My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I love Proverbs!

I love reading the book of Proverbs! It's full of little snippets of wisdom and you can read a verse or a chapter or the whole book and not worry about it being taken out of context. Each verse contains a message all by itself.

I know some of you are beginning a spiritual journey (because you have either commented or emailed me to tell me) and I know that Bible study can be completely overwhelming. It's a big book... it's old... it's deep... it's hard to understand the context. I've been in church my whole life (other than the past seven years or so) and I've studied consistently and seriously for twenty years or so... and every time I read the Bible, I find something new.

As I've mentioned before, the best place to start is in Proverbs. Just read the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month and you won't even have to think about where you left off before. Today you would be reading Proverbs 3. And you can start right at Proverbs 3 because the book of Proverbs doesn't have to be read in order to make sense. If you don't have a Bible you can go to and read ANY translation and just about any language you can imagine.

For those of you who are not really sure about this whole God thing... read Proverbs just for the nuggets of truth about human nature. It's like reading a book of quotes. You might actually find a little humor - I always do.

(sidebar: if you'd like to read a sweet short story, try the book of Ruth)

When I opened my Bible today it sorta fell open to chapter 26 of Proverbs and I found some cool stuff there. There are a few things that spoke to me and I wanted to share them here - partly because I want you to see them, partly because I go back and read my blog entries and I want to be able to look back on this and remember what God has revealed to me.

The simple truth is that I get excited about the things I read in the Bible. Most of the people who read my blog are people who like to read... you get excited about a good book. I get excited about The Good Book.

Check this out:
v 2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
v 11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
v 12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
v 17 Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passerby who meddles in a quarrel not his own.
v24-26 A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
v 28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

I could spend hours considering just those 8 verses.... and I'm glad I flipped to that particular passage because there were some concepts there that I need to be able to integrate into my life. But that was chapter 26. Today we were going to look at chapter 3... here are a few goodies:

v 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
(I've always taken "straight paths" to mean easy paths... paths where you can see what lies ahead...)

Remember my whole issue about fearing God... here's on that reinforces the concept:
v 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.

The majority of chapter three is about wisdom... and that's all good stuff... but here is a verse that made me excited:
v 33 The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.

I'll be honest with you... I get a little jazzed up with the belief that there are consequences for the wicked. That's karma for you! That enables me to just keep moving forward, knowing that those who sought my harm will find their own instead. "If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it..." Proverbs 26:27

Here's where fearing God ties in for I want to be cursed? No. I want to be blessed. I believe the Bible and therefore I take this statement to be true, not just some flowery words. Therefore I need to be certain that my house is righteous, not wicked... and because I take this admonition seriously, I am fearing God's curse. "fear the Lord and shun evil."

Now, the need for a broader understanding of the Bible comes into play in grasping the concept of what is evil. I'll be honest... understanding the commands of God are like eating an elephant... you can only do it a bite at a time. There are some basics... the top ten... the Ten Commandments (found in Exodus 20, if you need a quick review) most of us have a general moral sensibility to the extent that we can understand the difference between right and wrong. Then there is the Law that is set forth in Leviticus... so specific and detailed that no one could ever possibly live according to the Law. (Which is why we needed Jesus, by the way). How do you know what parts of the Law are no longer required? How do you know what's been reiterated in the New Testament -if you believe in the N.T. and I know I have some readers who don't subscribe to the whole Jesus as Messiah concept... and therefore, I guess that you're still living under the Law... I'm not an expert on Christianity so I can't pretend to be an expert on Judaism.

Those who do believe in Jesus can read the teachings and preachings of Jesus to get a better idea of right and wrong. Paul teaches us a lot through his Epistles (those are letters written to new churches and groups of believers in the ancient world). All this is cumulative. You understand one passage by having understanding of another passage. They build on each other. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled". Matthew 5:6

I love this verse - "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" Jeremiah 29:13

For those who are trying to begin a spiritual journey, keep Jeremiah 29:13 in mind. The truth is that you can dabble in Christianity but just like anything else in this world... you get out of it what you put into it. There are nice passages in Proverbs. There is sweet comfort in Psalms. There are great stories of history in the Old Testament. There is some practical advice for living a morally upright life in the New Testament. But until you seek God with all of your heart, you're not going to really "get it". It's like the first week on an antidepressant... it doesn't work until you have it in your system for a month or so!

This is how/why we need to expand our scope of study. Proverbs is a great kiddie pool for us to test the waters and get our toes wet. But to be able to learn how to swim on our own, at some point we have to just dive in and start soaking up the knowledge and understanding. I'm tired of living my life just dipping my toes in the water but staying on the edge of the pool. I've been concerned about getting my hair wet and how I will look without my coverup. I really just need to get real with it and take the plunge. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

I think I'm approachable enough that people speak their genuine heart to me. I hear things like, "I'm not sure that I believe" "I'm on the fence" "I don't believe the whole Bible as the literal Word of God". I hear you. I understand. I'm not trying to preach. I'm just trying to share what works for me. I would rather live my whole life believing in God and find out at the end that I was wrong - than live my whole life NOT believing and find out that He's real, too late. I get more peace and comfort and joy and excitement out of my relationship with God than anything else has ever brought me.

It's hard for people who are generally self-sufficient to find a need for God in their lives. Everyone comes to a point in their lives where money can't buy what they need... health - happiness - youth - vitality - peace - security. Everything we put our faith in is temporary, right down to the vehicles we drive and the people who love us. It can all disappear in a breath. There are wars, rumors of wars, famine, illness, poverty... all around us. It can all disappear. Why wait until you have nothing left to try to find Him? Fear Him now. Let your house be blessed.

love and hugs!


Anonymous said...

You have commented before that "It's hard for people who are generally self-sufficient to find a need for God in their lives" . . I think you are directing that statement at one particular person and not taking into account a multitude of generally self-sufficient people who know that their "self-sufficiency" is not so "self-sufficient" but more likely "God-sufficient." There are many people who have good times and good things in their lives who give all their glory and thanks for their good times and good things to God. There are also many people who say "I just don't get anything out of church (or the Bible, or the preacher)" . . . well, you only get out of it what you put into it. You have to have a right relationship with God in order to feel the blessings that only He can give. Just my thought for the day . . . I feel truly blessed in my life and I know that it is not anything I have done by myself that has caused the blessings . . . I give all honor and glory to God.