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Awaken 2019: A Wise Heart

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“My son, if your heart is wise, my own heart also will be glad; and my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.” - Proverbs 23:15-16

The Bible reveals to us numerous characteristics that shape our perspective of God—Provider, Healer, Friend, Comforter — but the most personal of them all is Father. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray in the Gospel of Matthew, He astounded them by sharing that they could address God as Father (Matthew 6:9).  The writer of Romans, Paul, said this to the believers in Rome: 

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” - Romans 8:15

This is an unbelievable reality! There is nothing like the heart a loving father has for his child, and that is the relationship we have with God. One of the books in the Old Testament, the book of Proverbs, is arranged as words of wisdom from a loving father to his son. We can read this book of the Bible as a letter from our Heavenly Father to us as His children. Today’s verses address this father’s desire for his child to possess a heart of wisdom (v. 15). 

Contrary to the perspective of our culture, wisdom does not begin with books, degrees, or experience. True wisdom begins with God – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). A life of wisdom cannot be detached from God. Everything He says is wise. All His plans are perfect. His commands are right. His design for living is best. When we are living with wisdom, we are seeing life from God’s perspective. John Macarthur summarizes this reality by saying,

“Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord and continues by acknowledging His truth and ways. Turning from foolishness to wisdom is turning from self to God.” 

There are two ways a person can live: foolish or wise. A life of foolishness comes natural to us, but wisdom can only come from God. In Proverbs 23, the father’s desire for his child and in turn God’s desire for us is that we live according to the way He designed us to live. In 2019, may we pursue a heart of wisdom and heed the warning of Ephesians 5 which says,

“Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” - Ephesians 5:15-16                   

In conclusion, take some time to read and reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you have a biblical perspective on the source of wisdom? See James 1:5
  • Are you seeking wisdom through a passionate pursuit of intimacy with God? See Jeremiah 29:13
  • Have you been walking in foolishness rather than wisdom? See Hebrews 12:1-3

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Awaken 2019: A Refined Heart

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“The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts.” - Proverbs 17:3

A refining pot or crucible is unfamiliar to most of us in 21stcentury America, but it was a common item in biblical times. A refining pot was a durable piece of ceramic that could be heated to very high temperatures in a furnace or on an open flame. During that time, when a metalworker wanted to purify gold or silver, he or she would put the metal into a refining pot and heat it until the metal liquified. Once the refining pot was heated, the impurities would be forced to the surface and become visible. As the impurities rose, they were removed, and more heat was applied. This process continued until the precious metal was pure. The metalworkerknew the gold or silver was pure when he looked into the liquid metal within the refining pot and saw his reflection.

In today’s passage from Proverbs 17, the process of refining precious metal is used to illustrate the work God does in our hearts. God applies heat by exposing our weaknesses, our struggles, and aspects of our life that do not reflect His life. Heat is both hot and uncomfortable, but as it is applied in our lives, we are conformed more into the image of God.  

God’s desire is to shape our lives in such a way that when people look at us, they see Him. He loves us enough to take us through the slow and sometimes painful process of purification. As a result of this process, our faith is strengthened, and our lives are refined. We can all look back at difficult moments on our Christian journey and identify painful but necessary ways that God refined our hearts.

Another example of the refining process is when diamonds are formed in nature. The formation of natural diamonds requires temperatures over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and extreme pressures 90 miles below the surface. A good friend of our church, Pastor Gregg Matte, describes that process by saying, No pressure, no diamond.”

Regardless of where you are spiritually in God’s divine refining process, you can be encouraged by this today: the unexpected circumstances and periods of “pressure” in your life, that you desperately want to change, are often what God uses in order to change you.

In conclusion, take some time to read and reflect on the following questions:

  • How has your heart become hard to the voice of God? See Hebrews 3:15
  • When is a time your faith was strengthened that you can look back on now and thank God? See Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:28
  • Do you need to change your perspective of a current circumstance in light of God’s divine process of refinement?  

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