Michael Spencer: Timeless Words of Wisdom

michael spencerAs a new school year began in August of 2009, all of us were feeling the effects of the “Great Recession” after the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008. If you lived and worked at a small private boarding school, which relied on a combination of donations, volunteers and tuition payments to survive, then you had good cause for legitimate concern.

Facebook has a feature (inspired by Time Hop) that reminds users of posts and pictures from previous years on a particular date. On this date in 2009, Michael Spencer sent a note of encouragement to his friends and coworkers. Continue reading

Silent Wisdom

wise man

The verse of the day from Bible Gateway is Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

The Our Daily Bread devotional for this day is also focused on being still, quiet, and waiting for the Lord to act.

From deep in The Master’s Table archives: Jesus, often known for saying exactly the right thing at the right time, also knew when to keep silent. Click here for more.

Read James 3. Perhaps we would all be wiser to say less.

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
-Proverbs 17:28

From the Archives: Pursuing Wisdom

originally published June 5, 2011

In the first Psalm, David contrasts the ways of the righteous and the wicked. In the first chapter of Proverbs, Solomon does the same thing between the wise and the foolish. He goes on to encourage his sons (and by extension all readers) to pursue wisdom.

David was a poet and a musician. He not only wrote songs and played instruments, but he made trumpets for the temple musicians. In Biblical times the Psalms were sung. Think of this book as their hymnal. Solomon was David’s son, and world renown for his wisdom. The book of Proverbs is a collection of wisdom sayings, some perhaps written by Solomon himself and others collected. In both cases, righteousness and wisdom must be pursued. One must seek after them, like walking down a path. There is more than one path, and we must think about which we are choosing.

David tells us the righteous are like trees planted by rivers of water. The tree roots dig in, firmly holding the tree in place while it is abundantly nourished. The righteous person digs into the Word of God the same way. By being firmly rooted in his Word, by meditating on it, the righteous person is not tossed about from one idea or teacher to another. The wicked are driven as in the wind. One might try a little of this or a little of that, looking for what suits them or provides answers. They might dabble in Christianity, a little Oprah, a little Scientology and so forth. Some arrive at the idea there is no God (Psalm 14:1). The righteous are firmly rooted in the truth, standing on solid ground, and hold fast even when the world falls apart around them. Righteousness and wickedness, and their ends, and compared so that the reader can choose wisely.

Solomon goes on in Proverbs 1 to personify wisdom as a woman standing in the street calling out seeking followers. Wisdom, like righteousness, must be sought after. The righteous meditate in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2) meanwhile the foolish despise instruction (Prov 1:7). No matter how “smart” one may naturally be, wisdom doesn’t just fall into anyone’s lap. I’ve heard it said that even when opportunity knocks we must get up and answer the door. Solomon has a lot to say about laziness as well. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; it is the first step in the right direction. The way to wisdom is a path one must choose to walk.

We often think of wisdom as coming with age and experience. There is nothing more sad than an old fool – wisdom is not guaranteed. The fool rejects instruction. Some will simply choose not to learn from their mistakes, and refuse to listen to wise counsel. They will grow old lacking wisdom despite the many experiences they had to learn from. Jesus tells his followers that if any lack wisdom to ask of God, who gives to all liberally. If we fear the Lord, meditate in his law and word, and ask him for it, we may become wise. It is a choice and a lifestyle. The path to wisdom and righteousness may be difficult, but we are promised the reward will be great. Laziness may appear to pay off right now, just as the wicked appear in this lifetime to prosper. But David also mentions the judgement. On Judgement Day Jesus will separate those that are his from those that not, like dividing the wheat from tares.

Asking for It

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” 1 Kings 3:7-9

Solomon was told to ask for anything and the one thing he asked for was wisdom. He was humble enough to realize the task of leadership was too great for him to bear alone and asked God for the wisdom and understanding in order to rule God’s people Israel. Think about the last prayer you prayed to God; what did you ask for? Continue reading

Pursuing Wisdom

In the first Psalm, David contrasts the ways of the righteous and the wicked.  In the first chapter of Proverbs, Solomon does the same thing between the wise and the foolish.  He goes on to encourage his sons (and by extension all readers) to pursue wisdom.

David was a poet and a musician.  He not only wrote songs and played instruments, but he made trumpets for the temple musicians.  In Biblical times the Psalms were sung.  Think of this book as their hymnal.  Solomon was David’s son, and world renown for his wisdom.  The book of Proverbs is a collection of wisdom sayings, some perhaps written by Solomon himself and others collected.  In both cases, righteousness and wisdom must be pursued.  One must seek after them, like walking down a path.  There is more than one path, and we must think about which we are choosing. Continue reading

In Order to Understand Scripture

reading-bibleThere is a lot of criticism of the Bible in our culture today, and of those who believe in it.  Some of those criticisms may be valid, although many are certainly not.  There are Christians who have trouble responding to these critics, partly because even those believers do not understand what they are dealing with.  And of course a novice student of the Bible, even with the best of intentions, may have difficulty understanding the Bible due the nature of it’s age and form.  In order to understand scripture, there are some things that one must realize first.

1) The Bible will not answer all our questions.  When we look at the Constitution, it is important to try and understand the framers’ intent.  The same holds for the Bible.  No Biblical author was attempting to provide an exhaustive list of every answer to every possible question that would arise. Continue reading

On Wisdom and Foolishness

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  -Prov 18:6

Earlier this week I indicated that this Proverb was my new favorite Bible verse.  But what is the purpose of such verses in Proverbs?  I have a good friend that is well studied in the scriptures that still has problems with the book of Proverbs.  Proverbs falls into what we call wisdom literature.  The book is a collection of Solomon’s wisdom, basically good advice he wants to leave his children, but the question is how does it fit into the gospel?  Consider these two scriptures:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.  -Psalm 14:1

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge:  Proverbs 1:7

Continue reading