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May 10, 2007
I found myself touching on a few miscellaneous discoveries that I wanted to share with the group:

    Wisdom is a gift and not an achievement.
    Wisdom makes an invitation … she does not wait to be pursued.

Last time, we talked about wisdom calling out in the public places. We talked a little more about this idea and asked, “Where are the “public” places in our world?” In our culture, isn’t it all those familiar places like the mall, restaurants, libraries, supermarkets, stadiums, and the list went on and on. And all along, Wisdom is calling to us, “How long?” Do we hear her? What does it look like… wisdom calling in these places? Are we missing her call because we are “pre-supposing” her something she is not? Key: Wisdom calls aloud in these places because she is competing with the “other voices” of our world. Never fear, Wisdom is perfectly capable of making herself heard. But we must be aware that there are many, many voices that are interfering with Wisdom’s voice.

We returned to the Word and slowly covered 2:12 – 3:12 … and because of my experience on a recent conference where I heard a lexocographer speak (someone who studies dictionaries and words), I found myself getting excited about the individual words in these passages.

My first discovery was that it appeared that verses 2:12 – 19 could be broken into two parts: one seemingly male-ish and the other female-ish. It’s important to remember, in my view, that both men and women can suffer at the hands of either the “male” or “female” sins. The key is that Wisdom is actually saving us… first, from “wicked men” who demonstrate their wickedness through perverse words, dark ways, rejoicing in evil, and deviousness. We talked a long time about the definitions of these words, and found a thread of “willfulness” in them, a contrariness and obstinance to do that which is KNOWN to be crooked or unacceptable.

The second group might be called “wicked women” (as in adulteresses) who, unlike the first group, are not so blatant in their attacks, but use seductive words, covenant breaking, and waywardness. Notice too that many things in our world operate out of the feminine here… seducing us away from the living God. Also, this “covenant breaking” has to do with corruption, a willful choice to disobey… See Psalm 19:13, where we hear David’s prayer, “…keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me….” Also notice, that once we go down this path of lying, it is difficult to turn back… or even turn another way. Only wisdom can help us “walk in the true way.”

Moving on to Chapter 3…
Some interesting construction is here… This chapter is actually a “literary form” called Instruction. Instruction verses or sections are usually identified by beginning with the words, “my son…” or ending with verses that have a “then…” or result written out. These instructions are actually quite repetitive as the author tries to “drive home” the point: Plant Wisdom in your Heart!!!

Chapter 3, verses 1-12 are the 3rd “instruction” and they are divided into 6 couplets of 2 verses each. Each couplet has either a command or a prohibition followed by a statement of motivation. (For more on this topic, see http://www.crivoice.org/biblestudy/bbproverbs2.html.) Our group went through each couplet set and talked about the language (the words) that were in each couplet and the keys to its messages.

As we talked abouot verses 1 & 2, I shared a bit about the Hebrew word for teaching in these verses is really torah (guidance & direction) and commands here is really Mitzvah. I was just getting ready to head to Ohio for my nephew (-in-law)’s Bar Mitzvah. And I learned that these words could literally be translated as the “son of a commandment” implying that this ritual is a time to “remember” God’s word. Also, the prosperity noted in verse 2 is really the Hebrew word, “shalom” … which reveals this prosperity as being one of peace, tranquility and abundance within … not financial.

The second couplet (verses 3 & 4) speaks of love and faithfulness, probably THE most powerful words and concepts in scripture. There is a God version (God to us), but also a human one … toward one another. As we express love and faithfulness to one another, we are imitating God.

The third couplet (verses 5 & 6) speaks of the totality of commitment needed… and doing so, in faith.

The fourth couplet (verses 7 & 8) reiterates the body-mind-spirit connection that “new agers” seem to think they have an inside track on … but really, scripture has been speaking about “holistic” relationships between the body, mind & spirit for a long time.

The fifth couplet (verses 9 & 10) speaks again of sowing and reaping by articulating the importance of our generosity … toward God and others.

And the last couplet in this group (verses 11 & 12) speaks of God’s blessings coming to us in “reproofs” … which is often very difficult. (See Hebrews 12:5-6). Our lives will always have joy and sorrow … for we need them both to grow.

Remember… the author of Proverbs does not tell us how to “get” wisdom… since wisdom is a gift of God. It is not our “seeking” that manifests wisdom in our lives, it is our “being” … being in right relationship with the Lord, with others, and with the world.

Prayer requests for Carolyn, Chris, and Judy B and her father.

Next meeting, Thursday, May 25, 7 pm… all are welcome. Email me for directions… brown@hcplonline.info

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Notes from the meeting of April 19
Special welcome to our two guests: my Aunt Gerda from Germany and Kathleen’s mom, Joneva from Minneapolis.
Reviewed the necessary conditions for “finding wisdom and understanding” in verses 1-4 & 7 of Chapter 2.

  • Accepting His words (this condition reminds me so much of the works of photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, who I heard speak about responding with a “yes” in his spirit as he captured moments on film.)
  • Remembering His Promises (what triggers can we use to remember what God has done; write it down!)
  • Applying the heart to understanding Him (by practicing the disciplines… both formal and informal)
  • Asking for help or insight from God (through prayers and petitions)
  • Searching for His hidden treasures (by studying the Word)
  • Walking upright and blamelessly
  • Practicing faithfulness

In verses 5-11, there are a number of promises that God gives as conditions are met:

  • To understand the fear of the Lord
  • To get victory
  • To have a shielded and guarded way (protection)

We talked about these promises … asking, which would be most significant for us. For me, the most intriguing phrases were in verse 10: “wisdom will enter your heart” (what would THAT look like?) and verse 11: “discretion will protect you.”

Do we really know what discretion means? And how might it protect you?
We talked about the word itself … it has two strong meanings, one that many people think of first, the idea of being discreet or prudent… but another meaning is stronger here: “the power or right to decide or act accoring to one’s own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice.” In the entymology of the word, “discretio,” means discernment or power to make distinctions.

Think on it: the freedom we could have in being able to make distinctions rooted in the wisdom of God in our hearts! Freedom is a gift of god.

We read these scriptures: Gen 41:30; Prov 5:1-2; Isaiah 28:26; Mark 12:34; Pov 6:8; Prov 22:3; Prov 24:27; Luke 12:33 which support our freedom to decide … to make distinctions… to choose wisely.

Freedom Prayer
God is not foreign to my freedom.
Instead the Spirit breathes life into my most intimate desires,
gently nudging me towards all that is good.
I ask for the grace to let myself be enfolded by the Spirit.

This short prayer is just one of many from either one of these sites (same prayers):
Sacred Space (Daily Online Prayer) or The Quiet Space (Daily Prayer Online). The images and feeling of both sites is slightly different, but equally power.

Seek freedom. Seek wisdom. The promises await.

Notes on April 5th meeting:
I’m a little behind on reporting, so I’m sure I’ll miss a lot, but I think I can, at the least, gather the key points of our time together… now, over a month ago.

Beginning with verse 20, we investigated the “warnings against rejecting wisdom.” Unlike the first warnings against being enticed away from wisdom, these focus on a conscious choice to say “no” to wisdom calling.

The question, “Does this verse bring any kind of an experience to mind? Can you we think of a time when we “knew” God was trying to tell us something, but we consciously turned away? I told of a time many, many years ago when I was attending a church in Indiana and heard a missionary from Africa talk of God’s work there… I clearly heard a call from God that morning. It was no surprise to me when the missionary singled me out and asked me what God was saying to me. I could not say it… I was too afraid… and as a result, I turned away. Others shared that night from their own lives … of small losses… but unfortunately, my notes are incomplete.

I also talked about the fact that Wisdom is calling “aloud in the street” (verse 21) – this calling is a public event… it is not a secret transaction… everyone is invited to hear Wisdom calling. I was reminded of the many times that binding transactions took place in the gates of the ancient cities; for instance, this is where Boaz redeemed Ruth.

In verse 23, in the NIV (other translations do not emphasize this point in the same way), IF is a key word … “If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you…” The IFs in our lives are the turning points of our lives. It is in the time of IF where choices were made and directions were taken. Just think if Adam and Eve would have responded with wisdom to God’s voice.

In John 5:6, Jesus see a sick man still lying in his condition and asks him, “Do you want to get well?” It seems so obvious. Who wouldn’t want to get well? Do we want wisdom? That also seems obvious, but apparently we are not behaving in a way that telescopes our desire for Wisdom. Why wouldn’t we want Wisdom? I think because it would probably mean change! And most of us don’t want change.

(At this point, we spent some time in prayer … asking God for wisdom.)

Wisdom is based in truth: truth in actions, truth in thoughts, truth in who we are, truth in our mistakes. We must be totally honest with God and with ourselves.

Beginning in verse 24, the other part of the IF appears… BUT… here come the results of our choices… if we reject Wisdom, there is a list of what God will do. And why? because we did not “choose” to fear the Lord.

Fear of the Lord is choice. Wisdom is a choice.

And all the rest is sowing and reaping, one of the most foundational laws in scripture. (See Galations 6:7-10, II Corinthians 9:6 and Luke 6:38)

The only rescue from the results of our choice is in verse 33 (another but) “…whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

We discussed at some length about listening … it’s a weighty subject… I even found a book on the Internet on the topic of listening to God’s voice – it’s only 320 pages!!! Why is it so difficult to hear God’s voice?

At this point, we had a great time with a “listening” exercise – listening to various “everyday” sounds, but discovering how hard it is to recognize them. The lesson here was simple: we are hearing, but we do not recognize God’s voice. We do not recognize Wisdom’s voice either.