God Wants You to Know Him–Proverbs 2 part 1

Most people that have any interest in spiritual things would agree that they would love to know and understand God.  Amazingly, God replied,—“I want you to know me. Here’s what I will do—

  1. I will make myself evident in all of creation.
  2. I will send men to speak on my behalf and keep you informed about how to navigate life.
  3. I will send the Messiah to let you see me for who I am, in human terms.
  4. I will put my thoughts and instruction in writing so you can see how to live a free and abundant life.
  5. Finally, when we connect, I will send my spirit to guide you to the truth of who I am.”

 From a pure objective perspective, few would argue with the statement that God has come well past halfway to help men know him.  The greatest benefit of wisdom–is grasping these facts and seeking God in all these places.  Solomon knew that there simply is no short cut to knowing God.  It is a lifetime pursuit that pays amazing and eternal dividends. He calls us to seek God and allow God to reveal himself to us; and, make our lives full and meaningful. 

 It is still, however, our choice.  On a daily basis—we have to choose to seek and follow God. We can never grow complacent and allow the world to sneak into our lives and replace God as our primary focus. When we do—as in any other relationship, we begin to lose touch with wisdom and who God is and miss out on all the blessings Solomon lists as its benefits.  Help me, Lord–to seek you and your wisdom—each and every day.

 God Bless You!

My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!

Wisdom the Bridesmaid???–Proverbs 1 Continued

We have all met them.  Perfectly lovely people who have for one reason or another not been able to connect with another.  We all pull for them and want so badly for someone to scoop them up and love them—and yet, alas, it never seems to happen.  That is Solomon’s illustration for wisdom.  So many people say they want to be wise and insightful.  We want the answers to life’s difficult questions and issues.  Solomon indicates that it is us–not wisdom.  Like the girl never picked at the dance, no one is willing to partner with wisdom.  Some would say it’s just too weird—wisdom is not their type.  They prefer sarcasm and google.  Others shy away feeling they are not worthy to have such an amazing partner.  Still others flirt with wisdom but just want what it will give them not caring instead what it will make them.

Wisdom, like the beautiful maiden, stands arms outstretched longing to be embraced.  But, we have to want to be wise and not simply knowledgeable.  What’s more, wisdom does not share the stage with base emotion and trash thought—She expects a desire to remain humble and to diligently seek God.  Finally, wisdom requires faith in God and his timing in order to be the lasting influence in our lives—This ain’t no one night stand. It is a covenant relationship that comes with age and commitment to service.  James 1 sums it up quite nicely—“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who give generously and without judgment.  But when He asks let him ask in faith—or he will be like aa double—minded man.

If you have not begun, yet; today is the best day to court and win the hand of Wisdom in your life.

God Bless You

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. 24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—

Don’t Chase Your Thuggy Friends–Proverbs 1 part 3

As the old saying goes, You are known by the company you keep. Solomon starts his instruction by giving the most sage and practical advice to a prince—Listen to mom and dad! Don’t chase after your thuggy friends and lower your standards to please them.  Youth is sooo wasted on the young.  Solomon helps his son and all of us to remember that living to please your friends can lead to STUPID and deadly short term decisions.

The lives of the chosen should center around helping others—not lying in wait rob or kill them.  While it seems simple, so many have wasted their lives to be liked and connected to their friends.  Solomon reminds his son and us, that the one we need to impress is God, then, the one we should listen most closely to is our folks—they really care about us and they always have our back!

God Bless You

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction     and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head     and a chain to adorn your neck.

10 My son, if sinful men entice you,     do not give in to them. 11 If they say, “Come along with us;     let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,     let’s ambush some harmless soul; 12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,     and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we will get all sorts of valuable things     and fill our houses with plunder; 14 cast lots with us;     we will all share the loot”— 15 my son, do not go along with them,     do not set foot on their paths; 16 for their feet rush into evil,     they are swift to shed blood. 17 How useless to spread a net     where every bird can see it! 18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;     they ambush only themselves! 19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;     it takes away the life of those who get it

The Beginning of Wisdom–Proverbs 1 Part 2

When Solomon wrote the Proverbs, he knew that the priority for any and everybody should be to “FEAR THE LORD!” Without the proper reverence for God and who he is, abundance of knowledge is useless and mundane.  Prior to Google, to accumulate knowledge of the world was a lifetime pursuit filled with trials and sleepless nights. Those people who spent their lives in pursuit of God, knowledge and wisdom were unique, sought after and honored.  The reason was not so much that they had the answers, it was really because they knew God!

In the information age, we can literally answer any question that we can imagine by keying it in to our phone.  It is so prevalent, that we have lost respect for knowledge and certainly have lost our reverence for God and those that seek him. Still, there are those that learned and remember the timeless truth—Reverence of God leads to amazing knowledge and wisdom.  The reward to those that seek God and his wisdom is invaluable—

  • Wisdom and instruction—How to do life
  • Instruction in prudent behavior—How to act appropriately
  • Giving prudence to the simple—Helping to exceed their natural oblivious and self-absorbed ignorance
  • Knowledge and discretion to the young—Making one wise beyond their years
  • Additional learning and understanding for the wise—The ultimate truth that one never quits learning

This is the reward for a healthy reverence for God and a lifetime pursuit of knowing Him and His word. Those who have followed this course have left a legacy in the lives of others that is unmatched; those whom have chosen to ignore it have at best been insignificant and at worst down right destructive.  God tells us—The choice is ours.  Help me Lord to never stop seeking you and all you can show me!!!

God Bless You

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;     for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,     doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple,     knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning,     and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables,     the sayings and riddles of the wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,     but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Wise Sayings From a Wise Guy–Proverbs 1 Part 1

Giving back—that is the answer of why the wisest, richest and most powerful leader of Israel took time out of his day to write the proverbs. To understand the proverbs, one must understand the author.  Solomon was the Son of David.  He was God’s pick for King.  When he became king—God met him directly, offered him anything he wanted as King–wealth, power, fame—Solomon told God, as a young king, he wanted wisdom.  God was thrilled.  God said, as you have asked for wisdom—I will make you the wisest king that has ever lived.  In addition, since you chose wisdom over fame, power and fortune, I will also give you all of those things. So it was—Solomon became the wisest, most powerful, most wealthy and most influential king of the nation of Israel.

Sadly, despite all that God had provided the king—like many of us—Solomon began to believe the hype.  He became proud of his wisdom, his wealth and his power.  He literally made his life an experiment.  He did everything that men do to find happiness.  He sought treasure-and accumulated more than he could ever spend—it left him empty.  He sought love—he had 1000 wives and 300 concubines—it left him lonely.  He sought world renown as the most prominent and wealthiest leader in the world—yet his power gave him nothing more than the kings before him. He dived head first into every sin imaginable—still he was unsatisfied.  At the end of his life, the “wonder king” realized all his ventures were nothing more than foolishness and his original plan as a boy king—to have and use God’s wisdom to lead justly and selflessly was the most amazing life of all.

It is from that place, that the wisest man of all time penned the proverbs.  He wrote them for his son—the one who would be king.  His hope was that he could help him to avoid the wasteful empty life Solomon made for himself.  While, the proverbs did not mold and save Rehoboam- his son and successor, it has shaped lives through the centuries and gives men some very practical life directing wisdom, that if followed, will unleash the power of a Godly king.

God Bless You

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;     for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,     doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple,     knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning,     and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables,     the sayings and riddles of the wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,     but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve–Joshua 24

Joshua 24Never, until now, has there been a nation that has seen God’s direction and miraculous hand guide its emergence and growth—as did Israel.  Now at the close of Joshua’s life, he looked the people in the eyes and made one final plea—“Choose this day whom you will serve!” Joshua knew that God had freed the people from the daily need to depend upon him for their food and water—the Manna had stopped.  They were no longer wanderers–now settled in established cities and lands, crops planted and harvests in full bloom.

With the pressure off and direct dependence no longer evident—Joshua made a dying plea to the people, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” He realized that unless they chose to serve God—they would be drawn to the idols of their ancestors or worse of the former inhabitants of the land. The worship of idols is easier and requires little real sacrifice.  You can see the idol, touch the idol and compartmentalize the idol—because it is not real.  When, conversely, you worship the Lord, it is a living, active and accountable relationship.

Like Israel, America is a nation formed by and blessed by God.  Our Pledge says, “One nation, UNDER GOD, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”  While so many would have us remove the phrase “UNDER GOD”, they fail to realize you simply cannot have one without the other.  Only a nation committed to God can live selflessly enough to give liberty and justice to all.  Like Joshua, God calls out to America today and says, “Choose this day—whom you will serve!”  Like Joshua, The Smith house humbly stands and exclaims, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!”

God Bless You

“Now fear the Lord(AN) and serve him with all faithfulness.(AO) Throw away the gods(AP) your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt,(AQ) and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites,(AR) in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household,(AS) we will serve the Lord.”(AT)

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake(AU) the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery,(AV) and performed those great signs(AW) before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out(AX) before us all the nations,(AY) including the Amorites, who lived in the land.(AZ) We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.(BA)

Quid Pro Quo–Joshua 23 Part 2

As Joshua was nearing his death, he took the time to remind the Israelites of all the Lord had done for them. Additionally, he made clear that as good as God had treated them—should they not keep their commitment, it would be equally bad.  Many forget that God is as just as he is merciful.  God is slow to anger, but, he will not be mocked.  The children of Israel experienced his wrath a number of times in their wanderings and now as he was dying, he felt compelled to remind them one more time.  Too many want to focus on what God should give them and not on simply trusting, following and worshiping him. 

 In current times, the world and the church seem afraid to acknowledge God’s justice and ability to withdraw his hand and allow judgement and destruction. It is bad for God’s image…not politically correct and might offend a potential seeker.  Well, it is time for the family of God to stand up and tell the truth—God is not OK with complete rebellion and chaos.  No matter how much we give God lip service, if our lives do not match our promise, God will neither ignore our sin nor will he allow it to go unpunished.  A Good parent takes time to discipline those he loves. God does love us and will correct us and discipline us for our eternal good. The choice we have to make  is whether we will treat God as a father or simply an ATM. If we choose the latter, understand–there will be a price for that choice

 God Bless you

“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.

A Lifetime Pursuit–Joshua 23

If there was ever a group of people that could testify of God’s greatness and provision, It would be the free people that God returned to Israel.  They were merely children of slaves and nomads wondering the desert—but, in their wonderings they saw daily God’s provision, protection and preparation to be his chosen nation.  That preparation was specific and complete and the distinction has lasted more than 4000 years.

Joshua gave sound advice to his people.  He knew God was a jealous God—not envious of others, but watchful of his own.  He knew that if they followed God’s teachings, they would not be exposed to the traps, snares and improper influences a godless world would constantly apply.  He knew that the journey in this world was difficult at best and their failure to pay attention to his leadership would never end well.  So he gave them training, instruction and protection to make it possible to remain separate from the world’s influences and culture.

Fortunately, he does the same for us today.  He gave us his word, this Bible, to lead us and direct us on how to live, to honor him and how to treat others. He also gave us the model of the Church to provide training, fellowship and support to live in the chaos of our Godless world.  Finally, he gave us the ability to pray and seek him directly, so that we remember his relationship with us is personal and real.  Like Joshua, after a lifetime of pursuit, there can be no other common sense move than to simply trust and follow the Lord humbly and closely.  Please join me in that daily pursuit.

God Bless You

You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my lifetime. The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies. I have allotted to you as your homeland all the land of the nations yet unconquered, as well as the land of those we have already conquered—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea[a] in the west. This land will be yours, for the Lord your God will himself drive out all the people living there now. You will take possession of their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.

“So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.

“For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

You May Go Home Now–Joshua 22

The Lord gave Rueben, Gad and Manasseh lands on the east side of the Jordan River.  That land was separated from the rest of the nation.  Even when assigned, God and Moses were concerned that the peoples of those tribes would settle in their land and act as though reclaiming the inheritance of the rest of the nation was not their problem.  Fortunately, these free people lived and acted as part of the family of Israel.  They left their lands, crossed the Jordan and spent years clearing the rest of the nation with their fellow travelers. 

 It came time to go home. The land was now cleared, the peoples settled and these tribes had obeyed everything that the Lord and Joshua had commanded of them.  There can be no better testimonial than Joshua’s statement—“You have done as Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you, and you have obeyed every order I have given you.   During all this time you have not deserted the other tribes. You have been careful to obey the commands of the Lord your God right up to the present day!”

 Now, Joshua was sending the people home to rest.  In his wisdom, he reminded them that as the pressure was off and they were going to settle in their new homes, they had to remain faithful and obey God and trust him.  It was critical for them since they would no longer be with the rest of the nation and would no longer have to depend upon God for their daily rations. Comfort can breed complacency.  Complacency can breed pride and pride is the beginning of moving away from God and toward self-sufficiency. Joshua knew this truth—but, he also knew that these people would have to make their own choice now–to follow, since they were no longer walking with the group.

 It is much the same today.  When we are in the midst of trial and spiritual war—we more easily depend upon God for our daily needs.  But, when things become calm and life becomes more manageable—rather than becoming grateful, we often become complacent, proud and self-sufficient.  When we are not in a fellowship with other believers, it is easy to drift away from God and  forget all he has provided.  So, it is critical we remain with the family of believers and obey the leadership of the Lord—especially in times of comfort and rest.  If we fail to do so, we stand to lose everything our journey and our Lord has provided.

 God Bless You

Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He told them, “You have done as Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you, and you have obeyed every order I have given you. During all this time you have not deserted the other tribes. You have been careful to obey the commands of the Lord your God right up to the present day. And now the Lord your God has given the other tribes rest, as he promised them. So go back home to the land that Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave you as your possession on the east side of the Jordan River. But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went home.

Thanks, Will There Be Anything Else–Joshua 21

In a world of broken promises, lived a people whose lives had been turned upside down.  After 400 years of slavery, 45 years of marching in the Desert and fighting to regain the land they had been promised—a crazy thing happened.  God actually delivered on every promise that he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  What’s more, the people were now settled in their new lives and pleased to be there.

God takes his covenants seriously.  Whether it is to free his people or to redeem and renew his relationship with us—God always keeps his word.  We, as people, are the ones that do everything to stretch God’s patience.  We lie, cheat and steal and chase idols of every shape and size.  Still, in the midst of the frailty and deception, God still stands as a father arms open wide and says—My word is good.

We, as his chosen, must trust God’s word and his timing—so that we can rest in his plan for our lives. As we do, the journey will seem pretty twisty and turny.  There are trials and battles and times when all seems lost. But, at the end of the day—like the Israelites, you can rest assured God will keep his promises, every one!!!

God Bless You

The total number of towns and pasturelands within Israelite territory given to the Levites came to forty-eight. 42 Every one of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it.

43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.