Lent Day #23 | Wisdom

There is an interesting verse in Solomon’s book of proverbs. We will get to it in a moment. What I find interesting about this book of sayings is this, it is considered “wisdom.” Solomon wrote these short and pithy statements as a way of remembering and training his children. When we consider this, we begin to see these wise words in a much more practical light. Their ultimate purpose was for those who learned these sayings to put them into practice somehow.

Wisdom spelled out on black background and scripture visible through letters

The verse that stands out to me is Proverbs 4:7. I have quoted it here in two of my favorite versions because it allows me to get a better sense of what Solomon was trying to say. Let’s look at them side by side.

ESV NLT
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

In the first translation we are told that if we want to be wise we have to see what is wise. This is one of those “slap your head” moments. That does seem to make the most sense, if that was all Solomon said. We are supposed to get wisdom, but how do we know if what we are being given is wisdom of the kind Solomon is encouraging us to get? We find, almost as an afterthought the characteristic we need if wisdom is to have any value at all.

Solomon tells us that wisdom is useless if we are unable to put the wisdom we have acquired into practice through “insight” or “good judgement.” If you do not have the latter, the former is of no use to you.

Yes, we must pursue wisdom. Get as much as you can find, but the warning is to get wisdom in proportion to our ability to make the best use of it. It seems Solomon foresaw how we, as fallen and works-oriented beings, have a tendency to educate ourselves into ineptitude and ultimately idleness. We become satisfied in what we know rather than doing something with it.

Wisdom is good. But, wisdom plus good judgement is better.

Lent Day #22 | Peace

There are many names given to Jesus in the scriptures. Names that speak to what he provides. Names like savior, healer, teacher and friend. There are other names that speak to how he sustains us in our own journey. Names such as the bread of life, guide, living water and the true vine. These are all significant and good. As a matter of fact, we need all of these names so we can continue to expand our understanding and appreciation of who he is. There is no one name that fully encompasses the greatness, majesty and totality of Jesus. This is why those of us who have been redeemed are is such awe of him.

The bottom line is we will never fully understand who Jesus is in his fullness. We can experience his fullness, but wrapping our minds around it is not possible. It would be like a seahorse comprehending an ocean, thinking that in knowing the part it has seen the whole. However, the attempt is what gives rise to our joy and satisfaction in his ability to fulfill his promise to save us!

Prince of Peace - Isaiah 9:6

In the entirety of the bible there is one superlative that stands out to me. It rises to the surface because of the calamity and conflict that seems to emerge so frequently in our time. One of the signs of Jesus glorious return is the “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) around the world. As every nation develops strategies and weaponry to combat terrorism, civil unrest and outright conflict, Jesus stands at the apex of history as the only one capable of bringing true and lasting peace. The prophet Isaiah declared the coming of this peacemaker when he said,

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

What is it about Jesus that allows the scripture to speak of Jesus as the prince of peace? How can Jesus accomplish this feat?

Will he disarm the armies of the world?

Will he broker peace agreements between warring factions and feuding neighbors?

How exactly is Jesus qualified to bring about the end of this animus that seemingly exists in every culture?

Paul made an interesting statement in his admonition to the Corinthian church. Listen to how he connects Jesus character and disposition toward the world and the method we, those who follow in his steps, wage war against the enemies of God’s kingdom.

1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:1-6, ESV)

Peace does not take place because the weapons of warfare are removed. Peace comes when the motivation to war is excised from the human heart. Only the Gospel can do that because only the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims the message of the Prince of Peace. The longer it takes the church to realize the power it wields as bearers of the Gospel of Jesus, the longer it will take for true peace on earth to come.

Lent Day #21 | Security

One of the many theological debates that bears its head from time to time has to do with our security in Christ. Many millions of words have been penned in the last two thousand years on the subject, so a couple hundred more will not hurt anything. If anything, I hope to bring some Gospel clarity to this important issue.

When we talk about security we have to determine two elements of the issue. First, we have to ask ourselves who is doing the securing? And second, we have to ask ourselves, how capable is this individual in accomplishing the job? If we can answer this question then we have gain significant ground in the conversation. This idea and topic is important because how we answer it will determine how we view and approach God. Our perception of God should be of utmost importance because we draw our identity from what we believe about God.

So, let’s look at the first question: Who is doing the securing? There are essentially two positions here. Either I am doing the securing or God is. If I am doing the securing, then there will always be the risk that I may falter in my task. Maybe I get distracted or am attached and weakened. Personally, this idea does not sit well with me because I know my failures are not a possibility, but an eventuality. Therefore, this option is wrought with peril. The testimony of the scripture provides us with a reason for hope. Peter, in his first letter, writes the following words.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1 Peter 1:3-5, emphasis added]

The beauty of our faith is that God has taken full responsibility and ownership of our redemption. He has not left anything up to chance. This is a wonderful promise. The fact that we will fail and falter does not negate God’s ability in keep what he has purchased through the costly sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We are secure not because of any virtue in us, but because of the power and virtue of the Creator of all things.

listening-to-gods-voice

But, what about the second question? How capable is God in keeping us secure? Jesus answers this question for us when he tells the Jews who had gathered around him.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” [John 10:27-30, emphasis added]

Now, I don’t know about you, but there is a confidence in Jesus’ words that speak volumes to his capability to keep that which he see as his. The question that we must ask ourselves is this: Whose voice are we listening to? The answer to this question will determine the confidence we can have in Jesus’ power to save us and keep us secure.