Check Your Seed

 

Proverbs 19

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Wednesday

A person’s own folly (foolishness) leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord. Proverbs 19:3

When I was in college I remember sitting by a young lady who just loved Professional Wrestling. You know the form of athletic performance art with theatrical events and lots of shouting, not the sport of wrestling.  She could tell you in great detail about the striking attacks, holds, throws and acrobatic maneuvers that she had witnessed while attending the recent matches. One day while she was telling me about what had happened last night during the wrestling match we received our graded science papers.  That is when I saw her completely change.  She had received a failing grade and she was furious. She became so angry at the teacher.  She said things about him under her breath and in her mind he could do “nothing right” during that semester. Her reaction is still vivid in my mind.  She began hating this professor because he had given her a grade that indicated her level of knowledge on the material. She completely removed herself from the equation. She put all the blame on the professor, but did not see that her lack of interest and absence from study was the cause of her grade.

Today we are exploring Proverbs 19.  Verse 3 reminds us that oftentimes we are the ones deciding how our lives will go.  God has created the world with governing principles and laws that manage the earth. Human beings are given free will so there is cause and effect from our actions. We might think of it as sowing and reaping. As Galatians teaches us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (6:7) Rewards or negative consequences are the result of our actions.  I think this statement says it best: If you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, check the seed you are sowing.

There are repercussions of our actions, but we want God to rescue us from the pain and consequences of our bad decisions. Many times we must experience the real pain to move us to the point where we desire to make lasting change.

Now there are many troubles that we will encounter in this fallen world and many of them we have no control over, but the advice of Proverbs is addressing the areas of our life that we can control. God is on our side and He wants us to make the best decisions. He provides correction through the scripture and if we want to be wise (and avoid a lot of pain and drama) we should follow it. Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise (verse 20).

By Rebecca Dauksas

 

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Sometimes the Greatest Discoveries Begin as Problems

Prov 16-3 bike

 Here are 4 ways to help you apply the proverbs to your problems.

 1. Learn how to read this book.

The real nature of most proverbs is not a rule that is used the same way in all circumstances at all times.

 Rather, a proverb is often a recommended way of acting that will be wise in some settings and not in others. Or, a general observation of experience that is very often true and useful, but not always true in every situation. The same act may be wise in one setting, but foolish in another. The same fact may hold in one situation and not in another.

 The same is true of proverbs that state a fact, not just proverbs that call for an act: “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “out of sight, out of mind.” Or “birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract.”

 These are all true proverbs. But they are not always true in every situation.

 

2. We learn that life is too complex to be lived by proverbs alone. We need wisdom to know how to use the proverbs.

 When the author tells us, back to back, “Answer a fool according to his folly,” and, “Don’t answer a fool according to his folly,” he is teaching us that we need discernment about when to do the one and when to do the other.

 If a sergeant tells his platoon to walk slowly and carefully, and also tells them to run like crazy, he expects them to know that sometimes they are navigating a minefield, and sometimes they are under fire in the open country. You store away both pieces of advice in your mind. Wisdom knows when to use the one and not the other.

                                               

3. We learn that proverbs alone do not make a fool wise.

A perfectly good proverb in the mouth of a fool does not make him wise. It makes him useless at best.  Proverbs alone don’t make fools wise.

 What does help us become wise? A mixture of (1) storing up proverbs and other forms of revealed wisdom, (2) meditation on them, (3) serious prayer for God’s help, and (4) a divine gift of wisdom.

 Proverbs alone don’t make you wise. You must be wise to use proverbs wisely

 

4. We learn that we should store up reasons why a proverb might be useful sometimes and not other times.

In other words, store up this truth: there are times when it will be pointless to answer a fool, because it will only drag you into his folly. It’s best to just let him make a fool of himself and be discredited rather than ruining your own usefulness.

 

But also store up this truth: there are times when he is not just making a fool of himself, but also is drawing dozens, or thousands, into his folly so that he feels justified and wise in his foolish ideas. You need to step in and expose him as foolish for the sake of others, and for his sake.

Pastor Andy

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

path of wisdom

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

My Mouth – Wise or Foolish?

Proverbs 8-10

proverbs10_9

 

Monday, January 23

In/Out, Hot/Cold, Wet/Dry, Over/Under, Near/Far.  Beginning at a very young age opposites are a great learning tool.  Toddlers learn what wet is because it is the absence of what dry is, and vice versa.  Wise Solomon similarly employed the power of opposites throughout the book of Proverbs.   Wise/Foolish is the ultimate lesson of contrasts.  But in teaching the multitude of differences between wise and foolish numerous pairs of opposing opposites are introduced: joy/grief, diligent/lazy, wealth/poor, love/hatred, nourish/die, choice silver/little value, length to life/years cut short, refuge/ruin, and righteous/wicked.  A very clear picture emerges of what is indeed wise and what is not.  And with the picture comes a strong desire to find myself more and more camped out on the side of the wise.  But how do I do that?

Mouth, lips, words, tongue – it becomes obvious that wisdom is not just for the mind and following God is not just for the heart.  Our mouths must play the part, too.  Some great verses in Chapter 10 are aimed at the use of the mouth.

10:11 – The mouth of the RIGHTEOUS is a fountain of life,  but violence overwhelms the mouth of the WICKED.
10:21 – The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.

10:31 – The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

10:32 – The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

And, we not only read of how to use our mouth – there is a helpful reminder when NOT to use it as well . . .

10:19 – When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Dear God – May I use my mouth as a fountain of life that nourishes many – those in my house and in my church, neighborhood, school, social media and employment.   May the words I speak (as well as those I chose not to say) give life and point others to you.   Help me know when to keep my mouth shut – putting an end to useless arguments, pride, put-downs,  harmful dissension,  potty mouth, “little white lies”, and big black ones, too.  Help me be more intentional about how and when I use my words – that they might draw me closer to you and to becoming what you desire for me.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

God Bless Your Reading,
Marcia Railton
(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/09102013/)