Proverbs 3 - I'm holding on to the promise of an afternoon nap!
If you read my post from yesterday, you will know that I've been praying for direction in our business. I woke up today with an email from a dear friend that told me to pray without ceasing and that God would do amazing things in my life and in our business.
Then as I read this third chapter of Proverbs today, the first passage that hit me was:
Verses 5 and 6 may be more familiar in the New International Version:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.
These verses build on what was said in Chapter 2 about integrity and also about surrounding yourself with people that will provide sound advice -- love and loyalty are essential to keep the right people around you and then as a result of doing so, a solid reputation will ensue.
Following these passages, Solomon throws in some wisdom about tithing and also about accepting God's discipline.
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;
don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;
a father's delight is behind all this.
Well, we don't have a barn or wine vats, but I'm ready for our bank account to burst and our wine cellar to be full! In fact, the New International Version says it will be new wine, the good stuff. Bring it on! May my heart be as ready for God's loving correction when I don't listen to His word!
Chapter 3, verses 13-20 remind us that Lady Wisdom is the tree of life and that "Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her."
And verses 21-28 is where Solomon makes my favorite promise:
don't for a minute lose sight of them.
They'll keep your soul alive and well,
they'll keep you fit and attractive.
You'll travel safely,
you'll neither tire nor trip.
You'll take afternoon naps without a worry,
you'll enjoy a good night's sleep.
No need to panic over alarms or surprises,
or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner,
Because God will be right there with you;
he'll keep you safe and sound.
Since I travel constantly, the promise that I will travel safely and neither tire nor trip has special meaning. It is actually funny, as this past week when I was in Mexico, I actually did take an afternoon nap after my meeting with my client. I didn't do so without worry though, as I really needed to be working on writing a business plan! So I was missing an important ingredient -- common sense told me that my body (and my spirit) were really weary and that I needed to trust that God would refresh me and inspire me, keeping me safe and sound, not only physically but in our business as well.
The last part of Chapter 3 deals with generosity, being straighforward and wise living. Yesterday in church, we were reminded that ministry begins with giving a cool cup of water to someone that is thirsty. Verses 27-28 say:
your hand is God's hand for that person.
Don't tell your neighbor "Maybe some other time"
or "Try me tomorrow"
when the money's right there in your pocket.
We have been greatly blessed financially and are generally quick to write a check when there is a need expressed. I pray that I will be as quick with my hand and a cup of cool water, when that is what is needed.
I will switch to the New International Version for the end of this study:
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.
35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools he holds up to shame.
Grace is given to the humble, but thankfully the promise given to us by the death of Jesus on the cross is that grace is ours - we don't have to earn it.
Lastly, when we demonstrate wisdom, we inherit honor. I don't know anyone who would choose shame over honor.
Lord, let me hear your Word today and really listen to what you have said. May I find new rest in your guidance and act responsibly with what you have blessed us with. Be with our children today in school and continue to work in their lives -- teaching them not only about math, science and language arts, but about what is truly important in life. Seeking you and trusting you.