Out of The Mouth

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When I was a young, my momma used to say, “you can think whatever you’d like, just don’t say whatever you think.” It was one of those sayings that are passed down from mother to daughter for generations. She had heard from her mother who had heard it from her mother, and along with it, she’d also say, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!” If you think about it, its pretty practical advice, sage even – what I like to call Kansas farm sense – and usually not what a teenage girl wants to hear, but wise council never-the-less, straight from the book of proverbs.

Proverbs 18:8 tells us that a “gossip’s words are like choice morsels, they sink into the inmost being,” and 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power over life and death; those who indulge it must eat it’s fruit.” Let that wash over you for just a moment. Let it penetrate and take hold. What are some of the things that come out of our mouths? Are our words bitter, sour, vile and nasty filled with outrage and hateful barbs, or are they sweet, tender, gentle and caring filled with hope and loving kindness? The things we say matter, and whether we speak praise or slander, truth or lies, those “choice morsels” are the fruit we must eat.

In Matthew 15:11, Jesus says, “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth – this defiles a person,” and in verse 18 he explains that whatever comes out of the mouth precedes from the heart. Think about that for a minute. It’s what we have been holding dear, what we have filled ourselves with that we carelessly let fly out of our mouths. Our words have power, power to build up or power to tear down. They also have consequences, and that’s why it behooves us to measure them carefully, to think before we speak, to understand that what we say and how we say it will come back to us, if for no other reason than to continually examine what we’ve been holding dearest in our hearts, and to know that we’ll may have to eat those words – the fruit of our tongues, which springs from our hearts.
~SLM

 

The Year of the Whale

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“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” (Jonah 1:1-3)
Sometimes, Jonah is the story of our lives. We know what we are supposed to do, we know what is required, but somehow, we just can’t see our way to it. We run, heading off in the opposite direction, believing we can flee from it. But fleeing doesn’t necessarily involve going somewhere else. We can flee and never leave the comfort of home, because ignoring something, neglecting it or procrastinating is also a form of escape, a mental one. When we focus on anything and everything, but what we know we are called to do, we are just as guilty of fleeing from God as Jonah was, only without having to pack any bags or pay a fare.

Whether it’s physically or mentally, usually running away doesn’t turn out so well. Sooner or later, our actions cause the people around us anguish, putting them in distress for our sake, while we slumber through the storm, until we are roused from our stupor, are tossed into the raging waters, and find ourselves in the belly of a beast.

At times, we have to get to the very end of our rope, before we even consider that we may have made the wrong move, and in those times, we usually have to crash into the tumultuous seas of consequence, before we look up, before we remember God.

So what can we do, then, from the depths of our denial? Jonah’s answer was prayer. He prayed for forgiveness, for mercy, for repentance and thanksgiving, promising to turn back, to remember God and to make amends by saying, “what I have vowed, I will pay,” because the thought of being banished from the sight of the Lord, was scarier than setting out to do His will.

Jonah knew that submitting to God’s will is a hard task, costing us everything, and on occasion, even our very will to live. Maybe that is why we resist, because it doesn’t turn out to be what we hoped or longed for, what we expected for our lives, but is exactly what we knew He would do, what we expected of Him.

No matter how far we run, or how many times, the Lord, in his mercy pursues us with His abounding love and grace. He patiently waits for us to turn, to realize how fully we live when we submit to His ways, reeling us back into his presence with arms wide open.

And for his mercy, I am grateful beyond words. Praise God.
~SLM

A Prayer for Proverbs 2

Lord God, awesome and holy, let wisdom be my constant companion. Help me to recognize ther voice and to heed her advice. Bless me with the patience to listen with my heart and to understand what is true and fair, so that I may live honestly in the full-flower of your knowledge. Amen.
~SLM

Proverbs 2 What Wisdom Offers

Proverbs 2 is a discourse on why it’s important to seek insight. It begins by advising that we should “take to heart” the counsels of God and make them a priority in our lives by keeping our ears tuned to the voice of wisdom. Insight and understanding are precious and rare, and we should look for it as one would search for hidden treasures. If we take to heart every day the will of God, seeking his advice, as if it were the most precious thing we could possess, it is then that we will realize his awesome power and be filled with reverence and respect for the fullness of his knowledge.
God is the source of wisdom, and He gives it freely to those who keep him in their hearts. He takes care of those who seek his counsel and pays close attention to them in all they do. All we need is a sincere desire to look for truth and understanding, to live our lives honestly, committed to Him. He is a deep well, a rich mine of common sense and good advice. By listening to God we can know what is true and fair. We can find our way, because wisdom will be our constant companion, knowledge our friend, good sense and insight our guide. They will warn us of those who would steer us onto roads that go nowhere, and keep us from being seduced by the empty promises of a wayward world.
It concludes with the promise that wisdom will help us to do what is good and right, and that if we “walk in the way of good men,” we’ll live a life that is full and blessed.
~SLM

Proverbs 1:1-6 the Fear of The Lord

The first 7 verses of chapter 1 in the book of Proverbs outline what the study of the Proverbs are meant to accomplish. Verses 1-6 state that they are a means for attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding and guidance, and for insight into the riddles, parables and sayings of the wise.  And then there is verse 7 which states: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

It is said that in order to make a journey, all you need to do is take the first step, and in the study of Proverbs, the first step is coming to understand the meaning of verse 7. The “fear” of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. It seems to me that the key to whatever else the proverbs of Solomon may say, that this is important, and has been given prominence, as it is the finishing thought of the prologue of the entire book! So grasping what is meant by “the fear of the Lord,” becomes the first step on the path to wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is to have a reverential awe respect of God and his power, to trust in him and believe in his character.  To God, nothing is impossible, and as his children, we must trust in his ability to guide and protect us. He is so vast and all-encompassing that we cannot even begin to fathom all of the knowledge he holds; it’s the wisdom of the ages, the workings and laws of the universe, of physics, of all that we see, and of all that we are unaware.  To fear the Lord is to hold God in such high esteem as to be fearful that you would disappoint him. It is an understanding that our knowledge is limited, and that God’s is not, and that God is the root, the foundation, the beginning of knowledge.

So the fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom, and wisdom is the ability to apply understanding to our daily lives.  Understanding is the result of knowledge, and knowledge is the seeking of truth, the quest of the unknown. Therefore the first step in the pursuit of wisdom is to recognize and admit that we just don’t know all the answers – we don’t know it all! We fell from grace, when we ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and it was at that moment when we supposed ourselves as equal to God in our knowledge and understanding.  So in the effort to gain true wisdom, we must first reverently and humbly admit to God (and ourselves) that we do not know, and are not equal to him in his vast wisdom.

This, then is how the journey begins.

~SLM

The Journey Begins

To have knowledge is to have information or understanding about something, and to have wisdom is to have the ability to apply knowledge in your every day life, and so begins the quest, the search, the exploration of Proverbs.

The first 6 verses of Proverbs outline its purpose. It’s an instruction manual on prudent behavior, justice and equity, a guide to gaining knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  Proverbs is a compilation, as given to him by God, of the wise sayings of King Solomon, Son of King David, builder of the first temple in Jerusalem, and arguably the wisest of the ancient kings of Israel.

This is the chronicle of my journey through the book of Proverbs in pursuit of knowledge and understanding, my passage to wisdom. May it be a fruitful pursuit, filled with insight and revelation, discernment and comprehension, and may those who follow this journal be blessed in their seeking.

~SLM