This week I read of an incident in the 42nd chapter of the Book of Jeremiah which illustrates the problem most of us have with divine guidance. A small remnant of Jewish people had been left in the land of Canaan after their nation had been carried off into captivity in Babylon. This remnant came to the prophet, requesting him to seek divine guidance for them:. This remnant was not to flee to Egypt for safety, but was to trust in God and remain in the land of promise.
No matter how great the danger of staying in Canaan appeared to be, God promised to protect and to bless those who stayed, but warned of destruction for those who would seek safety and security in anyone or anything but God. We want divine guidance, but we want it to agree with our estimation of what we should do.
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Divine guidance begins with a distrust of human reason and a dependence upon divine revelation and promises. Divine guidance requires a commitment to seek the will of God diligently and then to heed it, whether we agree with it or not. Let me first establish this premise and then go on to explore its implications. There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid.
She [the adulteress] does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it Prov. Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, lest you learn his ways, and find a snare for yourself Prov. Do not give your strength to women, Or your ways to that which destroys kings Prov. I will meditate on all Thy work, and muse on Thy deeds.
Thy way, O God, is holy; what god is great like our God? If men are to have intimate contact with God they must conform their ways to His ways. As God said to the nation Israel:. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy..COSMIC Function Points: Theory and Advanced Practices">
THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE
I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Thine ordinances before me. I cleave to Thy testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! I shall run the way of Thy commandments, for Thou wilt enlarge my heart. Teach me, 0 Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, and keep it with all my heart.
Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, and not to dishonest gain. Turn my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Thy ways Ps. The sluggard has certain tell-tale characteristics, just as do the simple, and the fool. Likewise, the wise has identifiable traits which can be observed. The wise is slow to speak and weighs his words. The wise gives thought to the consequences of his actions, while the fool does not.
The wise listens to counsel, but the fool goes on without taking heed to wisdom or warnings. The wicked delight in wickedness, while the righteous delight in what is holy and pure and wise:. Desire realized is sweet to the soul, But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil Prov. And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, and fools hate knowledge? A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind Prov. The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath Prov.
In Proverbs we read,. An evildoer listens to wicked lips, A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. A liar character does not listen to wise counsel, but only gives attention to those whose advice squares with his immorality. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest Eph.
By nature, we were lost, dead in our sins. We did not know God nor serve Him. Instead, we were followers of Satan, indulging both our minds and our flesh in the ways of sin. In the Book of Ephesians and other epistles, Paul exhorted Christians to seek to conform their character to their calling and their confession of faith cf.
THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE
James writes that he cares little what one confesses to be, for it is by our conduct and our character that we reveal genuine conversion. Our character shapes our thinking and our actions. What we are determines what we think and what we do:. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed Titus I would therefore suggest that no ingredient is more important in the process of divine guidance than that of the character of the one who seeks to be guided.
As we have seen from Proverbs , the liar will not listen to anyone but the wicked. The reason is very simple: an evil man has no inclination and no intention of doing what is pure and right. The mere thought of forsaking evil and doing good is repulsive to the wicked, for he delights in doing what is wrong.
The key to obtaining divine guidance in Proverbs is the development of godly character. That is why the book spends so much time describing the undesirable character of the sluggard, the simple, the scoffer, and the fool. Proverbs seeks to develop our character by instructing us to be wise and godly.
Wicked men do not seek divine guidance, nor would they practice it if they found it. Just as faith in my doctor prompts me to follow his medical counsel, faith in God inspires me to seek His will and follow it. Then, too, the character of others provides me with a basis for guidance. The way Scripture states that I should respond to men is determined by an assessment of their character.
For example, I am encouraged to reprove a wise man and yet instructed not to attempt to correct a fool or a scoffer cf. The wise are counseled not to teach or correct the fool because they spurn wise counsel and scorn right actions. Do you see the point?
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You cannot guide a fool because a fool does not want direction. Thus character is crucial in matters of divine guidance. Only the godly will be guided in the paths of righteousness and wisdom. The fool will invariably return to the way of folly, just as the dog does to his vomit Prov.
Much of what I have said about divine guidance is not new, but nevertheless needs to be said by way of reminder cf. Guidance is primarily discerned by means of wisdom, and wisdom is obtained through the commandments of the Word of God, the counsel of the wise, and the commitment of the one seeking to know the will of God. In addition, we have learned that our character is, perhaps, the determinant factor in responding to divine guidance.
Those who are wise will discern the guidance of God Prov. That is why Proverbs concentrates upon our character. The evils of Proverbs are those character traits which are inconsistent with wisdom and godliness, such as simplicity, foolishness, an uncontrolled temper, immorality, and laziness. We have focused our attention on the particulars of the will of God but have neglected the paths which the Word of God so clearly defines.
Our search for divine guidance would be something like Jonah, praying that God would lead him to find a ship to Tarshish, when God had told him to go to Ninevah. We need not seek to learn if God would have Sally to be our wife if Sally is an unbeliever or is known for her lack of character. Proverbs "Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
As a bird flies into a net and is caught, so will the sinner get caught if he goes head long into sin. We know the net is there, but get into it anyway. It would be ineffective to set up a net for catching a bird in full view of the bird. Taken with verse 18 , this analogy means that the sinner sets up his trap for the innocent in secret, but in the end the trap is sprung on him verse This greed entraps him. Stupid sinners rush to their own ruin. Proverbs "And they lay wait for their [own] blood; they lurk privily for their [own] lives. A person laying in wait to kill someone else is actually sealing their own doom.
Proverbs "So [are] the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; [which] taketh away the life of the owners thereof. Greed for things that do not belong to you is certainly the cause of most sin toward your fellow man. Verses From this section of scripture from verses , wisdom is personified as a prophetess calling in public places to everyone to come to her and learn.
Three groups are especially singled out in the appeal: the simple ones, or untaught: the scorners, or scoffers; and the fools, or morally dull. The consequences of rejecting wisdom are immense as we see in verses Similar personifications of wisdom occur later in this book see ; ; and Proverbs "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:" "She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, [saying],". While enticement is covert and secret verse 10 , wisdom, with nothing to hide, is available to everyone, being found in the most prominent of public places.
Proverbs "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? An idle mind brings on sin. Wisdom is a gift from God, and we must pray to receive it. Knowledge is accumulated learning that we study and acquire by effort upon our part. Only a fool will turn away from the knowledge and wisdom of God. Three questions reveal 3 classes of those needing wisdom and the downward progression of sin:. Proverbs aims its wisdom primarily at the first group. Proverbs "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. God is telling the people to learn by His reproof.
God is offering to pour out His Spirit. God the Holy Spirit will reveal the meaning of the word to us if we will accept His Spirit into us. What does reproof mean? After a lengthy study I came up with this: The sense is: "The Spirit will teach men the true meaning of these three words: sin, righteousness, judgment. To the one who does repent, God promises the spirit or essence of true wisdom linked to divine revelation.
Some wait to seek God until it is too late. Proverbs "I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;" "When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Those who refuse the call of Jesus Christ as Savior or those who have not reached out to receive the Lord have nothing good to look for. In their time of trouble, they have no one to turn to. The Lord will have no sympathy for those who have rejected His salvation.
Notice the terms, calamity, terror, destruction, distress and anguish. All these terms describe the severe trouble of divine judgment. When sinners who have rejected wisdom call on God in the Day of Judgment, God will respond to their distress with derision. No prayers or diligent seeking will help them Proverbs "Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:" "For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:" "They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
There is a time when the Lord will turn his back on us if we totally reject the Lord. When that time comes, The Lord will not hear our plea any more. This shows that they had totally rejected everything that the Lord had offered them. They did not want to learn the ways of the Lord. Proverbs "Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. Romans This is just another way of saying: If you reject the Lord, you will reap whatever you sow. Having your eyes and desires set on things of this world can do nothing but destroy you.
There is no eternity in earthly desires. Proverbs "But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. This is a beautiful description of the security and peace that comes when we are hidden in the Lord Jesus. Fear will not be a part of our vocabulary, because it is the opposite of faith. If we have faith in the Lord, there is no fear. Proverbs Chapter 1 Questions. What is the book of Proverbs known as the book of? How many times is the "Fear of the Lord" mentioned in proverbs? Who helps us to understand the hidden meaning of Scriptures?
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