Saturday, February 06, 2010

Reading for Revival Week Five-Proverbs

Paraphrase of Proverbs 3...
If you want to know the divine,
if you want to see God,
if you long to understand this world and your own life,
shout it.

Shout it the way you may shout curses when frustrated. You may at times call out for God to condemn whatever you hate or find frustrating-from the trivial to the catastrophic. You say oh my God in response to the trivial and the catastrophic. Why don’t you cry out--oh my God--reveal real meaning in life to me. Give me insight! Help me understand nature, understand others, understand myself. Help me understand why live goes the way it goes.

Say it aloud, the way you may usually wage your curses and complaints.

You work day and night to possess houses and cars and clothes and status. Put that type of effort into the pursuit of God. You may examine consumer guides, search the internet, interview friends and strangers looking for the best of everything from toasters, to colleges, to doctors, to car deals. You seek these treasures with intelligence and passion. Seek for understanding of God and the life he desires for us with that kind of passion and intellectual commitment and you will find yourself holding unimaginable, indestructible possessions.

Give to the LORD before you do anything else with your money. Those who are thoughtful in this way with their money—who purpose and plan and are generous to others—will often be observed to have plenty.

Being shaped by good principles; understanding the consequences of good and bad behavior makes you into a person of strength in character. This is the nature of God’s discipline—not punishment and vengeance against your weaknesses, but a kind of loving teaching—the way a good parent teaches a child. A parent doesn’t fail to correct and lead a child deeply loved, but will provide the child with guidance and boundaries—yielding a wise and productive life for the child and joy to the parent.

Wisdom is better than wealth. It may not seem that way, but you know you may possess great wealth but lack happiness and peace.

The LORD’s wisdom—intelligence, creativity, power, and order— expresses itself in creation—in the skies, in the rain, in the sea, in the morning dew. Don’t fail to see this—this insight will emanate from within, will be displayed as fine jewelry around your neck; it will give confidence to your steps, and keep you from tripping up on the road of life.

What may happen in your life if you pursue the wisdom that comes for the LORD? When you are in a quiet place sitting, sans TV, IPod, and conversation of others—you will not be anxious but can calmly reflect. When you are in bed—you will sleep with the sweetness that you are in good stead with others and with God—because your actions and words have been laced with wisdom. You may not feel the same kind of panic others feel when things go wrong, because your heart and mind have been at one accord with the Creator and with ethical and spiritual guidance he affords.

How might this accumulation of wisdom be played out in your conduct? Do not fail to pay back those who have loaned money to you when you are capable of paying. Be certain to give to others promptly when you have the means to provide something they need. Honor the trust of your neighbors; never knowingly harm them in any way. Don’t pick fights with others—especially when someone has done no harm to you. Don’t wistfully look at thugs, gang members, or others who use violence to gain power and do not imitate them on any level—in spite of the wealth they accumulate. Remember the use of violence, quarrelsomeness, and greed in any form is a perversion of God’s great desire for his people. When you walk in fiscal responsibility, in honesty, in peace, doing kindness to your neighbors, you walk in the ways of LORD and will sense that he is speaking his wise insight into your life.

In the big picture of life, where wickedness abides so does the curse of the LORD and where there is this kind of upright living—the blessings of the LORD become part of daily existence.

If you are in the frame of mind in which you scorn the LORD—you may experience the negativity, cynicism, and cruelty often born of scorn. He favors humility over sarcasm and cynicism. Stubborn, foolish ways—that ignore his presence in nature and ignore his ethical path may find its followers experiencing disgrace. Building your life in recognition of the LORD’s ways establishes a kind wealth that outlasts calamity and allows you to pass on the true wealth of an honorable life to the next generation.


Linda Smith said...

Hi Bev,
I'm late, but I've decided to join you! I've been very slack in my reading and missing the depth of conversation with those around me that we used to enjoy. Thanks for making this commitment- it's motivating me to stop being lazy and renew my practice of "quiet time".

Proverbs 3:5-6 was a lifeline for me as a young Christian. After 24 years spent denying Christ, I had so much to learn and unlearn. It continues to convict, challenge and encourage me.

Thanks for your reflections on Proverbs this week. They remain my favorite.

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

Linda Smith-How great to hear from you. I do miss our chats. I am grateful to have a chance to do these readings with a few friends. I don't have the closeness at church I have always enjoyed, so this has become a kind of meeting place.

Jackie Swann teaches across the hall from my office. We recently discussed how you have mentioned her name to me before we moved to Atlanta. We also consider it a blessing to have you as a sista!