On the card table that is serving as my desk while we are between houses, I have a stack of books that I am reading, along with my journal, my bible and bible study binder. In the corner is a small bookshelf with books that are in queue to be read in the near future. Amazon and Abe books are kept busy with my constant orders. Sometimes I feel myself getting stressed because there is so much I want to read and study and just not enough hours in the day!
Today is the start of the book of Proverbs for Good Morning Girls. I’m really excited – I love reading Proverbs and have since I was young. In my SOAP for this morning, I focused on verses 5-7.
The wise person seeks wisdom and knowledge, and seeks out learned counselors. It’s the wise person who knows that there is always more to learn and seek after, and searches out knowledge. A wise person also seeks wise counsel, and is receptive to their teaching. The fool is the one who is content with what they know and does not seek out knowledge, and is not willing to be taught.
This morning I prayed for a seeking heart, with a desire to continue seeking out new learning opportunities and a heart open to mentorship by wise counselors.
This is one of the reasons I am drawn to Leadership Education – the idea of being a mentor, as well as being mentored. While I think I am capable of mentoring, and have a lot of knowledge to offer, I am also in need of mentorship. I think that is what makes great leaders, willingness to mentor and a willingness and desire to be mentored. When we understand that there is more to learn and others have things to teach us, we are on a path to greater wisdom.
Mentors aren’t always flesh and blood people; often they are characters in books that teach us about human nature or character traits or life situations we are experiencing. This is why I am seeking out good books on a variety of subjects. In this current season I am reading a lot about mothers and motherhood – the characters in books like Mother and Mother Carey’s Chickens are mentoring me in how to be a better mother to my own children.
Every morning I smile to myself as I watch my eight-year-old daughter grab her stack of books from under her pillow and next to the bed, and head downstairs for breakfast. This girl gets it. She has a passion for learning and reading and she counts books as her closest companions. She also loves the L-rd and has a passion for studying scripture. She will be pursuing wisdom for a long time!
The rich are not to give more than half a shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives.
The atonement offering expected from all Israelites was half a shekel and was to be the same for both rich and poor.
Rich and poor have no bearing on the value of a man to God. One is not more worth (or less) of atonement. God counts us all equally worthy. We should be mindful of that even today.
I am thankful that God sees us equally and does not judge our value the same way we judge ourselves and others.
8 It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.
This is not the first time “just as you were shown on the mountain” is used in describing the Tabernacle plans. I don’t think Moses stood on the mountain and took down notes on the design of the Tabernacle, just hearing the voice of God. I picture God showing Moses a clear vision of the Tabernacle, so that Moses could fully visualize and experience the Tabernacle that God had planned. Only then could he return to the people with a clear image of it in his mind. I imagine him overseeing the work of the embroiderers, saying “No, No, it needs to be ‘just so.”
God can give us a clear vision of what he has in store for us. He can let us see it clearly, visualize it, experience it so that we know to plan, down to the ’embroidery’ details.
My prayer is that God gives me a Tabernacle vision too, so that I have a clear image of what he wants for me and what he has in store for me.
4 If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.
We are called to help our enemies in a proactive way. If there was someone who despised me, and I happened to witness their ox or donkey wander off (or some modern equivalent of troubles), I could easily do nothing. It’s not like I let them escape or personally caused this trouble to happen. I am under no obligation to help them with their troubles. I could rest easy knowing that I didn’t do anything wrong by not assisting since it had nothing to do with me.But God calls us to do something, even for people who are our enemy.
We are to be proactive in helping them. While it would be simple enough to just “not do anything” if their ox or donkey wandered off, we are called to bring their animal back to them. If we see their donkey fall down under its load, we could easily just keep on walking since it’s not our fault, but instead God calls us to stop and help our enemy with it.
This is difficult!
In reading Russ Reznik’s essay Messianic Jewish Ethics in Introduction to Messianic Judaism, he writes “the divine image is obviously not a physical resemblance, but neither is it an abstract spiritual resemblance. Rather, it entails representing God through active engagement with the creation.
This understanding of the image of God gives rise to the Jewish idea that God does ethics before we do, that our ethical behavior is not just a matter of obedience, or even of pleasing God, but of reflecting God and his nature, fulfilling the assignment to bear the divine image.”
It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if God treated us like we treated our enemies. Even when we despise God, God loves us and blesses us. We are called to proactively bless our enemy, not just passively “not” harm them. We aren’t called to do this so much for obedience, but rather as a reflection of the divine image of God. God does ethics first.
I have been reading the Bible following the Good Morning Girls schedule for a couple of months, and it’s been a real blessing. It is one chapter a day, with the intention of really getting into the scripture one small piece at a time. Courtney at Women Living Well promotes the SOAK method. The SOAK method is simple:
Scripture – Focus on one or a couple verses from that day’s chapter. Even in a chapter as “mundane” as one detailing the measurements of the Tabernacle’s curtains or listing off the geneology of one of the tribes of Israel, we can find a gem, a nugget of wisdom from God.
Observation – What is the selected verse talking about; what are our observations?
Application – This one is a little harder. How does what we observe in the selected verse(s) apply to our life today? How can we use this scripture to grow in our spiritual life?
Kneel in Prayer – Previously P for Prayer in the SOAP method. How are we moved to pray following our bible study?
The new year started with the reading of Exodus, and will be wrapping up this month. I’ll be sharing some of my SOAK notes for the remainder of Exodus, and then move into Matthew in March.