Monday, March 28, 2016

Incline Your Ear...

You may be familiar with this scene, perhaps having experienced something similar. Lying on his deathbed an elderly man tries to speak. Family members see his lips move, but can only hear a faint whisper. The oldest son leans toward him but still cannot make out what he is saying. Awkwardly leaning in until his ear almost touches his father's lips, he strains to listen.
His father's dying words are important.

A related scene unfolds in much a more casual setting. Dad has come home from work and switches on the TV to see the evening news. The kids are horsing around in the background. Dad leans forward and cocks his head to the side so that he can hear the news report better. He cups one hand behind his listening ear, increases the volume, and if there is a pause, he barks at the kids, “Quiet!”
This is important.

There is a sound outside in the darkness; an unfamiliar, puzzling sound.
“Shhh! Listen.” 
Everyone stops! 
Creeping to the closest door you quietly, cautiously peer out; perhaps even dare to step out. You strain to hear; ears alert; wanting to know and understand.
This is important.


We make an effort to hear something that is important to us. We turn our head. We cup a hand behind one ear.
We lean in.
We ‘shush.’
We strain.
We change our position and change manage our surroundings so that we can hear.
It is important!

With one simple word Solomon paints the picture of importance: Incline.

My son, give attention to my wisdom,
Incline your ear to my understanding.
                                            --Proverbs 5:1

Lean your ear toward me for wisdom.
Stretch forward for understanding.
Strain, struggle, focus.
Shhhh!
Stop!

Listen.

This Is Important!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Acquire Wisdom

Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
                                                           --Proverbs 4:5


"Acquire."

Acquire means to buy or trade for something. Of course, one should not think that wisdom can be purchased from a merchant, “I’d like one bucket of wisdom, please.” Nor should one think of wisdom as an object to be possessed like some sort of collectable. However, the term ‘acquire’ is used for a reason. Perhaps we should look at the transaction itself.

If you had to explain the concept of buying and selling to a very young child, what would you tell them? How would you explain the exchange of money or property for something of value?

Stop.
Think about it.

When we acquire things we generally buy them with money. Or, in more general terms, we make a trade. So, whether bartering or buying, we expect a fair exchange of things of value. How is it then that a person is to acquire wisdom and understanding? What is to be traded?

Wisdom and understanding do not come naturally. No one acquires wisdom by osmosis or gains understanding by simply attending church services or sitting in a Bible study. Yet, the value placed on wisdom and understanding is determined by whatever a person is willing offer in exchange.

Do you find wisdom and understanding to be of superior value???
What do you possess that you can offer as a trade to acquire wisdom and understanding?

What will you exchange in order to...
“Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Apple of Your Eye


Think about your eyes.
Think about the importance of your eyes.

What will you do to protect your eyes?

The wind kicks up a little dust; you turn your head. Out of your peripheral vision you see something moving toward your eyes; you react. People are sometimes comical when a gnat zeroes in on one of their eyeballs. They swat, clap, dip, dodge, and sway to avoid the tiny insect...that no one else sees.

Eyes are important. We cherish our eyes. We protect our eyes.

The “apple of your eye” is an old phrase that is generally used for something or someone that is deeply cherished. But don’t think about sweet apples that the eye sees and desires. Rather, the 'apple' of the eye is the pupil.

The phrase has been a common choice for Bible translators to render the Hebrew phrase: "the little man of the eye." Language scholars accept this to be the pupil where a person might see their own reflection in another person's eye, therefore, the 'little man.' So, the phrase is not about something precious that the eye sees, but something of greatest importance, the eye itself!

Not only do we blink, swat, and dodge physical things that endanger our eyes, we protect our eyes from intense light that might cause blindness. The ‘apple of your eye’ is something that we all cherish, but also something that we will do almost anything to protect.

  Solomon wrote:
    Keep my commandments and live, 
    And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
                                                   --Proverbs 7:2

God’s word is to be cherished and protected. The idea is not that God’s word is so delicate that it needs protection. Rather, God’s word is of such great importance that we should do anything to make sure we hold to it and follow it.

Can you think of anything in life that is so important that you would give your eyes?

Is God’s instruction as important to you as the ‘apple of your eye’?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Acknowledge Him


Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
  And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
  And he will make your paths straight.
                                            --Proverbs 3:5-6


"Acknowledge"

Our English word 'acknowledge' has the meaning of admit, recognize, or confess. It is commonly used in an even more casual way to mean that you have noticed someone. An important person is acknowledged at a gathering. An award is given to acknowledge an achievement. The winning coach 'tips his hat' to his opposition in acknowledgment. Webster also defines 'acknowledgment' as a reluctant confession.

Was Solomon teaching us to 'tip our hats' to God or to 'reluctantly confess' him? (That doesn't sound quite right.)

Perhaps the idea of simple 'recognition' fits better.
Let's go behind the scenes for a closer look.

The Hebrew term for acknowledge is yada which occurs over 600 times in the Old Testament. The vast majority of the time it is translated with its basic meaning, to know. Though a little awkward to the English-thinking mind, a literal translation of today's verse would be:

     In all your ways know Him,
     And he will make your paths straight.

I 'know' my wife; I 'know' her well.
I know my wife's habits, the way she responds to different circumstances, how she will respond to and interact with me, how she will respond and interact with ur children, and with our friends. I know her 'likes' and 'dislikes.' Because I know her I am confident in our relationship. I trust her. I depend on her.
I know her.

I know my best friend; I 'know' him well.
(We understand what it means to 'know' someone.)


Do you know God? Know his character? Do you know how he will respond to various circumstances? Do you know what gives him joy? Or what makes him angry? Do you know how he feels about you?

The only real way to truly know God is to embrace his word, the Holy Scriptures, and then choose the path that Jesus walked.



The benefit of knowing God is that he will “make your paths straight.” In simple terms you might say that God will make your path in life easier to travel. That’s right; God will provide assistance to you...if...

"In ALL your ways...know God."


Monday, March 7, 2016

Paths


Think about a path through a wooded area...
Think about a path up a steep hillside...
Think about a path across a broad plain...

How did the paths become paths?
What exactly makes a path a path?


Proverbs 2 is about paths. In this short chapter there are eleven references to one's path/way/course in life. There is encouragement along with warnings. So, what is Solomon teaching about paths?

By casual observation we know that a path is a path because there is no grass or other growth. If the path is in a rocky area, the sharp edges of the rocks become worn over time. A path becomes a path because it is used over and over and over.

A path is something that is set in place; it is established. Even when a path falls into disuse, it takes a while for it to be restored to the growth patterns around it so that it disappears.

It may have started as a path of least resistance through a rough area. Once established, it certainly offers the least resistance.

Of the many things that Solomon writes about one’s path, one thing is certain. Paths are chosen. A path may have begun as a way of least resistance; even then was chosen whether by man or beast.

In life, some people wake up and find themselves on a path they do not like. Yet, it was chosen.
  • Perhaps they acknowledge poor choices.
  • Perhaps there were circumstances that that suggested or seemed to offer no other choice.
  • Perhaps it was simply the path of least resistance.
Whatever the case, every person is going along a path in life, and that path IS the one chosen.

Are you on a jagged, crooked and difficult path in life?
Is the path you are on leading you to the destination you desire?

The Proverbs can assist you in choosing and walking the better path, one with a good and joyful destination.

You CAN choose a different path.
Choose wisely.
Choose LIFE.