Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: What a Life of Shalom Looks Like
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 3:1-8 in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).
A long time ago in a place far far away, I learned a principle in math class. The principle was this: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I’ve never had an aptitude for arithmetic, but this simple concept made total sense to me. Of course! If there’s any curve in the line, that would necessarily make the line longer! Duh!
As I read this verse there’s a supposition. The supposition is that the path I am currently on isn’t straight. I’m taking the long way around.
Most of us don’t take straight paths. Most of us meander to the left and to the right, finding ourselves in cul-de-sacs, dead ends, and byways that lead to nowhere.
This can be frustrating. Just recently, my wife requested that I replace all our bedroom ceiling lights with ceiling fan/light combinations. I’m a man who likes to tinker around the house, so I gladly ran down to Home Depot and bought three beautiful fans.
When I got home, I took out all the components from the first box and laid all the pieces on the guest bed. I assessed my situation, quickly figured out how to proceed, and proceeded. I was nearly finished with the project when my wife handed me a critical part of the whole assembly. I had to take the whole fan/light apart and put it together again in order to use all the parts provided.
This wasn’t a big deal. It was just a lamp and 30 minutes of wasted time. Things like this do become a big deal when we aren’t dealing with a lamp but with a marriage or raising a child or with a life. In the weighty matters of life, it’s not as easy to take things apart and put them back together again. Sometimes crooked paths do irreparable harm.
Submitting to the Father can make paths straight. In Jesus’ words, doing life like He suggested in the Sermon on the Mount is like building your house on a rock versus the sand; taking a straight path versus taking a crooked one.
Recalibrate: How many times have you rushed to get finished only to realize the job would have been done better if you had taken your time and followed the directions, or put more thought into the project? Share your experience. Did you learn anything from it?
Respond: Pray these words: “Father, help me to breathe deep the Spirit that will lead me into patient submission.”
Research: A laugh that many can resonate with. Read How Building IKEA Furniture Nearly Destroyed My Marriage by Steve Tate.
Remember: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
Play a game of Help Please with your child today. To play this game you should ask for help with whatever you are doing. Ask for help to unpack the dishwasher. Ask for help to read a book. Ask for help to prepare a snack. I know you can do these things on your own and probably a lot faster than with a small child in the mix, however it is in the doing it together that relationship is built. God does not need us to do stuff for Him but He longs to do stuff with us. That is how relationships are built. Just like our children listen and learn from us, we can listen and learn from Him. Lean into His wisdom and learn.
The Words to Remember this week say, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3, ICB). How in the world would you write on your heart?! Even if you knew an experienced doctor or surgeon, I don’t think they would recommend opening you up and writing on your heart! That would be crazy. I think what the Bible is trying to tell us is that by writing something on our hearts, we are keeping it super duper close to us. It’s something that is so important that it belongs right on our hearts. Make two necklaces. You can use paper or cardboard and string. Whatever you can find. Write “Love” on one and “Faithfulness” on the other. Wear them around a little bit today!
When I was younger we had this cat named Ziggy who got into a bad fight with another neighborhood cat who lived across the street. After the battle, Ziggy had a deep scratch on his nose that did not heal very well so we took him to the veterinarian to get stitched up. They recommended we give him medicine twice a day and keep a plastic cone on his neck until the scratch had healed. I’m sure you know the kind of cone I’m talking about; it’s white plastic and sticks out past the animal’s head by a few inches so that they can’t touch their head with their feet or any wall.
That poor cat wandered around the house bumping into things and meowing impatiently every time he wanted to clean himself only to find he couldn’t reach past the outside of the cone’s edge.
The thing about the cone is that once it’s lashed onto a cat’s neck, the cone decides what the cat can see or do, and it determines where the cat can and can’t go. The cone becomes part of the cat’s world for better or for worse.
In Proverbs 3:3, we read about how Solomon calls for us to put on a cone of our own. Only this one isn’t to keep us from licking our paws!
The Message Bible says it this way, “Do not lose your grip on love and loyalty. Tie them around your neck.”
What do you think would change in your life if you tied the ideas of love and loyalty around your neck like a cone? How would you see the world differently? How would doing so limit the way you move around the world? How would doing so change your life for the better?
I have recently discovered that my employer is making me leave my church to go to seminary to finish my education as a pastor. When I first heard the news, the bitterness of the situation made me start to fantasize about how easy my life would be if I wasn’t a pastor. The what-ifs began to pile up in my head! “If I was a this or a that and I could just live in one place forever!” As I have taken time to process what is happening in my life, I realize I began to have these thoughts and doubts because I am afraid of the future. I don’t know what my life will look like in three months and I truly don’t know what it will look like in three years when I’m finished. It seems like all I have right now is uncertainty. But that is a lie. I have something more than uncertainty; I have faith. I know that God has put me on this earth for a reason and He will not forsake me. I like how Proverbs 3:3 say to not let faithfulness forsake us. The truth is, faith is faithful! Our faith is a sure thing as long as we remember to have it. I want to encourage you today not to forsake faithfulness. Be faithful to God, remember Him in your coming and your going, your waking and your sleeping. He is faithful. He is a sure thing.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Kyle Smith is associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.