Monday, June 27, 2016

"Guard your heart and look straight ahead!"

Day #180

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 4 …

When we think of wisdom we usually think of our minds and how much we know.  Wisdom does have to do with what we know and perhaps how much we know, but wisdom affects every part of our lives, including our emotions and our resulting behavior.  Wisdom is like a spiritual compass that keeps our focus in the right direction and guides our hearts toward that which is pleasing to God.  True wisdom, in fact, always has its origin in God and what He has revealed:  His truth, His commands, His instruction.

Solomon writes of "wisdom" as though "she" is a person.  "Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her and she will watch over you" (4:6).  "Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you" (4:8).  Solomon rightly understood that you are foolish if you don't pursue true wisdom.  But how do you get wisdom?

The simple answer is:  Instruction!  Wisdom comes from learning, by being taught.  "Hold onto instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" (4:12).  The problem for many today is that they are not "teachable."  We are told that we have more knowledge at the tips of our fingers today through the Internet than any other generation, and that is quite obviously true.  But "knowledge" does not necessarily translate into "wisdom!"

Wisdom is the ability to understand knowledge, to process knowledge - discerning whether it is true or false, and then to apply that knowledge to life for good and ultimately for the glory of God.  Any application of knowledge that does not point to God as the source of it and bring praise to Him is not wisdom - by GOD's definition!!  Jesus told the disciples that His Spirit would be their Teacher:  "He will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said" (John 14:26).  The Apostle Paul tells believers that "we have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16).  Those without the Spirit of God cannot and will not discover true wisdom.

Paul quotes Isaiah in I Corinthians 1:19, when he writes God's declaration:  "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."  Paul then goes on in verses 20-21:  "Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."  And in verse 25, he compares the wisdom of God to the wisdom of the world by saying, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength."

The supposed "wisdom" of this world leads to … where?  To oblivion!!  People WANT to believe in a life after death but they have absolutely no basis for doing so.  So-called "science" tries to prove that this world is millions of years old and that human beings are the result of chance events, and at the same time wants to declare that there is some meaning in living a few decades in this world.  Such foolishness crosses the line of absurdity.  In one sense, the wicked at least have a goal that makes sense:  if this is all there is, it's all about ME!

But Solomon writes, "The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble" (4:18-19).  As Paul writes it in Romans 1:22-23:  "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."  How sad is the state of those who do not know God or accept instruction from Him.

God tells us here in Proverbs that wisdom listens to instruction and keeps God's words in the depths of our hearts.  "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. … Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you … Do not swerve to the right or the left" (4:23,25,27). The Bible is so rich and so full of God's wisdom and truth!  The pursuit of true wisdom must lead you and me to God's Word, for in it is revealed all we need to know for life and godliness.  Too many who take the name of Christ upon them today know precious little of what God actually SAYS in His Word.  People are too busy reading the things of the world and listening to the advice of those who SAY they know God or that they speak for God … all the while ignoring God's word.

Solomon declares, "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom!  Though it cost all you have, get understanding" (4:7).  And the only place to find wisdom and understanding is in God's Word.  Do not be deceived today by those who offer wisdom from some other source, be it a "word of knowledge" or a "word of faith" that today is defined as some supernatural revelation that adds to what God has said, or a "word" from someone who is a self-proclaimed "prophet" from God.  ALL that you and I need to know is in God's Word.  Preachers and teachers in the Church are called to "preach the WORD."  And God's people are called to "check it out!!!"

Wisdom that does not lead to humility, to faith in God, to trusting in Jesus Christ and living to glorify God is NOT wisdom from God!  It is worldly wisdom that will perish with those who declare it.  Be wise in the Lord Jesus Christ, reading, studying, learning from His Word and listening only to those who can help you understand it.  And even then, pray that the Holy Spirit would be your teacher and examine all you hear in the light of God's Word to see if it is true or false.  "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).

"Father in heaven, as You call me to seek wisdom, I come to You, for You alone are truly wise and in Your Son Jesus Christ, in Your Word and the guidance of Your Spirit, I find all I need.  Keep my heart close to Yours, and teach me all I need to know to love You and to serve You.  Help me to set my mind on things above, where Jesus is seated at Your right hand, and my eyes on following where Jesus leads me by His Word and His Spirit.  Make me truly wise, that I may teach others Your truth and lead them in the path that leads to life in Your presence.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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