“A Prayer Of Preparation”

A short but beautiful prayer to share with you this evening. Hope you can join with me in saying amen to this!

Father, it’s my desire to have the same mindset as William Featherstone who, following his conversion at the young age of 16, penned these words of …

“A Prayer Of Preparation”

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If Wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-4)

As we begin chapter two of Proverbs, we note that once again the author is addressing their child. Chapter one ended with words from Wisdom herself, challenging us to heed her call. Chapter two begins to point out some more of the benefits of finding wisdom, and we would do well to build this foundation in our hearts prior to tackling the more familiar short and punchy proverbs.

If…

My son, if you accept my words

    and store up my commands within you,

2 turning your ear to wisdom

    and applying your heart to understanding—

3 indeed, if you call out for insight

    and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver

    and search for it as for hidden treasure,

Proverbs 2:1-4 (NIV)

Count how many times “if” appears in those four verses… go on, go ahead…

Three times. And three times does it suggest that we have a choice about whether we take on wisdom or not.

I mentioned in my post on Saturday – Is it worth it? – that in my day job I am a statistician. Part of my work involves computer programming, and anyone familiar with that will be aware of the “If statement.” This is a way of telling a computer that if this happens, then do that. It is a basic building block of many programs.

In a similar way, these verses tell us that if we do certain things, we will get particular results.

We are to accept the words of the teacher of wisdom, and that extends to all the Word of God in my view. We must accept what we are taught from Scripture, taking it on board and making definite decisions to put it into practice in our lives.

Having accepted the words of wisdom, we must then store them up in our hearts. This is more than just remembering, although that is certainly part of it. To store God’s Word in our hearts is to be so saturated in it, that it becomes our true nature.

For example, when Christ was nailed to the cross, He did not say a great deal. Most of what HE said though, cries of anguish and pain, were largely direct quotes from the Scripture. When we find ourselves in times of testing or pain, our true self is revealed. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, what erupts from your mouth is likely what you have stored in your heart. When Jesus was put under the greatest pressure there was, His true self was revealed, and that was the Word of God.

Verse two tells us to turn our ear to wisdom, which is to give it our full attention. Sometimes, when reading my Bible, I guiltily admit that I do not give it my full attention. I read the words, but they do not penetrate my heart. I have not given them my ear, and allowed them into my inner man. Unless I do this, I have little hope of “applying my heart to understanding” as the remainder of the verse says. We first turn our ear to it, then apply our heart by meditating on it.

The next “if” we encounter, in verse three, urges us to call out for wisdom and understanding. In chapter one, we recall wisdom herself shouting out in the streets for us to come to her. Now, we cry in return for her insight. Wisdom is freely given if we diligently seek it.

#Wisdom is freely given if we diligently seek it #Bible #Proverbs #Christianity

What does it mean to cry out or call for wisdom? This is not a literal command of course, but endeavours to urge us to action. We recall James’ letter telling us to ask God for wisdom, and so we do. Let us not ask passively though, just expecting God to do all the work, let us each engage with Him and His teaching to fully obtain understanding.

Hidden Treasure

Closing out this post with verse four, we see the third and final “if.” This is a challenging one too.

We should not seek wisdom half-heartedly, but seek it as if we were looking for “hidden treasure.”

You hear stories of people spending their entire lives searching for some long-lost treasure, giving up their time, money and more to try to find it. They seek the glory of being the one to solve the puzzle, and the wealth that comes from the gems, gold or the rest.

That kind of passion and energy is what we ought to use to seek after wisdom.

I used to say “I want to play the violin…” but I later realised that is not true. I do want to be able to play it, but I do not want to put in the many hours it takes to learn it. The same is true for learning a language; I always said I wanted to learn a language, and yet have never set aside the time or resources to actually fulfil that “want.” If someone would wave a wand over me and it would happen, then great, but I am not actually willing to invest in it to make it so.

We say we want wisdom, and to live in a discerning manner – but do we? Do we mean, like my violin example, I would take wisdom if someone just put it in my heart, or do we instead mean I will put in the time, the prayer, the study and the effort to make it so.

Lastly, when we write an if statement on the computer, we must say what we want the computer to do when it encounters that situation. If we do this, then what will happen? If we seek after wisdom in this wholehearted way, then what will be the result? Find out next time…

Thanks, as ever, for reading!

Sharing Sunday – Sunday Suggestion

For this week’s Sunday Suggestion, I want to encourage you to share.

Paul writes in Galatians:

But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches.

Galatians 6:6 (WEB)

In particular, I want to encourage you to share a blog post which has uplifted or informed you in some way. Here on WordPress, there are many wonderful blogs offering Christian exhortation and teaching, and so do share them on so others can reap the benefit.

I am not sure if it is common on all blogs, but my own tends to have slightly less traffic on a Sunday., I suppose this is because many Christians are heading to church, spending time with family or just having a well-earned day of rest. If that is true of all Christian bloggers, then sharing one of their posts today would give them a real boost.

There are two major positives about sharing quality Christian blogs. Firstly, it widens the audience of the blog and so more people can enjoy the writer’s words. Secondly, it acts as a real encouragement to the blogger themselves. I’ve written about success before, and page views are by no means the best or only measure, but they are a tangible way for the author to get feedback on their work.

I hesitate to mention some of my favourite blogs here, as there are so many and I am bound to miss one out! I try to share posts from those favoured authors fairly regularly, and do hope it passes on their work to more people.

Don’t forget though that WordPress (and other sites too) offer search facilities to discover new authors and blogs you might not otherwise have heard of.

Today, share one of your favourites. Others will be grateful. Take a few minutes to scan a new blog you’ve not looked at before. You never know what treasure you might uncover!

Have a great Sunday!

Stuck In The Mire

Crail Harbour, Fife, Scotland. Photo by HeavensAbove7 https://twitter.com/HeavensAbove7?t=LYZXBj_5bjAg9qg1PxCM5w&s=09 He brought me up out of the pit…

Stuck In The Mire

Is it worth it?

Blogging is extremely rewarding, but can also be quite frustrating. You pour your heart into a post, and it gets only single-digit views. When you can lean out of your window, shout your words and reach a larger audience, it is natural to ask yourself… is it worth it?

I have mused about the fickleness of blogging in a previous post called – On (Christian) Blogging.

Sometimes a blog post comes together quickly, while other times it is a real effort and takes much time. On those days when it takes extra exertion, it can be disheartening to look at your stats and realise that hardly anyone has read it.

Just prior to the new year, I hit a new record on my site and exceeded the best views I had received in a single day. Such things are really encouraging, and it has pushed me forward to posting daily once again. On the back of that “success” though, it can feel like a great fall to drop down to low views once again.

I am guilty of being a bit stats obsessed, it has to be said. I do like to check on views and the performance of my post, and spend much time figuring out the algorithm and wondering why one post attracts lots of views while another does not. It comes from my day job – did you know I have a day job? In “real life” I am a statistician, and spend a lot of my life reviewing data and drawing conclusions. It is therefore hardly surprising that I start to do the same thing on my blog.

Taking an interest in your stats is not wrong, but too much can be unhealthy.

So, on the days where a post gets only a few views (or none at all!) – is it worth it?

If the Lord has called you to write, then do it faithfully. It matters not how many people read it, although of course that helps, but the important thing is to do what Jesus has instructed you. I feel led to write, and so I am going to keep doing it. If even one person reads it, then it is worth it.

If the Lord has called you to write, then do it faithfully #Bible #Writing #Blog #Christianity

I recall hearing a preacher once giving their testimony. They felt as though God was calling them to speak, and that the message would reach people all over the world. Naturally, they were extremely excited by this notion. Too soon though, they became obsessed with the idea and tried and tried again to make their ministry grow. It only did when they finally laid it down before the Lord. God asked them if He called them to speak to a handful of people in a small church for the rest of their life, would they do it? Only when they could said yes, and mean it, did their ministry start to increase.

I have no lofty ambition for my words to be read by thousands across the globe – although I would not turn it down you understand! But I also know that the bigger my audience, the bigger my responsibility.

The bigger your audience, the bigger your responsibility #Bible #Ministry #Blog #Christianity

What is God calling you to do? If it is to teach a half dozen children in a Sunday School for forty years, do it gladly. If it is to write a blog and have it read by ten people a day, then do that. Nearly everyone I know has a blog or a website or some form of content, but we can’t all be creators or there would be no one left to consume!

I will leave you with this thought. Every time you write a Christian blog post, it is there for people to find when they are ready. Maybe no one will read it today or tomorrow, but perhaps next year when the time is right, they will click that link and give their lives to Jesus. On that day, you will be able to say – it was  worth it!

We may never know on this side of heaven what our faithfulness to God will achieve. Imagine someone swinging past your place in heaven and saying thank you! Perhaps God used your words, actions or ministry to reach them, and you will be glad you did it.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 #Bible #faith #Christianity

Wisdom Shouts Out (Proverbs 1:20-33)

We have been studying Proverbs 1 over the last few days, and today I hope to close out the chapter. There is a fair few verses left, but I will try to group them and talk through the sections.

20 Wisdom shouts in the streets.

    She cries out in the public square.

23 Come and listen to my counsel.

I’ll share my heart with you

    and make you wise.

Proverbs 1:20, 23 (NLT)

Wisdom Cries Out

Wisdom, the thing we have been seeking and the overall purpose of Proverbs, takes on a female persona now and begins to talk to us – the reader.

Wisdom cries out, shouting in the streets and urging us to come and find her. This firstly implies that wisdom will not simply fall in our lap, but rather we must seek after it ourselves. I reflected in an earlier post that it takes effort on our part, and we must engage with the Bible as a whole, and Proverbs in particular, if we want to become wise.

Why does she shout in the street and cry out in the public square? Simply because that is where the people are gathered. Wisdom is on offer to all of us, not just a select few. In fact, and in some of the verses we skipped over, wisdom calls out to “simpletons!” Not so politically correct of course, but again, the point is that no one is excluded. Proverbs aims to help the unwise become wise.

Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. Prov 1:23 #Bible #Wisdom

Don’t Ignore

24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.

    I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.

25 You ignored my advice

    and rejected the correction I offered.

27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,

    when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,

    and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

Proverbs 1:24-25, 27 (NLT)

The message of this section is clear – do not ignore the call to wisdom!

Wisdom is trying to get our attention, and so often we choose the foolish path. We make our choices based on our feelings, our gut or what others want us to do, and yet those are worldly ways. Our choices must be Bible-based and Spirit-led, for that is the only way to ensure success.

Look at what befalls those who ignore wisdom. They end up in calamity and disaster, with anguish overtaking them. When we go our own way, or follow the world, we will end up in a place we do not want to be. The world offers us no satisfaction, and we will only ever be truly fulfilled by our relationship with God. Remember that the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord, and nothing works without that.

Avoid calamity. Avoid distress. Stay well away from the path that leads to disaster. Embrace the wisdom of God, and submerge yourself in His teachings. The bible is the manual for life, and nothing works quite right if we do not follow the user’s guide!

Harsh Words

Wisdom becomes rather harsh in the latter part of our passage. Having offered her help time and time again, and being snubbed by those who think they know better, Wisdom now refuses to answer. The foolish begin to search for her, but it is too late and they can no longer find her.

28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.

    Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.

29 For they hated knowledge

    and chose not to fear the Lord.

30 They rejected my advice

    and paid no attention when I corrected them.

31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,

   choking on their own schemes.

32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.

    Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

Proverbs 1:28-32 (NLT)

They have hated knowledge and wisdom’s free gift. They have refused her guiding hand and the correction she offers. Verse 29 tells us that they have refused to fear the Lord.

Harsh as it may seem, we only have so many chances to reject God and His ways. A time will come when it will be too late to turn to Him. I do not want that for you! If you have not turned to God, then now is the time. None of us know how long we have, or when it will be too late, so take that critical step right this second!

Fall on your knees before the Lord and cry out to Him for His forgiveness. Ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, and to save you from your sin. He will not refuse you. While you are at it, ask Him to fill you with wisdom, so that you might live a successful life in service to God.

Live in Peace

33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,

    untroubled by fear of harm.”

Proverbs 1:33 (NLT)

The chapter closes with these words – those who listen will live in peace.

Peace is something we all crave. Like wisdom, peace will not just happen to you, but must be sought. We have the fruit of peace in our hearts (see Galatians 5:22-23), and Jesus left us His peace as part of our inheritance (see John 14:27). Yet, this fruit must be cultivated so that it grows in our lives.

If you seek wisdom, you will find peace also #Bible #Peace #Wisdom

There are many benefits to living wisely, but for me at least, finding peace is enough to convince me.

Wisdom is calling you today, so do not ignore her plea. God, likewise, is knocking at your door, and hoping you will answer. Set your mind and heart towards Him today, and learn of His wisdom. This first chapter of Proverbs is there to convince us of our need for wisdom, and it certainly has me! How about you?

Let Me Love You, Lord (A Poem)

Last week I published a post on a poem based on Psalm 150. if you enjoyed that, then I hope you will enjoy reading this to.

I might look at poverty in the eye,Suffer lack with a hopeful sigh,I may feel down and ready to cry,But Lord let me love you without asking why!I …

Let Me Love You, Lord (A Poem)

And here is a link to my poem published last week in case you missed it…

Psalm 150 Poetry

Three… Two… One and Only

Last Sunday (9th January) was known in some church traditions as Epiphany Sunday. This tradition celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem to worship the child Jesus. You can read the entire account in Matthew 2, and although I won’t post the entire text in this post, I may refer to particular verses of interest.

If you do read the entire chapter, then there are a few points you might notice…

When?

First of all, despite the traditional nativity scene, it is unlikely the Magi arrived at the same time as the Shepherds and while the baby Jesus was in the manger. Epiphany is celebrated slightly after Christmas to denote that actually it isn’t really known how long afterwards they arrived.

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent out and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men.

Matthew 2:16 (WEB)

Verse 16 suggests it could have been up to two years later that the men from the east arrived.

Who?

You are likely familiar with the Christmas carol entitled “Three Kings,” but is this biblically accurate?

For instance, does Matthew tell us that there were three of these so-called kings?

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Matthew 2:1-3

Verse one does not say “three” at all, but rather “some.” It is not clear from this how many Magi came along. Tradition has grown up that there were three of them because of the three gifts that they brought. There were other suggestions too, and I do not think you can know for certain. It may be that there were three leaders, but I put it to you that the text alone implies far more than three simple men on camels!

Verse three tells us that King Herod was troubled by their arrival, and we will explore why in a moment, but he was not alone in feeling troubled. Verse three also states that he was troubled and “all Jerusalem with him.” While Jerusalem would have been somewhat different to how we know it today, even then it would not have been too concerned by the arrival of three men. It is likely, in my mind at least, that they came with a rather large caravan and something notable to set the wheels of gossip turning.

Were they kings?

Again, the text makes no mention of these travellers from the east being royal. Rather they are described as wise men or Magi. The word “Magi” is where we get our word “magician” from, and when we think of them, we should picture the wise men and scholars as depicted in the book of Daniel. In fact, I once read that Daniel may have begun the very group of Magi who were looking for the signs in the heavens that would tell them when Messiah was to be born… but I am not sure if such a claim can be verified.

So not three kings then, nor kings at all. If you look at the text carefully, then there are two people named as “kings.”

  1. King Herod – mentioned in verse one
  2. King of the Jews, i.e. Jesus – mentioned in verse two

There were not three kings, but only two in reality. Or were there?

Why was King Herod so bothered by the birth of a baby in the little town of Bethlehem? (Bethlehem meaning House of Bread, in case it ever comes up!)

Herod was deeply troubled by this news because he was no king at all. He was not part of the Davidic line, and so had no birth right to the throne. Instead, he had been placed there by the Roman rule to govern the nation. He did some good things for the people, but was known for being somewhat paranoid and even had his wife and children murdered because he thought they threatened his position.

We see the depths of his wickedness as he has all the baby boys in the area killed as a way of trying to rid himself of this Boy King. See verse 16 above.

We started with three kings, then reduced that to only two, and now only One remains. The baby in the manger. Arguably the least kingly of them all.

Others may claim kingship, but there is but One true King. And His name is Jesus. He is the Son, and Eternal Word of God. He came to live on this earth with us, and was born as a vulnerable baby in a cave (most likely). He lived a perfect, sinless life and was betrayed, tortured and executed having committed no crime. Jesus did this to pay the penalty for our sin. He was buried (in another cave) but death could not hold Him. On the third day, He rose again to new life, appearing to His friends and disciples. He later ascended into heaven where He is now seated at the right hand of the Father. One day, He will return.

All who put their trust in Jesus need not pay the penalty for their own sin. They can rest of His mercy and accept that He has done it all for us.

Do not delay, make a choice for Him today.

Don’t Go That Way (Proverbs 1:10-19)

The next part of Proverbs chapter one turns rather dark. The narrator, King Solomon himself, now appears to talk directly to his child/son, and warns them of danger.

 My son, if sinners entice you,

    don’t consent.

11 If they say, “Come with us.

    Let’s lie in wait for blood.

    Let’s lurk secretly for the innocent without cause.

12 Let’s swallow them up alive like Sheol,

    and whole, like those who go down into the pit.

13 We’ll find all valuable wealth.

    We’ll fill our houses with plunder.

14 You shall cast your lot among us.

    We’ll all have one purse.”

15 My son, don’t walk on the path with them.

    Keep your foot from their path,

16 for their feet run to evil.

    They hurry to shed blood.

17 For the net is spread in vain in the sight of any bird;

18 but these lay in wait for their own blood.

    They lurk secretly for their own lives.

19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain.

    It takes away the life of its owners.

Proverbs 1:10-19 (WEB)

We will not go through each verse in turn, as they come together to paint a vivid picture. Verse 10 probably summarises this whole section, and I cannot really add to its wisdom with my own words.

My son, if sinners entice you, don’t consent. Proverbs 1:10 #Bible #Wisdom #Christianity

The thrust of this section is simply this: when you are tempted by sinners, don’t go that way!

Verse 11 and 12 go into some particulars about the kind of words or enticements they may use to trap you. On the face of them, they do not seem that appealing to anyone. Why lie in wait purely for the purposes of “blood”? You might associate this kind of talk with demonic sources, but not your everyday “sinner” right?

While such direct words may not be used, any temptation to lie in wait for an innocent victim boils down to such language. These are robbers who care little for life. The thrill of sin is addictive to them, and we must stay well clear of any such evil.

Verses 13 and 14 tell us the real purpose for their trap – money. They would kill the innocent for the sake of a few coins. They have not, so they take from others, not caring the harm they do in the process. Robbers of the time would prey on the unwary, exacting violence in the process. Are they all that different from modern day burglars? Such thieves break in, ransack people’s homes for financial gain, and do immeasurable harm to those on the receiving end. Heaven forbid the homeowner should run into such a burglar, who is likely to strike out in violence to get away with their crime.

Don’t go that way! Verse 15 echoes this cry. Do not walk on their path, nor even put your foot upon it. They run to evil, instead of away from it. Let us be known for our flight from wickedness, and not towards it.

Verse 17 is a little proverb in the midst of our narrative. Put simply, if the bird can see the net, it won’t fly into it. We might learn to look out for things that might entrap us, and steer well clear.

The end of our passage points out that the trap these evil ones set for the innocent will in fact close upon their own selves. They lay in wait for their own lives – how so? Because we serve a God of justice. While some believe they can escape justice in this life, they can never escape the justice of God. We will all stand before Him one day and give an account for our lives. Such evil people will not be able to justify their actions before our Righteous God.

If you have been mistreated, or were the victim of some wickedness in the past, it will be put right. Even if those who hurt you got away with it, they will never escape God’s judgement. When we stand before Him, we will know that all and every sin will be accounted for – either at the cross of Christ, or as the penalty for the wicked. God has not forgotten what happened to you.

To us all I say again, do not follow the evil path. If you are being enticed into iniquity, or spending time with the wrong crowd, it is time to make a change. It is better to be alone, than to be with those who would lead you into sin.

It is better to be alone, than to be with those who would lead you into #sin. #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

I leave you where we began with verse 10. Spend some time today just meditating on its truth. It may save your life!

My child, if sinners entice you,

    turn your back on them!

Proverbs 1:10 (NLT)

Listen to your Parents’ Wisdom (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Yesterday, I wrote a brief Introduction to Proverbs, and so today continue on with chapter one. The author turns their attention to the wisdom offered by parents, but is really an exhortation to gain wisdom. This continues the theme of chapter one, pointing out the numerous benefits of living wisely.

My child, listen when your father corrects you.

    Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace

    and be a chain of honor around your neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9 (NLT)

Verse 8 tells us to listen to our father’s correction, and not to neglect our mother’s instructions. This is fairly plain on the face of it, and good advice for the young (and not so young).

Correction

In my post last week – An Open Rebuke – we examined a particular proverb pointing out that being rebuked openly was preferable to hidden love. A rebuke is related to a correction, and put simply is a way for a superior to point out where we have gone wrong and set us straight.

We all need correction at times, and although it rarely feels like a blessing in that moment, it will do us good in the long run.

Emotions make correction hard to accept, but ultimately we must trust that one bringing correction to us has our best interest at heart. In this verse, the correction is being brought by a father, and it urges us to listen to what he is telling us.

Is it your experience that the father brings correction, while the mother instructs? I guess it is a bit of both. A turn of phrase from a few decades ago was the well-known – “Wait ‘til your father gets home!” So perhaps historically the father figure has brought the discipline.

How do we accept correction? Firstly, we must trust that the person wants what is best for us. Secondly, we should prayerfully consider what they say. Not all correction is trustworthy, and not all of it is accurate, so we should be a little discerning. Right or wrong however, if the person feels we need to address something in our lives, then we would be wise to reflect on that.

If the correction is justified, then we need to take steps to put it right. That may require an apology, or some other restitution depending on what has happened. It may simply mean adapting our behaviour going forwards. My view of correction is not to bash someone about what happened in the past, but rather to steer them towards better choices in the future.

My view of correction is not to bash someone about what happened in the past, but rather to steer them towards better choices in the future.

Instruction

Verse 8 tells us not to neglect our mother’s instruction. Instruction is simply to tell someone else what to do. This might be helping them do something new for the first time, or it might be to show them a better way to do things.

If we choose to ignore instructions, then chances are we will make mistakes.

Take a recipe. If you do not follow the steps or the method, you likely will not get the results promised. If you do not weigh out your ingredients, but instead just throw random amounts into the pan, it will not turn out as expected.

We tend to think of parental instruction as only applying to the young. While this is primarily the case, our parents help and advice can be invaluable throughout our lives. Many older people whose parents are no longer with them admit to missing their parents’ support in times of need.

I am acutely aware, when writing of parents, that not everyone reading this will have had a good relationship with theirs. Perhaps you never knew your parents, or perhaps they did not treat you all that well. Whatever the case, there are still lessons for us here.

Firstly, if you did not get on with your parents, or worse if they mistreated you, then there are still lessons you can learn. Try not to repeat their mistakes, and do not pass on what they gave to you. This can be hard to do, especially if you picked up on their bad habits when young. As an adult though, you can examine their lives and their interactions with you, and hopefully you can see some things you do not wish to repeat on your own children.

Secondly, not every parent has to be a blood relative. While this verse says “father” and “mother,” I do not think it a stretch to apply it to other older people who may hold a pseudo-parental role in our lives.

When I think back over my years in church, I can recall a number of elders who looked out for me, instructed me at times, and corrected me too. They were not “parents” but they were spiritual foster-parents of a sort. I am eternally grateful for those who have spoken into my life.

A Crown of Grace

To conclude this post, I just want to reflect for a moment on verse 9. It points out that for those who accept the instruction and correction of our parents (actual or otherwise), wisdom will become a crown of grace or a chain of honour.

In my mind’s eye, I picture a mayor wearing gold chains, or royalty with a golden crown atop their head.

When we accept the teaching of those who have gone before us, we can learn great wisdom, and such wisdom will be evident for all to see.

If there are people in your life right now who love you enough to instruct or correct you, tell them how much you appreciate them. It only takes a second to reach out today and share your gratitude.

He Never Fails

I really enjoyed reading this post, and the part about keeping our promises is very important.

I hope you enjoy reading it too.

What God says, He does. He is trustworthy. He does not act according to what we think or what we say to Him. God acts according to what He thinks and…

He Never Fails

Introduction to Proverbs

The wonderful book of Proverbs begins with its own introduction. The text sets out the purpose and goal of the book, and gives us a flavour of the benefits of reading and studying it.

Proverbs begins as follows:

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,

    to help them understand the insights of the wise.

3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,

    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,

    knowledge and discernment to the young.

5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.

    Let those with understanding receive guidance

6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,

    the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,

    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:1-7 (NLT)

The Author

Verse one tells us that the proverbs are primarily written by King Solomon, son of David. King David is the most famous king of Israel’s history, and his son Solomon is not far behind.

King Solomon was known for his great wisdom, and he acquired it from no worldly source.

Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.

1 Kings 3:9-10 (NLT)

Rather than ask for gold or silver, or fame and power, Solomon asks for understanding. He does this so that he might rule over God’s people well. God was pleased with this request, and granted it to him.

So the source of Solomon’s wisdom is from God, and therefore we would do well to heed the words we find in the book of Proverbs. Some of it may seem repetitive at times, but that is usually a way of helping us remember the truths contained there.

The Purpose

The purpose of the Proverbs is clearly set out in verse 2. The point of them is to teach wisdom, to help give understanding, and also to improve discipline.

Wisdom and knowledge differ. Knowing something can be helpful, but knowing how to apply it is called wisdom.

Wisdom and knowledge differ. Knowing something can be helpful, but knowing how to apply it is called wisdom.

Do you find yourself making many mistakes in life, or regretting choices you have made? Then there is a chance you lacked wisdom. I once heard it said that wisdom is making choices now, that you will be satisfied with later on.

Verse 3 is interesting to me, and begins by saying a further purpose of the proverbs is to help people live disciplined and successful lives. It then goes on to say that they aim to help one live a just, right and fair life. In the world’s eyes, these two parts of this one verse may seem contradictory. To the world, success means getting what you want, no matter the cost. The world’s way gives little care to what is right or fair, only the goal is important, and not how you get there.

Not so in God’s kingdom. In God’s eyes, success means we do indeed live a just, fair and right life. Even if the results are not fame or fortune, or whatever else the world deems successful, to God, living righteously is the way of wisdom.

Verse 4 gives two categories of people who might benefit from studying the proverbs. These are the “simple” and the “young.” Describing someone as “simple” is not exactly politically correct these days, but the point here is that you do not need to be a genius to succeed. Likewise, you do not need years of experience and be full of years to gain wisdom. If you are young, or have little academic prowess, then you are welcome here!

Verse 5 expands the potential audience from not just the young or simple, but to the wise and the understanding also. Let the wise become even wiser, and those who possess understanding add to it. Whether you consider yourself wise, or not so much, there is great benefit in studying these words.

This is done, as verse 6 tells us, by exploring the meaning of the proverbs. This suggests some effort on our part. We cannot just read the words and expect wisdom to just grow inside of us. Rather, we must apply our minds and stretch our mental muscles.

Many of the proverbs are short, bite-sized chunks which you can mull over throughout the day. Take one or two of these, write them out and ponder them whenever you have the chance. They cover a multitude of subjects, ranging from anger, to finances, to temptation and much more. Verse 6 uses the word riddle, and although it does not mean quite the same as what we might think of as a riddle, there is certainly much to test our brains with.

The final verse in our passage today is perhaps the perfect summation of all you hope to find in the book of Proverbs. Learning this one truth is perhaps the first step in acquiring true wisdom.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,

    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. This does not mean to be afraid of Him in the sense of terror, but rather to revere and respect Him. To not do so will only ever lead you away from wisdom, and not just because He is the source of all wisdom, but because without the Lord, you are on a path to destruction.

The first step for all of us in gaining wisdom is to give God His rightful place in our lives. He is the Master and Creator of the Universe, and we are mere created beings. The universe works and holds together because of God’s power and insight, and we cannot hope to tap that wisdom without first making sure God is first and foremost in our lives.

Can you say right now that He has that rightful place in your life and heart? If not, now is the time to act. Surrender to the Lord, give Him your life and ask Him to be in charge. He will not only direct your steps, but will save you from all of your sin. God does this through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. By placing your trust in Him and what He did at that cross all those years ago, you are setting yourself on the path to wisdom.

Verse 7 also gives us a glimpse of what will become a familiar format in the Proverbs. The writer contrasts one with another. Here, we see the comparison of the wise and the fool One seeks and fears the Lord, while the other despises understanding. Which will you choose to be?

If you wish to grow in wisdom, then you can ask of the giving God, as James instructs us to:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

As we dig into the depths of the wisdom in these pages, pray this prayer along with me.

Dear Lord and Father,

We thank You for the wisdom of Your Word. We pray that as we study the Scriptures, You will grant us wisdom, and help us to grow in understanding. May we use that newly gained insight to live fully for You, and to serve You and Your Kingdom on this  Earth.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!