Where Wisdom Begins

The highs and the lows in scripture. It seems as if every significant event in the Old Testament and the New Testament are marked by either a high spot or a low spot. The darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, countered with the glory of a mountain called Zion. Most of Jesus ministry happened in the valley. Except for the trips to Gethsemane – which is on a hill – and a mountain referred to as ‘Transfiguration’.  When Abraham let Lot choose the land he wanted to occupy, Lot choose the verdant valley which left our ‘Faith’ Father Abraham up in the hills looking down when the end of Sodom and Gomorrah came.

Abraham was told by God to “Go” and offer your son Isaac on an altar beside the mountain called Moriah. After he had obeyed and the sacrifice provided by God revealed itself, Abraham looked up, saw the ram with its horns stuck in the thorns, and saw Mt. Moriah in the background.

Scripture teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.” Proverbs 8.

When the Romans would chose a spot to perform public executions, they would chose a high place beside the way, where the paths meet just outside a city. A very public place. How curious then, that Golgotha has Mt. Moriah as its background, the Temple Mount of Jerusalem.

Is it coincidence that the ‘fear of the Lord’ and ‘wisdom’ both begin at the cross? You cannot approach the Cross with swag like an overpaid NFL player. The horrific sight alone is enough to make you low. God gives wisdom to anyone with enough guts to ask. But, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” When you ask God for wisdom, do it from your knees.

Proverbs, thirty one chapters, one for each day of the month. There is a blessing attached just for reading the Proverbs. “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

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The Carrot Or The Stick

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10

The Stick: The fear of the Lord. To the world He is the judge sitting at the biggest most imposing bench in the universe, and the mallet He uses is powerful enough to sweep stars out of their paths. That fear is deserved. As it is written, “Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” That is why the Liberals hate Him. They don’t want to hear about that what they are doing is wrong and will send to a place where the fire is not quenched and the worm does not die. But. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Those who are His children are given wisdom to understand what “the fear of the Lord” truly is. That is where the carrot dangling from the stick comes in.

The Carrot: A paraphrase of, “All those who do His commandments,” would be, ‘all who listen to the instruction of wisdom’. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” God added the book of Proverbs to the Bible for a reason. That reason is outlined in Chapter One.

“To know wisdom and instruction,

To perceive the words of understanding,

To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;

To give prudence to the simple,

To the young man knowledge and discretion — wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,

To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.”

Five reasons are given. By an odd coincidence, the number ‘5’ is the number of ‘grace’.

When Christians are shiny and new, it’s all about being forgiven and not carrying a load on the back. But give them a few years and it’s all about, “That guy cut me off,” “You’re not going to walk over me,” “I have rights.” Don’t look at me with that tone of voice, you know it’s true. And I’ve seen the hand signals you use on the freeway.

When the Disciples sat down in the upper room, the first thing Jesus did was wash their feet. Why? Because they had been walking in the dust of the world. If you need to wash your with feet with the ‘water of the word’, (duh!) Proverbs is a very good place to start. There are thirty one chapter, one for every day of the month.

The Choice: “To give prudence to the simple,” means ‘learn how to make good choices’. Open the Bible. Read.

Rain Coming

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Now the word of the Lord came to the Watchman on the wall, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city of liberalism, and cry out against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But the Church of America, the Watchman on the wall, arose to flee to Entertainment and Ease and the NFL. But the Lord sent out a great wind of political correctness, and there was a mighty tempest over the amber waves of grain, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

For three decades 70% of Americans have claimed to be Christian. Yet the cancer of liberalism has eaten away at decency until We-the-People stand looking at Black Lives Matter, a political movement so steeped in racism it is filthier than the Ku Klux Klan; staring at the backside of an entertainment industry that would have made Sodom and Gomorrah proud; and watching in silence as 3,000 babies are ripped from the womb every single day.

The same heathen gods that ruled in Noah’s day have a death grip on America and no one is defending Christian values or responsibility. Seventy percent of voters was a majority no matter how you do the math. But here we are, just a few days away from electing a new President and the abomination that causes desolation is already gloating and claiming victory.

Matthew 24:37 “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” An entire generation has no idea that the rain is about to fall and the door to the ark is closing.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Rain is coming.

But

Car crash. Tragic.

Three blonde friends died all at the same time and found themselves standing at the pearly gates with St. Peter. He tells them that before they can enter heaven, they have to tell him what Easter is about.

The first blonde says, “Easter is a holiday where we give thanks, have a big feast and eat turkey.”

“Nooooo,” groans St. Peter. “You don’t get in.”

The second blonde says, “Easter is the holiday where we decorate a tree with pretty ornaments and give each other presents.”

“Nooooo,” groans St. Peter. “You don’t get in, either.”

The third blonde says, “Well, I know what Easter is all about. Easter is a Christian holiday which coincides with the Jewish Passover. After Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples, He was betrayed by Judas and turned over to the Romans. They crucified Him on a cross. After He died, they buried him in a tomb and put a huge boulder in front of it.”

“Very good!” says St. Peter clapping his hands.

But.

The blonde continues. “Now, every year, the Jews roll the stone away and Jesus comes out. If He sees his shadow, we have 6 more weeks of winter.”

In Matthew 16 Jesus asks an important question that every man will be required to answer. “But who do you say that I am?”

But the blonde – But who do you say that I am. Two buts separated by a common word.

Many believers wonder how America changed before our eyes, how it became what it is today. In the Matthew 16 account, Jesus made a bold statement. “The gates of hell shall not prevail.”

But.

The gates of hell have prevailed and America has become what it is because fable has been mixed with truth. We-the-People stood silent and watched One-Nation-Under God become diluted. America has not become anti-god, this nation has welcomed all manner of foreign gods to come in for several decades.

But.

America has become anti-Christ.

Ever notice that in scripture, every single demon Jesus encountered knew exactly who He was? There was no question. No doubt. No but.

The rulers of this present darkness bow before the Son of God and so will America.

Look More Than Once

applebloom

At first glance this is exactly what it seems to be, a blossom. If you look again, and study a little bit, you will see something else. That bloom will become the heart and soul of an apple.

Crisp, cool, delicious.

Now consider Proverbs 14:4. “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”

At first glance, another boring verse that has no meaning unless you deal with livestock. But like the bloom, time and study will reveal something else entirely. “Here is what I have found,” says the Preacher, adding one thing to the other to find out the reason.” That is a concept defined in Ecclesiastes 7:27. Keep in mind that Solomon pretty much knew everything, so . . .

If we do that to Proverbs 14:4, and find definitions for the words “oxen”, “trough”, “increase”, and the phrase “strength of an ox”, we will see something else and prove the inter-connectivity of all scripture.

“Oxen” is what the High Priest sacrifices for the sin of the peoples.

“Trough” also means “manger”, as in “Oh little town of Bethlehem”. It is also a reference to a “new tomb”, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

“Increase” is a great word which, simply translated, is “prosperity” or “fruitfulness”.

“Strength of an ox” is a reference to the four living creatures before the throne of God in Revelation 4; specifically, the face of an ox or calf. This is the Son of God given for the remission of sin, the only sacrifice God will accept at the pearly gates.

Now, think about for a minute, put it all together in your mind, and you will see the fruit.

The Blood of the Olive

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By and large, the olive is a happy fruit. Ask a grandchild what the olive is for and they will happily show you their fingers, each digit proudly adorned with an olive. Ask an adult and they will tell you that the olive is for pizza or as a container for hors d’oeuvres. But from a scriptural viewpoint the olive is a great deal more.

The first mention of the olive in scripture is in the book of Genesis. Although to be fair, what the dove brought back to Noah in the ark was an olive leaf, but qualified as proof of life and that the fruit of restoration was already growing. Fast forward to Jesus’ day and olives are valued for their oil in both commerce and worship.

For the worth of the olive to be revealed it must first be pressed. Pressed is a dignified word that means “crush the life out of it”. It is not a happy experience for the olive.

There are three stages to pressing oil from the olive. At the first pressing, the oil that is released is called “extra-virgin” and is used as fuel in the temple lamps of the Menorah. The seven lamp-stands of Revelation Chapter One are fueled by olive oil. There is light in the olive.

What is left in the press is run through a second time, pressed until every drop of oil is released. The oil of the second pressing is often used as medicine by first century physicians. There is healing in the olive.

The third pressing of the olive takes the pasty stuff that is left and forms it into easily held cakes. This is the last function of the happy olive, to be used as soap. There is cleansing in the olive.

As an aside, I will note that the olive, like a human being, is made up of three basic parts. The skin of the olive, the exocarp, is the container that allows for easy handling. The guts of the olive, the mesocarp, is the meat where the oil is stored. Finally, the endocarp, the pit, the seed. This is the part of the olive that if planted in the earth will rise again as a new tree. Born again is a useful analogy.

So let us jump back to the first century where we find Jesus and His disciples taking an after dinner walk on the Mount of Olives. So named for the many olive gardens growing on its flanks. One such garden is named Gethsemane, which means “The Olive Press”. The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ words, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” Simply put, the Most Noble Olive was having a very stressful evening. Roman executions were very public and usually performed on top of a high hill so that they could be seen from all directions. Scripture does not tell us, but I believe that because both Golgotha and the Garden of Gethsemane are high places, you can see one from the other.

What is recorded is that three times Jesus was pressed in that garden, three times He asked His Father, “If it be possible?”, and three times finished with, “Not My will but thy will.” The Gospel of Luke says that, “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Salvation was paid for at the cross, but it was won when the Olive was pressed at Gethsemane.

Worthless Lives

The hidden cost of removing prayer from schools, pushing God away from assemblies and public meetings, fostering ignorance of the Bible and its instruction is turning out to be more than America wants to pay. The irony is that now that it is too late, they turn and point the finger at everyone else and spew outrage and demand change.

The cost of pushing God away is a generation without a dream of a future. America has a generation lost and alone and left without a prayer. “There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives.”

Baltimore-Riots

This is a generation acting like the beasts of the field and not like men. They are content to sit on Welfare and bitch and moan because it isn’t enough and demand THE MAN fix it. This is a generation of voyeurs living a fantasy. Worthless lives wasted by choice.

Part of Bible instruction now lost is that YOU are the one to get off your butt and change it yourself. “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “Where there is no vision of a future, no revelation of hope, people cast off self-control.” Proverbs 29:11 paraphrase

Funny thing about dreams, they are never accomplished by those sitting around playing video games, taking selfies and tearing down a city. The secret elixir for the fulfillment of a dream is your own sweat. A dream and work go hand in hand.

Fortunately, there is a solution already in place. Churches and Tele-Evangelists in places like Chicago are there to help redeem the problem. All they have to do is give up dreams of a private jet and a television ministry, and take the gospel to your own back yard.

Weenies

I know a young woman who is a missionary to Macedonia. If you don’t know, that’s Turkey today. I have not heard a word about her since the war began and the flood of refugees flowed out of Syria on their way to Europe.

I know a man who is a missionary in Thailand and living in the middle of a Muslim neighborhood. Death threats and the danger of kidnapping are an every day occurrence.

I know a man who is a Pastor at a small church in India. Last I heard from him, one of his friends was chained to the back of a car and dragged until he disappeared because he dared to share the Gospel Jesus Christ.

I know of a woman who was abandoned in a Korean landfill at the age of 4. She survived and today shares her story in churches here in America.

I know of a young woman who was never able to take selfies, ‘hang with friends or go to a dance because she was being held captive by a madman and abused repeatedly for years.

The next time worship runs a little bit too long for you, and you get all hacked off because you will be late for lunch – shut up, Weenie.

The Little Engine That Can’t

Steam

This old photo is of a steam powered tractor. When it was invented, it replaced a team of ten horses. One hundred years later another tractor, diesel, replace several dozen of the steam powered variety.

The photograph itself, born of film and chemicals, is witness to the frailty common to everything Man builds. Time changes them. They break down, need parts, grow obsolete. Atrophy claims them and they turn to dust.

The problem is not just with machines. The medicines Man develops don’t last. New viruses and diseases are being announced almost every week, and pharmaceutical companies are developing newer medicines to treat those diseases. Most have side-effects you don’t want to hear about. One will cure your migraine headache, but the next morning you wake up with your prostate lying on the floor beside the bed.

Not good.

The exception to atrophy. God’s word never changes, never falters, never quits.

” My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20-22

“Health to all [your] flesh.”

That means no side-effects. You like your prostate, you can keep your prostate. Plus, you can keep your co-pay.

 

No More Tears

“The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard.” Isaiah 65:19

The prophet is speaking of a day when we shall look with eyes not dimmed by tears. Charles Spurgeon said it this way, “The glorified weep no more, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor blighted prospects in heaven. Poverty, famine, peril, persecution, and slander, are unknown there. No pain distresses, no thought of death or bereavement saddens.”

(Author sighed long enough to move half the air out of his study.) To Spurgeon’s thoughts I would add that we no longer hear the foolish ramblings of celebrities, the shouts of outrage from the Neo-Racists, nor are we afflicted with a biased media that could not spell “truth” using copy and paste. There are no politicians in heaven.

One hundred and twenty four years separate the mind of Charles Spurgeon from this Old Phart. The conclusion of his thought above is this: “They weep no more, for they are perfectly sanctified. No “evil heart of unbelief” prompts them to depart from the living God; they are without fault before His thrown, and are fully conformed to His image.”

Now that will be a day. There is only one Celebrity and to Him every knee will bow.

Want a taste of what that will be like. Consider this, there are no old people in heaven. Not one. We will all be young.