04 November 2010

Proverbs Walk Thru Chapter 3

One of my favorite parts of teaching at Timothy Christian School from 2001-2007 was memorizing Scripture that my students were required to memorize.  I made a promise to them on the first day of school that I would never ask them to do something that I wouldn't do right along with them, and so each week they had a Bible verse to memorize (kids are so great at memorizing, especially when they practice every day) and sometimes they had more than one verse.  But before we began our day we would say our pledges and then practice our Bible verse (s) for the week, sometimes we had hand motions, sometimes we used different inflections, sometimes we acted the verses out, sometimes the boys said it, and sometimes the girls said it.  It was a great way to start our day.  In third grade, part of the Bible curriculum was to have the students memorize Proverbs 3: 1-10...and you better believe I remember those verses like the back of my hand.

That is what we are going to go over today, all 10 verses, and part of me will be thinking of each of those precious third graders I had the privilege of teaching, standing before me and saying their verses to me.  I loved hearing and seeing how each child said their verse differently even though they were the same words.  God's Word is so powerful and sharper than any two edged sword...also, I'll be thinking about how my first third grade class graduates from high school this year...yes, I'm truly accomplished and distinguished now, and at graduation this June, I will be balling my eyes out for sure, in pure joy, of course!  Seeing my babies grow and graduate!

Proverbs 3: 1-2  My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.  This verse means SO much more to me now that I am a parent!  Having my own children and teaching them to obey my own words, and what God's word says, I can see that God does not give us rules and laws to harm us or to keep us from having fun.  But God is wise and He gives us those rules and laws to keep us safe, to keep us from getting hurt, to keep us from getting our heart broken.  There is true freedom in obeying God's laws that you can only appreciate when you realize how much God loves you and how much He wants to protect you from harm.  When we obey his commands we receive the blessing of a long, peaceful life because we simply trusted His laws and His commands instead of stretching the laws, and testing the ropes, and going beyond what He said is good, and right, and true.

Proverbs 3: 3-4 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.  When we show others the same mercy and kindness that God shows and has shown us, when we forgive and love our neighbor, and when we live a life of truth, we will find favor and high esteem not only from God but from the people around us because that is truly rare.  Many of us who call ourselves Christians struggle to show mercy, love, kindness, and forgiveness and extend ourselves even when we've been hurt by others.  But our example is Christ.  If He is willing to forgive the people who crucified him, beat him up, spit in his face, betray him, lie about him, desert him, then we should be willing to extend that same mercy.  We should bind it around our neck so that we never forget it, and write it on the tablet of our heart because it means that much to us.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.  These two verses are very well known and a favorite to many because we all have times where we don't understand what God is doing in our lives, we don't understand why things are happening the way they are, we don't understand why people do the things they do to us, we don't understand why things can't be easier, and so we are forced to trust the One who does know, who does understand, who sees the bigger picture, who is worthy of our trust.  If we constantly are looking to Him and depending on Him and not trusting ourselves to figure it all out, then God will direct our paths and show us what He wants for us.  Maybe not the way we think it should be, maybe not in our timing, but God has a plan.  And He is just.  And His plan is always for our good.  So He is totally trust worthy.  (Deep sigh of relief)

Proverbs 3: 7-8 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.  It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.  When we have a proper fear of the Lord, we obey Him because we love Him.  We choose to honor Him instead of sinning not because we are afraid of being punished but because we know He is a just God and there will be consequences to sin.  Sin is costly.  "It always takes us farther than we want to go.  Keeps us longer than we want to stay.  And costs us more than we want to pay." (Our Pastor Steve once said that in a sermon, not sure where he got it from but it always stuck with me.)  When we walk in wisdom and obedience and flee evil we are preserving our own health!  Maybe not always physical health, but definitely our "spiritual health".

Proverbs 3: 9-10 Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.  Now this verse seems like it is an odd place for it, but these verses were written as a guidance for the young.  What better advice for a young person than to teach them about what to do with their finances.  As a teen and early college student I was given a credit card on campus, and since no one took the time to teach me how to properly use a credit card, I went a little bizerk!  Now, granted I was probably only allotted 1,000, but I did not know about interest or the importance of paying my card off each time I got a bill.  I enjoyed spending beyond my means.  I did not honor the Lord with that credit card and it wasn't because I wanted to be evil or disobey, but I had no financial coach or trainer or anyone sit down with me and teach me how to budget my money.  Young people need to be taught that the firstfruits of their increase goes to the Lord.  I always believed in tithing, but back then when I barely made much money because I was busy with getting my degree my spending should have been zero.  Thankfully when John and I began dating again after college (he was a finance major) he took my credit cards and taught me all about interest rates, budgeting, and paying off my debt.  It was easier when I had a full time job of course, but it was also my heart attitude that I wanted to honor God with my money and not spend beyond my means.  It was such a freeing feeling to have no debt within a few months of hard work.  And I have to say, when you honor God with your money, and you tithe, He really does bless you beyond what you can imagine!

Thanks for walking with me today!

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