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The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 31

Today we finish up Proverbs!

Read Proverbs 31

My perception of the call to be a Proverbs 31 wife has changed over the years. I used to read it with dread, feeling like “that woman” was so far away from who I was.

I saw it as a checklist:

  • be nice to my husband… every day
  • get up early… eagerly
  • cook breakfast
  • maintain an organized home
  • be productive… all day long
  • readily assist those in need
  • don’t worry
  • be prepared
  • sew??? (I may or may not own a sewing machine that is still in the box from 7 years ago)
  • always speak wisely and kindly
  • leave no room for laziness
  • raise respectful, productive children

And I was not stacking up.

I would drown in the details of verses 11-27 and lose sight of the message waiting for me in verse 30.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

All of the qualities listed are wonderful, but I don’t count check marks (or lack thereof) anymore. My desire is to live in love and fear of the Lord, every single day.

Lord, remind me all Your ways add up to love. Loving You. Loving others. In those two things the whole law is fulfilled. Amen.

 

P.S. Tomorrow the journey through the Advent devotional by John Piper begins: The Dawning of Indestructible JoyIf you haven’t picked up a copy for your household yet, they are available in the Commons Area.

Here we will be adding to the devotional with thoughts and questions to consider. Hope you will continue to follow along.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Kris Atomic on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 30

Read Proverbs 30

7Two things I ask of you Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
8Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

Eye opening words from a man who claims to lack human understanding and wisdom. It goes completely against the sinful human nature wanting more, bigger and better, never satisfied.

What would change if instead of constantly praying for “steak” we prayed for our “daily bread”?

What if we put full confidence in the Lord that whatever he supplied is exactly what we needed?

What if we were actually grateful when our needs were met?

Lord, keep lies far from me. Bless me with just what I need. Amen.

[Feature Image Photo on blog by Kate Remmer on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 29

Read Proverbs 29

25 Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
but trusting the Lord means safety.

I fear not being liked.

It feels ridiculous to type that statement out… like I am still in middle school, but it is something I really struggle with (MANY years after middle school).

I am afraid that based on a couple of minutes people will decide I am not worthy of being liked. What if I say something stupid? What if I fumble on my words, can’t find the right ones, or just act awkward? So often, out of fear, I choose to say nothing and avoid interactions. Which sounds like a safe bet, but instead it leaves me worrying people will think I am rude and unfriendly.

It is a trap. I am giving people power they do not and should not have over me. I cannot make everyone like me.

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

My light, my salvation, my security.

If the Lord offers me all of this, why do I look to others to tell me I am worthy of being liked?

Lord, You alone define me. You alone give me worth because I am created in Your image. Because You deemed me worthy to die for. May I need no other affirmation. Amen.

[Feature Image Photo on blog by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 28

Read Proverbs 28

27Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Proverbs 28:27

Those who close their eyes… because it is easier, because we think they aren’t deserving, because we have worked hard and if they did they wouldn’t be in the situation they are in, because they are drug addicted, alcoholic, dirty, crazy, lazy, uneducated…

This is just a short list of reasons our youth came up with of why we choose not to help the poor.

But they are all just excuses, reasons to make ourselves feel better for not helping.

I read the other day there are over 2000 verses in the Bible that talk about the poor. I am willing to bet there is not one verse saying, “Help the poor… but only the ones who aren’t uneducated, lazy, crazy, dirty, alcoholic, drug addicted. Help only the ones who deserve it.”

Lord, open my eyes to the truth of Your grace. Teach me to identify with those who are poor and desperately in need of help.

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The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 27

Read Proverbs 27

6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

10 Never abandon a friend- either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to your neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.

17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

It is easy to look as these proverbs and question whether our friends are lining up. Tempting to call out where they are not fitting the bill. We want friends who value honesty, are there for us, and bring out the best in us.

The challenge is asking these questions of ourselves.
Am I willing to listen when my friend brings something to my attention- even when it is something that I would rather not hear (and vice versa)? Are my words and actions sincere? Am I quick to abandon? Do I bring out the best in my friends or only expect them to bring out the best in me? When I look at it this way, I can work on being a better, more authentic friend.

I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better. – Plutarch

I don’t need to be a friend who changes when they change and nods when they nod; their shadows do that much better.

Lord, fill me with as much grace for my friends as I give myself.

[Feature Image Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 26

Read Proverbs 26

4Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
5Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:4-5

Do you or don’t you? We have been warned of fools and their antics throughout the first 25 chapters of Proverbs, so it came as no surprise to read verse 4. Verse 5 on the other hand, stopped me in my tracks. I reread it, checked several translations, and thought I must be missing something.

What is the difference?

Verse 4 warns not to argue with a fool on his terms and becoming as foolish as he is… stooping to his level.

Verse 5 notes there are times the fool must be “answered” or he will continue to think his own wisdom is truth. In these situations, we have a responsibility to show/tell a fool the truth.

God, give me wisdom to discern which situations require me to be quiet and which require me to answer. And in the situations that need answer, let me set aside any desire to engage in the way a fool would and give me the ability and words to share Your wisdom. Amen

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Nicholas Sampson on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 25

Read Proverbs 25

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

Proverbs 25:21-22

Jesus stressed the principle of this proverb (Matthew 5:43-44) and Paul quoted it directly (Romans 12:20). Out of all of the things God asks of us, this is the one thing I struggle with most. I could make a list (maybe even a book) of reasons why my enemy doesn’t deserve my love.

But He doesn’t need that list or any of my excuses for that matter.  It takes sacrifice, swallowing my pride, letting go… Am I willing? Am I willing to trust His Word over my emotions? Am I willing for Him to change my heart no matter how hard I pray for Him to change them?

He was willing to love me, knowing I didn’t deserve it. He sacrificed, forfeited pride, let go. He trusted His Father knowing He would never be the same, and those people might not change.

Yes, Lord use me. Change me. I am willing.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Ben White on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 24:23-34

Read: Proverbs 24:23-34

I walked by the field of a lazy person,
the vineyard of one with no common sense.
 I saw that it was overgrown with nettles.
It was covered with weeds,
and its walls were broken down.
 Then, as I looked and thought about it,
I learned this lesson:
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

Proverbs 24:20-24

Laziness is not rest.

It does not refresh or prepare for work, it only makes way for more laziness.  It is a compounding problem. A little extra sleep and you wake up to a little more work… so you sleep a little more before beginning… and again upon waking, the work has grown.

This cycle continues and one day you are shocked to wake up to more work than imaginable. Overwhelmed, you justify that there is no way one person could or should handle this amount of work, so the only answer is a little more sleep…

Lord, do not let me deceive myself when it comes to rest vs. laziness. Wake me up to the truth about me.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 24:1-22

Read Proverbs 24:1-22 to continue on the way of wisdom.

…for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

Proverbs 24:16

At a convention I attended this weekend, one of the speakers shared the following:

A statue of Atlas stands in the middle of Rockefeller Plaza, bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders, practically bringing him to his knees.
If you turn your attention, you will see that Atlas is across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

St.-Patricks-Cathedral.jpg
And if you walk inside, you will find a statue of young Jesus. Like the statue of Atlas, he too holds the world, but unlike Atlas, Jesus holds it effortlessly in the palm of his hands.

jesus-holding-world

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:17

I try to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. And I fail. I fall down, but I do not have to fall apart. Because HE holds everything together.

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank You, Lord, for Your all sufficient grace, holding all things together. Including me…

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 22

Let’s do more than just read today as we dive into Wise Sayings in Proverbs 22

Towards the end of this chapter we are introduced to a collection of thirty Sayings of the Wise. While only six are found in Proverbs 22 (the remaining will be read in Proverbs 23 and 24), the introduction is important to note:

Listen to the words of the wise;
    apply your heart to my instruction.
 For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart
    and always ready on your lips.–vs. 17-18

Step 1: Listen to these words
Step 2: Learn these words
Step 3: Use these words

Three simple steps. Not complicated at all, so why do we stop after Step 1 with a feeling of accomplishment?


“Ok Lord, I read your Word for the day. Good job me! Now, on to my next task…”  
God could give us a million wise sayings, but if we are not willing to learn them AND use them, they are only sayings that do us absolutely no good!

As we read through these sayings, I challenge you not to “just” read.


Which ones stand out to you? Is there one that provides some wisdom needed for a situation you are dealing with right now? Will you choose one or more to not only read, but tuck away in your heart, so that when the time comes you are ready to use it?

Listen. Learn. Use.

Dear Lord, help us to listen, learn and use your word to grow closer to you. Amen.