13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.
Have you ever found something that made you really happy? Last night Bobbi left her drink cup at a small shop in the mall. We went to dinner with a family and on the way out she stopped at the shop and her drink cup was still there. She found it and she was happy. I remember losing children in malls and being overjoyed when we found them. You have had the same lost and found moments. In this verse we are told that when wisdom is found happiness is the result. Gaining understanding also makes us happy. The writer goes on to explain that wisdom is more precious than great wealth and all that can be humanly desired.
When we find wisdom we also gain length of days, true riches and true honor. Think about it, how often do we get happy when someone wins the lottery, gets a clean bill of health, or gets something they always wanted? The gain of something we wanted brings us joy. How much more joy should we get when we gain God’s wisdom and gain His understanding for life’s situations?
We don’t usually think this way. We don’t think about gaining something intangible that is of great value to us and to others. So Solomon writes to bring us clarity about that which really matters. The book of Proverbs is a good place to start in the search for wisdom that matters. I began reading a Proverb a day in high school and did so through high school and college. This month I found myself back in Proverbs and still learning God’s wisdom and His knowledge for life’s situations. Rejoice in the finding of wisdom and knowledge. Most everything else we get happy about is temporal.
Good news and God’s answer to our prayers: my dad went home Thursday. He passed the PT test and so did not require a stay in a rehab facility. We talked this morning and he is really glad to be out of the miserable hospital. If you live in the area and have a chance to go see them, please do. It means a lot when friends stop by.
Pray again for Sunday. Wherever you attend church the pastor is preparing to bring a message to you from God’s word. This spiritual preparation is not without spiritual attacks. Pray for all of Sunday’s preparations so that as the church gathers around the Word of God that the Spirit of God will meet with us all.
Have a great day in the Lord,
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Hebrews 12:7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
None of us like to be corrected, much less chastened for our disobedience. In fact, we usually bristle up when we are corrected, become defensive, and want to justify our words or actions. And then, if we are taken to the next level and chastened, punished along with the correction, we really get upset. Having raised six children and worked with countless other children, no one likes to be corrected even from the youngest point in life. As a pastor of 35 years, I have never known an adult who liked correction either.
So do you find these passages difficult to digest? First of all, notice that the writer is talking about the chastening and the correction of the Lord. When God corrects us, we fully deserve and need to be corrected. God corrects us for our good and for His glory; God protects us from ourselves when He corrects us. While there are times when a simple word of correction is sufficient there are also times when a painful correction is needed. God chastens us with many different painful elements to get our attention. When He does, we are not to despise Him nor His correction, but we are to realize that He loves us and is correcting and chastening us for our good.
The writer of Hebrews quotes Solomon and then adds vs 7-8 that God only chastens His own children. Those who do not get corrected by God are not His children. Once again, let us be thankful for the loving correction and chastening of God who as a loving Father cares for us and corrects us to keep us from greater pain and sorrow.
Pray today for our friends in Chicago and Wisconsin who are facing record cold temperatures. Temperatures of 30 degrees below zero are dangerous to the body. In this cold the power grid comes under great pressure and neighborhoods lose electricity, as Bobbi’s sister did yesterday. Pray for my friend Dave who works for the power company and may be out right now restoring power to very cold people.
Thank you for praying for my dad and mom. Mom is in better spirits today. We did not take her to the hospital today because of the cold. It would not be good for her to breathe these temperatures. Dad slept well but was a bit disoriented. He does have pneumonia yet they hope to send him home tomorrow. Join us in prayer for his quick return to his wife in their apartment.
Have a great day in the Lord,
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
The Scriptures were meant to be tied together not read as random thoughts of application. In verse 7 we are admonished to not seek the wisdom of our own line of sight. That which we see often looks right to us. Remember the passage that talks about us doing what is right in our own eyes? Just because we see something and see it clearly does not mean that it is the right way to go or the right thing to do. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Another place we are told that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. That would be looking at life’s situations through the eyes of many others to gain a better perspective on what we see.
Then in verse 9 the author seems to change topics and talk about money and possessions. Perhaps the author is still on the same topic. For when it comes to money, we must not only look through our own eyes. Those who only spend their money and possessions on themselves are not looking through the eyes of others. When we look through others eyes we will care for them first and honor the Lord with our money by caring for others before we care for ourselves.
Through human eyes, giving stuff away is not smart. But through the eyes of wisdom God prospers those who honor Him first. We do have a continual line of sight here. Look through the eyes of others, not just your own, fear the Lord and depart from the evils of selfish looks. The result is that you will honor God by giving to others in need and God, in turn, will prosper you.
You will not hear this advice from your financial planner so you need to look through another set of eyes.
We had our first family outing Sunday evening through Tuesday. As Caleb and Lindsey are with us, and as it was Caleb’s 29th birthday on the 29th, we found an Airb&b in north Jakarta near a section of the city called Ancol. From the Ancol marina we took off Monday morning for a day trip to an island 90 minutes, by boat, away. At the island we hiked, swam, and enjoyed a place called Starfish Beach where there seemed to be a hatchery of starfish. We ate some really good local noodles and beef in a bowl and then came back to Ancol where we found a really reasonable Indonesian restaurant with amazing food. This was our birthday present to Caleb, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Because of the exchange rate here, the whole outing cost about the same as a trip to Chicago, some sightseeing and a dinner.
Do pray for my dad and mom. Dad went to the hospital on Monday with an infection that left him weak. They are still identifying the infection. Mom is having trouble in her mind with dad being in the hospital. We spent time together talking about God’s peace and God’s care and waiting on him. Pray for both of them to know God’s presence and peace and strength. On Facetime last night mom asked Jared to pray for grandpa. Immediately, Jared closed his eyes tightly ready to pray. It was a precious moment and a sincere prayer.
The church gave us a wonderful reception on Sunday. Thank you JIBC for your amazing care and sacrifice for us. Bobbi and Jared and I all know your love and support of our being here. Every so often I have to pinch myself to make sure this is all real. We are rejoicing in God’s goodness and kindness.
Have a great day in the Lord,
Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
There are a few verses that are well known in the Bible, this is one of them. The problem with well known verses is that they are often thrown at a situation with a “you are supposed to know this” attitude and everyone in the room is supposed to bow down to that verse. One such verse is Romans 8:28. We know and love the truth that God is supposed to work all things out for good, but at the moment of a great trial, throwing Romans 8:28 into the room is less than helpful. Proverbs 3:5-6 is in the same category. Now, don’t get me wrong here, the problem is not that we know these verses too well but that we do not know them well enough.
What does it mean to trust in the Lord with all of your heart? What does it mean to not lean on your own understanding? What does it mean to acknowledge the Lord God in all your ways? We like to think of the Lord directing our path, or as the ESV puts it, to make straight our path, but how often does the Christian and the Christian church give God full trust, not look to man’s wisdom, and fully seek His guidance? Yes, God has given us minds that we are supposed to use but here we are directly commanded not to use human understanding first.
When it comes to trusting the Lord with our lives and not giving our own logic the first right in decision making, this verse is a relic, something on a shelf of our lives. In the book of Acts, when the church was seeking the mind of God, they would often fast and pray together. They would talk about what to do but would collectively seek the mind of God. When they believed they knew what God wanted they put aside their human logic from their own backgrounds and accepted the mind of God. Their commitment to being directed in all their ways by the Lord dictated how they got there.
I have to tell you this, when you commit to trusting the Lord regarding your life’s decisions, when you stop looking to human logic and experience first, when you actively acknowledge the mind of God in your decisions, others, even other Christians, will tell you that you are making a big mistake, maybe even the biggest mistake of your life. But, when you have the mind of God on something, you are best off to put aside all of that human logic stuff, trust in the Lord, and do what He has placed before you to do.
When a Christian or a Christian church finds themselves in a bad place the first thing to do might be to come back to Proverbs 3:5-6 together, surrender their human thoughts of how it should work to the Lord, seek Him in a new way, maybe even in prayer and fasting, and trusting in His leading according to His word do what He leads them to do. It might seem counterintuitive but in the end you will see your path directed, made straight, and even make sense.
Tonight is our second small group in our apartment. You are welcome to join us. I will be introducing a book that we will be studying called, “Living the Christ-Centered Life.” This book applies the gospel of salvation to every part of our lives and draws our attention to how the Cross of Christ needs to be and can be the center of all that we do. If you are unable to attend with us at 7:00, please pray for God to use this time to strengthen those who can come.
Be in prayer for Sunday. Pray for your pastor, those involved in teaching, singing, playing music, ushering, and serving the church. Pray for God to use this Sunday as a time of great spiritual encouragement and growth in the lives of those who come to church with you.
Have a great day in the Lord,