An Open Heart and Mind - Part 3 - Proverbs 1:33

An Open Heart and Mind – Part 3

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” – Proverbs 1:29-33 ESV

Yesterday, we talked  not choosing the fear of the Lord, and the day before that we talked about hating knowledge. Today, we continue on through Proverbs 1:30

[They] Would Have None of My Counsel

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, advice is worth what you pay for it. The implication is that free advice is worth nothing and probably shouldn’t be followed. God’s advice, however, is always free and always worth it. Sometimes, however, we don’t choose to seek it out. The foolish people in this passage seem to be actively pushing it away.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. – Psalm 33:11 ESV

The Lord’s advice isn’t trivial. What He is offering to us is life forever. In Acts, Apostle Paul is talking with the elders at Ephesus and he says, “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20: 27 ESV). Paul isn’t saying that he knows everything that God knows. A few verses back Paul says this, “ how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:20-21 ESV). Paul is saying that the whole counsel of the Lord is the plan for salvation.

God wants us to return to Him through the blood of His son, Jesus Christ. He has planned this from the beginning (John 1:1, 14) to bring us back into His presence. This is his counsel, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV)

Receive him, believe him and you can become children of God. Romans says that we’re join-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). How amazing! Jesus, who was from the beginning and will be forever, came into the flesh to live as a blessing for the people and died to be salvation for all. We can be join-heirs in the blessings of heaven with Jesus himself, not because of who we are or what we’ve accomplished but because we believe in salvation through Jesus.

This is the counsel that the foolish reject. This is what they are pushing away and running from. Perhaps they’re highly intelligent and can’t handle the faith aspect. Perhaps they are driven by ambition and independence and can’t let go of the need to be righteous themselves. Perhaps they just chose sin over salvation.

Whatever the case for their rejection, let’s not join them. Accept the counsel of God and let him lead you to a deeper awareness of the relationship we can have with Him through salvation. God’s counsel is forever and His salvation is to all generations.

Salvation to All Generations - Isaiah 51:7-8

Comforted by God’s Perspective

“Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” – Isaiah 51:7-8 ESV

Sometimes the scriptures are so comforting and uplifting. Sometimes, however, that comforting and uplifting is wrapped up in a warning that is unsettling. Several verses in Isaiah 50 and 51 are full of this blended warning and comforting. Having these given at the same time gives us a huge advantage in dealing with troubles when they come.

Isaiah 50:5-7 is Isaiah speaking and he says, “The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

There’s as a seeming contradiction here around shame. First, Isaiah says not only was he beaten, but his beard was plucked, he was disgraced and spit on. The beating, disgracing and spitting would be bad enough, but the beard plucking out is also culturally significant as men in Judaism wore beards. In other words, he was shamed. Or, more specifically, others tried to shame him. Yet here is Isaiah’s response, “The Lord God helps me, therefore I have not been disgraced.” Others have done everything in their power to bring him down, but he chooses to not be dragged down. In fact, he says, “… I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” He is absolutely determined not to be ashamed.

I don’t know about you, but I think that if I were in his place, it would be very hard to choose not to be ashamed. Someone spitting on me and beating me would bring a whole pile of temptation to hide my face and give up. In order to stand with Isaiah in this same way, we need to redefine our definition of shame to line up with God’s definition.

Shame is a deep emotion that can affect both immediate actions and long-term ones. Brene Brown, author and researcher on shame and vulnerability, defines shame as the sense of being unworthy. Immediate shame can turn into long-term shame where, for the rest of our lives, we never truly accept that we’re worthy. It can be worthy of respect or love or gifts, or many other things. Whatever it is, our beliefs keep us from accepting what’s being given to us. We feel unworthy because of who we think we are.

The comfort in this passage is that God is reassuring us that we will always be worthy in His eyes, no matter what any person on this earth can do to us. God will never push us away. Chapter 51 verses 8 and 9 reassure us of this. It is to the people who know righteousness and who have God’s law in their heart. We are told that we don’t need to worry about other’s telling us we’re not good enough. Here’s why: God’s salvation, His willingness to extend grace and mercy and love to his children is for all people for all time. The wicked and their views and their definitions of who’s in the cool club, all that will fade away, but God never will.

Verse 8 in chapter 50 goes on to say, “He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.” It’s like Isaiah is saying, “You aren’t the boss of me! Only God is!” Isaiah knows whose opinion matters and he isn’t swayed by others even when they beat and embarrass him.

Isaiah also knows that God is with him, “He who vindicates me is near.” Isaiah understands that God is a loving Father who helps His children, even though Isaiah was physically hurt and mentally abused. Nothing swayed his belief in God or his understanding of his worth in God’s eyes.

I pray that we can begin to understand God on this level as well. When we have built up our confidence in who we are in God’s view, strength and confidence will pour out of us and we will be able to step up, and, like Isaiah, proclaim God with all our hearts.

Blessed Is Hope In God - Pslam 146:5

What I’m Most Grateful For

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. – Psalm 146:1-7 ESV

I have so many things to be grateful for; I could spend several blog posts on how much I love my life! However, I won’t (as interesting as I find my life, it’s never that interesting to anyone else… 😀 ). instead, I’m going to focus on gratitude for the only thing that matters: my relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

I’m so grateful that He came to this earth and died for me (John 3:16) that I might know Him and spend forever with Him (John 17:3). I’m learning more about Him all the time and I can say that my relationship with Him is deeper than I used to know was possible and it’s getting better all the time. By the way, it’s that way because of Him, not because of me (Psalm 145:18). I’m a low-down selfish sinner. Excuse me, I WAS a low-down selfish sinner. Now, I’m a child of God (1 John 3:1), joint-heir with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17), and I reflect His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

For this, I have not earned it, but I have been gifted this grace. Only by Christ’s sacrifice have I been offered this amazing relationship (Ephesians 2:8).

Have you accepted this relationship and are you living with Him daily? It’s worth it, believe me.

The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD! – Psalm 146:8-10 ESV