Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Proverbs 10: 22-32

It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it.
Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.
What the wicked fears will come upon him,
But the desire of the righteous will be granted.
When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy one to those who send him.
The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
The hope of the righteous is gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked perishes.
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright,
But ruin to the workers of iniquity.
The righteous will never be shaken,
But the wicked will not dwell in the land.
The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.
The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.

Today's Thought Questions:
  1. Look at verse 28. The Hebrew word for prospect (NIV translation) is tohelet, meaning"expectation." As a believer pursuing righteousness, or "rightness with God," is joy our expectation? Read Nehemiah 8:10. When we pursue God, is it joyful? Reflect on the fullness of Christ and the emptiness of not knowing Him. How do these things impact our perspective or approach to a non-believing person?
  2. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

Today's lesson starts with a big question--do we expect joy in our pursuit of righteousness?

As a new Christian, we think that finding God is the greatest joy of our lives, and that joy is going to carry us through everything. But, sometimes we mistake joy for happiness, and when we run into challenges and circumstances that we weren't expecting, we lose some of that joy. Plus, when we're trying to do everything right, forgetting Who is in control, sometimes the road is everything but joyful! As God teaches us and disciplines us--as B was saying the other day--we can definitely forget what that joy of knowing Him is about.

The non-believing person may not understand why a believer pursues righteousness. Sometimes, we come off as being perfectionists instead of those trying to pursue a right relationship with God. So, the Christian is misunderstood. And, if things don't go well, and we lose our perspective on our joy, the non-believer looks at us kind of hypocritically.

And how does the Christian view a non-believer? We can sometimes be judgmental, especially if they don't understand us or scoff at us. Yet we know that God wants all to be saved, that none should perish. We know God commands us to love one another. In our pursuit of wisdom, do we embrace the bigger God picture that these folks do not share that hope that we have?

Verse 28 says the expectation of the wicked perishes. What's interesting is that the word used here for expectation means something different than the word used in talking about the hope of the righteous. The expectation (of the wicked) means "a cord, as in an attachment; thing that I long for." [Strong's] What the wicked expect hangs as if by a cord. So temporal.

"I've got the world on a string
I'm sitting on a rainbow
Got the string around my finger
What a world, what a life - I'm in love"

The non-believer has it all on a string. And when it get tangles or breaks.... ???

When we have a life in Christ and pursue Godly wisdom, we learn through God's Word that we have a hope, and that is something that cannot be taken away. When Christ is our hope, we learn to lean on Him more through the rough times; to seek Him more in our pursuit of wisdom; to know Him more that the hope of Heaven is something we live with daily. The non-believer cannot appreciate this perspective without his or her heart coming to terms with knowing the one true God. Our eternal hope, however, does not dangle by a line and will not be snatched from us.

"Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'"
--Nehemiah 10:8 (NIV)

What spoke to me today? Verse 22: "It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it." In the pursuit of wisdom, it is easy to be misled into thinking that you have uncovered something yourself. You put in the work. You made the connections. You have become wise.

No, it is the blessing of the Lord! If the Lord desires that you should prosper, then it is His doing! Only God can bring you such blessing without pain or toil, grief or hurt. When we are on that road to righteousness and come to that fork, where wisdom cries discernment for us, it is God alone who sets us on the path of blessing. Closing with The Message paraphrase of my verse today:

"God's blessing makes life rich; nothing we do can improve on God."

Photo: http://rookery2.viary.com/storagev12/1039500/1039826_a8e9_625x1000.jpg

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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Questions:

Proverbs 11: 1-11
  1. Why might disgrace follow pride? God says that He hates pride (Proverbs 8:13). Read Philippians 2: 1-11. Reflect on that passage and explain why God might detest pride.
  2. Reread verse 3. What is integrity and why do you think it guides the upright? This verse also talks about the duplicity of the unfaithful. Read Matthew 27: 3-5 and Acts 1: 15-20. Do you think Judas was unfaithful? Wicked? Explain the relevance of Proverbs 11:3 to Judas' demise.
  3. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).

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