Choose to Listen to Instruction and Gain Wisdom.

In the quiet of the early winter’s morning the rain sifts down gently onto my patio. The word comes to me “You will only be truly free when you really believe in the extent of my love for you and know and allow yourself to experience that love” (Ephes 3:18,19). In my mind’s eye I see a great cloud beneath me and I am being invited to let go and launch myself into that cloud which represents God’s love, where I can see no end to it. Scary but hugely inviting.

My reading is from Prov 8:1-11. . Wisdom is calling out to me, inviting me to receive it. The call is (vs 5) “gain wisdom, gain understanding”. It is an instruction, but how does one obey that simple instruction, especially seeing that true wisdom only exists in a relationship with the source of all wisdom – Jesus?

Well friends here it is again vs 6 “Listen……..I have worthy things to say, I open my mouth to speak …. Then comes the thing that really surprised me vs 10 choose ……..Choose my instruction, ……knowledge, wisdom, rather than the most valuable of jewels.

So yes friends, just like trust involves a choice we make and obedience is a choice we make, So Wisdom is also a choice we make. But here is the rub, we don’t gain wisdom in a vacuum. We gain wisdom within the relationship we have with Jesus. He invites us first, He instructs us first, He empowers us first, yet in a miraculous, supernatural sort of way we still have to make that choice. It starts with that relationship and the important part, which is the backbone of my blog, starts with true listening. That in turn, as we have seen before, starts with humility, being prepared to hear, recognizing our need to hear, asking for the grace to be teachable.

Have you ever felt, when you start reading a passage in the bible, “oh I know this so well” and your mind takes off at a tangent and soon you are thinking of something completely different?

Seems to me that we have to continuously make the choice to listen and obey, because change is so hard and takes so long to come about. That, of course is why God sometimes shakes the very foundations of our faith by some crisis or other, to soften our hearts and help us to be more teachable.

According to Selwyn Hughes, the second pillar of wisdom is integrity. Remember the first one was trust. We will now see how closely integrity is associated with trust. But suffice to say today that, like trust, integrity is a choice you make. And, yes I was patting myself on the back about this till I allowed The Spirit into my heart and He turned up a few thoughts and actions, which pulled me up short and made me rethink.

So friends, practice listening. Decide before you start your reading to listen and obey. Ask God to speak into your heart. Reflect and meditate on what He has said to you and stay close to Him as you go into the day, because wisdom is more precious than silver, gold or precious rubies.

May He bless you as you “hear” Him speak.

More on Wisdom and Trust

The silence in my house settles like a blanket, as I clear my mind to hear the Lord. “Keep…..” I hear, But Keep what? Then it all comes out: “Keep running the race with perseverance, marked out for you, Fix your eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…….” and I turn to Hebrews 12:1-13. “Yes Lord I needed that”. A picture of running the Comrades marathon comes into my mind’s eye. (I’ve never done that). The discipline and constant reaffirmation of the value of the prize to finish. I find it tempting to feel sorry for myself as I face every day with the goal so far in the future. Maybe I’m only at “Polyshorts”. Prov 4:26,27 seems to affirm that: “Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or to the left.

But what about the idea of trust and wisdom? After our prayer meeting yesterday Ludwig sent a link to a talk by Tim Keller on Jeremiah 17. If you look back you will see I was speaking about that chapter last blog. His message was an eye-opener, however. I can’t give the whole message but he focused on vv 6-8, where God compares the one who trusts in man and turns away from the Lord to a bush in the desert. He described such a bush, struggling and ugly with few leaves, no nourishment for its roots and even when a storm pours water on it, can scarcely benefit. To the one who trusts in the Lord who is like a tree planted by a river, where its roots reach out into the stream. It faces the fear of heat and the worries in the year of drought, but never fails to bear fruit.

But here is the interesting thing.Vs 7 says (better translated in the ESV) Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. So the difference is the one trusts in the Lord and the other’s trust is the Lord. Splitting hairs? Not at all.The one who trusts in the Lord is trusting the Lord for the result or rewards he will get from placing that trust. So there is an expectation that if you trust in the Lord He will answer this prayer, or will provide that solution etc. The problem with that is that if your expectation is not met then your whole ability to “trust” gets a major knock and you will have less and less confidence in trusting Him next time.

The one whose trust IS the Lord however has placed his love and trust completely upon the Lord. He has placed the Lord central in His life. He is like the one whose roots reach down into the water and there is no fear or worry when the heat or the storms come because He knows the Lord is in ultimate control. Thought provoking!

Wycliffe the famous bible translator is reputed to have said you can measure who/what anyone is trusting and loving the most, by asking what do you spend most of your time thinking about in your unguarded moments? Last time I suggested that the measure is who do you run to in the moment of crisis?

My friends I share these thoughts with you because I find myself on a roller coaster sometimes – moments of supreme trust and confidence and then something unexpected and challenging happens and suddenly doubts flood in. Tim Keller reminded of Ephesians 3:14-21 and the importance of vs 17 where Paul prays that the reader may be rooted in God’s love.

So where are you rooted? I will keep praying for all of us that we will be rooted in that love which is immeasurable and promised completely to each one of us in Christ.

Wisdom, humility and understanding (listening).

So we have said trust is one of the 7 pillars of wisdom. So let’s open that up a bit more.

Prov 16:16-20. We said that trust was a choice. Now look at vs 16. Choose understanding (wisdom). OK but just choosing it isn’t going to make it happen. It is the start of an attitude which seeks wisdom. Well what have we said from the beginning, how do we connect with the source of wisdom, Jesus Christ? We need to listen to Him. We need to choose to listen to Him.

But the next few vv remind us of something extremely important, which affects our ability to listen effectively:

What prevents us from hearing Jesus in our hearts? v 18.

What is the right attitude which will enable us to hear vv 19-20?

What do you understand by the concept of “blessing” as expressed in v 20?

In Israel the greeting is Shalom. This describes a wish for one to be in complete harmony with God and His creation. Of course in the NT, it is called blessing and can only be found in a right relationship with Jesus. But here we find the way to that blessing. cf vs 20.

Now the question is who (what) am I really trusting in? cf vs 20 now read Psalm 20:7; Isaiah 31:1-3; Jeremiah 17:5-9.

Ask yourself, when the chips are down, who are you really trusting?

And see the warning in Jeremiah 9. Yes? How easy it is to fool ourselves that we are really trusting in the Lord (and His wisdom). Notice too that the one who trusts in man or anything else other than God is called “cursed”. That is the opposite of blessed.

Wow made me think, this one!

Wisdom expressed as trust.

In Prov 9:1 we read that Wisdom’s house has seven pillars. Selwyn Hughes suggests that this describes 7 different aspects of Wisdom. I have decided to investigate it from this angle and look today at the first and most basic pillar of Wisdom which is trust.

In my time with Jesus during the last months I have been continually confronted with this most important concept. I mentioned in a previous blog that I had remembered a decision I made while still searching to “step out of the boat” as it were. This came from the title of a book “If you want to walk on the water you must first step out of the boat”.

So the question I am asking myself now is; how much am I actually trusting the Lord? Ludwig mentioned on Saturday that trust is a decision we make. At the simplest level it is that. However trust can only happen if the object of your trust has been sufficiently revealed to you so that you know Who you are trusting in and can confidently do it, based on this knowledge. So there is a very real spiritual aspect to trust. In addition to this we grow in trust as we experience the result of our trust. Here again I have experienced that God puts us into situations where we are called to trust Him. As we grow in faith, so those situations often become more and more demanding. Ultimately we find that the real gospel life is only possible if we live supernaturally trusting in Jesus.

Reading Prov 3:1-18.

Why don’t you read that passage for yourself, with the central focus on vs 5. Asking yourself how is this vs so basic to our Christian walk?

And then how do we reach this level of trust?

What role does God’s Word play in this? vs 1

What has love and faithfulness to do with it vs 3, and sharing your wealth vs 9?

It seems to me in this passage, basic to getting wisdom to trust the Lord lies two facets. God’s word and true humility vs 1 and 7.

Then in vs 12 the writer suggests that God uses His discipline to enable us to truly trust Him. This is a hard one but underlying that vs is the reassurance that God only disciplines those He loves. (maybe we should see by this vs how important our trust is to God).

Finally in vv 19,20 we see the reminder of who the One is that we are trusting in. I find that meditating on vv like those helps me enormously to build my trust.

Now if you want to, read Psalm 37:1-11

How does this enrich our reading today?

As you read these passages my prayer for all of us is in Ephes 1:17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus, the glorious Father may give you the spirit of wisdom and understanding that you may know Him better”. That his will not be just an intellectual exercise, but that it will be heart-changing as you listen and hear Him speak.

Living with Wisdom.

Its cold and dark outside as I look across towards the Cape Flats and see the myriad of lights twinkling. It reminds me of the many people out there, A lot of them crowded into small spaces and I wonder how they find the time and space to spend alone with our loving Father. I once again appreciate the warm corner that I have to spend alone with Jesus, God’s word in so many translations, all sorts of. other helps. I feel so spoiled and yet blessed. I remember Mark Brooke-Smith from the early eighties going to spend a year living with a coloured family in Worcester. The fellowship and joy was palpable. Sitting around a fire on a Saturday evening with one piece of meat for the whole family, could not dampen the joy as one plucked a guitar so they could sing. Yet one thing he missed sorely – there was no place for him to spend alone with his bible and the Lord.

Its been a restless night, with several interruptions so my mind is all over the place. Slowly I get the message through to it “Be still and know that I am God”.

In the warm quiet comes the word “Come unto me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Learn from me…..” Wait a bit, how am I going to learn from Him? I must open my ears and listen. Take my yoke….it is easy (ie it fits perfectly) and light. God does not expect me to do anything that He does not equip me for.

“But Lord I feel so weak and inadequate and confused. “When you are weak, I can show my strength through you. The wisdom of this world is foolishness, acquire and listen to my wisdom”

“But the concern the nurses expressed yesterday?”

“To remind you to trust Me in this complex situation”

And I remember my resolve to fix my eyes on Jesus and get out of the boat so that I can walk on the water of trust. I have been taking my eyes of Jesus and looking at the turbulent water and it is in danger of swallowing me up……………….and so … there was more

Proverbs 8:12-36 Speak to me through your Word Lord….

“I love those who love me and those who seek me find me vs 17

My fruit is better than fine gold vs 19 …… This fruit is produced aro of my relationship with Wisdom (Jesus) and through His love. It is a demonstration of His working through me..

Then from vs 22 the revelation (parallel to psalm 139) of God’s plan which He set up from eternity, from the beginning vv 23 ff Vs 27 I was there when He set the heavens in place. My mind is once again blown as I realize the enormity of His plan and the amazing fact that I am part of that plan (and so too each one of you)

Now from vs 32 There is that word again Listen!

What is the state of the one who listens vs 34?

What happens to the one who finds Wisdom? vs 35.

Joshua 1:1-9: “Be strong and courageous Joshua”. How should he gather strength and maintain it? …1:8?

Psalm 1: The book of Psalms opens with the word “blessed is the man…. ….Which describes a great theme of the book but in this short psalm, how is this man to order his life so that he can be blessed? vs 2?

So friends the long psalm 119 which mentions the law of God in almost every verse expands on this vs 2 of psalm 1. It struck me so forcibly that God’s word is really our access to Him and His personal voice to us. Meditating is chewing over what you read so that you can pass through the words on paper to meet with the Author Himself. He wants to personalize that Word for you. Under the new covenant we have the Holy Spirit who is speaking to us through the Word. But you will only hear Him if you “listen”

Mervyn Eloff often used to start his prayers in church with “Lord you are in heaven and we are on earth, so let our words be few”. Have you ever experienced how pleasant it is to spend time with someone who would rather listen to you blab about yourself than blab about themselves.

So to really come to grips with God’s word we need to meditate on it, chew it, memorize it and listen to the Author when He speaks and applies it to you.

What is wisdom?

Proverbs 4:1-9

Romans 1:18-23

1 Cor 1:18-29.

What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom or understanding?

In the last blog we saw that wisdom is not simply a matter of obeying a set of rules. The application of wisdom has a spiritual element to it, a supernatural element if you like. So wisdom has the potential to give you “LIFE” and life in abundance, whereas trying to obey a set of rules just gives us a sense of burden because we, in all probability can’t keep them perfectly.

So wisdom is not knowledge it can involve knowledge but wisdom is the application of the best effect.

So how do we obtain wisdom (understanding)? Pr 4:1. Who is The Father? Does that not fit the theme of our blog?

How important is understanding for the reader? vv 4-9?

What is the ultimate test of wisdom? Romans 1:22

So, looking at the reference in 1 Cor we can see that wisdom is ultimately personified in Jesus. So if we are to have wisdom, we will be most wise if we abide in Christ and He abides in us. This involves truly listening to Jesus. Hearing His heartbeat through His word and applying it fresh to your mind and Spirit every day. And then our lives will reflect their true purpose which is bringing God the glory in all our thoughts and endevours.

So what have these passages said to you today, which is fresh and you can apply to your life?

Lady Wisdom.

Proverbs 1:20-23

Psalm 112:1-10

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26.

The bible is extremely rich in word pictures which help us, unwittingly in understanding its message. Here in Proverbs the imagery is used of two Ladies: Wisdom and Folly who will help us understand these concepts better.

This week Koos Kombuis , wrote in his weekly article some ideas about how to cope with the lock-down situation. Amongst others he spoke of spending time in communion with an imaginary lady who is inside him whom he called Sophy. This is really quite interesting because Sophy is the name for wisdom. As far as I know he is not a Christian.

There is much written about the wisdom literature in the bible and I don’t want this to become an in depth study on wisdom but we need to understand some basics. So while the book of proverbs is intensely practical, it is nevertheless not simply a list of rules to obey.

So what is the difference between all the activities of life, whether good or bad (like making a living) and how to live life? cf Eccl 2:24-26.

How can we live in safety and not fear harm? Psa 112 and Prov 1:33. (What is the connection between one who is under God’s blessing and one who listens?)

How do we gain wisdom?

Since we are now living under the Gospel, how does wisdom relate to the ministry and person of Jesus?

Just some thoughts for the evening. Think through them and listen to Jesus.


So this is how you open the comments box: You simply tap or click on the title of the post you wish to comment on and the comment box will open below the post. Write your comment and don’t forget to to click or tap on post comment.

To make it easier for us to comment, I am going to give the references of the passage(s) that I have read and am making my observations on. To encourage you to read the passages and listen to what Jesus is saying to you, I will leave a couple of open-ended questions. Please remember this is very much still a learning curve, however I believe once we start relaxing and getting into the swing we can become more interactive. Any suggestions from you will always be welcome.


On Wednesday I finished my pilgrimage through Psalms which has taken about 6 months, including a month in Psalm 119. It has been a delightful and challenging journey and fittingly ends in the 5 praise Psalms from 145-150. Yesterday on my birthday as I paused before my next journey the Lord seemed to be giving Psalm 23 as the Psalm for me for this coming year.

I share one startling picture from it, since I believe you have all read this Psalm many times. Reading a book by Joni Eareckson-Tada, recently, she was speaking about getting a new perspective in the midst of suffering. She called it “Don’t look at the Wall”. Speaking to a friend who is an F1 racing driver she asked him if he was never scared while driving at these high speeds, especially since one of their members had been killed, crashing into the boundary wall. His reply was that they are trained that when they are spinning out of control directly towards the wall, they should not focus on the wall but rather look at the track. The thinking is that they are trained to act spontaneously to drive their cars out of the worst spins etc. However if they focus on the wall rushing towards them their bodies freeze and they lose control.

So taking from that story she is suggesting that in the midst of suffering, not to focus on the wall of pain (let your present dilemma freeze you), but to see past it the larger picture of of the open space, the opportunities the Lord is giving you (steer for the open space).

Reading Psalm 23 I was meditating on the dark valley that David speaks of and one which lies in the center of the Psalm. The comfort God gives through His presence. Then it suddenly hit me. Whenever I think of this vs I am focussing on this dark valley, that is the wall, I must steer for the open space , the light at the end of the valley. The light of hope and the promise of our eternal home and of course the pathway of whatever opportunities God is still giving me. What a thought for the coming year.

So today I started on a slow, in depth walk through Proverbs. Two things struck me immediately, which link into the theme of my blog. Ch 1:3 “Let the wise LISTEN and add to their learning. So how do we know when we are listening to the teaching of God? It shows in our actions and attitudes vs 3. Doing what is right and just and fair. Cf Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a WHAT? a WISE man who built his house on the rock.

Of course there is much more . Vs 5 and 6 (Prov) tell us that wisdom gives us discernment and the ability to understand proverbs, parables and the sayings of the wise.If you look at Mark 4:9-12 you see that Jesus specifically spoke in parables so that only those who have the ability to listen will understand them. Whew.

Then there is that well-known vs Prov 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. I was asking myself “Do I really know what it means to fear the Lord, I mean know in my heart? and I was led to Psalm 1 which has much in common with this passage up to vs 19,, there the blessed one, walks in the ways of the Lord and meditates on His law day and night.

So we come back to “how do we know when we are really listening?” Well we will be distinguished by our hearing God speak and putting it into practice, by our attitudes and delight in God’s Word and will be called blessed and wise.

Lots to chew on. I am still struggling to get the comments activated but please stay with us and be patient.

Psalm 148

So as I become quiet with only the early morning mist hanging lazily over the low-lying areas, as look out towards Cape Town, to accompany me, I am listening. The quiet settles around me and my thoughts slowly slide away as I wait expectantly.

“Lay down” I hear. “Lay down what Lord”?

“Lay down your resistance to me and my guidance and love, where you are going your way…

Lay down, in fact, lay down your life and trust in me completely”.

“Truly get out of the boat and stop trusting in it, and only then will you be able to walk on the water and even then you will not only walk I will make you will fly (Isaiah 40:31)I will take you up on the wings of an eagle.”

In my minds eye I see myself flying but now I am in a plane like a WW2 fighter pilot and what’s that? It’s flack bursting around me cannons and machine guns, puffs of smoke, I am in the midst of a great air battle. Then I remember “I am your shield – you are in the battle but I will protect you”.

“I will take refuge under your wings till this disaster has passed”.

Now the question I ask is, “If I trust only in the Lord, how do I live in this world where I must use the help of other people?”

“You can use their help – but keep trusting in Me – trust me to bring the right help”.

Psalm 148 A beautiful psalm of praise, bracketed again by the words praise the Lord! He is totally unique “from the heavens”. The word all is used 10 times but alone only once vs 13. He is the only one who deserves praise. So all the heavenly beings and all of creation is praising Him.

But here’s the thing – how does that happen, how do all these parts of creation praise Him? Think a bit on that one.

But there is a difference between His creation, inanimately praising Him and human praise.

What do you think that is?

The name for God here is His covenant name “Yahweh” and the people are to praise that name and Who that represents (vs13) and the people are described as the “saints of Israel” This speaks of a personal relationship, thoughtful praise and comes at the end of the description of all the rest of creation’s praise, which seems to remind me again of how central God is in all of the universe.

And then in vs 14 “He has raised up for His people a horn”. This speaks of power,a king., intimately bound to His people. Who could that be? David in the first place, but in the distant future, the very One who will make it possible for us to praise God from a new perspective.

So I am moved again afresh to want to praise God from the very core of my being.