Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Trusting God’s Provision.
Our reading for today: Proverbs 3: 1-10 (MsgB)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health; your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give Him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.
Can we talk?
Over my 60+ years of life, I’ve found that one of my greatest on-going life concerns revolves around provision, and whether or not there will be enough of it to make ends meet for me and my family. I grew up in a home where both my mom and dad had fairly decent jobs and provided a moderately comfortable, but not elaborate, home for my brother and I to grow up in. A typical middle-class American household, there was enough money to send me to college (thank goodness, college didn’t cost what it does today!) and give me a healthy start in life. Both of my parents were solid believers in Jesus, we attended church regularly, and I saw my mom and dad being very generous with their resources, making regular donations to not only our home church through tithing, but to other charities and ministries as well. I learned the lesson of giving generously to God and others while also learning the important life lesson that doing a good day’s work will always provide a good day’s pay.
Yet, as I took my first job out of college (1973), moving into my own apartment in the NW suburbs of Chicago, I found myself just a bit fearful from time to time about my ability to make a good living for myself. Things were a lot more expensive in Chicago as compared to my parent’s home back in Iowa, and with my teaching salary of $7,000 per year, I had to pinch a few pennies to make it all work. Over time, as I met Sandy, who also was a teacher making about the same amount of salary, we got married and doubled our income in one fell swoop! Wow! For a while we both felt like we hit the jackpot, but soon, with four children added to our family, I began to feel that provisional pinch once again.
As dedicated followers of Jesus, Sandy & I both knew we needed to be generous with the money God was giving us through our jobs, and I remember the season, early on in our marriage as our family grew in size, when we prayerfully decided that we needed to tithe our salary to God, as a step of our basic trust and obedience to Him as our provider. I recall how very hard that decision was for me to do, but looking back, I’m so thankful that we decided to make that firm decision back then, because I’ve been tempted along the way, as provisions ebbed and flowed, to reconsider that commitment. But now, I’m happy to say that all these years later, I am so glad we didn’t reconsider and continued to trust God each step of the way!
One of the key Bible passages that helped me in those early days as our expenditures began to grow faster than our income is the text we use here today from Proverbs 3. I remember studying it way back during those earliest years of our marriage, reading from the, then, newly translated NIV version…
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3: 1-10
As I see it, Solomon was indeed, one wise man who wrote some pretty impressive words, laying out a very convincing argument for why a smart man or woman might want to follow the path that he had discovered early on in his life. When Eugene Peterson released sections of his Message Bible translation in the mid to late 1990’s, I loved what he did with the familiar words I’d first studied nearly 20 years earlier. I can’t tell you how many times over the decades I’ve taken these ten verses and laid them out in such a way that I can see the parts I need to do, and then marvel at the amazing work God does for those who carefully follow this wise counsel. Let me show you what I mean…
Here’s a list of things I need to do on a daily basis…
Trust God from the bottom of my heart.
Don’t try to figure out everything on my own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything I do, everywhere I go.
Don’t assume that I know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Honor God with everything I own.
Give Him the first and the best.
And here’s the cool stuff God promises to do in response to my obedience…
(He) is the one who will keep me on track.
My body will glow with health.
My very bones will vibrate with life!
My barns will burst; my wine vats will brim over.
Hmm. Sure sounds like a pretty good arrangement to me. How about you?
Join us next time as I continue my story of how these amazing words of God have been road-tested in my life again and again.
My prayer: God, my Loving Father, You know how many conversations we’ve had over the years about daily provision. I’m so glad that You never tire of me coming to You and telling You my troubling doubts and my nagging worries about such things. Yet time and time again, You’ve been the Promise Keeper who makes a way when there seems to be no way. Your priceless promises recorded here by Solomon in Proverbs 3 still amaze me. Holy Spirit, empower me to be faithful to my part of the deal as I know Jesus is always faithful to His. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how am I doing with my part of the covenant agreement found here in Proverbs 3? What aspects of my life and the way I’m living it need to be re-worked and re-arranged so that I’m doing everything Solomon spells out for us here in these wise words?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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