freedom is a BIG deal

Keep Living

Galatians 5:1, 25 (NIV) reads, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Everything in between supports this.

  • “…we eagerly AWAIT by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” (v. 5)
  • “The only thing that counts is faith EXPRESSING itself through love.” (v. 6)
  • “You were RUNNING a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from OBEYING the truth?” (v. 7)
  • “So I say, WALK by the Spirit…” (v. 16)
  • “But if you are LED by the Spirit…” (v. 18)

Rewinding just a bit to get a better background.  How did we come to be free of the burden / yoke of slavery?  “He Himself [Christ] likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:15, NASB).  We are free because of Christ.  “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:1-2, NASB).  We STAND in this grace, this truth, this freedom…because of Christ.

This is a BIG deal, even though it might be difficult for some living in first world countries in 2016 to grasp the atrocities and abominations of the concept and experience of slavery.  Nevertheless…

Our freedom is a big deal.  We are cautioned in utmost seriousness against falling away from grace (Galatians 5:4), being hindered from abiding in the truth (Galatians 5:7), and especially using our freedom to indulge the flesh (Galatians 5:13).  Indulging the flesh results in being enslaved to the sin of the flesh which is burdensome and increasingly so.  Therefore it is alike the antithesis of experiencing grace and the freedom found within it.  After all, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other” (Galatians 5:17).  And it is not just in desire and appearance / action that these are in conflict but in repercussion / consequence as well, for with grace comes peace.*

When we think about it, the ideal choice becomes obvious…but that’s just it, the flesh DOESN’T stop to think about it.  The flesh is led by impulsive passions.  (And that is SO frustrating, grrrrr.)  There is no sign of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness nor self-control in the flesh.  The flesh isn’t quick to listen nor is it slow to speak / act (James 1:19).

James 1:19-25 instructs us, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger [the flesh] does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

It is only through the Spirit that freedom is found; and it’s a PROCESS.  An involved, intense run of obeying the truth in persistence.  So fast-forwarding again.  How do we keep living in freedom (in step with the Spirit)?  The flesh doesn’t look carefully into the perfect law that sets us free.  Right?!?  Yes.  Okay.  Already established.  That said…the opposite of such is for us TO look carefully into God’s word, not just listen to it but doing what it says, diving headlong into the heights and depths and breadths of His grace, peace, and freedom.

When your feeling the pressure…press into Christ.  Your freedom is a big deal to Him.

Victoria

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*Flip through just about every epistle in the New Testament to find the greeting: grace and peace.  Grace…then peace.

 

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I’m your density. I mean, your destiny.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)

Google Maps app…got to appreciate it.  That app has helped me navigate uncharted territories, getting me through detours in the city and in the country due to traffic, construction, flooding, parades, you name it and on more than one occasion.  Like I said, got to appreciate it.  But there is something that Google Maps won’t do.  It won’t calculate a route without having a destination.  What do I mean?  I mean that the app will not give an ETA, will not total the millage, will not break down the directions into smaller steps, will not even suggest alternate routes UNLESS there is a specific “point B” that has been determined.  Life is like this.  Sometimes it can be frustrating when we realize that a destination has not been determined or maybe when we realize that a once determined destination is not the right one.  Perhaps we realize that we have lost sight of our right destination and so find ourselves aimless and wandering, even perishing.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

“Perish,” here comes from the Hebrew, “para’,” meaning let alone or neglect, even empty.  It is like driving around with nowhere to go– because it’s impossible to have a route without having a destination….without a vision– and the result is an empty gas tank…emptiness.

Where does fulfillment come from?  …in having a destination and getting there.

“Vision,” in Proverbs 29:18 is the Hebrew, “chazon,” which has also been translated, “revelation.”  It comes from the root, “chazah,” meaning to see or behold.  What is the revelation?  The revelation is in the law, the written word of God and ULTIMATELY (in the utmost sense) in Jesus Christ, the Word of God Himself.  It is in Him that we find our right destination…our fulfillment and happiness…our destiny.

Don’t lose sight of your right destination.  Don’t wander.  Don’t wonder.  Seek Jesus Christ.  Stay true to Him and what His word says.  Follow His direction.  Because even though you might be driving through uncharted territories or going around detours, there is STILL purpose and happiness in the route because you are STILL fulfilling your destiny!

A Deer, A Bird, and An Ant: Perils Of Impulsivity and Laziness

Lazy

Up for some sarcasm, anyone?  My pops, whose sense of humor I share and appreciate (and by the way “Happy Belated Father’s Day” to the dads out there), will spin the saying about procrastination to instead jokingly be, “yep, don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow!”  We laugh at such a joke.  But how often do we find it to be a principle we’re either considering or already living by?  Procrastination…it can be an expression of laziness as it’s having a habitual unwillingness to work towards getting something done.  As we’ll see in a bit, it’s nothing new opting to procrastinate now…and panic later!

That said, day nine is Proverbs 6:1-11…

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MY SON, IF YOU HAVE BECOME SURETY FOR YOUR NEIGHBOR, HAVE GIVEN A PLEDGE FOR A STRANGER, IF YOU HAVE BEEN SNARED WITH THE WORDS OF YOUR MOUTH, HAVE BEEN CAUGHT WITH THE WORDS OF YOUR MOUTH, DO THIS THEN, MY SON, AND DELIVER YOURSELF; SINCE YOU HAVE COME INTO THE HAND OF YOUR NEIGHBOR, GO, HUMBLE YOURSELF, AND IMPORTUNE YOUR NEIGHBOR.  GIVE NO SLEEP TO YOUR EYES, NOR SLUMBER TO YOUR EYELIDS; DELIVER YOURSELF LIKE A GAZELLE FROM THE HUNTER’S HAND AND LIKE A BIRD FROM THE HAND OF THE FOWLER.  GO TO THE ANT, O SLUGGARD, OBSERVE HER WAYS AND BE WISE, WHICH, HAVING NO CHIEF, OFFICER OR RULER, PREPARES HER FOOD IN THE SUMMER AND GATHERS HER PROVISION IN THE HARVEST.  HOW LONG WILL YOU LIE DOWN, O SLUGGARD?  WHEN WILL YOU ARISE FROM YOUR SLEEP?  10 ‘A LITTLE SLEEP, A LITTLE SLUMBER, A LITTLE FOLDING OF THE HANDS TO REST’— 11 YOUR POVERTY WILL COME IN LIKE A VAGABOND AND YOUR NEED LIKE AN ARMED MAN.”

PROVERBS 6:1-11, NASB

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My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, have given a pledge for a stranger, if you have been snared with the words of your mouth, have been caught with the words of your mouth.  Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.  Most of us are likely all too familiar with the experience of saying something only to then realize that we had just stuck our foot in our mouth…again!  Ooopps.  It’s one of those moments in which we find that we had spoken too soon or spoken without thinking it through.  Impulsivity often leads to entrapment and ensnarement.

It is no accident that this passage about impulsivity references “the words of your mouth.”  James 3:3-6 explains, “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (NASB).  The tongue, the words of our mouths, can present a world of evil among the parts of the body.

Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids; deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand and like a bird from the hand [or snare] of the fowler.  This deals with almost a polar extreme of impulsivity― laziness.  “No sleep…nor slumber” should be understood as that which is unnecessary, done to (or to attempt to) escape from productivity and the responsibilities of life.  (And in the immediate context, the laziness is used to avoid problem solving and seeking reconciliation due to the former impulsivity.)  This will only lead to MORE entrapment and ensnarement…in essence, digging yourself into an ever-deepening whole, i.e.: NOT GOOD!  This is advice too critical to ignore.

Go to the ant, o sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.  The ant knows that laziness leads to inescapable ruin.  The ant knows that doing nothing will result in having nothing.  Note that the ant is diligent in taking the initiative to secure what is necessary for its sustenance and survival regardless of the fact that it requires WORK and ENERGY.  Excuses are our adversaries.

But this proverb is ancient, isn’t it?  The lesson to be learned from the ant is time honored…and needed more now than ever before, if I may be so bold.  Take a look at the falsehood of entitlement that is plaguing this generation– and don’t even get me started on the subject of the enablement that is fueling it.  Doing nothing will result in having nothing!  Here’s what comes of such laziness: poverty.  Poverty that “come[s] in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:11, NASB).

How long will you lie down, o sluggard?  When will you arise from your sleep?  ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest’— your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.  Habits…the longer they persist the harder they are to change.  And it gets worse and worse when we make excuses for our bad habits too…”it’s just a LITTLE.”  That’s a delusion.  “A little more” becomes “a lot more” often after it’s too late to realize it.  Laziness, and the habits thereof, is a process of exploitation.  It takes absolute advantage of indolent (the lazy person) until everything is tapped out (including their independence and dignity) and they’re left with nothing.  (And by the way “Happy Belated Independence Day”, let’s cherish and preserve our freedom!)  Proverbs continues to give us several stern warnings on this subject.

Let us heed and be aware of it as to avoid the perils of both impulsivity and laziness!

Until Next Time,

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.

The Ant…

A special thanks to the True Hope Ministry Verse of the Day and its readers for letting me share what I have been learning from the Book of Proverbs with you all! Check it out here…

True Hope Ministries Verse of the Day

Proverbs 6:6-8, NIV84

“Go to the aunt, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

The ant knows that laziness leads to inescapable ruin.  The ant knows that doing nothing will result in having nothing.  Note that the ant is diligent in taking the initiative to secure what is necessary for its sustenance and survival regardless of the fact that it requires WORK and ENERGY.  Excuses are our adversaries.  But this proverb is ancient, isn’t it?  The lesson to be learned from the ant is time honored…and needed more now than ever before, if I may be so bold.  Take a look at the falsehood of entitlement that is plaguing this generation– and don’t even get me started on the subject of the enablement that is fueling it.  Doing…

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Consequences of Faithfulness

Freedom

Having and keeping faith.  Unchanging love and undying devotion.  Forever lasting loyalty and steadfastness.  Complete confidence and trust.  Sounds nice, I know!!  That’s the definition of faithfulness.  We have already been thinking about temptation from the earlier verses in chapter five of Proverbs (read more here: “When Temptation Comes My Way”).  The final verses of this chapter talk about the sanctity of faithfulness.  When we put it all together, I guess we could sum up Proverbs 5 as being about faithfulness even in the midst of temptation or when the odds are against it.  Proverbs 5:15-23 spells out some of the consequences of unfaithfulness and provides a glimpse of the consequences of faithfulness as well.

That said, day eight is Proverbs 5:15-23…

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15DRINK WATER FROM YOUR OWN CISTERN AND FRESH WATER FROM YOUR OWN WELL.  16 SHOULD YOUR SPRINGS BE DISPERSED ABROAD, STREAMS OF WATER IN THE STREETS?  17 LET THEM BE YOURS ALONE AND NOT FOR STRANGERS WITH YOU.  18 LET YOUR FOUNTAIN BE BLESSED, AND REJOICE IN THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH.  19 AS A LOVING HIND AND A GRACEFUL DOE, LET HER BREASTS SATISFY YOU AT ALL TIMES; BE EXHILARATED ALWAYS WITH HER LOVE.  20 FOR WHY SHOULD YOU, MY SON, BE EXHILARATED WITH AN ADULTERESS AND EMBRACE THE BOSOM OF A FOREIGNER?  21 FOR THE WAYS OF A MAN ARE BEFORE THE EYES OF THE LORD, AND HE WATCHES ALL HIS PATHS.  22 HIS OWN INIQUITIES WILL CAPTURE THE WICKED, AND HE WILL BE HELD WITH THE CORDS OF HIS SIN.  23 HE WILL DIE FOR LACK OF INSTRUCTION, AND IN THE GREATNESS OF HIS FOLLY HE WILL GO ASTRAY.”

PROVERBS 5:15-23, NASB

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I could sit here and attempt to extrapolate each iota of this passage, but I am not going to.  I could type up a hellfire and brimstone defense of Biblical, God-ordained, pure and honorable marriage, but I won’t.  (…Even though this passage does lend itself to and significantly adds to such a conversation! That stands as truth regardless.)  I just want to share a little bit of what I am coming to see about faithfulness from these verses.

There is freedom in faithfulness.  This probably seems like the most contradictory thing to say given the context at hand, especially in the 21st Century.  Marriage, and the commitments thereof, are often interpreted as being confining.[1]  Why should you have to be stuck with one someone ’til death do you part?  Yeah, because that’s the dream of every little girl– to be just another one of countless women like a second- (or third- or fourth- or fifth-) rate and forgettable movie sequel or to be tossed around between countless men like a cheap bag of chips at a football game.  NOT!  There is no freedom in a relationship where every waking moment is spent fearing (and or fueling) its disposability.  Newsflash…that’s not love.  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18, NASB).

“When you love someone with real practical deeds, you never hear a warning signal that says, “You’re going to get punished for this.”  Fear is what you feel when you have done something that ought to be punished.  But love is never threatened with punishment.  So there is no fear in love.  On the contrary, when you love each other with “perfect love” (i.e.: with the love of God overflowing and being completed in action)—when you love each other like this, it casts out fear!”[2]

Love is impossible apart from God.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8, NASB).  If we are Christ’s ambassadors (i.e.: having the responsibility of representing Him) and are called to live out His love for us in our relationships, especially marriage, what a fearful thing to think of having to account to God who is enthroned as King and established as Judge for misrepresenting Him!?!

So what does this have to do with Proverbs 5?  “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin” (Proverbs 5:21-22, NASB).  Being held within cords sounds like the exact opposite of freedom to me!

Which brings me to another point…

There is peace in faithfulness.  I am going to go out on a limb and state that peace is something we all crave, and desperately so.  What sense of perfect peace there is in knowing full well that someone shares an unchanging love and undying devotion, forever lasting loyalty and steadfastness, complete confidence and trust with you.

Trust.

Fearless.

Faithful.

Trust.

When it’s broken…that’s not freedom, that’s not peace.

It is all too easy to lose sight of, ignore, and or dispute the scope and severity of the consequences of unfaithfulness in such a sin sick world.  Unfaithfulness is everywhere.  But GOOD NEWS…our unfaithfulness will not nullify the faithfulness of God (Romans 3:3).  This is NOT a license to be unfaithful.  Unfaithfulness will make for one bumpy road on which things of incredible value– like freedom and peace– will be sacrificed.  This IS a reminder of why we need Jesus Christ more and more!  Our ways are already before the eyes of the Lord, He is already watching our paths.  So I pray…may our eyes look to the faithful Lord Jesus, the Maker of heaven and earth; He will not allow our foot to slip, He will keep us and our hearts steadfast in Him and reflecting His love as we ought to (Psalm 121:1-3, Psalm 112:7).

Victoria

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  1. Note that the term “marriage” in this post refers to Bible-defined, God-ordained, pure and honorable marriage.
  2. “Perfect Love Casts Out Fear.” John Piper. Available online at http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/perfect-love-casts-out-fear. May 26, 1985.

 

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.

When Temptation Comes My Way

Lord, I Need You

The alignment between Proverbs 5:1-14 and Psalm 119:97-104 is amazing!  Proverbs 5:1-14 talks about abiding constantly within the wise counsel of God in the face of adversity…and not only learning from it but assuming the responsibility to be an example as discussed in the post “Pass It On” (click here in case you missed that one).  It is probably like getting hit in the face with a bag of bricks, speaking from experience, in coming to the realization that one’s actions / nonactions affect others.  It’s undeniable that what we do / don’t do and say / don’t say residuates beyond ourselves.  Are we doing / saying that which encourages others to pursue the course of life– here on earth– that leads to life– with Christ forever– OR the course of life that leads to death– eternal separation from God and all that is good?  If that’s not a sobering question, I don’t know what is!

That said, day seven is Proverbs 5:1-14…

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1My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding, that you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge.  For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell.  Lest you ponder her path of life— her ways are unstable; you do not know them.  Therefore hear me now, my children, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.  Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel one; 10 lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner; 11 and you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed, 12 and say: “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction!  13 I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!  14 I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

PROVERBS 5:1-14, NKJV

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The assault of evil will always attempt to avail against us.  The adulteress (which we take literally for what it says first) whose motive is seduction / enticement can stand for temptations in the greater scheme of things (this can be an applicatory interpretation).  Why must we hear over and over and over again: pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding, that you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge?  “Oh, how I love YOUR law!  I meditate on it all day long.  YOUR commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me” (Psalm 119:97-98, NIV84).  Why must we meditate on the law of the Lord ALL DAY LONG?  Because temptation fights to ensue against us constantly.

Now, temptation doesn’t always announce its entrance.  It doesn’t always yell, “HEY THERE!  I AM A TEMPTATION HERE TO BRING YOU TO DESTRUCTION!”  Inversely, the appearance of temptation is often “sweet” and “smooth”.  This is why discernment (that comes with wisdom) is SO vital!  Relying on our own sight / understanding will rarely allow us to see past such a false facade; for the end of succumbing to temptation is a bitter and dangerous death!  It’s ignorance, and willfully so, of the path of life.  “She cares nothing about it”…meaning she doesn’t even think about it for a second!  What dreadful deception!  The Word of God ALONE is sweet life through and through– “How sweet are YOUR words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103, NIV84).

By not going near, that means DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN A POSITION TO WARRENT SUCH TEMPTATION!  Gosh, is this a hard lesson for us to learn.  Evil is already on a rampage against our lives, it doesn’t need any more help!  Our honor, our reputations, our souls are at stake…MORE THAN THAT others’ souls are at stake!  Remember that what we do / don’t do and say / don’t say affects others.  How many are counting on us to be faithful?  Someone is counting on you and on me to be faithful today!!

The burden of regret is NOT one that I want to bear.

Oh, God be merciful and let these NOT be our words… “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction!  I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!  I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation” (Proverbs 5:12-14, NJKV).

Oh, God be gracious and may these BE our words… “The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.  Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.  My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end” (Psalm 119:110-112, NIV84)!

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In Need Of Christ Every Hour,

Victoria

@WithTrueHope

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.

Living In The Light…

“I want to be in the Light as You are in the Light…”  Can you name that tune?  YES!  It’s “In The Light” from dc Talk’s CLASSIC 1995 album, Jesus Freak!  It is one of my favorite dc Talk songs, second to the title track from that album.  “…what will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak, what will people do when they find that it’s true!?!”  Okay, yeah.  I could go chasing a major rabbit trail there!  (But it’s throwback Thursday, so I could technically get away with it…right?)  What’s the point of mentioning this?  In Proverbs 4, the path of those who pursue wisdom is likened to the shining light.  And I couldn’t help but sing… “Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation, cause all I want is to be in the Light!”

That said, day six is Proverbs 4:10-27…

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“10 Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many.  11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.  12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble.  13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go.  Guard her, for she is your life.  14 Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men.  15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on.  16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.  17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.  18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.  19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.  20 My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  21 Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart.  22 For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.  23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.  24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.  25 Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.  27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.”

PROVERBS 4:10-27, NASB

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Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many.  The path of those who intentionally pursue godly wisdom does not just lead to maturity in life on this earth but the incomprehensible (because it’s better than life) ultimate reality of eternal life in heaven with God never to be separated from Him.   “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).  Did you catch the “fruit to holiness” statement?  Our eternal destiny– where we’re going– ought to be reflected in our daily journeys as a testimony to it.  If I am planning to go to Swaziland again, I wouldn’t hitchhike out to the Midwestern United States.  I would get a plane ticket and head eastward across the Atlantic to South Africa!

I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble.  In other versions “upright paths” is sometimes translated “straight paths.”  Hmm, where have we heard that before?  A couple of verses earlier, we learned that this “straight path” is one of trust…and not of self-confidence but of the truest trust, confidence in the LORD (See Proverbs 3:5-6).  It is not that we won’t be impeded when we walk nor stumble when we run because it’s an easy journey or because of our ability to keep ourselves from such.  No!  It is because our God is our capable Guide!  He lights our footsteps even though a world of darkness fights to encompass us.  He is the true Light in whom is life (John 1:1-9)!

Take hold of instruction; do not let go…The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.  The wicked don’t act wickedly on accident.  They engage in wickedness deliberately…they thrive from doing wicked things (v.17).  And they aren’t happy to do it all by themselves.  “They are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall” (v.16b).  Ever heard the saying, “misery loves company”?  Well, it is somewhat true because misery just doesn’t love any kind of company…misery loves miserable company!  There are even those who aren’t happy about themselves unless they’re putting someone else down.  Know someone like that?  Perhaps guilt won’t let them find rest, so they convince themselves with excuses that they’re not really all that bad because someone else is worse.  Sin is still sin.  It doesn’t matter if it’s “more” sin or “less” sin, the payment remains the same for sin… it’s death.

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart.  For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.  A continuous reminder of the pertinent plea to pursue the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and His righteousness.  Lord knows it’s not always easy, however, it is more than worth it!    

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.  Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.  Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  Putting away perversity from our mouths, keeping corrupt talk from our lips, letting our eyes stay fixed upon Christ, etc. are all indications of our hearts!  Our hearts and the lives we live (our attitudes, actions, etc.) as a result MUST be set on and pleasing to Jesus Christ.  We cannot do this without the Spirit of God working within us.

Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.  This is a motto for blameless living.  Stay the course, fight the good fight and keep on fighting, trust in the Lord and keep on trusting.  Don’t depart from it.  The paraphrase of Psalm 119:1-16 in the Message gives us a good prayer to pray as we’ve been called out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)…

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.  You’re blessed when you follow His directions, doing your best to find Him.  That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set.  You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now You expect us to live it.  Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course You set; then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with Your counsel.  I thank You for speaking straight from Your heart; I learn the pattern of Your righteous ways.  I’m going to do what You tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.  How can a young person live a clean life?  By carefully reading the map of Your Word.  I’m single-minded in pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs You’ve posted.  I’ve banked Your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.  Be blessed, God; train me in Your ways of wise living.  I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from Your mouth; I delight far more in what You tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.  I ponder every morsel of wisdom from You, I attentively watch how You’ve done it.  I relish everything You’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.

Honesty and the Pursuit of Wisdom. Pass It On!

PassItOn

About two weeks ago, I posted “The Heart” on Proverbs 3:1-8.  No, I didn’t forget how to count but today’s post is skipping ahead to the forth chapter of Proverbs for just a brief minute.

That said, day five is Proverbs 4:1-9…

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LISTEN, MY SONS, TO A FATHER’S INSTRUCTION; PAY ATTENTION AND GAIN UNDERSTANDING.  I GIVE YOU SOUND LEARNING, SO DO NOT FORSAKE MY TEACHING.  FOR I TOO WAS A SON TO MY FATHER, STILL TENDER, AND CHERISHED BY MY MOTHER.  THEN HE TAUGHT ME, AND HE SAID TO ME,   “TAKE HOLD OF MY WORDS WITH ALL YOUR HEART; KEEP MY COMMANDS, AND YOU WILL LIVE.  GET WISDOM, GET UNDERSTANDING; DO NOT FORGET MY WORDS OR TURN AWAY FROM THEM.  DO NOT FORSAKE WISDOM, AND SHE WILL PROTECT YOU; LOVE HER, AND SHE WILL WATCH OVER YOU.  THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM IS THIS: GET WISDOM.  THOUGH IT COST ALL YOU HAVE, GET UNDERSTANDING.  CHERISH HER, AND SHE WILL EXALT YOU; EMBRACE HER, AND SHE WILL HONOR YOU.  SHE WILL GIVE YOU A GARLAND TO GRACE YOUR HEAD AND PRESENT YOU WITH A GLORIOUS CROWN.”

PROVERBS 4:1-9, NIV84

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Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.  This is not something that we haven’t heard before.  We’ve been hearing it since verse eight of chapter one.  If we’ve been hearing it since then, I must be a pertinent plea.  It is a pertinent plea to perseveringly pursue wisdom with all diligence and resolve without hesitating or cowering.

 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.  This is not just any old learning and teaching. It is SOUND: i.e. it holds true forever, never fails, never wavers, is always trustworthy.  The ONLY possibility for such learning and teaching to be sound is for this learning and teaching to derive from God.  So this is more than just some good advice to take or leave at one’s whim.

For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.  Then he taught me, and he said to me, “take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.  Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.  More than the benefits of protection, exaltation, and distinction spoken of in verses six through nine, this is the apex of the chapter…the paramount responsibility to pass on what we’ve been taught (through the strengths and the struggles and the wins and the losses) to the upcoming generations.  And we are to do this not just with our words one day of the week or one week of the year but all of the time with what we say (and don’t say) and with what we do (and don’t do).  I tend to be a proponent of the observationalism (the theory that learning can occur through observation).  Sometimes implicit teaching can be a very impactful thing.

Someone shared a video this weekend of a little toddler.  This toddler happened to be standing behind a baby-gate at the top of a couple of stairs.  She was resolutely, and humorously so, calling for the kitten which was at the bottom of the stairs to come up to the top where she was standing.  While calling for this cat, the toddler was attempting to open the gate.  She was reaching her little arms as high as they would go and then trying to manipulate the latch to unlock it.  Now, I HIGHLY doubt that this toddler’s mother or father explicitly taught her daughter how to unlock the baby-gate.  What would be the point of even having a gate then!?!  I bet that this toddler has come to develop the understanding of how to unlock the gate by WATCHING her parents do so day after day.  Observation has a huge part to play in how we learn.  Can you imagine how much more impactful it is when / if children observe implicit teaching which aligns with explicit teaching?  …when our words (and nonwords) and actions (and nonactions) confirm one another?

As we agree to the responsibility to pass on what we’ve been taught to those rising after us, let us realize this high calling and NOT forsake the pertinent plea to perseveringly pursue wisdom ourselves.  May our words and actions reflect hearts and minds that are set on the Lord Jesus Christ and pursuing His ways in such a manner that those who follow may come to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ better as a result.

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.

The Heart

TheHeart

Yesterday we covered twenty-two verses in what almost qualified for the “list of longest posts.”  Today we will cover just eight verses!  Yes, it’ll be a little breather (so we can continue to digest the better-than-honey sweetness of God’s Word) but let me tell you that these eight verses are packed full of rich truth.

That said, day four is Proverbs 3:1-8…

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(1) MY SON, DO NOT FORGET MY TEACHING, BUT KEEP MY COMMANDS IN YOUR HEART, (2) FOR THEY WILL PROLONG YOUR LIFE MANY YEARS AND BRING YOU PROSPERITY.  (3) LET LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS NEVER LEAVE YOU; BIND THEM AROUND YOUR NECK, WRITE THEM ON THE TABLET OF YOUR HEART.  (4) THEN YOU WILL WIN FAVOR AND A GOOD NAME IN THE SIGHT OF GOD AND MAN.  (5) TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING; (6) IN ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT.  (7) DO NOT BE WISE IN YOUR OWN EYES; FEAR THE LORD AND SHUN EVIL.  (8) THIS WILL BRING HEALTH TO YOUR BODY AND NOURISHMENT TO YOUR BONES.

PROVERBS 3:1-8, NIV84

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My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.  The heart, the heart.  In the Bible, the heart is described as the center of thought and will, the all of a person, the attributes which make him or her him or her.[1]  The heart governs these attributes.  God knows the true heart of men and women.  “[F]or the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9b, NKJV).  So where does that intentional and deliberate seeking stem from?  A pure heart!  What is the outcome for the pure in heart?  They shall see God (Matthew 5:8)!  What is the purpose of pursuing the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God?  To be near to Him!  Prosperity can also be translated as peace.  Where is peace found?  In the Presence and Person of the Lord God, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 2:14, 2 Peter 1:2-11).[2]

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Love, what does that have to do with knowledge?  When it’s the knowledge of Christ we’re talking about: EVERYTHING.  Ephesians 3:17-19 (NASB) says, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God”.  Our pursuit of wisdom must be rooted and grounded in love.  And true and pure love.  We must not be full of ourselves, but rather emptied– broken and contrite– so that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God!  We cannot just “put on” the appearance of wisdom.  It doesn’t work like that.  We have to write it on the tablet of our hearts, meaning our inner motives must be governed by love and faithfulness for wisdom is ROOTED in such things.

Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.  “Favor” can be translated as “grace” and a “good name” can be translated as “reputation”.  This does NOT mean that God will approve of us the times if / when we are “Christian-y” and we will be accepted by and fit in with the world as one-of-them.  A reputation which  is dichotomized doesn’t hold water– it’s not true, it’s not pure.  This means that before both God and the world we hold the same God-fearing, wisdom-pursuing, love-driven, good, honest, and pure reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  These two verses epitomize the denial of self-confidence.  There are no benefits in trusting in oneself and going against God.  Once again, it’s a matter of the heart– the intentions of who we are and what we do.  Later on in the Book of Proverbs we are told that the “why” of our pursuit is “so that [our] trust may be in the Lord”(Proverbs 22:19a, NASB).  But didn’t we already learn that the “why” was to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God?  We did.  Trusting God provides clarification about what the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God consist of.  More deliberate actions and decisions.  Acknowledge in this verse means seek.  What “way” and “path” is this referring to?  The one of victory and success which is characterized by the uprightness, blamelessness, justice, and faithfulness spoken of earlier in Proverbs (2:6-9).

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This is a continuation of the theme of the denial of self-confidence.  “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NASB).[3]  Being wise in one’s own eyes is inconsistent with wisdom– it’s false, it’s sick, it’s sin tainted, and it’s haughty which is the opposite of the humble attitude of the heart indispensable to wisdom.  Even more so, this verse is a explicit tie to the twofold “why”.  Why do we pursue the acquisition and attainment of wisdom and understanding?  (1)To obtain God’s guidance (i.e.: fear the Lord) and (2) to avoid the society and enticements of the wicked (i.e.: shun evil).

This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.  Psalm 32 speaks of the sorrows and sickness of the wicked in contrast to the gladness, joy, and lovingkindess which surround those who trust the Lord and are upright in heart.[4]  (Hmm, another connection between trust and the heart.)  “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away though my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4).  What wasted away, what was drained?  His body and his vitality. (Remember that sin is death. “[I]t takes away the lives of those who get [the ill-gotten gain]” (Proverbs 1:19).  “For [the] house [of the adulteress] leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead” (Proverbs 2:18).)  Why?  Because he failed to trust God.  What happened once he acknowledged his sin and confessed it?  God forgave him.  Did he then continue to express the agonizing, body destroying, and vitality draining sorrows and sickness?  No.  What did he go on to express?  The gladness, joy, and lovingkindess which surround those who trust the Lord and are upright in heart.  That sounds healthful and nourishing to me!

God, please forgive us of our sins.  Help us to deny our self-confidence.  Help us to trust You and be upright in heart so much so our reputation before You and everyone at all times is that we are the God-fearing, wisdom-pursuing, love-driven, good, honest, and pure peculiar people You have called us to be!

Victoria

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  1. The heart, described in the Bible, tends to not be equated with the emotions like it is in today’s society. The emotions are more equated with the bowels (aka lower intestines) of the body.
  2. Second Peter 1:2-11 (NASB) goes so well with this chapter of Proverbs. (2) Grace and peace be multiplied to you inthe knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; (3) seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  (4) For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (5) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge(6) and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in  your perseverance, godliness, (7) and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love(8) For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (9) For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (10) Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; (11) for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”  What a confirmation of the truths we are encountering in our study of the Book of Proverbs!
  3. Keep these verses in Jeremiah tagged. We’ll come back to them as we continue with Proverbs 3.
  4. There is an additional connection in this Psalm with praying to God “in a time when [He] may be found” (Psalm 32:6a). See Proverbs 1:28.

 

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.

 

Opposing Duality

Opposition

As a middle school teacher, I am no stranger to the student generated question: “why?”  “Why are we doing this?”  “Why should I care?”  So I try to not just address the “what” and “how” of tasks and assignments but the “why” as well, especially when such tasks and assignments require students to tread unfamiliar territory.  The second chapter of Proverbs tends to be entitled, “Moral Benefits of Wisdom”.  It addresses the “why” of acquiring and attaining wisdom and understanding– which is God-given.  This is twofold, but simultaneously so.  One “why” is to obtain God’s guidance.  The other “why” is to avoid the society and enticements of the wicked.

That said, day three is Proverbs 2…

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1MY SON, IF YOU ACCEPT MY WORDS AND STORE UP MY COMMANDS WITHIN YOU, TURNING YOUR EAR TO WISDOM AND APPLYING YOUR HEART TO UNDERSTANDING— INDEED, IF YOU CALL OUT FOR INSIGHT AND CRY ALOUD FOR UNDERSTANDING, AND IF YOU LOOK FOR IT AS FOR SILVER AND SEARCH FOR IT AS FOR HIDDEN TREASURE,  5 THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THE FEAR OF THE LORD AND FIND THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.  FOR THE LORD GIVES WISDOM; FROM HIS MOUTH COME KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.  HE HOLDS SUCCESS IN STORE FOR THE UPRIGHT, HE IS A SHIELD TO THOSE WHOSE WALK IS BLAMELESS,  8 FOR HE GUARDS THE COURSE OF THE JUST AND PROTECTS THE WAY OF HIS FAITHFUL ONES.  THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT IS RIGHT AND JUST AND FAIR—EVERY GOOD PATH.  10 FOR WISDOM WILL ENTER YOUR HEART, AND KNOWLEDGE WILL BE PLEASANT TO YOUR SOUL. 11 DISCRETION WILL PROTECT YOU, AND UNDERSTANDING WILL GUARD YOU.  12 WISDOM WILL SAVE YOU FROM THE WAYS OF WICKED MEN, FROM MEN WHOSE WORDS ARE PERVERSE, 13 WHO HAVE LEFT THE STRAIGHT PATHS TO WALK IN DARK WAYS, 14 WHO DELIGHT IN DOING WRONG AND REJOICE IN THE PERVERSENESS OF EVIL, 15 WHOSE PATHS ARE CROOKED AND WHO ARE DEVIOUS IN THEIR WAYS.  16 WISDOM WILL SAVE YOU ALSO FROM THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN, FROM THE WAYWARD WOMAN WITH HER SEDUCTIVE WORDS, 17 WHO HAS LEFT THE PARTNER OF HER YOUTH AND IGNORED THE COVENANT SHE MADE BEFORE GOD.  18 SURELY HER HOUSE LEADS DOWN TO DEATH AND HER PATHS TO THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD.  19 NONE WHO GO TO HER RETURN OR ATTAIN THE PATHS OF LIFE.  20 THUS YOU WILL WALK IN THE WAYS OF THE GOOD AND KEEP TO THE PATHS OF THE RIGHTEOUS. 21 FOR THE UPRIGHT WILL LIVE IN THE LAND, AND THE BLAMELESS WILL REMAIN IN IT; 22 BUT THE WICKED WILL BE CUT OFF FROM THE LAND, AND THE UNFAITHFUL WILL BE TORN FROM IT.

PROVERBS 2:1-22, NIV

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To understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God there are, once again, deliberate actions to be taken on our part.  (Note all of the “ifs”.)  What are those actions?  Accepting the words of instruction / teaching, storing up the commands, turning our ear to wisdom and applying our heart to understanding, calling out for insight, crying aloud for understanding, looking for understanding as silver and searching for it as hidden treasure.  It’s a pursuit.  God has already made the first move, He has shown us His intentions and openly invited us to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  It’s our turn in response to show Him our intentions and accept His invitation.  If we will draw near, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).  Such a pursuit tests the authenticity of our commitment.  Starting to sound pretty relational?  (Proverbs 2:10 reinforces this– our hearts and souls are pretty intimate and personal pieces of our inner being.)

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Another reminder of wisdom’s Source– the true reason for our pursuit.  There is NO space for misinterpretation here.

He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,  for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.  Who bestows all these good things?  The Lord God.  It has been established that understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God is an intentional and deliberate pursuit.  This pursuit is a process: i.e. ongoing.  It’s a “walk”, a “course”, a “way”.  What  “walk”, “course”, “way”?  One of victory and success!  Yet, this doesn’t come without conditions too.  This path of victory and success is characterized by uprightness, blamelessness, justice, and faithfulness.  Could we be / do this individually and independently?  I’ll go out on a limb and say, “nope”.  Remember the purpose of life: to know the Lord Jesus Christ better in an intimate and heartfelt I-know-Him-and-He-knows-me kind of way?  This pursuit naturally helps us do just that.  It builds a greater reliance on and relationship with God.  We cannot walk the path of victory and success which is characterized by uprightness, blamelessness, justice, and faithfulness without Him.

(I know you’re thinking that this post is beginning to qualify for the “list of longest posts”, but stick with me.  It’s just getting good!)

 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.  The understanding spoken of here is a discernment.  And discernment meaning a distinguishment, a separation.  So what is being distinguished or separated?  (Okay, here’s where the excitement rises for me!  I love the structure of this chapter!)  The rest of this chapter goes on to then contrast the path which is in opposition to the one of victory and success.  Having this wisdom will save (literally deliver from a strained or lacking relationship with God; spare and be safe from danger) us from the danger, unpleasantness, harm, and problems of sinfulness and wickedness introduced in chapter one– more bluntly: death (Proverbs 1:9).  (Also see Proverbs 2:18-19.  The consistency is BEAUTEOUS!)

Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you, wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, wisdom will save you.  But didn’t it just explain a couple of verses earlier that God is the one who guards and protects, etc.?  Yes.  I believe it’s one and the same, for the Source and therefore Giver of these is God.

Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.  There is such encouragement in verse 20!  The New Living Translation (NLT) puts it like this: “Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous.”  With “good men” and “righteous” being plural, it hints to me that others have walked this path.  It’s doable, not impossible.  And that’s encouraging.

For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.  In verses 21-22, the contrast is succinctly recapped:  if you are upright and blameless your destiny is to live and remain but if you are wicked and unfaithful your destiny is to be cut off and torn away.

I’d like to propose an additional title for this chapter of Proverbs: “Opposing Duality”.  The choice between two very separate and contradictory destinies lies before us.  May we choose wisely!

Victoria

If you missed Proverbs 1:1-7, click here.

If you missed Proverbs 1:8-33, click here.

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.