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Christian Education Devotionals (98)

These devotionals were originally written by Hope PR Christian School (Walker, MI) teacher Brian D. Dykstra for his fellow teachers. They are posted here for their broader significance and for broader use by Christian parents and other Christian school teachers.

Mercy and Truth

Mercy and Truth

Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)

*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 3:3-4: “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about they neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding the sight of God and man.”

In Proverbs 3, Solomon continues giving instruction to his son. The son is instructed in various duties in a godly life. Here Solomon is concerned with mercy and truth, two attributes of God which can be reflected by man.

Mercy is God’s will that His people are blessed by Him so they experience His covenant fellowship. Mercy is shown to those who do not deserve it. Think of a miserable prisoner who deserves a terrible punishment for a crime, who knows the judge would be totally just in executing a terrible punishment upon him, but who finds himself to be spared for no other reason than that it is the judge’s will. Mercy is also shown by those who stand in authority. It is the judge who shows mercy toward the condemned, not the condemned who shows mercy toward the judge.

Truth is what is right. Reality is accurately and completely stated with no desire to bend or twist the facts for one’s advantage. A truthful man will not use words in a way to deceive or deny the meaning of words. Getting an accurate answer from a truthful man will not require a careful definition of the word “is.”

Mercy and truth go together. A judge who disregards the fact of the committing of a crime, who pays no attention to the established laws and the punishments due to be given to those who break them, or who pays no attention to the facts or evidence in a case so he can allow the prisoner to go free, will not be called merciful. He will be thought of as negligent of his duties. A judge who pays strict attention to law, stridently executes punishment upon the guilty and passes out the maximum penalty at every opportunity, will be known as truthful but also as being hard as flint.

God is a different kind of judge. When God sets the guilty free, He can do so without being negligent. The Lord’s justice has not been violated or ignored. Jehovah has provided His Son who is able to suffer the most terrible punishment on our behalf. God can show His mercy without disregarding the truth of our guilt.

We are not to allow mercy and truth to forsake us. We cannot let them leave, just as Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and would not let him go until the Angel blessed him. As members of God’s church, we can only experience the blessing of fellowship within the bounds of mercy and truth. What would church life be without them?

Far from letting mercy and truth forsake us, we are told to bind them about our neck. This is a tight binding too. It is the type of binding you would use on a man who was a conspirator and you have captured him. He is a valuable prisoner because if he would escape, the safety of the king is in peril. A conspirator is bound or imprisoned in such a way as to make his getting away impossible. That is the value of mercy and truth to us.

We are to bind them about our neck. Some neck bindings are symbols of servitude. A slave has his chains of bondage, a prisoner has his chains of punishment and a dog has a collar as a symbol of being owned. Mercy and truth are a beautiful ornament, an expensive and valuable necklace. Those who wear such an ornament are seen to possess something of beauty and great value. An ornament of mercy and truth makes us attractive.

To have mercy and truth as an ornament on the outside, as mere decoration, is not enough. We are to write them upon the table of the heart. When we write things on paper, we have the purpose of giving them permanence. Quality paper can last for a long time. However, we are not to write mercy and truth on paper, permanent as it is. We must write them on tables, as of stone. The inscription on a properly maintained stone marker will last for a long time. This is the table of the heart. Mercy and truth must have a permanent impression on our hearts. Our lives, pictured by the heart, must be recognized as reflecting God’s mercy and truth.

When we live our lives this way, we will have favour and good understanding (success) in the sight of God and man. Even in the courts of the ungodly, Joseph, David and Daniel found favour in the eyes of men. When, at the age of twelve, Jesus was found in the temple, He had favour with those who spoke with Him. What can we say about favour in the sight of God? There is nothing better than to experience the blessing of His fellowship.

May God be pleased to use this school and the instruction of covenant parents to write His mercy and truth on the hearts of His children here.

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Forget Not My Law

Forget Not My Law

Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)

*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 3:1-2: “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

In Proverbs 3, Solomon is stating the duties of life. We are to trust in God and honour Him. We must not despise God’s chastening hand. We are told of the benefits of getting wisdom and the comfort wisdom brings in life. We are also told how to deal with a neighbour in need and with those who oppress others. Yet, this whole section begins with the command to “... forget not my law.”

Let’s not overlook the first two words of verse 1, “My son.” Although what follows comes in the form of a command, these first words set a mood different from that of a harsh command which might come from an overseer. This is the voice of our loving Father. He is almighty, but He does not use His strength to punish us for our sins. Rather, His strength is used to deliver His people from their sins. As the maker and upholder of all things, He is able to provide what He deems is necessary for us.

The Father is here addressing a son. Yet, we should not think this address relegates daughters to second class status. Have you ever met a father who puts less effort into the instruction of his children who are daughters? Is the standard of behaviour lower for them? Are daughters viewed as having a less important place in the life of the covenant? How about it fathers, is the mother of your children second rate or not of vital importance to the covenant life of your home? Are her job requirements minuscule? Does any of this sound as God’s attitude toward the mother of His only begotten Son whom the angel Gabriel hailed as “highly favoured”?

The son is told not to forget his Father’s law. There are different ways to forget. We can forget because we become preoccupied with the affairs of life. Often we forget because of the weakness of our memories. Here, the son is told not to deliberately set aside the law of God. Such is the case when, after careful thought and evaluation, God’s law is not deemed to be worthy of keeping. We choose to establish our own standard of morality. God’s law is not suitable for the type of life we wish to live so we had best forget it so we can enjoy what this world has to offer. Of course, we understand what the end of such a life would be. I am reminded of a church sign I saw several times this past summer, “Live your life as if this is all there is, and it will be.” Some will wish this is all there is to their existence when they reach their final destination.

The son is told to keep the father’s commandments in his heart. We keep something that is valuable to us. If we have valuable possessions, we do what we can to reserve them for our own use. In bygone years, a keep was a place to guard valuables so no one could take them.

We have an interesting place of safe keeping mentioned here. These commandments are to be kept in the heart. Let the Pharisees beware! The service given to the Triune God through obedience must spring from faithful hearts. The commandments are not kept in the mind or mouth. We do not have some external decoration of obedience which camouflages a heart full of deceit. It is the heart from which are the issues of life. Heartfelt service alone is pleasing to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse two tells us of the sure reward of obeying the Father’s command. God’s law will add length of days, long life and peace to us. Do all of Jehovah’s faithful children live to advanced years and go to their graves with honoured heads of gray? That is not our experience. Besides, do we seek long life here so we can enjoy the charms of this earth? We will be given length of days in the land of rest to come. That is where we will have complete peace with God. Our sins and the possibility to sin will be removed so we will have no shame to ourselves or give any more offence to our gracious God. Peace with the Almighty! Could we desire something better?

May our faithful covenant God use this school so His children do not forget His law, but keep it in their hearts. In that way, they will have a peace worth having.

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The Way of Good Men

The Way of Good Men

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher in Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI

*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 2:20-22: “That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”

In the beginning of the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us the purpose of his work. The people of God are to know wisdom and the young are to gain discretion. Here, at the end of chapter 2, Solomon repeats his desire for God’s children. We were told in verses 10-15 that when wisdom enters our hearts we are delivered from the path of wicked men. Verses 16-19 tell us that wisdom delivers us from strange women. These evil men and women seek to lure us to walk the same path as they do. It is the path which is broad, easy and comfortable, but the end of that path is certain destruction.

Now in verse 20 we are instructed that wisdom will lead us to walk in the way of good men. There were faster means of transportation in Solomon’s day. However, we are not told that we will run on this way. The goal is not that we will ride some animal or cart pulled by an animal on this way. Speed is not the emphasis. Our society is fast paced. Also, because there are so many churches and schools in our area, we can become very busy in events that are beneficial. Yet, there is a need to walk. Psalm 19 tells us of the speech of the night time sky, but how often do we slow down long enough to look at the stars?

Also, walking is something we can do for an extended period of time. Being on the way of good men is not a quick burst of energy which then results in our having to take a break for a time. This past summer my surveying crew chief and I were working on a small farm. The woman of the house came out to ask me how the work was going. She mentioned, “You sure do a lot of walking. Do you do this all day?” I replied, “Yes, I told my boss I could walk all day, but I will never run anywhere.” Walking is for the long term.

We are to walk on a way, a trodden path. We are not cutting a new path. We are not going where no one else has gone before. We are not chopping down trees and cutting brush to establish a new path. This way has been trodden by so many that the grass is gone. We are not struggling through bushes or hedges. This way is easily distinguished from the surrounding terrain. There are many who have walked this path before us.

The way is that of the good and the righteous. The good are those who conform to the standard of God’s law. This is not a denial of total depravity to say that there are good men. Aren’t we comfortable saying Enoch, Abraham, Joseph, Ruth, David and many others were good? What about the saints of our own personal experience? We simply must remember the source of the good. Are we good of ourselves? Try to find a saint who truly understands redemption through Christ’s blood who would say he is the source of his own goodness. How many do you think you’d find?

The righteous are the just. This is a moral and legal term. The righteous are free from guilt. A judge has declared them innocent of any wrong doing. Again, do you know of any fellow saints, or do you read of saints in history or Scripture who claim their righteousness is their own? Do you picture any saint who understands the holiness of God daring to say he is righteous enough in himself to enter heaven? No, the path has been walked humbly by those who by faith confess Christ to be their righteousness.

The chapter ends with the final destination of the upright and the wicked. The upright will dwell together. This will give us fellowship in a place which will last. We will not be on the shifting tides of water. The land is firm and stable. It is a place where God’s people will remain. We do not need to worry about being given an eviction notice. It is an everlasting place where God’s people will have fellowship with each other and with Him.

It is quite different for the wicked. The end is antithetical. There will be no common ground. They will be cut off. They will be separated and have no connection with this firm place of fellowship. They will be rooted out. Plants that are rooted out do not grow back. It is not as if they will be trimmed or cut back so they can grow back when God’s wrath is appeased.

May God grant us and our students wisdom to discern the path of the upright. The path marked by His Word leads to fellowship with Him in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Strange Woman

The Strange Woman

Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher in Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI

*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 2:16-19: “To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.”

In these verses, Solomon continues to teach us from what evils we are preserved when godly wisdom enters our hearts. In the previous verses, we were told from what type of man we are delivered. In these four verses, we read of being preserved from evil women. Young men are taught to what type of woman they are not to be attracted. Our young women have here an example of what type of woman they are not to become.

There is surprising news about this evil woman in verse 17. We learn that she has forsaken the guide of her youth and has forgotten the covenant of her God. This is not what we would read about this woman, if she were of the Philistines or from some other of the surrounding heathen nations. She has not been brought up in the way of idol worship. The god of her younger years was not a convenient excuse for gratifying sinful desires.

She had been brought up in the sphere of the covenant. Jehovah and His law had been her guide in her formative years. She had been taught of God’s covenant. However, because she was not elect, the instruction given did not take root in her heart. When she became old enough, she wickedly forsook the instruction she had been given. The pleasures of a life of sin were what she desired. She must have been the cause of great heartache for her parents, as Samson caused grief for his.

Yet, she is described as being a strange woman. This is not a reference to some personality quirk which makes her unique from all other women you might meet in life. Although she was born and raised in the church, she separated herself from it making herself an alien to those who are truly God’s people. She immersed herself in a way of life which was supposed to be alien to God’s people. She is separated because of her unrighteous living.

She now, out of her hatred for God, His ways and His people, seeks to bring others with her. She does this through flattery. She uses her tongue to make smooth the way to her trap. If she speaks of her love and attraction for a young man, it is not sincere. He is merely a means to satisfy her sinful desires. Perhaps she speaks of how pleasant the experience with her will be. She will assure her victim that everything will be all right. Nobody will find out. There is nobody who will be hurt. Her words are insincere. To listen to her is to begin the sure slide down the slippery slope to self-destruction.

There is only one end when a man becomes involved with her. Her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. Her house does not lead to the infirmary or the hospital. Her path does not bring its travellers to the place of illness or even severe bruising. She will lead to spiritual death. Solomon could speak from experience here. He loved many strange women. He built many temples for idol gods. Solomon’s heart was not perfect as was his father David’s. Solomon is a rare example of one who did escape the destruction of that path. God’s arm can reach to pluck out His own from the fire, but such people seem so few that we read, “None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.”

Proverbs 22:14 tells us, “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.” No wonder the examples of those who escape judgment after once starting along this path are so few.

Our young men need discretion to recognize such women for what they are. It can be a difficult task in our world today. What type of woman is thought of as being desirable? Is modesty a valued virtue? What is thought of a young woman who expresses the desire to be a wife and mother in the home? How cherished is a submissive heart? It is not the look of chastity which radiates from the eyes of the women on the covers of magazines.

Our young women need strength and encouragement in home and school to develop the godly virtues of meekness, sobriety and modesty by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The opposite of these characteristics is practically screamed at us every day in the media and marketplace.

May God give our students understanding hearts to discern what is truly attractive so that there are covenant homes raising a pure seed in the years remaining until our Lord’s return.

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Wisdom's Preservation

Wisdom’s Preservation

Brian D. Dykstra, (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)

*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 2:12-15: “To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths ...”

In verses 12-19 Solomon continues to instruct us from what sinful ways true wisdom will preserve us. In verses 12-15, we told from what type of man wisdom will preserve us.

God’s wisdom will prevent us from joining the wicked in his customary way of life. Evil living has become this man’s habit. This way has been walked so often by him and by others similar in heart that it can be easily distinguished from the surrounding terrain. The man who walks it can be recognized by his speech. His speech is described as being froward, proud and disobedient. He does not care to follow God’s good law and defies Him to do anything about it. Either he feels there will be no consequences for his sin, or he does not care what those consequences might be.

In verse 13, the subject becomes plural. This wicked man now has companions. They have left the paths of uprightness. They appear to have known the way that was right and just before God, but they forsook that way. Perhaps they were brought up in homes which had God-fearing parents, but the way of sin was far more appealing to them. The works of darkness became more appealing to the flesh. There no longer was any benefit for avoiding the path of the wicked.

This temptation has not diminished. We are, to varying degrees, social creatures. It can become difficult to walk the godly way when that way appears to be so solitary and ridiculed. The wicked seem to have plenty of companionship and good times. They are not sitting around with long faces as they contemplate their ultimate fate. They look happy. They have good times with their friends. They laugh and live care free. That their way is one of darkness can be hard for us to see at times. Lot sought some fellowship with Sodom and Gomorrah. Jacob’s daughter Dinah kept company with the people of Canaan. There is a real temptation for our young people to do what it takes to be socially acceptable.

The wicked also rejoice to do evil. That can appear shocking to us. How often don’t we feel sorrow and shame because our thoughts and desires are sinful! We see the darkness of our nature and are driven to our knees to ask forgiveness. Yet the wicked not only think such things, they actually do them. Then, when they do these things, they show no effect of guilt or shame. They are happy! They live care free, and their only concern in life is how to satisfy their next sinful desire.

Young people might wonder about what point there is to the godly life. Why do we have to deal with all that guilt? Why go through life with a long face when the world can provide such happiness? Only godly wisdom can reveal to us the end of rejoicing to do evil.

These evil men also delight in the frowardness of the wicked. The word translated here as froward is sometimes translated “perverse.” That certainly speaks of our time. Hollywood and our popular culture like to push the envelope of what is portrayed in entertainment or what is thought of as being funny. Entertainers who make the most money are often those who dare to say and do what others have not dared to do as yet. While there are some in our nation who bemoan the condition of our culture, their voices are easily drowned out by the many others insisting on their First Amendment rights. We can see how much our society delights in what is perverse by how profitable such enterprises are.

The ways of the wicked are crooked and they are proud of it. They will say that what is good is evil and that which is evil is good. They have convinced themselves that God will do neither good nor evil to them. They are as carnal Israel as they grew ripe for the judgment of God. The wicked believe their way is pleasant because its very crookedness prevents them from seeing the certain destruction which lies at it end.

We must warn students about the way of the evil man. It is appealing to our flesh. May God be pleased to use the instruction of this school and the homes represented here to cause His wisdom to enter the hearts of His people. Only He can preserve us in the straight way which leads to fellowship with Him in Jesus Christ.

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Wisdom Entering Our Hearts

Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI
This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 2:10-11: “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.”

Solomon has told us the purpose of the Proverbs, warned youths of the enticement of sin, spoken of the result of scorning the call of wisdom and expressed the value of wisdom. Now we are instructed of the evils from which wisdom preserves us.

Wisdom, the knowledge of God’s Word, must enter into the heart. The verse does not say anything about inviting wisdom into our hearts. Our hearts are not being approached by a beggar seeking entrance, as if we hold all the power and nothing happens to our hearts without our permission. We are not told that we must make a choice to allow wisdom in our hearts. Apart from God’s grace, we are dead in sin and not able to do any good. Inviting or allowing wisdom to enter our hearts is impossible for corrupt sinners.

Wisdom enters our hearts. She does not have to wait for an invitation. She does not have to wait for us to open our heart’s door. She is not waiting pensively for us to make the right choice. God speaks and His wisdom enters. It is irresistible.

The location of wisdom is important also. If our knowledge of God and His Word is only in our intellects, He will not be pleased. It is out of the heart, not the head, that are the issues of life. Wisdom in the head will do nothing to change the corruption of the heart, though it may change the outward behaviour.

This wisdom must not merely enter our mouth, either. If all we do is speak of what we know of God, but His wisdom is not in our hearts, we will not truly live out of our faith. It would not take much temptation or trial to cause us to change what we say and live in a way that brings us more earthly convenience.

When God’s wisdom is in our hearts, we are changed. The law, which once seemed only to prevent us from doing everything that was fun, will become the way to express our gratitude for all that God has done for us. Such wisdom will seem to us to be sweeter than honey.

When wisdom enters our hearts, the knowledge of God will be pleasant to us, and the results given to us in verse eleven are sure to follow.

God will give us the discretion we need to recognize the difference between good and evil. This wisdom is not merely an external rule which keeps us from what is not proper in the eyes of men. It will not just prevent us from making a bad career move or cost us social standing among those who matter to us. It is a discretion which will preserve or keep us. This discretion will be as a bodyguard to us to keep us from the harm of the foolish way of sin.

Now we realize our total dependence upon God to keep His promises to us. Even if we are not able to remember all the names of our former students as quickly as we would desire, we do learn to care for them deeply. There are many things we would like to do for those about whom we care. We are concerned about their health and physical well-being. We want them to develop mentally and do their work properly.

However, that which is most important to us, that they grow in the wisdom of God and walk in His way, is something we can never do for them. No matter how much we love them, we cannot put life into their spiritually dead hearts. We cannot write God’s law there so they live antithetically.

Once more we are humbled and are forced to confessed our inability to change what so desperately needs changing. We depend completely upon our covenant God to keep His promises with us. We cannot pray well enough so that God will decide our students are worthy of allowing His wisdom to enter their hearts. We cannot be so pious that God is almost forced to shower blessings on us. We cannot rely on what we are, but we can safely rely on the God of Scripture who has revealed Himself to be merciful in Jesus Christ.

May our Lord be pleased to cause His wisdom to enter the hearts of our students so they have the discretion needed to live for Him.

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The Paths of Judgment

The Paths of Judgment

Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)

This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 2:8-9: “He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.”

In the previous verses of Proverbs 2, God has promised that those who seek for His wisdom as one seeks for treasure will come to understand the fear of the Lord. God will give the lasting wisdom He has laid up for His saints and will be the shield of His people.

But are we always totally confident of the future? The shots being fired on the spiritual battle lines will not be fired with less anger. The hatred of the wicked will not transform from burning flames to ash covered embers. The world’s judgment of true Christianity will not be one that will accommodate us and leave us a place in which to live. Earthly peace and security would not appear to be our future lots in life.

Remember, God kept all His promises to His Old Testament saints. He brought them to the promised land while driving out the enemy. He brought them back from captivity. He realized the promise of the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. However, what if He fails to keep just one of His promises, the promise to preserve His church and saints even to the end? What if those saints dressed in white robes and found beneath the altar waiting for God to avenge their deaths, never see that great day?

In Proverbs 2:8, God promises to keep the paths of judgment. My concordance tells me the path mentioned here is the customary road, the road usually travelled. God will watch over and reserve this path for us. He is not suddenly going to change the manner in which His judgment is given by using a new and different path. At the end of this age, He will not suddenly change the law so that the evil are now good in His eyes and the righteous are now evil. The world does this, but not the unchanging God. He walks the customary road.

The judgment of God is coming. The wicked try to deny this. They turn to their drugs, adultery and entertainment to dull or busy their minds so they do not have opportunity to think of God’s judgment. Nevertheless, His judgment will come. Jehovah will form an opinion of each man. He will compare each man to the perfect standard of His law and discern whether that man is good or evil. He will then reward each man according to His works.

We give thanks that we will not stand before this great Judge as our own advocates trying to prove our innocence. No silver-tongued oratory will get us out of this bind. Christ will plead for His elect. Our guilt is taken away, and His perfect obedience is made ours through the gift of faith.

The “way” mentioned near the end of verse eight is the trodden path. It is not the path used by the same person day after day as he goes to the same field to tend his crops or flocks. This is a path that is used by many. We have company on this path, though it sometimes may seem not to be so. God watches over this path to keep us in safety because this is the way of His saints, not the path of every man. The way of the wicked will not be preserved. Their way will be destroyed in His judgment. Their path of evil and deceit disgusts Him. The perfect One will not allow such a way to exist in His presence after the last of His saints has been gathered.

We will understand what righteousness is when God preserves the way of His saints. It is not the way of toleration which the world praises so highly. Anything can be tolerated today, except the Truth. Our culture praises diversity, as long as none of these diverse paths are the way of godliness.

We will know equity as well. Equity is not fairness, at least not as man often uses the term. Equity is what is upright. Again, the standard God uses for equity is His own perfection which is revealed to us in His law.

The path at the end of verse nine is a path used by wagons. It is a broad path with room for many travellers. Apparently we are not alone on this path, though in our times of doubt it can often seem so.

We are encouraged to learn that God will keep the path of judgment and preserve our way. Our students need to be reminded also that although God’s church will number only a relative few in the last days, yet we have the hope of the final victory of God’s cause. Press forward on the way of the saints. Never doubt but that it is the good path. At the end of that path we will hear our Father tell us, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

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Wisdom for the Righteous

Wisdom for the Righteous

Brian D. Dykstra, 5th Grade teacher at Hope Christian School, Walker, MI (This iwas originally written as a devotional for teachers.)

Proverbs 2:7: “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.”

We have just been reminded of the value of wisdom when we were told to cry after her so as not to allow her to get away. It is to be sought as diligently as a prospector searches for silver.

Where would one begin to look for something so valuable? When we think of the exertion early explorers expended to find earthly gold, we can only wonder about how difficult the search must be for something so marvellously valuable as the wisdom of God. Before we have to check our bodies to discern whether they could endure extreme physical hardship for such work, we are given some good news. God has already laid up this sound wisdom for us.

This laying up is as the laying up of a valuable treasure so that is it hidden from the enemy. It is stored in a safe place. We know what the enemy would do to the wisdom of God. Sinful man has always opposed God’s wisdom. Today God’s wisdom is mocked and trampled under foot. The wicked even do this in great pride, believing that they are accomplishing something great as they rush to their own eternal destruction. They seek to destroy the wisdom which actually points out the only way for deliverance.

No matter what the wicked think, they can do no damage to God’s wisdom. Our Father keeps this wisdom in safe keeping. This wisdom is described as sound. It is not what the world calls wisdom. Their wisdom can accomplish great things. There have been great advances in technology which have enabled man to do many celebrated things. Think of the accomplishments of man in outer space and medicine, for example. Man can live a longer earthly life, but the grave, though seemingly delayed, waits with gaping jaws at the end of life’s path. Our nation spent many millions of dollars to reach the moon. Such an accomplishment has been so “vital” to the interest of mankind that we have not bothered to return to the moon for 28 years. The world’s wisdom is vanity.

That’s not the case with God’s wisdom. There is substance to it. It shall endure, and it shall be found sure. It is a constant guide to God’s people as we make our way in this dark world of sin and foolishness. It is the wisdom which directed and will guide all of God’s people on the earth.

God gives this wisdom only to the righteous. Once again, there is no room for any universal love of God. God does not give this wisdom to all men so He can plead with them to choose the right path. Those who reject the Truth of God’s Word will reap what they sow. God will lay up wisdom only for us, His people. We are not righteous in ourselves nor have we made ourselves worthy of such blessing. This is another promise to us which is based on the work of Christ.

In the second part of the verse, God is revealed to be our buckler. A buckler is a shield which was used in battle. A man who is at peace has no need for a buckler. By being told that we have a buckler, we are being told what our lives are like. We are not here to get along peacefully with the world. We are at war. This world is not a pleasant place for us. Each day we see the wicked’s hatred for God and His Word. They would seek to destroy us as well. As they attempt to do so, we can become confused. Their eyes are not red with anger and hate. They do not call us all kinds of vile names. They want us to be friends with them. They want us to join them in the party. They seek to broaden our horizons and expand the realm of our experience. Our lives are in need of some excitement and entertainment which they can provide!

It is when we do not join them in their way of sin that they become angry. Few things can make them more upset than having our obedient life of dedication to God witness to the sin in their lives. That they cannot stand. Then they will seek to rid the planet of the likes of us because we spoil the fun. It will become obvious that mankind will never be able to establish a heaven on earth, made without God or His love, of course, with those miserable Christians around. We are in great need of a buckler. It would hardly seem possible to have one big enough to meet the challenges of the world today.

Again, this buckler is not standard issue for all men. It is given only to them that walk uprightly. There is no buckler for those who do no walk the antithetical path. Those who seek to walk as close to the world as possible so they can partake of its allurements see no need for a shield anyway. They do not think there is anything that evil out there from which they need to be protected.

Our students need constant reminders of the Christian’s true relationship with the world. This world is no friend to the Truth. They need to see the need for God as a buckler. The only way they can have such protection is to walk with God in Jesus Christ. Only in the way of obedience to God is there protection for His children. May the Triune God so guide our children by His wisdom that they might know Him as their shield.

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Seeking Wisdom as Silver

Seeking Wisdom as Silver

Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)

*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 2:1-6: “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

At the beginning of this chapter, we again have a covenant father giving instruction to his son. There are certain aspects of his son’s spiritual life which the father greatly desires to see. He wants his words of instruction to enter his son’s heart. He wants his son to take his instruction with him where ever he goes. When the son hears the instruction of wisdom, the son is to pay attention and apply his heart to understand wisdom. The father wants to see his son show love for the true and living God.

The father wants to see that spiritual matters have importance in his son’s life. He is not merely to whisper after wisdom or even just raise his voice to call after wisdom before she gets away. He is to cry and lift up his voice after knowledge. He cannot let her get away. He understands just how important wisdom is to him. He has to have it. No substitute will suffice.

He is to seek wisdom as one seeks silver and hidden treasures. Think of all the trouble many people have willingly endured for the opportunity to find sliver. Great distances were covered under conditions which were extremely difficult. Hazards, sickness, and even death were risked by some of the people in their quest for earthly riches.

In Rocky Mountain National Park there is an old silver prospector’s camp. It takes some time to hike there, and that’s with a car giving a head start on what this prospector faced in his journey. It struck me as a tough place to live. Imagine the trouble he endured. He had to move enough supplies up into the mountains to survive. He had to build a shelter. Yet, what really displayed to me this man’s great desire to strike it rich was the fact that he hauled up a large, heavy and cumbersome iron boiler to help him separate the silver from what he didn’t want. I often wondered if all this were worth the trouble. He must have worked hard.

That’s the type of desire this father wishes to see his son have for the wisdom of God. Such a desire leads to an understanding of the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, and with such a desire he will find the knowledge of God. There is no doubt about it. Verse five gives us the guarantee: “Then SHALT thou understand the fear of the Lord ...”

Wouldn’t it be nice to see such desire more often in students? All too often various forms of entertainment or sport can dominate young lives. Wouldn’t it be great to have children be as eager to pick up their Bible homework or catechism as they are to pick up the various sections of the newspaper? Does it seem that the only time the children need to be woken up and practically dragged out of bed is on Sunday morning? Why does it seem that there can be a nodder, dozer or sleeper in every other pew or row of desks, but never in the bleachers or before some video screen?

I am concerned about our denomination’s future. The blessings we have in church and school are often taken for granted or deemed to be of little importance. How often don’t we hear that children do not like school. I hope the facial expression of nearly absolute disinterest in all things academic, which some older students have perfected and some younger ones are developing, is a veneer for public display.

Yet, we must continue to point out the wisdom of God’s Word. Only God is the giver of wisdom in Jesus Christ. Godly wisdom cannot be found in any other place. Knowledge and understanding proceed only out of His mouth. That old time miner can serve as an example in the search for the wisdom of God. You have not found the valuable ore yet? Keep digging. You have struck a vein of valuable silver? Do not be satisfied until it has all been removed.

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The Prosperity of Fools Shall Destroy Them

The Prosperity of Fools Shall Destroy Them

Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)

*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.

Proverbs 1:32-33: “For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”

Wisdom has raised her voice. The Word of God has been made known in many different ways to the simple. At the very least the simple had the testimony of God in their hearts that what they did was against His Law. Yet, they found their pleasure in the ways of evil. The responsibility for their ruin lies at their own door. They cannot blame others for their destruction. The fault certainly cannot be found in God. The fault is only in themselves.

That the turning away of the simple results in their being slain reminds us of the word brought to Judah by Jeremiah, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 6:15).

Was God strong enough to save Judah? Yes, He could have reached out His arm to deliver them. He could have destroyed Nebuchadnezzar and his host with one stroke from His almighty arm. However, His justice and His love for His own holiness could not allow Judah’s deliverance. As they lived in their sin, Judah listened to the message brought by her false prophets. They were certain that no evil would ever come upon them, in spite of all their corruption of God’s justice and shameless idolatry, because, they assured themselves, “We are the people of God!” The message of Judah’s history is simple: Turning away from God will lead only to destruction.

We can see how prosperity leads to destruction very clearly in our own nation. This past summer we heard very often about the adultery and deceitfulness of our scripture-quoting President. Still, President Clinton enjoyed a high approval rating from the American people. The economy is good. The future looks bright. There is money to be made. We are the most powerful nation on earth. There are those who look at this prosperity as being a sign of God’s blessing being upon us. It makes you wonder how ignorant they can be about the history of Judah. Jeremiah warned Judah of this very thing, “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice. The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness” (Jeremiah 20:21-22). Judah looked upon her prosperity and took it as a sign of God’s approval. Actually, they were cattle being fattened for the slaughter. Their prosperity, since it did not come from God’s love for them, was really a curse.

These verses in Proverbs 1 end with a promise, “But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Not only is common grace refuted in these verses, the antithesis is shown. Judgment, and only judgment, against those who live in rebellious, unconfessed sin against God, but safety to those who listen to the voice of wisdom.

This is a valuable lesson which our students need to hear. We live in a materialistic age. We can be caught in this trap ourselves. Who are the celebrities in our nation? Consider how many of them have made their vast hoard of money. Do we expect to have to move over in the pew some Sunday morning in order to provide them some room? Yet, these people are given a fair amount of our children’s attention. They need to be taught the nature of God’s blessing. Blessing is not in the things of this world. Blessing is in the restoration of our covenant friendship with God.

No, this does not assure that the Christian life is one free from all adversity. Students need to be mindful of this as well. Each of us could speak of adversity in life. Trials are part of every Christian’s life. For the young students too, if trials have not come, they most certainly will at some time in life. There are times when Father’s loving hand is heavy upon us. We are often in awe of how much some of His saints must bear. God does not promise a primrose path to the pearly gates.

Jeremiah again serves as an example. He had a difficult task. He brought the Truth of God to Judah. It was not appreciated. He suffered mockery, scorn, persecution and shame. Jeremiah was even to the point that he cursed the day when he was born. He thought it would have been better to die in the womb. God comforted Jeremiah and promises to comfort us, “And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible” (Jeremiah 15:20-21).

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