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“Son, listen.”

“Pay attention.”

How many times have I said those very words? As a single mom of three boys, I’ve probably said them more than I care to count. In our hearts, we know that if our children will only listen and heed our advice, they will avoid much pain and heartache, even possible consequences of poor decisions.  We hope our own experiences will help them navigate through life unscathed.

Some years into parenthood, I came across those same words in Scripture. A Sunday School teacher sent our class on a fun journey to find a ‘birthday verse’. Taking our birth month and day, we were to find a corresponding verse of Scripture that was an encouragement or instruction to carry through life. Being born on April 22, I settled on Proverbs 4: 20-22. “(Son), pay attention to what I say. Listen closely ... and keep my words within your heart. For they are life to those that find them, and health to a man’s whole body.” I have come back to these words of wisdom many times.

On our journey as Christians, we sometimes make the road much harder than it has to be. The instruction the Bible gives us is not about binding us and restricting us. More than anything, God gave us the Bible to protect us and guide us to the abundant life He wants us to have. Solomon goes on to advise, “Guard your heart ... put away perversity… look straight ahead… take only ways that are firm, and do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Solomon was a wise king who later tested these very words and learned how true they are. As God’s children, let us commit to listening to His word closely. Pay attention. His words are life and health. Keep them within your heart.

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