Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Some of the Best Advice I Ever Received


Many years ago, I was in the audience of an older Christian gentleman who challenged the listeners to read and study one chapter of the book of Proverbs each day of the month.  There are 31 chapters, tailor-made for the calendar and this type meditation.   

I've done this off and on for years.  Some proverbs I've made great progress with, others still challenge to me to grow, and I expect it will be this way as long as I live.     

This well-seasoned, wise man also startled me with a verse I was yet unfamiliar with: 


Isaiah 64:6

New International Version (NIV)

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Talk about a glass of cold water in the face, our righteous acts are repugnant to the Lord.  We're supposed to do good deeds, right?
But I think I get it.  When we get to regarding ourselves as righteous of our own accord, the underlying pride is what is offensive to the Lord. 

John 15:5

New International Version (NIV)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.

So says His son, Jesus.  If I'm not grafted into Him, from what source am I growing things and what yield could I expect?  So it stands to reason that anything that looks like righteousness grown from a source other than the Lord will in time be judged chaff, the useless case of wheat berries which is disposed of after harvest, and will come to nothing.

Thinking oneself "good" apart from the Lord is one of the most dangerous places, spiritually, to be. 

Study on that awhile.  No, the intent here is not to hammer on anyone's self-esteem.  And as far as that goes, God-esteem is what needs to be developed in our lives, regarding ourselves through God's eyes.   

But I just quoted Him saying our righteousness is likened to filthy rags, right?  That doesn't sound like He esteems us very highly, does it? 

That is not how He sees those in Christ.  The prophet Isaiah, in the 10th chapter of the 61st verse, foretold the Lord's mercy on those of us wearing piteously filthy rags.   

New International Version
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness...

The garment of salvation is Christ!  In Him, our robes are no longer filthy, but righteous!  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!  Talk about Merry Christmas!   

Now that we have Him, we can't just stand still and do nothing.  Grow in godly wisdom and knowledge!  Proverbs is a wonderful place to start the journey.

Proverbs 1

New International Version (NIV)

Purpose and Theme

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Let us not be ill-clothed and foolish!  This Christmas season and all year round, receive the gifts the Lord anxiously awaits to give His children!  Carefully unwrap them in quiet time, meditation and contemplation, one chapter at the time, an investment of a lifetime with yields far greater than silver and gold.
 I've got some learning and growing to do and I hope you'll join me!

Blessings of wisdom and understanding
compliments of the Lord,

Mrs. A