Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 7:1-27

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 23

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Well, as mentioned last week, this week’s words of wisdom are once again focused on the adulterous woman. With the help of a second Old Testament guest, we will take a deeper look on this topic.

Let’s top up our coffees and dig in…

Proverbs 7:1-27

Warning Against the Adulterous Woman

My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words.

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At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.

Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: “Today I fulfilled my vows, and I have food from my fellowship offering at home. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.” With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave,  leading down to the chambers of death.

Throughout the first few chapters of Proverbs, Solomon warns against adultery and the adulterous woman, and chapter 7 could be the movie version. As Solomon unfolds the scene before him, he describes the characters: the senseless young man, the dishevelled temptress, and the implied husband whom is currently away on a journey. To me, these characters remind me of another story where there is an adulterous woman, a husband, and the implied foolish men that fall prey to lust and her temptations. Can you guess who I’m thinking of?

 

About two hundred years after King Solomon’s reign, the prophet, Hosea, is called by God to physically be the husband of a prostitute. He willingly marries such a person – her name is Gomer. He loves and cares for her, protects and provides for her, and has children with her. Solomon’s movie scene is Hosea’s actual life. (You might like to read about Hosea.) Yet, the characters as stated by Solomon can be seen in light of the identities of the characters that God is proclaiming through Hosea.

 

To begin with, it is plain to see that without wisdom- God’s most precious guiding words- we are all in the place of the foolish, senseless young men who easily lead astray into destructive, sinful ways. Without God’s wisdom for our life, we are easily lead as sheep to the slaughter in sheer ignorance.

 

Then for Hosea, the adulterous wife was a reflection of the sinful, adulterous ways of the Israelites. God used his wife as an example of how the Israelites denied God’s goodness and pursued their lovers of self-indulgence, lust, and greed, but when left desolate and alone, how she returned to her husband, how they returned to their God. This analogy of his wife and Israel is also an analogy of us – you and me – and how we treat our relationship with the Lord, the bride towards the bridegroom. How easily we can turn away from beloved and turn our thoughts towards those self-indulgent pleasures and seek after our own desires and adulterous ways.

 

Yet there is still the husband that is the most essential character of this story. For it is the husband, who despite his fiery jealousy and his wife’s adulterous ways is faithful to his marriage vows and promises, and seeks after her. This husband is God who seeks after his people. It is Christ, our husband, who stands patiently with his arms and nail pierced hands wide open for our return. Despite our foolish sins and adulterous ways, he loves us. He enfolds us in his arms each and every time we return to him in guilt and disgrace, shame and repentance. He calls us his own and we are his. “In that day,” declares the Lord,  you will call me ‘my husband’…I will betroth you to me forever;  I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea2:16a..19,20)

 

So, do not look away from your husband in order to fulfill lustful desires, whether as the foolish or the adulterous one, for there is no safer place for you than in the arms of Christ. He is with you now to guide you, to give you peace of heart and a clear conscience, and to bless you with joy and satisfaction in this life and the next. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6b, italics added)
Prayer: Dear Jesus, my Bridegroom, help me to be a worthy bride, to keep myself from seeking after other lustful desires. To see your love for me more clearly and to trust you in all things, even those commands that I do not understand. Give me strength and courage to deny my selfish ways and to trust you fully, just as you fully fulfill your promises to me, though I am unworthy. In your I pray. AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 6:20-35

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 22

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Although today’s words of wisdom from Solomon, as stated in the NIV Bible, begin with a heading of A WARNING AGAINST ADULTERY, we will be focusing on the first few verses of this passage of scripture, that would keep a person from falling into adultery, and then have a chance to listen to Solomon next time, speak more on warning us against adultery. So, let’s top up our coffees and get started…

Proverbs 6:20-35

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life, keeping you from your neighbor’s wife, from the smooth talk of a wayward woman. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes. For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread, but another man’s wife preys on your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.

family 2In the previous devotion, Solomon shared his wisdom regarding attributes that commandments 5-10 spoke against. This week he begins with the importance of Commandment Four, obeying our parents, which is able to keep us from falling into sinful deeds, such as the deed stated in the remainder of the passage. Oh how beautiful it would be if all children followed the words of Solomon towards listening to their parents. Personally, our household would have been filled with continual joy and bliss. But life isn’t like that, is it?

The sinfulness of our children is clear, and despite parents’ best intentions, children battle with temptation and weakness, just like we all do. Sometimes we put such unrealistic expectations upon our children. Don’t get me wrong. We should absolutely raise them with the Ten Commandments and set boundaries and teach them to our children through our words and, even more importantly, our actions. However, perhaps it is even just as beautiful, the opportunities parents have to extend God’s mercy and grace, forgiveness and unconditional love.  

I have found that in those moments, when God’s grace and forgiveness are extended, our children got a closer glimpse of God and the depth of his sacrifice and love on their behalf. They knew well the end results that could have so easily been theirs- and the certain consequences of their actions that would still occur, as stated above in Solomon’s example above- but they saw a love that was not based on what they did or did not do, but a love that was theirs no matter what came their way and a trust that enabled them to confide their sins and receive a forgiveness and peace, comfort and strength, that was greater than the guilt they felt from any sin they could commit.

So yes, parents raise up your children in the ways of the Lord. Be diligent in teaching his commandments, but also in extending his grace and mercy. And children, follow in the commands that God has placed before you, especially as your parents raise you to know and live by them, but when you fall, and you will fall, may you have the assurance that they too will be there to extend God’s grace to you. Then, finally, seek Him, the one who created and redeemed you, knows you and desires to walk with you every moment of every day, even when your parents can’t.

Prayer: Dear Lord, be with all parents to know you and your commands for the good of their earthly life, and to teach them to their children. Be with all children, as they struggle with temptation and their own sinfulness, to seek your forgiveness and grace directly and through the unconditional love of their parents. Be with all parent and child relationships that together they understand each other’s sinfulness, but also the reality of your love for each of them that took you to the cross, and paid the price for all those sins. In Your Name we pray. AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 6:16-19

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 21

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Today, I couldn’t help but wonder where I’ve heard Solomon’s words for today before…curb

Let’s top up our coffees and I will explain…

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Earlier in chapter 6, Solomon warned about keeping clear of troublemakers and villains. This week Solomon basically tells us the types of characteristics of these particular individuals and how God detests these characteristics, these sinful acts; haughty and lustful eyes, devious schemes or stealing plans, lying tongues, murderous hands, covetous hearts. Yes, God detests all these acts, and Solomon warns us to turn away from them. However, do they not sound remotely familiar?

Are they not basically the same commands that God gave us as Commandments five through ten?

“You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:13-19)

Yes, God has already commanded us against such actions and ways of living. Solomon has simply reaffirmed them from his own life’s experience. Therefore, let us heed God’s commands, and listen to Solomon’s words, as a guide for our life’s actions.

These commands are like a curb that stop and redirect us when we get too close to going off the road of righteous living that God would have us travel as his children. Then, just like all new beginner drivers, our Heavenly Father, as he sits in the passenger seat, will extend his strength and help in order for us to stay safely on the road on which he has asked us to go. Our Saviour is right there with us, through every moment of our journey, until the day it is complete and we are in his presence for eternity; no more commands, no more curbs, no more temptation, no more pain, no more unknowns. In the meantime, stay on the road and thank God for his curbs that protect us!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to stay on the road you desire for me. Help me to stay focussed on you and not turn too far to the right or to the left and fall into temptation or doubt. But help me to live in your love and your ways and be your  light along the way. For those times when I do fall off the road, forgive me and guide me back to safety. Thank-you for the redeeming grace of your son, my Saviour, Jesus, who is with me always and has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. In His name alone I pray. AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 6:1-15

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 20

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

This week, we bring together the words of Solomon, Jesus, and the 16th century church reformer, Martin Luther. Let’s top up our coffees and listen to what they have to say…

Proverbs 6:1-15

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go—to the point of exhaustion— and give your neighbor no rest! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. ant Go to the ant, 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. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart—he always stirs up conflict. Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.



This is a tricky one. Aren’t we told to help our neighbour? Yet, in these words of Solomon, he has implied that we have been foolish if we do. What is the difference? What are we to do? Well, in situations like this, I am reminded of the words of Jesus as he was sending out his disciples, and which apply to us living in this world. He said “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) These words help us to unfold the layers of Solomon’s words today.

Although we are to help others, we are not to enter pledges with or put our name nor ourselves in jeopardy for others without knowing their intentions. God does not call us to be ignorant fools that need to oblige every person or request that comes our way. We need to be discerning, as to not be fooled into the schemes of troublemakers or villians, as Solomon calls them. Don’t get involved with them and their ways. Have nothing to do with them.

So often, people, even some Christians themselves, have this impression that Christians are to be utterly obliging and passive when confronted with a request from another. However, that simply is not true. Christians aren’t ignorantly blinded wall flowers, but should be wise and discerning for their own physical and spiritual safety and the safety of their families. Yes, we can be loving towards others, and take time to get to know others and the reason behind their request but we are not to jump into or be guilt ridden into agreeing to give of ourselves on their behalf. Be wise, shrewd, and discerning, in a loving and innocent demeanor.

However, Solomon does goes on to tell us what to do in order to protect ourselves and our name if we have put ourselves in a questioning, foolish position for the sake of a troublemaker and their detrimental ways. He calls us to be hardworking, honest and build a good name for ourselves in the eyes of others; not to be passive, lazy, and sloth-like in such a situation. We are to be as diligent as the ant is in caring for ourselves and homes, and to display our good behaviour and name. For the troublemaker is devious. Just like Satan, he is cunning and winsome on the outside but filled with lies and deception on the inside. Their own destruction will come upon them without notice, without the opportunity to repent or “without remedy” (Proverbs 6:15b), as Solomon puts it. So, do not be tricked by their smooth and flattering tongue. Instead, from a distance let their deeds and actions display their intent and character. Be watchful, and pray for them. Pray that God would guide their ways and be in their hearts, and to seek the remedy that God so desires for us all in Christ Jesus!

Luther’s Morning Prayer: “I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.” (Taken from http://catechism.cph.org/en/daily-prayers.html)

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 5:15-23

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 19

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Let’s top up our coffees and think on this week’s analogy from Solomon…

Proverbs 5:15-23

Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?

For your ways are in full view of the Lord,and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.

water pump

In the first verse of today’s reading, I wondered why I couldn’t share the water from my well with anyone who was thirsty. Then I realized that the water that Solomon is speaking about is an analogy of the blessings and love in my spouse, and that I was not to share him with anyone.

Then, as I read further I giggled a bit with the thought of my husband, and all men, to rejoice in ‘the wife of your youth” and the descriptives that followed. Yes, I was his wife from youth… but a loving doe? a graceful deer? Well, perhaps these might slightly describe me when I’m not giving him the look for something or wobbling around because my sciatica is acting up. Loving? Graceful? Hmmm…

Then the next phrase just made me outright laugh. At a half a century, the thought of my husband still being star struck with this body of mine- saggy, achy, wrinkly, chunky, more saggy- just seems so funny to me. How could this body continue to satisfy and intoxicate him? Yet, in some way, somehow, it still does.

I guess the highlight that I have taken away from Solomon’s words today is his encouragement for us to focus our energies and love on the spouse and life to which we have committed ourselves. Don’t waste energy, thought or time with another. Why bother?

In fact, God instituted marriage and it is a union of three: husband, wife, and God. There is nothing in our marriage that God does not desire to bless. It is an intimate union of which God wants to be an intimate member. So, in all rejoicing and thanksgivings, decisions and arguments God desires to be called upon and present, and when he is, the outcomes are beyond what we could ever do between husband and wife alone. Even after decades of marriage, He can have a husband and wife look at, or think of, each other and be intoxicated with the love of one another; a love that spills over in blessings, like running water, in the lives of their children, friends, and community.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me when I look at others with want or desire. Help me to love my spouse and to keep my eyes fixed on him/her alone. Give us a desire for one another, that only you can give, even after all these years and circumstances. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 5:1-14

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 18

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Let’s top up our coffees and relax in this week’s words of wisdom from Solomon….

Proverbs 5:1-14

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My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.”

In today’s society where everyone feels that it is their right to do whatever it is they want that makes them feel good, the words DISCRETION and SELF-CONTROL are often laughed at. Commercials promote that we purchase the promoted product because we deserve it. Television promotes sexual relations with anyone on a daily basis. The business world promotes getting ahead no matter whom you have to walk over or what you have to do to get there. It doesn’t matter whether you seek adultery for sexual, professional, or self indulging pleasure, she will lead you down a path of bitterness, consequences, pain, and hopelessness. The glorious vision that your eyes lustfully seek- sex, money, greed- only mask the ugliness of its consequences, no matter how beautifully appealing they may seem at the time.

On the other hand, Solomon is begging us to not get sucked into the beauty of adultery’s empty promises. God, the Father, has told us what to look for and what to follow. In Jesus, we have one who has showed us the way to go, and continues to walk side by side with us, whether we acknowledge him or not. God has placed in our hearts the Spirit which nags and pulls at our consciences when we are considering embarking on that which is not beneficial for our soul nor our loved ones. Do we listen? I beg you to listen!

Do not give in to her seduction. Let your body be blameless, your marriage bed be pure, your professional dealings be honest, and your heart be content with all you have. And when the desire feels too strong, seek God’s strength to overcome for in Christ we are victor’s in the midst of temptation. He is our strength. He knows our weakness and he will come to our aid. Finally, in those times when we fall, he is our grace and forgiveness who picks us up and helps us to stand. So do not fear,” God assures us, “for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) Go in peace, be strong in the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, there are so many areas of this life that could call me to cheat and follow adulterous ways. Help me to be discerning of your ways to know when such deception is at my front door. Give me your strength and courage to turn away from such temptations. Guide me in your Word and show me your truth, that I may live according to your will for my life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 4

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 17

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well. Today is Christmas Eve! I pray you are ready and excited to celebrate the birth of our Saviour – the wisdom of God made flesh solely for the purpose to redeem mankind- you and me- no matter what the cost! (I find this fitting for what is to follow.)

In my NIV Bible, Proverbs 4 is entitled Get Wisdom at Any Cost. It is King David’s plea to Solomon; it is a father’s plea to his son; it is God’s plea to us, even though it meant forsaking his own son.

Please note that I have included all of chapter 4 in this devotion in order for us to look at David’s plea as a whole. Let’s top up our coffees and see what words of wisdom King David imparted to his young son…

Proverbs 4

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.” Listen, my son, accept what I say,  and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it;  turn from it and go on your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil;  they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, pay attention to what I say;  turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;  for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart,  for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.  Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Solomon begins this chapter by sharing a time as a young boy when his father, King David, sat him down and had a heart-to-heart talk. Do you recall a time when your parent(s) had a heart-to-heart talk with you? These talks make an impact on us as young people. They are times when we feel that our parents are seeing us adults and preparing us for adulthood which would be just around the corner, even though as a young person we probably already felt like we were all grown up. Our parents, however, knew better. They knew that it would not be long before we would be embarking on the world of independence and adulthood, and they desired to help prepare us. Oh to have parents that cared enough and were observant enough to see our impending ignorant jump into the world of choices and temptations, responsibilities and burdens, and to impart learned wisdom and knowledge to help us survive.

King David’s words of wisdom were not what we expect, like ‘continue to get a great education’, ‘marry a nice girl’, ‘take a finance course because you’ll have a fortune to manage.’ No, King David begged Solomon to listen and to heed his words, which directed him to seek wisdom in all and everything he was to do. Solomon knew that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7a) He knew and saw from his father that to seek wisdom was to seek God and His ways. There was nothing more important.

For us, life has a lot of ‘options’, and society places a lot of importance and prestige on many things, but what is important is not wealth, nor education, nor the number of children, nor your social status, nor your profession, nor your place of employment, nor how much money you make, nor your marital status. No. The most important is seeking true wisdom in the Lord and trusting that he will fill you with patience, understanding, courage, and a trust in him that will enable you to walk sure footed through life, no matter what may come your way. It’s just as Jesus says:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Life is full of storms and unknowns, forked roads and choices, but heed the words of your heavenly Father, through the words of Solomon, and seek wisdom. Seek the one who created you to be you, who loves you more than life itself, and who will enable you to stand firm through it all, no matter what may come your way!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, King David was your faithful servant, and he was a faithful father. Help me to be your faithful servant and to be a faithful parent. Help me to live in knowing your ways and your love that is so strong for me that it required your son to suffer and die on my behalf; your wisdom that goes beyond the physical realm and reason but reaches my conscience and the depths of my soul. Help me to be secure in you and your wisdom and help me to be a faithful parent to the youth in my life, like David and like Solomon after him. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 3:31-35

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 16

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

This week, let’s take a different approach to how many people view the commands of the Lord and the wisdom that Solomon is bestowing upon us. Let’s top up our coffees and I will try to explain through this week’s words of wisdom from Solomon.

Proverbs 3:31-35

Do not envy the violent  or choose any of their ways. For the Lord detests the perverse  but takes the upright into his confidence. The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. The wise inherit honor,  but fools get only shame.

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Photo by Cathy Fyfe, Kitchener ON, Canada

This week’s words of wisdom from Solomon seem obvious at first glance, yet do we know that these words of wisdom mean? …Or do we simply chalk them up to more rules to remember: don’t envy, don’t be perverse, don’t be wicked, don’t be foolish. Do we say, “We should not do these things because we do not want to be cursed, mocked, or shamed,” or do we say, “By not doing these things, God will bless us,” as if our actions give us brownie points with God.

 

Actually, if we live with this mentality, we’ve missed the mark; we’ve missed the focus of Solomon’s words and the basis of God’s wisdom. We need to see these words in a reciprocal light. It’s not a passage on ‘don’t do this or don’t do that’. It actually is focused on doing, seeking, and the results of having God’s wisdom. It is focused on seeking God’s wisdom and his righteousness. For when our eyes are fixed on the Lord and our hearts seek him, he fills us with his peace and understanding, wisdom and contentment, love and a closer walk with him. Knowing that even in times of oppression and humility we can trust that God is with us and guiding us.He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us, and it is in this desire to live in his unconditional, self-sacrificing love and forgiveness, despite the wickedness and sinfulness within us, that we are blessed and honoured by the Lord, and the curses and shame that are promised to wicked and foolish people are not even a worry that we compare ourselves. For as we live in God’s grace and seeking the Holy Spirit through our words, actions and lives, “against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:23b)

So if you have been looking at God and his ways as a bunch of do’s and don’ts in order to be a better person and accepted by God, good luck with that. Let me tell you now that you can never do or be good enough to earn God’s favour. You will always be trying to compare yourself to the law or to others; and you will miss the mark. For only perfection is in God’s midst, and we will never achieve that on our own; we will always be brought down by our sinful human nature. However, God clothes us in Jesus’ perfection and acknowledges Christ’s sacrificial death as our own punishment and payment for all our sins. Christ has paid the price and has reunited us with our God, in this life now and in eternity. It is not about the ‘do’s and don’ts’ but about the seeking and trusting our most gracious God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this truth we live and are blessed.

Prayer: Dear Most Gracious Father, there is so much wickedness in this world, and at times it looks like it flourishes: the wicked get away with their wickedness, the perverse flourish, and the foolish are honoured. Help me not to focus on their ways and be envious, or consider myself any better and loved by you because of my actions, but help me to keep my eyes focused on you, to seek you, to follow in your ways, and to entrust my life, now and eternally, into your keeping, through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour! AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 3:27-30

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 15

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Oohhh, this week is exciting! Joining us with Solomon, is Martin Luther and St. Paul. What an exciting discussion we will be having. Let’s top up our coffees and get started…

Proverbs 3:27-30

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,  when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you. Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Do not accuse anyone for no reason- when they have done you no harm.

baby

There’s a story in the Old Testament that expresses Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings: 16-27: Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. One of them said, “Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and I had a baby while she was there with me. The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us. “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.” The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.” But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king. The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’” Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”  The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.”

I wonder if it was after this ruling, or others like it, that Solomon wrote his words of wisdom for this week’s devotion. He’s basically saying don’t be like the second woman where you would find self gain at someone else’s loss. Although I’m sure most of us haven’t gone and switched our child with someone else’s – intentionally, we can do some not-so-loving things to others for the sake of our own pride or desires.

In fact, each and every one of those points that Solomon lists in our reading is simply to better myself, puff myself up, or to not inconvenience myself. It is all self-centred sinning. If you think about it, each scenario listed is obviously something we wouldn’t do unless we were jealous of our neighbour, or envious of our neighbour. It’s all those wicked schemes we plan because we are not satisfied with what we have or are, and want to better ourselves at the expense of others, and we especially do not want to boost them up, even if they deserve it, because we want to be the one being boosted and complimented.

So, we need to set aside all self-centred, boastful attitudes, especially when it affects our neighbours and loved ones. But we should put on love first. For just as the real mother was willing to give up her child in order to save his life, we too must give up our self-centred wants and desires for the sake of others, and to love them. Martin Luther explains it this way from the meaning of the Eighth Commandment:

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way. (http://catechism.cph.org/en/10-commandments.html)

To summarize, Solomon has shared what not to do, and Martin Luther has shared what to do. However, let us end with the words of St. Paul which leave us confident in the type of behaviour and attitude we are able to have in Christ which will combat all the sinful, self-centred behaviour warned against by Solomon:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:22-26)              AMEN!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I can so easily put myself ahead of others and seek personal gain at their expense. Please forgive me. Help me to see them and love them as you love them. Help me to clothe myself with the fruits of the spirit so others will see you through me. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

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