Rules of Pit Dwelling

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I’m always the “let’s look at the bright side of things” girl. Maybe out of survival for all the things I’ve experienced or endured or maybe I was just born that way. Honestly, it’s probably a little bit of both. I’ve read Proverbs since I was a child, but as I approached it this time around there was one proverb that felt as if the type had been bolded just for me.

Singing songs to a troubled heart is like taking off clothing on a cold day or like pouring vinegar on soda. Proverbs 25:20

Sometimes, people don’t need an answer, or a solution or a “don’t worry, be happy” song. They just need someone to cry with. Solomon wisely explains that to a weeping person, stories of unicorns and daisies can be damaging and make things worse than they already are. I know that I don’t always enjoy it when someone brings sunshine to my rainy day. There are times I just need a short pity party. We certainly don’t ever want to take our clothes off on a cold day or pour soda and vinegar together in our kitchen so it explodes into a grand mess we spend hours cleaning. We want to bundle up in extra clothes on a cold day and do what we can to keep the kitchen clean so we have time for what’s important.

It occurs to me that Solomon’s illustrations are similar to Jesus’s teachings. Teachings filled with great illustrations of common things we can relate to that teach us valuable lessons.

We always hear, “Stay out or get out of the pit” it’s a dangerous place to go. Not surprisingly, I have a different angle on the pit. I’m all for the pit, with guidelines. I think we all reach a place now and then in life where we can benefit from getting in the pit and rolling around in our grief or misery. However, you can only go if you know you are able to get out after a few hours. You can’t stay. (If you suffer from depression – this is not for you – stay far way from the edge of the pit) It’s like a mini-vacation. . . . OK, a bad mini vacation where it rains every day and the food is yucky. If you stay longer than that, your misery and pain can become an idol that sits higher on your priority list than God.

Rules of Pit Dwelling: You have to know you are going and ask a prayer warrior to pray for you. For example: I will say, “Ok, Kirsten I’m in the pit today. Having a little pity party for myself and rolling around in my “yuck”, but I’m not planning on staying, redecorating and having cocktails. I just need to sit in this for a while, feel it and embrace it. I’m coming out tomorrow after God and I work through some things, but please pray for me and call me tomorrow and check on me to make sure I’m out”

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

I don’t want her to talk me out of going. I don’t want her to tell me why I shouldn’t go. I just want her to pray for me and love me enough to make sure I climb out after the weeping. If you have never been in the pit, I envy you. If you have, I pray you can identify when you are in it and can climb out quickly after gaining strength through the Lord. If you ever sit in that pit, I pray you know it’s OK, you are only human and God is beside you, but please ask others to pray for you while you are there and hold you accountable to climb out quickly.

We can go there, but we can’t stay!

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Decayed Foundation

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As I watch this country I love meander and struggle to cling to the roots it was founded on, I pray God will direct the paths of our leaders, open the eyes of its citizens and restore this nation (that was founded on God) for direction, peace, provision and protection. So often as I sit and read all that is going on in this country and our world, I ponder over what I can do and honestly I’m overcome with a sense of helplessness. Helplessness in the sense that there is nothing I can do, but hope in knowing God is in control and nothing happens without His hand upon the details.

All that said, this verse stung my heart as I read it today.

When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

In the chronological Bible, this Psalm comes before 2 Chronicles 7 where we find Solomon has completed the temple his father David and the Lord instructed him to build. Once completed, it says the Lord appeared to Solomon and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a temple of sacrifice. If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  (2 Chronicles 7:12-14) . . . . . .

However, if you turn away and abandon My statutes and My commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them, and this temple that I have sanctified for My name I will banish from My presence; I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples. (2 Chronicles 7:19-22)

I pray you will read 2 Chronicles 7 in its entirety, but in a nut shell is says this: If we humble ourselves before God, seek Him and pray He will offer forgiveness and heal our land. However, if we turn away from Him, His statutes and commands (as I feel our country has done) we will be uprooted. This is God’s warning to Israel and I feel we should all (as Christians and citizens of this great country) take a closer look at His warning for our own country.

I don’t have a lot of facts and figures to add to this. There are plenty of blogs by people much more intellectual and math minded that can offer you that information if you seek it. However, I can offer you the words and thoughts God has placed on my heart for this great nation and all of us in it. I pray as we ponder, “What can the righteous do as the foundation is destroyed?” that God will lead us deeper into His word and offer us all the wisdom, peace and direction we crave for our families and the generations to come.

 

Pomegranates

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I love a pomegranates. They are a bear to peel, extract the seeds and enjoy, but worth the effort to keep cool and nibble on throughout the day. If you have never bought one and had the fresh plump seeds inside, put it on this week’s grocery list and give it a try. So what does this have to do with the Bible?

Well, as I read over and over again in 1 Kings 7-8 how Solomon had the pomegranate etched in the pillars of the temple I wondered more about this strange fruit. Around 200 pomegranates were etched here and 400 there within the walls and I began to ponder the significance of the pomegranate to King Solomon and the Israelites as they rebuilt God’s great temple in Jerusalem.

Back in Exodus 28:33-34 it says, “Make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn on its lower hem and all around it. Put gold bells between them all the way around, 34 so that gold bells and pomegranates alternate around the lower hem of the robe.”

And in 2 Chronicles 3:16, “He had made chainwork in the inner sanctuary and also put it on top of the pillars. He made 100 pomegranates and fastened them into the chainwork”

Who knew? This is the beauty of God’s word. It breathes, it offers wisdom and new insights each time we read it. It never grows stale, weary or out of date. Within the text, we see that pomegranate has great significance in the Jewish tradition or it certainly would not have been all over holy places. Many scholars even believe the pomegranate was the “forbidden fruit” that Adam and Eve gave into while in the Garden of Eden. Not only that, like many others things in the Bible, there is a numerical symbolism as well. Jewish tradition says that this amazing fruit is a symbol of righteousness because like the 613 commandments of the Torah (the law of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures), the pomegranate also as 613 seeds. Now, I’ve never taken the time to count this for myself. I’m just going with what most scholars say and trusting in those Jewish scholars.

Because of all those seeds the pomegranate also represents knowledge, fruitfulness, fertility and wisdom. Its healing effects are also believed to help remedy and aid in many illnesses including prostate cancer, infant brain injury and male infertility.

In Song of Solomon it is the pomegranate fields where he wants to proclaim his love.

Let’s go early to the vineyards; let’s see if the vine has budded, if the blossom has opened, if the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. (7:12)

In Deuteronomy 8:7-8 we see this lush fruit is one of the great promised land of the Israelites after their desert wanderings are complete.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey;

So, yes! Pomegranates were very important and symbolic fruit. This is one of the great ways to study and dig deeper into scripture as you read it. Notice repetition, what seems unusual to you or stands out, dig deeper, discover and unlock the deeper meaning so that God’s word can come alive in and stay rooted in your heart. As you seek to understand His ways and the mysteries of His word He becomes more alive and real to you. I pray you begin to thirst for Him in ways you never imagined and He opens the eyes of your heart to amazing ways.

Seeking What?

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if you seek it [wisdom] like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:4-6

Throughout Proverbs, Solomon speaks of wisdom. Reminding us often that we are to seek wisdom only from God and not ourselves (Proverbs 3) and that we should hold onto wisdom tightly and guard it (Proverbs 4:13). I wonder how our lives would look if we sought out God’s wisdom like we do fortune, approval from others, high paying salaries or the newest toys. So often, in this flesh, we are seeking things such as: happiness, contentment, more money, financial security, pleasure and wisdom but from the wrong source. How often do we go to God who is the ultimate and only provider of perfect discoveries, contentment, security and wisdom? More often, we skip God all together and seek it through our own doing and by the world’s guidance.

Solomon describes wisdom in two very unique ways in chapters 7 & 9 of Proverbs. First, we see him describe wisdom as a sister.

Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your relative. She will keep you from a forbidden woman, a stranger with her flattering talk. Proverbs 7:4-5

In other words, keep wisdom as close as your sibling (or as close as God intended siblings to be). When you do this, wisdom will keep you from making foolish mistakes like adultery as Proverbs 7 goes on to explain. Solomon also describes wisdom as a house with seven pillars. Seven being the number of perfection so we should say, “the perfect house.”

Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out her seven pillars. She has prepared her meat; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her female servants; she calls out from the highest points of the city: “Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!” To the one who lacks sense, she says, “Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave inexperience behind, and you will live; pursue the way of understanding. Proverbs 9:1-6

Wisdom is inviting you to attend a feast in her perfect home. The table is set and she is calling to you to enter and leave all “inexperience” behind so that you can pursue understanding. What a beautiful image. Will you leave behind inexperience today and chart a new course towards gaining wisdom and understanding of God’s word and will for you? He has so much to offer if only we would enter and sit at the table before Him with our hearts open and ready to receive. Will you seek Him and trust in His provision?

 

The Inexperienced

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The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. The Lord guards the inexperienced; I was helpless, and He saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:5-7

As I read Psalm 116, the word “inexperienced” caught my eye. The Holoman Study Bible says that the inexperienced “are naïve people, usually young who are uncommitted, they lack common sense and prefer folly over wisdom.” (pg. 1031) I feel as though I am living proof of these words David lived out and penned so long ago. Without a doubt, I know that the Lord does, indeed, guard the inexperienced. In my young adult life I believed I was a true Christian, but was so inexperienced, so naïve, selfish, so willing to sit on the fence instead of take a stand for Jesus.

In short, I was helpless. Thank goodness God saved me. After looking for love in all the wrong places, using business and partying to keep my mind off past and present sin, and being chained by the guilt and shame that comes along with all that sin . . . . . God saved me. As I began to read and study His written word, He came alive to me for the first time. I no longer sat on the side lines and allowed others to tell me about God. I got to know Him for myself. After a few years of that, there was no turning back. God busted through every chain that had bound me and put my soul at rest. Be careful not to misinterpret those words. My heart has cried out, been broken by sadness, overcome with fear, doubt and anger at times in the journey, but my soul . . . my soul rest in God. He saved me and continues to save me every single day (sometimes every hour of every day).

Are you feeling inexperienced? Like you need a little saving? Please dive into His word. This blog is a great start. Bible study is a great start, but get into the Bible and read His word for yourself*. The Bible sitting on your shelf is the living is the breathing word of God. He is waiting for you to pick it up and discover His mysteries of forgiveness, love, grace, compassion and provision. I promise it’s there. All those things. They are there. His Word will give you understanding (Psalm 119:130), teach you to be shrewd (Proverbs 8:5) and most of all help you leave inexperience behind (Proverbs 9:6). I have savored the mysteries and promises of His word and cling to them in every aspect of my life. Will you run to Him, cling to Him and allow Him to save you, redeem you and bring rest to your soul?

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: For learning what wisdom and discipline are; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving wise instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man— Proverbs 1:1-4

*If you are looking for a good Bible study on how to study the Bible on your own that is relevant and doable please check out In the Mi[God]dle.