Saturday, September 30, 2017

Fuel in the Engine

It is impossible to get up in the morning, turn on the news in this country, and avoid the conflicts which rage through our nation.  This country was formed 241 years ago.  I have been a citizen of it for over half a century and can fervently say that I've never seen it more divided than it is today.  Surely, the American Civil War revealed Americans at their most divided, with the Vietnam war running a close second.  But, I'm talking about national division in my adult lifetime.

From my perspective it began to reach a boiling-over point about 9 years ago.  Even though the majority of Americans supported President Obama's election, as time went on liberal, "progressive" actions and policies began to be more extreme and divisive.  It became plain that sinister forces were at work behind the scenes to foster division in our country.  This trend has only ramped up with President Trump's election.

One of the nexus points of division today has to do with money and work, which continue to be our blog topic today.  Beliefs about money flow from beliefs about God, and there is next-to-no consensus about God in America today, regardless of what is printed on our currency ("In God We Trust"). .... Some still do, but the majority certainly do not.  More often people trust in the currency itself.  It's not an exaggeration to say that many worship it.

We have been exploring the topic of work and money in Proverbs because that book has a lot to say on this topic.  In fact, the entire Bible has a lot to say on this topic.  That is a blessing and a curse.  Why a curse?  Because of the many references to money and work, it is easy to develop a skewed theology concerning them.  At each extreme are "austerity gospel" and "prosperity gospel".  I guess I'd better define those terms.  I will, but am not going to delve deeply into ether extreme this morning.

"Austerity gospel"1 , to borrow from Kevin DeYoung, is the belief that God loves us more if we are poor as church mice.  When you focus exclusively on verses or stories such as Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), the truth that Jesus appeared to have no permanent earthly home, and then remember the story of the rich, young ruler, you can make a plausible case for poverty as an avenue to please God.

"Prosperity gospel" on the other hand is justified by verses or stories of Job, Solomon, David, Abraham, the promise from Malachi 3, and "ask and ye shall receive".  If God is pleased with you, you will have "the Midas touch" - - everything you do will prosper you financially.

Both of these extremes are wrong.

One thing to remember about the book of Proverbs, and this is very important to remember, is that it is a guidebook of general principles or maxims, if you will.  A maxim2  is "a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct."  Neither maxims, nor proverbs, are iron-clad promises.  This holds true for all Proverbs.  Yes, they are true because they are part of the inspired Word of God.  But, they are not promises.  It is critically important to remember that difference.

Let's, then, go on to explore more themes of work and money from Proverbs.
That ridiculously long introduction leads us to today's text: Proverbs 21:5 (NLT)

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.

This is just one of many proverbs to address the value of work.  Unfortunately, neither of these components are "fun", lol!  In our current world, working hard, which often results in achievement, is downplayed.  Those who are successful through planning and hard work are often accused of getting their achievement unfairly - - by virtue of their family background, of their race, by luck ... The next accusation is that the achiever does not deserve what he or she has earned through shrewdness and hard work.  This type of thinking separates people into "haves" and "have nots", with "unfairness" being at the root of why people ended up in each camp.

Excuses, such as the excuse of "unfairness", simply give people a justification for not changing their position or behavior.  If you believe it is "unfair" that someone has something you do not, well, then, it follows that you didn't cause this situation, nor can you change it.  The Bible calls this "bunk" (well, not literally, but figuratively.)  In fact, the Bible points out some other excuses for not working, such as:

- - - following worthless pursuits . (Prov. 28:19)
- - - lying around all day (Prov. 6:10-11 and 20:13 and 24:33-34)
- - - all talk and no action (Prov. 14:23)
- - - chasing ridiculous short-cuts instead of working (Prov. 13:11)
- - - getting drunk instead of working (Prov. 21:17)
- - - stealing, which can cause you to hate yourself and others as well (Prov. 29:24)

Notice that the component of strategic planning is vital to success.  Success is not born of hard work alone.  This is where the expression, "Work smarter, not harder" originates.

Years ago, while studying the practices of a very successful middle school teacher, I read about how excited she was when her nationally-acclaimed mentor came to visit her classroom.  The thing he complemented her on most was how organized her classroom was.  Organization alone does not make a great teacher, but it is hard to be great in that profession (or any other) without it.

I don't know about you, but I keep lists, which (usually) keep me on track.  If I don't, I tend to bounce around from thing to thing, not getting many things done.  So, "working hard" without a focus is not productive.  Deep thinking and strategic planning are the fuel in the engine of hard work.

Today, I plan to work on strategic planning for my home-based business.  I'd better get to it!  After all, as The Message translation puts Proverbs 21:5 - - -

Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;
    hurry and scurry puts you further behind.




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sweet Water

My mother's grandchildren, are for the most part, either seeking careers, beginning their careers, or just starting to thrive in their careers.  For example, one of my nieces started her first "full-time job" yesterday, having finished her master's degree this past summer.  A nephew is in the process of nailing down a huge step in his budding career.  Another niece was on the cover of a couple of local magazines recently.... God is so richly blessing each of them in their work, and I am so grateful! Many, many prayers have been prayed over these children and continue to be prayed.

What is work?
Some would say that "work" is a way to earn money, in order to sustain oneself (and family, if applicable) - - to put food on the table and clothes on the back.
However, that is only one aspect of work.
Yes, we must participate in some degree of "commerce" in order to survive on this planet.   It is very difficult for a person to go out into the wild (aka Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of NC) and survive for very long alone.  (He didn't, and he thought of himself as a survivalist....)
But, "work" is more than "making a living".

We tend to judge people according to the kinds of work they do.  For example, someone who makes a lot of money is praised, while someone who makes a small salary (or works for "free") we disdain. The reason we do this, aside from our sinful natures, is that we make judgments of "success" based on appearances.

God does not do that.  He judges, based on a person's heart, and how they used the gifts they were given.  See Luke 12:36-48 (parable of the 10 virgins) and Matthew 25:14-30 (parable of the talents).
{As you read the latter, keep in mind a "talent" was a coin or an amount of money.}

So, as a foundational first step, we need to have a biblical definition of "work".
"Work is using the gifts that God has given, in order to make a positive difference for Jesus Christ in this world."

Now, permit me to defend that definition which, to some of you, will sound vague, impractical and New-Agey.

The definition is undergirded by the following beliefs from Scripture:
1.  God knew and formed each of us in our mother's womb.  He created us each as one-of-a-kind, with particular gifts and talents.  (Psalm 139:13)
2.  Once we have begun a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus, we begin to learn His mind and heart as we discover our own, individual set of abilities.  He reveals this to us, as we walk with Him.  (1 Chronicles 28:9) Here David is speaking to his son, Solomon.  "Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind."  Then, 1 Chronicles 22:19

"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD."

Notice that the command was to FIRST make the irrevocable decision to seek God before entering into any kind of work, even work that was "for him", in this specific case, beginning to construct the Temple.  The importance of this can't be overstated.
3.  When we apply our gifts and talents to working for His kingdom and as we seek His face in faith, He will lead us, open doors for us, and enable us to serve Him through our "work".  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

A well-known adage (attributed to Confucius, Marc Anthony AND Mark Twain) goes something like this:
"Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

In other words, if you choose to make a living by working at something that fuels your passion, it won't feel like work to you at all.  It will not be drudgery, and you will work hard at it, because you love it.  Consequently, you will be successful at it.

Water4 is a non-profit ministry that was born out of the lives of ordinary, Christian working people, the Greenly family.1
They make a living", but they also make a difference for God's kingdom.  Click the link below.

And, so Christian, determining what God wants us to do at any particular time with our time, resources, gifts, talents, involves asking the question:  "What's Your Well?"

What has Jesus given to you that you can use to both "make a living" and further His kingdom?
This is what I ask myself continually.....
How can you bring "sweet water"?



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Omers and Homers

Today, with great excitement, I opened a package I'd received in the mail.  To my surprise, there was an extra item in the box, a duplicate of one of the items ordered.  Hmmmm.....what to do?

I'm sure you've been faced with a similar situation.
*You are given too much "change" at the retail store or the drive-thru.
*You find something valuable that belongs to someone else.
Those types of situations.

I had a very close friend who, at that time, claimed to be a Christian.  He'd always say, "Oh well! Lucky me!", making no attempt to find the owner, alert the clerk, etc.

What do you think God expects of us, His redeemed ones, in those situations?
A clue can be found in Proverbs 11:1 (NET)

The Lord abhors dishonest scales,
but an accurate weight is his delight.

"Dishonest scales"....what does that mean?

In ancient times, many goods were sold according to their weight.  Some biblical weights are foreign to Westerners today, things like omers and homers, to name a couple.  If you'd like a handy reference to convert those strange biblical references to those you'd recognize, here's a link you can bookmark:

But, more on topic, here's what unscrupulous merchants would do.  They would manipulate their scales so that when measuring out an omer of grain, for example, the scales would reflect more product than was actually there.  They'd hang a weight on one side of the scale and the product on the other.  Sometimes, in their bag, they'd have a smaller weight, which they'd use (just shy of an omer, for example), calling it an omer when it was not. Then, the merchant would charge the full price.  In this way, the buyer would be cheated. This is mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy 25:13 (NET).

You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small.

Do we really think it is godly to profit from another human being's mistake?
When we fail to disclose an error such as those I described earlier, we are acting the same as a dishonest merchant.  We are cheating someone of some thing that belongs to him or her.

To be honest, I am tempted at times to just react as my former friend did, and blow it off.  This immediately leads to feelings of shame for even considering such a thing.  But, seems to me the scriptures are pretty clear:  such dishonest behavior is not pleasing to God.  "Abhor" is a pretty strong word.
Furthermore, is this how we, ourselves, would want to be treated?

Today, I went into a certain business establishment and left something on the check-out desk. Because my information was in their computer system, the receptionist called to let me know to come back and pick up my essential oils.  I was so grateful!

And, the "merchant" who sent the extra item in today's package by mistake?  When I inquired, she said to keep it.  Her generosity was so appreciated!  Excellent customer service!

In both those cases, my loyalty and business have been earned for a long time.
There aren't enough "shekels" to buy that kind of customer loyalty!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sturdy Oak, Mighty Sequoyah

Yesterday afternoon we celebrated my husband's side of our family at the Cochran family reunion.  It is a gathering that usually occurs at Cousin Peg's house, the lovely ancestral home, out in the "country".  In front of Peg's house is a large tree.  Recently, the remnants of Hurricane Irma blew through this area, and many, many trees did not survive the storm. Peg estimates the tree in front of her house, a gorgeous, sturdy oak, has endured for over 100 years.

Perhaps, one day, I will do a study about "trees in the Bible", but for now, here are a few tidbits.  We read in Genesis about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and also The Tree of Life, both of which grew in the Garden of Eden.  The Tree of Life is also mentioned in the book of Revelation.  In a way, this tree "bookends" the Bible, a book which in all its various components points us to the Author of Life.  Of course, the only Savior "bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24) when He gave His life sacrificially on the wooden cross.  And, that is the centerpiece of the Bible.

Another of my favorite biblical tree references occurs in Psalm 1.  It is a short psalm and one that is beneficial for memorization.  Here are the first three verses (NIV):

1Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

Like the person described in these verses, Peg's tree has not lived a long time because it is strong; it is strong because it has learned how to bend, adapt and to live.

One of the finest young ministers I've followed in recent years died three days ago, at the age of 34. Nabeel Qureshi has, through his relatively short ministry, been used by God to bring untold thousands to faith in Jesus Christ.  And, I have no doubt his impact will be felt for many, many years to come. There is absolutely no doubt Nabeel loved the Lord and His "law", His ways, His truth.  Why, then, did God decide to take him on home?  Who can know the mind of God?  Certainly, not I.

Muslim mockers began to accuse Nabeel of getting stomach cancer because he forsook Islam and embraced Jesus Christ as the only way to God.  Yet, Nabeel's faith in Jesus Christ was unwavering. In one of his last videos, speaking to a Houston congregation, he affirmed his faith in Messiah Jesus, "no matter what", "even if the worst should happen and I should die of this disease".

I hope you listened to that.  How beautiful, the unshakeable faith of this man!
Even though Nabeel suffered greatly, the Bible describes him and any who forsake mockers and sinners for Jesus Christ as fruitful, spiritually healthy trees....trees who pull their sustenance from the waters of the Word of God and who sink their roots deep into Him.  Their branches are laden with spiritual fruit, and God blesses those ministries.  Nabeel's vibrant spirit and Sprit-filled ministry make me think of a mighty Sequoyah!

"This God - - - His ways are perfect...."
I have to keep telling myself that, as I move on through this life .
And, the rest of that verse, "the word of the Lord PROVES TRUE (emphasis mine).  He is a shield to all who trust in Him."  (Psalm 18:30).

All humans have their struggles, day in and day out.  That is for sure.  The Lord causes the rain to fall on both the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).  But, when I find someone who has deliberately chosen to walk hand-in-hand with those who have contempt for or have rejected God and who has bought into ungodly world views, I have to wonder if much of their trouble is due to their rejection of God.  I thought about them while thinking of all the trees who lay in our streets, on our houses and (not to forget) on our power lines in recent days.

Yes, Nabeel's physical tree has fallen, and our broken world is a sadder, poorer place.  But, I have not one shred of doubt that God will use even this for His greater glory.

When we lean into God during times of trouble, when we fill our minds and hearts with His truth from the very inspired Word of God, we gain a "root system" that can withstand any storm.  A root system that endures forever, extending into an assured eternity with the one, true God.  In that, we are so very, truly blessed!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Zombies in the Bible

Driving through a nearby town's square yesterday I noticed that various businesses were putting up scarecrows dedicated to advertising their particular businesses.  My hometown does this also, in the Fall, and even has an event called ZombieFest, or some such name.

I've never gone.  The purpose of this post is not to view condescendingly those who do.
But, the whole zombie mania has just never appealed to me.  Zombies remind me of the truth of the world in which I live.  I don't like the reminder.

That being said, the Bible is full of stories about zombies.
I ran across a key verse this morning, as I breakfasted on Proverbs 9.  The verse is 9:18.  Here it is in the English Standard Version (ESV):

But he does not know that the dead are there,

that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

What is a zombie, after all?
The classic definition the world gives is "a human body that appears to be living, although it is thoroughly dead", or "a re-animated corpse".1

Take a look at the latter half of Proverbs 9.  The entire chapter is a contrast of two life choices.

In the latter verses, the zombie life, the choice of death, is described.
I'm referring to being spiritually dead, of course.

You see, all humans are born spiritually dead, because of the curse of Adam.  The Old Testament prophet and king, David, gave voice to this biblical truth when he exclaimed:

Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me. 
Psalm 51:5 (NET)

Some of you "theologians" out there will want to wrestle with me over this teaching of "original sin", the Adamic Inheritance, but that is for another day.  Even if you don't subscribe to that biblical truth, anyone old enough to comprehend this blog post has sinned, at least once, which means that, spiritually, you are spiritually dead.

Sin kills.  It separates the human soul from the 100%, high-octane holy, God who made it.  As humans we have two choices and only two, once we realize that we are dead souls inhabiting living human bodies.  And, those two choices are portrayed in Proverbs 9.

Those who choose idolatry, the "folly" described in Prov. 9:13-18 are often blind to that fact.  As verse 18 says, (Gena's paraphrase), "they don't know they are zombies, partying with zombies, or that Folly's former guests are in the depths of Sheol (the realm of the ungodly physically dead).

Living in ZombieLand, you know, most of us Christians choose to ignore that fact.  We have, after all, escaped from that eternal fate by putting our trust in the only way to eternal salvation, Jesus Christ, and the deadness around us is so pervasive that we become numb to it.  Many of us are content to let people all around us follow their folly all the way to eternal damnation with scarcely one thought as to their fate.

At this point some of you are really mad at me.  "People have to make their own decisions about Jesus."  Well, of course they do.  But, (once again for emphasis) when you examine verse 18 closely, it is clear that the lost zombies there described do not realize that they are dead souls, surrounded by dead souls, and on their way to the eternal destination of dead souls.

It is up to us to tell them.  The question I must ask myself as a Truth-Bearer, as part of The Light of the World (Matthew 5:14) is, "Am I willing to do that?"



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Squirreling a Little Away

My older son has worked steadily as he has attended college.  He did so to earn "spending money". He told me a few months ago that, because he had listened to the advice of a local radio personality, he was automatically saving a portion of his pay and investing it in a no-load fund.  I was both surprised and impressed with both his maturity and wisdom.

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about money, (as does the Bible as a whole).  This particular verse comes to mind this morning.

Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away, but the one who gathers it little by little will become rich. 
Proverbs 13:11 (NET)

I remember when the boys were small, we had these compartmentalized banks we ordered from Focus on the Family.  Each bank was divided into 3 sections: one for 80% of the child's "income", one for 10% (tithe) and the third for the remaining 10% (savings).  Never too early to teach good stewardship.

Some would say that I am not the best steward of my financial resources, because I do not chase down and keep laborious track of every, single penny.  Admittedly, I could have done a better job of that. (My mother and my younger son are masters in this area!) The fact that I'm not a details person" did not serve me well in that regard.  Hubs and I have never attended Financial Peace University, even though I do admire Dave Ramsey's work.  However, my husband and I have followed scriptural principles all our married lives, and God has blessed us accordingly.  I give Him all the glory for that.

Yesterday, I found myself at Kroger with a few extra minutes.  (I was waiting on a prescription.) So, I used the time to browse through the "clearance" bins.  In particular, school supplies were on deep clearance.  In the back of my mind I remembered my Operation Christmas Child project - - two shoeboxes I plan to prepare for that ministry.  Crayons, watercolor paints, coloring books, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners - - all these and more went into my cart at a huge discount.  That money was well-spent, and those items were packed into the shoeboxes after I got home, squirreled away until November, when I'll flesh them out even more before the collection begins.  I'm grateful God enabled me to save those dollars, and still accomplish what He called me to do with OCC.

The verse highlighted today emphasizes the routine, steady, unglamorous habit of "putting a little away".  This is a very important part of stewardship, whether you are squirreling away part of each paycheck or squirreling away tangible goods and supplies, as I described above.  It serves us well whether we are saving for retirement, as my son is doing, or whether we are saving "for a rainy day", those unexpected expenses that occasionally hit us "out of the blue".

I do believe the Lord will hold us accountable for how we spent the resources He gave us during our time on earth, whether they be our talents, our time or our money.

One final (humorous?) story to close:
About six months ago, my microwave exploded.  It is a combination unit of microwave and conventional oven, built into a wall cabinet.  We think that one of the sensors got stuck, unbeknownst to us.  We left home for an event and when we returned, there was glass all over the floor because the glass window of the microwave had shattered.  Wow.  Well, the entire combination appliance will cost over $2500 to replace, and I am rebelling against that.  So, for now, we have taped the shattered glass front of the microwave up with bright blue painter's tape.  Yeah, it looks awesome.  While I have the money to replace it, I can't decide what I want to do - - put another combo micrwave/conventional in that space, double ovens.   #inertia  However, it is comforting to know that, when I feel led to make a move in that direction, my "rainy day fund" will cover it.

I'm so grateful to God for His goodness, and for the wise scriptural principle of Proverbs 13:11.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

#Fail, Because.....

In my Beautycounter business, I am at the beginning of a new month and am focusing on goal-setting.  In this line of home-based work, every month is like "turning over a new leaf" - - you have to basically "start over" with your business earnings every month.  It's lots of fun, actually.

Well, when setting goals you must, absolutely must, embrace the possibility of failure and at the same time, absolutely refuse to accept your own excuses.

You know, we live in an American culture that is thoroughly saturated with excuse-making.
The utter "far reaches of the universe" example of this is a news story from September 1st, just 4 days ago. Young dude stabs his wife multiple times, ultimately murdering her.  He calls 911, seemingly in a daze to say...wait for it...."the cold medicine made me kill her in my sleep".

Truly.  I am astounded.

Well, we encounter the first excuse - - excuses being at best an apology/explanation and more often the failure to accept responsibility for one's actions, in Genesis 3:12-13 (ESV)

12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The first manifestation of the Fall of Man was that Adam and Eve ran and hid from God, because they did not want their sin exposed.  That's what sin does.  It separates us from a holy God.  Our sin offends a totally holy God, and simultaneously, our sin causes us to rebel against His utter holiness.

This is why we see the first excuses made by Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.  What did they do?  They blamed each other.  Adam blamed Eve; and, Eve blamed Satan, who had manifested in the form of a beautiful animal called the Serpent.  Would be laughable, if it were not so terribly tragic.

The writer of Proverbs addresses excuse-making with a verse that we find in both Proverbs 22:13 and Proverbs 26:13.  The two verses are very similar.  Together, they are an example of ridiculous excuse-making.

The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside! I will be killed in the middle of the streets!" 

The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road! A lion in the streets!" 

There's a lion!!!
Right?  This lazy person (sluggard) is shirking responsibility and using an improbable fear to justify his laziness.

In these two examples from Scripture we see two main reasons that we, in our carnal fallen natures, tend to make excuses:  to avoid responsibility for mistakes or to avoid fulfilling our God-given responsibilities.   The first is reactive; the second is proactive.  Both are sin.

For some people, making excuses is a coping strategy and/or a way of life.  Living this way does not produce successful people, either in the world's eyes or in God's.  If you think about your own life and honestly discover that this is a pitfall for you, ask God for the courage to reverse this trend in your life, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is one thing to apologize and attempt to explain one's mistake.  Doing this with genuine acceptance of responsibility and willingness to make things right - - this is the mark of a humble and godly person.  To do this is righteous and necessary when we have messed up and harmed others.

It is one thing to prioritize and make reasonable goals, as long as our "reasonable" does not hold us back from fulfilling the plans God has in mind for us, due to fear.

What is your "because"?
Great point I'm pondering.
You too?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

God's First Creation

Proverbs 8 is somewhat of an enigma.  In this chapter an alternative is given to Vice, well-described in chapter 7, and that alternative is Wisdom (Truth).  That in itself is not surprising.  What IS fascinating is that Solomon personifies Wisdom, using pronouns which identify Wisdom as feminine, and beyond that, a created being.  In fact, Wisdom is described as The Creator's (Jesus') first creation.

Now, do I believe that there was (or is) an actual created being named Wisdom?  No.  I believe Solomon was using the poetic device of personification to prove a point and to make a feminine contrast of Wisdom with the Harlot (Vice) of chapter 7.  Personification is useful to help a reader see a truth concept more clearly.  In this case the device and contrast are very effective.

I also believe that the attributes Wisdom is given by Solomon are true.  So, in fact, I accept from this chapter that, when beginning the creative process, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-4) created from His own nature the Truth/Wisdom which He then established as the first created element, and this godly body of Truth undergirds all of our created world.

We do not find the establishment of Wisdom explicitly mentioned in Genesis 1.  Creation there begins with the Spirit of God moving over the face of the deep waters (Gen.1:2).  Obviously, those waters were created prior, and then Wisdom established/created prior to that.  The Wisdom/Truth of God was present in every aspect of the creation of the heavens and the earth.

What a marvel!

In Luke 11:49, the writer calls Jesus "the Wisdom of God".  Some have wrongly equated the Wisdom spoken of here in Proverbs 8 as being Christ Jesus Himself.  But, verse 22 makes plain that Wisdom was created as the first of the Creator's (Jesus') mighty works of old, BEFORE "the watery depths" (Proverbs 8:24).  Truly, Jesus was and is the fully human embodiment of the fullness of God the Father and God the Spirit.  No doubt.  And, it is from Himself that He created and established the Wisdom mentioned in Proverbs 8, the Wisdom that frames our existence.

Proverbs 7 and 8 are contrasts in desire.  Chapter 7 is all about the lure of deception, falsehood, vice and temporal pleasures taken in secret.  Chapter 8 is all about desiring "a woman eternal and invaluable", worth more than any amount of riches (Prov. 8:22).

This is her invitation, which she shouts loudly and openly to all who would hear:

32“Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
34Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.

May we ever and always pursue her by adoring and following the One from whom she sprang!