Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Starting the year out right

With the start of a new comes an opportunity to get grounded in the basics. Some good advice for living, straight from the Book of Proverbs. The following is Proverbs 1.

[Proverbs 1:1-6 NKJV] 1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: 2 To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding, 3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, Justice, judgment, and equity; 4 To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion-- 5 A wise [man] will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, 6 To understand a proverb and an enigma, The words of the wise and their riddles.

Solomon had lived quite a life, and along the way he picked up a lot of understanding. We would do well to learn from it.

[Proverbs 1:7 NKJV] 7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge, [But] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

This pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? I sort of wish the chapter closed with this verse. When you fear the LORD, when you decide the day is coming when you will give an account for the life you have lived, you are on the road to discovering real wisdom.

[1 Peter 4:5 NKJV] 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

The day of reckoning is coming.

[Proverbs 1:8-9 NKJV] 8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; 9 For they [will be] a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.

Parents usually have good advice, but we never appreciated it when we were young.

[Proverbs 1:10-16 NKJV] 10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. 11 If they say, "Come with us, Let us lie in wait to [shed] blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; 12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, And whole, like those who go down to the Pit; 13 We shall find all [kinds] of precious possessions, We shall fill our houses with spoil; 14 Cast in your lot among us, Let us all have one purse"-- 15 My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path; 16 For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.

You probably know this well. Some friends or acquaintances invite you to join them in trouble. To get some payback on somebody. To steal, to kill, to destroy. And you get that sort of cartoon experience with an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Best to heed the angel.

[Proverbs 1:17-19 NKJV] 17 Surely, in vain the net is spread In the sight of any bird; 18 But they lie in wait for their [own] blood, They lurk secretly for their [own] lives. 19 So [are] the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.

You ever tried that as a kid? Setting up a box with a stick and string to catch a bird? It never works. Same with the whole "get rich quick" mindset, or "we will all go in together on it" thing. It isn't going to finish well.

[Proverbs 1:20-22 NKJV] 20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. 21 She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: 22 "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge.

Notice how wisdom is described as a "she"? I've noticed most ladies have better common sense than guys. Here, Wisdom says "Quit being stupid! Wake up already!"

[Proverbs 1:23-28 NKJV] 23 Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. 24 Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, 25 Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, 27 When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. 28 "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.

While it is great to call upon God when you have cancer, it would have been better to have not started smoking when you were younger. While it is great to call upon God from the jail cell, it would have been better to have not settled on a life of crime.

[Proverbs 1:29-33 NKJV] 29 Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, 30 They would have none of my counsel [And] despised my every rebuke. 31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. 32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil."

When we choose to do what we want and get caught up in the moment, all the warnings and common sense seem to fade away, doesn't it? It may not look like it, but at that moment, we are choosing to hate knowledge. And we end up stuck with the result.

I once worked in the printing industry, and operated a paper cutter with a 36-inch blade on it. The machine could cut through a 5-inch high lift of paper like nothing. Needless to say, there were clear instructions to never put your hand under the blade. And yet, all my buddies in the printing trade had a story about somebody who chopped off a finger or a thumb by ignoring the warnings. The cutter was a machine, it had no soul or heart. It had no concern about hurting anybody. But as the ones in control of our own actions, we choose how to follow or ignore the warnings.

The Bible, this is your instruction manual. The Book of Proverbs here, starting out with chapter 1, this is your big yellow and black safety warning sign with the picture of a knife and a cut hand on it. If we choose to ignore the warning sign, we take on ourselves the consequences.

[Proverbs 1:7 NKJV] 7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge, [But] fools despise wisdom and instruction.