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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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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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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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.