Proverbs 9-10

This scenario haunts me:

Foolishness, personified as an alluring woman. Inviting you in for a meal, enticing you with temptation of the forbidden. It reads like the end of a chilling chapter in a thriller novel. “But little do they know that the dead are there. Her guests are in the depths of the grave.” 9:18

If you are sensing redundancy in the Proverbs, you are paying attention. Foolishness is easy, accessible, a choice we slip into naturally. Wisdom is calculated. And learned.

In the middle of writing this post, I disrupted my son’s plans of pulling out the pin from a fire extinguisher, twice. His reply was “but I want to!” and “stop saying no!”. He’s three, so I extended him grace, moved it out of his reach and comforted his disappointment that I’m preventing him from any and all fun ideas.

Sound familiar?

Let’s not be stubborn to respond to God’s instructions, or eager to fulfill our small-minded desires. Best case scenario, he has mercy on us and takes away the things that could harm us. Worst case scenario, he gives us over to the things we so foolishly want. Like those portrayed in the text, we stagger stupidly towards the stacks of bodies in Folly’s house.

Which proverb grabbed your attention this morning?

 

-Carly

Proverbs 7-8

“I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.”‭‭-Wisdom (8:17‬)

Throughout the Bible we are reminded we can ask for wisdom and receive it. It’s different from knowledge, which must be gained through study and experience. True wisdom is a gift from God, and one He wants to give us.

Chapter 8 is beautiful. Wisdom really is glorious. Earth’s greatest treasure, beyond all wealth, timeless and from the LORD. 

I’ve been thinking about Philippians 4:5:

“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.”

‭‭The ESV translation swaps out “gentle spirit” with “reasonableness”. NIV calls it “gentleness”. Being reasonable or gentle feels like a lost art (sometimes, when I’m being dramatic), so does being wise.

But guys, we are to be marked by these. The LORD beckons, “ask for wisdom! Pursue her!” The Apostle Paul points out gentleness as something to be known for, also a fruit of the Spirit. 

“For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her… Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine… Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness… My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver…. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD.” (8:11, 14, 18-19, 35‬)

Okay, yeah, that’s what I want. LORD give us wisdom! Fill us with your Spirit, helping us with understanding and gentleness. Forgive me of the pride, which you hate. I need you for all of life’s fullness. Lead me in wisdom where ever I go. May it proceed my reputation.

-Bethany 

Proverbs 5-6

These chapters are powerful warnings against the evils of adultery. Not married? These warnings are for you too. 

Although the text characterizes the sin as an “immoral woman”, I also find it to be an analogy of all sin. The things that lead our heart away from God are often packaged like the woman described in today’s chapter. 

It’s so desireable, at first. This thing can’t be bad, you tell yourself. It’s so good. But then “her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to th grave” (5:5). Such powerful imagery! 

What temptations and sins have you staggering towards the grave? 

A wise person sees the whole picture. Recognizing what your flesh is desiring is the first step. But it’s crucial to also anticipate how that will play out. This is sin’s biggest trap. We tell ourselves that no one else will be impacted by our choice and fail to see the immense consequences. 

What’s the immoral woman in your life? Or, where does your heart wander from God to indulge in your sinful desires? I’ll share one of mine; I let my thought life run wild sometimes. Seems harmless. No one knows what’s going on up there but me. It’s not hurting anyone, right? But then, the next thing I know, I’m rattled from anxiety because I’ve convinced myself Matt is late getting home because he’s died and I have his funeral half planned out. Or I compare my marriage to everyone else’s and discontentment starts to grow. It seems harmless, but being enslaved to fear and prone to jealousy are definitely steps away from life and towards the grave. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God always gives us a way out when we’re faced with temptation. I remember one friend admitting to me that she struggled with self-harm. She also recalled that often, when she was feeling the temptation to indulge, someone would happen to call her right then and distract her. 

Start noticing when God’s giving you a way out. Not only will it redirect your thoughts, it will also remind you that he’s with you. 


-Carly 

Proverbs 3-4

“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. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” (3:5-7)

Proverbs is a treasure trove of excellent advice. It all starts here, though. It’s not picking and choosing what sounds nice or doable. It’s not thinking of someone else who should really be taking this advice. Right off the bat we have the challenge:

Am I going to lean on my own understanding and be wise in my own estimation? 

OR

Trust the LORD, fearing and obeying Him?

Carly touched on the fear of the LORD a bit yesterday. I want to reiterate some stuff because it is so foundational to life and Christian faith, although widely misunderstood.

One tangible application of fearing the LORD is asking yourself three questions when making a decision (i.e. Seeking wisdom):

  1. What am I afriad of? (Social rejection, financial loss, losing approval or disappointing someone, the unknown)
  2. What does the Bible say about this?
  3. Who am I giving power over my life? (Creator God or my fellow man, circumstance, etc?)

The fact of the matter is, we make most our decisions out of fear anyway. We are surrendering to someone’s power. Who will it be?

The Almighty Creator God who loves you, never changes and clearly communicates and has Ultimate power of Heaven, earth and your eternal soul?

OR

Some bozo you want to impress at the moment? (Who may also be yourself)

It all starts with humility, adorning yourself with kindness and truth. How lovely.

Which little nugget of advice stuck out to you, today? There is so much to glean from Proverbs. Participation would be really fun here. Let’s do it together, in all hopes to become wise through Trust.

-Bethany 

Proverbs 1-2

We are scootin’ on back to the Old Testament and reading through the book of Proverbs! You can watch a quick overview of the book here.

In that video, they note that the Hebrew definition of “wisdom” isn’t just gaining knowledge, but applying it. A wise person doesn’t just know what to do, they make the decision to do it. 

Something we’ll come across a lot in this book is reading that the foundation of wisdom is fearing the Lord. Or at least that’s how my translation words it. Are you uncomfortable with the term “fear”? Maybe the authority or paternal figures in your life lorded themselves over you, using fear against you to gain control. The idea of fearing God seems backwards to you. 

I prefer the word “reverence” over “fear”. Our culture has twisted fear into a weird pleasure, focusing on all the unhealthy versions of it; I don’t like it being tied in with my relationship with the Lord. Respect for God is the beginning of knowledge. My awe and submission to him is what steers my discernment. I believe that he has my best interest in mind and loves me, so when he asks something of me, I trust him and (try to) obey. He is God, completely holy, worthy of all revere. 

This concept comes alive for me in parenting. I want my three year old to obey me when I ask him to do something because he trusts me, not because he’s afraid of me or feels pinned under my thumb. 

Take a minute and pray that God would open you up to his wisdom. I echo Solomon’s claim that reading this book and following it’s advice will change our lives.
-Carly 

Mark 15-16

The name Barabbas means “son of the father”. He represents every person. The first of us to have Jesus die in his place.

The climax of history is here:

“And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!‘” (15:37-39‬)

“And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” (6:16)

The Son of God died in our place, removing the barrier between us and God. He became the Passover Lamb. He became the purified way for Israel to touch the smoking mountain and not die. He Himself became the Mediator between God and Mankind. He became the Defeater of Death. Our curse from Genesis 3 became His curse and He stripped it of its power!

Jesus has done it! He has made a way for us in His death, shown us the way by His life and sent us on our way to proclaim “the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” (16:20)

The BEST NEWS IN HISTORY: we can be in close proximity, intimate relationship with the LORD God Almighty. Hallelujah!

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, together today, and proclaim the Good News to someone!

-Bethany 

(Carly will kick off Proverbs tomorrow!)

Mark 13-14

God uses Scripture to expose different concepts to us in different seasons of life; I’m convinced I can read this book every day for the rest of my life and continue to learn from it. That being said, sometimes when I’m rereading really familiar stories, I fail to see them with fresh eyes and glaze over the text a little. 

Whenever I pray and exercise a little focus, the Holy Spirit never fails to direct my heart towards something new. 

After reading these chapters, I found myself wondering what I could learn from Judas. Am I like him? Is he relatable? Or is he a stand-alone example of betrayal and violation, someone needed to complete a certain scenario at a certain time? 

Unfortunately, it seems we have plenty to learn from Judas, and that yes, we can relate to him. 

The exact motivation behind his betrayal isn’t mentioned in the text. My speculation (based on commentaries and various memories of sermons rattling around in my head), is that perhaps Judas was never saved. He betrayed Jesus because he never truly pledge himself to him. He was just a part of the Jesus-following culture. 

Here are a few questions I’m asking myself: 

-Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus or am I just a part of Christian-culture? (This is a question that I could  answer differently at times depending on my spiritual health.)

-Am I opening up myself to Satan at all? This is an intense concept, but keep in mind that our small sparks of sin can be fanned into consuming fires of evil if left unattended. Don’t underestimate this.

-Judas gives himself over to despair and death by committing suicide after Jesus’ arrest. When faced with the consequences of my mistakes, how do I respond? Do I choose hope, or shame? Eternal life, or death? 

-God is sovereign over everything, including our selfish, greedy, sinful choices. He fits our failures into his plan and works out his purpose even in the worst possible events. Where do you need to stay hopeful of this? In your family? Your relationship? Politics? Your church? 
-Carly