Proverbs

How to Bloom

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The pathway of faith has divine purpose, and we’re to obey the Lord, no matter what.  But even when God’s direction is perplexing, we can count on the fact that He is good.

Walking obediently with Christ doesn’t guarantee an easy life, which is obvious when we consider Paul.  He encountered all kinds of hardships, including shipwreck, persecution, and beatings (2 Cor. 11:23-27).  Keep in mind, though, that nothing can touch a child of God without the Father’s loving permission.  He uses difficulty to strengthen and correct believers – and eventually as a tool in achieving His plan.  Also remember that the Lord protects His followers in their suffering, just as He kept the apostle safe in situations that seemed impossible to overcome.

Adversity can tempt us to ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  But we will ultimately regret such a decision, as God doesn’t spare us from the consequences of our sin.  However, He never lets go of His children, whom He will continue to protect and guide throughout life.

Walking in obedience and trust is the only way to true peace.  As Paul sat in an uncomfortable Roman prison where his life was in danger, he encouraged believers not to worry but to trust the Lord and pray with gratitude (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:6).  Doing so leads to experiencing His perfect peace.

The only wise way to live is to believe in almighty God and follow wherever He leads.  That is the road to contentment, fulfillment, protection, and peace.  Are you journeying on the pathway of faith?  Or is something holding you back from all God intended for our life?

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, July 28, 2017.

An Eternal Perspective

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In the Bible, Mark 9:43-48, Jesus used startling language to stress the importance of cutting sin out of our lives.  Painful discipline is required of his true followers.  Giving up a relationship, job, or habit that is against God’s will may seem just as painful as cutting off a hand.  Our high goal, however, is worth any sacrifice; Christ is worth any possible loss.  Nothing should stand in the way of faith.  We must be ruthless in removing sins from our lives.  Make your choices from an eternal perspective.

Commentary from the One Year NIV Devotional NT, April 17.  Tyndale House Publishers (2003).

Do you fear God?

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Fear God

4And I say to you, My friends, don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will show you the One to fear: Fear Him who has authority to throw people into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the One to fear! Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.

Luke 12:4-6

What is this fear?

I wrote a little about that in a previous post titled Unseen.

Finally, there is this:

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,

turning people from the snares of death.

Proverbs 14:27

I can attest that Proverbs 14:27 is true from personal experience, my life being completely changed by Jesus, and from many, many others I have spoken with that were heading down the wrong path. 

Just some things to ponder.

Where to Focus

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Warren Bennis, the popular management consultant, wrote in Why Leaders Can’t Lead:  “Magnanimous and/or humble people are notable for their self-possession.  They know who they are, have healthy egos, and take more pride in what they do than in who they are.  They take compliments with a grain of salt and take intelligent criticism without rancor.  Such people learn from their mistakes and don’t harp on the mistakes of others…True leaders are, by definition, both magnanimous and humble.”

Solomon, in writing the Proverbs, agreed, saying that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34).  Humility precedes honor (Proverbs 15:33); and humility, coupled with the fear of the Lord, brings “riches, honor, and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

By humility, however, the Bible doesn’t mean a low self-image.  We aren’t to put ourselves down or nurture an inferiority complex.  We’re just to think of Jesus more often than we think of ourselves, and we’re to put the needs of others before our own.  Today, try keeping a window before your face instead of a mirror.

“Humility does not consist simply in thinking cheaply of one’s self so much as in not thinking of self at all-and of Christ more and more.”  Keith Brooks

Commentary from the Pathways Devotional, by David Jeremiah, April 24.

Warren Bennis, Why Leaders Can’t Lead (San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1989), 118

Interpreting Proverbs

The types of sayings found in Proverbs reflect a way of thinking and teaching that has been largely abandoned in modern Western culture.  Proverbs are general statements of truth rather than invariable promises or laws.  An individual proverb normally captures a tiny cross-section of truth rather than making a comprehensive statement about a topic-a single principle that is one small piece of a much larger mosaic.  The task of the student of wisdom is not only to put together the broader mosaic piece by piece but also to learn to apply these principles skillfully to the complexities that one encounters in life.  The goal of the wisdom in Proverbs is to develop skill in living according to the order that is embedded in God’s creation.

Most proverbs state a single general truth with little attempt to note exceptions and qualifications.  Such an approach effectively emphasizes the principle taught by avoiding the distraction of qualifications.  The authors of proverbs also emphasize the points they wanted to make through the use of idealized examples and hyperbole.  While the sluggard, for example, is a real character, he is described in exaggerated terms that set his basic characteristics in clear relief.

While the book addresses a wide variety of issues, it gives considerable attention to matters such as the contrast between the wise person and the fool, the importance of virtues such as diligence and self-control, the importance of using words wisely, warnings about sexual immorality, the responsible use of money, priorities, and advice about proper behavior in a variety of social settings.  Most proverbs deal with the general and the typical, but their goal is to equip people with the skills to apply wisdom to the particular experiences of life.

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The proverbs of Solomon

son of David, king of Israel:

For gaining wisdom

and being instructed;

for understanding insightful sayings;

for receiving wise instruction

[in] righteousness, justice, and integrity;

for teaching shrewdness

to the inexperienced,

knowledge and discretion

to a young man-

a wise man will listen and increase

his learning,

and a discerning man

will obtain guidance-

for understanding a proverb

or a parable,

the words of the wise, and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord

is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:1-7

Understanding Proverbs commentary by Edward M. Curtis, Talbot School of Theology, in the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible (2007), pages 918, 919.