wisdom in this way because the it feels sacrilegious. We feel like this verse is supposed to be about loving God and when we think about it in terms of wisdom it feels wrong.
The thing is, it’s not wrong. It’s biblical. We are supposed to be in pursuit of wisdom in the same way we would be pursuing silver, gold and precious rubies. In fact, none of the riches we could seek can compare with the blessing we will find when we obtain wisdom.
My goal for myself and for you as we go through this series together is that we will have a passion and burden to seek wisdom. My hope for us is that we will have such a strong desire to know the way wisdom wants us to go and to go in it. Can you imagine the impact that would have on the world we live in? I am getting just a glimpse, and I can already see that a wise person plays a very important role in their world. My question is, will you be that person?
I don’t know how many of you are parents, or if you have parents, but I am one and I have some. Do you ever say or do you remember your parents saying, “I’m only doing this because I love you.” Even though what they’re doing doesn’t really feel like love at the time. Maybe you’ve said it yourself, and what you’re doing is more along the lines of mean than it is love. You know that it’s what’s best for your kids, but there is no way for them to see that right now.
Isn’t it amazing how just a little bit of perspective can change how we view things? Something we saw as negative and ridiculous when we were kids, is the very same thing that we now do. We don’t just do it, but we understand that it’s the right thing to do.
11 My child, do not despise discipline from the Lord,
and do not loathe his rebuke.
12 For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.
We can gather from the context of this verse that the kind of discipline being talked about in this verse is the punishment kind and not the structured life kind. The question I have about this verse, but don’t have a good answer for is, “what does discipline from the Lord look like?”
For a long time I assumed that when things went wrong in your life, it must be because God has something he wants to teach me. Or that I’m doing something wrong. But, I’m not sure that is the case. I guess it can be. But, there are lots of people who do wrong and never receive punishment for it. So, if God “punishes” the people he loves, then does that mean he doesn’t love this person who deserves punishment? Well, it doesn’t seem like God would work that way either.
And I’ve also gone through things that I haven’t felt like I deserved. It doesn’t seem like I should be getting punished by God, and yet I’m going through this awful thing. (Which is actually a ridiculous thought, since we all make mistakes every day, and deserve nothing from God.)
But then, as a father I also realize there are things that I either do to my kids or allow to happen to my kids because I know they need it. I know they might not like it at the time, but I know they will be better off in the long run if I let it happen. It’s not necessarily punishment. It’s a learning experience.
I’m sure you’ve heard that term before, and it might even be cheesy to you, but it’s true. “There are no bad days, only learning experiences.” I don’t agree with the first part of that statement, because there are very definitely bad days. But, in every bad day and every bad experience there is an opportunity to learn and grow.
So, for now, that’s where I’m landing on this passage. I might change my mind down the road. Maybe you have a different opinion. If you do, I’d love for you to leave your opinion in a comment below.
But for now, if you’re going through a rough time and you don’t know why, (and if it helps) try to think of your difficult situation from the perspective of a father. He’s right there and sees everything you’re going through. He can see all the dangers that surround you. He knows you’re scared. He knows you don’t feel like you can do it. But, he also knows more about you than you think he does. He even knows more about you than you do. He knows how far he can push you before you break, and how far you need to be pushed.
And one more thing, he doesn’t just see it all…He’s in it all with you. Better than that, He’ll be right there to catch you if you fall. Sure, you might just fall. But, He’ll be there to catch you. Every Time.
Get rich quick! You can have the life of your dreams right now! No need to wait, just do this simple step and you’ll be rich beyond your wildest expectations.
Have you ever chased one of those schemes? Ever been a part of a pyramid scheme or thought if you sold enough widgets and gizmos you’d be set for life? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, I’d venture a guess that all of us have traveled down the road toward instant riches a time or two. If not in reality, then definitely in our minds. Who hasn’t thought about winning the Lottery or, as my wife and I are currently hoping, to win the Publishers Clearing House, $5,000/week for life.
However, haven’t you all heard stories or seen TV specials about people who have gotten rich quick and it basically destroyed their lives? Why do you think that is? If having more money would solve all of our problems, how can having a ton of it all of a sudden be so devastating?
Today’s proverb is where we find the answer. This is the first of many proverbs about money. Throughout this year we will learn more about how to deal with money as we go through the rest of this book. But today, we get the ground rules. Today we get the foundation for how to deal with money.
It’s a very simple principle, easy to explain and just as easy to understand. But for some reason, it’s incredibly difficult to live out. It’s difficulty level is high for the same reason we want to win the lottery and have lots of money. We want more money. That’s why it’s difficult. We want it and we want it now and we want a lot of it. So, when it comes to living out this proverb, it gets very challenging to set that aside.
However, if we can learn to Honor the Lord from our wealth and the first fruits of our crops. Wait a second, not very may of us have crops anymore. When was the last time you spent the spring months planning how you’d plant your crops for the summer? Did you spend all of September harvesting grain? Probably not. But, you do reap benefits of your labor, whatever it is that you do. And when you’re blessed with the fruits of your labor, the first response should be to honor God.
What does the word honor even mean? It means to give someone the rightful place of authority. It means that we recognize that all that we have is given to us by God anyway, so when we honor Him with it, we are giving him the place of authority with what is His.
Notice this translation uses the word “from” instead of “with.” I could be mistaken, but I think that’s to help teach the idea that God does give us the wealth we have to take care of our needs. And the idea is that from what He has given us we are to honor him with a part, the first part. Is there spiritual significance to giving God the first part? Yes. Lots of people write this off as not being that big of deal. And while I won’t make a big deal out of it, we are told to give from the first fruits. And like anything else we are told, we ought to do our best to live up to it.
9 Honor the Lord from your wealth
and from the first fruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled completely,
and your vats will overflow with new wine.
The question you probably have is, will I get rich doing this? Will my barns really be filled completely and will my vats overflow with new wine? I don’t know. What I do know is that if you begin to Honor the Lord out of your wealth, and out of the first fruits of your crops, you will begin be much more intentional about how you spend, save and give the wealth that you do have. And when you become more intentional about anything, you get better at doing it.
And yes, I do believe that God will bless your commitment to honor Him with your wealth. It may not be with riches and abundance like you have in mind. It might not add zeros to the end of your balance sheet. But you will be blessed. In what way? By making God the authority in your life instead of riches, your whole perspective will change. Life will be about the right things, and the thing that used to drive will become less and less important.
Have you ever met someone who truly believes they are the wisest person they know? I have a feeling that just by asking that question someone’s face popped into your head. I have known several, and not to boast, but there is no way they are as wise as me!
Okay, I’m kidding. I’ll freely admit to you that there is a lot I have yet to learn. Sure I’ve learned a lot so far in my life on this earth, but the more I learn the more I realize just how much there is to know.
One of the guys that came to mind for me, knew everything about everything and could do it all to perfection. No matter what topic you brought up, he would be an expert and master of the craft. If you brought up any sport, he knew everything there was to know and could beat you at it. If you brought up any art form, he knew all about it and could perform it better than you. Public speaking, leadership, business, teaching…you name it he was the expert on it all.
Except that he wasn’t. And everyone could see it but him. I remember hearing another coworker say once when a topic came up that we didn’t know much about, “Ask so and so, he probably knows. And if he doesn’t, he’ll make you believe he does.”
This is what happens when we over estimate our own understanding. We become blinded by what we think we know and start to believe we actually know all that we think we know. Then we will no longer ask questions, but we will always have an answer. It may not be right, but we will have one.
The thing is, like I mentioned, people can always tell when you don’t really know all that you say you know. Especially when they know a little (or a lot!) about the topic and you don’t but you pretend to. I’ve been in this situation from time to time. I’ve asked someone what they think about something or how they would do something. And in hopes to get an unbiased answer I don’t preface the conversation with the fact that I already have some knowledge. Sometimes, I get something new. Other times I get something I already know. But there have been times when the person just makes something up to sound smart, and they’re flat out wrong!
Don’t be that person. Don’t be wise in your own estimation. Instead, fear the Lord – the giver of wisdom. Turn away from evil.
7 Do not be wise in your own estimation;
fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 This will bring healing to your body,
and refreshment to your inner self.
Have you ever been caught in a lie? It can be exhausting. When you have to constantly be on the ready for defending a lie, it wears on you and your body. And when you’re pretending to know everything, you really have to always be ready to come up with some kind of answer.
Try this on for size, tell the truth. If you don’t know, say “I don’t know.” It’s okay to not know something. It really, really is. Even Google doesn’t know everything. And that’s the collective information of the entire world!
I have a feeling this is the kind of healing and refreshment this passage is talking about. The kind you can only get from relief. Even better than the plop and fizz kind. This is the kind where you can finally relax because you can let your guard down. It must be absolutely refreshing to be able to let all that stress go and just be you. Be who God made you to be. Be just as smart and wise as you are, and seek God for the rest. Plop. Fizz. Wisdom.
I’m going to diverge from the list I found that gave me the initial list for this series. The reason being, the list was the top 100 searched verses on biblegateway.com. When it comes to memorizing verses, it’s not always beneficial to memorize just one verse. In fact, it may be much more useful to us if we memorize more than one verse, as the ideas aren’t always contained in one verse.
So, today, I’m going to challenge you to memorize more than one verse. Eleven actually. And yes, before you get all huffy, I have a very good reason. In this verse we find some of the best descriptions of a “Kenosis” theology in scripture. Whoah, smarty – big word. It’s only seven letters, it’s not that long. Not nearly as long as some of those pharmaceutical words (case-in-point), though it would be a good title for a laxative pill. It means to empty yourself of your own will and become entirely open to God’s will for your life. This passage shows how Christ set the ultimate example for us by doing that himself.
When you memorize a verse, it gets in your brain and works into your subconscious. When it gets in you like this it starts to become a part of you. And when you start to become like the scripture you have memorized that is a great thing. This verse summarizes in a great way how we ought to live as members of the body of Christ.
Another reason I love this passage is that is moves us to worship. When we see how much Christ sacrificed and how much he gave for us, we are moved to respond. We see how every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and that moves us to want to do the very same right here and now.
Add this to your list of verses to memorize, and it will deeply impact your life forever. It has mine!
2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
I have been excited about this passage from before I started doing this series. This is one of the most quoted and most memorized verses in the whole Bible. But, I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I’m excited is because it brings to memory a song I learned in VBS when I was a kid. The song was just 3:5-6. The whole point of the song was to get us to memorize the passage, and it worked. I remember the song to this day! (I did a little search for the song but can’t find it. I’d record it, but I have no idea who wrote the song so I have no way to get permission…it would have been a part of a VBS curriculum in the 80’s…)
Anyway, I’d consider this one of the bible’s “Magic” verses. There are a bunch of verses in the Bible that, when taken out of context, seem to offer a promise in a magical way. For some reason, we really need magic verses. I understand why. It would be much easier to chant a Bible verse 20 times and have everything be all peachy. But that’s not the way life works. That’s not the way God works, at least not typically.
I think the intentions people have behind getting us as kids to memorize verses are good. And if they are memorized with an understanding of the context they were taken from, that’s great. The problem is, we don’t always remember the context. Then we’re left with this “magic” verse that holds a promise, but not the context that leads up to the promise.
That would kind of be akin to buying a bed from Ikea, and jumping to the last picture instruction, and expect that if you look at it long enough, and believe it with all your heart, there will be a bed all ready to sleep in. But, if you’ve ever bought anything from Ikea, you know there are a few thousand things you have to do first. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that if you do the first 3,998 things mentioned in the book of proverbs, that everything will magically snap into place in your life.
What I am saying, is if we hope to experience the promises found in scripture, we have to do our part. Like I said yesterday, I’m not promoting some sort of “works” based gospel. But I do feel there has been a tremendous misunderstanding when it comes to the responsibility that is on each and every believer. The reason we have the Bible is to know how to live. It is not just so we know when to ask for forgiveness. It’s to know how to live so we don’t need to ask as often.
1 My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for they will provide a long and full life,
and they will add well-being to you.
3 Do not let truth and mercy leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will find favor and good understanding,
in the sight of God and people.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
6 Acknowledge him in all your ways,
and he will make your paths straight.
The whole idea we find here, just as we have been learning through the first two chapters, is that this teaching, understanding and wisdom we are seeking is amazing. When we learn AND ABIDE in the ways of wisdom, we can have a long and full life. When we treasure wisdom so much that we’re willing to wear them around our neck, and write them on our heart we will find good favor and understanding. When we trust in the Lord with all our heart and don’t lean on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge him, He will make our paths straight.
Did you see it? It is not a magic verse. We have to trust in the Lord with all our heart. Not trust in me. Not trust in friends. Not trust in google and wikipedia. Trust in the Lord with all our heart…Do not rely on your own understanding. Ask for help. Do some research in the Word. Don’t try to figure it out on your own…Acknowledge Him in all your ways. Don’t take credit for what God is doing, give God the credit. Give thanks for what God has done and provided. H0nor Him with your life and doing your all to live the proverbious life.
And He will make your paths straight. He, not you. He. Not magic, instead, a relationship.