Proverbs 2: Three Ifs

Shiloh Photography

Proverbs 2 is without any doubt one of my favorite proverbs and this morning as I was reading it I noticed three important ifs (v.1-4)  that lead us to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (v.5-8). Three ifs that will help us understand righteousness and justice (v.9).

“My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to
understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures…”
Proverbs 2:1-4 (emphasis mine)

If you receive my words…

The only way to receive God’s Word is with a humble and quiet heart. A proud heart, an unteachable heart will never have an attitude of inclining his heart and ear to attentively listen to what God is saying.  We need a quiet heart, a quiet spirit to listen humbly to what the Lord is saying in His Word.  I have many times sinned by trying to quench God’s voice and choosing instead to listen to my own heart’s desires or anxieties. I have sinned when I have not taken heed of the warnings that God gives us in His Word, when I have been stubborn and have embraced my own thinking as the correct one. And you know what? Those times I have sinned in this area is because I did not come to the Word with a humble and a quiet heart that is always ready to listen both the encouragement in God’s Word as well as His warnings and admonitions.

If you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you…

Again and again, we see this principle all over. How can I possible treasure up God’s Word within me if  don’t purposely do something about it? Memorizing the Word is the only way to meditate on it day and night. And if you think you can’t memorize it, well, read it all day long. Carry the Word with you, have it open on your kitchen counter, on your coffee table in your living-room, download Apps on your mobile that will help you treasure it all day long. As John Piper said, “Let the Bible bring you back to reality over and over during the day.”

If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding…

James told us the same thing: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” The key word in both passages is “call.” We must call, we must ask God for it, knowing that He is the source of all Wisdom. There is no wisdom apart from Him. Let us not deceive ourselves, sisters, we know no better than God. Before calling your friend asking her for an advice, first search the Scriptures and go to your Heavenly Father in prayer. He has promised to generously give us the wisdom we need to live in this beautiful, crazy, and at times confusing world when we call for it, when we diligently seek it in prayer. The more wisdom I need the more prayer and the more reading of the Bible I need.

If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures…

So we need a humble heart to receive and treasure God’s Word, we also need to call out to God for wisdom. Now how are we going to do this? Diligently, putting all effort in our quest for wisdom. It doesn’t just happen. It is not like our justification in which we don’t have to do anything to become children of God, no here we are called to action. We must seek it and search it as for silver and hidden treasures. It is a life long pursue, it a day to day endeavor. It is hard work. It means that we might have to wake up earlier to make time for reading the Scriptures and praying. It means that we must purposely bring our heart and thoughts in submission to what God says throughout the day. There are no shortcuts. If we want to grow in wisdom we must strive for it and seek it with all diligence.

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God…

Please read verses 5-8. See? Isn’t it amazing that the Lord does give wisdom? He has stored  sound wisdom for simple women like me!  When we listen attentively, when we call for it, when we search for it as for hidden treasures we come to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice…

Now read verses 9-22. Look at these promises: wisdom will sure come to our heart and knowledge will be pleasant to our soul as a result of God answering our prayers. Discretion will watch over us and understanding will guard us (and watch and guard are strong verbs, they are definitely not passive ones!)

In verses 12-29 we see that when wisdom comes we will be able to discern and be delivered from the way of the evil and of men of perverted speech that deceive with their many words.  We will be delivered from the forbidden women (who always leads to idolatry and foolishness that drives men -and women alike- away from the covenant).

The last three verses give us a glimpse of the end of both the wise and the fool. And I know I want live and end my days walking in the way of the good, keeping to the path of the righteous. I long to live uprightly and in all integrity before my God. I want to live a wise life, so I will remember to listen humbly, to search the Scriptures, and to pray.

May God help us,

Becky

On Living Quietly – Quietness of Heart-

I came across this short meditation by Ray Ortlund at The Gospel Coalition today and I just needed to share it with you. It ministered to me as I am -slowly- learning what it means to Live Quietly.

“In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

The greatest power in all this world is not military or political or sexual or commercial. The greatest power, which will outlast all others (“above all earthly powers”), resides deep within the simplest believer. Quietness of heart before God, trusting in him, is our strength, and there is no greater strength.

Alec Motyer comments insightfully, “Quietness is the absence of panic and restlessness. It is the product not of refusal to face life but of insistence upon taking God into account in trust.”

This quietness is not denial but indeed its opposite. It is facing God, taking God as God fully into account, treating God as more real than everything so firmly set against us, including our own needs and sins, because he is more real.

Quietness of heart is not outwardly impressive. Which is why we sometimes get nervous, why trusting in God can feel like skating on thin ice. But it is God’s good wisdom — and there is no other — for the display of his all-sufficiency.

Quietness of heart before God is where fugitives stop running, and start resting, and become stalwarts and overcomers, because God himself is there.

Learning under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Walking the Christian Life

Walking is not that simple. It takes practice.

Walking like the world… that looks easy.
You create your own truth
and then you live by your own standards
always trying to choke back guilt.

Walking like a nominal Christian… that is not so easy.
You choose what to believe from the Truth,
and then you live by your own
standards most of the times trying to suffocate the Truth.

Walking like a Christian… that is not easy.
You don’t get to define Truth,
and then you are called to live by its standards
and proclaim Truth, never drown it.

I think of my children when they were little, and how their brains and legs knew how to walk. I loved to be there to hold their hands, and push them a little bit, and  hug them happily whenever they took a step. I was there too when they were insecure and fell, and cried, and were afraid to take a new step. And this is how our Christian life is.

We, Christians, are born of the Spirit. We can walk in Truth, our new nature is built for that, but it is also true that we need help and encouragement, someone to hold our hand and teach us. Someone who will hold us tight when we want to avoid the Truth. Someone who will pray with us whenever we are afraid to take another step.

Our Father in his goodness provides us with relationships that help us walk this Christian life; but more importantly, He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to teach us and encourage us to walk in the Faith.

Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave us some instructions on how our walking should look like. As I read his epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, I marked down these verses, and I encourage you to read the whole epistles (not only the verses! That would be like cheating 🙂 ) to find them, meditate on them, pray about them, and put all diligence to walk in them:

Ephesians 2:1-2; 2:10; 4:1-3; 4:17; 5:1-2; 5:8-10; 5:15
Philippians 3:17
Colossians 1:10; 2:6-7; 4:5
I Thessalonians 4:10

Today is Saturday and maybe it is a good time to do this; read the epistles in one sitting, just like your favorite book, that one that is hard to put down, and find your delight in abiding in the Word.

I will be digging in the rest of the epistles this weekend to search more about how this walking in the Lord should look like.

We must be ready, this walk is not always easy, let us hold tight to the Father’s hand and depend on Him.

“Growth in grace is to know more of Christ, His excellence, preciousness, and fullness, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Growth in grace is to know more of our wretched, lost condition, our helplessness and unworthiness.” Mary Winslow

Have a most blessed weekend,

Becky

The Promise of God, a Reality

We are reading a little book: According to Promise by C.H. Spurgeon after breakfast every morning because isn’t it exactly what we need as we start a new day? Don’t we all need to be reminded of His new mercies and never failing promises?

Today the words I read were mingled with grateful tears.

“Yes, the Lord means what He says. He never mocks men with barren words and empty sounds. Why should he deceive his creatures, and ask from them a barren confidence? The Lord may go beyond his word in giving more than it might be thought to mean; but he can never fall short of it. we may interpret his promises upon the most liberal scale. He never falls below the largest rendering which expectation can give to promise. Faith never yet outstripped the bounty of the Lord. Let us embrace the promise, and rejoice that it is substance and not shadow. Let us even now rejoice in it as being the reality of that which we are hoping.” (p.47)

Becky

Quiet Times in the Morning

Still Life with Bible, Van Gogh

Reading books, listening to sermons, and having conversations that encourage us to grow in godliness is essential, and it is essential because sometimes the easiest thing is not getting up early to pray and read the Word of God. Many times our bodies win the battle, we stay in bed and then the rest of the day we feel like we are dragging our soul through the various circumstances and duties ahead of us.

I am now reading True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia by Jerry Bridges and in it I found great encouragement to keep on waking up early to have quiet times (praying and reading the Scriptures) with God.

Let me share a few quotes with you so that you may also be encouraged:

“Our communion should be more than just having a quiet time in the morning; it should be an all-day affair. In fact, Isaiah and David take us one step further. They talk about having communion with the Lord even in the night. Isaiah said, “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you” (Isaiah 26:9). David said, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (Psalm 63:6).”

 

“The morning quiet time lays the foundation for our all-day communion with God because it tunes our hearts to commune with Him for the rest of the day. It is a time when we can concentrate all our faculties on worshiping Him in reverent adoration. It is a time when we can give undivided attention to His Word and talk to Him in prayer.”

“We may have communion with God throughout the entire day, but seeking His face connotes an intensity of mind and heart that is usually possible only during our time alone with God.”

 

“Intense, organized prayer alone with God in the morning prepares us to breathe those quick, silent prayers that are needed so often throughout the day.”

 

Matthew Henry says that to walk with God is “to set God always before us, and to act as those that are always under his eye. It is to live a life of communion with God both in ordinances and providences. It is to make God’s word our rule and his glory our end in all our actions.”

  

“How do we, then, practice communion with God throughout the day? If the morning quiet time is the foundation of that communion, Scripture meditation and prayer are the framework of it.”

 

We can meditate on Scripture — think about it and reflect on it — throughout the day only if we have it in our minds. And we have Scripture in our minds only if we have made the effort to just plain memorize it. There is no shortcut to meditation that bypasses Scripture memorization.”

 

Our emphasis today is on doing things for God, or on believing the right doctrines about Him. But few believers take time to commune with God simply for the sake of enjoying Him and adoring Him. In the church today, there seems to be very little of that thirst for God described in Psalm 42:1: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”

Under His sun and by His grace,
 

Becky

Sin and Hiding Places

We are reading the story of Christmas and all stories, if we really want to understand them, must be read from the beginning. So we started in the Garden. And it is there that we see the beginning of a pattern that has continued to this day: When men and women know that their sin has been discovered they hide from God -or at least we fool ourselves into thinking that we can actually hide from an omnipresent, omniscient God-.

But because of Jesus, because of who He is and what He has done, we now have a perfect place to hide from all the shame and guilt of sin. Paul reminds us that our lives are now hidden with Christ in God.

 

Christ is the perfect hiding place.
 Run to Him.
Do not hide your sin, yourself, your shame.
Come to Jesus.
Only at the foot of the One Tree
our sins can be really washed away,
our sins can be blot away,
and our hearts be restored.

This is why we can be merry. This is the reason why Christmas is good news.

Jesus, the Savior has come! 

What a glorious truth! No more hiding, no more running away, no more “trying harder.”  Our life is hidden with Christ in God. Alleluia!

This is one of the reasons why we have lights and candles decorating our homes in Christmas, to remind us that because Jesus Christ came to save us, to redeem us, we don’t have to walk in darkness anymore.  We don’t have to walk in fear, Jesus is our Prince of Peace.

Celebrating His coming,

Becky