The Wisdom of Proverbs (Proverbs 3:13-15)

19 12 2010

Proverbs 3:13-15

13Happy are those who find wisdom,
and those who get understanding,
14for her income is better than silver,
and her revenue better than gold.
15She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Wisdom is supposed to do something to us. It’s supposed to change our demeanor. It’s supposed to invoke in us a sense of divine satisfaction where we submit to this feeling called happy. It has this power to determine our mood and how we think about life from that moment until the next moment. It lives in time and does something to how we receive life where we enjoy it and relish it and cherish it. It’s supposed to make us smile.

But that’s only if we find her.

Happy are those who find wisdom. It’s almost as if we’re happy because of the action of finding. It’s almost as if we take more satisfaction in achieving discovery. It’s almost as if the journey creates the path towards our joy when we finally reach this destination called wisdom. When we finally find her, other emotions may very well exist within us, but the dominant trait we bear is happy. The journey towards happiness witnesses to something great within us, the ability to search albeit not consistently, but nevertheless we search. The destination attests to our determination to discover something we do not already have. We look for it in hopes of one day having it. Just like with school where we work for years for the end-result degree, this journey towards wisdom may take years of work, some good and some bad, but in the end, work. We are constantly moving in a direction to have something that, in my opinion, we’ve already started getting all along the journey. Like the building of knowledge in school, our wisdom is built upon day to day repetition of journeying and searching.

We meet her on the way, we realize we’ve been alongside her when we fall and we shudder, partly in fear and partly with amazement when we realize that we had been journeying without her guidance for so long.

The same applies to understanding, revelation, realizing reality—wisdom unfurled.  

We go get her. We take the active steps of retrieval and end up successful because we resolved to make the journey in the first place. To me this is fabulous news, that we are rewarded for the effort, not the performance but for wanting her and going to get her. Because this requires discomfort and not having control, and not searching perfectly, and not saying all the spiritual things we think we should, and not having an organ or three-part harmony because our wailing and crying out in desperation isn’t supposed to harmonize or match up perfectly or play out smoothly. But we encounter real, raw life and errors and the daunting reality that our spiritual journeying is ugly and dirty and soiled and soaked in our human efforts, but honored by the pure Holy Spirit.

We are honored as we seek the honor of finding and getting wisdom and understanding.

Our work is honored. The income of wisdom (and understanding) is more than what money can bring or imply. The income is more than the things we work our entire lives to get so we can live in or with them, but the income is something that lives in and with us. It never leaves us. It never leaves us broke…although we had to be broken to earn her.

Wisdom’s return in our lives earns more for us than gold could ever earn. The knowledge, keenness, awareness, smart-mindedness etc. gives us more than what we think we need to survive. We need wisdom to survive, not gold, not silver, not a big church, not a four-bedroom house we don’t use properly, not more clothes than we can ever wear, not attention from men who we know will never love and respect the way God does…we need wisdom, not stuff or attention from certain people, for wisdom tells us what to do with stuff and people and feelings and touch circumstances and mourning and lament and joy and happiness. Wisdom has the wherewithal to keep us one step ahead of the best dreams we can conjure up for ourselves.

We have to give up the dreams of others that we’ve adopted for ourselves. Cliques cant do for us what God’s wisdom has done, continues to do and can do. Doing whatever we want can’t give us anything better than what God’s wisdom can. Hating people and parties and races and classes can’t give us anything that will help and heal us like wisdom can. Music can’t touch wisdom. Our perfect spouse, our perfect selves, our “I’m not imperfect” attitude that we’ve made into an idol can’t outdo wisdom. For wisdom and understanding doesn’t put up with that. She calls it out; she calls us out, out of wherever we are struggle into a struggle with purpose. We battle ourselves and God and the devil and wisdom teaches us when and how to fight and when and how to surrender.  

Wisdom is on another level than our desires. Our desires fall short, look bland, and appear miniscule in the face of wisdom. When we understand and realize that the wise thing to do trumps what “we feel is the best thing for us” then we’ve begun to allow wisdom to journey with us as the leader through this uncertain life. In this journey we will know for certain that our happiness didn’t come from us, but in our decision, in our will to trust wisdom and to follow God.

Prayer: Lord, we want Your wisdom. Kill whatever You must within, around, above, and chained to us so that we may submit to a Perfect Will ultimately working towards our happiness. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

I hate to say it, but I think we preach exceptions, not rules.

12 07 2010

I hate to say it, but I think we preach exceptions, not rules.

Miracles seem common in the word-series called sermons because sermons are inspired from the words called the Bible. But I propose that they aren’t supposed to be. Miracles weren’t even that common when Jesus was doing them. They appear common because the Gospels follow Jesus. Or when Elijah or Elisha or Moses did them, even though they did a few as well, we call them the norm.

It may seem like they were, but they weren’t.

Sure, Jesus healed many people, but He didn’t physical heal thousands of people who came to Him. He healed a paralytic who came from the roof (Mark 2), a blind man from birth (John 9), a demoniac (Mark 5), a woman with extensive bleeding (Luke 8). He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11) but not others.

The greatness of His miracles enthrall us so much that we become encouraged and inspired to believe that miracles are easily accessible, that they are commonplace, that everyone gets one. But I don’t think we do.

Because miracles are what the Bible reports, we assume they are everyday occurrences.

But maybe the actual, physical miracle should not be the focus of the sermon. If we’re honest with ourselves, we hear one or two stories about someone who received a check in the mail, or were healed completely of cancer, or they got the full scholarship when they didn’t finish their application. Miracles do happen to thousands of people. But what about the billions of people who don’t see miracles?

I think it’s too easy for ministers who have hit the jackpot to claim that their life is common. It isn’t. It’s great for them but unlikely for others.

What do we do with that?

Entire ministries are built on this false concept of common miracles. Entire lives and faiths are built on this false concept of common miracles.

But people asked Jesus for miracles.

John 4:47-48 is hard to read. What is wrong with a man asking Jesus for healing for his son? Isn’t that what a believer in Christ should do? Aren’t we healed by His stripes?

Or are we misunderstanding this healing proclamation?

Jesus sounds exasperated at the fact that people need physical miracles and physical evidence to believe. Maybe there was a way to believe without a miracle. Maybe John 4 is showing that belief had a short-lifespan unless it was sustained by miracles.

Maybe John 4 is teaching Mark 2. The first thing when the paralytic is surprisingly lowered into Jesus’ presence is forgive him of his sins. Physical healing seems to be an afterthought. Or rather, it is to shut the scribes up who complain and question Jesus pardoning anyone’s sins.

Maybe our focus is too much on the physical and miracles.

Maybe miracles are not the first thing Jesus wants us to receive from Him, but forgiveness.  

Miracles are few and far between but they are not even primary but secondary to demonstrate Jesus’ power and divinity. But all we can see is what we don’t have, whether it’s good health, money, good kids, a job, perfect parents, or perfect grades. We pray harder for our final papers than for God’s forgiveness.

Maybe our priorities are wrong. Maybe the entire point is humility. And if we don’t get the healing we want or believe God has promised us, maybe we should re-evaluate what Jesus is really healing. And be content with that.

But it’s hard when we’re in pain.

But maybe Jesus is teaching the incredibly hard lesson that forgiveness from sin and embracing humility, even amidst pain and possibly physical death is greatest. I personally think that He’s still teaching me this. None of us has mastered this subject yet. We don’t mean to or want to, but we’re failing. It will probably take the rest of our lives to pass let alone completely and totally ace this.

When we shed all traces of humanity and finally cross-over into the presence of a God whose being begets perfect understanding, I think it’ll happen. And it will be commonplace.

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