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2 Tim. 2:22 says, "But flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
We need to see the importance of having companions. Though we can still pursue and enjoy Christ on our own, we can gain more of Him when we have companions. Temptations are hardest to resist when we are alone, but with the prayers and care of our brothers and sisters, we are strengthened into our inner man. Having companions is the way for us to be preserved in the church life. If we donâ€™t have any companions yet, we should pray to the Lord and ask Him to provide the right companion for us. Ecclesiastes 4 says "Two are better than oneâ€¦" and "Woe to the one who falls and does not have another to lift him up!" These companions are spiritual companions; those who also love the Lord and pursue with us to run the race of life. If we see the matter of pursuing and running the race with companions, we will even be able to bring the fire of the gospel to the campuses and even to the streets. We should not choose them not by our natural self, but we should depend on the Lord in this matter. The Lord knows what is best for us.
Godâ€™s purpose for creating man is for two things: to receive him as life, and to express Him. But Satan came in to inject sin into the very being of man. Thus man became corrupted together with all creation, and the Bible says they were subject to vanity. Ecclesiastes is a book that makes us realize that all things under the sun are vain â€“pursuing these things is like chasing the wind. Nothing under the sun fits man and satisfies him. This is because God has placed eternity in the hearts of man. This is why the Bible tells us to not seek the things which are seen, for they are temporary, but the things which are not seen. These things are eternal and will fill the eternity which is in manâ€™s heart. The Bible also says that heaven and earth may fade away, but Godâ€™s word will stand forever. Only God and His word can fill our being and truly satisfy us. We have to realize that everything under the sun is just vanity of vanities. No matter what accomplishments we may have or how rich we may be, when we die they will mean nothing. Pleasure, money, and success cannot satisfy our heart. Everything on this earth is just temporary, vain, and worthless; that is why people are not satisfied. We cannot be satisfied because we were created by God to contain Him and not anything else. Only eternal things can satisfy us. That is why we have to seek God and set our eyes on the reality so that we will be satisfied. The chorus of Hymns #1080 says, "Christ without, all is vain! Christ within, all is gain! All things are vain, Christ only is gain."
The fifth gem and nugget presented in the conference is the need of a vision. Proverbs 29:18a says â€śWhere there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.â€ť Vision is something that governs a person, affecting even his daily living. Every person needs a vision, for without vision, one will become loose in our living. Some people do not even have a vision. They are those who are the most miserable; they simply follow the crowd and the current trends, and ultimately regretting their lives. Some people have good visions- visions of wealth, success, power, or beauty. But they are not up to Godâ€™s standard. What is our vision? As Christians, we should realize that the only vision that should govern our lives is Godâ€™s vision, the vision of Godâ€™s economy, the vision of Christ and the church. This is not an ordinary vision, but a heavenly vision. After receiving such vision, we should not be disobedient to this heavenly vision just like Paul (Acts 26:19). He may have experienced many sufferings in his service to the Lord â€“ stripes, dealings and disappointments, ship wrecks â€“ but he still went on to love and serve the Lord.
We need to see that to love the Lord is one thing, but to be useful to the Lord is another. For us to be useful to the Lord, we need to have a vision. This vision is not just an ordinary vision, but a heavenly vision. We should not go with the flow of the world. Rather, we should stay in the flow of life. Just as one hymn says, â€śOh may a clear controlling vision of the Lordâ€™s economy direct our heart.â€ť We need this vision to be renewed in us daily. For this, we need pay the price; we need to buy the eye salve to have our eyes anointed by the Lord.
The fourth message on gems and nuggets from Proverbs in this conference tells us to buy truth, that is, to pay the price to be constituted with the truth. In the Lordâ€™s recovery, we are surrounded with truth. However, we must not only gild ourselves outwardly with this truth; rather, this truth needs to be constituted into us. Truth is the first great pillar in the Lordâ€™s recovery; it is the reality of the divine economy that is revealed in Godâ€™s word. The Word is God Himself (John1:1), the Word is reality (John1:14). We need the spiritual facts, and based on these facts the Lord as the light could shine upon us. This is the truth. We need to be constituted with the truth! How can we be constituted with the truth? Proverbs 23:23 tells us that we need to â€śbuy the truthâ€ť. To buy the truth is to pay the price. We have to buy wisdom, instructions, and understanding, for us to be constituted ones. This constitution of the truth is not only for elders or those who have been long in the church life, First Timothy 2:4 says that the Lord desires all of us to come to the full knowledge of the truth.
The price we need to pay is our time. The result of paying this price is something more valuable â€“ the constitution of the truth into us. If we buy the truth, it will be wrought into us and it will be our organic constitution! In order for us to enjoy and experience the Lord as life, we must know the truth. All the truths are contained in the Bible, which is a gift the Lord has given to us. The truth with which our being is constituted with will become a constant, long-time nourishment to us. Then we can be those able to present the truth to others so that others may also be constituted with the truth. We will also not have any burden for teachings other than Godâ€™s economy. As a God-man, a vessel of God, we must be filled with the truth for us to be the properly-constituted ones God needs today.
The third gem and nugget from Proverbs presented to us in the conference is the need to guard our heart. Godâ€™s economy is to dispense Himself into man in his spirit. But before God can enter into our spirit, He must first pass through a very crucial part, which is manâ€™s heart; before He can touch our spirit, He must first touch our heart. Manâ€™s heart is composed of the soul â€“ mind, emotion, and will â€“ plus our conscience (Heb. 4:12, Jer.15:16, Heb. 10:22). Proverbs tells us to guard our heart â€świth all vigilance.â€ť Every day we need to come to the divine Cardiologist to have a heart check-up. Psalms 139:23-24 says â€śSearch me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is some harmful way in me, and lead me on the eternal way.â€ť Our hearts must first be gained by the Lord in order for Him to use us.
What is the real condition of our heart? Matthew 15:19 tells us what comes out of manâ€™s heart is unclean because what is inside of man is unclean. However, Ezekiel 36:26 says that God has given man a new spirit and a new heart. We have a new spirit that enables us to communicate with the Lord and a new heart for us to have a new living.
Matthew 5:8 says â€śBlessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.â€ť To be pure in heart is to be single in purpose, a heart only for God and nothing else. God gave us a new spirit and a new heart. Our spirit is for us to receive God, whereas our heart is the ground for Christ as the seed of life to grow in us. The book of Proverbs, with a view of Godâ€™s economy, instructs us how to live rightly in order to build up our new man. The building up of our new man depends on how much of Christ has grown in us and the growth of Christ in us depends on how much our heart is for Him.
Even though God gave us a new heart, often times our heart for Him is not pure. Our heart becomes idolatrous. The word â€śharmfulâ€ť in Psalms 139:23-24 means idolatrous. Those that take the place of God in our hearts are idols. Instead of having only God in our heart, we have different things that replace Christ. We need to realize our heart can only contain one thing. It cannot contain both Christ and basketball. It can not contain both Christ and business. It must only contain one thing- only Christ!
We may think that our heart for the Lord is pure. Then, we need the Lord to expose our heart like in Peterâ€™s situation. The Lord told the disciples that he will be delivered and that the disciples will be scattered and be stumbled. But Peter replied saying â€śEven if all will be stumbled, yet I will not.â€ť Peter thought that his heart was pure for God, but the Lord exposed him, when he denied the Lord three times. May we allow the Lord to expose our real condition and thus deal with our heart.
Message 5 presents to us the second gem and nuggetâ€“ the need to be diligent. Man is created with the highest purpose, a purpose that can make us even leap for joy. Hallelujah! We are created to be Godâ€™s container â€“ to contain God and to express Him! We are Godâ€™s vessels. But we need to see that we need to be proper vessels in order to be useful in His hands, vessels able to work with God in His economy. To be a proper vessel, we must have a proper character. Although we believers have all received Godâ€™s life, our vessel, which has very much to do with our character, needs to be proper in order for the Lord to use us. Our usefulness to the Lord depends on whether we have a proper character or not. Our character is composed of 30% inborn nature and 70% acquired habits. We are reminded to consider our habits in our daily living (Hag.1:5), because our habits dictate our destiny.
The most important characteristic of a servant of the Lord is diligence. In Proverbs, this item of character was presented in its opposite state â€“slothfulness. Some symptoms of being slothful is to like to sleep (6:6-11), to be untidy (24:30-32), to be gluttonous, to love finding excuses (22:13), and to want results but not work.Â Once we are exposed concerning these things, we need to realize that we can not overcome these habits by our own, that we need more of Him to be infused into us. We need to remember that Proverbs is not a book of self-cultivation, but a book according to Godâ€™s economy. This book also instructs us to go to the ant and consider its ways and be wise. If we think about it, we would realize that no ant starves to death because they prepare well for all seasons that come. Oh, if we would be like the ant, we would never starve in our spiritual lives because we would always be diligently seeking the Lord and so always being filled with Him. As we love and serve the Lord, may we be not slothful in zeal, but be burning in spirit (Rom.12:11).
Message 4 presents to us the first gem and nugget of the conference â€“ living a life of morning revival and daily victory. As Christians, we need to remain in the light. The world is very much in darkness and in dread; that is why we need to be renewed and revived morning by morning. When morning starts, our Christian life should also have a new start, as the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter, even until the full day (Prov. 4:18). This shining affects even the people surrounding us, and causes them to see the Sun of righteousness in us (Mal.4:2).
Matthew 4 tells us that Christ is the great light shining on those who are sitting in darkness and rising on those sitting in the region and shadow of death. This Christ has been imparted to us. We have the great light! Hallelujah! We are luminaries! Like the light of dawn, we will shine brighter and brighter until the full day! We will be like those in Judges 5, like the sun which shines forth in its might.
Many times, however, our shining is merely like the twinkling of a star. Worse, there is no light at all. It is concealed or hidden. This is because we are not nourished, renewed, or revived by the Lord. We do not spend enough time touching and contacting the Lord. How we need to spend more time with the Lord. We need to give our best time to contact, receive, experience, and enjoy Him. The best time to gain Him is in the early morning. All Godâ€™s servants in the Bible were early risers. Moses, Hannah, Samuel and many others who loved the Lord rose up early just to be with the Lord. In Exodus, the Israelites were supplied by Jehovah early in the morning. They enjoyed Christ as manna at dawn! Likewise, we need to meet the Lord, contact and touch Him early in the morning. Similar to the psalmist, we need to anticipate the dawn and cry out â€śOh Lord Jesus!â€ť We must give the Lord the best time. This is to live a life of morning revival.
To be revived is to touch the Lord. The moment we wake up, we should call upon Him and fellowship with Him. We should confess our sins to clear up our conscience of any condemnation. We could also sing praises to Him. In just two minutes, we can feel His presence. Then we could read and pray-read the Word. If, little by little, we would start our day like this, then we will surely be victorious throughout the day.
Message 3 speaks about coming to the book of Proverbs to cultivate our regenerated new man. From the previous messages, the Lord revealed to us that in Proverbs, the matter of His economy is very much regarded and that His desire is not only for us to live a proper human life, but also to cultivate our regenerated new man by means of our spirit. In this message we saw that throughout Christianity, Proverbs is a very famous book because it contains many words of wisdom and advice. Many people would come to this book to seek advice, and some would even try to implement the proverbs into their life for self-perfection. It is nice to have an aspiration to be a good man, but we should see that in God's economy His desire is not to have a group of good men. Instead He wants a corporate God-man.
To read the Proverbs in a view of God's economy means that this book should not be used to build up our old man, that is, to cultivate our self and our natural man. If we would come to Proverbs in our natural man, at best, it would just be like any other self-help book being offered in the market. In coming to Proverbs, just like to any other book in the Bible, we should come to it to receive nourishment and enlightenment by praying in spirit. This should be our attitude in coming to the book of Proverbs and to any book in the Bible.
Second Corinthians 3:6b tells us that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. When a verse catches our attention, we should pray-read it until our spirit touches the Spirit in the word of God. Among those who were useful to the Lord, Madame Guyon said, â€śPraying the Scripture is the unique way to deal with the Scriptureâ€ť and John Wesley said, â€śRead a little pray and meditate muchâ€ť. Many others like George Whitefield, Martin Luther, and etc. also taught us to pray while reading, and read while praying the word of God. This is the way to read the Bible. In our Bible reading, it would be better if we would read a little and pray more.
If our reading of Proverbs will be like this, we can get many nuggets and gems to strengthen our life of pursuing Christ for the fulfillment of God's economy in producing and building up the Body of Christ, which consummates the New Jerusalem as God's heart's desire and ultimate goal.
Our natural man is just a bush (Exo. 3:2); it is not only useless. It is also leprous (Exo. 4:6), rebelling against God. Thank the Lord that we were regenerated, and we are now on our way to becoming a proper man for Godâ€™s economy. For this, Proverbs will help us. The principles in this book are laid before us for us to live a proper human life. These principles are part of Godâ€™s Word. We should see that we are in the New Testament age. Therefore, we should approach these principles not in the Old Testament way like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who separated their reading the Scriptures and their coming to the Lord (John 5:39-40). We should read them the way the Lord Jesus and Paul read the Old Testament, a way which is full of light. This is how to get life from the Proverbs and by this life, we apply these principles. But how can these principles be applicable and practical to us? As an illustration, the internet is invisible, but when we plug into it, we can use it. Likewise, these principles can be practical to us only if we exercise our spirit. Our spirit is the key. We need to practice these principles through the exercise of our spirit. At the beginning, it may seem artificial and mechanical, but as time goes on, it will be spontaneous and organic. This is like learning a musical instrument, we need to practice daily so that we can become used to it. Â Proverbs gives a picture of what a proper human life is so we need to practice the principles in it.Â
The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes bring us near to the end of the five books of poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. By the Lordâ€™s sovereignty, these books were arranged in such a sequence so that we can see that God is not satisfied with human perfection apart from Himself (Job), that we can seek God through singing and praying (Psalms), that we need wisdom (Proverbs), that all things are vanity of vanities (Ecclesiastes), and that Christ isÂ the satisfaction of satisfactions (Song of Songs).
Message 1 tells us that we need to look at the book of Proverbs in view of Godâ€™s economy. Proverbs 1:1 says, â€śThe proverbs of Solomon the son of David, the king of Israel.â€ť The word â€śproverbsâ€ť originated from the Hebrew word, â€śmishleâ€ť, meaning similitudes, proverbs, parables to represent general truths. The book of Proverbs mainly uses representations of objects, animals, and people to portray and relate many virtues that a person should have to be proper before man. Proverbs is a collection of the words of the wise; most were written and collected by wise men like King Solomon and King Hezekiah. King Solomon wrote about 3000 proverbs in this book. Because of the wisdom it contains, many people treasure the book of Proverbs.
Although King Solomon had a good beginning â€“ he had wisdom far greater than all men and he wrote many proverbs to help us to become proper human beings, he had a bad ending. Therefore, the main burden of this message is that in reading this book, one must do so in view of Godâ€™s economy. We must pray, â€śLord, these instructions are very good, but I cannot do them. Lord, even Solomon failed. Lord, I need You.â€ť The more we realize that we need God, the more we would want Him, and the more we want Him, the more we would gain Him.
Godâ€™s economy is that God became man that man might become God in life and nature, but not in the Godhead to produce the organism of the Triune God, the Body of Christ, which consummates the New Jerusalem. In Godâ€™s redemption, the first part is to terminate the fallen old man. The second part is to rescue what was originally for God, the God-created humanity. Although this humanity has become fallen, He will maintain it and bring it back to Himself. With this proper view, the reader of Proverbs should not use this book to build up his old man which is part of the old creation. Rather, the gems and nuggets found in this book must become our constitution to build up the new man which is part of the new creation.
Through reading the book of Proverbs in the view of Godâ€™s economy, one will be enlightened and be exposed by the Lord in His character and way of living. The Lordâ€™s divine light will cause us to see and realize that we are not capable of keeping the book of Proverbs, which is a subsidiary of the law, by ourselves. The more we read, the more we should realize that we need the Lord and that we should draw nearer to Him. The more we are drawn to Him, the more wisdom we will receive; in this way the Lord can dispense Himself more and more.
Praise the Lord we are in the New Testament age! We now have the Spirit in us! We do not need to receive this book as a book of mere outward instructions to attain perfection; a good man is not enough to satisfy the Lord. We must be God-men-the expression of God on earth today. With the help of Proverbs, we can build a proper character, strengthen the inner man, and be a proper testimony of God among men.
Young people, we need instructions, words of wisdom and guidance in building a proper character. We all should read Proverbs in view of Godâ€™s economy to have a proper character to be a proper testimony, before man and God. Hallelujah! The book of Proverbs is not to cultivate our old man, but for the loving God to come to us!