Archive for the “Wisdom” Category

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 (NIV)

 If you are following the Treasure Seeking in God’s Word reading schedule with us, you are reading through the Proverbs this month. I have to be honest with you – I’m not a huge fan of the book of Proverbs. Yes, I recognize its value, but I don’t enjoy reading it – largely because of the writing style. The content is good (uh…it is the Word of God, perhaps I should say the content is inspired and holy and awesome – “good” seems a bit pathetic now that I think about it)…but the writing style is off-putting for me. I guess God’s Word has styles for everyone, right? Still, whether it’s my style of preference or not, I recognize the value of reading the whole Word of God, so I’m in Proverbs.

Just in case I didn’t recognize the value of reading Proverbs, the first four verses describe that value:

 1These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.
2Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
knowledge and discernment to the young.
Proverbs 1:1-4 (NLT)

The purpose of the proverbs is to teach us wisdom and discipline. Who wants that? OK, most of us want wisdom, but most rebel at discipline. (Have you eaten healthy and exercised regularly this week?) These verses tell us the consequences of making the Proverbs part of our lives:

  • Gives us insight to the wise
  • Teaches us to live successful lives (yes, we learn that, it’s not a matter of luck)
  • Gives us insight to the simple – in other words, we can understand people, both wise and simple
  • Gives knowledge and discernment to the young – we don’t have to wait until we’re older and more experienced, the Proverbs can give us wisdom while we are still young

Those are pretty valuable benefits of embracing Proverbs – the Solomon, the writer of the Proverbs, says they are a source of wisdom and knowledge. In today’s reading, Solomon takes his discussion of wisdom further. While the first chapter taught the purpose of the proverbs, chapter 4 teaches us about the value of wisdom.

6Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
7Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.
9She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.”
10Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
11I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
12When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
Proverbs 4:6-12 (NIV)

“Do not forsake wisdom” Solomon writes – because here are some of the benefits:

  • Wisdom watches over us – it protects us and gives us security
  • Wisdom exalts us – it will bring us success
  • Wisdom brings us honor
  • Wisdom will “set a garland of grace on your head” –our lives will be characterized by grace
  • Wisdom crowns our heads with beauty – our lives will be beautiful (to ourselves and others)
  • Wisdom leads to a long life
  • Wisdom keeps us from stumbling over the pitfalls of life

If you want security, success, honor, grace, beauty and a long life that avoids the major pitfalls this world would throw at you, what you really want is wisdom. The book of Proverbs consistently tells us that wisdom is something we must pursue, practice and guard. In other words, it doesn’t come naturally. It also tells us that wisdom is found at the feet of the Lord. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning [or foundation] of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10, NIV/NLT)

By pursuing God, we are pursuing wisdom. Let’s continue together.

You can download our Treasure Seeking in God’s Word from this blog – it provides a schedule for reading through the Bible in 2014. Starting late? No problem. Start today and read a little more each day and you’ll catch up to us, or use the schedule as is and finish a year from today. Either way, you’re seeking treasure – God’s Word is full of them!

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Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
Be wise enough to know when to quit.

Proverbs 23:4 (NLT)

I worked quite late last night, so this verse got my attention this morning. We have a part-time employee who is moving on to a better opportunity and I’ve been wondering about replacing her or absorbing her responsibilities myself and/or handing them off to the few other employees we have. Business has been exceedingly slow this year, so it’s not an automatic decision.

Do I increase my workload (sigh)? Do I hire someone else when finances are so tight? Would I be able to make more money by offloading these responsibilities to some other person or am I saving money by doing them myself?

I don’t know the answer to those questions yet, but the Holy Spirit has been regularly nudging me to seek God’s wisdom on the issue. I’ve tried…but sometimes seeking God’s wisdom is easier than other times. I suspect you know how that is. His wisdom doesn’t always seem obvious, does it? I suppose if it was always obvious, it wouldn’t be wisdom because wisdom is something we seek out. At least that’s the theme of Proverbs, which we’re reading this month in our Resting at the River’s Edge readings.

So this morning, after I’ve read more chapters than I anticipated reading and when I was really planning on stopping, I thought “well, maybe I’ll read a chapter of Proverbs before I call it quits”…even though my stomach has been telling me to make lunch for about twenty minutes now. I give you this much detail simply as an illustration of how the Holy Spirit leads me. Many people say “I don’t feel led by God.” Often it’s that they don’t recognize God’s leading in everyday life. I am working through an issue and I’ve been praying about it, but I don’t have God’s clear leading. I am finished with my morning Bible reading yet simply feel a desire to read more. That “more” brings me to a verse that touches on the issue I’m working through. That’s God’s leading.

Do I have an answer to my question of whether or not to hire a replacement for our employee who is leaving? No, not yet. But I have a confidence that I have God’s attention on the matter – He’s working on it and He’s working on getting the answer to me. Of course God is always attentive to our prayers and is always at work in answering them and in changing us to conform to His son. It’s just that sometimes, when in the midst of indecision, I need to be reminded of that. That’s what God did for me this morning with this verse.

He’s also reminded me not to fret about it. I’m to do what I can each day and know when to call it quits. That doesn’t mean get it all done, then go home. That means being able to say with peace “I’ve done enough for today. I’ll leave the rest in God’s hands and return tomorrow.”

It reminds me of a line from an old Joni Eareckson-Tada song:

Each mile I put between the past
And the future in Your hand,
I learn more of Your providence
And I find out who I am.
from My Little Tune/Journey’s End by Joni Eareckson

Each step (or mile) that I put in God’s hands gives me the opportunity to learn more of how He cares for me and what my role in this world (and the next) is. Putting unfinished tasks in God’s hands is a tremendous way to learn those things. We tend to think that finishing tasks is how we learn/experience who God is and who we are. No, it’s really more about the journey.

I’m not promoting a laissez-faire or “what will be will be” attitude. Trusting God is much different from that. Trusting God is intentionally putting things in His hands and then resting in the knowledge that He has them under control. It’s an active thing. It’s a placing and resting – a putting life into God’s hands and learning more about Him and ourselves.

What situation do you need to place in God’s hands today? Let me encourage you to do so, then rest while you wait for His wisdom.

Need some help? Check out this video of Joni’s song:


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1These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.
Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.
5Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance
6by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:1-7 (NLT)

I don’t always enjoy reading the book of Proverbs, but I appreciate its value. The Proverbs are straightforward in their purpose and advice. There are many who read through the book each month, reading about a chapter each day. After all, who doesn’t want wisdom?

The first verses of Proverbs 1 establish the purpose of the book – to teach wisdom and discipline. Why would anyone want to be taught discipline? Because it leads to a successful life. That’s a pretty good reason.

Notice that the book has value for those who are already wise – they will become “even wise.”

So as we begin to read Proverbs in our Resting at the River’s Edge readings, let me encourage you not to breeze through them, not to allow your mind to go into autopilot as you read. Ask God before each reading to teach you the wisdom and revelation he has for you in each day’s passage.

As it says in chapter 2 (I’ve read ahead just a little):

2Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
3Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
4Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Proverbs 2:2-8 (NLT)

Before reading each day, “cry out for insight, ask for understanding.” Don’t read with earthly wisdom, ask God for his wisdom as you read. The exciting thing is that He’ll respond. Proverbs 2 continues:

5Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.
6For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
8He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.
Proverbs 2:2-8 (NLT)

This last passage is the one that prompted me to write today. The Lord grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. I grew up believing that I didn’t have any common sense. I knew I could study and learn things, but things that others knew I didn’t seem to know. That logical answer that many called common sense eluded me. As an adult, I understand that those perceptions were lies and that I do have common sense, but childish notions often haunt us into adulthood despite our best efforts to dispel them. God grants a treasure – a treasure – of common sense to the honest. I seek to be an honest person (because long ago God got my attention with another proverb, but we’ll save that story for another blog). I can trust that God will grant me a treasure of common sense. Along with it He’ll grant me wisdom, knowledge and understanding. He’ll also be my shield and guard my paths. Sounds like great reasons to ask God to reveal Himself to me as I read through Proverbs this month.

Will you join me? If you haven’t downloaded the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedule for May, you can do it here. As you read, I’d love to hear what God is speaking to your heart. Post on our Facebook page or add a comment here. Blessings, friends, as you seek God for wisdom. May He give you a treasure of common sense along the way.

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It wasn’t a proposal I wanted to write because the last time we quoted a project for this company we lost our shirts. That doesn’t usually happen, and we praise God for the jobs we win and the ones we lose. Usually praising Him for the jobs we win is an easy thing. The last time we worked with this company it wasn’t so easy.

The porposal was due first thing this morning, so I got up early. I was tempted to skip my devotional reading. I’m so glad I didn’t. As often happens, God used today’s Resting at the River’s Edge scheduled reading to speak to me. (I always think that is so cool! It’s not like I knew what would be happening today when I created the 2012 reading schedule last December! God is so good.)

1“When you divide the land among the tribes of Israel, [the Lord said to Ezekiel,] you must set aside a section for the LORD as his holy portion. This piece of land will be 81/3 miles long and 62/3 miles wide. The entire area will be holy. 2A section of this land, measuring 875 feet by 875 feet, will be set aside for the Temple. An additional strip of land 871/2 feet wide is to be left empty all around it. 3Within the larger sacred area, measure out a portion of land 81/3 miles long and 31/3 miles wide…5The strip of sacred land next to it, also 81/3 miles long and 31/3 miles wide, will be a living area for the Levites who work at the Temple. It will be their possession and a place for their towns. 6Adjacent to the larger sacred area will be a section of land 81/3 miles long and 12/3 miles wide. This will be set aside for a city where anyone in Israel can live.”
Ezekiel 45:1-6 (NLT)

Now you’re wondering what in the word did she get out of that! 81/3 miles long! 62/3 miles wide! 875 feet by 875 feet! 871/2 feet wide! Our God is a God of exactness. Not 8 ¼ or 8 ½ miles long. Not 87 or 88 feet wide.

As I read this, I was so encouraged – God used this passage to remind me that He is a God I can trust to create my proposals!

Imagine, friends, that the God who placed each star in the sky and knows them each by name – that God is a God of exactness. That is a God I can trust to help me determine how many hours to estimate on any given project. That is a God I can trust to help me establish my home budget.

That is a God I can trust. You can too.

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2Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 3Cry out for insight and understanding. 4Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure. 
Proverbs 2:2-4 (NLT)

That which we tune our ears to is what we begin to hear. Mothers tune their ears to the cries of their children. Doctors tune their ears to hear abnormal sounds in our lungs and abdomen. I could listen through their stethoscopes and every sound would seem either normal or abnormal – but I wouldn’t be able to distinguish one from another. In a room of crying babies I would not be able to distinguish one specific voice.

Similarly, with all the sounds that assault my hearing, unless I tune my ear to God’s wisdom I will not hear it. And I want to hear it. Proverbs 2 continues with some of the benefits of hearing God’s voice:

5Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. 6For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. 8He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him.

9Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. 10For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. 11Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
Proverbs 2:5-11 (NLT)

What tremendous benefits await those who tune their ear to wisdom! They are benefits that are clearly worth the effort. The question is how does one tune their ear to something that we’ve never heard before? What is the “sound” of wisdom? How do we find it and how do we recognize it?

God is so good! He doesn’t tell us to do something without providing a way to do it. Our key verse provides God’s approach. Let’s break it down:

Verse 2a: Tune your ears to wisdom – I see two elements to this simple statement.First, is the imperative to take action. The verb isn’t passive, it is active. So let’s start by recognizing that it’s something we need to do and making a decision to do it! Too often we pursue education for our profession or vocation, but assume that we either have wisdom or don’t. That’s not consistent with Scripture. Scripture says clearly that we can gain wisdom, just as we might gain a college education. We don’t get a college degree without applying ourselves to our studies, and wisdom isn’t something that we gain by osmosis. Just as we can glean some knowledge by hanging around others who have invested in it, we can glean some wisdom by those who have already tuned their ear to it. But do you want just the little bit of God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding that you’ll gain from befriending a wise person, or do you want the whole gamut of wisdom God has for you? Do you want just a little of the good sense He has for you or all of it? Do you want just a little of His joy or all of it? I want it all (and I suspect you do, too).

The second element in this sentence is the kind of action we’re to take: Listen! You can’t tune your ear without listening closely. Each Sunday morning as our worship team tunes up, they strum their guitars, turn a knob or two, strum them again, turn the knobs again, and repeat this process until the strumming yields the sound they’re listening for. Quite frankly I don’t hear much difference between the first strumming and the last strumming. The musicians have tuned their ears – they’ve listened to their instruments over a period of time and know what it should sound like. We must listen closely, over a period of time, to learn the voice of the Lord. As we tune our ear to hear the Lord, sometimes we’ll get it wrong. That’s OK. God will correct us, and He loves that we are getting to know him.

Verse 2b: Concentrate on understanding – It’s not a lackadaisical approach that will tune your ear and give you understanding, it is the concentrated approach. Have you ever watched someone when they’re learning something new? Think of the child learning to tie his shoe. Or perhaps you’ve watched a great basketball player in slow motion as he concentrates on the basket as he sets up his shot. In both examples, you can see the concentration on the person’s face. They are focused on the task at hand, shutting out all outside influences that might ruin their concentration. God tells us to approach understanding like that – concentrate on it! Don’t just try it once, but concentrate on hearing God and understanding His ways. Block out the influences of this world and seek His wisdom.

Verse 3: Cry out for insight and understanding – Don’t go it alone! Cry out to God for insight and understanding. Ask God for it! He promises to give it:

If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.
James 1:5 (NLT)

Notice the word “gladly.” He doesn’t give it begrudgingly. But you must cry out for it!

Verse 4: Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure – Search high and low for it, as you would for money that you’ve lost or hidden treasure. Don’t give up easily! I lost my passport once. I emptied drawers and filing cabinets. I looked under furniture. I even cleaned off my desk – and I’m not a clean desk person. What have you searched for lately? Think about your search, then think about applying those same methods and intensity in finding wisdom, understanding and insight.

As I’ve been reading through Proverbs, God has been reminding me that I don’t seek His wisdom often enough. When I do the results are tremendous. Just today Phil was trying to do something on our website that he couldn’t figure out. He had spent quite a bit of time researching and trying various things, all to no avail. Then he started thinking about how God gave Joseph wisdom for succeeding in every position he held. So Phil paused to pray. He went back to working on the website, did a few things that made no sense to him and within minutes he had accomplished what he’d been trying to do for days! God’s wisdom is so good. We’ve had experiences like this in the past. Seeking God’s wisdom brings success. It was the topic of my last blog, and God is impressing it upon me enough for it to be the topic of this blog.

Let’s ask God for His wisdom before we waste time trying to live in our own wisdom (or lack thereof). He’s so good, He’ll give it generously! We have His promise.

 5Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

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