Saturday, May 9, 2009

Head for Her House: God is There

Proverbs 9

The two "women" personified as wisdom and folly, have positioned themselves at the highest point of the city, where they can best get our attention. They are calling us down a path to their house. Lady wisdom offers a way that is rewarding (12) and will add years to your life (11). The woman folly also offers reward (17) but at the end her guests are in the depths of the grave (18).

Any sane person would look at these options and say, "This is a no brainier. Why would anyone choose the way of folly?" But in reality, foolishness is very deceptive (18), inviting (17) and in many ways looks comparable to the way of wisdom (17). You'll notice that both women are offering food and drink (compare vv. 2 & 15 with v. 17), Both are vying for our attention in an aggressive way (3-4, 14-16). S0, why the allure? Why do we struggle in our pursuit? Lady wisdom gives us some insight.

First, we lack judgement (4). We are not able to clearly discern between the right and wrong path. We are not able to see the subtle and incremental directional shifts caused by our decisions. Our life is full of choices, each one moves us down one of two paths - the path of wisdom or the way of the fool.

We also lack understanding. Lady wisdom challenges us to "walk in the way of understanding" (6). To understand something requires discipline and instruction (8-9). Is this description of the path of life we are on? Do we open our lives and allow others to challenge us, hold us accountable and to rebuke us when we are off course (7-8)? Are we receiving instruction? Do we read, study, seek counsel and listen to instruction (9)? Are we learning (9)?

When you understand the implications of your decisions and you are able to judge the best course of action, you are headed down the path of wisdom. But where is this path headed? What gives us the motivation and drive to continue down this path? Central to this journey is the fear of the Lord and knowledge of the Holy One (10). This speaks to our relationship with God. He is on the journey with us and the journey leads to His home. Do we have a daily, intimate walk with Him? Do we love Him? Out of this relationship we respond to who He is. He is the path and the destination. He is the sustenance along the way. He gives us our coordinates and courage. He is our partner and our power. He is our King and reward. He is our Judge and Advocate.

Let's head for His house (1a). It is perfect in every way (1b). And best of all, He is there.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Priceless Pursuit

"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her" (Proverbs 8:10-11).

We pursue what we consider to be valuable. Our children, spouse, friends are all extremely important to us, so we invest our time and energy into these relationships. We honor things that have worth, beauty and dignity. Many will die for their country, family and friends. We pursue our careers with loyalty, discipline, hard work and dedication. But wisdom, who passionately pursues that, or even gives much thought to it? Yet, here in Proverbs, we are told that wisdom is more precious than the most sought after things of this world. There is absolutely nothing to compare to her. She is of utmost worth and should be pursued with the greatest of diligence.

This brings two questions to my mind. Why is wisdom so important? And, How do I find her? Her value and virtues are extolled numerous times throughout Proverbs but I will limit my scope to these few verses. Even with this limited scope I am amazed at the priceless nature of wisdom. Those who find her will gain prudence (5, 12), understanding (5, 14), knowledge (12), discretion (12), counsel (14), sound judgement (14) and power (14-16). She speaks what is right and true (6-7). There is nothing wicked (7), perverse (8), or evil in her (13). With wisdom are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity (18, 20-21). The one who possesses wisdom will be blessed (32, 34). Perhaps the greatest asset of wisdom is found in verse 35, "For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord."

Okay, wisdom is truly valuable, but how do I obtain her? Start by listening (6, 33-34) to the sources of wisdom, the Word, the Holy Spirit, godly people, those who have wisdom, knowledge, discernment and understanding. Also, there are certain traits that always accompany wisdom. These are the qualities that you will want to pursue if you want to grow in wisdom. They would include prudence, knowledge, discretion, humility, counsel, sound judgement, understanding, righteousness and justice (9, 10, 12-14, 20).

There is effort and an attitude that is necessary in the pursuit of wisdom (13, 17). The attitude is one of holy reverence for God and a humble perspective of ourselves. Our view of God and ourselves will have a great impact on our growth in wisdom. The effort required will come out of a heart of love (22). We will do the impossible and the unimaginable when we are motivated by love. Ultimately, wisdom will grow and flow when we are rooted in God, for He is the originator and source of all wisdom (22-34). Go to him for wisdom. Draw near to him. Out of a relationship of love will come wisdom. Are you head over heals in love with Him? If so, you will have a passionate pursuit for wisdom.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today is Exam Day

"For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths" (Proverbs 4:21).

God is not a distant, casual observer of our life activities. He is not like the IRS who picks and chooses random or suspicious people for audit. Nor is he like a busy parent, juggling a multitude of responsibilities while parenting several small children. This is the Creator God of the universe we are talking about. He is always present and knows every detail of our lives - past, present and future. Not only does he know but he examines all our ways. He puts everything we do and say and think to the test. Will our lives pass the test? He is looking for a certain standard. He wants nothing less than an "A" grade from each of us.

When we know we are going to be graded, inspected or held accountable, we live differently. We are at our best. We give more. We are more attentive, focused and driven. We have a heightened sense of awareness and expectation. Our lives are characterized by discipline, hard work, quality, enthusiasm, integrity, honesty, responsibility and all the qualities of the way of wisdom. Time is no longer a cheap commodity. Drifting aimlessly through life is not tolerated. We have goals and deadlines, priorities and pursuits. Life becomes ordered and organized.

When what we do is in full view and is being examined, we place a higher value on our activities, actions and attitude. Are we using our time wisely? Are we investing in the right things? God sets the standard of what is right and best. Are we living out his agenda, his kingdom values, his eternal purposes?

We tend to live as if exam day is down a distant road, far from view. God wants us to live each day, each moment, with a conscious awareness of his watchful eye. Today is exam day. Will we pass the test?

A postscript to this blog entry is appropriate. After I wrote the first part of this entry I realized that it portrayed a lopsided view of God. What I have written so far portrays God has a harsh teacher who is standing over us with a red correction pen and a long stick. God is our judge but he is also our loving provider. He is watching us, not to condemn us, but to reward us. He wants us to get an "A" on the exam. Better yet, he has already taken the test for us and has passed the course. Through Christ he has satisfied the requirements for our graduation into His presence. He watches and examines because he wants us to live in close relationship with him, and to receive the benefits of that relationship. He wants us to live like the honor students he created us to be.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fully Engaged on the Journey

Proverbs 4

This chapter continues with wise instruction from a father to his son about life's journey. We see the journey metaphor in words like path (11, 14, 18, 26), way (11, 14-15, 19), walk (12, 15), steps (12), run (12), travel (15) and foot (14, 26-27). As in any journey, especially one that is marked by unknown hazards and new territory, you need to be fully engaged. Notice the body parts that indicate complete engagement: heart (4, 21, 23), foot (14, 21-27), ears (1, 4, 10, 20), eyes (21, 25) and mouth (24).

This is a serious journey with eternal ramifications. Am I fully engaged in the direction and details of my life's course? Do I have a thorough plan? Or, am I traveling aimlessly? Do I have all the knowledge needed to take the right steps and turns along the path? Am I conferring with my Guide, my Map, and my travel partners for insight, encouragement, and directional coordinates and corrections? How serious am I taking this journey? Is my heart fully engaged (4, 21, 23)?

Every time you take a step today, let it be a physical reminder of your spiritual journey. Make sure every step is a wise step. Attach that step to your eyes, ears, mouth and, above all, to your heart. Is this step taking me closer to right living? More importantly, is it taking me closer to the Righteous One who leads me down paths of righteousness? When you are going in the right direction you will discover that your steps are His steps. You will be in sink with His heart and in love with Him and His people. Are your steps getting closer? It starts with one fully engaged step in the right direction. His direction.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trust in the Lord

Proverbs 3:5-6 have been my life verses since my teen years. The reality of these verses grows stronger the longer I live life. He does direct our paths down a straight path as we acknowledge and trust Him. The blessings of this path are beautifully extolled in this chapter. Who would want any other way? Yet I ask myself, "Why do I still struggle to head down this path?" It always seems to come back to knowing and trusting in God. We can live with confidence (26) and in the confidence (32) of the Lord when we trust Him with all our heart.