Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Trusting something or someone can be a difficult and threatening act. We usually trust those we know and who have proven themselves to be trustworthy. Yet, there is always a risk because we are fallible people. We want people to trust us, yet there will be times when we will fail because we are not perfect. Though we may not desire to let others down, we sometimes do. Our best intentions do not change the fact that we are fallible. Others are as well. Yet, Solomon points us to something beyond our fallible disposition. A few observations on these well-known verses:

First, the object of our trust is the infallible Triune God. Solomon tells us to trust in the name of the Lord. Unlike those he made, the Lord is trustworthy because he can never fail. He is not like us. He will never fail to keep all his promises. The Lord has made many promises to his redeemed people. We can trust him because he is trustworthy. Yes, it is true that we often have trust issues, even with the Lord. But if we reflect throughout our lives, we will note how often he has kept what he said he would do — and he will never stop doing it. The object of our trust is the Lord God, who made heaven and earth.

Second, the method of our trust is with our entire being. Solomon says to trust the Lord with all our hearts. With every fiber of our being, we are to trust the name of the Lord. Unlike everything else in this world, we can place one hundred percent of our hope and confidence — our trust – in the God who holds all things in his hands.

Third, the fallacy of our understanding of things is presented. Solomon tells us not to lean on our trust in our understanding of things. We are finite beings with minimal understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. Yet, there is One who has those things to an infinite level. The God of heaven has a perfect understanding of all events and circumstances. He is infinitely wise in all that he does. His knowledge is not measurable. Therefore, we must seek the wisdom that comes from him as given to us in his divinely offered Word. To avoid trusting in our understanding of matters, we must seek the perfect wisdom of God.

Fourth, we must pray for those things that are before us. Because we cannot trust our limited understanding of things and do not know what the future holds, we must pray for God’s help and wisdom as we pilgrim this earthly home. Sadly, we often run headlong into matters without bathing them in prayer.

Fifth, as we trust the God of heaven and present our needs and circumstances to him, he has promised to take us where we need to go. Yes, he leads us on the journey and guarantees that we will ultimately arrive at our heavenly rest. Though we often fail to trust him, he will use those failures to bring us safely to the place and station he desires. Still, we must trust, and we must pray. Our infinitely wise and good God will do all he has promised.

A Wise Son (and Daughter): Proverbs 13:1

A Wise Son (and Daughter): Proverbs 13:1

A wise son hears his father’s instruction,
    but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Proverbs 13:1, ESV

Solomon begins this section of his wise sayings by addressing his son, seeking to impart wisdom to him. There are many times he does that throughout the book of Proverbs. However, this instruction and effort to teach and guide is not reserved only for sons — daughters should also take note of this, lest they become fools in their understanding and actions. A few items to note:

First, it is the wise son (or daughter) who listens. Solomon uses the word “hear” in this verse, but the idea is not restricted to the child’s physical ability but to exercise what is being taught. Of course, this assumes a willingness to hear and do what is heard. Second, the instruction doesn’t come from just anyone. No, the instruction is given from a father to a child. The assumption is that the father desires to impart good things to his children as one who has learned from his father before him and is now learning from his heavenly Father. Fathers (and mothers) have lived much longer than their children. Of course, that is obvious. What is often not so apparent to the child is that this means they have years of knowledge and experience stored up. It is from that deep well that parents teach and instruct their children. The wise son (and daughter) listen to those things because they come from one who has walked the road they are currently traveling. Third, the instruction is not the wisdom of this age. Solomon was taught by his Father, King David. He was a godly man (but still a man) who learned from his father and so forth. He also learned from his heavenly Father. He was a man after God’s own heart. Presumably, David taught Solomon the things of the Lord. That means the instruction is rooted firmly in the unchanging Word, which contains the wisdom of the omniscient God. Fourth, sometimes, that instruction will contain rebuke and correction. Parents must correct their children. It is their responsibility to emulate their heavenly Father in loving discipline. If that is avoided, the child will not grow to be wise of heart and action but rude, self-centered, and godless. Yet, like the instruction before it, the child must listen. Rebuke that is not heeded profits very little, if anything. You can typically tell when a child is resisting the rebuke of his parents. Solomon calls it “scoffing.” What is a scoffer? According to one source, a scoffer is “a person who mocks or makes fun of someone or something, often of religion or moral values.” When a child is not listening to the instruction and rebuke of his parents, he is not wise but a fool. No, the child may not always understand everything the parent is teaching. No, the child may not always like what is being said. Yet, a wise son (or daughter) listens to their God-given parents because they know more than they do. Only a fool pretends to know more than those who have gone before them.  

A wise son (or daughter) will trust the instruction of their parents. A wise son (or daughter) will receive correction, rebuke, and discipline because a wise son (or daughter) knows it is for their soul’s good. 

Daily Proverb for June 4, 2023 (Proverbs 4:23)

Daily Proverb for June 4, 2023 (Proverbs 4:23)

Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

When I was in the military, one of the duties assigned to me occasionally was to be on “guard duty.” It was not a difficult task, necessarily. But, usually, it meant being assigned a particular area of the base to watch and protect against those who would harm. It was typically a long, boring shift, and rarely anything interesting to report. Yet, guard the area I must because something might happen. 

The same is true for the Christian life, but it carries far more significance. To guard (NIV) or watch over something is an active duty. It isn’t passive. I could not correctly protect the area of the base while asleep (in fact, our supervisors would often check on us to make sure we were not sleeping!). No, it was something that required a great deal of vigilance. Many things compete for the heart and mind of the Christian in this world. There are temptations from without and from within. The Evil One never tires of bothering, harassing, and seeking to destroy the people of God. Solomon, instructing his son about the ways of the world and the life he is entering, tells him to keep, watch, and guard his heart. Why did he not tell him to guard his actions? Precisely because the heart is the source of evil thoughts and actions. It is the heart that is the feeding trough of the soul. It is the heart that defiles a man and makes him unclean. The heart is the source of life, and if not guarded and protected, it will lead to ruin. A few comments:

First, you must guard your heart because it will lead to ruin if you don’t. Modifying behavior is one thing. Tuning our hearts to the things of the Lord is another. People can change their behavior, if even for a season, but to change their hearts is something that only the Spirit of God can do. Only he can soften hearts and turn them into those things that are good and right. You and I cannot change our hearts. We can desire it and should, but we cannot change it alone. To avoid the evils and pitfalls of this life, the Holy Spirit must warm the heart, or it will never change and inevitably lead to ruin. 

Second, you must guard your heart after the things of the Lord. It isn’t modification behavior. It is a rapid pursuit of the things of the Lord in order for our minds and hearts to be tuned to Him. The medicine is contained in the Word of God, which is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. If you are serious about guarding your heart against the evils of this world, you must be in the Scriptures. You must meditate on them day and night. You must hear them read and preached. It is the Word of God, used by the power of the Spirit of God, that changes the minds and hearts of sinners. 

 

Daily Proverb (Proverbs 23:9)

Daily Proverb (Proverbs 23:9)

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
    for he will despise the good sense of your words.
Proverbs 23:9

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on social media to see that there are many people on those mediums that would be the objects of the warnings given by Solomon through the book of Proverbs. This verse is certainly no exception to that statement. There, one sees, with clarity, that many people, though foolish, believe themselves to be wise. It is an epidemic of sorts, I think. This illness has a more significant impact than any pandemic because it demonstrates that we live in a day and age in which there is tremendous access to information, but people remain fools. 

Growing up, I often thought {io knew better than those who went before me. The saying goes, “The older I get, the smarter my parents become.” Well, it is true about many in our world. Many people talk like fools and act like fools because they do not listen to the wisdom of others who have gone before them. They know more. They know better. They think you’re stupid for trying to correct them. Of course, no one knows everything, but it is true that the older and more experienced of our world should be heard and heeded. When that doesn’t happen, trouble typically follows. 

Charles Bridges, in his commentary on the book of Proverbs, writes, “Our Lord’s rule is to the same purport — ‘give not that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample under foot, and turn again and rend you.’ (Matt. 7:6). Cast not away your good counsels upon incorrigible sinners. So long as there is any hope of reclaiming the fool, make every effort for his precious soul.” (Charles Bridges, Proverbs, 427)

Of course, there is a breaking point, and it usually comes when a person refuses to listen to you time and again. At some point, you must remind yourself of this verse and move on to other things. As a pastor, I have witnessed this too many times. For instance, there was a case when a church member was caught in a grievous sin. Efforts were made to have a conversation with the person, and some conversations did happen, but at the end of the day, the individual determined that they knew best and went their way. Regardless of the effort, the individual would not listen. At some point, you must let people fall flat on their faces before they learn. For some — for fools — learning the hard way is the only way they learn. It’s not easy to know when that point is reached, and it isn’t easy to let them go their way when you care deeply for them. But, it would be best if you did it, nonetheless.

Daily Proverb (Proverbs 14:7)

Daily Proverb (Proverbs 14:7)

Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
Proverbs 14:7

I suspect that each of us has had the unpleasant experience of talking with someone who knows it all. You know, the kind — the one who has an opinion about everything and has no problem offering it to anyone with ears. It is not that they talk too much, but that what they say is full of nonsense most of the time. Solomon gives wise counsel regarding these times. If heeded, it will free one from great frustration.

Simply put, he advises the wise to walk away from someone like that. He encourages the wise to refuse to be a party in a conversation with one who knows it all, refuses to listen to rebuke, and does not heed the counsel of those wiser and older than they. A few observations that run parallel to this appeal:

First, there is the simple reality that this world is full of fools. Solomon does not offer any sense of possibility. He utters a fact embedded in the advice. If (not when) you encounter someone who behaves in this manner — one that makes it plain that they will not listen — then the time is right to leave them to their foolishness and walk away. 

Second, there is a simple reality: fools usually don’t know they are fools. Those are the most dangerous kinds of people to talk to. They know more, always. It doesn’t matter what you know or what experience you have in various matters, they always know more. I have witnessed these kinds of people in the pews from time to time. The best course of action is to identify them and leave them to their ignorance. Typically they are unreachable, always needing to “push back” on everything you say. They cannot help themselves. 

Third, there is the simple reality that if you hang in with them in a conversation, you will become like them. A fool will wear you down and frustrate you, leading to sinful words. So, it is best to walk away. 

The applications of this exhortation are legion, but social media is where it should often be exercised. With the ability to speak on any given subject, social media creates a platform for the fool to vent his “knowledge.” I have seen it time and again. It is best to leave the fool to his own devices. Do you want to avoid being a fool? Listen more. Talk less, especially when dealing with the wiser, older, and more experienced among you.