Proverbs 8

This chapter kicks off with great news. Wisdom is readily available (1-5), wisdom is God-honoring (6-8), and wisdom is get-a-hold-able (9). Yes, that last word isn’t really a word. It’s phrase that might reflect my hillbilly upbringing, but it makes the point. If you rewind and re-read this paragraph it has astonishing truths in it. Many folks imagine that God is angry at them — much like an aggravated parent — or not truly on their side. This could not be further from the truth. For those of us in Christ, God is fully out for our good, and delights to do good to and for us. This includes making His wisdom freely available to us — for the asking and seeking — and assuring that we can understand and apply it by His Holy Spirit.

Let’s press the “pause” button on Proverbs 8 for a moment. I want to serve up some hearty truth that might help you in your walk with God. God is not fickle, His perfect character and ways never change; God’s promises to you and for you in Christ never decrease or diminish. This is true even when we are not walking in obedience.

Here is a personal example to help make the point. I have three children. I love them dearly. When they disobey, or do unwise things, I might discipline them, but I do not disown them. They are my children regardless of whether they are being polite or acting like knuckleheads. Because they are  my children the parent-child relationship is permanent, it cannot change. When they fuss, or complain, or disobey, our relationship does not change, but our fellowship does. In other words, while our relationship isn’t altered by their behavior, our fellowship can be.

The same is true for you with God. When you are honoring Him and walking with Him the relationship and fellowship are intact. When you dishonor Him, or fail to walk with Him, the relationship is still eternally intact, but the fellowship will suffer; and, as a Good Father he will discipline you to restore your fellowship. Does that make sense? Hopefully that helps you feel more secure in your relationship with God, and it helps you appreciate that he is for your good at all times, even in His discipline.

Now, let’s press the “play” button and return to Proverbs 8. Wisdom is readily available to us — calling from the high hills and at the places we frequent —  so, we have no excuse for failing to pursue it. Verse 17 tells us that God is delighted when we seek wisdom and rewards us when we do.

The last half of this chapter takes an interesting turn, or tone. You will notice that wisdom is no longer referred to but rather is speaking in the first person, “I, I, I …” Being a sharp reader with a keen mind, you remember from chapter three that Jesus is the Wisdom of God to us.

Check out John 1:1-3 and see how it parallels Proverbs 8:12-31:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Let’s fold these thoughts as Jesus as the Wisdom and Word of God onto the promises of wisdom in Proverbs 8:1-11 and see how it fits:

  • Wisdom (Jesus) is readily available to us (1-5)
  • Wisdom (Jesus) honors God the Father (6-8)
  • Wisdom (Jesus) is get-a-hold-able (9)
  • Wisdom (Jesus) is all surpassing and we should pursue it (Him) (10-11)

Back in the day …

In this chapter you will either encounter or reclaim a terrific spiritual discipline. Not because the chapter speaks to it. Rather, because this is a fine place to bring it up.

As you read Proverbs Chapter 10 you might find that several verses leap off the page. Stop, savor them, and then re-read them. You might find yourself not wanting to move past them.

This is where a tool used by our spiritual fore-bearers comes in handy: Scripture memorization. Sure, years ago, you memorized some verses in Vacation Bible School or for Bible verse competitions at church camp. We know it was the Kool-Aid and cookies that made you do it. As children in the 70s and 80s, when an elderly, rose water-scented lady offered us store brand cookies — it was never the Oreos or Chips Ahoy, oh no, the church’s money wasn’t wasted on brand name cookies; the generic Creme-Snerts and Choco-Nubs thawed out from last year “were still fine”– and Kool-Aid laden with red dye #47, we politely memorized Bible verses, sang hokey songs (and did the dances that go with them), and make strange crafts to shove off on our parents. When I was 8 I actually made my dad an ash tray at Vacation Bible School. Maybe the theme that year was “Holy Smokes.” I digress …

Today, instead of surveying this chapter of Proverbs, let’s take a different approach. This will help us in two ways: 1. Chapter 10 is a ball of yarn of principles and truths that would require more than this humble post to unravel and then weave back together. 2. This chapter lends itself to beginning, or revisiting, the practice of memorizing Bible verses. Verses 12, 17, and 19 are prime candidates itching to be invited into your noggin.

Scripture memorization has fallen on hard times. Thanks to the riches of information at our fingertips, there is a poverty of memorization in our society. The Bible does not have a Google function, sorry. There is no short cut to knowing God’s Word. But, we have tool that will help.

When the writer of Proverbs or the Psalms speaks of hiding God’s Word in your heart, or meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2, 119:15, and 119:48), he is referring to committing portions of the Bible to memory and thinking on them day to day. It is through this internalizing of God’s Word that He transforms us (see Colossians 3:19 and Romans 12:2). For some of you this might be new, for some this may be a regular practice. Either way, we have some upcoming chapters full of verses ripe for the mental picking (chapters 17, 25, and 27). So, let’s use the rest of this post to consider some tips for memorizing Bible verses:

1. Read a version of the Bible that makes sense to you. It is hard to memorize a verse if it uses language that seems archaic to you. Notice that I did not say archaic, I said archaic to you. Some folks prefer new translations like the English Standard Version (ESV) or New International Version (NIV). Others find older translations such as the King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), or New American Standard Bible (NASB) more suitable. Personally, I read, study, and memorize from the New King James and ESV. Those fit me well. You should read what works best for you. I will add a warning here, do not switch back and forth from one version to another. Each version is intentionally different in linguistic style. Switching might actually make memorization more difficult for you.

2. Read deliberately, and audibly. When you run across a verse that catches your attention, stop, re-read it, and then read it aloud. Go slow. Repeat it many times. I find that repeating it in my mind, then aloud, and repeating that process several times helps the verse to stick. Experiment. Find a way that works for you.

3. Write it down. Writing a verse in your journal, or on a note card, also aids in committing it to memory. Consider starting a Bible verse journal for 2019. Determine to write out a memory verse each week. By the end of the year you will have memorized 52 verses. Those verses hidden in your mind and heart will be seeds for growth that God will use to bear fruit in your life.

4. A final tip is to find a friend to share verses with. The two of you can discuss new verses and hold each other accountable for staying on track.

For some of you memorization will come easily, like riding a bike. For some it will feel like falling off a bike. Some folks are more wired for memorization than others. Don’t fret if you find it a steep climb. Just keep working at it. It will become easier. It helps to remember that God’s Word is not a series of stagnant sentences that must be beaten into our brains. God’s Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), once it’s planted inside you, it grows. You will also find that when you have several verses implanted in your mind/heart, they begin to connect and shed light on each other. It’s amazing!

So, grab your Bible, a notebook, do some mental jumping jacks, and get to memorizing. Get your brain limbered up because there are some great verses ahead begging to be in your brain. To jump start the process consider chugging some Kool-Aid  and munching on a handful of stale cookies. Soon you will find yourself memorizing verses and creating dances to go with them. Old school …

 

There are no humble fools …

A portion of the beauty of the Proverbs is their poetic form, which creates memorable word pictures as teaching tools. In the opening verses Proverbs 9 demonstrates this in vivid fashion that flows into instruction about the way of the wise (7-12) and the way of fools (13-18).

 

What a scene:

The opening verses sketch a scene of wisdom building her house and preparing a banquet. She opens her home and table to all who hear — the simple, fools, and the wise alike. It becomes evident in the seventh and eighth verses that one group will snub the invitation and one will accept. We are given the reason why one group avoids wisdom’s invitation while the other readily accepts it: Pride. That is the reason for avoiding wisdom, plain and simple. Fools cannot bear to be corrected and will even despise the one trying to offer helpful direction (7-8b). The wise appreciate correction, even being rebuked (8b), and will love those who admonish them (this is an ideal spot for a teaser for Proverbs 27:6, one of the most truth-packed, concise sentences ever penned).

 

What a difference:

Fools are low on humility and high on pride. Correction is an insult to them. That is why they resist it, and, continue to grow more foolish with time.

The wise embrace humility, which in turn fashions them for growth through correction. In turn, they grow even more wise, and more humble, over time.

Pride and wisdom cannot abide one another; they go together like white shirts and spaghetti. You have probably already figured out that one of the primary hallmarks of the wise is humility. Humility is the foundation for the “fear of the Lord,” which is the beginning of wisdom (10). To be clear, the “fear of the Lord,” is not being terrified of Him; it is standing in reverential awe, or holy wonder, of Him. Think of it as sanctified respect.

If you want to grow wise, first bow low. There are no stick-necked, straight-backed, high-chested wise men or women. Park there and perform some self-examination. Each of us has pockets of pride inside. They are our barriers to wisdom and hinder our walk with God.

Chapter 9 concludes with a description of the way of fools. Yep, you guessed, it’s ole Ms. Pants of Fire looking for a guy with more nerve than verve. It’s a sad scene. It plays out each day, everywhere, all with tragic outcomes.

 

What a God:

Why are you and I not romping off into that lifestyle? Grace, God’s grace. Through His grace He creates humility in us that leads us to listen to His Word and submit to His correction. We owe Him thanks for this, and so much more. He provides the humility that enables us to embrace His wisdom. Through the wisdom we receive, we become more humble, and ready to revere and worship Him. That is where wisdom begins …

Proverbs 7

In the first verses of Chapter 7 we encounter strong verbs that describe our responsibility to God’s instruction: keep it, treasure it within, keep it and live, and write it on your heart.

Why such strong commands? Verse 5 reveals to us that it is to “keep us from …” In other words, when God warns us we are to respond. Also, in verse 5 we find the “seductress” making her rounds again. The majority of the verses in chapter 7 are warning against sexual immorality, but those principles can help us fend off other sorts of temptations as well.

To help us digest it, let’s divide this chapter into three bite-sized portions:

 

Typical ways we go astray: verses 5b-13

  • Falling for flattery (verse 5b). The smooth, complimentary words of others can often lure us away from obeying God.
  • Being in the wrong place (8-9). While this can be a place of outright debauchery, It can also be a more common, yet subtle, venue such as the break room at work (gossip/complaining). Other places to avoid might include bars, casinos, church business meetings, and Arby’s. I don’t think Arby’s is sinful, but what it does to your stomach at 3 a.m. might cause you to think or say sinful things, and/or threaten bodily harm to whomever made you eat there.
  • Being with people that we shouldn’t be with (10-13). These verses provide a description of what these folks are like: loud, rowdy, immodest, crafty/schemers, and impudent.

If you sense that any of these three are taking place, it’s time to head the other way!

 

Tools used to tempt us: verses 14-20

  • Excuses or justification for the act are offered. (14). You can likely recall some that have been heaped upon you in the past.
  • Personal appeals to participate are provided. (15). This tool is double diabolical, it is uses manipulation through a relationship in order to reel you in.
  • Sense-exciting invitations are dished out. (16-18). Bad things require over-the-top advertisement to convince others to join in; good things do not require such titillating sales pitches.
  • An encouraging round of excuses is offered. (19-20). New excuses are used to seal the deal, or as a last resort.

If you take a moment you can certainly recall personal examples of these that have been used on you in the past. Recall them, identify them, and steady yourself to fight them in the future. And, do not get the double roast beef with “horsey” sauce. Just sayin’.

 

Attitudes that temptation preys upon: 21

Verse 21 provides remarkable insight for us to use to guard against temptation. Although we are enticed and flattered by others to yield to temptation, our internal attitudes cause us to give in. Specifically, discontent and pride can become the two rails that temptation runs upon.

Keep in mind, while the context of the chapter deals with the specific sin of snuggling with a seductress, the principles transfer to most any form of temptation. We can be tempted to become angry, indulgent, jealous, gossip, lust, or greedy in the same ways.

 

Two take-a-ways for tomorrow:
1. When you sense someone beginning to flatter you, appeal for your involvement, offer excuses as approval, and tingle your senses with descriptions of what they are planning … run the other way!

2. Please do not think that temptation can’t break through your wall of resistance. Verse 26 registers a sobering statement: the weak and strong alike can fall prey to the wares of the worldly. We cannot withstand temptation in our own strength. We must run to Christ, He is our strength and wisdom! Seek him and sin loses it’s allure.

Troublers of many types …

Congratulations! You have completed 5 days of the Proverbs Challenge. Great job! I hope that you have gained a new appreciation for the Book of Proverbs, an enriched time in the Bible each day, and a desire to spend more time in it.

Proverbs 6 is a series of brief bursts of observations and instructions. A title that ties it together is: types of troublers and why to avoid them. In this chapter there are three categories of no-gooders to avoid. If this were a high school “who’s who,” the categories would be:

  • Most likely to never get a job (6-11)
  • Most likely to create trouble for those around them (12-15)
  • Most likely to get an STD (20-35)

As we read those verses we might be prone to think, “thank the Lord, those do not apply to us.” And, hopefully, that is true. But, and you knew that there would be a catch, we have to be careful with this type of thinking. In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus shows us that we are to avoid committing sinful acts, and to also avoid the attitudes that fuel them. So much for our high-minded judgement of others. So, let’s apply what Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:21-48 — you might want to take a few minutes and read those verses — to the three types of folks listed previously. We will do so with some very penetrating, yet profitable, questions that will assist us in removing those attitudes before they have time to act.

  • Are there parts of your life where laziness is hiding, or napping? Are you doing what you should to develop spiritual depth, healthy relationships, a healthy lifestyle, financial freedom, or service to others? Everything we have is a gift from God (James 1:17) and we are to be good stewards of His gifts. To not do so is … sin (James 4:17).
  • Are there attitudes that you harbor, or things you say, that wish or cause trouble for others? Christ-followers are to be know for serving, helping, encouraging, and building up others. (Ephesians 4:32, 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Are there thoughts that you foster about the opposite sex, or forms of entertainment you watch, that you should avoid? Even if you have loved all 87 seasons of The Bachelor, or bing watch Game of Thrones, it’s never too late to stop.

Those are tough questions.

While actions are often easy to avoid, attitudes set up residence in our hearts, make themselves at home, unpack their troubles, and do so unseen by others.

In Proverbs 6, God is clearly showing us to avoid those three types of people — which if you are doing the Proverbs Challenge it is unlikely that you are a lazy, back-stabbing, gossiper who hangs out with prostitutes — He is also warning us to avoid the attitudes that cultivate that type of living. People rarely run full speed into sin. Their attitudes slowly nudge them into it, almost imperceptibly.

You might wonder which specific attitudes generate such a gravitational pull into ungodly living. They are listed in verses 16-19 of Proverbs 6. In those verses Solomon introduces seven things that God despises. You will quickly notice a pattern in verses 17-19. In each of those verses Solomon names the ungodly attitude(s) then the action that it causes. Keep in mind that the attitude does not usually cause the action instantly. It takes time. Those attitudes can simmer in the Crockpot of our souls long before the action emerges.

An implied lesson in this chapter is: guard your heart and mind by filling them with God’s Word. You might recall the following verses from Proverbs 4 that apply here:

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:20-23

An amazing aspect of the Proverbs is that they build upon and shed light upon themselves. It’s remarkable how God speaks to us, teaches us, and does it so incredibly. He intends to show us Himself, His ways, and to do so in amazing fashion. Stay tuned, it gets even better!

Be careful out there …

Yesterday we saw that growing in God’s wisdom is not a matter of religious rule-following, it is growing in your relationship with Christ who is the fullness of the wisdom of God.

Proverbs chapter five continues this relational theme. In fact, if you read the first few verses of the chapter slowly — and perhaps out loud — you can sense that it sounds like a father sharing advice with his son. A Bible study hint: reading God’s word is not about grabbing Bible facts and stuffing into your spiritual knapsack; it is about “hearing” and relating to God in His word. This might involve reading more slowly, reading out loud (not too loud), stopping every few verses to ponder what you have covered, and pausing to pray while you read.

Back to Proverbs 5, this chapter opens with a father admonishing his son to stay true to God’s word, employ godly discretion, and to avoid certain things and particular people. Specifically, he warns his son to avoid the “seductress.” The “seductress” sounds like a hyper-flirty comic book villain that wears her skirt too high and shirt too low. Sadly, she is not a myth. She is real. And, she can be a he as well.

Remember that there are three types of people that frequent the book of Proverbs: the wise, the simple, and the foolish. This chapter refers to and describes each of them. Verses 1-2 describe what a wise person does. Verses 3-6 describe the ways of a fool, especially verse six: “she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.” In verses 7-22 the father speaks to the simple — “and now, O sons …” — warning them of the peril to come if they do not turn to God’s truth.

As you recall from yesterday we gain wisdom by getting to know Christ. You might ask, “So, where is He in this chapter of Proverbs?” He is the One whispering to the wise and simple alike in verse 15:

“Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.”

As you get to know God in Christ you become more content with what you have (drinking water from your own well) and avoiding things that you shouldn’t desire (wanting to sneak sips from your neighbor’s well). The best guard against temptation is not wrestling against it more fiercely, but rather knowing Christ more intimately. When we grow in Christ we love Him more and grow more content with our lot in life.

To summarize: knowing God in Christ builds wisdom and discretion in your mind, heart, and soul. That is our best defense again sin. On the flip side: being discontent dissolves our discretion and weakens our wisdom. As we get to know Him better, sin loses it’s spider web stickiness and siren-song allure.

Seek Him. Be content in Him. Both will keep you on the path to wisdom. It will also help you to run from folly-promoting fools.

Get this … and gain freedom

What would you do if God showed you there is something that you need to get? Would you ignore it, delay it, or go immediately and lay hold of it?

In Proverbs 4 God is telling us all that there is one thing that we should get. It’s not better behavior, improved church attendance, or a religious activity. He tells us to pursue wisdom. In Proverbs 4:7 God exhorts us to get wisdom. In fact, the repetitive way that this is stated in verse 5 is a method that Solomon used — remember the mention of Hebrew poetry in the post from day one — to place great emphasis on a topic and reiterate it. He is saying that of all the things in the world to pursue, we should pursue wisdom, and double our effort in doing it.

Here is where this becomes astonishing. Take a deep breath.  Here it is: the pursuit of wisdom is not a journey toward religious rules. It’s not at all. Pursuing God’s wisdom is not about becoming more religious (those of you who are 10th degree black belt, industrial strength Baptists might need to reach for you heart medication or inhaler now). Pursuing God’s wisdom is about pursuing a Person. God’s Wisdom is found in His Word, and even more so, found in His Living Word: Jesus. Consider these two verses:

“but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”1 Corinthians 1:30

Get a dose of this: We find wisdom in God’s Word; Jesus is the Living Word of God (John 1:1, John 1:14), and Jesus is the Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). Does it seem like someone just turned on the truth defroster and your foggy spiritual windshield cleared up a bit? Here is the knee-buckling, heart-sparking part: We are to pursue Jesus, and we do so by reading the Word of God, as we do the Holy Spirit then makes the Living Word (Jesus) alive to us in the written Word (Bible). Think of it this way, you are not reading the Bible to accumulate wisdom; as you read the Bible you get to know Christ and in getting to know Him you grow in His wisdom. He doesn’t drop wisdom pellets into your soul as you read the Bible. He reveals Himself to you and as you grow in knowing Him you become more like Him and receive His wisdom. Allow Ephesians 1:17 to pull back the curtains a little bit and let more light in on this:

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,”

Don’t zip past this. This verse shows us that it is in knowing, and growing in knowing, Jesus — “in the knowledge of him — that we receive wisdom. Holy Saturated Fats! That’s incredible. We gain wisdom through knowing Christ. It’s not about religion, it’s about your relationship with Him.

This post might have been a bit long. Sorry, sort of. But, the one thing that I hope that you receive in this post is this: Solomon wasn’t wise because he was religious or supremely moral (in fact, he kind of messed up a lot on both of those), he was wise because He knew and depended upon God. The same is true for us. You will not become more wise through religious somersaults or moral pull-ups, you grow in wisdom through knowing Jesus Christ.

In the first post I suggested that you watch out for three regular characters in Proverbs: the wise, the simple, and the foolish. Let me introduce the main character of Proverbs: Jesus. He is the One who is the wisdom of God and imparts it to you as you get to know Him.

Grasping this will help you see how the blessings of growing in the wisdom of God listed in Proverbs 4:22-27 become reality in your life. They are not formed by rule-keeping, they are received from a Person — Jesus. He is the One who:

  • Gives you life (22)
  • Keeps your heart (23)
  • Guards/restrains your words (24) — I sure need this one!
  • Keeps you on track, focused, and moving straight ahead (25)
  • Helps you consider your steps and life-direction (26)
  • Helps you bear true on His course for you (27)

A set of rules, or religious activity, cannot do those things for you. But, Jesus will do them in you and for you! As you read the Bible, you are getting to know the One who is eager to do those things for you. Bible reading takes on a whole different meaning now, doesn’t it?

It hinges on a single word …

One of the most critical words in our language consists of only two letters. Hopes or fears, plans or problems often teeter on this tiny word. The word is “if.” Take a minute and think about all the “ifs” you encounter, or say, in a day.

When God’s “if” is met with your prayerful pursuit of Him, the trajectory and tone of your life can re-begin. In Proverbs 2 God outlines great benefits for those who move from “if” to “I will.”

Proverbs chapter two begins with, “My son (or daughter), if you receive my words …” It’s an opening statement that combines a challenge with a promise. Likewise, verses three and four begin with “if” as well. God is prompting us to pause and ponder what He is offering. He affords specific blessings to those who take heed to His word. Let’s line up what He requires so that it points us to the obedience He desires so that we can receive those benefits.

Three “If” Statements:

  • If you receive my words and treasure my commandments. Verse 1
  • If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding. Verse 3
  • If you seek it (His word and wisdom) like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures. Verse 4

With these few words God opens the way to His wisdom and knowing Him better. Here’s a summary of it: When we receive His word we are to treasure it, pray for insight, and continue to seek Him; then, He shows us Himself, His wisdom, and His ways. We must take care here: our pursuit of Him and His word is to have a earnest and singular focus (verse 4). This process of pursuing Him cannot happen every now-and-then, or by happenstance. It’s deliberate.

A real life example might help here. I am an avid — but not very fast — runner. My oldest daughter, Emma, and I often run together. The best part of our running is not finishing big races or earning medals, it is the time spent together, challenging each other, talking, and laughing. The meaningful part of our running is pursing it together, not the completion of it.

The same idea follows in the “if” statements. God is giving us these statements to get us to Him, not to get us to a spiritual achievement. The treasure is in growing closer to Him, not performing spiritual exercises for Him.

He delights in us as we draw near to Him. He joyfully gives Himself, and His wisdom, to us as we take joy in Him. It’s true. It is that simple. As you read Proverbs chapter two, mull over this question, “what will happen when I draw near to God in His word and seek His wisdom?” The answers to that question are found in verses 5-12. They will amaze you. Go ahead, read them, and find out for yourself. There is a treasure trove in those verses.

Speaking of a treasure trove, and of treasuring God’s word (verse 1), allow Matthew 13:44 to demonstrate what a singular and relentless pursuit of and joy in God looks like:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

It is worth noting that the pursuit described in Matthew 13:44 is not one of guilt or grit, duty or demand, rules or religion, no, our pursuit of God in Christ is to be one of joy. As you take joy in Him in His Word, He will take joy in drawing near to you and showing Himself and His wisdom to you.

It all begins with “if.” Today, take the leap from “if” to “I will.”

More life in your living …

Of the 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, two verses seem to be quoted the most. They are Proverbs 3:5-6. Those verses are rich. But, there are amazing truths in the verses that come before and after them as well.

In particular, verse two says that God adds length of days (quality), years of life (quantity), and peace to those who heed His word — more life in your living! Verse four teaches us that God also shows His favor to those keep His word. So, how do these blessings become ours? By writing them down. They could be written in your journal, or on a note card for your bathroom mirror, or even on a sticky note on your computer screen. But, truly, verse four refers to the best place for God’s word to be inscribed: on your heart. Proverbs 3:4 actually says that we are to write God’s word on our heart.

Be aware that someone is writing on the tablet of your heart each day. Is it God, you, or someone around you? Is it TV, social media, or our culture? Who is scribbling their thoughts and beliefs onto your heart? Why are you letting them? Tough questions, but necessary questions. It’s time to erase what others and our culture have written on our hearts and let God pen His principles and truth on our hearts.

How does this take place? The answer is found in those famous verses five and six:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Are you ready to erase the world’s graffiti and self-engraved nonsense from your heart? Here’s how:

  • Turn your entire heart over to Christ; He makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Trust in Him instead of relying upon yourself; He never breaks the trust you place in Him (Hebrews 13:5-6, Matthew 28:20).
  • Walk away from your “wisdom” and seek His; He wisdom is without limit or end (Romans 11:33)
  • Follow His ways, forsake your ways; He is the Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6).
  • Follow the path He creates, instead of creating your own (Psalm 23:3, Psalm 31:3, 1 Corinthians 7:17)

All of those principles are compacted into Proverbs 3:5-6. No wonder it is so beloved and often quoted.

When you yield to Christ as the only Author allowed to put pen to the paper of your heart, He will:

  • Add life to your soul. 3:22
  • Help you to walk through each day securely and prevent you from stumbling. 3:23
  • Remove anxiety and give you sound sleep and rest. 3:24
  • Offer you hour-to-hour and day-to-day peace. He keeps you safe from the “sudden fear” that creeps into all of our minds. 3:25

In summary, He becomes the confidence, peace, direction, and surety that we all long for. He can cleanse our hearts, remove what bothers and embitters them, and provide direction and protection for them. His pen is ready.  Are you ready?

The on-ramp to wisdom …

Like many others, you are considering resolutions for 2019. You know the typical ones: exercise more, lose weight, spend less, stop shouting swear words at your children, etc. Just kidding on that last one, unless you actually do cuss your kids on a regular basis. If you do, stop it, or at least cut back a little.

So, now that some of you with a potty mouth have been pointed out, let’s get on with the blog post. May I suggest a remarkable resolution for the New Year? One that will only take a few minutes a day and can improve most every area of your life. What is it? It is reading one chapter per day of the book of Proverbs.

When I became a Christian in 1993, a wise man told me, “Son, you are an idiot, you should read the book of Proverbs; that might be able to help you.” Actually, that fine gentlemen told me that reading a chapter of the book of Proverbs each day would help a young fellow immensely. I tried it. He was right. I continue to do so to this day. The Proverbs are bite-sized truths that can transform us. If they can help me, then they can help anyone!

If you are up for a challenge, will you join me for the month of January in reading one chapter of the book of Proverbs? Beginning on January 1, please read chapter 1, then chapter 2 on January 2, and so on. As a help to you, I will post a short introduction to the next day’s reading that will share hints and helps for the next chapter. This will serve as a tail wind to propel you along. Are you in? C’mon, it’s better than counting calories and trying to be “keto.” And, it won’t make you hangry.

With that said, here is the map for tomorrow’s reading of Proverbs 1:

The book of Proverbs — written by Solomon, the wisest man of his time — focuses on gaining wisdom and growing in your relationship with God. The Proverbs cover many areas of your life: family, work, relationships, money, discipline, taming your tongue, etc. The Proverbs were written in the form of Hebrew poetry, which might seem repetitive at times, but the style was intended for impact and contrast. Roll with it. It’s like Old Testament-style Twitter: short thoughts, plainly stated, that pack a punch.

The book of Proverbs focuses on three types of people:

  1. The wise: they seek to honor God and grow in His grace and truth.
  2. The foolish: they are selfish and sinful. They only look out for themselves and want harm for others. The Hebrew word for these folks is pronounced “in-laws.” Hehe …
  3. The simple: they are not wise, but not foolish; they could go either way depending on their pursuit of God’s truth or hanging out with fools. Most of us fall into this category.

Before you read chapter one, commit those three categories of people to memory. Look for them in each chapter. As you read each day ask yourself which category describes you, your family, and your circle of friends. Trust me. You will see that a pattern will soon form.

In the first chapter of Proverbs, verses 20-23 provide great hope to us all:

Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”

These verses paint a picture of God’s Truth standing in the middle of the city, at the frequent meeting places, and in the city gates calling out for us to listen, and grow in wisdom. These verses also link to a great promise in the New Testament in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Here’s the take-a-way truth: God wants to provide His wisdom to us. It’s there for the asking, and receiving. Will you spend a few minutes each day reading one chapter of Proverbs? It could be your on-ramp to the road to wisdom. C’mon, let’s go. I’ll share a daily map for the journey. The map will point you down the path, make you smirk some, and also serve as a way for us to dialogue. Please post here and share your thoughts, what you are learning, and suggestions for upcoming posts for the month. My hope is to shape this in a way that assists you. Your feedback would be appreciated!

Blow the dust off your Bible, grab a cup of coffee, scream at your kids for the last time, and let’s get going.