Have you ever gotten lost? Have you been so lost that it felt like you were going in circles, stuck in an endless loop of hopeless twists and turns that never get you where you wanted to go? I’ve been there on foot, and I’ve been there in a vehicle–at night, in a bad neighborhood. Getting lost is no fun. Being lost from God is no fun either, but God in His mercy allows us to rearrange our paths. As author Allison Gappa Bottke puts it, God Allows U-Turns.
If your path is filled with the chaos of uncharted turns and bumps and misdirections that keep ending you in places of frustration and hopelessness, make a change and rearrange. (I just couldn’t help but to make that rhyme. 🙂 ) To illustrate some rearrangement, I’m going to rearrange some verses from Proverbs Chapter 4. Using the New King James’ Version, I’ll list them in no particular order as bullet points. See what the verses in the following order might tell you about your own path of life.
- Ponder the path of your feet.
- Let your eyes look straight ahead
- Do not turn to the right or the left.
- Remove your foot from evil.
- Do not enter the path of the wicked.
- Do not walk in the way of evil.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
- The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.
- But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
And from Isaiah 30:21…
- Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
There’s plenty more in Proverbs 4, so I recommend reading all of it. As a matter of fact, I find a lot of inspiration in the idea of reading the entire chapter of Proverbs on whatever day of the month it is. So, since this post was started on December 4th, I took a visit to Proverbs 4, and all those verses about paths are what jumped out at me. With a little rearrangement, I love the wisdom and promise that’s presented.
To continue with the message about your path, here’s a little bit from some of lessons I’ve gleaned as I’ve walked before Yahveh Almighty.
Many paths will visualize before you on your life’s journey, but only one path will lead you where you want to be in the end. It begins with a narrow gate, so no one but you can fit to walk through it. You don’t get through on the coat tails of a preacher or a parent; or even a friend or loved one. You get through it by using a key of mercy and grace provided when you walk through the blood of your Savior, Yeshua.
Once you’ve chosen to walk through the narrow gate, you’ll be on a straight path. It’s not as narrow as the gate, so you’ll have friends to encourage you and walk with you. Fellowship with them and make it a joyful walk. God will light that path for you, and His Holy Spirit is always there to comfort you on your journey. Trust Him to guide you. Seek His wisdom and understanding because the way that seems right to man doesn’t have the promise of God’s way. Look carefully, watch your step, train your eyes on the prize, and listen for that still, small voice that tells you the way to walk.
And here’s one bit of caution… Take heed of anyone who tries to lead you off the path onto another path. God’s path is always the straight one. Because God’s path is straight, even if it looks like it’s a long way off, the end should always be a clear vision ahead of you. Without that vision, you can be turned away and perish, so keep your eyes trained on the goal, and keep pressing forward. Don’t give up, and you’ll cross the finish line and receive your reward.
If you are on a path that doesn’t have a promise of eternal life at the end, ponder your steps and seek God. If you are still breathing in and out, it’s not too late to rearrange your path and follow God.
In Proverbs 21:31 (AMP), we are given the following wisdom…
The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance and victory are of the Lord.
So we do all we can to prepare to take a stand and to fight if necessary, but in reality, the battle against sin truly belongs to The Lord. Paul said he kept doing the things he didn’t want to do, and he kept failing when he tried to do the right things, because sin reigned in his mortal body. That doesn’t mean we quit fighting, but it does mean that it takes something (or Someone) greater than our personal self-control to wage and win this war.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 16:25 through Leviticus 16:34, we are still reading God’s instructions for the priest making atonement for the sins of Israel. We’re told that the man who takes the scapegoat outside the camp must wash his clothes and bathe before he can return to the camp. And then we’re told that the person who takes the hides and dung from the offerings and burns them outside the camp must also bathe and wash his clothes before he can return to the camp.
I see the verses above as a sort of physical representation of the symbolic steps we take as we change from who we are without Christ to who we will become with Him. These steps include confession (we saw that over the head of the goat yesterday), repentance, sending our sinful behaviors away from us, burning up any remnants of sin, and then washing our bodies and clothes (baptism) to show that we are fresh and new without even the smells of “old goat” or “smoke” of sin remaining on us.
And this walks us perfectly into the next part of today’s portion where we learn about The Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. We learn that the community is to take a complete Sabbath on this day, and that atonement will be made to purify them. While this high holy day is prepared for with fasting, self-assessment of sins and weaknesses, confession and repentance, the day of Yom Kippur is a day of complete and total rest, and a day of self-denial. It is the actual day when the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies, and the congregation would wait in silence to see if he would come back out to them alive to declare their salvation.
In our lives today, we should not enter lightly into the atonement we have under the blood of Yeshua. Yes, He does all the work. Yes, His blood completely cleanses us. But to say we should not prepare for that holy moment would deny us of the knowledge of the awesome work Christ (our High Priest) does on our behalf. How can we value the depth of what He has delivered us from if we go in with our eyes closed and never look at the pit? How can we even know which side we’re on until we understand where the enemy occupies in his stand against our souls? Yes, Yahveh Almighty is The One who will win the victory for us; who has already won the victory through the blood of Christ, but let us prepare for the battle to stand for Him that we can cheer with everything in us when we hear His voice as He declares our salvation.
Today’s reading from Genesis 9:18 through Genesis 10:32 is a bit longer, and it is so because it’s another chapter that covers a bunch of genealogy. This time, it’s the genealogies from the sons of Noah from whom the entire earth was repopulated after the flood. But before it gets into the genealogies, this chapter tells a story of excess, drunkenness, and disrespectful behavior.
Noah was a farmer, so after getting off the boat, he planted a vineyard. From the fruit of his labors, he drank a bit too much wine (it is easy to go overboard when you have gone without something for a very long time) and passed out in his tent. I’m guessing his robes came undone, or the wine made him warm, and he stripped them off, but for whatever reason, he was laying there completely naked. What happened next changed the future of many people groups.
Noah’s youngest son, Ham, happened by his father’s tent. Instead of backing out and respecting him, he ran to tell his brothers all about it. Now remember, the sons who entered the ark were married men and their wives, so this was a full-grown married man running off to make fun of his father to other full-grown married men. I think there is likely much more to the story, but here’s what I see: The states of mind before the flood were not only lacking any direction toward God, but they were so selfish, they were immature. Learning to care for others instead of just yourself takes time and maturity, so selfish people often act childish by being demanding, having temper tantrums, and/or being just plain silly. I think Ham came on board with the mindset of those who had just been destroyed. Maybe all but Noah boarded that way, but I believe Ham “missed the boat” mentally and emotionally when he did not learn a lesson by watching the end result of that evil behavior. And that childish behavior caused problems from his son, Canaan, on down the line because Ham did not create a legacy of maturity and obedience that could be taught through the generations.
As with all of God’s stories though, there is always some good news to find. In this case, it was the two older brothers who walked backward with a blanket and covered their father’s nakedness instead of making fun of him. Were they mature because they were older, or had they matured as a result of the last year and the lesson learned from the destruction of mankind? It’s hard to tell, but in a literal way, they fulfilled Proverbs 10:12 where it says, “Hatred stirs up contentions, but love covers all transgressions” (Amplified Bible). The immature son disrespected his father, and hated him enough to try to stir things up against him in the hearts of his brothers. But his brothers loved their father and chose instead to cover his transgressions. I also like the way this is stated in 1 Peter 4:8 (Amp)….”Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].”
We have a Savior who feels love toward us, so when given the choice to mock our sins and put them on public display for punishment, He chose instead to cover us–with His own body and blood. He took the public display, the mocking, and the punishment on Himself. And because mercy and love is more powerful than punishment and hate, we have the promise that His love covers our sins, not only unto the third and fourth generation (as it is with those who hate God), but unto thousands of generations of those that love God and keep His commandments. (See Exodus 20:6).
Can you recall meeting people who would not let you get to know them? Maybe you tried to show interest in them and show that you cared, so you could create a safe place for them to be themselves. But no matter what you did, it seemed they were all locked up inside themselves. Maybe it was fear, maybe pride, or maybe a little of both, but whatever it was, it was frustrating.
For a person like me who will share just about everything about herself, it’s even harder to deal with someone who is closed up. But thankfully, God is not that way! It thrills me that He says in so many places in His word that He wants me to get to know Him. He says things like, “They that seek me will find me.” Of course, that verse is incomplete. It actually says, in paraphrase from Jeremiah 29:13, “Those that seek me with all their hearts will find me.”
Here’s what today’s reading from Proverbs 2 (talking about seeking God’s wisdom) has to say…
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. (KJV)
God wants us to know more about Him. He wants to share the treasures of His wisdom. But He doesn’t want to give those treasures away to just anyone. He wants to give them to those who desire them and will value them. They are as valuable as silver and gold, so God doesn’t want to just dump them out on those who are satisfied with fool’s gold.
Oh, but if we are seekers, He wants to share with us in abundance. In James 1:5, we’re even told that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask God and He will give it to us liberally. And in James 4:8, we’re reminded that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. His presence is an awesome treasure, and this verse amplifies Deuteronomy 4:7 that says, “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? (KJV)”
Doesn’t that just make you want to run to Him and learn more about Him? I know it does me. I’m thankful He’s not a god who is, like the song says, “watching us from a distance.” He is near. His wisdom is near. He simply wants us to seek Him. And when we do, the rest of this chapter talks about how we will fall in love with His wisdom and knowledge and how it will protect us from being led down paths that could be impossible to return from. I cannot fully put into words how much I value His presence and His wisdom, but I welcome you to join me as a fellow treasure hunter, and to rejoice with me for all the wonderful gifts we will find as we seek Him.
From https://www.youversion.com/bible/1/pro.1.kjv (Using KJV for quotes because it’s public domain)…
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
GOD’S WAY JUST WORKS–IT REALLY DOES
The Message Bible calls the Proverbs “A Manual for Living.” And it can be that for anyone who is willing to apply it. Wisdom in this book is in the feminine which is also the way much of Scripture related to the Holy Spirit is written. You could say it’s the “mothering” side of Our Creator. While Daddy is making the rules, Mom is explaining to us why it is in our best interest to follow them. It’s a picture of the wholeness of God’s love for us if ever I’ve seen one.
So what about those harsh-sounding warnings of laughter in the face of our trials? I used to think that was so cruel to even think God would laugh at me and mock when my fear came upon me. It was even worse to think He would not be there for me when I called upon Him. But through much study, I’ve found this is referring to the spirit of wisdom. In a brief thought, it is simply saying, “Because you didn’t listen to wisdom to keep yourself out of a big mess, you’re gonna be laying there crying, ‘I don’t know what to do, now,’ and you won’t be able to find the right answer.”
God’s mercy is new every morning, and He gets us out of a lot of self-inflicted bondage, but He’s not in the business of going around plucking us out of every entanglement we get ourselves into. If we’ve learned the fire is hot and we stick a hand in it anyway, He’s not going to stop it from burning us. If we knew from the wisdom in the depths of our souls that getting involved with the good-looker that has caught our attention, and then we end up brokenhearted like others who followed the same trail before we did, Wisdom will say, “What made you think that the same thing would not happen to you?”
So, today, let’s heed what this passage brings to us. Let’s put God in the proper place in our lives, on His throne and above us as Lord of our whole lives, and then listen when He speaks. Whether He speaks through our hearts, through His written word, or through others He brings on our paths to lead us, let’s have the fear (respect) that will cause us to listen to His wisdom like a child listens to his nurturing mother. When we do that, we have the promise that ends this chapter. As Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”
This is just a short introduction. In an effort to get myself writing and blogging every day, I am going to use a variety of tools. I plan to use different tools each month to go with my prismatic personality. I figure that if I change it up at least once per month, I’ll be less apt to get bored with my subject matter and more apt to keep pushing myself forward.
So, for the month of January 2013, I will write my thoughts on the study of the book of Proverbs. I have often gone back to the idea of reading the Proverb for the day for each day of the month. For months with 31 days, it works perfectly. For months with 30 days, I just read 2 chapters at the end. I cannot tell you how many times the reading for the day has been perfect for whatever I was going through on that day. Now, as I move forward, I will have the opportunity to share exactly how that is working for my current day.
As you can tell, I’m jumping off a day late, so later this afternoon, you should see two posts from me. I hope to stay on top of them for the rest of the month. If you’d like to read the subject matter ahead of time, go to the You Version website at https://www.youversion.com/bible/97/pro.1.msg (I’ll likely do most of my studying using “The Message Bible” and the NLT translation, so I’ve linked to “The Message” here), and pick your favorite Bible version to read from. Read the entire chapters of Proverbs 1 and 2, and then come back and see what I’ve gleaned from them in my personal life. Wednesday is my new designated writing day, so I’m excited to have a little extra to share for that anyway. Now, I must go to sleep to rest my writer’s mind since I’m still actually working on Tuesday the 1st. I was going to go ahead and write my first Proverb post before going to sleep, but I’m afraid it won’t have the same meaning if I don’t first get some rest.
Talk to you tomorrow,
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