Safety or Danger

I learned about Mark Wahlberg’s daily schedule last night and began rethinking my own, so I read my chapters for today before bed and “slept on it” instead of reading it first thing. I took an intentional step last night to better prepare me for the day ahead — just like establishing and implementing a plan for exercise (both physical and spiritual) will better prepare me for the days ahead.

Associated Reading:

  • Genesis 6
  • Psalm 6
  • Joshua 6

As I read Genesis 6, Psalm 6, and Joshua 6 last night, I found Noah finding safety from the world in his task of building the Ark, and David finding mercy in a time of trouble through prayer, and Rahab finding safety when Jericho fell because of her choosing to help the people of Israel — and this was a stark contrast to the depravity of mankind to be destroyed in the flood, the enemies who will turn back ashamed and horrified at what they have done to David, and the city of Jericho and everything in it utterly destroyed as a tribute to the Lord.

There was a clear contrast in each reading between what led these intentionally into safety, while others continued on unmodified towards their own destruction. And there is the same for us today.

Benjamin Franklin put this wisdom into easily accessible and non- religious words when he said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” And we also have some great quotable that we can pull from scripture about planning, about being intentional, and for aligning our purpose with God’s will:

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Luke 14:28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

We are choosing today to intentionally receive this word into our minds to be written upon our hearts. We ask our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who prays on our behalf at the right hand of God the Father, that our purpose and plan would established one step at a time in His will and His purpose. In that, we find safety not damger, and mercy not shame, and deliverance not destruction. We are no better than Noah the drunk, David the adulterous murderer, or Rahab the prostitute in our own sinfulness, so we rely upon the mercies, grace and blessings of the Lord just as they have. And just as they are no longer called drunk, murderer, and whore neither are we. By His blood and through the faith we have been granted, we are children of God. Safe in our Heavenly Father’s arms. Amen.

The Contrast

There is a great contrast between the grace and mercies found in intimate closeness to God — versus the harsh reality of death, darkness, and destruction that comes to those separated from and opposed to God.

Genesis 2 lays out for Adam and Eve an explanation of the consequences of “choosing the wrong side” when they are told “If you eat its fruit, you will surely die.” And Psalm 2 contrasts those who do not submit as “you will be destroyed in the midst of all of your activities” to “what joy for all who take refuge in Him!” And even Joshua 2 lays out a choice and consequences for Rahab the prostitute, who helped them.

In each of these situations, we see kind advice communicated — like a good father would warn his children about not touching a hot stove top — but we also see the opportunity for submission or opposition. And even more importantly, we see that the ones giving advice and extending grace have the wisdom and insight to indicate the “If you choose X, your consequences will be X — our If you choose Y, your consequences will be Y.” It would be foolish for a father to not warn his child about the consequences of a hot stove — just as it would be foolish of a child not to heed his father’s advice about the hot stove.

But we have all at times in our lives ignored the advice of our heavenly Father and traded what is best for a different set of consequences. In fact, being a slave to sin is having our joy and our greatest blessings stolen from us repeatedly, day after day, as we are tricked into giving up willingly what is best — in trade it for the momentary pleasures of “sin”.

Instead of seeing sin as “getting to do what I want instead of having to follow God’s rules” — we must understand that sin is always us “giving up what is best for us in trade for something less”.

A good father knows that his child might be foolish, and isn’t telling him “don’t touch the hot stovetop” to keep him from enjoying exploring some new areas of the kitchen — but to protect him from the hurt that he knows will be the inevitable consequence. In fact, a good father isn’t waiting eagerly to beat the foolish child for touching the hot stove and getting burnt — he longs to share wisdom and good advice for the benefit of the child.

Unfortunately, I fear that much of what extreme evangelical teaching has used (seemingly as a shortcut for denomination centered religious “conversions” not Christ centered life-altering “salvations”) — by scaring people with an emphasis upon hell and eternal torment and a wrathful, vengeful Father God, with Jesus as a “get out of hell free card” if they can explain the “Roman road” and recite a “sinner’s prayer” — has completely skewed the common understanding of God as Heavenly Father and how “sin” is understood. I know that I personally misunderstood this for decades of my young church going life.

To look at “sin” from a “do this and don’t do that” perspective alone is having information but not knowing how to truly understand it. This is what is meant by “the letter of the law kills”. That is the religious, judgemental, hypocritical perspective that would enjoy and take pleasure in repeatedly beating a child for placing their hand on a stovetop that wasn’t even hot — while using the excuse “it’s for his own good” to justify their perverse pleasure in doing harm to the child. That is not how God operates, and those who act as if it is — not only do not know Him personally — but clearly know very little “about Him” as well.

When we look at the love of a father who warns us of the dangers, yet allows us to learn — either by being his advice and enjoying the fruit of wisdom — or by ignoring his advice and experiencing the consequences of the prodigal — that grace available for both the wise and the foolish, will either have us grateful like the prodigal son, or confused and mad like the jealous older son in that story. This is the gospel, and it sees things from a spiritual perspective.

Related reading:

  • Genesis 2
  • Psalm 2
  • Joshua 2

Wisdom is Living, not just Knowing

What if our life’s example (not just our words):

— teaches people to live disciplined and successful lives

— helps them do what is right, just, and fair

#MeaningfulGoals #Proverbs1_3 #WalkTheLivingWord

We aren’t going to get it perfect every time, but if we don’t aim for the target, we are guaranteed to miss.

Our decisions, our words, and our actions today will not only bring us personal consequences, but they will influence lives around us — and leave the world “changed”.

You are a “world changer” with everything you do.

What change are you bringing today?

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:1‭-‬7 NLT ( https://bible.com/bible/116/pro.1.1-7.NLT )

[Spruce Pine] Proverbs 8 NLT

Proverbs 8 (NLT)

Wisdom Calls for a Hearing

8 Listen as Wisdom calls out!
Hear as understanding raises her voice!
2 On the hilltop along the road,
she takes her stand at the crossroads.
3 By the gates at the entrance to the town,
on the road leading in, she cries aloud,
4 “I call to you, to all of you!
I raise my voice to all people.
5 You simple people, use good judgment.
You foolish people, show some understanding.
6 Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you.
Everything I say is right,
7 for I speak the truth
and detest every kind of deception.
8 My advice is wholesome.
There is nothing devious or crooked in it.
9 My words are plain to anyone with understanding,
clear to those with knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction rather than silver,
and knowledge rather than pure gold.
11 For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies.
Nothing you desire can compare with it.

12 “I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment.
I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.
13 All who fear the Lord will hate evil.
Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance,
corruption and perverse speech.
14 Common sense and success belong to me.
Insight and strength are mine.
15 Because of me, kings reign,
and rulers make just decrees.
16 Rulers lead with my help,
and nobles make righteous judgments.

17 “I love all who love me.
Those who search will surely find me.
18 I have riches and honor,
as well as enduring wealth and justice.
19 My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold,
my wages better than sterling silver!
20 I walk in righteousness,
in paths of justice.
21 Those who love me inherit wealth.
I will fill their treasuries.

22 “The Lord formed me from the beginning,
before he created anything else.
23 I was appointed in ages past,
at the very first, before the earth began.
24 I was born before the oceans were created,
before the springs bubbled forth their waters.
25 Before the mountains were formed,
before the hills, I was born—
26 before he had made the earth and fields
and the first handfuls of soil.
27 I was there when he established the heavens,
when he drew the horizon on the oceans.
28 I was there when he set the clouds above,
when he established springs deep in the earth.
29 I was there when he set the limits of the seas,
so they would not spread beyond their boundaries.
And when he marked off the earth’s foundations,
30 I was the architect at his side.
I was his constant delight,
rejoicing always in his presence.
31 And how happy I was with the world he created;
how I rejoiced with the human family!

32 “And so, my children, listen to me,
for all who follow my ways are joyful.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise.
Don’t ignore it.
34 Joyful are those who listen to me,
watching for me daily at my gates,
waiting for me outside my home!
35 For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the Lord.
36 But those who miss me injure themselves.
All who hate me love death.”

Commentary

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/proverbs/8.html

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/proverbs-8/

Sermons

[Spruce Pine] Proverbs 9 Questions

Chapter 9 – Judgement

1) What does wisdom urge the simple to do? (Verses 4-6)

2) What do fools & mockers do in return for correction or rebuke? (Verse 7)

3) How do the wise respond to correction? (Verses 8-9)

4) Where do the guests of folly go? (Verse 18)

Cross References

How does the proclamation in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 confirm and agree with what we have read in Proverbs chapter 9?

How does the encouragement of 1 Corinthians 6:11 confirm and agree with what wisdom urges the simple to do in Proverbs 9:4-6?

[Spruce Pine] Proverbs 3 Questions

Chapter 3 – Trust His Discipline

1) How does he instruct us which path to take? (Verses 1, 5-6)

2) What does he say about Discipline? (Verses 11-12)

3) How valuable is wisdom? (Verses 13-18)

4) How is the Lord’s outpouring conditional? (Verses 32-35)

Cross References

How does the New Testament words in Hebrews 12:5-11 and Revelation 3:19 confirm and agree with what we have learned in Proverbs chapter 3?

[Spruce Pine] Proverbs 1 Questions

Chapter 1 – Purpose

1) Whose proverbs are these? (Verse 1)

2) What is their purpose? (Verse 2)

3) What do the wise do with instruction, wisdom, discipline and correction? (Verses 3, 5, 7a, 33)

4 ) How does a fool react to instruction, wisdom, discipline, and correction? (Verses 7b, 16, 22, 25, 29-32)

Cross References

What does Deuteronomy 6:5 as quoted by Jesus in Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27 tell us about our purpose?

How do Jesus Christ’s statements in John 14:15 And John 14:21 reinforce and agree with in the new testament — what Proverbs chapter 1 had already established about our purpose and the purpose of God’s instruction, wisdom, ducklings and correction?

Where am I?

Pride, 

thinking that we have it figured out, 

focusing on what has already been conquered,

Instead of what needs to be surrendered today, 

It will lead to disgrace.
Disgrace,

When it is found before men, 

We have an opportunity to learn, 

To be disciplined by the experience,

And given an opportunity to choose

Between remaining powerless in repeating our prideful failures,

Or if we will seek God, 

And be lead to humility. 
Humility, 

When it is found before God, 

Provides an opportunity to find Hope,

in Jesus Christ who is faithful and true, 

To be empowered by the Holy Spirit,  

who is our teacher or guide and our comforter,

To know the Love of our Heavenly Father, 

Who is the unseen made visible in Christ Jesus,

And in finding God we will understand the fear of God,

Which leads to wisdom. 
Wisdom, 

She is more precious than Gold, 

She is eternal and nourishes our soul for eternity, 

Because wisdom is not worldly knowledge, 

But it is the understanding that God is in authority over all things, 

That He is ruler and we are servant, 

But that He is also Father and we are sons and daughters, 

That He knows what is best for us,

That He has a purpose for us, 

That He loves us, 

Which leads us to Love. 
Love, 

It is that most excellent fruit, 

That grows ripe on the branches of those planted in the Lord’s garden.

It is the fragrance of the incense of the prayers of His saints, 

It is a pleasing aroma to the Lord our God, 

Because it is the evidence of His very essence breathing within those that are His.

It is the life that we find when we lay down our burdens of sin and death and pick up our cross to follow Him. 

It is eternal and it is how He knows us and calls us by name. 

Love is the law of Christ, 

And it fulfills completely the requirements of God that the law of Moses could not, 

Because being reconciled to love is being reconciled to God himself, 

For God is love. 
To love Him is to serve Him, 

To serve Him is to love others,

To love others is to serve them, 

To serve others is to carry their burdens, 

To serve others is to share with them the very hope that we have found in Christ, 

To serve others is to recognize that we have a purpose in life to reach others with the gospel, 

To tell them of this ministry of reconciliation to Christ, 

To show them this love that flows from the very Spirit of Christ who lives in us. 
Where are you today,  friend? 
Moving up from pride to disgrace, 

Moving up from disgrace to humility, 

Moving up from humility to wisdom, 

Moving up from wisdom to love,

Or falling down in pride? 
Even if you find yourself falling, 

It is never too late to let your disgrace lead you to humility, friend. 

Cry out to the Lord, 

Seek Him with your whole heart, 

Repent of your evil and rebellious ways, 

Knock until He answers, 

But remember to be quiet and listen for His answer, 

Because He will answer in that still,  quiet voice, 

And you will recognize Him as the Good Shepherd who loves you. 

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. – Proverbs 11:2 NLT

The Mind of Christ

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” – I Corinthians 2:9 NKJV

This scripture is referencing part of a penitent prayer to God by Isaiah in the Old Testament:

For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. – Isaiah 64:4 NKJV

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians,  he is talking about Spiritual Wisdom – about how God reveals the things of God to us through the “Spirit of Truth”, through the “mind of Christ”.

And Spiritual Wisdom is different than knowledge. The Word of God tells us that knowledge puffs people up in their self righteousness and hypocrisy (as they think much of their own knowledge) – while wisdom humbles us before a righteous God.

In fact, this reference to Isaiah is wonderful in demonstrating that Spiritual Wisdom and the “Fear of God” are tightly integrated, because Isaiah chapters 63, 64, and 65 lay out truth about the judgement of God,  about the unworthiness of men, and about how repentance allows for the mercy of God.

Unworthiness of Man

I looked, but there  was no one to help, And I wondered That there  was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; And My own fury, it sustained Me. – Isaiah 63:5 NKJV

[The Lord acknowledges that none, not even one, was worthy – and that He alone would bring salvation, not the works of men.]

Rebellion against God

But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them. – Isaiah 63:10 NKJV

[Yes,  the Lord is an enemy of wickedness and fights against it. He chastens and disciplines the ones that He loves.]

Judgement

I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, Made them drunk in My fury, And brought down their strength to the earth.” – Isaiah 63:6 NKJV

[There is judgement and destruction for His enemies.]

Repentance

Doubtless You are our Father, Though Abraham was ignorant of us, And Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O Lord , are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name. O Lord , why have You made us stray from Your ways, And hardened our heart from Your fear? Return for Your servants’ sake, The tribes of Your inheritance. Your holy people have possessed it but a little while; Our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary. We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled, Those who were never called by Your name.
Isaiah 63:16‭-‬19 NKJV

[We are the ones who know and love the Lord,  who aren’t acknowledged by Abrahams bloodline, but who are established by the Blood of the Lamb, and are called by His name. We are the children of God.]

Mercy of God

“I was sought by those who did not ask for  Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ To a nation that  was not called by My name. Thus says the Lord : “As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it,’ So will I do for My servants’ sake, That I may not destroy them all. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall  be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord , And their offspring with them. “It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
Isaiah 65:1‭, ‬8‭-‬8‭, ‬17‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NKJV

[We are a new creation. Reborn as children of God. He has called us, touched us, taught us, and He sends us out. He hears us, guides us,  and loves us.]

Yes, Spiritual Wisdom comes from knowing and believing and understanding these things about God and about man. Yes, Spiritual Wisdom,  discernment and revelation – these things are from God. What “wise” man wouldn’t have foolishly told Abraham that he was wrong in going to slay his son upon an altar? What “wise” man wouldn’t have foolishly told Hosea he was wrong in choosing a prostitute as his wife? What “wise” man wouldn’t have foolishly called Christ a liar when he said that he would raise “this temple” in three days?

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. – I Corinthians 2:13‭-‬16 NKJV