Two Ingredients for a Plate Full of Wisdom

C2E1A10F-4856-4B84-8833-ED372FE03570“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10

When I was little I was afraid of many things… nightmares plagued me and some nights I would crawl into my parent’s room and just want to sleep there, on the floor at the foot of their bed.  Something about their presence in the room gave me rest.

When most people think of fear they think of its most common definition which Merriam-Webster defines as “the unpleasant, often strong, emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.”  However, the definition of fear I think this verse refers to is listed third in Merriam-Webster’s book as the “profound reverence and awe especially toward God.” Granted, we could say that because God is so holy and we are wrought with sin, there is a sense of grave danger the moment we recognize the power of God almighty and our just penalty.  Moreover, once we come to the knowledge of the Holy One we see his abounding love and lavish grace and are moved from dread to awe at the lofty deity being so kind to us being so undeserving.

We are on the right road within the lane of the appropriate fear of the Lord.  Yet, we need to keep pressing forward and upward.  This is seeking after wisdom.  Do we revere and esteem the Lord highly? If so than we would value Him above all others…  This test was sobering for me as I took an inventory all the “others” I can place before my Savior.  He is worthy of all our affections; yet on the contrary, personally, my heart tends to get muddled with the cares for the things of this world.

The insight God gives us in His word here is a glorious gem.  Proverbs 9:10 says that knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Thank you Lord for this wisdom!  When the world around me grows dark and foggy and I find myself lost, at a dead end, like I can’t go any further alone… God sheds His marvelous light on my worn soul.

Turning from of our pre-conceived myopic notions of who God is and gazing at who our wonderful God truly is in His Word and deeds, gives us great understanding. “Character determines how a man interprets God’s will (Ps.18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God’s command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this tradition behind by the pain of a tremendous ordeal.  God could purify his faith in no other way.  If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditions that misrepresent Him.” (Oswald Chambers, My Upmost for His Highest) The truth of His blameless character is healing balm to our wounds.  May the revealing of His love illuminate and revive our souls for Christ.

Expert prayer from The Valley of Vision (Cry of a Convicted Sinner)

Heavenly Father, “Cut me not off before my thoughts grow to responses, and the budding of my soul into full flower, for thou are forbearing and good, patient and kind.  Save me from myself, from the artifices and deceits of sin, from the treachery of my perverse nature, from denying thy charge against my offences, from a life of continual rebellion against thee, from wrong principles, views, and ends… “ And “O, thou Father of my spirit, thou King of my life, cast me not into destruction, drive me not from thy presence but wound my heart that it may be healed; break it that thine own hand may make it whole.”

Hand In Hand

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.”  Col 3:14-15

Nothing warms a parent’s heart more than to see our children walk hand in hand together—loving one another.  In much the same way, our Father in heaven is delighted when we walk hand in hand united together.  We shine as children of God.  The other day as the boys and I were walking to our car from church, my three-year-old merrily raced ahead of me to catch up to his big brother.  They held hands together until we got to our car.  It brought a bright smile to my face.  One of my prayers for my sons is that they would genuinely love and befriend one another. They are being trained at home to show love and kindness to each another.  Meanwhile, in the world, it is socially accepted as normal for siblings to fight and rival each other.  It is often excused, “They are just kids, they’ll grow out it” If kids grow out of it, why do we see so much bickering in the adult world?  We’ve all inherited the propensity within our sinful nature to grow up and fight and devour on another—dare I say, even in the church.  Why?

God speaks to this in James 4:1-2, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”  We fight when we desire to get our dreams fulfilled more than Christ and thus forfeit the peace he offers to us and to each other.  Christ gives us peace, in that he died for all our sins and rose from the dead canceling that enormous sin debt we owed through faith in Jesus’ sin sacrifice on our behalf.  Our call is to die to ourselves, to our sin, and allow Him to live and rule in our hearts.   Anything that we seek more than Christ, is liable to cause us to sin.  When Christ peace reigns our affections, we will be thankful for all He ordains and see every detail as from the hand of a loving Father.

Instead of fighting for our rights as Christians we must realize that the only thing we rightly deserve is God’s wrath.  Then, we may work together to the same goal of loving Jesus and each other more than looking out for our own interests.  Sibling rivalry creates hostility in the home, a place that should be a refuge from the world.  There is enough dissension and hate in the world.  Likewise, Christian rivalry creates hostility in our church home, a place that should be a refuge from the world.  The church especially should be marked by love and unity.  Loving Christ and loving fellow believers go hand in hand.

Our Loving Abba, you alone are worthy of our complete affections.  May we seek your perfect will and align our desires with yours.  Forgive and root out the main cause of disunity in your beloved church—our sin.  Grant us more love for Christ and for our brothers and sisters that we’d humbly walk hand in hand and honor you, our heavenly Father.  In Jesus’ name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April May Hope

 

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4 ESV

Jesus did not always have the best reputation.  He was known for saying controversial things in his days.  The things he said were contentious only because the Pharisees had added so many made-made rules and placed burdens on others that they themselves could not even bear.  When Jesus taught The Sermon on the Mount, he radically put the wisdom of the world on its head.  He revealed what was at the heart of things like murder and adultery.   In the beatitudes he said things like blessed are the poor, the needy and those who are insulted and slandered for Christ’s sake.  One of the paradoxical things that Jesus said was the those who mourned would be happy.  In other words those who were sad would be happy.  Happiness in sorrow comes from the comfort we receive from the Lord.

Saddness is not fun.  If we were given the choice to go to a friend’s birthday party or their funeral, we’d much rather choose to attend their party.  Remarkably God tells us in Ecc 7:1-2 that the day of our death if better than that of our birth and that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to a party.  When we seek the fleeting pleasures of this world like we are going to live forever, we tend to get lost in them and forget the giver of every one of the those gifts and pleasures.  Jesus is to be our souls deepest yearning and our most valued possession.  He alone is the giver of life and His heavenly treasures do not spoil, get taken from us or die.  Therefore, we must be sensitive to mourn over our sinful earthly condition in order to be comforted by His glories.  “The blessing of God’s comfort is reserved exclusively for the contrite of heart.  It is only those who mourn for sin who will have their tears wiped away by the loving hand of Jesus Christ.” (John MacArthur) When we are emptied of ourselves and repentant over sin we are poor in spirit and blessed to embrace our heavenly treasure above all else.

As we find ourselves in April we can look back at winter and remember the cold nights and appreciate more of the warmth of the sun that Spring brings.  Yet we have not come to it’s fullness as Summer still lays beyond the horizon of May.  Spring reminds us of the new life and beauty that comes out of the storms of winter, and the approaching of summer.   “The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in Spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)  May we be sadden by sin that we’d find solace in Christ, be assured by His grace, and look forward to heaven with expectant hope.

Loving Father, saving Christ, and indwelling Spirit, thou are a well-spring of comfort for the broken.  Thank you that you care so deeply for us that you are willing to inflict us with sorrows that lead us into your strong arms of refuge.  Jesus our beloved be ever nigh.  Spirit of the Living God, gift us with a greater love for the Father.  In our frailty and weakness may we hide under the shadow of your magnificent wings.  In Jesus name.

Do Not Lose Heart

360EE318-B234-4CAB-96F1-E3BE41193B0C“So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  2 Cor4:16-17 ESV

These verses speak to everyone with a heavy heart.  Since we live in a broken world, they speak to you and me.  When the road ahead becomes clouded with fog and confusion… and we look around and see only despair, we can find the key to the yearning of our soul for something greater.  God tells us not to lose heart when all seems bleak.  He urges us to look past the present affliction and see with eyes of faith—the invisible work God is producing out even in our affliction.  “There is a direct correlation between suffering in this life and glory (capacity to praise and glorify God) in the next.  The greatest glory ever given was that given to Jesus for enduring the greatest suffering ever endured.”( John MacArthur)  The loving motivation for us here, is the grandeur of what God is producing for our eternal good and His glory.   We must look beyond the here and now and remember that God has much greater purposes and plans than we can humanly comprehend.

The temptation is to want to give up and sulk in discontentment and defeat.   The next step forward seems so daunting that we find it hard to work up the courage and strength to move forward.  Yet our loving Father calls us to toughen up and not make too much of our suffering.  He graciously reminds us of His grand view from on high.  He has bigger plans than we can conjure.  They may certainly not be our plans, and they may involve more suffering and further seeming wasting away.  Yet, God’s word gives us 3-D glasses to behold the display of His glory in what he is putting into production through our heartaches and pain.  If we can see that inside the present hardship we face, awaits a gift with the most prized and coveted outcome; we will not only be able to bear it, but we will embrace it.

We must not let our sin reign and carry us into despair.  Even though all around us the world may seem to be growing dark and some days the struggle to carry through seems unbearable, the light of the world still dwells within us.  If we have been born again, then we are children of God and His Spirit forever resides within us.  I love that God is both wise and kind.  He is all-wise and knows we can’t do this life on our own and kind to give us a helper through the Spirit.  Those days that we just feel empty—the Spirit sympathizes with our weakness and prompts us to cry out to the Lord who is ready to fill our hearts again.

Heavenly Father, our Help and Comforter.  Thank you for showering us with your goodness through the dry valleys.  Your seek only good for us.  You have set your love on us and will never leave or forsake us.  You have begun a wonderful work of remodel in our heart and have all the resources to bring it about.  Oh, let us we walk intimately before you no matter what the cost.  May you grant us eyes to see your kindness and presence even during those times you seem far off.  Oh Lord may these verses be engraved in our mind and plated on the walls of our hearts.