Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Proverbs: Insight & Foresight, turn weakness to strength – Ant, Locust, Hyrax, Lizard

Is it possible, for the

not strong,
not powerful,
the leaderless 
the little, the vulnerable

are these able to achieve great feats, mighty things?

Is it possible to turn weakness to strength?

From the book of Proverbs in the Bible,
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

Knowing Jesus personally,
and walking in His ways is the path to  Godly wisdom.

Does the Bible  also  gives us wisdom, insights for living everyday life,
in everyday challenges/problems?

The introductory lines of Proverbs describes the book’s intent & motivation:
Proverbs 1:2-4, 5:2 (GW)
to grasp wisdom and discipline,
to understand … to acquire the discipline …
to give insight … to give knowledge and foresight …
for living and life, … to face life.

5:2   so that you may act with foresight
            and speak with insight.

In Proverbs, there’s a practical, simple, and down-to-earth passage that invites us to examine the lives of everyday tiny creatures  around us,
tiny creatures without PhDs, … but extremely wise.

Even children can appreciate their wisdom 🙂 .

Tiny creatures, … realities in the real world
and how they overcome … in simple ways.

Proverbs 30:24-28 (NLT, MSG)
24 There are four things on earth that are small
but unusually wise:

25 Ants—they aren’t strong,
    but they store up food all summer.
26 Hyraxes—they aren’t powerful,
    but they make their homes among the rocks.
27 Locusts—they have no king,      (leaderless)
    but they march in formation.
28 Lizards—they are easy to catch,     (weak, vulnerable)
    but they are found even in kings’ palaces.

Tiny creature  – what their problem, lack, weakness is  (they  are small)
but  –  what amazing feat they achieved   (why they’re  unusually wise)

4 examples who share these characteristics.

24-28 There are four small creatures,
    wisest of the wise they are—

ants—frail as they are,
get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
locusts—leaderless insects,
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.

i.e. the ant’s summer, the hyrax/marmot’s rocks,
the locusts feast, the lizards’ palace 🙂

On a side note , the writer of this proverb, Agur,  is a keen observer of nature  (also verses 19, & 33),
… like a scientist 🙂 .

Certainly, the ant, the hyrax/marmots, the locusts, the lizards
are not intimidated by the vastness of their impending challenges.
Neither are they paralyzed by their own weaknesses, or tinyness.

They’ve found ways to harness their weakness & whatever they can use,
to arise in strength to meet the challenge.

By their wisdom,  they were not limited by their limitations, constraints,
they saw beyond, … they re-imagined,
they acted, … they overcame.
They harnessed whatever they had, and leapt forward.

The writer of this proverb invites us to humbly  learn  wisdom
from these 4  tiny  creatures.

Despite their tiny brains,
these guys are … very, very  wise !

The tiny, the weak, the least …. takes center stage,
come listen to them.

See what they’ve achieved, … against the odds,
by their wisdom.

mightily tiny –> tiny mighties

quiet achievers

their Weakness is overcome by Wisdom,

How ?

In this blogpost, we’ll begin by examining these creatures as sub-groups first,
then individually,
… in the light of the practical world, we live in,
in the marketplace, we work in.

Finally, we’ll link it up with our walk with Jesus.

Overview   

Ant
Hyrax / Marmot
Locust
Lizard

Conclusion
Endnote: Interpretation – literal or spiritualise/allegorise?

Along the way, we’ll highlight some scientific facts about these magnificent creatures,
and also some modern day inspiring testimonies.


Overview

The 4 little creatures highlight some everyday common sense wisdom, for us to practice.

A single ant, locust/hyrax and locust
each one is tiny, limited, weak,

but, as a group   

they survive and thrive together as a cohesive, collaborative group,
get plenty of food in for the winter
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes
yet they strip the field like an army regiment

The ant, locust/hyrax and locust challenges us to think
out of independence‘, 
out of being  individualistic, divisive, passive,

into collaboration, partnering, complementing, supporting, …. others,
in community,
and  together  we can achieve much more, far more
than if we do it alone.

get organized, … empower people, … apply the crowd for the greater good,

weak alone, … strong together, … (& can’t be ignored,   eg a locust swarm)

Examples:
Crowd-sourcing, crowd-funding, peer-to-peer networks, open source software, Wikipedia, Linux, etc

The greater the number of users & contributors in a service,
the more valuable the service becomes to the community (an example of Metcalfe’s law), eg. Youtube

In a sense, the Internet is like the locust,
it has no leader, no owner,
yet its impact & reach is massive,
thru the empowering tools it provides,
its wide reach, low entry barrier and valuable content/data shared by everyone.

On a side note, by reducing bickering, in-fighting, selfish ambition  within a group, … helps everyone to focus on what each one does best,
rather than being distracted.

Ant amazing teamwork & cooperation  – building  bridges in mid-air

And for a lizard, … tiny as it may be,
however, its size is   its advantage.
The lizard also harness what it has — its ability to scale walls & ceilings,
they sneak past vigilant palace guards, … are found even in kings’ palaces

Whatever walls, or gate-keepers it faces,
the lizard challenges us to think  ‘out of the box’,

– how can its weakness be a strength?
– how can its weakness be turned into an advantage?
– what else it has, that it can use?
– alternative paths or solutions?
– Is there a way to sneak past vigilant palace guards?  (legally & righteously of course!!)

the lizard — bold,  streetsmart,  ingenious, shrewd,  daring

Are there benefits of lizards (gecko) in a home or palace?
From a zoo reptile expert:
“The benefits of having geckos around your home are that they act like insect control.  They have the capacity to eat a lot of small insects in the space of an evening, and keep insect populations down around your home.”
Source:  Sunshine Coast Daily

On separate note,
the ant colony, and the locust swarm,
together have a simple, clear, shared  goal and objective
that is beneficial to everyone  (win-win),
and understood by everyone,
that drives them to act together, … in unity.

Communication, achieving buy-in, mutual support
and unity in purpose is key –> building a team.

And by collaborating together,
empowering and trusting one another,
as a cohesive united group
they’re able to accomplish great goals / objectives
with little strength (ant),  and without leadership  (locust).

Their goal/passion inspires and propels them.

“A true big, hairy, audacious Goal is clear and compelling,
serves as unifying focal point of effort,
and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit.
It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.”

— Collins and Porras

Thus, before starting anything, as a group,
defining clear, achievable goals and objectives,
and agreeing together to work together to get to that destination together
becomes a compass for the group.
Without it, … is like a boat … floating, … but un-anchored,  set adrift

The objective or problem statement has to be clearly defined,
the right question has to be articulated,
else its just solving the symptoms, … rather than the core, the root cause.

Clear, simple, memorable statements replicated across the group members,
else like the game of chinese whispers the message gets distorted as its being shared between members of the group.

Do two walk together
    unless they have  agreed  to do so?
Amos 3:3 (NIV)

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth   agree   about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:19, 20 (NIV)

With a simple, clear, shared goal and objective
… the ants have a plan
the locusts are well organised, empowered
the hyrax/marmot managed risks/threats
and the lizard thinks ‘out of the box’ as new challenges arise.

The objective is achieved,
the problem is solved,
the project is delivered.

And most importantly, … everyone benefits and thrives!
The community is blessed.

their Weakness is overcome by Wisdom,
insight and foresight.

Therefore

Being wise is better than being strong;
yes, knowledge is more important than strength.

After all, you must make careful plans
before you fight a battle,
and the more good advice you get, the more likely you are to win.

Proverbs 24:5, 6 (GNT)

Plans are built on knowledge  (data, facts),
and wisdom  (ingenuity, wit, strategy, ideas, innovation, taking good advice from others)

thus, difficult challenges are overcome.

19 Wisdom makes one wise person  more powerful
than ten rulers in a city.
Ecclesiastes 7:19 (NIV)


Ants

25 Ants—they aren’t strong,
    but they store up food all summer

The ant colony knows it has an impending life-threatening challenge  (foresight)
— survive thru the cold harsh winter — its number one priority.

The ant colony has a plan.
The ant colony is well-trained.
The ant colony starts working way, way, way, … before winter
… 2 seasons ahead, in summer.

It doesn’t  procrastinate,
or  ‘build castles in the air’,
whatever the weather, … it consistently inches forward  (literally).

Just do it!  Let’s do it!

Industrious, single-minded, united.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence
– is the key to unlocking our potential.”
― Winston S. Churchill

20:5 A wise youth harvests in the summer,
    but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.

20:4 Those too lazy to plow in the right season
    will have no food at the harvest.
Proverbs 10:5, 20:4 (NLT)

A recent example of what practical multi-stream planning and coordinated, diligent execution,
with adequate resources can achieve …

 

Let’s pause for some facts of these magnificent creatures that God has made:

“Ants are famously among the best super-atom-weight powerlifters in the world.
Their prowess differs between species,
but some can lift   
10 to 50 times their bodyweight.”
Source:  BBC

Despite her size and royal title,   the queen doesn’t boss the workers around.
Instead, workers decide which tasks to perform based on personal preferences, interactions with nestmates, and cues from the environment. The colony exhibits
a division of labor where different individuals specialize on different jobs.

Ants communicate mainly using chemicals, which they sense with their antennae. They release pheromones with specific messages, such as “Follow me to food!” or “Attack the intruder!”. In addition, nestmates recognize one another by chemicals on their bodies.
Source:  Arizona State University (ASU):  Ask a Biologist

Proverbs 6:6-8 (NLT)
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.   
    Learn from their ways
and become wise!

Go, learn from the tiny ant.

Though they have no prince
    or governor or ruler to make them work,   

the queen doesn’t boss the workers around   (as confirmed by the scientists)
i.e. not forced, not manipulated, not coerced,
but voluntarily, willingly, passionately
collaboratively,

for the greater good of the community, the ant colony.

8 they labor hard all summer,       plan, diligent execution,  division of labor 
gathering food for the winter     the goal

Clear goal –> Focus –> Plan –> Diligently executed, delegated, teamwork

Don’t get lost in the past,
don’t get distracted by the present,
focus on building for the future, … the objective/goal

Prioritize.
Plan.

Look ahead.
Think long-term.

How much food does the ant colony needs for winter?

Define the problem
Acknowledge the size of the problem, challenge.
Have a good understanding/assessment of the problem, challenge

However, if we keep looking at the problem, we’re never start.

“You don’t have to see   the whole staircase,
just take   the first step.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Seek an achievable plan, a solution forward.

“If you fail to  plan,
you are  planning to fail!”

— Benjamin Franklin:

Break down the problem into manageable, achievable portions
with the resource constraint (ant colony) that is available,
under the time schedule constraint given (summer),
and develop a practical, achievable plan.

From large chunks, into smaller achievable bits,
delegate & empower each ant — what an ant can gather in a day,
division of labor,  teamwork

Rome was not built in a day

27 A lazy man does not roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a man is diligence.
Proverbs 12:27 (NASB)

Be busy, diligent, concientious and work towards the goal.
Less talk, … more action.

11  … whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
… wealth from hard work grows over time
… steady diligence pays off.
Proverbs 13:11 (NIV, NLT, MSG)

Day, by day, … a little bit at a time,
the ants gradually over time, … with  every single ant  empowered & contributing
they build a rich storehouse
to feed them through the long cold winter;
with more than enough to share with every ant in the colony.

Like the ant, the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is practical & down-to-earth.
With foresight, insight and diligence,
she plans & acts early before it snows,

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:13, 19, 21, 22, 27 (NIV)

Her family is well-prepared for winter.

Recently, passed by a nearby neighborhood eatery at night, run by a senior couple.
The shop was closed, … but thru the windows, under the dimmed light,
saw the couple diligently preparing slow-cooked food, takeaway boxes for the next day, for the coming week.

This was how Jesus prepared and planned the day,

Mark 1:35 (NIV)
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark,
Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where

he prayed.

Ant:  Modern-day inspiration
The precursor to the New Living Translation – the Living Bible translation began with just one man, Dr Kenneth Taylor, who diligently paraphrased  the Letters of the New Testament into modern English
on his daily train commute to work.

It began with a simple desire to paraphrase the New Testament so that his own children can understand.  And with a prayer,
“Lord, how can our family devotions become more interesting and valuable to my children, and how can I learn to read the Bible with more interest myself?”

Each evening, he’ll share his paraphrased portion with his children during family devotions, and was able to measure the effectiveness of his work.
Making Scripture accessible for all people, and understandable, even to children, became Dr Taylor’s life’s passion.
He completed this work after 7 years – the Living Letters.
With no publisher wanting to publish his work, and despite criticism from church circles in favor of the King James Version of the Bible,  … Dr Taylor used his own personal savings and started a publishing company — Tyndale House Publishers.  From those humble beginnings, 17 years later the Living Bible was published which sold more than 40 million copies.
Dr. Taylor used the success of The Living Bible to further his mission by distributing all its royalties to Christian ministries worldwide. He founded Living Bibles International (which merged in 1992 with the International Bible Society) for translating, publishing, and distributing modern-language versions of the Bible around the world.

Ken Taylor wrote in his autobiography, My Life: A Guided Tour:
“I have never had a life verse, but one verse summarizes my heart’s desire of many years:

‘Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord.
As long as I live I’ll wholeheartedly obey.’ (Ps. 119:33-34, TLB)

Further details:  Tyndale
Jim Krass, Ken Taylor, Bringing the Bible to Life, Barbour Publishing, Incorporated. 2006.

Dr Taylor used his daily train commute fruitfully.  Passion to share God’s word in clear, understandable everyday language.

12 disciples … 120 on the day of Pentecost, … and to the ends of the earth.
a little leaven works thru the whole dough.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world
… and then the end will come.   Matthew 24:14 (NIV) 


Hyrax / Marmot

they aren’t powerful … vulnerable as they are,
but
they make their homes among the rocks … manage to arrange for rock-solid homes

Living amongst the rocks protect the hyrax/marmot from its predators.

Risk Management

The hyrax/marmot identifies and acknowledges the risks/threats to their community,
and mitigate & manage the risk
in wisely selecting where they should live.
(foresight)

Harness its environment,  latent resources.

They harness their environment,
what’s immediately around them   (among the rocks)
to address their need;
mitigate the risk.
(insight)

There is a psalm that highlights the hyrax,

Psalm 104:17, 18, 27, 31 (NLT)
17 There the birds make their nests,
    and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.
18 High in the mountains live the wild goats,
    and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes

27 They all depend on you
    to give them food as they need it.

31 May the glory of the Lord continue forever!
    The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!

In God’s wisdom, … for each and every animal God created,
… large or tiny or microscopic,
He has exquisitely designed a supportive life-sustaining habitat
around them to survive and thrive in.
The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!

Praise the Lord!

About building homes, Jesus taught:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine
and puts them into practice
is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
 

25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house;
yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Matthew 7:24, 25 (NIV)

The house built on the rock withstood the risks of storms, winds and floods.
Like the hyrax/marmot, the wise man carefully selects where to built his house on,
knowing the risks it will face.

The wise man diligently puts God’s word
into practice in everyday life.


Locust

Locusts—they have no king,
    but they march in formation

In the Bible, swarms of locusts are portrayed as powerful destructive forces, eg.  plagues in Egypt (Exodus) and Joel’s prophecy.
However, in the context of this proverb, the writer is highlighting the amazing wisdom of locusts who without a leader, are able to achieve great feats together.
Solitary insects  here and there  are not a problem, … its when they form large swarms that they become a force to be reckoned with. 

they have no king … leaderless insects
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;

a spontaneous peer community moving as one 

they have no king … leaderless insects
no hierarchy, no titles,
a flat structure, … 
yet able to collaboratively and cohesively move as one

Recently, scientists were able to mathematically replicate the behavior of a locust swarm, and explain how locusts can swarm without a leader, have no king,  but  march in formation.

“We can describe the locusts’ behaviour using quite simple rules and have demonstrated for the first time that locusts have to interact with multiple neighbours in order to swarm in the way they do.
“We already know that animals, including humans, change their behaviour when they are in a crowd,
following cues from their peers.

— Dr Kit Yates, Department for Mathematical Sciences
Source:  University of Bath 

On another scientific note on the amazing flight ability of locusts:
“An insect’s delicately structured wings, with their twists and curves, and ridged and wrinkled surfaces, are about as far away as you can get from the streamlined wing of an aircraft
Locusts are an interesting insect for engineers to study because of their ability to fly extremely long distances on very limited energy reserves.”
— Dr John Young, University of New South Wales
Source:  Science 20

For more on the swarming behavior of locusts, please kindly refer to Wikipedia.

Individual locusts spontaneously pulsate … with the pulse of the group.

Without a leader – amongst thousand of thousands of locusts,
communication happens by following cues from peers (in midflight),
being conscious and aware of others nearby, 

signaling one another, and moving as one.
(Dynamically in real-time, rather than a fixed flight path)

Are there human examples of leaderless action, or leaderless group collaboration in the marketplace?

In certain towns/cities, … the streets are clean, rubbish is not indiscriminately tossed, gardens are tended,
people automatically clean up after using a public space,
people are punctual, orderly, … people naturally queue up, wait patiently
civic conscious,
… all without policing, or someone ordering others around, or imposing penalties (fines).
(thus, are rules or social campaigns necessary in such environments?)

In certain communities, … when disaster or crisis strikes,
the community spontaneously springs into action,
self-mobilizes & self-organizes to donate practical help & time to those in need,
before external assistance arrives.

Mindset, culture, upbringing plays a role

In the world of music, string quartets, conductor-less orchestras and jazz ensembles play or improvise music together without a leader  (no individualistic prima donnas here).
However, a certain level of maturity, music competency, mutual submission & respect, and discipline is required.  Furthermore, a good understanding, respect & trust between one another, and productive relationships also helps.

People able to see how each and everyone
plays an important part,
rather than just a few superstars.

In non-hierarchical social media and peer communities (eg scientific research,  health peer support groups, etc),
there are  key influencers  who are followed by the rest.  These fellow peers have earned the respect and trust of the group.

Respect, trust, maturity, competency, discipline, personal relationships
Influence
By collaborating & complementing together, we can achieve more.

One instrument – melody
two instruments – harmony,  countermelodies
many more instruments – a symphony

how beautiful is an art piece of  just one  color?
how does one ingredient meals taste,
compared with multi-ingredient meals ?

Looking at the wonderful world God created, … God loves variety, diversity, mix & match as well.

How about followers of Jesus?,
In the God’s kingdom, how are we individually and corporately led?

23 …  Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 
Ephesians 5:23 (NIV)

Individually & corporately, we submit to Christ

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path
Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

Those who live according to the flesh
have their minds set on what the flesh desires;
those who live in accordance with the Spirit
have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Romans 8:5, 14 (NIV)

Thus, in our own small ways, as we submit ourselves to Jesus,
the Lord leads us individually and collectively by His Word and through His Spirit,
and gives us the privilege to play a part in His great grand plan, … His symphony.

Paul and Peter wrote on mutual submission:
21 Submit to one another 
out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)

5  …. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)

13 serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

Paul highlighted our key motivation,
Follow my example, as I    follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)

Locust:  Modern day inspiration
By the Holy Spirit,   the spontaneous growth of the grassroots house church movement across China after 1949
(after China closed its doors to overseas missionaries)
through the cultural revolution, and through intense persecution
brought a massive harvest of souls into God’s kingdom, across the stratum of the society,
with healings, deliverance, and miracles amongst everyday, ordinary folks.
Empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, everyday believers used their gifts & talents to serve & disciple others to follow Jesus, … (and like the lizard, in king’s palaces as well).
God’s Spirit swept across the land.

In the kingdom of God, Jesus taught and demonstrated humble servant leadership

26 …. Instead,
the greatest among you should be like the youngest,

and
the one who rules
like the one who serves
  
(personal service, trust, respect, love, by relationship)

27 …  I am among you
as one who serves
.
 

Luke 21:25-27 (NIV)

The basin and the towel


Lizard

they are easy to catch … easy enough to catch
but
they are found even in kings’ palaces … they sneak past vigilant palace guards

“Many species (of lizards) are well known for their specialised toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces, and even cross indoor ceilings with ease.”
Source:  Wikipedia

Instead of seeing an invincible, impregnable wall of problems,
the lizard sees it as a challenge, a mystery puzzle to be solved,
… it looks for possible tiny cracks & crevices to enter through,
it scales walls and ceilings,
they sneak past vigilant palace guards unnoticed.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NIV)
10 If the ax is dull
    and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
    but   skill will bring success.

It’s profitable to be skillful and wise. (CEB)

The lizard and the ant also succeeds by determination & perseverance:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
— Calvin Coolidge

Determination, perseverance –  Political will   to execute, take action.

“The smallest good deed
is better than the grandest good intention”
― Duguet

‘Out of the box’ solutions.  Harnessing untapped competencies & skills.  Forming new synergies.
Resourceful.

Ingenuity

the lizard — bold,  streetsmart,  ingenious, shrewd,  daring

Lizard:  Modern day inspiration
Project Pearl – On the night of 19 October 1981, 1 million Chinese Bibles were ingeniously sneaked passed patrolling navy ships into communist China with a semi-submersible, 137-foot barge, by a bold 20-man crew from 7 nations of Open Doors ministry.
More here – Christianity Today

Open Doors ministers to persecuted countries, supporting faithful brethren in these countries with Bibles, training and practical support.  This ministry started when a young dutch missionary, Brother Andrew, began bringing Bibles into countries behind the Iron Curtain with his Volkswagon in the 1950s.  Brother Andrew in 20 years of bringing Bibles into such countries (through border checkpoints and security checks)  not one Bible  he brought, was discovered/intercepted by the authorities.
In 1988, Open Doors officially brought in 1 million Bibles into the Soviet Union ,with the blessings of the communist government.

More here – Open Doors ,  LA Times

“Our prayers can go where we cannot …
there are no borders, no prison walls,
no doors
that are closed to us when we pray.”
― Brother Andrew

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:5 (NLT)

Just before the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus asked his disciples something practical,

Mark 6:37, 38, 41-43 (NIV)
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages!   ($$)
Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

but how?  the problem is too massive
for our available $$ resources

38 How many loaves do you have? he asked.
Go and see.”

look — what we have ?
how can we use what we already have, … in our midst

Interestingly, while the disciples pointed to $$,
Jesus point was loaves,

besides $$,
are there alternatives?
… and  what   else   is available?

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

look to God, … faith in God,
with God’s help,

41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

by the way,
the 5 loaves and 2 fishes were  wisely  donated by a generous little boy  🙂  (John 6:9)
Imagine the little boy’s glee, .. as he bounced with joy … clapped with laughter,
at seeing his little gift, … turn into a miraculous feast,
right before his very eyes.
… And forever etched in his memory & heart — Jesus – the Bread of Life !

What a marvelous Saviour we serve!


Conclusion

Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise:   (HCSB)

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus directs us to look at birds and flowers, … how our Heavenly Father looks after them, feeds them, clothes them.
In this proverb, we see that … even though, these 4 creatures are tiny,
God has endowed them with unique wisdom and abilities, insight & foresight that propel them to achieve astounding feats.

Its encouraging & comforting to know
that somewhere, … somehow … the Lord has provided a way, will make a way,
in the challenges we’re facing or will be facing,
so that His name will be glorified.

His name is indeed glorified
through the ant, the hyrax/marmot, the locust, the lizard;
the tiny creatures He has made.

In God’s infinite wisdom,
with their tiny constraints,
they’re each equipped for the task;   for such a time as this.

And if the Lord can graciously give these tiny creatures
His wonderful wisdom to solve real-life problems, and great challenges,
then … what more, … when we, His people, ask Him,

If any of you lacks wisdom,
you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.
James 1:5 (NIV)

Amen.

There are four creatures on earth that are small,
but they are very wise and we can learn from them   (Voice)

Anyone, everyone … has potential … is good at something,
can be  commended  for something 🙂

Right down to the tiniest, microscopic of creatures,
the Lord has endowed each and every creature with unique gifts, talents, abilities,
… wisdom.
None are left out.

20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.
Through everything God made,
they can clearly see his invisible qualities
—his eternal power and divine nature.
Romans 1:20 (NLT) 

birds, flowers, ants, hyraxes, locusts, lizards … what else can we learn & marvel of our Father,
from the world He has created?

four creatures on earth that are small
they are very wise and we can learn from them

Let’s remain humble … open to learn from anyone,
learn from their wisdom,
no matter how small, weak or insignificant they are.

Be inspired by their personal stories
of how they tenaciously & diligently overcame their challenges, difficulties, obstacles, limitations, dangers.
(and proving the passive naysayers, the pessimists, the critics wrong)

Seeing … ants as gi-ants.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”  — Christopher Reeve

When faced with real-life challenges, projects, etc,

Beginning with a simple, clear, shared goal and objective
… the ants have a plan
the locusts are well organised, empowered
the hyrax/marmot managed risks/threats
and the lizard thinks ‘out of the box’ as new challenges arise.

The objective is achieved,
the problem is solved,
the project is delivered.

And most importantly, … everyone benefits and thrives!
The community is blessed.

Perhaps we can also ask:

What would the ant do?

 they work constantly to store up food during the summer   (Voice)

Clear goal –> Focus –> Plan –> Diligently execute, delegated, teamwork

Industrious, single-minded, united.

What would the hyrax/marmot do?

 they are wise enough to make their homes in the rocky cliffs   (Voice)

Risk management

Harness its environment,  latent resources.

What would the locust do?

they cooperate as they move forward by bands   (TPT)

Respect, trust, maturity, competency, discipline, personal relationships
Influence
By collaborating & complementing together, we can achieve more.
Peer collaboration.

mutual submission,
humble servant leadership

Submit to one another 
out of reverence for Christ

serve one another humbly in love

what would the lizard do?

it is shrewd enough to enter the palaces of kings.   (Voice)

Ingenuity.

Determination, perseverance – Political will to execute
‘Out of the box’ solutions.  Harnessing untapped competencies & skills.  Forming new synergies.

And, most importantly, … what would Jesus do?


On a final note, here’s how God sent one woman from another culture into a neighborhood of drugs, gangs and vice in Hong Kong, and made a life-changing difference in the lives of many drug addicts and homeless people  — Jackie Pullinger.

A South China Morning Post article on her 50 years of ministry in Hong Kong (click here).


Endnote: Interpretation – literal or spiritualise/allegorise?

The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.
This man’s utterance to Ithiel:  …

Proverbs 30:1 (NIV)

Context:  Proverbs 30 was spoken or written as one literally piece by Agur to Ithiel.  (Proverbs 30:1)
This happened before the New Testament was written.

When Agur first spoke or wrote to Ithiel,
what did Ithiel understand by each proverb?

In the proverb on ant, hyrax, locust and lizard, … for each one,
the same literally structure was used

Tiny creature  – what their problem, lack, weakness  (they  are small)
but  – what their amazing feat achieved   (why they’re  unusually wise)

For each creature, 2 observable facts are highlighted,
which is summarised by the first statement:  There are four things on earth that are small
but unusually wise.

For each creature,
In what way each is small? …. in what way each is wise?

For consistency, … both facts have to be used to understand for each creature;
what the author (Agur) is referring to (i.e. thought) ;  rather than interprete just by keywords (eg. rock, king’s palaces, leaderless, summer).

For consistency, if the approach is to spiritualise/allageorise,
then every sentence in Proverbs 30 (by Agur) has to use the same approach.

consider, the preceding section,
21 “Under three things the earth trembles,
    under four it cannot bear up:
22 a servant who becomes king,
    a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
23 a contemptible woman who gets married,
    and a servant who displaces her mistress.
Proverbs 30:23 (NIV)

the earth trembles … when a servant who becomes king,
when a servant who displaces her mistress   (… and cannot bear up)


Daily Rice | Marketplace

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
September 5, 2018
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2018 – All Rights Reserved
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