Dear Friends,

a) For those of you with ‘the attention span of an amnesiac goldfish’ – I read this phrase in a ‘forward’ to a new book and I’ve borrowed it – here is some good news! Proverbs.

God has much to say to us but some of it comes in one-liners ….catch phrases …. bumper stickers.

Here are seven ….
– can you safely scoop fire into your lap? (Proverbs 6:27)
– envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30)
– pride goes ….before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)
– gossip separates close friends (Proverbs 17:9)
– the wise see danger and take refuge (Proverbs 22:3)
– the righteous are as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1)
– the fear of man is a trap (Proverbs 29:25)

If you want a time alone with God why not read through Proverbs? There is one chapter for each day (of a 31 day month) or you could set yourself 12 a day. Then pray them back to God like this: ‘Lord you tell me ‘don’t be wise in your own eyes’ (3:7) but I do keep thinking I know best. Help me today to learn what I don’t know, to go with your Word and not my opinions – and help me to grow in true wisdom’, etc., etc.

b) There are 66 books in our bibles – some are history, some poetry, some gospels, some letters and some are ‘wisdom’ books.

Wisdom books, (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) focus more on how to live well and wisely in God’s world. A.W.Tozer defined wisdom as ‘walking the best path to the best goal’ – it’s more than cleverness and involves information plus doing.

Some of the biblical wisdom is ‘neat’ (or conservative) like
– fear the Lord and He will bless you
– don’t be lazy or you’ll soon be poor

Some of the biblical wisdom is ‘radical’ (or sceptical) like
– Job who was godly but suffered
– Ecclesiastes who says work is a waste of time.
We need both the neat and radical because the ‘neat’ is generally true and the ‘radical’ often true.

c) Proverbs has an introductory section on choosing wisdom not foolishness (Proverbs 1- 9) then about 700+ proverbs which may have been spoken or collected by Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:32) and fill the middle of the book (Proverbs 10 – 26) then the last few chapters introduce other proverbs from other people (Proverbs 27 – 31).

The promise of God’s blessing in Proverbs looks very like the ‘prosperity gospel’ to us (wealth, health, plenty and success, etc.) but that’s because the sign God gave of His blessing in the Old Testament was normally outward and observable. In the New Testament such blessing is inward and eternal. Col Adamson pointed out to me today (3.9.17) that God has already shown His blessing to Israel (getting into the land and experiencing plenty), so we know He is able to bless His people today. In other words God has graciously helped us see that He can and does bless His people so we will know that He can and will!

d) Here is the quote I read from last Sunday that many have asked me for.

“We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints;
we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgements; more experts, yet more problems; we have more gadgets but less satisfaction; more medicine, yet less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly; laugh too little; drive too fast, get too angry quickly; stay up too late; get up too tired; read too seldom; watch TV too much and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values; we fly in faster planes to arrive there quicker, to do less and return sooner; we sign more contracts only to realise fewer profits; we talk too much, love too seldom and lie too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life’ we’ve added years to life, not life to years.” Dr Bob Moorhead

Simon Manchester

P.S. I am having two week’s holiday from this Friday and will return renewed – since ‘gracious words are a honeycomb’ (Proverbs 16:24) and you deserve them from me.