Peaceful Ease

Proverb 3: 23 – 24

Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

This is a picture of what Christian life should be. It is a life of peace, tranquility and security. The fully realized Christian is able to lie down and sleep in peace because there is no fear or worry. They enjoy sweet sleep. Good sleep alone is a reason this verse is attractive, but I really like the picture it paints of a whole life lived in peace.

One cannot help but think of the Hebrew word Shalom. It is perfect peace. Shalom is not the same as tranquility. We use peace to mean calmness, quiet and serenity. In the Hebrew mindset those are the result of Shalom. When you have God’s kind of peace, serenity and those other things are the byproducts.

The image this verse conjures for me is one of quiet confidence. The person in this verse walks with the Lord from the moment she awakens and continues through the day. Of course she can place her foot securely as she walks her daily path. She is walking hand in hand with God, led by Him.

This verse is about embracing wisdom and understanding. Peace, ultimate, unfathomable peace is the result. Embracing wisdom and understanding means we don’t walk in the light of our own brilliance but in the glory of God’s insights and wisdom. This does have its challenge because it means we must pause to check in with Him. We must begin first thing in the morning getting our hearts and minds aligned in and with Him and then continue in that flow all day. It is the absolute best and most enjoyable way to live but it does not come automatically. We have to dedicate the time and invest the discipline to check in with our Father at the start of the day. This can be a challenge but that is the challenge I hope to encourage you to accept.

Walking in perfect peace, knowing that where you are about to place your foot is good solid ground is a joy. It comes with the Father’s perfect peace, Shalom. All things are as they should be, everything in its proper place. Your steps are divinely ordered, and your heart resides in ease. When you lie down, your sleep is sweet and your dreams, divine. This is the inheritance of the saints.

Got Wisdom?

Proverb 2: 6 – 7

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright.

Do you need wisdom, knowledge or understanding? Well, the Lord, our God, has stored these things for us so that they would be available in our time of need. Now, the real question is, “How do we avail ourselves of these things?” The answer is that you spend time in prayer. God is going to lead you in wisdom and knowledge. That is why he has stored them up; so that He can give them to you. You receive knowledge, wisdom and understanding from Him by spending time with Him. He will give you all that you require of Him.

I am a big proponent of “praying at all times.” By that I mean that I do not want you to await the perfect opportunity for prayer but rather talk with Him all day, every day. Talk with Him while you are pumping gas, grocery shopping and exercising. Talk with Him all of the time. Every time you think of something you need to pray about do it right then. But, there is also a need for quiet, private time with the Lord.

This is time when you move everything else out of your mind and focus solely on him. You want to live your life in a state of divine revelation. To do that you need focused time with Him. I am not saying that you cannot receive a deep and meaningful revelation while you are on the treadmill. You can. But you cannot live your life on snacks. Eventually you need to sit down and have a full meal. That is what that alone time with God is analogous to. Take time out of your schedule to just be with Him alone. Seek the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that you need for your life. And have your Bible handy because many times He gives you the word you need by pointing you to a scriptural passage.

Take time to be alone with your Dad. Listen to Him. Allow Him to lead you. He will lead you into the wisdom, knowledge and the understanding you need.

Understanding

1 Corinthians 1: 19       KJV

For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Last week we sang a song at church which spoke to me. I extracted this idea from it, that when we trust Him, we don’t need to understand. We live in an age of intellectualism. We like to process everything through the left side of our brains so that everything makes sense and is understandable. This is the opposite of what Jesus told us to do. He told us to believe by faith. Faith is doing what Jesus says when you don’t understand.

God takes us in directions we would never fathom. If you wait until you understand all His motives and plans, you will never go where he is leading. He rarely lays out His plan before you but rather gives one step at a time. We have to learn to trust Him rather than question Him. He isn’t going to answer you anyway so you might as well learn to trust. Everyone who walks with Jesus has had to learn this. The hardest part, at times, is slowing ourselves down enough to hear Him clearly. Sometimes you need to hear more than once to be sure it is from God. That is the question we should ask, “Lord, if this is you, bid me come.” We only need to know we are in God’s will, then we can step out of the boat with confidence, fully trusting that the Lord has us in his care. The question we don’t need to ask is, “Why,” or “How does this work.”

Some people have the ability to walk in simple faith. They have the ability or have made the decision to accept and believe what they hear from the Lord or read in their Bibles. These are not unintelligent people. They are mentally and spiritually disciplined. They have trained themselves not to ask the Lord unfruitful questions.

There is a time and place for understanding. God recognizes that and He will explain what you need to know. There is, however, more occasion for obedience, faith and trust. Those three will always put us in a good position when employed. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and even higher than our intellectual capacity. They are never beyond our ability to believe and act though. That is what the Father requires of us. Simple faith and obedience, a willingness to do as He directs whether or not we understand. There is great freedom in this way of living. Maybe it is something you can talk with Father about.

The point is that God is not relying on our wisdom.  He wants us to rely upon His.  We must invest trust and that is the challenge.  We like having control but Yahweh would have us relinquish it to Him.  Wow, what a difficult thing to do.  Now you know why it takes a disciplined mind and spirit to walk in full faith with Him.  This is our calling though and this is the appointed way.  It is not about our intellect but rather about our ability to trust His.  That is where we must grow and we can, with Jesus’ help.

Go Deep

Proverb 2: 6

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

You probably like all of God’s good gifts. Where does wisdom rank? I had a friend once who, though she had spent years in the Bible, said she never really got into Proverbs. This one of the first books I was attracted to because wisdom is all over it. I figure if you have the wisdom of God, you are likely going to be in pretty good shape.

The question becomes, “How do you position yourself for God’s wisdom? Where do you place yourself so you can hear the knowledge and understanding that comes from His mouth? Verses 1 – 5 give us those answers: “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.” That’s good, isn’t it?

God actually wants to give you His wisdom. He has stored it up for you but there is something you must do. Sometimes I wish Father would rain all of His wisdom and goodness down upon us, but it just does not work that way. We must put ourselves in the position to receive. I often think of American football. The quarterback intends to pass the ball downfield to his wide receiver. It is his desire. However, if the wide receiver never runs his pattern, there is no one to throw to. We need to just run the pattern God called in the huddle and He will take care of getting us the ball. Then we can run with it.

Today’s word tells us which pass pattern to run so that we will receive wisdom, knowledge and understanding. You’ve got to want it, ask for it and listen. We have to pay attention to His words and commandments. Which commandments, you ask. Every word which proceeds from His mouth. In our seeking, there is finding. A hungry heart will be satisfied. Now, go deep!

Proverbial Wisdom

Proverb 4: 1

Here, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding.

The book of proverbs is packed with wisdom, instruction and encouragement. There is no way, in daily excerpts, that I can give you any taste of the richness of the Proverbs. I would wish for you to spend a day in there or a lifetime because after all these years of reading them, I still find jewels embedded in those chapters. The proverbs were written by the wisest person ever to live, at least until Jesus. He had an intimacy with wisdom unlike anyone before or after him. He shares those deep insights with us in these pages. As you find wisdom, you find life. You could spend a month in the fourth proverb alone.

In the selected passage, God is tells us that if we will be attentive to his Word, we will receive understanding. He will give us wisdom. And really, if you want to know the whole truth, He already has given us wisdom. It is up to us to appropriate it by reading His word. It is like a field that He has already planted and cultivated such that a very bountiful and rich harvest has grown. All we need do is go reap His harvest. It is there awaiting us. And believe me, there is a lot of good fruit in the proverb section. If you want to start there you could feed yourself for a very long time.

Come. Enjoy the fruits of His labor. Eat and be filled in Jesus’ name.

Little Drummer Boy

Proverb 3: 5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

I watched the animated version of the Little Drummer Boy last night. In it, this scripture was demonstrated vividly.

The little drummer boy had a lamb which was very important to him for the animals were his family. One day the lamb was injured and all hope for its survival seemed lost. Then the drummer boy remembered that three wise kings traveled to town. Surely the wise kings would know how to save the little lamb. So, the boy took the lamb and sought out the wise kings. Finding one he implored the wise king to heal his little lamb. The king said, “I cannot help you but there is one here who can.” The perplexed drummer boy questioned, “The babe?” “Yes, go to him,” the king instructed, but the drummer boy hesitated. Looking to the wise man he said, “I don’t understand,” to which the king replied, “It is not important that you understand. Go to him.”

In two short statements in a children’s story, the entire theology of Christ is revealed. Go to him. If we do this one thing, all else falls into place. However, we, like the child drummer, don’t understand. We seek understanding when all we really need is simple faith. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” not all your head. We will never figure out the simple grace of our Lord. His peace and love are inexplicable in human terms. The best we can do is disengage from our processing centers and plug in to our believers, even when or especially when, we do not understand.

There is a reason the children of God are called believers rather than understanders or thinkers. Belief has a place in the mind but real belief, the kind that moves mountains, is a product of the heart. Little Aaron, the drummer boy, learned this lesson and it turned his whole life around. No longer was he an embittered soul. Instead he learned the meaning of love and faith. His desperation drove him to the infant king but there in the glow of babe’s love for all people, Aaron found the love he longed for.

We have opportunities every day to trust God with the challenges of life. Sometimes we think too much and block the flow of Jesus’ creative power. We only need loosen our grip and go to the babe. Just go to him and trust him to have the answers. Let him be the savior. You no longer have to work so hard. You don’t have to figure it out, you don’t have to understand. Like the wise king told the drummer boy, just go to him.

Knowledge, Wisdom & Understanding

Proverb 1: 7, 22

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. How long, O naïve ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing. And fools hate knowledge.

Proverb 9: 10 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Interesting. So, knowledge and wisdom come from a relationship with the Lord. Further, knowing the “Holy One” brings understanding. We, therefore, have access to wisdom, knowledge and understanding through our relationship with the Holy Trinity. Would you think it fair to say that the closer we are in our relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit, the more easier it will be for us to tap into their knowledge and wisdom? Will it be easier for us to gain understanding? I think that is a reasonable conclusion.

Jesus’ brother, James wrote an encouraging passage in his letter. It reads, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1: 5). James points out that God is the source of wisdom. That is not difficult to believe. He also reveals us, though, that God gives us His wisdom and that He does so freely.

Today’s verse also points out that fools hate knowledge. Well, it is no surprise that anyone who hates knowledge is deemed a fool by God but what is perplexing is why anyone would hate knowledge. Why would anyone revel in scoffing rather than gaining knowledge, wisdom and understanding? The answer seems to be in the word “scoff”. Synonyms for scoffing are: jeering, sneering, ridiculing, and deriding. It seems that some folks would rather sneer at others rather than invest the time and energy in seeking God and His wisdom. Let’s be frank. It takes time and energy to get to know God. It takes effort to open your heart and mind to His guidance. It takes faith to believe what you hear. All of this is so worth the small amount of effort but fools scoff at the idea instead of trusting that God will really meet them in the solitude of quiet time.

The really good news is that God honestly does give out knowledge. He really does dole out wisdom and He really does bestow understanding. The bad news is that these priceless gifts rarely come from the prayer, “God give me wisdom.” As soon as you pray that prayer He will try to lead you into time with Him where He can reveal His fullness to you. The reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The respect, admiration and veneration of the beloved is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom, knowledge and understanding are the by-products of a life lived with God. As we open our hearts to Him and pour our lives into Him, we find all good things. Holding God in high esteem is the path. Time spent with Him yields all.