No Hiding Here

“For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths.”

Proverbs 5:21

 

Last week, my husband and I decided to let our daughter have a pet — she’s been asking for one for several years now, and we were excited to tell her we thought it was a good time to get one. We made a trip to the pet store, and she chose a baby calico-colored guinea pig with long hair and a mohawk on her head. Her name is Cookie, and she is the cutest, funniest animal to watch… at least when she comes out of the hiding spot in her cage. Like many guinea pigs, Cookie runs and hides when we approach her cage; guinea pigs are prey animals, so hiding is part of their nature. And, because Cookie is just over a month old and new to our home, she timidly comes out of her hiding spot only when she thinks it is safe.

What Cookie doesn’t know is that we can always see where she is, because we have a view into her hiding spot. And, even when she is out in open view in her cage, we can watch her from a distance. She’s never out of our sight, even though she thinks she is. It’s the same principle for us with the Lord. Proverbs 5:21 tells us that all of our ways are “in full view” of him.

Like Cookie, we associate hiding with safety, whether we hide from fear of danger or fear of punishment when we’ve done something wrong. When we’ve done wrong, we should remember that none of us are perfect. Romans 3:23 explains we are all sinners and sin is a part of our human nature. While we may try to “hide” the ungodly things we do, God knows everything about us, from the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) to the deepest thoughts of our heart (1 Chronicles 28:9). He sees everything.

Meditate on Psalm 139:7-12:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

If you feel like you can hide away a wrong attitude, action or thought in your life, you are deceiving yourself. You may be able to keep certain things from other people in your life, but you cannot hide them from the Lord. And eventually you will be ensnared in your sin.

Sin separates our fellowship with God, but it does not block us from his view. Confess your sin to the Lord and turn away from it. Seek godly counsel. Ask a friend for help, if needed. The Lord will see your desire to change, and when you confess your sins to him, he is pleased. He finds joy in his creation when they turn back to him (Psalm 149:4).

My family enjoys watching Cookie and the quirky things she does, like hopping around her cage or squeaking to herself as she roams through our house. Just as we delight in watching Cookie, especially when she is not hiding, the Lord delights in you, especially when you are open with him.

 

A Bearded Dragon in a Basket

“Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.”

Proverbs 4:26 (ESV)

Last week, as I was bringing my neighbor’s dog back into their house, I was met unexpectedly by one of their other pets: a bearded dragon. Even after taking care of my neighbor’s little dog every day for the past six months, this was the first time their other pet was not in his glass cage. Being terrified of reptiles my whole life, I just had to stare at the big lizard that was not supposed to be there in the foyer. As the bearded dragon and I were staring at each other, I began pondering my options:

  1. Just pretend I didn’t see him and leave. No, that would not be the Christ-like thing to do. Plus, I didn’t know how the cat or the dog would do with the bearded dragon walking around.
  2. Pick him up. No. Too terrified to do that.
  3. Call the owner and then follow the bearded dragon around the house until the owner called me back. Yes.

Then, in a stroke of luck, as I was following the bearded dragon into the living room, he jumped into a basket filled with cat toys and just sat there, looking almost stunned in his new environment. Wisdom told me this was my chance. I scooped up the basket and rushed him back to his cage, praying he wouldn’t move, bite or spit. I really didn’t know what he was capable of. He was quite good, though, and probably more scared than I was as we made the quick trip to his cage. I nudged him out of the basket and into his cage, closed the door, and took a deep breath. All was safe… for both of us!

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a quick decision? How did you handle it? Did you heed Proverbs 4:26, which exhorts us to ponder our ways before moving?

Throughout Chapter 4 of Proverbs, Solomon continues to exhort us to heed wisdom, and he relates wisdom to the idea of a path. According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a path is defined as “a trodden way; a track specially constructed for a particular use; a way of life, conduct or thought.” From this definition and from our own experience, we know that a path has been walked along many times; after all, that is what made it become a path. When making decisions, we usually want to know what someone else has done in a given situation because they know the end result. They’ve been down the path.

In all of life’s situations, we can count on the Lord knowing the end result. That’s where wisdom comes in. Heeding wisdom is good because it leads us along straight paths (Proverbs 4:11). Godly wisdom always points us in one direction: that of love. Jesus tells us  in Mark 12:30-31 the two greatest things we can do are: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (NIV).

Wisdom keeps our steps from being hampered and it prevents us from stumbling (Proverbs 4:12). In verse 26, we read that wisdom is the act of pondering the path we want to take. And when we ponder, or think carefully and thoroughly through a decision, our path will be level or sure. It’s hard to stumble on a sure path.

As you are faced with decisions, keep your feet on the firm and sure path by remembering the origin of wisdom, the Lord.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

This week, walk securely in the light of God’s word, and run in the path of his commands!

 

 

Favored Jewelry

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3:3-4 (NIV)

“Your password is incorrect.”

For the second time in seven days, I saw this message glaring back at me from my computer screen as I tried to log in to check my email. Since I was certain I was typing in the correct password and knew I had not changed it recently, this message was all-too frustrating. But the really exasperating part was yet to come: the call to my Internet service provider to find a way to get access to my email account.

I’m ashamed to say that after talking with three different people who, for various reasons, weren’t able to resolve my problem, I was livid. Letting anger, selfishness and unforgiveness blur the brilliance of wisdom, I told the final service representative exactly what I thought about their service. The understated version was something along the lines of: “It’s terrible.” If only I had said just that.

When my blood pressure returned to normal and I came to grips with the fact that I would have to abandon the email address I had used for 12 years and start from scratch with a new one, I remembered today’s verse, Proverbs 3:3-4. My heart was saddened because in my moment of rage I had not kept love and faithfulness around my neck nor in my heart. I had replaced those two beautiful gems with three ugly stones: anger, selfishness and unforgiveness.

Adorning ourselves with love and faithfulness brings a good name and favor with God and man. Consider the people you know. Do you associate their name with anger? We all know people who are not pleasant to be around because they spew hate and complain. On the flip side, we all know people who are best known for their kindness or gentleness. What we “wear” defines us, and as witnesses for Jesus, we must be vigilant to clothe ourselves with what characterizes him: love and faithfulness.

How do we do this? First, we should begin each day by praying for love and faithfulness to brim over in us. Because of Jesus, we have been forgiven so much. How can we not aspire to be more like him? Choose a verse on love or faithfulness and meditate on it throughout the day. This is my new resolution after failing so miserably to show love and respect to the tech support representative. Two verses upon which I am going to meditate:

“I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”  Psalm 40:10 (ESV)

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  Colossians 3:14-15 (ESV)

What verses would you choose?

 

 

Tuned In

“Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.”

Proverbs 2:2 (NLT)

In last week’s post about Chapter 1 of Proverbs, we see Wisdom crying out in the streets, and no one paying any attention to her. In chapter 2, Solomon advises people to actively listen for, focus on and apply wisdom.

Have you ever been asked, “Are you listening to me?” This question most often indicates that we aren’t actually listening; we are focused on something else at the time. This is important because it’s impossible to give full attention to two things at the same time. That would be like trying to tune your radio to two stations at once, which can’t be done. You can only select one station at a time.

In our lives, wisdom is the best station to which we can tune. Wisdom brings us victory and protection (Proverbs 2:7-8) and understanding and knowledge (Proverbs 2:9-10), saves us from wickedness (Proverbs 2:12-19), and keeps us on the path to righteousness (Proverbs 2:20).

How can we know that we are tuned in to Wisdom? It all begins with fear of the Lord, accepting Him as your savior, and devoting daily time to prayer and reading his word. God’s wisdom does not just come to us. We must seek it, as if it were hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4). Set aside some time daily to read your Bible. Whether you focus on one verse, one chapter, or more than that per day, as long as you make God’s word your focus at some point during the day, you will begin to be tuned in to wisdom.

Just having wisdom, though, is not enough. According to Proverbs 2:2, you must apply wisdom to receive the full benefit. It’s not enough to have knowledge about what is right and what is wrong. We must put that knowledge into practice in our lives. For example, I can tell my daughter to do her homework. While she knows she should do her homework, if she does not do it, then she will not receive the benefits of a good grade. And, even more than that, she will not have a good understanding of the skills the homework was meant to teach.

In our spiritual lives, we can hear sermons and Sunday School lessons on how to live godly lives, we can read Bible passages that encourage us to live the way God intended us to, and we can pray for help in the areas in which we struggle. From each of these, we receive guidance. But unless we put that guidance to use, we will receive no benefits and our efforts are simply like the clanging symbol in 1 Corinthians 13:1: noise that brings nothing pleasant.

Applying wisdom to our lives is not an easy task, and in some cases the struggle to overcome these things may be painful and can take a lifetime to change. In addition, other “stations” vie for our attention: pride and selfishness, for example, can blur our focus on wisdom. Paul explains the arduous task of applying wisdom in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)

So, take Proverbs 2:2 to heart, actively seek God’s wisdom, and apply it in your life! Etch God’s words on your heart and live them. The peace and protection that wisdom brings are better than anything this world has to offer.

Blinded to Wisdom

“Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: ‘How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.'”

Proverbs 1:20-23 (NLT)

How is it that Wisdom calls to us, and in some cases calls to us blatantly, and yet we still miss it? According to Proverbs 1:20-21, Wisdom is right there, in the center of it all, calling to us, but sometimes we still don’t hear or respect it, and as a result we make poor decisions.

To answer this question, first, we must understand some characteristics of godly wisdom.

Godly wisdom:

The woman Wisdom, as personified in Proverbs, is like the Lord calling to us directly. God wants his people to come back to him despite all the earthly wisdom and temptations with which his people are bombarded and enticed. In Proverbs 1:20-23, there is an element of desperation exhibited in Wisdom’s call for people to listen to her. She’s right there in front of them, yet they are blinded to, or they outright deny, her. This theme runs throughout the entire Bible (consider the Israelites in the desert with Moses in the Old Testament and the Jewish people who denied Jesus in the New Testament). It is also at the forefront of our current society – when we measure the values and “cultural norms” that are promoted today, we find they fall quite short of what the Bible teaches. But, thankfully, we are encouraged by the promise in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, and he thus continues to call out to his people to come back to him.

So how is it, that more times than not, people decry Wisdom as foolishness? Consider what kinds of wisdom cry out to you on a daily basis in your life. Do you seek solutions to your problems through TV talk shows, self-help books, or songs on the radio? Or do you seek them through prayer and reading God’s word? To find the Wisdom that protects, brings peace and is in line with truth, we must know God. This divine wisdom is the mystery of Christ to which Paul refers in Ephesians 3:4-5.

To hear Wisdom, we must let go of our self-sufficiency and recognize our need for God. When we understand that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, and place our trust in Christ as our Savior, we immediately begin gaining Wisdom. The only absolute truth in this world is God’s word, and as Christians, we should test everything against the truths we find in the Bible. When we align our lives with God’s Wisdom, we will indeed live in peace (Proverbs 1:33).

Look for, and listen to, Wisdom’s call and live out the counsel she gives, so that you will indeed have the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).