Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 49, Wisdom Helps Us Cast Our Cares On The Lord

Today Solomon will tell us that the Lord tests our hearts in the same way that fire tests silver or gold. Heating precious metals causes previously hidden impurities to rise to the top. In the same way the Lord is able to see what's in our hearts. Nothing can be hidden from Him.

First the king provides us with several miscellaneous proverbs. "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." (Proverbs 16:33) Decisions were often made in Old Testament times by using two objects known as the urim and thummin. It's unknown exactly what these were, perhaps two different colored stones or sticks. The priest wore these in his breastplate and when seeking the Lord's will in an important decision, such as whether there would be victory if Israel went to battle, the priest could shake these items in the lap of his robe and whichever one came out determined what Israel was to do. The Lord was not endorsing divination, which was forbidden to Israel, but was supplying a method in which to prayerfully seek His will. The practice began dying out during the time of the prophets and it disappeared completely after the Holy Spirit began to indwell believers following the resurrection of Christ.

"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, and strife." (Proverbs 17:1) The Apostle Paul said, "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6) Solomon agrees, saying something like, "It's better to be poor and have the peace that comes from knowing God than to be wealthy and have a life full of uproar and sin." Peace in the home is priceless. Who wants to live in a house that's always in an uproar?

"A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the family." (Proverbs 17:2) The Lord is able to promote the one who is godly and who performs his work in an honorable manner. Two examples of this in the Bible would be Jacob's son Joseph who was sold into slavery but later became second in command to Pharaoh, and Daniel who was taken as a captive to Babylon but rose to a high position of power in that foreign land. No matter what our position is in life, the Bible says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Colossians 3:23-24)

"The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart." (Proverbs 17:3) Silver and gold must be heated in order for the impurities to rise to the top to be skimmed off. Once heated to the proper temperature, the dross cannot be hidden. Neither can the dross in our hearts be hidden from the Lord. As unpleasant as it is, sometimes the Lord has to heat up our situation so He can skim the impurities from us. Job said of his troubles, "When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold." (Job 23:10b) Job was a good man before calamities came into his life, but he was an even better man after. He emerged from his trials in a purer and more honorable form. Not all afflictions are a result of sin, as Job's case proves. Sometimes they come for the purpose of making us more like Christ. But in other cases calamities do arise as a result of sin. The author of Psalm 66 spoke of the testing Israel went through as a result of wandering from God, "For You, God, tested us; You refined us like silver." (Psalm 66:10) The Lord said something similar about the troubles He brought upon Israel because of her sins, "I have tested you in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10b)

I've been afflicted with anxiety for several months now. I'm the type of person who doesn't deal very well with change, and there have been several changes in my life this year. They've actually been good changes for the most part, but I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so anything that upsets my routine causes me to feel constantly unsettled and anxious. What I want most is for my uneasiness to go away, but perhaps the Lord wants to use it to make me more like Christ. Like the Apostle Paul, my heart's desire is that God would take away this "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7), but it's possible He gave it to me so I would have to depend on Him. It may be that I wouldn't know Him as well as I do or love Him as much as I do if I didn't have to lean on Him in my weakness. I would love to hear Him say, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." (Luke 13:12) But He may choose instead to say what He said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you." (2 Corinthians 12;9) Either way, I hope will come forth as gold. Affliction is bad enough on its own, but how terrible it would be if it were wasted! I want to take something away from the difficult experiences of life, don't you? I believe the Bible assures us that we can, for the Scriptures urge us, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

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