Speaking the truth, setting the standards, raising the bar of excellence- not only for our own lives but also for all those around us. That’s just part of what today’s exploration will reveal.
We are continuing, now on week 16 of our extended odyssey, having undertaken a search and rescue mission for wisdom.
When the Bible keeps talking about the same thing over and over,that’s because it is important. That’s why Solomon continues on the themes of loving wisdom and treasuring her.
Along with that we choose to understand that honoring the commandments of God will prevent us from making complete messes of our lives. They are our service, protection and give us life, joy, and everlasting blessings. Which we’ll discuss next on this edition of “Becoming Today”.
Understanding that enlightenment is within our reach we shall seek and find the knowledge and inspiration necessary to uplift, support and enhance our collective journeys as well as our own personal paths.
I want to thank you all for being here today. Whether you’ve followed this series or if this is the first time you are joining us. We are involved in a study of wisdom as taught in the Book of Proverbs. If you’d like to know more about The Passion Translation and why we are using it for this undertaking, you can find a recap near the end of today’s conversation.
Last week our conversation was focused upon being “Decidedly Better“. Certainly something to aspire for on our shared path of “Becoming Today”. Overcoming wickedness with grace and decorum are some of the wise aspects we’ll look as we continue along our search and rescue mission for wisdom
Being polite and respectful gets better responses from people than yelling, finger pointing and name calling. I learned that lesson on the playground somewhere around first grade, but a look at the headlines quickly reveals that apparently too many of our so-called leaders and authority figures never did. Or worse yet, know the truth and are refusing to follow it.
As we read together verse one of chapter 15 is “Respond gently when you are confronted and you’ll defuse the rage of another”.
Makes perfect sense. Don’t blow your top or feign outrage and people won’t get mad at you. The text then continues, “Responding with sharp, cutting words will only make it worse”.
Highly logical yet too many of “captains” are stating what can only be termed as the highly illogical; refusing to realize the quote, “Don’t you know that being angry can ruin the testimony of even the wisest of men?”
It doesn’t matter how smart you may be. How dedicated you may be. How passionate you perceive yourself to be about an issue. If you are yelling, screaming, bullying, finger wagging and refusing to listen to others, much less accept that others can have relevant input there is no way I can hear you.
It doesn’t matter how loud you get, how many times you repeat it over and over again or whether or not your amplifiers go to eleven, a disrespectful, angry message will never strike a responsive chord in me, or many others.
Let’s lower the button, maybe even press mute for a while and reset the message so we can all focus on the wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment available.
We’ll pick up today with our study of Proverbs Chapter 16.
This chapter is divided into three sections. Now when we discuss the second one, you’ll note I’ll change the title a bit. Here’s a clue I’ve already done so in today’s headline. Let’s read together as today’s study involves the idea that:
Wisdom Exalts God
Go ahead and make all the plans you want,
but it’s the Lord who will ultimately direct your steps.[a]
We are all in love with our own opinions,
convinced they’re correct.
But the Lord is in the midst of us,[b]
testing and probing our every motive.
Before you do anything,
put your trust totally in God and not in yourself.[c]
Then every plan you make will succeed.
The Lord works everything together to accomplish his purpose.[d]
Even the wicked are included in his plans—
he sets them aside for the day of disaster.
Yahweh detests all the proud[e] of heart,
for pride attracts his punishment—
and you can count on that!
You can avoid evil through surrendered worship
and the fear of God,
for the power of his faithful love
removes sin’s guilt and grip over you.
When the Lord is pleased with the decisions you’ve made,
he activates grace to turn enemies into friends.
It is better to have little with a heart that loves justice
than to be rich and not have God on your side.
Within your heart you can make plans for your future,
but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.
Living like a King
A king speaks the revelation of truth,
so he must be extraordinarily careful in the decrees that he makes.
The Lord expects you to be fair in every business deal,
for he is the one who sets the standards for righteousness.[f]
Kings and leaders despise wrongdoing,
for the true authority to rule and reign
is built on a foundation of righteousness.
Kings and leaders love to hear godly counsel,
and they love those who tell them the truth.
The anger of a king releases the messenger of death,[g]
but a wise person will know how to pacify his wrath.
Life-giving light streams from the presence of a king,[h]
and his favor is showered upon those who please him.
Everyone wants gold, but wisdom’s worth[i] is far greater.
Silver is sought after,
but a heart of understanding yields a greater return.
Repenting from evil places you on the highway of holiness.
Protect purity and you protect your life.[j]
Your boast becomes a prophecy of a future failure.
The higher you lift yourself up in pride,[k]
the harder you’ll fall in disgrace.
It’s better to be meek and lowly and live among the poor
than to live high and mighty among the rich and famous.
One skilled in business discovers prosperity,
but the one who trusts in God is blessed beyond belief!
Walking with Wisdom
The one with a wise heart is called “discerning,”
and speaking sweetly to others
makes your teaching even more convincing.
Wisdom is a deep well of understanding
opened up within you as a fountain of life for others,
but it’s senseless to try to instruct a fool.
Winsome words pour from a heart of wisdom,
adding value to all you teach.
Nothing is more appealing
than speaking beautiful, life-giving words.
For they release sweetness to our souls
and inner healing to our spirits.[l]
Before every person there is a path
that seems like the right one to take,
but it leads straight to hell![m]
Life motivation comes from the deep longings of the heart,
and the passion to see them fulfilled urges you onward.[n]
A wicked scoundrel wants to dig up dirt on others,
only to spread slander and shred their reputation.
A twisted person spreads rumors;
a whispering gossip ruins good friendships.
A vicious criminal can be persuasive,
enticing others to join him as partners in crime,
but he leads them all down a despicable path.
It’s easy to tell when a wicked man
is hatching some crooked scheme—
it’s written all over his face.
His looks betray him as he gives birth to his sin.
Old age with wisdom will crown you with dignity and honor,[o]
for it takes a lifetime of righteousness to acquire it.
Do you want to be a mighty warrior?
It’s better to be known as one who is patient and slow to anger.[p]
Do you want to conquer a city?
Rule over your temper before you attempt to rule a city.
We may toss the coin and roll the dice,
but God’s will is greater than luck.[q]
Take a moment to reflect, and then we’ll begin to break down some of today’s concepts.
In the first section we undertake an examination of the wisdom that glorifies and pays tributes to God.
It begins with a cautionary reminder, “Go ahead and make all the plans you want, but it’s the Lord who will ultimately direct your steps”.
We can wish for or talk about our ideas all we want however if they are not in accord with the Lord, they will not come to pass. Failing to seek his guidance, insights and counsel on the paths we choose to undertake can not only delay things, but allow us to be steered off course many times with painful results.
That’s why it is so important to remain humble and surrender ourselves daily to God’s will. That way we can rest assured that our motives are true. As we heard in verse, “2 We are all in love with our own opinions, convinced they’re correct. But the Lord is in the midst of us, testing and probing our every motive”.
When we pass those tests we are rewarded with wisdom, enlightenment, satisfaction and personal growth. So as the chapter continues in verse “3 Before you do anything, put your trust totally in God and not in yourself. Then every plan you make will succeed”.
And the first section of this passage ends with an important prompt, “Within your heart you can make plans for your future, but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there”.
The next section heading I’m changing a bit, to make it even more relatable for us ladies. A simple substitution of a word, does not change the message or affect the intent. That’s why I call this section “Living Like A Queen”.
So just as the wisdom of Solomon is shared from his viewpoint and he literally was a king, I’ll share my interpretation from what I half jokingly call my ‘queenly realm’. No I am not laying claim to any hierarchical title, rather I am affirming my empowerment to be a free willed co-creator blessed and anointed to share in the promises of God.
In this section we learn that a queen has a responsibility to speak the truth and live it. Doing so she is blessed with the ability to share “Life-giving light streams” bestowed upon her by God and shining through her to all that enters her realm. This also allows for her blessings to be shared as “favor is showered upon those who please” her.
In a worldly sense we could say this is “if Mama ain’t happy, no one is happy’, but it goes much deeper. Because it shows that we take the initiative for our own happiness, we can then ensure that it resides all around us and everywhere we go. A queen is able to assist in the manifestation of these comforts and joy rather than seeking it from someone else.
Verse 16 resattes for us the importance and value of seeking wisdom and making the most of it. We can definitely receive an R-O-I, return on investment for pursuing this course. “Everyone wants gold, but wisdom’s worth is far greater. Silver is sought after, but a heart of understanding yields a greater return”.
In the NIV, this passage is translated as, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver”!
It’s much like the old adage, you can give a man a fish and he’ll eat that day. However if you teach a man to fish, he can eat for a lifetime.
Sure we all need money. It’s a necessary tool and enables us to boost other resources. However in seeking wisdom on how to earn money, and make that resource grow, we are also awarded abundance, prosperity and security.
Now the difference here between an MBA (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and actively relying upon God’s wisdom to administer is noted in verse 20, “One skilled in business discovers prosperity, but the one who trusts in God is blessed beyond belief”!
Our final section is a look at how we can be “Walking In Wisdom”.
In these final 12 verses, some things to note are, to be “discerning” guided by our heart with a pure intent in all matters. To speak, “sweetly” as we’ve discussed above, choosing your words carefully and delivering your message meekly can bring about better results. Life is sweeter with honey rather than vinegar.
Verse 22 offers an instruction that is cautionary. It is a reminder that you don’t have to be speaking and trying to share all the time. In fact, as we’ll read again, “Wisdom is a deep well of understanding opened up within you as a fountain of life for others, but it’s senseless to try to instruct a fool”.
As many of us have experienced, we or others we love can not change if they are not ready to. It makes no sense to waste our time on “deaf ears”. If someone is not willing to listen, attempting to force them to, will not make a difference. All it will do is add to your stress, agitation and anger, which then only results in you having more to deal with and release before you can fully enjoy the benefits of the wisdom you may have been trying to get them to accept.
Know your audience and communicate with them in appropriate ways. How do you know?
Get out of the way and let God guide your words, as He orders your steps, He’ll let you know when to speak or when to smile, nod and move on.
Listening is an important part of communicating. We can either listen, learn and share or as the final line today’s study says, “We may toss the coin and roll the dice, but God’s will is greater than luck”.
Truth, understanding, enlightenment and wisdom are all very “Becoming” traits. They empower us to grow and learn to be who we truly were intended to be. Which in turn enables us to continue moving on, with our momentum fully powered forward and upward.
As always I encourage you to actively participate. Please post your comments, questions, suggestions or concerns below. This is a safe space to share and there are protections in place to keep spammers out. I will respond to all who choose to participate.
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I pray each and every one of you enjoys a safe and blessed day. Then join us tomorrow as we continue our proverbial search here along this shared journey we call “Becoming Today”.
For those that have been here for a while I hope some of the repetitive nature of these posts is not too distracting. Not only are some of these points to remind us of our focus this month, it is also designed to also be welcoming.
We never know when a fellow traveler may walk along with us, or need to take a diversion.
This is especially true since I have no idea what algorithm directed you, what search method may have pointed in our direction or how many of you find us on any given day. Therefore it’s necessary to recap some of the outline for our combined purposes.
I appreciate your patience and understanding, so I’ll now mention we’ve come to that point in this conversation and if you’ve already heard this, then you can skip the next few paragraphs and pick up with the next image.
Now for those of you listening to the podcast I know that makes no sense, since you can’t hear any of the beautiful graphics we create each day, so you’ll just have to listen along; again… (insert audible giggle here) understanding that I’m laughing with you not at you.
As I am apt to do, even if you have studied Proverbs before, our undertaking may be a bit different, as we’ll be adding some passion to it.
I am being called to focus this teaching around the The Passion Translation® book of Isaiah and New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.
Done so by Dr. Brian Simmons who believes the” message of God’s story is timeless; the Word of God doesn’t change. But the methods by which that story is communicated should be timely; the vessels that steward God’s Word can and should change.
Thank you again for joining us on this edition of “Becoming Today”.