Set Your Face Like Flint

a6b82eb26631b1c1e936c08dc895af9d

Isaiah 50:7 (ESV), “But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

 How many times have you heard someone say, “Practice what you preach”? I thought of that while reading through proverbs. Solomon didn’t do that!

 Proverbs 1:2-9 (NIV), “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. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”

King Solomon spends verse after verse insisting that his son listens to his teaching, he grasps for wisdom and understanding, and then he gives chapters of wise sayings and warnings to anyone who will take heed. Solomon is written about in the Bible as the” wisest man that ever lived or ever will live”. (I Kings 3:12). So, what happened? We clearly see by reading Kings, Chronicles, and Ecclesiastes that somewhere along the way, Solomon stepped off the path. In fact he couldn’t have gotten any farther away. He built pagan altars, places of worship to false gods, and even worshipped them himself.) One of those false gods was Molech the god who demanded children be sacrificed in his ovens, I Kings 11.)

I can’t help thinking, “if he was so wise…what happened?”

Clearly “wisdom” isn’t the key to staying on track. If it had been, Solomon would never have turned his back on God, or ever left the path that God had laid out for him.

What do you think caused his backsliding?

We know that his many wives and concubines had something to do with it. The bible says, “Solomon married seven hundred princesses and also had three hundred concubines. They made him turn away from God,  and by the time he was old they had led him into the worship of foreign gods. He was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his father David had been.” (I Kings 11:3-4) It is easy to put the blame on all of those women, but let’s dig a little deeper here.

Why did Solomon marry so many “Princesses”?

He was trying to broker peace with other nations. It was s common practice in the day to form alliances through marriage. The thinking was that rival kings wouldn’t attack if their daughters were married to and living in the palace of the king. God had already told Solomon that he reign would be a peaceful one. God had planned it all out and His plan didn’t include hundreds of women! Solomon was trying to work out something God wanted to give him. Does that sound familiar? Think of Sarah and Abraham, or Adam in the garden, and what about Satan’s temptation of Jesus (to give Him something by means of another way instead of by God’s will.)

He stopped looking to God as his source. In all of his hundreds of relationships, he left out the most important one! His relationship with God. All the wisdom in the world won’t get you far without a relationship with the one who gave you the wisdom to begin with.

After turning his back on God, Solomon tries everything to find meaning in life. Instead he finds that it is all vanity!

Ecclesiastes 1:2-8 (NIV), “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say.”

These verses sound like someone in the throes of depression. If you read through Ecclesiastes you will see he tried everything, work, leisure, pleasure, and even turned himself over to false religions and idol worship, yet found no meaning in life. All the wasted time, the wasted life, and the ruin of a whole nation! All he had to do was repent (turn back to God).

Compare his lamenting in verses 2-8, to the scripture in Isaiah. Isaiah states that he had not been disgraced, or put to shame. He set his face like stone, keeping his eyes and his focus on God. Maybe that is why he had such a great revelation of Jesus. Yet, Solomon’s life is full of shame and disgrace, so much that his sin caused the kingdom to be divided, leaving a legacy of selfish, hard-hearted, kings in his wake.

In all of the warning he gave his sons, and us, through proverbs, he didn’t practice what he preached.

A sad story.

We know that at some point he came to his senses. We can read in the last chapter of Ecclesiasts, Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

He realized his mistake, yet he couldn’t undo the evil influence that he propagated to the people of Israel, or his own children. God had made it plain what would happen if Solomon or his children didn’t do all that He had commanded. The die was cast and there was no taking it back. Sadly for Solomon and Israel, it was “too little, too late”.

Thankfully, we live in God’s glorious grace! It’s never too late for us to return to our first love. Any move to gain more intimacy with God is never too little.

Set your face like flint! Don’t let anyone pull you away from your relationship with God. Make Him number one.

Wisdom From Heaven

wisdom-from-god[1]

James 3:17 (NIV), “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

The world has a totally different idea of wisdom than God. The world see’s wisdom as intelligence and knowledge. In fact the Encarta Dictionary uses these definitions: good sense, wise decision, accumulated learning, opinion widely held, ancient teachings or sayings. I can right away see problems with all of those definitions! Good sense, we all need some of this, but if it isn’t based on the Bible, it isn’t good. The same can be said for a wise decision, if a decision is based on the world’s view of what is wise, the motivation will be greed, or lust, or it will be based on flawed thinking. The Bible tells us that knowledge puffs up, or gives us a “big head” so accumulated learning will only fill our heads with knowledge that we won’t be able to apply to our lives in any meaningful way. Even knowledge of the Scriptures without Godly wisdom will not profit us. Any opinion widely held is changeable. For example at one time people thought that eating the potato would kill you, and that the world was flat, need I say more? Lastly, ancient teachings can be wise, if they line up with God’s word, otherwise they are still opinions of man that happened to be spouted off years ago.

God tells us that wisdom from heaven is first of all pure. Godly wisdom isn’t motivated by anything other than love. Next, from our verse in James, we see that it is peace-loving and considerate. This kind of wisdom isn’t putting “self” first. It doesn’t have to have its own way, or demand its rights. It thinks “more highly on the things of others.” Wisdom from Heaven is submissive. I know we Americans tend to hate that word, but only because we don’t understand what it means. Submission simply means being “under a mission.” I am under the mission of God. His mission is to bring everyone to the saving knowledge of His grace. I submit to that mission. If we are using Godly wisdom there will be fruit, we will show mercy to others. God is merciful. He never gave us what we deserved, but only what would bring us to a place of fellowship with Him. Finally, this kind of wisdom is impartial and sincere. It can’t be faked. The world is full of people who see themselves as wise. They spout off information, statistics, and opinions and expect us all to be wowed by their greatness, which is neither impartial nor sincere. You can’t fake Godly wisdom, ever. Godly wisdom’s purpose isn’t to impress anyone. It’s purpose is to further God’s Kingdom here on earth.
How do we do that?

By showing God’s love, His goodness, His mercy, and forgiveness. We “make peace.”

Matthew 5:9 (ISV), “How blessed are those who make peace, because it is they who will be called God’s children!”
Luke 6:35-36 (NIV), “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ”

So, maybe you aren’t feeling too wise right at this moment. Thankfully, God has an answer for that as well.

James 1:5 (NIV), “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Proverbs 2:6 (KJB), “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

Ecclesiastes 2:26 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.”

I think it is safe to say that the way the world thinks to acquire wisdom is through learning, and through osmosis. We, on the other hand, as Children of the Almighty, receive wisdom from God. It is a gift. We can’t earn it, but that doesn’t mean that we just sit and wait for God to deposit wisdom into us either. God always has a part for us to play. One of the ways that God imparts wisdom into us is through His word. A great place to obtain Godly wisdom is in the Proverbs. He also uses sound teaching. We need to know God’s word and how to apply it to our own lives. This is wisdom.

Why do we need wisdom? And what do we do with it?

Proverbs 11:30 (KJB), “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
Daniel 12:3 (NIV), “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

Proverbs 3:35 (NIV), “The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.”

It takes true wisdom just to get saved. Human wisdom won’t allow our hearts to accept salvation, it stops the whole message at our head and because it simply doesn’t make any human sense, we reject it as impossible. “God would die for me? No way! I don’t have to earn it, there has got to be something wrong with this way.”

I Corinthians 1:21 (NLT), “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.”

Godly wisdom loves, it saves souls, inherits honor, shines like the brightness of heaven.

So, get wisdom! It’s important, but make sure it is the wisdom from Heaven.

Proverbs 4:5 (NASB), “Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.”

Get Wisdom!

wisdom-house[1]

Job 28:27-28
“Then He was [wisdom] and declared it, He established it, yes, and searched it out [for His own use, and He alone possesses it]. But to man He said, behold the reverential and worshipful fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.”

God established wisdom and, boy, do we need it! Reverencing God is wisdom.

The whole book of proverbs is about wisdom. Reading one chapter a day will take you through it in a month. In the very first chapter “wisdom” speaks to us as a woman. In Verse 33 she says, “but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Wisdom is different than head knowledge. Wisdom resides in our hearts. We get it in several ways. One as just stated is to reverence, honor and give glory, to God. We can also simply ask for it. James 1:5 (NIV) “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

We can gather facts and cram our brains with knowledge, but that only ‘puffs up’, or makes us arrogant and fills us with pride. We all know at least one person who is a “know-it-all” and how much fun are they to be around. Try to impart some new information to them, or even give advice. Those kind of people are not teachable because they aren’t humble. But then we all know “wise” people, who may or may not have a lot of facts stored in their brain, but they can give and take advice, they are teachable. So we don’t need facts alone, we need to know that to do with those fact. Facts alone are dangerous.

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 “Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.” Wisdom helps us apply facts in the right way. Godly wisdom keeps us from screwing up.

We are blessed when we find wisdom. “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.” Proverbs 3:13-18. What is in her hands? Long life in one, and riches and honor in the other. Sounds good to me.