As we are in week 2 of our Read Proverbs 8 times in 8 weeks Challenge. Here’s a little package of five proverbs that were put together by Solomon that I came across and a story that may help us grow wiser…

Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

Avoid all perverse talk; stay far from corrupt speech.

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe.

Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.


Proverbs 17:24 NLT

As I read this package my ears perked up when I saw the stuff about ‘fix your eyes.’ Our theme for this year is all about our eyes and what we put them on. As I was meditating on this proverb I realized that it was part of a bigger context…it related to guarding the heart.

Last week, I was a a gathering with the folks who are putting together the DRIVEN conference this year (check details below or here ). One of our friends there was in Cambodia for a couple of weeks at the turn of the year. He was telling us stories about the trip, the advantages of a Land Rover over a Hummer, the motobikes, and on and on. Great stories.

I was compelled by the one thing he kept saying over and over. Never go off the path. He explained by saying that in the war that ravaged the country there were thousands and thousands of land mines that were buried. Many of them have never been detonated. People today still are maimed or killed by them as they accidentally set them off.

So DON’T go off the path has a lot of impact there. Their experience is a huge teacher. They get it…damage or death may lie just a few feet from the edge of the path. So wisdom for a Cambodian is definitely….

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe.

Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

The same is true spiritually. There is damage and death that lies just off the path of following Jesus. It may or may not show itself like a removed limb or a funeral, but it’s reality is all the same.

Let’s be wise…let’s guard our hearts and our lives…let’s keep our eyes on Jesus.

As we kick off our Read Proverbs 8 times in 8 weeks Challenge I wanted to pass on a Proverb that I uncovered this week. I think it speaks to our theme and to wisdom…

Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom,

but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. Proverbs 17:24 NLT

As we walk places with the kids, I’m amazed how many weapons, toys and treasures they find among the rocks, sticks and trash we walk by. I’m thinking about a time a couple of weeks ago (when it was warm enough to walk!) when we were walking a block or so from our house. We were going to pick up some sour cream for mommy, and I had in mind to get some ice cream…in addition to the sour stuff.

As everyone bounded out the front door, they were entranced by the sticks that were laying on the ground. They miraculously turned into swords. As I was walking and telling them that if they kept up with me, there would be a treat. Well, they dropped the sticks and started running. In fact, on the way home, I think I finished in last place again.

The kids are catching on. In times past, they would have kept poking along having fun with the sticks…but not moving forward…and not getting to that treat any faster! But they didn’t care…they were having fun with the sticks. Well, now they are gluing their eyes on the treat…not to sticks.

I think this relates to me…more than just in my parenting. Our eyes are drawn by so many things. We watch a teleVISION. Billboards are posted everywhere. Images are carefully crafted to cause emotion…for us to buy things or to eat things or to think a certain way about things. It is really easy for our eyes to wander.

For example, my father-in-law went to the Auto show in Detroit last weekend. He brought home a couple of the magazine/books with the new model cars in it. I was leafing through them and it wasn’t long till my thoughts ran toward wanting something other than our current Escort Wagon and 7 passenger van.

Many things are calling for your eyes. LOOK AT ME…they scream. Wisdom doesn’t seem to yell quite as loud. But where we put our eyes is where we run…

Consider this verse again…

…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus… Hebrews 12:1b-2a NLT

As we do the Ancient Wisdom Series in the INSTITUTE through the Proverbs, we want to give the challenge to anyone & everyone to read the book of Proverbs 8 times in the 8 weeks from January 16 to March 12. There is a checklist posted so you print it and keep track!  Click here

If you complete the challenge, we will give you a special prize!

You may be wondering how Proverbs relates to our theme this year>>keeping our eyes on Jesus. Check out this verse:

So Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.

 Luke 2:52 NLT

 

One of the markers about Jesus’ earthly life was that he grew in wisdom. That should motivate us whether we are young or old…to be wise like Jesus.

Jesus’ wisdom wasn’t just a head thing. It was noticed by others. I think it was part of the reason why so many followed him. Here was a guy who knew how the world worked…and didn’t walk around in religious garb trying to tell everyone else how to live. He was wise…but only in his thirties! That was shocking.

Here’s an story that illustrates that…

Jesus returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was astonished and said, “Where does he get his wisdom…” Matthew 13:54 NLT

The people recognized Jesus’ wisdom. He stunned the people from his hometown. Jesus pursued His Father’s wisdom throughout His life. We can keep our eyes on Jesus by pursuing wisdom…like He did.

It’s winter time and so it’s time to curl up with a good book. Why not curl up with the words from the wisest man in the world?

This challenge will get you through the dreary winter, Groundhogs day, Valentine’s day, through February, into March and almost to St. Patrick’s Day. In addition, you’ll be pursuing wisdom which has benefit for the rest of your life. I hope you’ll take the…

 Read Proverbs 8 times in 8 weeks Challenge

Happy New Year!

Here we roll into a new year. The turn of the calendar is a good time to revisit a theme for the upcoming year. Over the last few years we’ve had a variety of themes. Last year it was “we are Jesus’ ambassadors,” the year before it was PRAY>GO>SOW>LEAD>Urgently and the year before that was the “Year of the Seed.”

God lead us to a theme this year that will be challenging & comforting. It will be focusing and framing. It will be something that is a great seed for many applications in our lives. I’m gonna be excited to see what happens this year as we do it together.

Oh, I forgot to tell you because I was going on and on…

keeping our eyes on Jesus

It rises out of Hebrews 12:1-3:

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. 3Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. (NLT)

There are great depths to which we will go this year in learning about keeping our eyes on Jesus…but the thing I’m convinced that he really wants from me…and from you… is simply for us to keep our eyes on Him..

Won’t you let this scripture trickle down over your soul for awhile sometime this week? Just read these verses or read Hebrews chapters 11-12. Take some time to meditate on this passage… and meditate on how we can be keeping our eyes on Jesus!

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