Proverbs 2-3 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He desires to give wisdom to all those who follow after Him

Everyone wants to be wise.  No one has ever said to me, “I can’t wait to be foolish today!”  Most of us have a natural curiosity about how things are made, where they come from and how they affect us.  When I was a teenager, I was asked what my favorite book was, and without hesitation, I replied, “The Encyclopedia.”  I know this sounds strange coming from a young person, and of course, my answer should have been the Bible, but I’ve always loved moments of random learning.

We couldn’t afford the coveted set of World Book Encyclopedia, and the internet was not available back in the dark ages; but every chance I got, I paged through the volume of knowledge held between the pages of the encyclopedia at the library. However, possessing all this knowledge does not a wise person make.  Wisdom is the ability to apply the knowledge we have, and this is what Solomon was addressing in our reading today. 

@ Proverbs 2
Proverbs 2 is a tutorial on how to find wisdom, where to find it, who it is for and what we receive once we obtain it.  All this in 22 little verses!  Only a very wise man could accomplish this in so few words. 

How:  Listen for wisdom, concentrate on it, ask for it with fervor and search for it like one who is digging deep in a mine for silver.  This proves to the Lord that we respect Him and what He has to say. (2-5)

Where:  Wisdom comes from the Lord. “For the Lord grants wisdom!” (6) 

Who:  God responds with wisdom (knowledge, understanding, common sense, protection) to those who are honest, walk with integrity, are just and faithful. (6-8) 

What:  We will understand what is right, just and fair; we find the right path to walk; we are filled with joy; we are kept safe; we are protected from evil people, including immoral woman and men; and we make right choices. (9-16)

The process is like a chain reaction.  We ask for wisdom and diligently search for it > through His Word we learn how to live a life of integrity and righteousness > He grants wisdom in response to our life of integrity > we are blessed with understanding, guidance, joy and protection.  What a deal!  All of this is ours today for the low, low start-up cost of asking. 

@ Proverbs 3
The mark of a truly wise person is one who follows this advice from Solomon: “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 show you which path to take.  Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.”(5-7) It’s difficult to trust with all my heart in someone I don’t know very well, risky at best.  Trust develops through relationship and time spent together – enough said.

We may say that we have faith in God, but it is trust that applies the action to our faith.  Faith is the noun, and trust is the verb that demonstrates our faith.  Faith without trust is like knowledge without wisdom – great to possess but not always useful.  When I depend on my own understanding, there’s really only one person to trust in, and that’s me – not very wise when the wisdom of heaven is mine for the asking.

Moving Forward: “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her.” (18)  Today I seek His wisdom in what I do and say.  And I trust His wisdom to guide and direct my steps. 

Tomorrow @ Lamentations

Job 21-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Through our intimacy with God, we know He can be trusted

It does our hearts good to see a few of the rich and famous use their wealth on occasion to help those around the world who are destitute. Just how many huge homes and estates throughout the world does one individual need anyway?  With lifestyles less than exemplary in some cases, many seem to flaunt their wealth in the faces of those who struggle to survive.  It was just a matter of time before Job questioned the abundance of the wicked in light of his dire situation. 

@ Job 21
“Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (7) My response to Job is that I don’t know. “They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren…” (8) Safe homes, productive cattle, happy children, and on and on. “And yet they say to God, ‘Go away.  We want no part of you, and your ways.’” (14)  Job seemed to be describing the beautiful people of our day as well. However, Job’s greatest concern was not the wealth of the ungodly, but rather the poverty and heartache of those who served God. 

@ Job 22
Eliphaz, Job’s friend/tormentor, asked some questions of his own, “Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?  Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?  Is it because you’re so pious that he accuses you and brings judgment against you? No, it’s because of your wickedness! There’s no limit to your sins.” (3-5)  Eliphaz went on to list the many possible sins of Job, but his questions give me pause for thought.

The questions of Eliphaz imply an impersonal God who blesses when we are good and punishes when we are bad.  Certainly, God is not dependent on us, but we know from scripture that He is blessed by our faithfulness to Him and even amazed sometimes by our faith.  God desires an intimate relationship with us.  The thought that Job’s ordeal could be a testing is not in the mix for Eliphaz, but both men missed the point.  Job thought God’s blessing in his life was based solely on his own goodness, and Eliphaz felt the lack of God’s blessing was based on Job’s sin.

When God finally responded to Job, He answered none of his questions, but He directed Job to understand that He was in control of all things.  It wasn’t Job’s concern if evil men appeared to prosper and innocent men suffered.  God would determine man’s destination for eternity, which, by the way, is a very long time.

While Satan thought Job would crumble and curse God through his affliction, God was confident Job would remain faithful. Job’s response that we read last week, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” (19:25) had to have put a smile on the face of the Lord.  Job believed in Him through his trial, but would he trust Him through the process?  Could God’s path for Job be trusted?  It was in this test that Job was on shaky ground.

And this is our test as well in the trials we face from time to time.  We know that our Redeemer lives, but will we trust His path for us and not be tormented by all the questions that come to mind? In yesterday’s Psalm 32, David repented then trusted the Lord to care for him.  Job repented early in his story,  but he was challenged to now put down all his questions and trust God to care for him.  Thankfully, better days were in Job’s future… 

Moving Forward: Who cares about the abundance of those around us, whether they are righteous or not!  The bottom line is I know that my Redeemer lives, and I pray I will trust Him through the challenges I face. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 56-61

Psalms 146-148 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He delights in those who put their hope in Him

My husband tells the story of watching a television program a few years ago of Congress interviewing the smartest man in the world.  Congressmen were trying to figure out how the bottom fell out of our economy in the United States and they brought in Alan Greenspan, then Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to question.

After much pontification, they finally put the question to Mr. Greenspan, “How did this happen?”  And the smartest man in the world and one of the most powerful men in the financial world replied with all seriousness, “I don’t know.”  Tom got a good laugh out of that.  Our Psalms today clue us in to who we can depend on in our lives and who we can’t. 

@ Psalm 146
“Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.  When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.” (3-4)  This writer in Psalms understood the risk involved in placing our trust for the future in powerful people.  Paul wrote about it to the Corinthians, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” (I Corinthians 2:4-6)  There is only one power in which we should place our confidence and trust and that is God’s forever power. 

@ Psalm 147
“Praise the Lord! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting!… He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might.  No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (1,10-11)  The Lord is delighted by our trust and confidence in His unfailing love, and this response to Him on our part comes with a promise.  “Trust in the Lord and do good.  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him, and he will help you.” (Psalm 37:3-5)  We delight in Him, He delights in us and gives us our heart’s desires.

It makes us wonder why we would trust in the establishments of this world, in the smartest men of our day or any human wisdom that is coming to nothing.  God is the one who “Heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds…whose power is absolute…whose understanding is beyond comprehension…” (3,5-6)  God is the one to trust today to meet our needs, to heal our bodies and to protect our homes. “How good to sing praises to our God!  How delightful and how fitting! (1) 

Moving Forward:  I’m placing my confidence today in the only One who can be trusted, He will delight in me and I will sing praise to our God. 

Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 5-6

Numbers 29-32 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: Just as He is faithful to His word, He expects the same from us

Sometimes it’s difficult to accept people at their word, particularly if we don’t know them very well.  In fact, if we’ve been taken a few times, it’s easy to become a little cynical when we’ve provided a goods or service for someone in exchange for a promise to return with a payment.  When I’m asked to do this at my book table, I have to admit I sometimes hesitate for a second or two. That old spirit of suspicion creeps in, and I wonder if I’ll ever see the promised payment.  I’ve learned, however, sometimes in order for God’s people to be blessed, we have to put aside cynicism or preconceived ideas and just trust. 

@ Numbers 32
Moses understood this scenario all too well.  After leading this challenging group of Israelites for over 40 years and experiencing many disappointing responses from them, He was asked a favor, a request from the men of Gad and Reuben that involved trust. “The Lord has conquered this whole area for the community of Israel, and it is ideally suited for all our livestock.  If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us land across the Jordan River.”(4-5)  Because Canaan was to be divided amongst the tribes of Israel, this request did not seem so unreasonable, except that the rest of the territory west of the Jordan had not yet been conquered!

Moses may have choked on his manna at this request as he offered this immediate response, “‘Do you intend to stay here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?’ Moses asked the men of Gad and Reuben. ‘Why do you want to discourage the rest of the people of Israel from going across to the land the Lord has given them? Your ancestors did the same thing when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land…’” (6-8), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Moses ends with, “You brood of sinners, doing exactly the same thing!” (14)

Even a great leader like Moses was capable of jumping to the wrong conclusion on occasion. The men of Gad and Reuben had no intention of deserting their brothers before conquering the land.  They desired to leave their wives and flocks east of the Jordan while they joined their brothers in the battle for the rest of the territory. These tribes were true to their word and fought alongside their brothers until the land was conquered.

We can’t really fault Moses for misjudging the intention of these tribes.  As a whole, the Israelites had not lived over the previous 40 years in a manner that would develop trust in them, but giving others the benefit of the doubt rather than living with cynicism is a much more enjoyable way to live.  If we lose something tangible in the process, it’s good to remember everything in this life is fleeting.  On the other hand, if we live our lives in a way that builds trust in the hearts of others regarding us, this discussion is a moot point.  I’ve always told teenagers that their parents will trust them when given a reason to do so, and the same is true for us in our relationships.

Perhaps Moses was sensitive to the request of Reuben and Gad for another reason as well.  Why did these tribes desire to stop short of the Promised Land? Rich pastures and grazing land were a substitute for God’s intended blessing for them.  Some people just choose to live on the edge of God’s blessing, but then that’s a discussion for another day. 

Moving Forward: I choose to live my life today without cynicism towards others and to live with integrity so that others will know I am true to my word. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Chronicles 11-15

Proverbs 2-3 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He desires to give wisdom to all those who follow after Him

Everyone wants to be wise.  No one has ever said to me, “I can’t wait to be foolish today!”  Most of us have a natural curiosity about how things are made, where they come from and how they affect us.  When I was a teenager, I was asked what my favorite book was and without hesitation I replied, “The Encyclopedia.”  I know this sounds strange coming from a young person, and of course my answer should have been the Bible, but I’ve always loved moments of random learning.

We couldn’t afford the coveted set of World Book Encyclopedia and the internet was not available back in the dark ages; but every chance I got, I paged through the volume of knowledge held between the pages of the encyclopedia at the library. However, possessing all this knowledge does not a wise person make.  Wisdom is the ability to apply the knowledge we have, and this is what Solomon was addressing in our reading today. 

@ Proverbs 2
Proverbs 2 is a tutorial on how to find wisdom, where to find it, who it is for and what we receive once we obtain it.  All this in 22 little verses!  Only a very wise man could accomplish this in so few words. 

How:  Listen for wisdom, concentrate on it, ask for it with fervor and search for it like one who is digging deep in a mine for silver.  This proves to the Lord that we respect Him and what He has to say. (2-5)

Where:  Wisdom comes from the Lord. “For the Lord grants wisdom!” (6) 

Who:  God responds with wisdom (knowledge, understanding, common sense, protection) to those who are honest, walk with integrity, are just and faithful. (6-8) 

What:  We will understand what is right, just and fair; we find the right path to walk; we are filled with joy; we are kept safe; we are protected from evil people, including immoral woman and men; and we make right choices. (9-16)

The process is like a chain reaction.  We ask for wisdom and diligently search for it>through His Word we learn how to live a life of integrity and righteousness>He grants wisdom in response to our life of integrity>we are blessed with understanding, guidance, joy and protection.  What a deal!  All of this is ours today for the low, low start-up cost of asking. 

@ Proverbs 3
The mark of a truly wise person is one who follows this advice from Solomon: “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 show you which path to take.  Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.”(5-7)  It’s difficult to trust with all my heart in someone I don’t know very well, risky at best.  Trust develops through relationship and time spent together – enough said.

We may say that we have faith in God, but it is trust that applies action to our faith.  Faith is the noun, and trust is the verb that demonstrates our faith.  Faith without trust is like knowledge without wisdom – great to possess but not always useful.  When I depend on my own understanding, there’s really only one person to trust in and that’s me – not very wise when the wisdom of heaven is mine for the asking.

Moving Forward: “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her.” (18)  Today I seek His wisdom in what I do and say.  And I trust His wisdom to guide and direct my steps. 

Tomorrow @ Lamentations

Job 21-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Through our intimacy with Him, we know He can be trusted

It does our hearts good to see a few of the rich and famous use their wealth on occasion to help those around the world who are destitute. Just how many great homes and estates throughout the world does one individual need anyway?  With lifestyles less than exemplary in some cases, many seem to flaunt their wealth in the faces of those who struggle to survive.  It was just a matter of time before Job questioned the abundance of the wicked in light of his dire situation. 

@ Job 21
“Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (7) My response to Job is that I don’t know. “They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren…” (8) Safe homes, productive cattle, happy children, and on and on. “And yet they say to God, ‘Go away.  We want no part of you and your ways.’” (14)  Job seemed to be describing the beautiful people of our day as well. However, Job’s greatest concern was not the wealth of the ungodly, but rather the poverty and heartache of those who served God. 

@ Job 22
Eliphaz, Job’s friend/tormentor, asked some questions of his own, “Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?  Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?  Is it because you’re so pious that he accuses you and brings judgment against you? No, it’s because of your wickedness! There’s no limit to your sins.” (3-5)  Eliphaz went on to list the many possible sins of Job, but his questions give me pause for thought.

The questions of Eliphaz imply an impersonal God who blesses when we are good and punishes when we are bad.  Certainly God is not dependent on us, but we know from scripture that He is blessed by our faithfulness to Him and even amazed sometimes by our faith.  God desires an intimate relationship with us.  The thought that Job’s ordeal could be a testing is not in the mix for Eliphaz, but both men missed the point.  Job thought God’s blessing in his life was based solely on his own goodness, and Eliphaz thought the lack of God’s blessing was based on Job’s sin.

When God finally responded to Job, He answered none of his questions, but He directed Job to understand that He was in control of all things.  It wasn’t Job’s concern if evil men appeared to prosper and innocent men suffered.  God would determine man’s destination for eternity, which, by the way, is a very long time.

While Satan thought Job would crumble and curse God through his affliction, God was confident Job would remain faithful. Job’s response that we read last week, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” (19:25) had to have put a smile on the face of the Lord.  Job believed in Him through his trial, but would he trust Him through the process?  Could God’s path for Job be trusted?  It was in this test that Job was on shaky ground.

And this is our test as well in the trials we face from time to time.  We know that our Redeemer lives, but will we trust His path for us and not be tormented by all the questions that come to mind? In yesterday’s Psalm 32, David repented then trusted the Lord to care for him.  Job repented early in his story,  but he was challenged to now put down all his questions and trust God to care for him.  Thankfully, better days were in Job’s future… 

Moving Forward: Who cares about the abundance of those around us, whether they are righteous or not!  The bottom line is I know that my Redeemer lives, and I pray I will trust Him through the challenges I face. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 56-61