Going Forward in the New Year

Many of us are working on resolutions for the New Year as the calendar flips to 2019. We’re trying to come up with one resolution that we can keep – certainly not losing weight or eating healthy (we’ll break those before week’s end). Experts say that folks stop working out about January 17.

You’ve probably heard that if you repeat an activity 21 days straight you’ll have a much better chance of developing the routine into a habit.

Well, if you want to jump start you Bible reading in 2019, reading the book of Proverbs will get you on a quick 31 day program.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  2 Tim 3:16-17 (ESV)

It just so happens that Proverbs is chock-full of training material on wisdom and righteousness.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll find in Proverbs. First, its 31 chapters are filled with contrasts. Almost every verse in chapters 10 to 15 begins with the word “but” to make the contrasts more obvious and drive home the point that there is a foolish way to do things.

Second, in chapters 1 through 9 Proverbs drives home the point that you have to make a choice between righteousness and sin.  There is no middle ground. The wise choose righteousness and the foolish choose to remain chained by sin. As you read through these first chapters you will read (in some versions) about people who are “simple”, as in 9:4 “Whoso is simple let him turn hither”.  “Foolish” and “strange” are used in Proverbs to refer to the unrighteous or sinful.

The purpose of Proverbs is to provide a guide to grabbing hold of wisdom. We find the purpose in chapter 1:2-6 (ESV)
“To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.”

What is wisdom? In Job 28:28 we find: “And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

The fear of the Lord is recognizing who He is – a reverential awe recognizing Him for his power and acknowledging what He expects of us. This is the beginning of wisdom: Knowing God through Jesus the Christ!

Foolish people despise wisdom and instruction. Foolish people do not want to hear about sin, hell and the Cross. But once they do – and accept salvation – they are no longer foolish: they have entered the realm of wisdom.

The foolish live in an alternate realty – a parallel universe that ends badly. The saved and unsaved live and work and play together. But at death we go in very opposite directions.  As Paul writes in Philippians 2:10-11, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (ESV)

Are you wise or foolish?

Be wise, gain wisdom and learn wisdom by reading one chapter of Proverbs each day. See if you can develop a regular habit of reading the Bible. Start over at the first chapter on the first day of each month. Repeat 12 times.

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