A Trip Through Proverbs – #6 – In God We Trust

In_God_We_TrustIf you’re here in the US, pull out your wallet or open up your change purse and take a look at any money you may have in there. On there will be the words “In God We Trust.” It means many things here in the US. But let’s look at what we find in Proverbs 3, our next stop in our Trip Through Proverbs.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5,6

Every day, we are faced with decisions to make as we move through life. Some are simple (what should we have for dinner?), others can be life changing (Should I take that new job? Should we buy that house?) Usually as Christians we make the effort to find God’s will about those big life changing decisions we face. I say usually, because often we may make an effort to pray, but it seems more out of duty and not of a sincere need to find the path that God wants us to travel. We can go through the motions of asking what God wants us to do, but I’m not sure we always want to hear the answer, because we’re fearful it will disagree what we want the answer to be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Trusting in God in all things is an easy thing to say we do, but in reality it’s much more difficult to actually do. We may not like the answer that God gives us. He may tell us to stay in a job we dislike, because He still has some work for us to do there. Or he may tell us to go on mission, usually taking us out of our comfort zone into places we would least expect or like to go. But we are to trust that he knows best, has a better plan than we could ever come up with, one that we couldn’t even fathom how it reaches beyond what we know. Our job is simply to trust.

Do not depend on your own understanding

We aren’t to try to figure out why God wants us to do what he has asked. We will never completely understand, we will not comprehend the big picture. God sees for all eternity and how each of our actions plays out. We see only in the here and now. What we feel may be the correct course of action, may be the complete opposite of what God wants. And while we are in no danger of spoiling God’s grand plan, we have the potential of missing out on God’s blessing if we try to go our own way.

Seek his will in all you do

So we are trusting in God completely. Not trying to reason out the best course of action for ourselves. So what do we do. Well we seek his will. Not just in the big things, but in all things. Don’t just come to God when we have a major life changing decision, but ask him what we should have for dinner. He does care. Plus because we don’t see the big picture like God does, perhaps our choice of dinner will put is in a place where we are meant to be.

And he will direct our paths

Just yesterday, my wife says somewhat out of the blue, “Let’s go see if we can find any garage sales.” So off we go, into the 90 degree heat and see what we can find. The direction we went, was probably a poor choice for selections of garage sales, but finally we came across a sign that lead us into a dead-end street that curved up and around into wooded areas. We travel for awhile, wondering if we would ever find the location and just as we were about to turn around thinking someone had just left an old sign at the end of the road, we see a small sign at the end of a driveway. We stop, look towards the garage and still wonder if this is the right place as it seems empty. We get out of the car and walk up and sure enough, there is a couple tables setup in the garage, filled with a few trinkets. A man in his 60s sits in the back of the garage working on a crossword puzzle, seemingly disinterested in us. We browse the tables and actually find a few things that we want to purchase. Taking our selections up, we pay the man and begin to walk away.

As we left the garage, I see the man rise and walk our way as he begins to make small talk with us. My wife and I got the sense that he was just a lonely man that needed someone to talk with so we stopped and chatted for a bit. We come to find out that he had recently lost his job and was currently having financial issues which if not corrected soon, he would lose his home. As we talked, it turns out that I may actually be able to help him find a job and hopefully get him and his family back on their feet financially. As we were leaving, he walked us out to our car and said that his church had been praying for him for six months and he felt I was an answer to their prayers for him.

Well that’s yet to be seen if I can really help him or not. Each day though, I wake up and try to fix in my mind that I want to follow God’s promptings for the day. I want to see where the opportunities may be that he is putting in front of us. There were a lot of steps and decisions that had to be made at just the right time for me to walk in that man’s garage that morning. But by seeking his will and trusting that he has complete understanding so I don’t have to, he guided me to exactly where I needed to be for myself, my wife and this man we met.

I’m a firm believer that God has a purpose for each of our steps, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Each of those seemingly small decisions and steps can have far-reaching impacts that may take years to come to light. If we fully trust God and not our own understanding and truly seek out his will in even the small things, he will guide our path. That sounds pretty amazing if you ask me.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #5 – Wisdom is calling to you

As I continue down this road in Proverbs, we are finishing up Chapter 1 with a personification of wisdom of someone shouting in the street.  This is used to help wisdom come alive for us.

Wisdom shouts in the streets.  She cries out in the public square.  She calls out to the crowds along the main street, and to those in front of city hall.  – Proverbs 1:20,21

We know that wisdom is not a living being, but it is the mind of God revealed to us.   We can see Wisdom in action by reading about Jesus’ ministry here on earth.  And if we want to learn how to become wise we need listen to the “calling” of Wisdom and learn it’s instruction that is laid out in the book of Proverbs (and in the whole Bible)  for us.

“You simpletons!” she cries, “How long will you go on being simpleminded?  How long will you mockers relish your mocking?  How long will you fools fight the facts?  Come here and listen to me!  I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise.”  – Proverbs 1:22,23

Here we have the term simpleton.  Here the term simpleton is not someone with a mental deficiency, but someone with a character deficiency.    This could be rebellion, laziness or perhaps anger).  The simpleton is not stupid, but they are unable to tell right from wrong or good from bad.

God calls to us so often, so many times to come follow Him.  But we often pay no attention to his call and decide our own way.  When we persist in going it alone, we create problems for ourselves that will eventually destroy us.

The rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.  That is why they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way.  They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen.   For they are simpletons who turn away from me — to death.  They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them.  -Proverbs 1:30-32

But the alternative, for those that follow the instruction of God, who follow the path of Jesus, who read their Bible and learn the Wisdom that God has placed in those pages, the alternative for them is far better.

But all who listen to me will live in peace and safety, unafraid of harm.   -Proverbs  1:33

That path sounds much better to me….


A Trip Through Proverbs – Catch up on the rest of the series.

  1. Introduction
  2. Acquire Wisdom
  3. Parents, Your Children are Watching
  4. Sin is Enticing

 

 

A Trip Through Proverbs – #4 – Sin is Enticing

OK ,everyone admit it; sin is enticing.  Sin is often a quick way to prosperity or to make us feel like “one of the crowd.”    It’s easy to fall into that trap over and over again, even though you know it’s not the right thing to do….you just can’t stop.  The sin soon becomes your master, it controls you completely even as you know you are sinning and try to escape.

The law is good, then.  The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master.  I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do the very thing I hate.  I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good.  But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.   – Romans 7:14-17

Paul had the same struggles that we face every day.   Paul, used by God to spread the good news to the world, struggled with sin daily just like you and I.  Sin, no matter how attractive, is deadly.

Don’t go along with them, my child!  Stay far away from their paths.  They rush to commit crimes.  They hurry to commit murder.   When a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away.  But not these people!  They set an ambush for themselves; they booby-trap their own lives!  Such is the fate of all who are greedy for gain.  It ends up robbing them of life.  – Proverbs 1:15-19

We don’t want to end up like that, but we will when we let sin entice us.  We must learn to make choices, not on the basis of appeal or short-term pleasure, but in view of the long-range consequences.   We may have to steer clear of people who entice us into committing sin.  We may have to give up the “guilty pleasures” that by their very name, convey that sin is involved.  Don’t surround ourselves with the temptations….remove ourselves from those situations.  We can’t be friendly with sin and expect our lives to remain unaffected.

Great news though….through Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.  -Romans 8:1,2

Without Jesus we would have no hope at all.  But thank God,  He has declared us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin.  God gives us the power to do his will and be free from sin.

Today I pray that I can begin my week with a new joy and freedom.  Jesus is bearing the burden that I once carried.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.  -Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus frees me from my burdens of sin, my burdens of stress and worry and has replaced them with love, healing and peace with God.   Amen!!   What a great promise to reflect on each morning.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #3 – Parents, Your Children are Watching

The importance of the parents are paramount in the upbringing of a child.  Your children are always watching no matter what their age.  Even as a grown adult with children of my own, I still watch and learn from my parents.  Children are told;

Listen, my child, to what your father teaches you.  Don’t neglect your mother’s teaching.  What you learn from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor.  -Proverbs 1:8,9

What are the children learning when they watch their parents?  The learn values, morals and priorities by observing how their parents act and react every day.    I look at my children and see mini-me’s in them every day.  In their mannerisms, in their actions and reactions, in the way they carry themselves everyday — it’s all reflective of and a combination of both their parents.  It’s quite humbling and a bit scary that you are on display each and every day.  They will learn how to deal in relationships, handle conflict or trials, work ethic, sense of humor….they learn so much.

They also learn how to honor God.  Do you have a deep reverence and dependence on God?  Your children will pick up on those attitudes.  Let them see you worship, let them see you read your Bible.  Let them see you pray….all these things help shape their own attitudes towards God.  Let them see what is important in your life and they will often share the same values.

Your children are watching your every move, whether you realize it or not.  Take care to be sure they are learning the right things.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #2 – Acquire Wisdom

wisdom-large-3We can all gain knowledge.  Especially in this day and age, knowledge is everywhere.  I can within minutes look up any topic and discover all the knowledge I’d want to know about it.  Wisdom however is scarce.

Only fools despise wisdom….  – Proverbs 1:7

Wisdom is the ability to gain knowledge of what is true and then couple that with the judgement to take action on that knowledge.

However, there is a difference between earthly wisdom and the wisdom from God.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, ‘God catches those who think they are wise in their own cleverness.’   And again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are worthless.’  – 1 Corinthians 3:19-20

So we shouldn’t look to the world for our wisdom, but look to God and his Word.

If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do — ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.  – James 1:5

The practical discernment that wisdom entails begins with respect for God, leads to right living, and results in the increased ability to tell right from wrong.  God will give us this wisdom if our goals are not self-centered.  We should be God-centered.   To learn God’s will, just read his Word and ask him to show how to obey it.  Then take action and do what he tells us.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #1 – Introduction

proverbsI love the book of Proverbs.  It is probably the clearest book in the entire Bible in regards to understanding.  It comes right out and tells you how you should and shouldn’t act, what you should and shouldn’t do.  There is so much wisdom in there, but I’ve not heard many pastors preach about it on Sunday mornings.  I’ve been thinking about doing a little series of posts that go through Proverbs and pull out items that catch my eye and expand on them for quite some time.  As I was coming up with topics for a new post, I felt it was time to start that series.

Right from the start, we learn what the purpose of the book of Proverbs is.

The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings.  -Proverbs 1:2

It couldn’t get much clearer than that.  So what can we expect to learn through these proverbs?

Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just and fair.  -Proverbs 1:3

So we know the purpose and what we will learn, but who are they meant for?

These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever.  They will give knowledge and purpose to young people.  Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.  And let those who understand receive guidance by exploring the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings and riddles.  -Proverbs 1:4-6

So they are basically for everyone.  Solomon did not leave anyone out of those who can benefit from these proverbs (or by extension, the wisdom in all of the Bible.)  So that includes all of us!

So why?  Why do we need this wisdom, why do we need to dive deeper?

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.  -Proverbs 1:7

Well there you go.  We learn these things because the Lord wants us.  The fear of God, sounds like an awful thing.  But it’s not, it’s a deep sign of love and respect and willingness (in fact deep need) to obey.

I’m actually looking forward to this as I know I will learn a ton from a deeper dive into the Proverbs.  Stay tuned!