Aaron and Shane have been working quite hard this summer to build up their strength. It will help keep them in shape and definitely help them in lacrosse next year.
Physical strength is one thing, but there are other strengths. In fact, in job interviews you may be asked the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”. We all have strengths, and today, I see we need to keep these strengths in perspective.
God tells us in Jeremiah that the person who depends on his flesh (on himself) for strength is cursed. In contrast, the one who trusts and puts their confidence (depends on) God, is blessed. I will assume we all prefer blessing to curses.
This begs the question of what or who do we depend on? It dawned on me that when we are worried, it reveals where our trust lies. It reveals if we are truly dependent on God or if instead, we have slipped into depending on our own flesh. When we are anxious, we are concerned that things are out of control more pointedly that we have “lost” control. We realize we can’t fix, resolve, heal or help someone or something. It points to us depending on ourselves to handle everything.
Instead, we need to place that trust in God. Our confidence needs to constantly be in Him. His sovereignty, his providence, his goodness and his love for us are sufficient and solid ground to stand on. Perhaps, we can listen to Jeremiah today and use it to help us turn our worries to trust. When we worry about getting a job, having enough money, getting a good grade, passing a test, being healed or anything else, let’s hand that burden back to God. Use it as a trigger to remind us that we have slipped into depending on ourselves, and God is reminding us to trust in Him instead.
Unfortunately, Squidward is right. In fact, he is almost quoting Scripture here today. (Imagine that!) “Who cares” is a fairly common phrase these days, but it is not anything new. Spiritually speaking, people have not cared for eons.
Jeremiah today is relaying the failures of the Israelites to care about the things of God. He list sin after sin of how far they have gone from God. He points out that they talk of God with their lips, but that he is “far from their hearts.” (Jer. 12:2) He says they do not listen to God but instead, follow the stubbornness of their “evil hearts”. (Jer. 11:8) Ultimately, as we see in today’s verse.. there is “no one who cares.”
We could look at this and say “care”. Or remind ourselves we need to listen to God. We could try to look for stubbornness in our hearts and weed it out so we obey Him better, because at times, we all do these things too, don’t we? But the more I read today, the more I was reminded, time and time again the people failed. No matter how many warnings, prophets, truths and punishments, they still failed. The truth is, we too would continually fail all the time EXCEPT for Christ.
We live after Jeremiah. We live in the day when God has sent Jesus to succeed where we fail. He has sent us a comforter, a helper, a teacher in the Holy Spirit. He has sent us a person who will reside in our hearts and transform us so that we do care. When you feel convicted or avoid sin or choose to read your Bible, it shows you DO care. You and I do care that God is our God. We care that we listen to what He says. We care that his Word is true and we desire (albeit not perfectly yet!) to follow Him. We care because God has given us a new heart to care. This is the good news. This is the transforming power and work of Jesus Christ in yours and my life today. We do now care. We can be thankful today, that God has given us the ability to care, to not follow our stubborn, evil hearts and that we can draw near to God. Just stop for a moment and consider how your life would be different without God-and then give thanks that He gave you and I the ability to “care”.
Here is a riddle for the day: What do you call a person who…
*does not desire wisdom
*finds pleasure in evil conduct
*his ways seem right to him
*blurts out stupidity
*has no knowledge
According to Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, this person is called a “fool.”
As I have been reading both of these books, I started to keep a list of the characteristics of a “fool”. Today, we can add another characteristic to the list: shouting. At least, the ruler of fools shouts.
Consider this in politics. What do the “craziest” or most foolish politicians or protestors do? Shout. Consider friends who shout-are they usually shouting wisdom or idiocy? Consider ourselves-when we raise our voice and start to lose control, are we acting like a wise person or a fool?
Assuming none of us wants to “grow up” to be a fool, we would be wise to look at this list and consider where our weaknesses and “foolish” tendencies lie. Do any of these characteristics describe us?
By contrast, the wise as we know, fear God-and this is where wisdom begins. According to today’s verse, the wise use quiet words. Think of wise people you know-are they loud? Do they shout? I think of Dad and Pastor Curtis to start. They are both quiet people, but I certainly consider them wise.
As with all proverbs, these are principles, not promises. They are guidelines though. We know those who walk with the wise become wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Prov. 13:20) Which path are we headed on? What are we or are friends like. Do we or friends find pleasure in evil, shout, believe anything OR are we and friends quieter, seeking God and wisdom with our time, reading, choose to listen to wisdom. The answer to these questions will reveal whether we are on the path to wisdom or headed towards harm.
Jordan starts with Merrill Lynch in a few weeks. Daniel moves out today to start his new job in the Washington Area. Rain may now go to school in Italy in the fall. Emma M. is starting college this year. High School, college, full time jobs, singleness, even friendships are really seasons in life. Just like seasons in the year, seasons in our life don’t stay forever. The changes above are all good ones, but not all seasons are good. We have all been through bad seasons as well-life will always include both.
The writer of Ecclesiastes today talks of this, of changing times, the good and the bad. He tells us as we live through these times, enjoy the good ones. He also says when we are in the bad times, to realize or “consider” God has made them both. He has allowed both. If we truly believe God is sovereign, than we have to believe He allows them.
We will NOT always know why He allows them though. That is the difficult part. This writer learned that it is easier to go through bad times if we can concentrate on the fact that God allows them. We are to trust God when we don’t know the “why”. This will bring us peace and strength to get through it. The temptation and our emotions during tough times will want to make us belabor the “why”, how to get out of this, or perhaps how “unfair” a situation is. If we can instead re-focus on God and who we know Him to be (good all the time) we will have a much easier time getting through the tough season. Know that seasons don’t last forever, and it will end.
How about the other part of this verse, the “when times are good”? Be happy. I would say most of you are in that place right now-it is summer, you have a lot of time to just enjoy with your friends, doing fun activities. Enjoy it. Know it won’t last forever, but for now, this is what God has chosen for you and I. Don’t just take it for granted, but give God thanks for this “good” time. He was providential and chose it for you right now, today!
As you know, I studied German in high school and college. 2 years in high school, 4 years in college. The truth is though, I really did not “know” it or speak it until I was fully immersed in it when I lived in Austria. When I had to pay my rent, electric bill and everything else in German, it was only then that I started to truly “know” German.
Proverbs tells us today that the way to avoid evil is by the fear of the Lord. This also requires “immersion”. The idea of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom and keeping me from evil is prevalent throughout all of Proverbs. If the key of avoiding evil is a fear of the Lord, how then, can we increase our “fear” of the Lord? By “full immersion” in Him. Know God. Know him REALLY well.
We need to be immersed in God. The strength of our walk with God will be dependent upon our immersion in Him. Another way the Bible puts this is if we are “abiding” in Him. John 15:5 tells us “…whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” Avoiding evil is one form of “bearing fruit” in our Christian walk.
For me to immerse myself in German, it required time, energy, self-discipline and in some cases, being uncomfortable or giving up other things. It is the same to strengthen our walk with God to make it strong enough to help us avoid evil.
What are some ways we will choose to “abide in Him” today, so that we will fear Him more and avoid evil? Wouldn’t you like it to be easier to avoid evil if at all possible? I believe God tells us here how that is possible-fear Him. And to do this, we need to immerse ourselves fully and daily in Him-every way we possibly can. So, again I ask- “How are you (I) going to immerse yourself in God today?”
Way back when I was little there was a show on tv called “Lost in Space”. It was really hokey, but one thing everyone remembers is the robot on there who constantly said: “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger”. He would warn the characters of impending danger. The robot was ridiculous-the warning was not.
I heard that voice in my head today as I read Proverbs. It felt like every time I read about a “fool”, God was impressing upon me “danger”. Proverbs gives us wise warnings of danger ahead if humans choose a certain course. In fact, there were so many warnings in just the section I read today (Prov. 13-15) I had a hard time deciding which one to put on here!
I chose Prov. 15:5 because Miriam and I were talking last night about children listening to wise counsel and advice from their parents. It would be so easy for me to write this only to tell you all to listen to us, but I need to read the Bible and see what God is saying to me. I am not to read it and just see what it says for someone else. I considered God’s direction to listen to correction from those around me, including my father (and mother). Of course, Gege and Grandpop won’t be grounding me anytime soon-but they do still have wise counsel for dad and I. Who else right now in my life is in a position to give me counsel, instruction, correction and discipline? Dad. It is important and wise of me to heed his advice too.
Who is it in your life? Dad and I are still very much a part of your life in giving counsel, advising and yes, sometimes correcting. There may be coaches, teachers or friends as well for you. How do you respond? Are you open to godly correction? Do you listen or ignore it?
These are questions for all of us. Descriptions of the fool, I have a feeling, are going to continue in Proverbs. I am going to try my best to see where in my life I am still acting like a fool, instead of using the wisdom God has shown me to conform me to the image of Christ. Since I keep seeing that a fool’s end is described with words like “suffers harm, destruction and calamity,” I definitely want to heed any and all “danger” warnings I hear. I assume you do too.
Every morning I use a mirror to put my makeup on and to get ready for the day. I can fix my hair, cover up blemishes and basically “fix what is wrong” (or at least try!) This morning, before I used the bathroom mirror though, God had me look into His mirror; the Word. I saw very clearly the “blemishes” that needed to be corrected in me from that as well.
I am reading in the book of Proverbs right now-and am up to chapter 12 today. Repetition in the Bible is always something that should catch our eye, and it caught mine this morning. I realized how often God speaks of the characteristics of a fool-and I saw myself. Here are the characteristics I noted just this far in Proverbs that describe a fool:
*hates knowledge (Pr. 1:22)
*complacent (Pr. 1:32)
*lacks understanding (Pr. 8:5)
*loud (Pr. 9:13)
*lacks judgment (Pr. 9:16, 10:21)
*doesn’t accept commands (Pr. 10:8)
*talks too much (Pr. 10:14)
*spreads slander (Pr. 10:18)
*finds pleasure in evil conduct (Pr. 10:23)
*his ways seem right to him, so he
doesn’t listen to advice (Pr. 12:15)
*shows annoyance at once (Pr. 12:16)
*blurts out folly/stupidity (Pr. 12:23)
I am sure this list will only get longer as I read further in Proverbs. I have seen myself in this mirror and now see what needs a lot of work. I will be praying with God’s help, to correct the problems, because I have also read what becomes of the fool; they come to ruin, bring grief to their parents, and are destroyed. I do not want this outcome for my life.
I imagine you don’t either. Do you see yourself in any of these descriptions of a “fool”? Do you want to be a fool? Do you admire those you know who are fools? I don’t think any of us do. God’s Word is truth. If we see ourselves in any of the descriptions above, than let’s use this truth to correct the “flaws” (sin) God is revealing to us in the mirror of His word.
To get your drivers license, all 3 of you had to take the course, log hours of driving for practice and pass tests. Through these things, you learned how to actually drive a car. You also learned the laws so you would be able to drive safely. What if you had been given the books but not read them? What if when you got in the car for drivers ed, you just refused to drive? What would happen when you got on the road by yourself? Chances are it would be a disaster-you would most likely have an accident or at the very least, get ticketed for breaking a law. What would you be called? A fool.
A fool by Webster’s definition is a person who acts unwisely, imprudently or just plain silly. A fool by God’s definition is a person who despises wisdom and discipline. A fool is something I doubt any of us are “striving” to be.
I am starting the book of Proverbs today, and as you all know, it is about wisdom and foolishness. It is written for us to learn principles for life from God. Right off the bat, we are instructed to seek out wisdom and respond appropriately to discipline. The funny thing is, most of us know the first part of this verse, but not as many have memorized the second, the part about not despising wisdom and discipline.
I know I am quick to spot a person I may think is acting foolishly, but Proverbs calls us to look inward at ourselves. Are we “playing the fool”? Do we despise wisdom? Maybe it would be better to ask, do we “despise” wisdom others may give us-whether it is God through His word teaching us not to sin or a godly friend who is giving us advice or counsel to do or not do a certain thing? When we are corrected by a family member or a teacher, do we get defensive immediately or do we consider we may be in error and that discipline is for our own good.
No one wants to be a fool. A fool hates knowledge-its the person who doesn’t read any book on driving, and then gets behind the wheel. Its an accident waiting to happen. In the same way, we need to make sure we are not driving through life without reading and obeying the book and the instructor’s advice.
Anyone who knows dad most likely has also heard of Larry Bird, especially if they are a basketball fan. Jordan could tell spectacular facts about Larry Bird he has heard from dad. He could tell record-breaking statistics and would recognize him if he saw a picture. Dad has commended Larry Bird’s talent and skills and that is how Jordan knows a lot about him.
Can our friends do the same about God after talking to us? The psalmist today speaks of how one generation will “commend” God’s works to another. They will praise or declare God’s works to their children. He speaks of telling others and especially our children of God’s mighty acts.
I am not so sure I have done a great job of this. I do see God at work, and have seen amazing things He has done in my life and in this family. I am not sure I have “commended” them clearly to you. What works of God have I told you so often that you could tell someone else? Just like a play or the looks of Larry Bird, could you tell a “play” of God in my life? Maybe I have been commending my own works and taken all the credit myself in my life, instead of giving it to God. I pray these things will change in me!
We could probably all work on this. Is it natural for us to speak of God’s impact in our life or do we tout our own accomplishments? Is it impossible for our friends to spend any time with us without them hearing about God’s mighty acts? Do they even know He is an integral part in our life? We need to all be that generation that passes it on.
I pray God helps us see His mighty works even more clearly. May it spill out of our mouths on a regular basis in such a way that those who know us, know Him. He is amazing. He deserves all the glory and the “stats”!
All children are taught not to touch a hot stove. They are taught to fear being burned. It is a legitimate fear because if they do this they will get a painful burn.
That kind of “fear” of “pain” is what I always seem to think about when I read Bible verses like today’s about fearing the Lord. The thing is, I know logically that we are not to “fear” God in the sense of Him choosing to do us harm. Today’s verse tells us it is wise to fear God and that shunning evil is understanding. This does not make clear sense to me at first, does it to you? How can fear bring wisdom?
I thought about this today as I read Job, and the “hot-stove” example helped me understand. A child is “ignorant” or “not-wise” at birth to know that a stove will burn them. This is why parents teach them to fear a burn from it. Once they learn this, it protects them and keeps them safe from harm. Without the knowledge (wisdom), they would repeatedly and foolishly get hurt.
Now, to take this a step further-as adults, are you ever tempted to just lay your hand on a hot stove? Is it hard for you every time you walk by in the kitchen not to put your hand there? No. Of course not! That’s ridiculous. We have the wisdom of a burn which eradicates any “temptation” to put our hand on it.
The more we know God, fear the dangers of DISOBEYING His commands and decrees, and the more we know His ways, (Ex. 15:26), the easier it is to avoid “burns”. We will shun evil, and all the pain it causes. As we become wiser, seeing through the lies of Satan about sin and its supposed “pleasures”, the less we will be tempted because we have literally “wised-up”. We know it would be idiotic to even step foot in the wrong direction. The more we fear God and gain wisdom, the more naturally we will shun evil. We will love what God loves and hate what he hates. This is the fear that we want to develop. This is the wisdom that protects us and makes us “wise” for eternity.