February 12: The Wisdom to Notice

Read Proverbs 30:1-33

He’d been watching things that happened around him. This man, Agur, found wisdom through observation. The way people and creatures live and move. He slowed down enough to notice.

“Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar” (vv5-6).

  • Agur knew that what God has spoken is enough. Complete. There is nothing new under the sun. The sooner we realize that truth, and live accordingly, the sooner we will find the wisdom of life inside all that God has said.

“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (vv8-9).

  • Agur knew the importance of finding his sufficiency in God alone. He knew the danger of extremes. He’d probably seen the extravagance of the rich who figured they didn’t need God anymore. He’d likely seen the desperation of the poor, which had driven them to acts that defied God’s ways. Experience had taught Agur the wisdom of temperance. The joy of contentment.

“. . . the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden” (v19).

I imagine he’d watched in wonder and wisely concluded that he could find no conclusion other than God’s amazing hand. He saw it throughout creation and in the people God formed.

This man had watched ants and found wisdom in their tinyness. He’d observed powerless jackrabbits and saw discernment in their ways. Indeed, Agur was a wise man full of enlightenment and understanding.

But the real wisdom of this man can only be found behind the words. It is the wisdom of humility. The kind that let him sit quietly and observe, nothing to say, no opinion to preach. Just to listen attentively. And learn.

Try it out today. Stop and notice the wisdom of God’s creation. Take a moment to ask God to show you His ways. Then listen.

brw

Posted in Proverbs

February 11: The Wisdom of Discipline

Read Proverbs 29:1-27

It was June of 2012 when my husband’s employer offered him a chance to move across the world for a year. So we picked up our two kids and re-located to a small city in Bavaria, Germany. We saw it as an opportunity to teach our kids, and us, more about life than we could have if we didn’t go.

We knew it would be hard on them — sending our kids to a German-speaking school, making them live like foreigners for a year. Yes, we had no doubt it would be difficult in many ways for our two kids.

When we first arrived, I had a bit of trouble remembering its goodness. So I sort of spoiled the kids and tried to make up for what they were missing at home. You know, the comfortable and easy that they would be enjoying had we not come.

Then school started, and I couldn’t spoil them out of what we all knew they had to conquer — five hours of German school, everyday, five days a week.

It was a discipline we never could have instilled had we not made ourselves face it. By moving our family outside of what we knew to a land that we did not, we introduced a different kind of training. Indeed, the education of living in a foreign land presents a discipline entirely different from any my husband and I could possibly give.

“Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul” (v17).

Throughout the year I spent days wondering if this kind of discipline was worth enforcing on our children.

I’m not talking about the you’re-grounded kind of discipline. I mean the kind of discipline that trains a child how to live. The kind that develops him or her into a Godly person.

When it was time for us to leave our year of foreign living, you can imagine how we celebrated our return home with great elation, but it was mixed with sad tears. It was the joy of going home mixed with the knowledge of how easy we knew it would be to slip back into comfortable.

You see, we need the discipline that comes with being outside of our comfort-zone. We all do, whether we live in Germany or China or in Wooster, Ohio. Here’s the thing: we don’t have to move our kids halfway around the world to train them in godliness. We just need to be willing to lead them to places that require more than the easy to which they’ve grown accustomed. We need to be willing to teach them the things of life that only the uncomfortable can teach. We need to be willing to learn them, too.

It’s the only way to learn the truth that “whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (See v25b.)

brw

Posted in Proverbs

February 10: Wisdom In Humility

Read Proverbs 27:1-28:28

“The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (v1).

When there’s no reason to run, we have the freedom to be as bold as lions. When we have no reason to hide, we find liberty to roam unrestrained, to say things we couldn’t if we were hiding something.

There’s a lot of hiding, discreetly covering the things of shame, when it comes to living the foolish man’s life.

“When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, men go into hiding” (v12).

Men must hide when the wicked come to power. Because who knows the pain they will bring? Who can say the horrors they will pursue? A wicked man cannot be trusted.

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (v13).

But the wise, they come clean. They realize the folly in concealing their shame. They see the madness in the veiling of their ways.

It goes against the natural inclination of man, this wisdom in coming clean thing, though. Our pride makes us want to keep hidden all the bad things we’ve done. For, who would truly love us if they knew how unworthy of their love we really were?

That’s where the One True God steps in and turns what does not make sense into glorious grace.

“Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble” (v14).

The man who fears the LORD, who puts his trust in God Almighty rather than in the pride of his heart that wants to conceal his sins and bask in the shame all alone, that man is blessed. With real life. With grace beyond grace.

And that is wisdom.

brw

Posted in Proverbs

February 9: Jesus Christ, Wisdom Personified

Read Proverbs 25:1-26:28

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (26:4-5).

Fools, you can’t answer them. You can’t not answer them. There is just no dealing with a fool. No trusting them. No teaching them. (See 26:11.)

It’s often easy to recognize a fool. And it’s way too easy to become one ourselves.

The sluggard is just the same. The gossip, too. A fool comes in all shapes and sizes.

Unable to be trusted with any kind of important task. Unwilling to learn from his mistakes. Lazy. Unable to hold her tongue. Spreading gossip, willing and ready to hurt whoever he may with choice morsels of hurtful words that dig deep into the soul.

“As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed” (26:14).

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (26:22).

Foolishness is the natural way for all of us. Natural, that is, unless we seek out wisdom through Wisdom Himself. Jesus Christ is wisdom personified.

For some of us, it’s the propensity to run our mouths about ourselves. For others, it’s laziness. Still, others have a difficult time keeping their mouths shut about other people. All of us, though, run straight into foolishness and pride when we refuse to chase wisdom, refuse to live in the fear of God.

That’s why we chase Jesus, the author and Lord of life itself. He is wisdom. He gives wisdom. So seek Him and live accordingly.

brw

Posted in Proverbs

February 8: Wisdom, The Way of Life

Read Proverbs 24

“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength” (v10).

Wisdom living holds strong in the faithful. It grabs onto the One Who gives life and makes wise, even through the trouble that will inevitably come.

“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (v14).

That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire month to the study of the book of Proverbs. The Holy-Spirit-inspired, wisdom-strewn book full of morsels of insight and pieces of understanding. Direction for life.

The virtue of wisdom is invaluable.

But it comes at a price. It must be sought after in order to be found. It must be held tightly, never let go. Even when trouble comes.

And when that trouble comes, that’s when the wisdom will step up for us and encourage us. That’s the point at which the insight becomes wisdom. For wisdom is only wise if it is lived out.

Diligence and wisdom go hand in hand. Faithful in the wisdom that comes from God’s fear. This is how the living unfolds when we pursue wisdom.

So when temptation peaks its head around the corner of the well-manicured yard of our hearts and tries to tell us we can laze our way through, we pull out the wisdom-sheers and cut that tempter right down. Instead, like Solomon, we apply our hearts to what we’ve seen and learn lessons from it. (See vv 31-34.) We don’t let ourselves get fooled into the poverty that awaits the unwise life.

Because wisdom has taught us, wisdom has shown us, the way of life.

brw

Posted in Proverbs | Tagged

February 7: Hold Tight to Wisdom

Read Proverbs 22:17-23:35

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (23:17-18).

If you’re like me, you find it all too easy to misplace your wants. It’s so easy to forget the future hope God promised those who trust in Him. It will not end like the things of the world will one day.

That’s why the wise man told his son to be wise, to keep his heart on the right path. (See verse 19.) Because he knew how easy it is to let our hearts wander to the other side. Especially when the travelers on that path look all successful with their grand parties and nice cars and beautiful faces and fun toys and big promotions.

It’s why Solomon warned,

“Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly” (v 31)!

It looks great right now — the wine of fame, the sparkle of all that beautiful stuff. But “in the end it bites like a snake . . . ” (23:32). In the end, it’s only a mirage. And those who chase it will only end up wanting more of what will never satisfy.

Wisdom sees the truth, however. It finds the truth in God alone, buys that truth and never, ever, sells it. Not for the allure of money, or the promise of fame. Not for the charm of beauty or the enchantment of pleasure. It holds tight to the fear of God, unwilling to falter from it. (See 23:23.)

Real wisdom holds fast and never stops seeking the fear of the LORD.

So hold on tight. Don’t get distracted. Seek Him and His wisdom.

What tends to distract you from chasing God and seeking His promises? Why not talk to Him about it right now and ask Him for wisdom. Then hand it to Him and trust Him for life in Him.

brw

Posted in Proverbs

February 6: Wisdom Now

Read Proverbs 21:1-22:16

Generosity and wisdom. Righteousness, life, prosperity and honor. Diligence and profit. They all seem to go together. It makes sense, really, if you consider that Jesus Christ is wisdom embodied. The very Word of God made flesh.

As Solomon saw it, the man who gives generously, without condition, gets even more, while the one who holds tightly to each of his possessions, only craves more and more. Insatiably stingy with all his stuff.

I find it interesting that Solomon, among the wealthiest historical figures of all time, would place such value on giving stuff away. Among the actions that lead to wealth, generosity is up there next to hard work.

Seems fitting, I believe, when you consider, again, the Person of Jesus Christ, wisdom embodied.

Seems opposite of conventional wisdom, too. Because often when we get stuff, we want to hold onto it tightly. But wisdom says to give it away. The true wealth comes when we disperse the gift. The real riches grow when we scatter the proceeds to those who need it.

And He should know. For He directs the way of all.

As we make our way through Solomon’s Proverbs, are you gaining wisdom? Are you taking to heart the truths God has highlighted over the last three weeks? Have you found His way to be better than your own? Has it changed the way you live each day? If not, then it’s not wisdom. For wisdom is as wisdom does.

Why not commit your way even now to living according to the wisdom He’s given you through Jesus? Why not let Him direct your ways? Let Him instruct your generosity, your character, the words you let come out of your mouth.

brw

Posted in Proverbs