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Oh, so I have to keep it up?

Back in the day, there was a TV show in which Flip Wilson played a character called "Geraldine" who often was heard saying, "The devil made me do it!" Geraldine blamed the purchases she just made on the devil, the accidental running of the car into the side of the church on the devil, and other various shenanigans in her life all on the terrible old devil. It is easy to blame others for our own misguided steps in life, isn't it? It is much more convenient to blame them on the devil! There are even times we have the nerve to "blame" God for the ignorant stuff we do. We venture into stuff without clearly thinking - just plunge right ahead and never consider the end before we begin. In the end, we look back, wondering where God let US down - now isn't that a hoot? Proverbs reminds us people ruin their own lives by their own foolishness (Proverbs 19:3). Ouch! God is not to "blame" for our misguided steps. In fact, when we come right down to it, the steps we took were miscalculated for sure, but it was all on our part.

Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head—you'll find a good life. (Proverbs 19:8)

Grow a wise heart - look closely - there is no implication of a wise heart being given to us on a silver platter! Wisdom is something that actually comes over time - with consistent (not occasional) application of truth as it is revealed to us. It is like icing a cake. You begin with a full bowl of icing - perfectly prepared for the cake. Until you take the spatula and begin to "apply" it to the cake, the cake is unaffected by the icing in the bowl. Now, cake without icing is okay - but cake with a rich layer of icing wedged between the layers and slathered all over the surface is much more luscious, isn't it? If we just look at God's Word and never apply it to our lives, wisdom isn't going to affect us! The Word of God is "prepared" for us - just like the icing in the bowl. God took special time to pour out each and every word contained within scripture. He prepared it in advance of us needing to "apply" it to our lives. In the application, we experience the rich lusciousness of the Word. It satiates us with the richness contained in it!

"The one who gets wisdom loves life..." Do you love life? If you are not pursuing the Word in such a manner so as to apply it actively to your life, you may not actually be fully appreciating the precious gift of your life! Wisdom is "grown", not just "known". Keep a clear head - look again - there is no implication of a clear head being the result of some mystical process. No amount of 'mind-clearing meditation' is going to give us a clear head. The very simple truth is we must "keep" our heads in "right" condition. Whenever we "keep" something, it implies we have brought it into right order to begin with! When you "keep up", you are saying you are maintaining possession of something placed within your control. These are "our" minds - they don't belong to anyone else - although they can be easily influenced by all manner of influences. Therefore, the keeping of a clear head is really an active process on our part - we have to 'select out' the influences that we don't really need to listen to in the first place. 

"The one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper." We have a tendency to "keep up" something we cherish. Look at a man with his polished and preciously restored vintage automobile, or new heavy duty, super-hauler truck with the big wheels and huge engine. Hours of hard work, tender care, and skilled application on display for all to behold. A clear head is something like his automobile - it needs our hard work, tender care, and skillful application of truth in order to set it in right order and to keep it in this condition of perfect order! We are not left on our own to do the "ordering" of our minds and this is a good thing! The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are here to assist in the process - kind of like having the technical manual at our fingertips, along with a skilled instructor to guide us through the use of what is in that manual. I want to challenge us to examine our application of knowledge - to move beyond the attainment of knowledge. Mere knowledge is nothing without application - in applying what we learn, we soon become wise beyond our age! It the application of truth and "keeping up" the applying of it until it produces the desired result that begins to bring clarity in our lives! Just sayin!

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