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

 

 

 

Scripture: Our Corrective Lens – Proverbs 12

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Today brings our weeks study of Proverbs 6-12 to a close.  Chapter 12 is a continuation of the antithetical Proverbs and there are some real beauties in here and they range through quite a spectrum of wise and unwise behaviors.

It leads off with a really good set of contrasts: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.”  It doesn’t get much plainer than this:  A wise person willingly accepts discipline, but if you hate to be corrected by another you are stupid.

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Everybody makes mistakes.  I’m a big baseball fan.  I’ve always enjoyed playing and watching baseball.  The amazing thing about baseball is that the BEST baseball players fail between 60 and 70% of the time.  That’s right!  The best hitters usually have batting averages around .300, sometimes .350 and very rarely (like Ted Williams was the last one who did it and that was more than 70 years ago) someone will bat .400.  But even if you’re the greatest hitter of all time, you still FAIL to hit the ball 6 out of 10 times.  What is it that sets great hitters apart from the rest of us?  They learn from their mistakes.  They study film of their mistakes.  And they listen to their coaches who help them to correct what would appear to us to be very minor mistakes.  You get to be a great hitter by accepting correction, from learning from your mistakes.  That requires a lot of humility.

The same is true in the rest of our lives.  We all make mistakes.  Often we catch our own mistakes and take steps to correct them.  But sometimes we don’t even see our own mistakes.  Sometimes someone else sees our mistake and offers a word of correction.  A wise person willingly listens to correction and attempts to change their behavior… a foolish person refuses to receive or learn from the correction of others and so they fail to improve their actions.

The whole foundation of the gospel message in the Bible is a openness to correction and a willingness to change.  Jesus himself began his ministry by calling people to “repent, and believe the good news.”  To repent means to change your direction.

As you read through the Bible, God will use His word to bring to your mind and heart his corrective word.  You will see areas where you need to change.  You’ll see a passage like “Diligent hands will rule but laziness ends in forced labor.”  You might read that passage and realize, deep down, that this is an issue in your life.  You might blame other people for some of your problems, you might make excuses for why you do or don’t do certain things, but the fact is, you might actually be lazy.  I’m not saying you are lazy because, well, I don’t even know you.  You might be a diligent, hard working person and that’s great.  But then again, you might be lazy.  Your laziness may cause you to procrastinate and put off doing things that you need to do but don’t enjoy.  Your laziness may be costing you good grades in school, or a promotion at work.  Your laziness may because causing conflict in your marriage as your spouse resents that they have to work harder to make up for your laziness.  Your laziness might be keeping you from going to Church on Sundays or serving in a ministry at your Church where you might be very gifted and very helpful.  I don’t know if you’re lazy or not, but you need to at least take a hard look and ask yourself “does this Proverb apply to me?”  If you’re not sure, ask someone important in your life who really knows you and isn’t afraid to speak truth into your life and ask them “Do you every observe laziness in me?”  And if they say, yes, then you might want to consider that you may be lazy and you might want to become more aware of ways that laziness manifests itself in your daily life.  And you might begin asking God to help you change, understanding that it won’t happen overnight.

all scripture is God-breathed

But know this, no positive change can happen in any area of your life until you are ready to receive correction.  God’s Word, the Bible is powerful.  In one place the Bible refers to itself as a double-edged sword.  It’s able to dig deep inside of you.  It is able to help you change if you allow it to do it’s work in your life.  II Timothy 3:16 says it very well: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (New Living Translation).

Almost exactly a year ago I had surgery to remove cancer from my body.  I let a surgeon cut through my skin and muscle to get to where the cancer was and very carefully cut it out.  Why?  Because I don’t want to die from cancer any sooner than necessary.  As I think about it today,  I gave that surgeon an awesome responsibility.  And to be honest, before the surgery I was afraid.  Who is this man with a knife that I’m entrusting with my body, my life?  I’m glad I did it, because here I am a year later and I’m still alive and I have a whole lot less cancer in my body then I did then and I’ve got a whole lot better chance of living longer now because I trusted him to perform surgery on my life.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. (Proverbs 9:10).  I trust my awesome God to use His word to go to work removing all the bad stuff in my life and bringing me to wholeness and salvation.  God does this through his word and through Jesus Christ, who was pierced for our transgressions.  It takes some cutting and some bleeding to bring us life, and to bring us eternal life.  I trust God my awesome God, do you?

~ Jeff Fletcher

Pursuing Wisdom – Prov. 1

If you have not yet seen the video for the beginning of this week’s readings, I encourage you to go ahead and watch it. As a reminder, this week’s memory verse is Proverbs 3:5-6.
This week I am going to be talking mostly about wisdom.
Today I will be specifically talking about what wisdom is, where it comes from, and why we need it and need to respect it. Proverbs 1 tells us that wisdom comes from knowledge, and knowledge begins with the fear of the LORD. 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” This chapter also says that we need to listen to our father’s and mother’s because their teachings have knowledge and wisdom in them. Verse 9 says, “They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Where are most tiaras or crowns held? A box, or a glass case- this means that those physical items are taken care of very well, and protected. We should treat teachings from our parents the same way, as they are just as valuable as tangible objects that we hide away, or protect fiercely.
The rest of the chapter talks about why we NEED to have wisdom. The Bible says that there will be people who are stuck in their wicked ways and will try to entice you into going along with them. They will say things like, “we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot” (verses 13-14) Now obviously in this passage, these people sound like they are up to no good, but there are people in our daily lives that will try to lead us astray, and they will be better at covering up their true intentions. Have you ever had a friend say, “Oh they changed their mind, they don’t want to play with us today.” but deep down you know that your other friend was really excited to spend time with you? Have you ever heard someone say, “One little sip can’t hurt anyone?” even though you know that your parents don’t allow you to drink pop, or you aren’t old enough to have wine. These are the exact same as what Proverbs is warning us against. When these things are said to you, you probably have a weird feeling in your stomach, and this is wisdom. Wisdom helps you to discern when someone is trying to lead you away from the path you are called to. This passage tells us that those who ignore what wisdom is telling us will kill them. “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them” (verse 32).
However, the very end of Proverbs 1 gives hope to those who gain knowledge, and work to learn and understand wisdom. Proverbs 1:33, “but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease without fear of harm.” If we trust in the knowledge and the wisdom taught to us by our parents, and ultimately from fear of the LORD, we will have safety and should not be afraid of harm.

 

Wisdom is an important tool that every Christian should practice, and learn. Wisdom will help us find our way on our path with God, wisdom will help us to trust in the plans he has for us, and wisdom will protect us, in many ways.
Thank you for reading today. Tomorrow, we will delve even more into where wisdom comes from, and what it can do, and why it is important for us in our daily lives. May you have a wonderful day, and God Bless.
~Jana

Trust in God! – Prov. 3:5-6

Thanks so much to Jana Swanson for writing this upcoming week’s devotions. Check out the video below to learn more about our next devotional writer:

 

I hope you join us throughout the week as we learn more about what godly wisdom is. Like we talked about last week, memorization is so important! Let’s tuck this week’s memory verse in our hearts:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.     

~Proverbs 3:5-6

The Path

Psalms 35-37: The Path of Wisdom leads to faithfulness.

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Through this week’s reading, we’ve seen how God is our creator, provider, and refuge. We’ve seen how through Jesus’ death on the cross, we’ve received a beautiful inheritance in pleasant boundary lines, and how we can come to know God better through our communication with Him, in our prayers and praises. These truths point us to the great love that God has for us, love which David wrote about in some of my favorite verses in the Bible:

“LORD, Your faithful love reaches to heaven, Your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your judgments like the deepest sea. LORD, You preserve man and beast. God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They are filled from the abundance of Your house; You let them drink from Your refreshing stream, for with You is life’s fountain. In Your light we will see light.” – Ps. 36:5-10

These verses sum up all the topics we’ve dwelled on over the last few days and show the true character of our God. In Psalm 36, David talks about the way that God shows love to the faithful. But, what does it mean to be faithful?

The whole Bible is written to answer this question, and it is a question we spend our whole lives trying to discern and live out. Psalm 37 answers this question in part by showing us what is means to be wise. In this psalm, David shows the dichotomy, the difference between, the evildoer and the wise man, and that difference is how the person lives out the law of God. This psalm is like a mini-sermon, in which David tells the listener not to follow or be annoyed with evildoers, but instead to trust in God, take delight in him, commit your way to him, and wait expectantly for him. David, the Psalmist shows us how to live the faithful life.

When my nieces were learning how to walk, I remember the way their steps were so hesitant, preferring to either be on their knees crawling or sitting. But, when I would take their tiny hands in mine to help them, their steps would become faster and more deliberant. When we live outside of God’s helping hand, we are forever like my nieces who waddle and fall as they attempt to walk by themselves. But, through the wisdom and instruction of God, he can lead us down a good path, and when we fall, God will hold us up. (Ps. 37:23-24)

When we live inside of God’s wisdom, we can pursue the good path, for the path of the faithful is full of light. David says it best when he says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday.” – Psalm 37:5-6

-Cayce Ballard

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals (2 Samuel 16-18)

Sunday, October 23 – Week 14

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By Sherry Alcumbrack

In these chapters we read about a struggle between a King and his son, Absalom. I know from being raised in a family with 8 children that there are struggles within the family as the children try to assert their independence. In this story Absalom asks for advice from 2 friends. Ahithophel encourages him to go into his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel, to show the disdain that he had for King David. He also told him to choose 12,000 men to pursue King David. Then Absalom calls Hushai to ask his advice. He tells him that the advice that Ahithophel had given him was bad advice. He reminds him that his father, King David, was surrounded by mighty and valiant men who were loyal to King David and would fight and die for him. Absalom decides to take Ahithopel’s advice, to his detriment. In Proverbs it says a lot about taking advice from others and to listen to wise counsel. I recently heard someone say that he could tell you what your future holds by the friends we surround ourselves with. If they are foolish, we will make foolish decisions, as well. We need to make sure that we are listening to that Godly advice.

Hushai also shows his loyalty to King David by going and warning him of Absalom’s plans. King David was surrounded by people who were loyal to him, down to the servant girl who hid 2 of his friends in a well to keep them safe.

Even through all this, one of the things that stands out is the fact that King David loves Absalom and asks the people to treat him gently. This is his son that is trying to kill him.  In 2 Samuel 18:5, David says “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” The last verse of chapter 18 is King David mourning for his son, after he heard of his death.

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This is the type of love that God shows to us. He is constantly wanting the best for us. He grieves when we turn against him. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He is just waiting for us to turn back to him, like the father in the Prodigal Son parable that Nathaniel mentioned in a previous devotion.

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We thank Sherry Alcumbrack for writing this week.  Sherry is a wife to Bob, mother to Morgann, Marshall, Grant and Jacob.  She lives in lovely Anderson, SC and attends Guthrie Grove.  She enjoys traveling,  has been to 48 states, and looks forward to visiting Alaska and Hawaii. She loves flowers,lighthouses, waterfalls and sunsets and taking pictures of her family in front of them (her children love this as well.) Spring and Fall are her favorite seasons.  She also loves to read and walk her dog.