Proverbs

Steve Arterburn

Common sense’the idea sounds so folksy and simple.  Oddly enough, however, we seem to have less and less of it.  Perhaps it’s because we’re too busy or distant to learn from our parents and grandparents.  And just as common sense is rare, godly wisdom is also hard to find.  

We all have priorities, whether we’re aware of them or not.  So it’s never a question of having priorities, but rather of straightening them out.  A big part of your spiritual renewal involves sorting out your priorities in accordance with God’s will.  Need help?

The book of Proverbs is all about establishing priorities that please God.  As your priorities become a reflection of God’s will, your spiritual growth will progress.

Another aspect of wisdom is setting personal boundaries regarding how and when to say no.  In Proverbs, you’ll discover a large number of situations where saying no is the wisest option’in family situations, sexual situations, monetary situations, and business situations.

In addition, this invaluable book will provide sound advice for building healthy relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. Here you’re called to be consistent, tactful, and to use discipline.  

Wisdom is a rare commodity these days.  But as God’s man, you cannot live well without it.  I’ll leave you with the key verse of Proverbs, and I hope you will search out the other treasures that can be found in this great book.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Only fools despise wisdom and discipline (1:7).

Solitude, Silence, and Fasting

Steve Arterburn

At times in our lives we all have wilderness experiences’times when we face despair and feel alone in the world.  Elijah was a prophet in the Bible who had a literal wilderness experience.   His time in the wilderness forced him to practice three spiritual disciplines that freed him from his dependence on the world and encouraged him instead to depend on God.  We might learn from his example.

The first discipline Elijah practiced was solitude:  and it served at least two purposes.  It protected him from King Ahab who wanted to kill him.  And it provided an opportunity for him to deepen his faith, to draw closer to God. Next, Elijah’s wilderness experience gave him a time to practice silence, which allowed him to listen for God’s voice. And finally, Elijah practiced a form of fasting.  Strictly speaking he didn’t abstain from food, but his food was controlled by God’s special provision.  Periodically, God would send ravens carrying food for Elijah to eat.  In this way, Elijah learned to trust God to provide for his daily needs.

A wilderness experience can play an important role in our spiritual growth.  Are you going through one now?  Don’t miss what it might be offering you.  Like Elijah, withdrawing from your normal routine will remove you from distraction and lead to an intimacy with God.  Silence allows you to listen to God. And fasting teaches you to depend on God to provide for you.

Restoring Relationships

Steve Arterburn

Are you living with a strained relationship?  Restoration of human relationships doesn’t happen instantaneously.  If you’ve broken someone’s heart or trust, you have a responsibility to face your failures.  And you also have the tough responsibility of avoiding the urge to blame others for the problems you’ve caused.  It may take some time before you’re able to face up to your failures.  Expect the process of restoration and regaining trust to take time.

The prophet Hosea was a remarkable man.  He was told by God to marry a prostitute.  His marriage was to be a living example to the nation of Israel of her infidelity toward God.  It must have hurt Hosea deeply when his wife returned to her life of prostitution.  Hosea said, ‘Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and get your wife again.  Bring her back to you and love her, even though she loves adultery.  For the Lord still loves Israel even though the people have turned to other gods, offering them choice gifts”.  Hosea needed some time before he could be close to his wife again, for such deep restoration takes time.

It’s your responsibility to wait patiently while God helps you restore your broken relationships and the hearts you may have broken.  God can give those you’ve hurt love when love has been lost; he can help you trust and become trustworthy again, but these things take time.