Everett’s Cottage- Thomas Kinkade
I see a cozy English cottage: thick walls, thatch roof; heavy wooden door, leaded glass window in the front. Roses on either side of the door. It looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting. It’s a picture of comfort, security, peace, shalom. Lord, speak about this vision.
The kind of comfort, peace and security, the shalom that men so desperately seek, is not fundamentally an economic or social or physical or geographic condition, but a spiritual condition, a posture of the heart.
In Proverbs 3, that you just read, My servant Solomon detailed some of the internal heart conditions, the good soil if you will, that produces a harvest of peace. This detailed list provides some useful diagnostic tools you can use to check your heart condition, to see if you are dwelling in the comfortable, pleasant refuge of shalom or not. Some examples:
Proverbs 3 New International Version (NIV)
Wisdom Bestows Well-Being
3 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
Are you paying attention to the scriptures- reading, studying, memorizing, meditating?
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
Are you seeking to model love and faithfulness in all your relationships? How healthy and intimate is your marriage? Are you developing healthy and life-giving friendships? Do you have other men you are truly opening your life to? Are you praying faithfully for your family, your friends, your community, your church?
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Are you trusting Me to direct the course of your days? Or are you just “winging it” without My input? Are you allowing Me to speak about your priorities, your lifestyle, your goals and habits and dreams?
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Are you desperately clinging to Me to keep you out of the ditches of pride, arrogance, sensuality, selfishness and carnality, or do you assume you’ve got life by the tail and can pretty much handle things on your own except maybe when you needs to call Me in to deal with a crisis? (Ouch!)
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Are you allowing Me to speak into your financial life? Whose resources do you really think they are? Are you generous, quick to give? Are there any idolatrous attitudes about money lurking in your soul?
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
When challenges and difficulties come, do you recognize My loving hand of correction and chastisement, or do you merely try to get through the “tough spots” as quickly and painlessly as possible? Are you aware of some of the character defects in your soul that I’m currently seeking to address?
13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.
19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.
21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.
Have you gotten comfortable and complacent with your current intellectual, spiritual, moral and physical condition or are you still marked by a holy restlessness to learn, grow, develop, expand your knowledge of Me, yourself and others?
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.
Are you looking for opportunities to share the Good News? Are you aware of some of the spiritual, social and physical needs of those around you?
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways.
32 For the Lord detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools get only shame.
Are you dealing quickly with unforgiveness, bitterness, self-righteousness or judgement that would poisin your relationships?
The cozy cottage of shalom is appealing and inviting, to be sure. It’s My desire for you and all of My people- to experience peace, satisfaction, security in increasing measure. But remember, as David reflected in Psalm 34, shalom is to be sought and pursued, not just passively received. You want to be an agent and instrument of My peace> Great! Use Proverbs 3 as a template to evaluate the posture, the condition of your heart, and you’ll be able to grow in your capacities to do just that.