Willing to Learn

Reading the Word

Proverbs 9:7–9 (ESV)
7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Understanding the Word

A person who wants to grow in wisdom and understanding must be willing to receive correction and instruction from others. This is a difficult thing for many. Instead of seeing a chance to learn and grow, correction is often seen as offensive and threatening. Have you ever felt angry when someone showed you that you were wrong? Maybe the other person was abrasive or rude, but it may be that you are like many others. You do not like to be corrected.

The wise person understands what it takes to grow in wisdom. It takes having a learner’s spirit. It takes wanting to learn and not eliminating sources of instruction. Even those who are not very tactful in how they give instruction often have much to teach us. We need to learn to find the truth and use it to continue to grow.

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Always Planning Evil

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I am unable to include devotional thoughts today, but this passage is an interesting one to ponder. It tells us that the wicked person’s words and actions are untrustworthy. The worthless person is always plotting and scheming and cannot be trusted. Be sure that God knows their every thought and action and they will be held accountable.

Reading the Word

Proverbs 6:12–15 (ESV)

12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

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Made for Wisdom

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Reading the Word

Proverbs 3:19–20 (ESV)

19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens;
20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It was by wisdom that God established all of creation. The idea of these verses is that a person who rejects wisdom and understanding rejects what the Lord has built into the world. To do so goes against the way things were designed to be and will result in hardship and struggle. This message is developed more fully in Proverbs 8:22-31.

Growth in wisdom is part of the created order. God has created us to seek understanding because it helps us thrive in life, but more importantly, because it leads us to Him, the beginning of wisdom.

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The Father’s Discipline

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Reading the Word

Proverbs 3:11–12 (ESV)

11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Book of Proverbs is about growing in wisdom. One of the primary ways we do that is through failure and discipline. We have the choice to learn from such correction or become hardened and unteachable.

In today’s reading, we see that the Lord is compared to a father who disciplines his children. As the father uses such correction out of love and wanting what is best for his children, so also the Lord. We should not think that God’s discipline is for our pain and misery. It is from love. It is for our benefit in order that we might learn and grow in wisdom. Praise our Father who loves us enough to correct us when we go astray.

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Trust in the Lord

Proverbs 35–6 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Proverbs 3:5–8 (ESV)

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We all want to be our own authority. We want to make our own decisions about right and wrong and what is best for us. This is the very reason Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. They wanted to be “like God” and know good and evil for themselves. In other words, they wanted to make their own decisions rather than listen to God.

The problem with us being in authority is we are not God. We do not have a full understanding of all things and what is best for us in each and every situation. God, on the other hand, is the all-knowing, loving Creator. He made us and placed us in the world he designed and has told us how to live. This is the same God who loves us and wants the very best for us. The wise thing to do is to listen to him.

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Lady Wisdom Calls Out

Proverbs 120 169

Reading the Word

Proverbs 1:20–23 (ESV)

20  Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
21  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23  If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Wisdom is personified as a woman who calls out to all. If they will go to her, they can learn from her. She will teach them. With this invitation there are two questions: How long will the simple (unwise) love being so? And how long will scoffers continue to scoff and hate knowledge?

No one chooses to be a fool. Some just think they are already wise and have no need for a teacher. Instead of learning, they scoff at others. Instead of receiving wisdom and knowledge, they reject it and turn from it. Such a mindset sets a person up for many difficulties down the road. Wisdom is a willing teacher if only we are also willing students. Learning requires a willingness to admit being wrong and also to change, which can be hard, but worth it in the end.

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Learning from Your Parents

father talking to his son

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Reading the Word

Proverbs 1:8–9 (ESV)

8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
9 for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday, I posted the opening words to the Book of Proverbs. As I considered those words, I thought, “Why not spend some time in the Book of Proverbs and examine some f the things we learn there?” So, that is what I plan to do for the next several days. Let me know if you have any favorites that you want to be sure to cover because I do not plan to look at every single verse.

In today’s reading, we find one of the chief sources of wisdom that God has given us: our parents. They are with us from the very beginning and are able to teach us about life through their own learning and experiences. If we listen carefully to our parents, we can be spared much trouble in life or the need to learn things “the hard way.” I know that not every parent is a great source of wisdom. Many are not. However, proverbs are statements of general truths and parents are some of the most important teachers we have. It is wise to listen to them.

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Growing in Wisdom

Proverbs 17 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Proverbs 1:5–7 (ESV)

5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Book of Proverbs tells us that there are two kinds of people who are unwise. There are those who are unwise because they have not yet had a chance to learn and are still in process. Children would be an example of this category as they learn and grow to maturity. The second kind of unwise are the foolish. This group has had opportunities to learn and grow, but they refuse to take instruction. Instead they remain in their ignorance and suffer the consequences.

The ultimate source for wisdom is from the Creator of all things. Who better to tell us what this world is all about and how to best live in it? So, the beginning of wisdom is to “fear” the Lord. This means that we know he is there, that he deserves our worship, and that we will give an account to him for our lives. The wise person puts God at the center of all things and seeks to understand all that God has said in his word. Do not fail to grow in wisdom through neglect of the word of God. Make daily Bible reading a top priority in your life. It would be foolish to do otherwise.

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Wise in Your Own Eyes

glasses woman person face

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not include any supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 26:12–16 (ESV)

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”

14 As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.

15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.

Casting Lots

person about to catch four dices

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Reading the Word

Acts 1:12–26 (ESV)

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

and

‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Before he ascended, Jesus told the disciples that he would soon send the Holy Spirit to them. Until then, they were to wait. So that is what the disciples did. They gathered together and devoted themselves to prayer.

During this time, they realized that they were short one disciple. Judas had abandoned the group and hung himself. They needed a replacement. There were two men that fit the requirements of having been with Jesus from his baptism until his ascension. The men were Justus and Matthias. In order to decide between the two, they cast lots. The decision was Matthias.

I have heard it mentioned a few times that casting lots is the way decisions should be made in the church today. It has been argued that elders and deacons could be chosen in this way to make sure God’s choice is followed. However, I think this is a mistake.

There is nowhere else in the New Testament where the casting of lots is used or encouraged. In fact, throughout the rest of the New Testament, we are instructed to make decisions by bringing the matter before the church. We are to use the collective wisdom and discernment of the body of Christ.

It is important to note that the casting of lots was used in the Old Testament to aid in large decisions. However, with the events of Acts 2, there was a major shift taking place in the way God was working in the world. The Holy Spirit would be poured out on every believer to equip them for the work of the ministry. This was not the case in the Old Testament (or in Acts 1). Believers today have the Spirit at work within to guide in wisdom and discernment. As the collected body of Christ comes together to make decisions, we do so with the Spirit at work in our midst to guide and direct us. We have been given a great gift and a better way to make decisions than casting lots.