"Where Beauty Begins" painting by Jon Rattenbury

Today: Proverbs 3:11-20; Matthew 19:16-30; Job 8, 9, & 10

Proverbs 3

“Blessed is the person who finds wisdom, one who obtains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13

Today’s verses are my favorite in all of Proverbs. There was this little worship song we used to sing in the 80s based on this passage:

Lord, you are more precious than silver.
Lord, you are more costly than gold.
Lord, you are more beautiful than diamonds.
Nothing I desire compares with you.

I love this simple little song, but it only begins to reveal the beauty of this wonderful Proverb. JESUS is the personification of wisdom and knowledge. This Proverb is actually about him. People who really find Jesus are indeed blessed. Jesus is our life, our riches and honor. His ways are pleasant and full of peace.

What beautiful imagery this passage contains. I’m a total sucker for nature images… nature is where I worship God the most passionately. John tells us that all of Creation was created through Jesus Christ. He is our tree of life. By his knowledge the ocean depths were burst open, and the clouds drip with dew. Can you see it? Beautiful!

Matthew 19 – The Rich Young Ruler

When the rich young ruler asks Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do so that I may obtain eternal life?” Jesus begins by giving the answer the young ruler was hoping for. “Keep the commandments.”

I can just picture the young man proudly puffing himself up, preening in his fancy clothes, as Jesus answers.

“I’ve done all these things,” the man replies, “What am I still lacking?” He was hoping Jesus would respond with a palm smack high five and say, “Well my partner, you’re good then!!” and he could get on with his merry little wealthy life with a shiny new “JESUS APPROVED!” medal around his neck.

But nope. Jesus knew exactly what god this young man worshipped. His next response tackled this false idol of money. “Go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” A lot of people finish this Bible story right here with lectures of the dangers of greed. But that misses Jesus’ most important point. Jesus ends by saying, “…and come follow me.” THAT is the REAL answer to the question.

Everybody is looking for formulas, 5 steps to eternal life, “Following Jesus for Dummies.” Just tell me the URL where I can go purchase my heaven ticket! But it doesn’t work that way. There is no formula. There is only Jesus. There are no steps to follow. It’s personal. Jesus tells each one of us to “come, follow me.” What comes before and after that is between you and Jesus. If you seek him, he will show you what those things are in your life that are blocking your relationship with him.

The kingdom of heaven is a turned around, upside down place where the “first will be last; and the last, first…” where all the rules we’ve learned in this physical world do not apply. The rich, the elite, the popular, the beautiful don’t rule the kingdom of heaven because none of those things are important there. The kingdom of heaven is a world of soul and spirit. The greatest treasure in the kingdom of heaven, and in our own muddled up world, is Jesus. And he is FREE to everyone who wants him.

"Man Asking God" painting by Pawan Saini

Job 8, 9, & 10

… and the long-winded conversation between Job and his friends continues. It’s synopsis time!

Bildad: C’mon man! Job, my good buddy, how long are you gonna keep farting this malarky outa your mouth?? Of course you’ve sinned and God is punishing you! That’s how it always works! Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m right.

Job: Okay look, Bill, I admit you’re kinda’ right. God IS in charge. He made all of this and he can do what he wants with it. God is indeed the one who has inflicted me with all these troubles, I’ll grant you that one, Billy boy. I am no match for God. God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do… but I’m still gonna grumble about it a little. I’m still gonna ask God, why?!

It’s okay to ask God why. It’s okay be honest with him. He knows how you feel anyway so why not? Sometimes when things are really tough, we have to struggle through the whys and the bitterness. But Jesus is still right there whispering for us to “Come, follow me.”  And if we will only do this — give him our questions, our anger, and our unforgiveness — he, in return, will give us his spiritual riches and the wisdom of eternal vision. For although we do occasionally suffer terribly in this life, we WILL inherit the kingdom of heaven. It is already ours for the taking, right now, if we will only receive it.