Wisdom expressed in Perseverance and Hope.

This morning I couldn’t help but burst into jubilant laughter during my time with our Lord. But lets begin at the beginning. I awake with a sense of optimism as its getting light. What will the day bring? What will this week bring?

As I become quiet my Father focusses on the word “hope” – yes, ultimate hope – focusing and culminating in the “marriage supper of the Lamb” – but hope here on earth as well. I see a picture of a tree lined avenue with a bright light shining at the end – it is the HOPE God is speaking about. He reminds me of Romans ch 5 – standing in His grace – suffering producing perseverance which produces hope. My impression is that I mustn’t just mark time and wait for the end, but must bravely and with expectancy look forward to His working in this world now. He reminds me that the coming together of a number of small things is a sign of His presence, however He is busy with something much bigger. I sense though that I mustn’t try and predict and run ahead, I must wait on Him. I am reminded of the passage in Habbakuk, you know the one? “Though the fig tree does not bud ……Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour (our lovely Lord Jesus)”. This is not negative, it is a reminder to enjoy and worship God for who He is, not what we can get from Him. Yet I must carry on doing the mundane things He has called me to every day, diligently.

So the reading is in Proverbs 21:1-15.

The question is, what determines our path?

vs 1 God can and does direct even the most powerful person when He wishes something to be done.

vs 2 It is the motive and decision which arises from our hearts that determines the direction, the decisions we make and that is important to God.

vs 3 He is more interested in us doing the right thing, having the right attitude towards His word and decrees than in making sacrifices, iow doing our thing to try and please Him and win His approval.

vs 4. Pride hinders our relationship with Him and prevents divine guidance and is abhorrent to Him.

vs 5 He desires us to think carefully before we act and not make rash decisions.

Now I take up Selwyn Hughes’ book. The theme is still diligence despite difficulties and my eye falls on the following statement: “Listen to what the apostle Paul says in Romans 5:3-4; ‘We rejoice in our sufferings, [why} because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character and character hope'”.

Can I ever doubt that the precious Lord is speaking to me with such a clear message? My heart was overflowing as I burst out in joyful, ebullient laughter.

There is hope for all of us. Not a wishy washy word of hope, a dynamic powerful word of promise from the God who created the whole world. Let us rejoice and be glad in Him and accept the hope as a sign of His love but worship Him ultimately for who He is and love Him with all your heart.

My prayer for you and I, all of us, is from Ephesians 1:17 ff “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you (us), the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and the incomparably great power for for us who believe”

Wow – praise His glorious Name!

Wisdom as Diligence.

This morning my heart is filled with thankfulness and I just draw close to my Father and sit in His presence till I sense He is enveloping me in His love – He feeds my heart with His presence – my heart is filled with thankfulness.

The next of the 7 pillars of wisdom is “diligence”, which is expressed among others as perseverance.

Prov 4:10 – 23 The central issue of this passage is vs 23 “Above all else guard your heart, it is the wellspring of life” . As we have said before and needs to be repeated: the heart is the source of all our motivations which lead to the decisions we take. In his case it is to take the “path of righteousness vs 18.” But how do we guard our hearts? two things come up:

v 10 “Listening”. Tired of hearing that yet? You see we have not listened properly till we have “accepted what God says”.(v10) (I was recently told that research shows that if we are fed a barrel of words we only really hear a teaspoonful.) And then, the passage says we need to “Hold on to that instruction” v 13. You see we will only hold on to God’s instruction if we have really heard, believed and trusted in Him fully.

Then, secondly, v 25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you that will lead to you having level paths before you (v26,27). Why are the eyes so important? Well it is through our eyes that we are first tempted. Look again at the example of Eve in the garden Gen 3:4 ff “”You will not surely die” the serpent said to the woman, “For God knows when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good from evil”. when the woman saw that he fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye she …what? Took some and ate it!

Confirmation back in Prov again, Prov 23:26 “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep from wandering”. So the path of wisdom is one of diligence, keeping to the path of righteousness, because we are constantly being tempted to leave it, to give up or deviate.

This is confirmed in James 1:2-8, where James makes the connection between trials, perseverance, faith and wisdom. Read it and let it soak in.

So what is Jesus (Wisdom) saying to me from this? In the path ahead I am going to be tempted (many times) to give up, to give in to self-pity and discouragement. My eyes will look and long for an easier path, however the trials I am going through are intended for the opposite purpose, to help me develop an attitude of perseverance which will lead me on the path to maturity. I need to hear this in my heart which is the wellspring from where the courage will come from to proceed. I can only really hear this so that it will bring change and strength to me if I draw the supernatural power from being close to Jesus (Ephes 1:17,18).

More on Generosity in Wisdom.

So if any of you readers have ever fallen head over heals in love, you may remember that one of the attitudes that went with that emotional storm was the desire to give to the lucky “love-bug”. Nothing was too small or too big, your desire carried you on to want to share whatever was good and pleasing to yourself with them. In a very real way that is just a tiny reflection of what happens when we fall in love with Jesus. However the mind-boggling thing is that He is busy pouring His gifts out upon you and I and we are are actually responding to that. I love the Song of Solomon, because it puts into such beautiful, poetic language, this adorable love song, which is a reflection of God, the Bridegroom’s love for the church (and each individual in it) which is the bride.

While our relationship with Him is not built on emotion and emotionalism, it is also not a cold, austere relationship which is only based on words, without feelings. The thing is that the closer we come to walking with Jesus, the more our attitude and actions will reflect His and here it is. He was always warm, generous, compassionate, loving, pouring out His gifts on us through grace upon grace. I love the verse were John the Baptist introduces Jesus in John 1:16 (Amplified version). “For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favour upon favour, and gift heaped upon gift]. And in Ephesians 1 where Paul describes “all the spiritual blessings we have received” the sentence describing these gifts is laced with the word “grace”.

And notice in vs 7b . “….the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all …..what? wisdom and understanding “. So here comes a beautiful curly link back to the generosity which is part of true wisdom. You want to be wise? demonstrate it by being generous. But we can’t loosen that from the depth of our relationship with Jesus, just as He is the fount of wisdom so also He is the fount of generosity.

I think some people are just naturally more inclined to be generous. Paul speaks of the gift of giving (Romans 12:8). I have known people like that. Nevertheless we are all called to demonstrate this aspect of wisdom and I speak to myself first. I need to ask myself “am I kind to the needy?” Prov 14:31, not because of guilt but because the love of Christ towards me moves me to be.

Wisdom and Generosity.

Slept much later than usual and there is a sense of hazy lassitude hanging over me. “Speak to my heart Lord”…… that is my real desire as I seem to be floating, unanchored – open my heart-

“I am opening it. I want you to know the height, width, breadth, depth of My love – in your heart – it is a slow process – I am using lots of means to do it – to move it from your head to the depths of your heart, where it will flood you and overwhelm you – sometimes with painful surgery – but My presence and love will always surround you.

Remember again my invitation ‘come unto me (TRUST ME COMPLETELY) when you are heavy laden and I will give you REST.”

The next pillar of Wisdom is generosity. I have said for many years that the surest way to know when someone is truly converted is when their wallet is converted.

Prov 28:28. “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses”.

But wait a bit, true generosity is not actually about giving financially. It is a whole attitude of your heart towards others, provoked and in response to God’s incredible, amazing generosity towards us.

There are a few vss in the sermon on the mount that deal with the attitude towards wealth Matt 6:19-23. In the Moffat translation vs 22 reads “if your eye is generous the whole of your body will be illumined”. So when we live with Jesus’ light in us, who is the font of all wisdom, then He generates the same generosity within us. Then we begin to see everyone and everything with the same generous eye.

I testify to the reality of the overwhelming generosity among my brothers and sisters here in Helderberg Village and elsewhere, who have poured out their generosity upon me. It speaks to me of so much more than their individual love, of which there is plenty, but of the overarching love of a generous Father who wants us to experience His generosity, amongst others through the ministry of His children. Be sure when you are showing generosity towards others then you are holding up the light of Jesus to that person and the world.

Thank you Father God for the greatest act of generosity when You gave Jesus to die on the cross for us. Romans 8:31(b): “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all. How much more will He not give us also, along with Him all things”.

Wisdom and Faithfulness

The early light is filtering through the window. This is clearly a sign of the change in seasons. Spring is on its way. This morning I’m feeling really emotional. Tears are very near the surface.

Is this self-pity I wonder to myself, as I let them flow? No – its joy, a deep and real awareness of the presence of my Father God. His nearness and – yes I have been mulling over all the ways he has been demonstrating His love in my life. I grasp how much He cares for me and I’m overwhelmed by a sense of complete belonging. I feel He is saying to me that my tears are the passage to His heart – every one is counted and collected into a bottle. He is not punishing me. He is preparing me for something so great and wonderful it can’t even be imagined.

He shows me that, as I hold Emily up and support her on her shaky legs to strengthen them, He is doing the same for me. Only without the uncertainty and fear of her falling. He is totally faithful and can hold and will support me.

And this theme of faithfulness runs through my readings to-day:

Prov. 6:27-35

Isaiah 54:1-10

Hoseah 2:16-31

Genesis 6:5,6.

These all point to His faithfulness to His covenant promises, but shockingly, also the pain He feels at our unfaithfulness, when we break His precepts, with our unfaithfulness. He led Hosea to marry a prostitute so that he would experience some of that pain of unfaithfulness. But unfaithfulness by me when I look at another woman with lust in my eyes is merely a tiny part of what unfaithfulness to God means. Anyone else, anything else that I love and treasure more than Him – hurts Him and is a sign of unfaithfulness and that again is a sign of a flaw in our love for Him.

“Love Me with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind and with ALL your strength”.

Can I do this? Well listen to what I heard Him say to me today. “My God My God why have you forsaken me”. No this can’t be from God, that’s not how He encourages me, put it out my mind. Yet there it is again. Then I wake up and hear what He is really saying. Those words were Jesus’ words on the cross, in those awful moments when He was separated from God His Father. But, and here is the real joy, worth shouting about! He said them once so that we may never, never say them. God will never forsake us. Jesus has taken that separation on Himself and He stands in our stead ready to pour His love into us so that we can love Him and the Father in return. He understands our weakness and easily slipping into unfaithfulness but He has lavished us with His grace so that in Him we can progress in our complete love of Him.

Hallelujah! a thousand times over!

Where is Your Heart?

Its Sunday, the Lord’s day, He is speaking to me and here is a precis. “Receive My love – as I receive you. Remember the cloud – My love completely surrounding you – absorbing you into My grace? Receive that and live with delight in Me (Psalm 37) – the difficulties you experience are loving corrections to bring you closer to Me, because I desire your whole heart and soul and body and mind. But Ian, enjoy your life – enjoy what I have given you just see it as that, gifts from Me – not an end in itself. Remember Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and I will give you the desires of your heart. But, be careful, don’t look at those who have much and find satisfaction in things – your satisfaction is to be ONLY in ME”.

I share this with you dear readers because today’s reading focuses to a large extent on the heart Prov 4:10-27.

It starts with words about guidance vv 10-15 and ends again on that theme 25-27. But wait a bit, Perhaps he is not talking so much about what direction our lives should take, what plans we should be making, a sort of road map of life, no he is talking about what sort of person you are guided to be as you go along the path of life . He speaks about the path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining brighter till the full light of day. Compared to the path of the wicked full of violence and debauchery vv 18,19.

So how are we to find this path and follow it? Well the emphasis is on keeping your heart right. vv 21,23. The heart is the wellspring of life, he says, above all else guard your heart. We have spoken several times about this. It is from the heart that our lives are directed, the correct decisions made. But here’s the thing: How do we start making sure our hearts are in the right relationship with Jesus?

I suppose you can figure that out by now. Vs 10, LISTEN, my son, accept what I say.

V 20 My son, pay close attention to what I say. LISTEN closely to my words.

It is only when your heart is moved by God’s word, when your heart is fixed on Him through it that your life will be ordered right – your eyes looking straight ahead (v25), with your gaze directed before you.

Genesis 3 Remember the garden? Eve looked and SAW that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom Gen 3:6. You see this is the path that Satan uses.. Sin starts with the eyes. To prevent that, our hearts must be right and for that to happen we must listen and hear what God is saying to us in our hearts.

Its been a sort of jolting revelation to me that God really does not want us to live a life of self-denial. He has created the most magnificent world around us. He has given us the most delicious food to eat and lovely wines to drink. But because of sin these things are often regarded as necessary merely for survival or by the way, as it were. But food is to be enjoyed, only don’t make a god of your stoumach, Wine is to be enjoyed but don’t allow yourself to be tempted to drunkenness.

It is when we desire and delight in these and other “things” of this world more than we delight in Him that we step into sin.

So as we read and meditate on His word, let us focus on the joy of knowing Him and enjoying all the gifts He has given us remembering that is what they are. And most of all let us stay close to Him through reading, listening and meditating on His word.

More on wisdom and integrity.

Its raining outside and a cold wind is stirring the branches as I snuggle down to spend my favorite time of the day. As I become quiet I picture myself sitting on my Father’s lap – His arms wrapped around and holding me – holding me securely. A love which is in one way unseen but revealed and promised in His Word in so many ways, but in another way is experienced through the love of all those around me – Thank you again Lord, I worship you from the bottom of my heart.

My reading is Prov 30:1-9. Opening with some words reminiscent of Job chp’s 38-41 of God’s amazing, supernatural power, wisdom and omniscience, reminding us of how much greater He is than us. Against that background is the assurance of the absolute dependability of God’s Word. His creative power and His flawless word are so often coupled, I find. Against this background the writer calls for God’s help with two things.

  1. To keep him honest. To help him not to speak lies or bend the truth in any way.
  2. To provide for him, just enough. Too much will lead to him forgetting God and too little may lead him to steal. A further reading is Psalm 119:25-32. Vs 30 tells me that honesty is a choice, just as we have seen with trust and wisdom. But wait a bit, we said that the choice to trust and the choice of wisdom has a supernatural element to it. In other words although we are called to choose these, we are absolutely dependent on our relationship with Jesus through His Spirit to make this choice. So here we are confronted with that same truth concerning integrity and honesty. Now I stop to consider. Honesty and integrity are such a given in the Christian life. Do I ever even give it much thought, except where others have been dishonest to me? I realize with a stark shock that – yes, my heart, not theirs mine, is deceitful above all things. I need to examine the very motives behind my speech and actions and bring them constantly to the foot of the cross so that I can reflect the real truth which is only pure in Christ Himself. So can I challenge every one of you reading this blog today to do the same? It is so easy to measure ourselves against the background of all the dishonesty that we are experiencing around us, it is so easy to feel a smug self satisfaction. Yes? T.he challenge is not to measure ourselves against anyone else but Jesus Himself.