Because May can be as busy as December,
we’re going to slow the pace:
not just so that more can keep up,
but so that we may see more.
It’s the difference between
speeding down a road and strolling down it.
You see so much more when you slow down!
Each day I’m going to ask you
“Where did you spy God
in the last twenty-four hours?”
Then contemplate how you have and
share it with your sisters!
It can be as simple as something you were thankful for,
for every good gift is from Him.
We’re going to delve into Proverbs,
looking at only one topic in May: friendship.
To approach proverbs wisely, we not only need some help
in how to interpret Proverbs, but we also
need the power to obey. Take, for example, this proverb:
One principle of interpretation of a proverb is seeing how often parallelism is used, and how it provides light. Slow down and ask: “How is a ring of gold in a swine’s snout like a beautiful woman without discretion?” And we may need to find out what “discretion” is. This is why we are slowing down!
Once we understand a proverb, we need the power to obey. We can’t just slap our hand when we lack discretion because we’ve had a potty mouth or talked too much, we need power from on high. All world religions have proverbs, but only Christianity can give power from on high.
Take my friend whom I’ll call Susi. Once she swore all the time. But after coming to Christ, He simply took that from her, and in that area she instantly became a beautiful woman with discretion. She knew the power was from Him. But usually, it is a process, like growth is a process. We need to keep coming to Him, asking for help, we need to keep abiding in the Vine, and one day we will see that He has pruned away the bad fruit, and grown in its place good fruit. He makes us beautiful women with discretion.
For those new to the “God Hunt,” here’s first, my reasoning on why you should develop the habit. When our children were little, Karen and David Mains taught us how to help them spy God. We often asked them to share at the dinner table. I now see how valuable that habit was. When God seems absent — we look back and see countless times of His presence in the past. So each day record a God Hunt — it could be as simple as a song or a scene that touched your heart, but here are 5 specific suggestions on where to look:
1. A specific answer to prayer
I pray Scripture for myself and for my children, and recently, that “the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know the hope to which we have been called” (Colossians 1:18) and have been seeing real growth and passion in some of my children!
2. God’s Power or Artistry in Creation
I had hoped for daisies by Easter, instead, I got a giant ice shove from Lake MIchigan. It jumped over the protective rock wall my parents put in place in the 1970s. This has never happened before. (This is my friend Twila on top of the ice shove in my yard.) And while this is both a cause for prayer (against flooding and damage) it also puts me in awe of God’s power. For when I went to bed I had grass, and when I woke up I had a mountain of ice.
3. Unusual Timing or Circumstances
Two years ago I agreed to do a retreat for a Methodist church in Georgia, and I thought: The Methodists need rescuing, I’m going to go rescue them. And though it is true many North American Methodist churches have lost their roots, this church did not need rescuing but instead rescued me. They were so alive that I asked them to help me film the video curriculum for The Jesus Who Surprises. They were wonderful, and were clear evidence that we belong to a Jesus who surprises!
4. Help To Do His Work in The World
How often help comes just when I need it as a widow. In trying to get to speaking engagements. how often I’ve been rescued from car trouble! And then there’s the way God confirms His will through the likemindedness of praying friends. It’s so exciting when the same Spirit says the same thing. When we prayed about who would share at the Christmas tea, God told three of us the name of the same woman.
5. A Verse Becomes Radioactive
A passage jumps out at you, giving you conviction, wisdom, insight, or encouragement. This will happen often with Proverbs, which Tim Keller describes as “smelling salts to startle you into alertness.” I can still remember how Proverbs rescued me as a young mom, showing me I had better start disciplining my strong-willed child. This is the verse that did it from the original Living Bible: “If you refuse to discipline your son, you will ruin his life.” Proverbs 13:12
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Where have you seen God in the last twenty-four hours? (Use one of the categories above or come up with your own.)
Monday: Parallelism in Proverbs
Before we look at friendship in Proverbs, a few basics for interpreting proverbs.
3. Where have you seen God at work in the last twenty-four hours? (Your God Hunt)
Key also in understanding proverbs is to understand the poetic use of parallelism. A truth if repeated, often, in a different way in a second phrase to give you additional insight. Or sometimes, a truth is contrasted to show you that proverbs are not promises, but probabilities and that you may need the Spirit to show you which response is the wiser one in a specific situation. (“a” refers to the first part of a verse, “b” the second part.)
4. Meditate on Proverbs 1:7.
A. In the first phrase (Proverbs 1:7a) what is the beginning of knowledge? Why do you think this is? Contemplate!
B. How is the truth of the first phrase of Proverbs 1:7 repeated in a different way in the second phrase (Proverbs 1:7b)?
C. When have you despised wisdom and discipline and reaped the rewards of a fool?
5. Where is an area of life where you would like to grow in wisdom? Ask God for it here.
Tuesday: The Source of Wisdom
6. Where have you seen God at work in the last twenty-four hours? (Your God Hunt)
In her study on Proverbs, Lydia Brownback warns against using the book of Proverbs as a “spiritualized means of self-improvement.” If we disconnect proverbs “from its divine source, it will prove hollow.” That’s what Solomon did, to his demise. Again and again, throughout Proverbs, you will hear the voice of wisdom calling out to you. Who is this voice?
7. Where is wisdom to be found, according to Colossians 2:2-3?
8. How can you glimpse Jesus in the following passages from Proverbs 8?
A. Proverbs 8:22-31 (Go slowly.)
B. Proverbs 8:32-36
9. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom for today, so that you might embrace life and not death. Be still before Him and write down what He impresses on your heart.
Wednesday: Proverbs are Probabilities and Not Promises
10. Where have you seen God at work in the last twenty-four hours? (Your God Hunt)
It is also important to know that the Hebrew word for Proverb means a “pithy saying.” Proverbs are not promises, but probabilities. For example, if you train up a child in the way he should go, he is likely to stick with it. But it isn’t a promise, he still has a free will. This means that we need to ask the Spirit for wisdom in applying the proverbs, for sometimes, what is right in one circumstance is not in another. There are times to speak, and times to be silent, as Proverbs 26:4-5 shows us.
11. Read Proverbs 26:4
A. Why might it be wise to be silent when a fool baits you, according to this verse?
B. Can you give an illustration of this?
12. Read Proverbs 26:5
A. Why might it be wise to speak up when a foolish thing is said by another?
B. How can we know when to speak and when to be silent in the face of foolishness?
Thursday: Proverbs Stress Listening to God
13. Where have you seen God at work in the last twenty-four hours? (Your God Hunt)
In many ways, as we saw yesterday, proverbs are riddles. But when we cry out to God for wisdom and listen, He will give us insight into how to apply a proverb. This is combining the Word of God with the Spirit of God, and together, they will put you on the right path.
14. Read Proverbs 1:1-4 and list what studying proverbs can do for you.
15. Read Proverbs 1:5-6
A. What does verse 5 tell us?
B. What are some ways you hear from the Lord’s Spirit?
C. Verse 6 says that proverbs are riddles. What is a riddle?
D. Why is it wise to ask the Spirit of God to help us understand proverbs?
Friday: Word Pictures to Penetrate the Heart
16. Where have you seen God at work in the last twenty-four hours? (Your God Hunt)
Proverbs are filled with word pictures to penetrate the heart.
17. Read Proverbs 1:20-33 and describe the scene, imagining drawing it, and describe some of the images that stand out to you.
18. What was your best God Hunt of the week?
19. What will you remember about this week and why?