by Steve McCranie | Nov 7, 2015
To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
We discovered yesterday, from 1 Corinthians 1:30, that Jesus “became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” This verse clearly shows us Jesus Christ is, in Himself, the wisdom from God. Jesus is all wisdom, complete in Himself, and if we desire more wisdom from the Father (James 1:5), He answers by revealing more of His Son to us. We ask for wisdom, we get Jesus. We look for wisdom, we see it in Jesus. We want to know wisdom (Prov. 1:2), we must know Jesus, and none other.
The wisdom from God is found in only one person— and His name is Jesus.
To Know and Perceive Wisdom and Understanding
But the Proverbs begin by telling us the grand purpose of this book is “to know (yada) wisdom and instruction, (and) to perceive the words of understanding (Prov. 1:2). What does that mean?
Wisdom, as we know, is “the ability to discern or judge what is right, true, and lasting” and instruction means more than teaching or exhortation. Instruction is “discipline, chastening, and correction, with the imagery of a father disciplining his son that he loves.” Which brings us to the last half of this verse, “to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2).
To perceive means “to discern, consider, understand, to be attentive or pay attention to.” And “words of understanding” mean “words or speech of comprehension, discernment, righteous actions, with a strong moral and religious connotation.” In other words, “to perceive the words of understanding” is not something to be mentally perceived or discerned, but to follow through with righteous actions, works, or deeds of strong moral and religious connotations that bring about God’s wisdom and the ability to choose what is right, true and lasting. Do you see what the Lord is saying to us?
The purpose of Proverbs is for us to know (yada) by experience, or by doing, in an intimate, passionate way, the wisdom of God, or Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30), and possess the ability to discern and choose what is right and Godly in any given circumstance. The New Testament would call this sanctification (1 Thess. 4:13), having the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), or “walking in the Spirit, and not according to the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
Its purpose is for us to know wisdom, the wisdom found only in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30), and to be “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).
Our Only Example During Temptation and Sin
But there’s another verse we find in Hebrews that gives us a deeper understanding of why Jesus “became for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30). And that’s found in Hebrews 4:15:
For we do not have a High Priest (Jesus) who cannot sympathize (or, feel deeply, be affected or touched with the same feelings as another, to have compassion for someone by experience) with our weaknesses (or, feebleness, lack of strength, frailty), but was in all points (or, each, every, the whole, in totality, lacking none) tempted (or, tried, tested) as we are, yet without sin.
This tells us that Jesus, our wisdom from God, was tempted in every way we have been tempted, yet was able and willing to discern what was right, best and true, and then was disciplined enough to chose the right path and not sin. And because He was tested in all ways like each one of us, He is our faithful High Priest that goes before us “perceiving the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2) and showing us, by example, how to live victoriously by knowing (yada) and following the wisdom of God.
Let’s flesh this out a little bit.
Was Jesus ever tempted by pride? Are you? Then so was He. Why? Because every temptation you have faced, or will face, He has already faced and walked in perfect holiness and unity with His Father. And we are to follow His example.
Was Jesus ever tempted sexually? Have you been tempted that way? Then so was He, as uncomfortable as that might make us feel, yet without giving into sin. So when you feel overpowered by porn or sexual temptation, know that Jesus faced the same temptation and resisted so as not to sin. And if we keep our eyes on Him and follow His example, we shall also walk away from our temptation victorious.
New Testament Examples
Jesus lived His life in perfect harmony with the Father, just like He desires us to do. How can we do that? By following His example, by taking His yoke upon us and learning from Him (Matt. 11:29). He showed us, in the pages of the Gospels, example after example of how to “know wisdom and instruction (and how) to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). If we are faced with a situation Jesus was also faced with, we go to the account of how He dealt with it in the Gospels and learn from Him. As faithful disciples, we mimic our Master.
For example, how do we handle it when someone abuses us and demands something they don’t rightly deserve? What did Jesus do? He “turned the other cheek” (Luke 6:29) and “walked the second mile” (Matt. 5:41). Get the point? Or what are we to do when we feel betrayed by someone we trusted and are tempted to harbor hate for them in our heart? What did Jesus do? In the upper room, Jesus washed the feet of Judas, remember? (John 13:5).
But what happens when we’re faced with a temptation not recorded in the Gospels? We know Jesus was tempted in all ways just like we are (Heb. 4:15), yet not everything Jesus said and did is recorded for us in the Gospels (John 21:25). We know almost nothing about His life as a young man, for example. So where do we go to learn what Jesus, our wisdom from God, would do in a particular situation we face today that is not mentioned in Scripture? Where do we go to find the wisdom from God? We go to the Proverbs.
You see, the Proverbs give us the wisdom from God, what Jesus would do, in situations and circumstances Jesus faced while on earth but were not left as an example for us in the Gospels. The Proverbs fill in for us what the Gospels left out. Let me give a couple examples:
Peer Pressuree: Do you face the temptation to compromise in order to be accepted by your peers? If so, you can be sure Jesus faced the same temptation. Yet, how He dealt with that temptation is not recorded for us in the Gospel accounts. So where do we go to find what Jesus would do and what we should do when faced with peer pressure? In the Proverbs. If you struggle with peer pressure and want to know what Jesus did when He was faced with peer pressure, go to Proverbs 1:8-19.
But there’s so much more. How about:
Sexual Temptation: See Proverbs 5:1-11.
Pride: Proverbs 11:2, 13:10, 16:18, 29:23.
Financial Obligations: Proverbs 6:1-5.
Adultery: Proverbs 6:20-35.
Porn: Proverbs 7:6-23.
Business Practices: Proverbs 11:1.
What Should I Look for in a Wife: Proverbs 31:10-31.
And the list goes on.
When you hold the Proverbs in your hand to read, don’t treat them like ancient writings from some old sage who can’t relate to what you’re going through. These Proverbs are the words and examples and wisdom of Christ. They’re His example to us of how He, as the wisdom from God, was able to live victoriously in this world of sin, yet without sinning. They’re His answer to our temptations not specifically addressed in the Gospel accounts. And they’re His incredible gift to each of us.
So embrace them, cherish them, love them, and know (yada) them. Why? Because they are our way “to know wisdom and instruction, (and) to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). After all, Jesus did say:
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
Did you catch that? Jesus said all Scripture, both Old and New Testament, speaks or testifies of Him. And that includes the Proverbs.
But that’s a subject we’ll address tomorrow.
1. Does it seem strange to you to think Jesus was tempted in the same way as you?
2. Do you have the view of Jesus as some super-human that lives above the cesspool you and I find ourselves in and is somehow not tempted in the same way we are?
3. Did it ever occur to you that the entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testament testify about Jesus? Did you ever consider the fact that He can be found on every page, in almost every verse?
4. When was the last time God spoke to you through His Word? What was that experience like? How often does it happen?
5. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? And, if not, why?
Next Step Challenge
Take your Bible and, using the examples above, outline the specific situations addressed in the Proverbs. List them on a sheet of paper along with the Scripture reference just like the examples above. What do they tell you about Jesus and His Word? What have you learned about the true purpose and meaning of the Proverbs?
And how will you let what you’ve learned change your life from this point forward?
by Steve McCranie | Oct 1, 2015
Today, Day One, we are looking at the first Proverb. And, as often happens, I am arrested by the simplicity of the Lord’s words:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).
First, let’s see exactly what these words say.
“The fear (or, awe, profound respect, but also frightening terror) of the Lord (and not man) is the beginning (or, the first, chief, best, choice part, the firstfruits) of knowledge (or, knowing, learning, discernment, insight, perception), but (by contrast) fools (or, one who hates wisdom and walks in folly despising both wisdom and morality, one who mocks when found guilty, a simpleton) despise (or, to hold in contempt or as insignificant, to scorn or greatly disrespect) wisdom (or, skill, prudence, shrewdness) and instruction (or, discipline).”
Then, let’s see what these words mean.
The great contrast between God and fallen, unredeemed man is clearly seen in this single verse. In fact, we’ll see this contrast all through the Proverbs.
Human wisdom, or man’s wisdom, is the ability to understand and communicate the highest truths or virtues based on this world’s logic and values. It’s the ability to articulate what this world thinks and the path one should take to successfully navigate this world’s system to some sort of desired end. But what is that end? Fame, riches, temporal pleasure or perceived happiness, freedom from pain or suffering or calamity— at least for a short time? What else can this world offer?
We still age, we still get sick, bad and hurtful things still happen to us that we cannot control, and eventually we all still die. So what can human wisdom do to mitigate the inevitable? Even if I am the richest person on the planet, like Solomon, I will still someday die. And then what? What will I do with my treasure trove of man’s wisdom? How will it help me then?
It won’t. And only a fool fails to recognize that.
It’s Just the Beginning
The Scriptures say the fear of the Lord is the beginning, not the end, of knowledge. It’s the profound respect and awe we give to our Creator that begins our understanding and insight, our perception and discernment of Who He is. And once we catch just a glimpse of the majesty of God Himself, we rightfully fall on our face before Him in worship and contrition knowing we are just men, fallen created beings, nothing more than dust and ashes, who have rebelled against the Holy One. And then we shake in sheer terror and fear for our pride, our arrogance, our prized inflated ego and our disdain for any God other than ourselves.
To honor and revere the Holy One begins to open the floodgates of His mercy and love and knowledge of Himself. After all, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” But there’s a great contrast. The verse continues by saying, “but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
But fools. Is that who we are? Are we fools? Do we hate the wisdom of God codified in His Word? Do we walk in folly and mockery despising His moral commands and living in the filth of our own sin? Look around. I think the answer is obvious.
It says that fools, those who reject God’s Word and live in “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) actually despise His wisdom and instruction. They just don’t not like it, they hate it, they mock it, they hold it in contempt, derision, as something worthless and insignificant, as not worth their time. They defiantly refuse and reject spiritual discipline and instruction. They have not the time for God nor His Kingdom because they are trying to make their own way through this world to receive the accolades of man and their own fleeting version of fame and success. Why? Because the immediate trumps the eternal. Because they would rather have what they can see and hold in their hands today than what is promised them for tomorrow, no matter how wonderful that promise may prove to be.
There is great contrast conveyed in these sixteen simple words that have eternal consequences. Which one are you?
Are you the one who fears the Lord and is beginning to experience true knowledge and the joy of intimacy with the Holy One? Or are you the fool who is content to live in the midst of an inner city sewer when the Lord wants to take you to Disney World? And you refuse to go with Him because you can’t imagine how anything could be better than living and playing in the sewer .
How little are you settling for right now living for the immediate and not for the eternal?
by Steve McCranie | Sep 21, 2015
Some truths for today from Proverbs 21.
Proverbs 21:2 – Every way (or, path, journey, pattern of life) of a man is right (or, just, straight, upright, correct, ethically or morally pleasing) in his own eyes, but (contrast) the LORD weighs (or, measures, ponders, tests, or prove. It describes God’s weighing action as a process of moral evaluation) the hearts.
Regarding sacrifices (or our outward acts of worship):
Proverbs 21:3 – To do righteousness (or, blameless conduct, integrity, right actions and attitudes) and justice (or, making a right, correct judgment) is more acceptable (or, to choose, elect, decide. It denotes a choice which is based on a thorough examination and not on a knee-jerk, arbitrary whim) to the LORD than sacrifice (or, that given to God).
In other words, God’s choice is for us to act and live like Him rather than trying to buy Him off with our gifts and sacrifices.
Proverbs 21:27 – The sacrifice (or, that given to God) of the wicked (or, guilty, wrong, transgressor, criminal) is an abomination (or, worthless, unclean, disgusting, offensive); how much more when he brings it with wicked intent (or, mind, plan, device, mischievous purpose, lewdness)!
And one more, that seems to sum up the entire chapter:
Proverbs 21:30 – There is no wisdom (or, experience, skill, shrewdness) or understanding (or, insight, intelligence) or counsel (or, advice, plan, purpose, plot) against the LORD.
And why is that? Remember the rhetorical questions of 1 Corinthians 1:20: Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Yes He has. And do you know why? It’s because, as Psalm 115:3 clearly states: “Our God is in His heavens, and He does what He pleases.” Did you catch that last phrase? It says, He (God) does what He (God) pleases. He is God. And the pseudo wise and self-inflated of our age are not.
And it shows.
by Steve McCranie | May 6, 2015
In Matthew 6, in the middle of what we call the Lord’s prayer, Jesus told us to pray this way:
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done (to what extent) on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
But what does that really mean? And what are we actually praying for?
We could say it like this:
“Your (the Father’s) kingdom (or, dominion, reign, sovereign rule, authority, throne, the exercise of kingly power) come (or, arise, come forth, show itself, be established, become known).”
Or like this:
“Your (the Father’s) will (or, active volition, resolve, purpose, mandate, a command with the emphasis on the authority of the one commanding) be done (or, to become, to begin to be, to come into existence, to happen).”
Does that change anything for you? It does me. To find out more, keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 6:10, the Lord’s Prayer.
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by Steve McCranie | Mar 17, 2015
We have unfortunately let the emerging church people hijack the term community, or fellowship, or koinōnia, and turn it into something orthodox Christianity now rejects. And that is a shame. Nevertheless, community is how the Lord intended us to live. Not convinced? Then read the first few chapters in the book of Acts.
But a few questions remain.
How can we “esteem others better than ourselves”? (Phil. 2:3).
How can we “love (agape) one another as Christ has loved (agape) us”? (John 13:34).
How can we live in fellowship (koinōnia) together, “bearing each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ?” (Gal. 6:2).
How can we live in Christian community with each other, as a loving family, as part of His body functioning together as one?
Do we even want to live that way?
And, if we do, what would motivate us to love each other more than we love ourselves and to forgive each other— no matter what?
Is that even possible today?
Want to know more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on Colossians 1:2 and grace and peace.
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by Steve McCranie | Jan 26, 2015
There is a passage found in 1 Corinthians where the Lord Jesus is explaining the unity of His church, His body, by showing the many members of the body, the church, are actually one in Him. Consider the following:
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ (1 Cor. 12:12).
But the phrase that stopped me cold in my tracks is, “so also is Christ.” What does that mean?
Is Christ saying that He and His church are one?
Is Christ saying that He cannot be separated from His church?
Is Christ saying that He is His church? That they are united as one like He is with His Father?
To find out more, keep listening.
The following is study on the Body of Christ.
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