Who Are You Walking With?

Proverbs 13

He who walkswith the wisegrows wise,but a companionof foolssuffers harm.Proverbs 13-20

The recurring promise of Proverbs is that generally the wise (the righteous who obey God) live longer (9:11), prosper (2:20–22), experience joy (3:13–18) and the goodness of God temporally (12:21), while fools suffer shame (3:35) and death (10:21). On the other hand, it must be remembered that this general principle is balanced by the reality that the wicked sometimes prosper (Ps. 73:312), though only temporarily (Ps. 73:17–19). Job illustrates that there are occasions when the godly wise are struck with disaster and suffering.
So if the two major themes which are interwoven and overlapping throughout Proverbs are wisdom and folly. Wisdom, which includes knowledge, understanding, instruction, discretion, and obedience, is built on the fear of the Lord and the Word of God. Then folly is everything opposite to wisdom.

The portrait of the fool emerges as a contrast to the one who seeks the wisdom of YHWH.

  • In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly. 13.16

The fool is an undisciplined scoffer of God and His wisdom. The fool in his folly is reckless in his anger — worse than a Momma bear on the prowl for her cubs! Even worse, he is proud of his foolishness, wearing it as a badge of honor, unaware that the cycle of folly is destroying him each time he returns to it.

Contrast this with the 60+ references to “the wise” in Proverbs alone. Again, this is far from an exhaustive list, but the character of the wise emerges with even a quick look from Proverbs 13.  When you read Proverbs 13 you will see fools and wise in the context of money, parenting, friends, the list goes on like a warning sign or a blaring horn warning you of danger.  Take a look at some of the examples:

  • 11 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles,
    But the one who gathers by labor increases it.
  • A wise son accepts his father’s discipline,
    But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
  • 20 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
    But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
  • 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
    To turn aside from the snares of death.
    15 Good understanding produces favor,
    But the way of the treacherous is hard.

The wise man exercises discernment and self-control, a distinct alternative to the reckless behavior of the fool. Wisdom is also the measured way of life, guarding against impulsiveness by counting the cost of one’s actions. He who is wise seeks counsel, is quick to listen, and is thoughful in his speech.

Which one are you?

Read Proverbs 13 and decide for yourself who you are walking with.

-Andy Cisneros

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Commit to Live Wisely

We are all on a journey, a quest.  Somewhere between our quest for truth and facts, and our desire for virtuous character, lies a quality that is rarely considered these days: wisdom. Wisdom is competence with regard to the complex realities of life. It is the ability to know what is the best thing to do in the majority of life situations which the accepted moral rules do not clearly address. The course of our lives is greatly determined by the many daily choices we make, and the Book of Proverbs is a guidebook to help us navigate those choices wisely.

The two major themes which are interwoven and overlapping throughout Proverbs are wisdom and folly. Wisdom, which includes knowledge, understanding, instruction, discretion, and obedience, is built on the fear of the Lord and the Word of God. Folly is everything opposite to wisdom.

I will be taking you through chapters 13-16 and the verse that best encapsulates all of those chapters is Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

What plans are you pursuing and are they on the wise path?  Join us on this path of discovery this week.

~ Andy Cisneros

 

 

 

Wise Choices lead to the Path of Wisdom – Proverbs 9

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Some of my happiest times are when I go out to eat with friends.  And some really memorable times are when a friend invites you to their house for a dinner party.  Something about the combination of good food and good friends coming together usually results in a lot of joy and laughter.

Proverbs 9 compares two very different kinds of dinner parties.  The first dinner party is hosted by Wisdom.  Wisdom has gone to a lot of work to create a top-notch get together.  She has had a beautiful house built, set up high on pillars, it’s a lovely place.  Inside her house, she has set a beautiful table that would impress Martha Stewart.  The steaks are all prepared to perfection and paired with the best wine.  It’s an elegant set-up to be sure.  And then she sends out her servants to invite people from all over the city to come and enjoy the fine dining experience.

Her invitation isn’t just for the wealthy and elite.  She’s inviting the simple folk to come.  Everyone is welcome at this table.

On the other side of town, there’s another dinner party being thrown by another woman.  But this woman’s name is folly.  She’s throwing a dinner party, but there is no evidence that this party has the elegance and preparation as Wisdom’s dinner party.  There is nothing said about preparing fine meats and wines.  In fact, this whole thing is sketchy.  She doesn’t send out servants with invitations; she’s just sitting on her doorstep yelling at everyone who comes by: “come to my house, stolen water is sweet, hidden food is delicious.”  Sounds pretty un-legit to me.  But wait, there’s more: “little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.”  Huh?  A dinner party where all the guests die from drinking stolen water and secret food?  I may be projecting 21st-century American culture onto this Proverb, but what I hear is “crack house”.  Of course, that wasn’t the original authors meaning, but he was clearly showing the stark contrast between a life lived in pursuit of wisdom vs. a life lived in pursuit of foolishness.

The way of wisdom leads to life, the way of foolishness leads to death.  This is just common sense.  With that being said, who on earth would choose the way of foolishness?  The answer, fools.  You can’t make decisions for other people.  You can’t force other people to make wise choices.  And nobody can force you to make wise choices.  At the end of the day, we are each responsible for the decisions we make in life.  Proverbs sets it out in simplistic language and or course there are exceptions.  Even good and wise people occasionally suffer accidents and calamities that impact or prematurely end their lives.  And yes, sometimes people who make terrible life choices still manage to survive and live long and somewhat successful lives.  We can usually find exceptions to almost any rule.  However, in the most simple and general way, if you make wise choices in life, things usually go well, and if you make stupid choices in life, they usually end up not so well.

I have a friend from high school that I haven’t seen in over 30 years, but we keep up with each other via Facebook.  This friend and I made some radically different life choices when we were in our late teens/early 20’s. My friend rejected God in college and embraced a life of atheism.  My friend rejected the traditional Biblical route of marriage and family, spent years shacking up with others.  Finally married, my friend divorced after a short time, remarried, but chose not to have any children so they could “enjoy life.” This friend recently posted that their spouse was gone on an extended trip when their birthday came, so they chose to go out and celebrate their birthday alone at a fancy restaurant (the bill for just my friend came out to over $250.00).  My friend took pictures of every course of the meal and the final bill to prove how much they had spent.  I read their birthday post with great sadness.  My friend has arrived at a place in life where they are all alone on their birthday with no one to share it with except their friends on social media where they tried to impress us with how much they spent on themselves for their birthday.

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My last birthday was spent at home with my family.  They cooked foods I liked, they made my favorite desserts and sang happy birthday and gave me my “obligatory birthday gifts”: (That’s actually what the gift bag my daughter gave me said on it- she has my sense of humor). The meal for 9 of us probably came to less than $25.00.  There were some pictures taken (not by me).  I was certainly not alone, and I was extremely happy.  How did I arrive at such joy?  I took a path that I believe was the path of wisdom.  I married a godly woman while I was in Bible college, we made having a family and raising godly children a priority, and we are now enjoying the blessings of a life where we chose the path of wisdom.  Now, we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way and we are far from perfect, but together we’ve made a great life and are now enjoying our 11 children and 4 grandchildren.  And we are part of an extended family of believers around the world in the Church of God.  We love God, and we love life.

How do you want your life to go?  Make sure you go to the right dinner party.

The first step of wisdom is to make God first in your life and center your life around God.  God is an Awesome God. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)  That’s our memory verse for the week, and it’s how you make sure that you get on the right path for life.

~ Jeff Fletcher

VOMIT!

Proverbs 26-28

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Sunday, January 29

My husband Jason and I have been in youth ministry for many years and one boy who was in the youth group about 20 years ago comes to mind every time I hear his very favorite Bible verse, “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)  What middle school boy doesn’t love a great vomit verse!  But middle school boys are not the only ones to love this proverb.  Jesus’ disciple, Peter, the Rock Jesus would build his church on showed his wisdom (and knowledge and reliance on God’s Word) when he quoted this very proverb in 2 Peter 2:22.  Peter was referring to the foolishness, and danger, of false prophets who had once been worldly, then accepted Jesus, but then, “turned their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:21).  Just like a dog who returns to his vomit.  How disgustingly gross.  All of us have some gross vomit and worldly foolishness in our past.  What vomit in your life would you be wise to not return to?  How will you avoid turning back to your gross folly?

Another proverb that got my full attention was 28:9 – “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable”.  Look at that – God’s detest list shows up again.  And this time PRAYERS are on the list??  I thought God loved to hear us come to him in prayer with our long list of wants and occasionally a praise or thank you thrown in – who wouldn’t love that?  When in the world would prayers be detestable to God?  I don’t think I learned this in Sunday School, or Facebook for that matter.  Thankfully, Solomon (or the writer of this proverb, who was inspired to write this by God) doesn’t leave us clueless.  He says prayers are detestable IF the “prayee” doesn’t listen to the law – doesn’t abide by God’s Word.  Perhaps you have seen someone quite content totally neglecting God’s law, hands over ears, living life their own way, returning to their vomit frequently, when all of a sudden – BAM – a crisis sends them to God in prayer.  They are ready for their miracle.  And some days, I am also guilty of not being fully tuned into listening to God’s law.  And then I could become quick to blame God for not hearing my prayers and giving me the answer requested, on my time schedule of course.

The good news is, there are many prayers God does NOT find detestable.  “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”  (James 5:16).  Next time you are frustrated with a “silent” God who doesn’t seem to hear you at all, one possibility is to do a check-up on how well YOU have been listening to HIS law.  Perhaps, God is not the one with the hearing problem.

The lovely thing about the book of Proverbs is there are SO many topics and brief nuggets of truth.  Each time you read them you can see something different and new and exceedingly wise for you at whatever point you are in life (even a middle school boy) and at whatever stage you are in following God (even those not currently listening to Him.)   Dig in regularly to gain another morsel of truth and Godly wisdom.  So many pearls of wisdom in today’s chapters, with not enough time to touch on them all, but just a few more quick thoughts. . .

ON HUMILITY –      “Do you see someone wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him” (26:12)     “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (27:2)    –  Don’t be the proud bragger.  No one likes the proud bragger.

ON CONFESSION –    “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)     –   God’s not looking for perfect people, just ones willing to ask for forgiveness and turn from their sins.

ON GREED & GIVING –   “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.”  (28:25)     “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” (28:27)     –   Greed does not bring about the prosperous life intended – but giving does.

God Bless You as you Listen to His Law,                                                                                              Marcia Railton

(Photo credit: cartoon by Elgin Bolling.  Maybe a little posted reminder would help you steer clear of revisiting your vomit/folly.  You can go to the ministry-to-children website to color your own black and white version of the dog cartoon above created by Elgin Bolling.  Just go to http://ministry-to-children.com/fool-and-his-folly-proverbs-26-cartoon/)