Twenty-Four {31 Days of Wisdom}

There are times when it is difficult to trust God.  Times when faith seems like a far-fetched idea.  Days when there are things you “know” to be true but you have a hard time believing, acting, and responding to life according to what you know.

Proverbs 24:13-14 says:

“My son, eat honey for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.  Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future and your hope will not be cut off.”

When I was a little girl and would get a sore throat or a cough, my mom would always make me drink a cup of tea with honey and lemon.  I hated the taste as I’ve always prefered straight sugar in my tea.  But she would promise the honey would soothe my throat and actually help heal it.  I didn’t believe her, but I did what she told me to because she was my mom, and I respected and trusted her.  Eventually the honey would do it’s thing and it’s dripping would bring comfort to me and my aches.

The writer tells us with wisdom, it’s the same.  If you feast upon it, wisdom is like food for your soul and when you need it… you will find it. There will be knowledge stored up in your brain that when required, can drop down into your heart and help lead you when you can’t find your way.

Hopelessness often gives us that feeling of not being able to find our way.  Elsewhere in the Proverbs it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

But Psalm 31 tells us to be strong and let our hearts take courage as we wait for hope and expect the Lord.  Romans tells us if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure.

If the very essence of hope is something we are waiting for…something that is not yet, then it is obvious wisdom is necessary for the waiting.

Wisdom carries us in truth when our feelings want to lead us to despair.

Wisdom helps us to maintain our composure when what we may want to do is curl up on the floor and cry {which is okay too sometimes}.

Wisdom feeds our patience while our waning hope may cause us to be impulsive, rash and quick to make a decision we may regret later.

What is it you are hoping for today?  What is it you are waiting for?  Is it a man? A child?  A dream to come to reality?  A prayer still left unanswered?  Is God appearing to be silent?  His voice can be found in the pages of His wisdom…they are full of truth and love for you and he has given you permission to take courage from Him as you wait and expect Him to take action.

Perhaps C.S. Lewis nailed it when he penned the image of God into a courageous lion, Aslan.

“But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”
– The Last Battle

If you are waiting, don’t let your heart be sick… take courage and know you are in the hands of the One who’s timing is perfect.

Twenty-Three {31 Days of Wisdom}

One of the key things I’ve learned so far in these 31 Days along with the class I am teaching at church is about application.

It has been said that wisdom is knowledge applied.  We have Life Application Study Bibles, we preach application oriented messages and we read books and magazine and seek out what is relevant, real and authentic to everyday life.  However if we are not careful to lead our hearts, much of what we consume will only stay at the surface.

Proverbs 23:12 says:

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”

It’s one thing to hear something that is applicable to me, but it’s a whole ‘notha level to actually apply it and make room for God to bring about life change.  To apply one’s heart to something implies that an attachment is being made to the instruction and what is heard is being put to action.

“What is the next right thing I can actually do to make this instruction, this knowledge I now have, a reality in my life?” 

That’s a hard question to ask.  But if I’m going to be a do-er of wisdom and not just a hearer, the question must be asked and the cost counted.

Twenty-Two {31 Days of Wisdom}

Since the age of 18 when I got my first credit card, I have gone in and out of debt.  From credit cards, to medical bills, to school loans and now a house, I have paid off…racked up…paid off…racked up and paid off.  Not it’s not just me, but we…

A few years ago, we went through a small group study called Crown Financial.  It was during that time when a light bulb went off for me and I put a box around this verse:

What became clear to me was that I, the borrower, had become slave to many lenders, there by possibly keeping me from serving freely in the way I wanted to.

It was keeping me from being as generous as I would like to have been. 

Keeping us from giving more than we were able to.

Since the change in perspective, the road hasn’t been easy but thankfully God has been gracious, creative and patient with us.

We have learned how not to become enslaved and plan to never go there again.  We have learned how to be better stewards and serve one master.

If you like so many people right now are struggling to get out of debt, become wiser financially, I can’t say enough about Dave Ramsey… his class was so helpful to us and complimented the Crown Financial material in such a practical way.  Simple Mom also has some great tools and advice as well as many cost saving tips for everyone…not just moms.

It can be a long haul but it’s so worth it.  It’s for freedom Christ has set you free.  Don’t give up your freedom and become the slave to a lender.

 

 

 

Twenty-One {31 Days of Wisdom}

This time of year, especially every four years is my least favorite.

The only time I was ever able to keep up with what was happening in the political landscape was when I was a newlywed and the late John Kennedy, Jr. was publishing the magazine George.

Since then, I have yet to find a source I enjoy consuming as much and I have yet to find a candidate that I can fully get behind.

Call me apathetic or whatever but there are things I like about our current president and things I like about his opponent.  There are certain issues I can’t get past but I also don’t believe voting on single issues is wise.  I try very hard to “vote my values” or “vote my theology” but even there you can find people on both sides of the aisle.

Maybe it’s the whole “aisle” issue that puts me off in the first place.  In every personality test, team building test or what have you, I always come up high in the “let’s stay together” category.  I value unity and harmony so much so that it’s hard for me to live in discord.

The first verse in Proverbs 21 has always brought me comfort during these seasons:

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it where ever he will.”

Trust me, I will vote and I will vote with as much information as I can get by next week.  And for the record, I think you should too.

But regardless of who wins, whether it’s your guy, my guy or our guy…regardless of what passes or doesn’t pass, we can’t lose sight of our King, the One who never vacates His throne.  I don’t belong to this kingdom and neither do you. Our Kingdom is led by One who is Just and One who loves mercy and provides for our every need.

If things don’t go my way, your way or our way on November 6th, it’s a waster of time to fear some ominous situation will happen to our country, our economy, or whatever…

Our days are numbered and have been thought through with every breath since before the earth was formed.  So if you believe that, we should fear God – not man and certainly not some email that was forwarded to you and a hundred other people by a well meaning person.

If the president’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, it is far more productive for everyone involved to let Perfect Love cast out fear and spend our energy praying for him instead.

Join me in praying for both President Obama and Governor Romney. We can trust God will do what He says He will do and turn the man’s heart where ever He will.

And maybe as we pray…we’ll get to see more of what God is doing in this world He spoke into being.

 

This is day 21 {sort of} of a 31 Days of change series on Wisdom.  You can go to the archives here to start from the beginning and you can go here to see posts from other 31 Dayers.

Nineteen & Twenty {31 Days of Wisdom}

It’s happening.

Those years people told me about when a boy becomes a man.  I see the struggle to break free and separate like a to and fro… sometimes they long to be close, sometimes they want to be as far as possible.

The challenge for me is to know how much to hold on and when to let go.

A good friend advised me this week to separate myself from their emotions.  Much like when a 2-year-old who throws himself on the ground in a tantrum… the advice is to walk away and not acknowledge it.  I’m now supposed to detach from the anger of an adolescent to prevent further kindling.

Trouble is, I’ve got both ends of the spectrum right now.

19:11

“Good sense makes one slow to anger,
    and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

My issue is the good sense because none of it makes sense to me. It’s been a long time since I threw my hands up in an adolescent rage, but I remember it well.  Your feelings get out of control and out the heart, the mouth speaks.

So when they are out of control, my goal is stay in control.  Not of them but of me.  It’s the discipline of remaining steadfast when nothing seems steady to them.

19:18

“Discipline your son, for there is hope;
    do not set your heart on putting him to death.”

Not sure if I have what it takes for this ride.  But He does.  In Him there is hope.

But I know, when I lose control they no longer hear.  All they see/hear is that loss of control.

19:27

“Cease to hear instruction, my son,
    and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

They have to find their own way and I can see the way separating from mine.  I can’t go with them, but I can go alongside them.  I can’t walk it for them but I can show them the way.

20:24

“A man’s steps are from the Lord;
    how then can man understand his way?”

Ultimately they need to find their Compass. The One who will direct them.   The One who goes before them.  The One who really knows the way.

Today I’m praying for an extra measure of love…the steadfast kind. I’m praying for faithfulness, the job assigned to me 11 years ago.

I am reminded of how desperately I need this Wisdom the Proverbs give.

Eighteen {31 Days of Wisdom}

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” {Proverbs 18:10}

When I was in 9th grade, my mom’s Multiple Sclerosis had advanced to the point it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to stand up on her own.  She had just recently put her trust in Jesus and decided to become one of His followers.  When she would try to stand up with difficulty, I remember her just calling out, “Jesus!”

I’ll admit, at the time, I thought it was weird.

She would do this several times a day and looking back, knowing what I know now, I understand it was her way for calling out and praying for strength.

I am not handicapped physically, but in my own life I have days where I certainly feel limited.  Limited in my energy, patience, in love for those around me and limited in faith and belief I will be able to handle all that is in front of me.

Beth Moore once advised mothers of young children to even just get down on your knees for one minute each morning and pray, “Lord, help me.” 

Our God is all-knowing and fully present in every space and time.  In each moment of each day, He is there. Better yet, He knows every word before it’s even on our tongues and He knows every thought before it crosses our minds.

So when we pray the prayer, “Lord, help me…” or simply call out the name of Jesus… He is the master of reading between the lines and knows every thought and emotion that surrounds that prayer.

His name is a strong tower.  Run to it, call it out, shout for Him and He will lead you to safety.

Seventeen {31 Days of Wisdom}

Today I’m thankful today for provision.

A roof over my head and food to eat.  Not one but two cars that run.  Kids who are healthy enough to make me a crazy person.

Thankful for a day off.  A day of rest.  A day of quiet.  A day with a life-giving friend who strengthens my soul.  A haircut at the end of the day to refresh me.  A man who enjoys sitting with me on the couch and processing the days events and non-events.

I’m reminded I have more than dry crusts.  I have a house full of feasting and today there is no strife.

Today I am thankful for these.

What are you thankful for today?

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
    than a house full of feasting,with strife.” {17:1}

Sixteen {31 Days of Wisdom}

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

In thirteen and fourteen, I wrote about those who are still waiting, or those with unmet expectations and hope deferred.  This verse is one I have memorized and it’s the thought which keeps floating in my mind as we go through our study on Tuesday nights.

We make a lot of plans in life, we have our dreams and the desired outcome for our family life, our careers and ministry.  God plants some of those desires in us, but some of them are from our own selves. Either way, life often looks different from what we expect.

I know mine does.  There is hardly one aspect of my life that has turned out the way I planned and I’m actually really glad. His ways are higher than ours.

God doesn’t have a plan B because He does not need one.

Your life, right now, right here…expected or unexpected is the way God saw it happening before the foundations of the earth.  If we believe in a sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God, then our theology does not allow us plan B.

Mistakes, yes.

Wrong choices, yes.

Brokenness, yes.

Choice, of course.

But He knows.  And if Jeremiah 29:11 is true, then it has to be all true.  There is a plan.  One plan. And it is good.

Fifteen {31 Days of Change}

There is much to be said about the power of words.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” {Proverbs 15;1-4}

A while ago, I came across this photo on Pinterest. I didn’t “pin it” because I hated it…but when I read today’s proverb, the image immediately came to mind.

I have kids that small and I’ve seen the look on their face when I have said something I really wish I hadn’t.  I can see the power of words all over their faces when I have hurt them with mine.  I can see in living color, the result of wickedness in my heart that overflows from my mouth.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” {Luke 6:45}

The proverb goes on to say that the lips of the wise spread knowledge, not so the hearts of fools.

What do I want my kids to know?  What do I want my husband to know?  What do I want you to know?  Or anyone I speak to or write to or talk with and walk with?

I want them to know how much God loves them.  I want them to know how treasured they are.  How they have been fearfully and wonderfully made, that they are fully loved and welcomed just as they are. That’s the kind of knowledge I want to spread, so my heart needs wisdom… It needs to be filled with wisdom so it will pour forth from my mouth.

Gentle words.

Life-giving words.

Prudence.

Great treasures.

Righteousness.

Cheer.

Patience.

Understanding.

Pure.

Humility.

Lord, forgive me for the words that may cause anger or folly…forgive me for my foolishness. Thank you for new mercies that begin again tomorrow.  Help every word come forth tomorrow with your grace and wisdom pouring forth.

This is the 15th post in a 31 Day series: Wisdom. Start from the beginning here

You can also find over 1000 other topics from bloggers also participating here.

Thirteen & Fourteen {31 Days of Wisdom}

Clearly I’m behind.  But who wants to be religious about this, right?  Though I fall behind in my blogging, I’m still committed…to all 31 days of the Proverbs.

Interestingly enough a theme emerged with both chapters 13 and 14.  The Bible always has an amazing way of speaking to us in the time and space we are in. I suppose that’s what that writer of Hebrews meant:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” {Hebrews 4:12}

The thoughts and attitudes of my heart are currently consumed by a group of women I have the pleasure of teaching on Tuesday nights.  The subject at hand…being a woman in the 21st Century who lives her life with Christ at her center and His glory her drive and ultimate prize.

These women are a wonderful collection of the fabric of our community. All ages, single and married, divorced and widowed.  Some are mothers, some are grandmothers, and while some are longing to birth their own kids, they too are trying to figure out where else they can be “fruitful and multiply.”

What seems to be heaviest in my thoughts and heart are those who are there with unmet expectations.

The ones who are still waiting.

Waiting for the husband they grew up expecting.

Waiting for the child to be knit together in their womb.

Waiting for a job. Something to pay the bills but better yet…something she was destined to do.

Waiting for a marriage to be restored.

Waiting.

Proverbs 13:12:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

There is a space in between the initial onslaught of sickness from unmet expectation and a tree of life.  The point where you start to question if anything God said was actually true.  There is a place where you are sometimes at peace and sometimes at war with your own thoughts.  It’s much like the waiting room at a doctor’s office where you sit, anxiously awaiting what you will discover on the other side of the door.  Where you sit and stare at the coffee table, tired of the same magazine headlines.  The same celebrities on the covers.  The scenery is bland and sterile. There is nothing there to excite you or entertain you.

But in the waiting you are left to think. Left to ponder and be stretched.  On the other side of the door is a tree of life and sometimes you can’t see it because often it doesn’t look quite the same way you pictured it.  The door remains closed until the Great Physician decides it’s time and you are actually ready to receive your results.

You are at His mercy and by sitting there in the waiting room,  you have somehow agreed to place your life in His hands.

The fourteenth chapter shows another road we can take. Rather than sit and wait, we can hear the word He gave us and take matters into our own hands.  The longing, the waiting, the blessing from the stretching in one single move, by one single conversation can be ripped to shreds. Remember Sarah and Hagar?

Proverbs 14:1

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.

It may seem like the right choice at the time, but wisdom beckons us to wait…at least for a time to discern which road leads to the tree of life.

Proverbs 14:12

“There is away that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

The Proverbs are consistent about a choice we all have.   The choice usually captures our attention with two roads, one of wisdom and one of folly.  Both roads can seem right, can look appealing and can have results.

The waiting gives us clarity.  Though the waiting seems empty, quiet and void, the space is being used and is filled with the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

While you are waiting, Someone is always working.

What are you waiting for?

This is post 13 and 14 in a 31 Day series: Wisdom. Start from the beginning here

You can also find over 1000 other topics from bloggers also participating here.