Friday, February 27, 2009

Proverbs: Chapter 1: 5-7(NKJV)

Today, we will look at verses five through seven of this first chapter of Proverbs.

5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance-- 6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

In the first few verses, it spoke of young, immature people, while verse 5 speaks toward those that are farther along in their walk with the Lord. It says to let the wise listen and ADD to their learning. We should never feel as if we “have arrived,” for God always has more for us to learn as long as we are here on earth.

Even the elderly have things to learn as they struggle with changing bodies and lives that are so different now, than when they were young. All of us change and grow, and change is often one of the most difficult things for us to face. I know it is for me, and always has been… I absolutely hate it when someone is moved out of my life, for one reason or another, by God. It has been one of the hardest things in my life to learn to put my children in HIS hands as they have gotten older and moved away because of jobs, etc.

Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. " - I think that is sort of what verse 5 and 6 are talking about. As we grow older, and if we are “discerning” (perceptive, having keen insight, being quick to understand) then we will seek guidance from others, and weigh it as we strive to gain understanding of the things listed in verse 6.

The American Heritage® Dictionary Online, defines a “proverb” as “a short pithy saying that expresses a basic truth or practical precept,” while a parable is “a short story that illustrates a moral or religious lesson.” We see many of these two ways of teaching being offered to us in the books of the Bible. There are also “sayings and riddles of the wise,” presented for us to think over and learn from. Jesus spoke in these ways specifically, and spoke of the Holy Spirit helping those that were actively seeking understanding of His ways.

Verse 7 says that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” This is a scripture that is quoted quite often… and we see this one illustrated way too often in our world today… at least the part about “fools.”

The Hebrew words that are translated as “fool” in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, denote one who is “morally deficient,” which is the ultimate end of those who turn away from seeking to become wise and/or those who reject discipline in their lives.



It is easy to see that more and more of our young people are turning away from seeking wisdom from their elders, and are rejecting discipline in their lives. This verse tells us that this is the reason that our country is becoming more and more devoid of morals in so many of our youth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Proverbs: Chapter 1: 4 (NKJV)

2 “To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, 3 to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion---“

Verse 4 talks about the “simple” receiving prudence, and young men learning knowledge and discretion.

The word, “simple” in this verse doesn’t mean mentally handicapped, as some people now use the word. It is translated from words that mean a person who is easily persuaded or lacks common sense and good judgment. It can also mean someone who is na├»ve, immature, or lacks experience.

Prudence, according to The American Heritage® Dictionary Online, means to exercise good judgment, common sense… even caution, especially in the conduct of practical matters. It suggests wise self-restraint, as in resisting a rash impulse, and implies the ability to foresee and make provision for what may happen. It also implies discretion, as out of concern for moral or social repercussions. These are all things that I would want to strive for.


As “simple” also means immature or lacking experience, you can see how learning wisdom would help a young person to learn knowledge and discretion. I think I would rather learn these things from the experience of others, or from the Word of God rather than from having to stumble through life, hopefully living long enough, to get them through my own experience!!! It also makes me think, again, about parenting and/or mentoring those who are younger than we are in age OR in spiritual understanding.

Discretion, as mentioned before, also speaks about understanding that there could be moral or social repercussions from our speech or our actions. This is sort of like “looking before you leap” or not having “diarrhea of the mouth…” James 3 talks about keeping the tongue under control and how it can be a “deadly poison” (3:8), and in James 3:13- 18 the Bible talks about two kinds of wisdom.

“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (NIV)

Sort of says it all, doesn’t it…

Monday, February 23, 2009

Proverbs: Chapter 1: 3 (NKJV)

Last time, we looked at these verses, and went over verse 2, discussing that it is important to study God’s words of wisdom and to find Godly people to associate with and to learn from. Let’s look at these verses again, to refresh my memory, and then go on to verse 3.

2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, 3 to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion---“

Proverbs 1:3 Tells me that once I FIND people like that, then I need to be able to receive instruction from them… instructions about wisdom, what justice is, and how to judge (not always people, but often, actions and situations) with justice and equity (fairness, impartiality).

Many situations in life come up when we have to make judgments between people, and we need to use wisdom when they do. This also becomes important if we are parents. We need to use this kind of wisdom when we have to judge situations between children. This is often very hard to do, especially when we’ve had a hard day for whatever reason… and I speak from experience, having raised 6 children and several foster children. This is where cultivation, in our own lives, of the fruits of the Spirit becomes very important.

I was very blessed to have been given a mom that was one of those special people who had the qualities spoken of in these verses. Not only that, but many of her friends, people from our church, also had these qualities, and she firmly believed in “not forsaking the company of the ‘brethren’ so we had several Godly people that we were around regularly.


Today, the world has changed so much that many people don’t have the rock of a Christian family to build a foundation on. They have heard of problems in churches, and about hypocritical people… all the bad things, and may have even been hurt by “church people.” Unfortunately, people are people and not a one of us is perfect, so there ARE no perfect churches. Instead of judging OTHERS, we need to spend our time comparing ourselves to what Jesus wants US to become.

I think that is why Jesus stresses that we need to love and forgive others, AND, in fact, if we DON’T forgive others, we can’t expect forgiveness from Him. That’s why He says to ask God to “forgive us our trespasses/debts AS WE HAVE FORGIVEN those who have trespassed against us…” My main point is, that we need to actively seek out a Christian source of wisdom/modeling to associate with, as well as reading and studying God’s word… if not at a “church,” then at a House Bible Study, or something. This, and reading/listening to, our Bible, is how we “receive instruction…”








Proverbs: Chapter 1: 2 (NKJV)

As we saw last time, Solomon wrote the book of proverbs and verses 2 through 7 tell us why he wrote it. Today, we will look at verses 2-4, and discuss verse 2.

2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, 3 to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion---“

Wisdom is the main theme of this book and it is used 41 times throughout its pages. This word speaks about the competence with which we live our lives… being wise means to gain the skill and proficiency to live in a way that avoids the pitfalls that crop up in our lives. We do that through following the instruction of others who are wise in the area of study that we are working on. We look at their lives to see if they are successful… successful in living a life that God would approve of, not necessarily of what the world considers “successful.”

God’s ways are NOT our ways, and many things that the world says SHOULD work a certain way, often work the opposite in the Kingdom of God. Think of the example that Jesus gave as He, the great God and King of the universe, came down to be a SERVANT to mankind. He said in Matthew 19: 30 “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last, will be first.”

We should find people to be around, who are showing the fruits of the Spirit in their lives: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. James 1: 22 says “Do not merely listen to the word and so, deceive yourselves. Do what it says,” and in verse 26 & 27 James goes on to say that we need to keep a tight rein on our tongues, and that true religion that God accepts as pure and faultless, is to look after orphans and widows (the poorest and destitute) AND to keep one-self from being polluted by the world.

People that strive to follow God closely enough to be examples of these virtues are the people that we should become friends with. Through their examples, and through the ultimate examples (Jesus and those that follow God in the Bible), we can “perceive the words of understanding” we seek, to help us grow in wisdom.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Proverbs: Chapter 1: 1

Proverbs: Chapter 1: 1 (NKJV)

“ 1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

Verse one tells us who wrote or collected the writings in the book of Proverbs. The story of Solomon is found in chapters 1-11 of I Kings. The specific story of Solomon’s requesting wisdom and knowledge from God so that he could do a good job of leading God’s people is found in I Kings 3:4-15. God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer is found in verses 10 -14.

“ 10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, or shall any like you arise after you.”

“ 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked; both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So, if you walk in My ways, to keep My statuettes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”



This, then is the man who put together the book of Proverbs. If God says that he would be the wisest man to live on earth (verse 12) than seeking wisdom from a book by this man would seem to me a “wise” thing to do.

I also find it interesting that God chose to bless Solomon so mightily, because his choice was to ask for wisdom and ways to help and serve his people, and this pleased God.


This would be something that I would want to do, too, in my life. I hope to continue to gain wisdom from God (hence this Bible Study) and I want to be Christ-like and follow God by helping and serving people, for that is what He modeled with His life here on earth BECAUSE He loves us all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Introduction/Basics Concluded…

II. What is Sin/ Lusts of the flesh, Free Will, and Foolishness?

ALL of the hurt and pain in the world we live in came/comes through, sin. Sin is not following God’s rules, but our own “lusts of the flesh,” and thinking that WE are smarter than Him. How do we know His rules? Yep, reading/listening to them through the study of His Word.

If He had made us without free will (the opportunity to choose OR ignore Him and His ways) we would have been a bunch of puppets and puppets can’t really love. He wanted people to be friends with… people He could love and that would learn to trust and love Him back. That choice gave people the chance to turn away from Him and His ways and become “Foolish,” which is the opposite of wisdom. (Psalms 14:1 says: The fool says in his heart, there is no God.)

Sin unleashed pain and everything that is the opposite of Love, and if you walk away from Love/God, enough, it will eventually lead to true death which is separation from God for eternity.

Because of “free will,” God knew we would “all sin and come short of the glory of God,” so He made a way for us to find our way back to Him, by demonstrating the awfulness of death which is the ultimate penalty of sin, and then paying that price himself through the sacrifice of His son.

Between Adam and Noah, He still interacted with men that sought Him and walked in His ways. They taught their children, etc. but as more and more people were born, the ones that didn’t want to follow God got together, just as they do today, and made their own “gods.” They wanted a “god” they could see, feel, touch, and be what THEY wanted him to be.! That is another thing about sin… it is “following the lusts of the flesh” instead of keeping the flesh under God’s control.

What are “lusts of the flesh”?

Let’s look at the 5 senses: sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell. These are things of the flesh. They were given to us so that we could enjoy the things that God created for us in this world. As with ALL of God’s gifts, these are wonderful and were meant to be used to enjoy the life God gave us.


The problem comes when we let them go too far and get out of hand… let them go from enjoyment into lusts that control us instead of things we control or we let God control. A “lust” is an uncontrolled craving, and THAT is what leads us into sin.

Examples:

Sight-- Letting our eyes roam where they shouldn’t… into places that “excite our lusts,” be that a candy store, a bakery, a car lot, window shopping, or places that incite sexual lusts.

Taste-- Eating to excess, also known as gluttony, which leads to all kinds of health problems (One of my major problems… :)

Touch-- Overspending at a furrier’s, or inciting sexual lusts…

Hearing-- Listening to things that lead our minds astray, like gossip, music or movies that implant foul language, or worse into our brains… garbage in—garbage out.

Smell-- This sense is strongly related to the sense of taste, and can lead to those same lusts, as well as, stimulating the brain to remember people, places, and times of intense emotional stimulations, (Sometimes, if your eyes are closed and you get just a tiny whiff of a smell, it will bring your mind back to a scene from your past very strongly.)

Wisdom helps us to know exactly what paths will lead to lust/uncontrolled cravings/sin and helps us learn how to avoid those paths, and recognize the paths of light and life that God would have us follow into His blessings.

Tomorrow, we will look at the first verses of Chapter 1 of Proverbs.

(Free clip art courtesy of ©2006 GospelGifs)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Introduction/Basics Continued…

As I mentioned before, reading/listening/ learning about God from ALL of HIS OWN WORDS is important so that you will get a COMPLETE picture of Him. Many people only want to read or study certain PARTS of the Bible like the love chapter in Corinthians, or the Psalms, etc. but in picking and choosing what they want to read, they don’t get a “3-D” picture of God. They want to make up their “OWN” version of God and only see what they want to see of Him.

It is true that we have a God of love and mercy, but He is also a fair and righteous God that judges sin and punishes evil. Those who practice evil will most often “reap what they sow” as they have taken themselves out from under God’s protection by not following His paths for their lives.

Think about someone who gets a pen pal, and gets romantically involved with them. They are reading their letters, and getting to know that person, BUT they only see a couple of sides of that person—the ones they are shown. They wouldn’t REALLY learn about what that person is like until they live with them or near them and interact with them over a period of time.


The Bible IS a love letter from God, but much more, because He CHOSE people to write it that were LIVING with Him… seeing Him and His work and talking directly to Him. ALL of them saw His loving side, but through their walk/life WITH Him, they also saw and reported His other sides: Humor, Fairness, Justice, Anger at sin (because it hurts those He loves). EVERYTHING He does is motivated by love for EVERY ONE of us.

I’m trying to keep these short and sweet so they won’t take much time from your day, so I will stop for now, finish the Intro/Basics tomorrow and then start the first few verses of Proverbs after that…
(Clip art used is free from ©2006 GospelGifs)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Intro to A Study of Wisdom (Proverbs)

This introduction covers some of the basics of what a Bible Study is and why it is a good thing to do. It will cover the first couple of days of this blog and then we will get into the study of the Book of Proverbs, itself.

What is true Wisdom?




1. Acknowledging that there is a God and learning to know Him and His ways
2. Following His path for your life

I. How do you “know” God?

God has written us several love letters in the Bible. He has shown us ALL of His attributes throughout it’s pages. The only way to learn about Him is to read or listen to His words from the letter that He had written to us. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God..." This verse is speaking of Jesus Christ, but it also gives us a picture how important the Word of God is.

When I say read or listen, I mean to His own words, not to someone else’s words ABOUT what they think He said. It is important to get a well-known, trusted version of the Bible, like the New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV), King James Version (KJV), etc. either in book form or on whatever kind of Audio media (tape, CD, etc.)

that you prefer. Just be careful to get a version that is a DIRECT TRANSLATION and not a paraphrase or some of the audio versions where the “story” is acted out by people instead of using the direct words of God..

Reading is generally the best way to go because you can stop to process and think about what you’ve just read, and often God will add some thought in His “still, small voice” that has happened in your life or someone else’s life that you know, that will help you understand more of what He is talking about. If you are listening, then it would be important to stop the media and think through the idea, then rewind a minute or so and go from there, so that you don’t miss something the Lord wants to tell you.

THIS is true Bible Study, and it is a good thing to take the time to do, but AT LEAST, getting the Word into your brain by listening during a drive, etc. is important if you don’t have the chance to stop for 10 or 20 minutes a day to really get into it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Come join me in a study on Wisdom!

As we drove home from a Dr. appointment awhile back, I saw an interesting sign posted on a Church bulletin board. It said: Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives, and I remembered that Psalms 119: 104 & 105 says: “I gain understanding from your Words, therefore I hate every wrong path. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”




It seemed to bring home to me that if God’s Word is “Light” and we don’t use it to light our life’s pathway, then we will end up falling and getting dirty and/or hurt, but if we do use it, we will have a lighted way before us and be able to go around most of the pitfalls that we come upon. One thing that I noticed though, is that a candle or lamp doesn’t light very far in front of you… just enough for a few safe steps at a time. I think I even remember a book about something like that by Stormie O’Martian called, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m on.”





I also read about this very thing, awhile back, in the blog: A Corgi in Southern California… Do you think maybe God is trying to be sure He gets my attention on this thing? I already read my Bible daily, and have for many years, because my Mom had been an excellent example of someone who does that.

As some of you may know, I recently spent several weeks in Florida as my Daughter In Law just passed away, and I spent a great deal of that time praying for wisdom to light my way: Wisdom in what to say to my son, and to my four grand-daughters, wisdom in when to listen and when to talk, even wisdom in what to pray for. I thank God that I had built a foundation of Biblical wisdom from the years that I have spent reading His word, and I found that it was very important during this time of crisis in lives of my family.




Many crisis are coming faster and faster in people’s lives today with the problems this country is facing, and I feel that others need to start building, if they haven’t already, a solid foundation on the Word of God, for He is the only source of TRUE wisdom there is.



I have prayed about this and feel that I should try to do a Bible Study blog on Biblical Wisdom, so that is what this blog will be about. I will do a few introductory blogs on the subject and then try to go through the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, as that is where a large concentration of Biblical wisdom can be found. I hope that you will join me and make plenty of comments, so that we can share in learning more from God together.

Keep the light on in your life, so that you will walk in safe paths, and have a great day!
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