Thursday 30 April 2020

Wisdom as a Person - a new insight

bible verse, psalm 143:8, bible quote, direction quote, guidance ...
If you enjoy the collection of Proverbs you will note that the flow of chapters 1 to 9 is different from the later Proverbs. In the first 9 chapters, we see that the writer (Solomon?) speaks about wisdom as being an abstract object - almost as a character trait that we all need to get and then hold onto.

However, in the focal point of the first 9 Chapters, Solomon suddenly changes his language and now starts to speak about Wisdom as a PERSON. Now, this is not really a huge jump to make because Wisdom is referred to as 'sophia' in Greek and 'hokmah' in Hebrew - both of these are female personifications. (So ladies you can now joke with us men-folk that you are the truly WISE ones :)

What is more, when we read about this WISDOM, we note the massive parallels with the person of Jesus. The Apostle John wrote about Jesus that "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!" (John 1). Now this may be a little tricky to understand at first, but very simply, John was reminding us that Jesus was present in the beginning of Creation. From this understanding we get our concept of the Trinity.

Now, as we read Proverbs 8:22-33, we see that Solomon is suggesting the same thing. This person, referred to as Wisdom, could really be referring to Jesus, the Messiah. Take a read of these words and see what you think...

"From the beginning, I was with the Lord.
    I was there before he began to create the earth.
At the very first, the Lord gave life to me.

When I was born, there were no oceans
    or springs of water.

My birth was before mountains were formed
    or hills were put in place.

It happened long before God
    had made the earth or any of its fields
    or even the dust.

I was there when the Lord put the heavens in place
    and stretched the sky over the surface of the sea.
I was with him when he placed the clouds in the sky
    and created the springs that fill the ocean.
I was there when he set boundaries for the sea
    to make it obey him, and when he laid foundations
    to support the earth.
I was right beside the Lord, helping him plan and build.
I made him happy each day, and I was happy at his side.
I was pleased with his world
    and pleased with its people.
Pay attention, my children! Follow my advice,
    and you will be happy.
Listen carefully to my instructions,
    and you will be wise."

Regardless of how we feel about this possible connection with the Christ, Wisdom is a necessity for all of us, especially as we navigate through turbulent waters. Let us turn to the Wisdom of Jesus and also pray for those who lead us through our current Pandemic.
So many people would like to have guidance from God because obviously, if you have a word from God, it's the best possible thing. But they don't relate that to life as a whole. Often they want guidance as a way of opting out of the responsibility of making decisions. Dallas Willard

"So many people would like to have guidance from God because obviously, if you have a word from God, it's the best possible thing. But they don't relate that to life as a whole. Often they want guidance as a way of opting out of the responsibility of making decisions." - Dallas Willard

So many people would like to have guidance from God because obviously, if you have a word from God, it's the best possible thing. But they don't relate that to life as a whole. Often they want guidance as a way of opting out of the responsibility of making decisions. Dallas Willard
Living in Grace

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Living in the same house

Wisdom Knowledge Discernment 💜 Proverbs 8:12 NLT | Bible apps ...
During these days of Lockdown most of us are learning how to live in the same space with our family (or community) without getting on each others nerves. There are of course some days when we all end up feeling that the 'living space' is a little cramped, don't you agree? However, we know that staying in the same house is good for us and helps flatten the curve.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Well, as I was reading through Proverbs 8, I came to verse 12, where it mentions that 'wisdom' and 'judgement' live together and it is a good partnership. Have a read of these verses and see what benefit there is from bringing out the best in each other.

"Wisdom and good judgment live together, for wisdom knows where to discover knowledge and understanding. If anyone respects and fears God, he will hate evil. For wisdom hates pride, arrogance, corruption, and deceit of every kind. “I, Wisdom, give good advice and common sense. Because of my strength, kings reign in power, and rulers make just laws. I love all who love me. Those who search for me shall surely find me. Unending riches, honor, justice, and righteousness are mine to distribute. My gifts are better than the purest gold or sterling silver!" - Proverbs 8:12-19 (Living Bible)

Euripides - "Whosoever neglects learning in his youth, loses the past and is dead for the future."

Living in Grace

Tuesday 28 April 2020

It is more than listening

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quote: “You can only learn what obedience is ...
"Listen to me, young people, and not only listen but obey; don’t let your desires get out of hand..." - Proverbs 7:24-25

It is so frustrating when you speak to someone and it seems like they are listening to you, but they are actually in another world. I am sure that this has happened to you before and, if we are honest, we have also been the ones ignoring someone else. 

The reason I bring this up today is because 'listening' to the word of God is only half of the process. We must take the time to listen to what God says, but we must also have the desire to obey these life-giving words.

Coming back to the lockdown we are all experiencing at the moment - there are many people who listen to the instructions of the government (which are given for our safety), but who can't be bothered to obey them. Take for example, the guy who tried to smuggle his girlfriend into another province - it was almost comical to see her lying in the boot of the car while the TV camera's were taking pictures and footage of their transgressions. She looked so sheepish and embarrassed.

Listening and then obeying God's word is not only important for our spiritual health, but also for our relationships and community well-being.

What do you think?

"It is not hard to obey when we love the one whom we obey." - Saint Ignatius

"The ship that will not obey the helm will have to obey the rocks." - English Proverb

Living in Grace

Monday 27 April 2020

Protecting your eyes

Protecting your eyes in summer | DIABETES SOUTH AFRICA
"My child, remember what I say and never forget what I tell you to do. Do what I say, and you will live. Be as careful to follow my teaching as you are to protect your eyes. Keep my teaching with you all the time; write it on your heart. Treat wisdom as your sister, and insight as your closest friend." - Proverbs 7:1-4

There are a few interesting points from today's Proverb that I would like to highlight.

1. The author is so convinced of his words of instruction that he urges the listeners to 'do what he says!' This is a simple, but profound point, because there are many people who are good at speaking, but very bad at following up with their actions. 

2. Following Godly wisdom of the Truly Wise will add 'Abundant Life' to our days.

3. We must hold onto Jesus' teaching as we would seek to protect our eyes. Obviously our eyes are such an important part of our body - they help us orientate ourselves in the physical world. In a similar way, our spiritual eyes will help us navigate through our spiritual world. 

4. Writing God's teachings onto our heart means to know it so well, that is almost as if it has been engraved on our hearts.

5. Wisdom us to be treated with dignity, honour and respect.

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” -  Soren Kierkegaard

Living in Grace

Sunday 26 April 2020

Wearing wisdom like a Face Mask

How to Put on and Remove a Face Mask - Disease Prevention and ...
Everywhere we go in these times of Coronavirus it is important for us to wear our face masks. Despite all the debate about their effectiveness, they do play a vital role in stopping the virus from spreading - and they should teach us to stop touching our mouths with germ-filled hands :)

In a different kind of way, Solomon advices us to wear wisdom like a scarf around our necks (or maybe our mouths) - he says we should wrap ourselves from head to foot in the beauty of God's wisdom.

Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;
    don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.
Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;
    wear them like a scarf around your neck.
Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;
    whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;
    when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.
For sound advice is a beacon,
    good teaching is a light,
    moral discipline is a life path. (Proverbs 6:20-23 - Message)

And so the challenge is there before us - we need to let wisdom guide us where-ever we walk.
When we rest, let us allow godly wisdom to be our guards. And even when we wake up during time of lockdown, let us call out to Wisdom to guide us.

Wisdom from Jesus Christ will be a beacon of hope and a light for our paths.

“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person's seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.” Elisabeth Elliot

Living in Grace

Saturday 25 April 2020

Learning from the ant

PERSEVERE! in 2018 following the example of the ant. - aBr ...
There is so much to learn in this life and if we reckon we can't learn from the smallest, weakest and youngest then we are standing on dangerous ground. It is not just those who have degrees, large bank balances and big followings that can teach us true wisdom. Listen to these wise words of instruction:

"You lazy fool, look at an ant.
    Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
    All summer it stores up food;
    at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
    How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
    sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
    poverty your permanent houseguest!" - Proverbs 6:6-11

What are we able to learn from the 'smallest' in our communities at the moment?

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” –Zig Ziglar
Living in Grace

Thursday 23 April 2020

The bitter taste of Wormwood

Wormwood: Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects
When trying to teach a young person some pearls of wisdom it is always good to use 'word-pictures' that hopefully stick in their minds. Solomon is a master at this and in today's unique lesson, on the pit-falls of adultery, he uses two very clear, contrasting images to bring his point across.

"For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
And her mouth is smoother than oil;
But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of hell." - Proverbs 5:3-5

He tells the young men that chasing after pleasures (he uses women as an example in this passage as often it was just the men who were taught in religious schools) is going to end up being a bitter experience. 

In fact, if we look at these verses again we will see that the words he chooses bring this great contrast to light:

Honey (sweet to taste) versus Wormwood (which is a bitter herb)
Smooth versus Sharp 

These wise words are here to teach all of us that in pursuing things that 'look good', we may fall into a trap of disappointment and hurt in the long run.

"Educating the mind, without educating the heart is no wisdom at all." - Aristotle

Living in Grace

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Heading to a dead end

Dead End | Creepy woods, Spooky places, Scary places
It is not hard for us to picture driving down a 'dead end' is it? We know that by going down that particular road we won't get where we need to be. In today's reading the wise teachings of Solomon tells us that if stumble down wrong roads, we will end up at a dead end. An undisciplined life will end up 'killing us' - even if this is just metaphorically speaking.

"Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make;
    he’s aware of every step you take.
The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
    you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
    your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end." - Proverbs 5:21-23 (The Message)

What does that phrase 'undisciplined life' mean for you today? 
What are you able to do during these days of lockdown that can help you practise spiritual disciplines?
Where are we heading in our spiritual lives?

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where -' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland 

Living in Grace

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Use your whole body

Pin on Words of wisdom - Reminders for me
Did you know that applying wisdom in our daily lives requires using all of our senses - actually using our whole body and not just our minds?

I didn't quite connect those dots, until I read Proverbs 4 very slowly. When you read through these words from Solomon, notice the words that are underlined (by me) and see how obeying God is much more than just listening. We need to response with our whole being.

"My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.
21 Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
22 for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.

23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
24 Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil." - Proverbs 4:20-27

 Billy Sunday - “The Bible will always be full of things you cannot understand, as long as you will not live according to those you can understand.”

Living in Grace

Monday 20 April 2020

Wisdom's advice

How to Get More Wisdom
In Proverbs 4 the writer urges the next generation to treat wisdom with the utmost respect. As a caring parent shares advice with their children, because they desire the best for them, so the author wants the readers to live a blessed life by listening to God-fearing wisdom. 

We are not told if the ‘parent’ in these verses has learnt these lessons the hardway, but there is every likelihood that this is true. Sometimes wise advice is most profound when it comes from our own school of broken dreams and real failures.

“Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do!
And whatever else you do, get good judgement.
If you prize wisdom, she will exalt you.
Embrace her and she will honour you.
She will place a lovely wreath around your head;
She will present you with a beautiful crown.”Proverbs 4:6-9

Charles Spurgeon - "Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom."

Living in Grace

Sunday 19 April 2020

Do what you can

60 Thought Provoking Quotes To Inspire You | Inspirationfeed
In looking at the many wise words found in the book of Proverbs we see that there are practical instructions on how to live with others. If you read through Proverbs 3:27-31 you will notice that Solomon uses the phrase ... "Do not" quite a few times. I would like to change the emphasis of this slightly and show how we CAN make a difference.

  • Do good to those who need your help.
  • Help your neighbour today and not later.
  • Do no harm to others.
  • Be quick to live in peace with others.
  • Be content with what you have.
  • Be happy with your Godly ways.

I am not sure if I have done justice to the point of Solomon's instructions, but it was helpful to try and read them with a different viewpoint.

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
    “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
    when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
    who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
    when they have done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the violent
    or choose any of their ways."

Theodore Roosevelt - "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Living in Grace

Common sense

Common Sense #Quote #Motivational #Inspirational #CommonSense ...
Common sense?!
Well, it seems to me that 'sense' may not be as 'common' as we think it is, especially when you look at some responses to the plea for social distancing and caution during lockdown. And what is more - what I think is common sense, may not be your version of sense at all. When the writer of Proverbs shares his thoughts with the people of Israel he makes a special plea for people to hold onto common sense:

"My child, 
Don't lose sight of common sense and discernment.
Hang onto them,
for they will refresh your soul.
They are like jewels on a nacklace.
They keep you safe on your way,
and your feet will not stumble.
You can go to bed without fear;
you will lie down and sleep soundly." - Proverbs 3:21-24 (NLT)

Just to back up these ancient words of wisdom, here are a few more quotes - just for the fun of it :)

"Common sense is like deodrant. The people who need it the most never use it." - Anon

“Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.” - Samuel Coleridge

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” - Thomas A. Edison 

“Common sense is not so common.” -  Voltaire

Stay safe my friends and let us practice 'common sense' and discernment during our time of lockdown.

Living in Grace

Saturday 18 April 2020

Tuning in

What Frequency Are You Tuning In? – New Day Fellowship
Over the last 4 weeks I have found myself tuning into the radio and TV channels more than I have done so for months. Just like many of you, I have been keen to know what is happening with the Corona Pandemic and to hear how things are unfolding all around us. On occasions, I have even skipped from one news bulletin to another, all with the hope of finding some good news to hold onto.

When Solomon speaks about the benefits of Wisdom he encourages the listeners to "tune your ears to wisdom and concerntrate on understanding" (Proverbs 2:2 - NLT).

The purpose of his call to "tune in" to wisdom is to charge people with the responsibility of searching for the right news. There is so much fake news going around, that it is imperative that we listen out for the most reliable sources of information, as these will inform us and guide us into the correct paths.

"God grants a treasure of common sense to the honest." v.7

"Then you will understand what is right, just and fair." v.9

Socrates sums up a good understanding of seeking wisdom and to know the things of God:

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Living in Grace

Friday 17 April 2020

Benjamin Franklin and Proverbs

Proverbs 2:6 Illustrated: "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his ...
Benjamin Franklin died on the 17th April 1790. Along with his inventions such as the lighting rod and bifocals, he contributed enormously to an annual publication called Poor Richard’s Almanack. He wrote under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders and contributed a lot of content for the magazine. 

What I find interesting is how some of these little sayings gradually crept into the English language and we still use some of them today, albeit in slightly altered forms. Here are a few examples:

“No gains without pains.”
“Don’t throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass.”
“There never was a good war or a bad peace.”
“Lost time is never found again.”
“Haste makes waste.”
“A true friend is the best possession.”
Wise sayings are wonderful to remember and to then try and live our lives by, however I still believe that the words of Scripture have lasted much longer than Franklins and they continue to offer Godly advice for anyone who is willing to listen. Take the following words from Proverbs 2 as an example:

“My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you to do.  
Listen to what is wise and try to understand it.
Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. 
Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure.
If you do, you will know what it means to fear the Lord and you will succeed in learning about God.  It is the Lord who gives wisdom; from him come knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:1-6

May God bless you today and remember to use your words wisely.

Living in Grace