Tuesday, January 31, 2012

That Girl~ Day 31 (31 Days of Wisdom)

Have you seen her?

You know...the Proverbs 31 woman. THAT girl?

When God first spoke to my heart about writing a series on the book of Proverbs, I found myself speaking right back.

"But, God. You know what's waiting at the end of Proverbs. Chapter 31 is all about THAT girl...the amazing, almost too good to be true, Proverbs 31 woman. How am I....ME?...going to write about her?"

Well, here we are. Day 31. And yes, just like I knew she would be, the Proverbs 31 woman is our topic for today.

I don't know about you, but when I look in the mirror, THAT girl is no where to be found. All I see looking back at me is....well, me. Nothing Proverbs 31ish about that.

Or is there?

Upon closer inspection of the very verses I have read time and time again,
God opened my eyes to see something totally unseen before now,
before this series,
before having spent 31 days in search of Godly wisdom.

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
(verses 10-13)

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
(verse 26)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
(verse 30)

Did you see it?

Yes, the woman described in the last chapter of Proverbs does some pretty amazing things, but what God showed me was this:

What she does is not what's important. It's the spirit in which she does it that matters.

She is trustworthy.
She does her husband good.
She speaks with words of kindness.

And all those things she does,

rising early,
cooking and cleaning,
buying land to farm,
working late into the night,
sewing,
taking care of the needy,
while still taking care of the needs of her family,
(whew..I got tired just typing all of that!)

she does willingly.

God opened my eyes to see that the beauty of the Proverbs 31 woman is not found in her works, but in her heart.

Look in the mirror again.

Do you see it?

Playground: Jesara through the looking glass
{Photo Credit}
A heart that loves her husband and children?

A heart that is trustworthy?

A heart that does good?

A heart that speaks words of kindness?

A heart that serves her family and those around her willingly?

That's THAT girl!

The woman described in Proverbs 31 is simply a woman who has surrendered her heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. She is a woman who fears the Lord.

How fitting that we should come face to face with her, here, at the end of Proverbs.
God, in HIS wisdom, has brought us full circle.

On day one we learned that true wisdom is found in fearing the Lord. Now, here in chapter 31, we see this wisdom lived out in a woman who fears the Lord.

Talk about a perfect ending.

Isn't our God amazing?!

If you are looking for THAT girl, the Proverbs 31 woman, look no further than your own heart.

If you fear the Lord and are living for HIM, you are THAT girl.

“A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”
― Max Lucado







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Monday, January 30, 2012

God is God~ Day 30 (31 Days of Wisdom)

There are three things that are too hard for me,
really four I don't understand:
the way an eagle flies in the sky,
the way a snake slides over a rock,
the way a ship sails on the sea,
and the way a man and a woman fall in love.~ Proverbs 30:18-19, NCV

Wisdom.

For the past 30 days, we have been searching for wisdom through the pages of Proverbs. And today, we come to chapter 30 - an entire chapter that reminds us of this simple, yet profound truth:

God is God and we are not.

By studying His Word and listening to His spirit, we acquire wisdom.  By seeking God's face and sitting at His feet, we grow in the ways of wisdom.

But,

we will never be able to fully comprehend God 

or ever completely understand

the majesty of who HE is

or the wonder of what He does

I also saw all that God has done. Nobody can understand what God does here on earth. No matter how hard people try to understand it, they cannot. Even if wise people say they understand, they cannot; no one can really understand it. ~ Ecclesiastes 8:17, NCV

When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you'll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you're not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won't get to the bottom of it. ~ Ecclesiastes 8:16-17, The Message

No matter how smart you are, you won't get to the bottom of it....

because God is God and we are not.

After all, isn't that what makes God, God?







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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Free to Be~ Day 29 (31 Days of Wisdom)


Just last night, as my husband and I were chit-chatting, the following words came tumbling out of my mouth:

I wish I knew then what I know now. 

I was sharing a conversation I had overheard while my husband and I had been out running errands together on Friday. At our last stop, I had opted to wait in the car.   A few minutes after my husband entered the store, a car pulled into the parking space next to me.  The door opened and an elderly lady stepped out.  Then, she leaned into the car, which had heavily tinted windows, and spoke to someone still in the car.  Finally, a young girl about 4 hopped out.  I don't know what the elderly lady said to her, but I couldn't miss hearing this little girl's reply.

"Well," she said very matter-of-factly, with both hands on her hips. "When I get to be a grown up, I'm not going to be afraid of anything!"  And with that declaration, she swung her body around, slinging her pony-tail as to add an exclamation to her statement, and then started toward the store.

Fear.

Unfortunately, fear and I have a long history together.  And sadly, and shamefully, I have usually allowed fear to call all the shots.  Whatever fear dictated, that's what I did....or more times than not....didn't do.

I wish I knew then what I know now. 
I wish I was 21 and just heading out into life. 
I wish I had read the words in  Proverbs 29:25 then.

Here it is in a few different translations:

Being afraid of people can get you into trouble,
but if you trust the Lord, you will be safe. NCV

Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
but trusting the LORD means safety. NLT

And, the one that really hit home for me:

The fear of human opinion disables;
trusting in God protects you from that. The Message

For the majority of my life, I have known the disabling power of human opinion.

Have you?

What someone thought about me became what I thought about me.
What someone else spoke about me became the very words I spoke to myself. Unless.....the words or the thoughts were positive.  Then, I simply dismissed them as being untrue.

Have you done this, too?

Who we are is not determined by what others say or think about us.
Who we are is not determined by what we say or think about us, either.

Who we are is determined by what GOD says and thinks about us.  PERIOD.

However, if we let it, fearing the opinions of man can:

determine our outcome

and

derail our God-given destiny.

Quite possibly, where you are right now is no where near where God intends for you to be. Maybe, you too have allowed fear of man to dictate what you think, what you do, and tragically, who you are becoming.

Always remember and never forget that it is God who created you. 

He created you

ON purpose,

WITH purpose,

FOR a purpose.

It is God, and God alone, who knows who we are and who we were created to be.  Not the world.  Not the voice of man.  But, the voice of TRUTH.

Who have you been listening to?

Who have you been fearing?

Man?

Or God?

Fear of man is a deadly trap.  It latches onto the very heart of us and holds us captive - captive from our own life.

Fear of the Lord frees us from the chains of human opinion and earthly expectation and enables and empowers us to be ALL we were created to be.

Fear of man brings death to our dreams, our hopes, and our God-given destiny.

Fear of the Lord breathes life into our very existence for being and spurs us on to our very purpose for being.


Twirling
{Photo Credit}

Don't become ensnared by the opinions of others.


Don't let the words and thoughts of others trip you up.


 Know who you are IN Christ.


Then, step out into your destiny and let the world know, too.~









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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 28~ (31 Days of Wisdom)





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Truth That Sets Us Free~ Day 27 (31 Days of Wisdom)

Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy. ~ Proverbs 27:6, NLT


The truth hurts.

It's not easy on our ears,
our ego
or our heart,
and yet, how we should covet the honest words of a faithful friend:
the words of truth that bring confession,
dropping us to our knees
and into the hands of our forgiving God.

Just like the words Nathan spoke to David. (2 Samuel 12:7)

Thinking his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the consequential prearranged murder of her husband on the battle field were well hidden and out of sight, Nathan confronted David with words that cut to the very heart.

17/365 ThePointer
{Photo Credit}
"You are that man!"



David confessed.



God forgave.



Then, David continued his journey, pursuing the heart of God.



Yes. The truth hurts. There is no getting around that. But, the truth can also set us free. The pain has a distinct purpose; to open our eyes to the real us, and our need for a real God.

As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17, NLT


When truth is given to us, we have a choice to make.


We can resist it and in anger turn away from it.


Or, like David,


we can run to it,


embrace it,


be broken by it,


and be all the closer to God for it.




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Friday, January 27, 2012

Don't Go There~ Day 26 (31 Days of Wisdom)

When I was a little girl, I loved the merry-go-round. LOVED IT! Every time I saw one, my eyes would sparkle, my heart would start to pound, my hands would get all sweaty and my feet would jump up and down.  Even my stomach got in on the excitement.  As soon as it knew a merry-go-round was in our near future, it would start to do flips. 

Merry Go Round in McCulloch Park
{Photo Credit}
See.....I told you! 

It was love!

Until.....


I hopped on and the spinning began.



Round and round and round we went. It was sooooooooooo great.
 What was there not to love about this?!

Round and round and round.
Round and round and round.
After a few more times around,  great would start to ween and "not so great" would begin to kick in.

Round and round and round. 
Round and round and round. 
Round and round and round.
By this point, love was completely gone, and.....
                    so was whatever I had eaten earlier in the day.

I knew it would happen (And, so did my mother!)  You see this didn't happen just once, or every now and then.  It happened every single time a merry-go-round and I met up. Every single time.

And, (not that you probably want to know this tidbit of information) I didn't vomit just one time and then go back on my merry little way. No, I would vomit  and vomit and vomit until my mother was able to give me medication to put an end to the unpleasantness.

Do you think this ever stopped me from hopping aboard whenever a merry-go-round called my name? Only occasionally, on rare days when the voice of wisdom was able to shout louder than my own voice of foolishness.

I'm sure by now you are wondering what this story from my childhood, (and possibly yours, too!) has to do with Proverbs.

Take a look at this:

A fool who repeats his foolishness
is like a dog that goes back to what it has thrown up. ~ Proverbs 26:11, NCV


I knew if I hopped aboard a merry-go-round, I would vomit.  I knew it.  And yet, I allowed my desire for a few moments of fun, delight, and sheer enjoyment to talk me into something that I had to "pay for" for the rest of the day.  Doesn't make much sense, does it?

But, have you ever noticed that sin doesn't make much sense either?

It starts with a desire, a temptation, with a glance that catches our eye.  Our heart starts pumping and our hands sweat and before we know it, the sin is all we can think about. 

We have to

do it,

drink it,

have it,

even though we know the end result. 

In our quest for life and life more abundant, like a fool returning to his folly, we often find ourselves going right back to the things of the world that we think will

make us happy,

 make us forget our troubles,

make us fit in,

make us complete,

make un enjoy our life,

only to discover they are nothing more than toxic substitutes that poisin our life.

Where is the wisdom in that? 
(I'm asking me, but please feel free to ponder this question with me.)

Maybe this is why, each time I would leave for school or head for the park, my mother would remind me, not of the fun I could have on the merry-go-round, but of the ugliness that was sure to follow. "Don't get on that merry-go-round!  You don't want to be throwing up all night......DO YOU?"

When you head out into your day and life throws you a curve or an unexpected hardship or places a merry-go-round in your path,

DON'T. GO. THERE.

Don't go back

to the booze,

to the drugs,

to the bad relationship,

to the gallon of ice cream,

to the shopping mall,

to the pit of depression,

to the vomit of this world.



GO. TO. JESUS.



Run to God where you will find

strength that overcomes any weakness,

help in the very time of need,

peace that passess all  understanding,

joy that doesn't depend on circumstances,

life, and life more abundant.



Isn't this what you are looking for, after all? 




Isn't this the true quest of your heart?




Don't go back....

Go to Jesus~



 Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy."
~ 1 Peter 1:13-16, The Message







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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Gift of Being There~ Day 25 (31 Days of Wisdom)

Life isn't always sunshine and roses, peaches and cream,  or joy and laughter. Sometimes, life is hard.  And, it hurts...all the way down to the deepest place in our heart.

I'll never forget the Ziggy cartoon card a friend sent to me when I was away at college (years and years ago!)  Remember, Ziggy? On the cover was a picture of Ziggy and two words:  "There, There". The inside simply read:  Feel better?  Sometimes, all we need is just a little there, there.

Here name is Dorothy and in August, God willing, she will turn 100 years old.  I became friends with Dorothy when her husband of 69 years passed away.  She attended our church and I knew who she was, but it wasn't until that summer day, standing at the graveside, watching this dear lady mourn, that I really got to know her.  As I helped the preacher escort her to the car waiting to drive her back to her home, I couldn't help but overhear their conversation.

"You'll be OK, Dorothy.  It will just take some time."

"But Pastor, you don't understand.  We've been together for 69 years.  I went from my mother's house to my husband's house.  I've never, ever spent a night alone.  I was always afraid of the dark and I made my husband promise me he would never leave me alone at night.  For all of our 69 years of marriage, he never did."

"It'll be OK, Dorothy.  God is with you.  And we are here for you, too"

We were at the car now.  As he opened the door and she stepped in, I saw her wiping away the tears that flowed steadily down her cheeks.  And, I knew.  As much as our pastor "intended" to be there for Dorothy, his schedule wouldn't allow him much time with her. I was a teacher out on summer break.  I knew God was calling me to be the one there for this broken-hearted lady.

I knocked on her door early the next morning.  She was surprised to see me, I could tell, but happy I was there.  I had no idea what I would say to her, or what I should do to ease her pain, but I knew God had sent me to her, so I was there.

Each day.

All day long.

All summer long.

Sometimes she re-lived happy moments from the past. And, sometimes, she just sat and said nothing. And I sat right beside, not saying a word either. Sometimes, she told of struggle and heartache.  And sometimes, when the room was silent, I would simply walk over to her, rub her back, and then take my seat again on the other side of the room. Together, we learned the ways of sorrow and we both discovered the comfort of a simple....there, there.

Being there,  that is.

So often when those around us are hurting we try to cheer them up.  We put on our biggest smile and hand them a bouquet of balloons and strike up the band. And, while our intentions are good, they may only add to the sting of hurt.

Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart
is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather
or pouring vinegar in a wound. ~ Proverbs 25:10, NLT


Sometimes, we all need a little "there, there".  

A simple acknowledgment of our hurt. 

A hug or a touch that says what words sometimes can't...

"I'm here. 

I'm sorry. 

I hurt with you."

fatherson_hands
{Photo Credit}
To know someone else shares in our sorrow,

is aware of our hurt,

is touched by what has touched us....


this is where healing is found. 


This is where a heavy heart finds comfort and peace


This is what God has called us to do.


To be there~






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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Victorious in Adversity~ Day 24 (31 Days of Wisdom)


You may be familiar with the following saying:

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

Maybe, like me, you've heard it through out your life....
maybe from a parent,
or perhaps a teacher,
or quite possibly a coach.

After all, these are "fighting words";
words that are meant to bring out the fight in you,
words that are designed to keep you keeping on,
words that are spoken in hopes of encouraging you to not give up, but to give it your best.

But....

did you know.....

these words are Biblical?

Proverbs 24:10 to be exact.

For some reason, when I read them straight out of the pages of God's Word they took on a whole new meaning for me. Think about them for a minute (or two or three.............)

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.


Adversity*: catastrophe,  disaster; trouble, misery.

We are probably all-too familiar with adversity.  We know first hand what this word means and we know how it feels. But, what about strength?  Have you ever stopped to think about what "strength" encompasses?

Strength*:  the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.
                   moral power, firmness, or courage.

and the one that jumped out and grabbed my attention today
                   power of resisting force, strain, wear, etc.


Now, the question begs to be asked:
          When would you and I need strength?

And, of course, the answer is more than obvious:
          We need stregnth when we are facing a time of adversity.


But, we can't use something we don't have, can we? 


Too often, during a time of adversity, we discover we are ill-prepared for the battle.  Prior to our catastrophe, disaster, trouble or misery, we did nothing to build up our strength.  We neglected to fortify our life with the strength necessary to persevere through this time of hardship.

So, we come up empty. 

We come unglued. 

We shirk under the weight of the problem. 

We cave in.

Instead of being surrounded by a sturdy armour of strength, we are left vulnerable, weak and ultimately, defeated.

God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
~ Ephesians 6:10-18, The Message

The time to fight adversity is BEFORE it happens. 

The time to strengthen our spiritual muscles is BEFORE we are called upon to use them.

The time to put on the armour of God and dress for battle is BEFORE the battle begins.


True strength is a persevering strength.

True strength is a winning strength.

True strength is a constant companion ready to spring into action when needed.


True strength is already in place when the battle hits.



If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.


I don't want to faint.
 Do you?

I don't want to be knocked off my feet when my world is shaken by calamity? 
Do you?

Then, we need to start strengthening our strength!

We need to start developing and flexing our spiritual muscles!

We need to be prepared. 

We need to be ready. 


We need God active and alive in our lives.

N. O. W.

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.


This is more than just a familiar saying, after all......this is biblical truth.

And,

this is wisdom~






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* Dictionary.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't Miss This~ Day 23 (31 Days of Wisdom)

The following question is probably none of my business, but I'm going to ask it anyway.

Have you every been jealous of sinners*

Have you ever wanted what they have...

a fun, carefree lifestyle, where you are free to do whatever you want, with no rules, regulations or "commandments" to slow you down or cramp your style?

a life of selfish-indulgence with no thoughts for anyone but me, myself and I?

a life where you are the one calling all the shots and not God?

Sometimes,
looking into the world,
it appears as though the wicked have it made.


But as a Christian, (who is a sinner still, saved by God's amazing grace)

as one whose very life has been bought and redeemed with the blood of Jesus,

as one who has been adopted into the family of God,

as one who has (and is daily being) transformed into the image of God,

as one who is blessed beyond words and loved beyond measure,

as one who is living for Jesus and no longer held captive to "self",

you and I know nothing could be further from the truth.


* Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off. ~ Proverbs 23:17,18 (The Amplified Bible)

I think it all comes down to what we are focusing on.

It is so easy as humans to only see what we want to see and how we choose to see it. Grass is grass, after all.  But, somehow, it always seems greener in someone else's yard, doesn't it?

Maybe that is why we are reminded
time and time again

Finding Focus - #14
{Photo Credit}


to count OUR blessings,



to be mindful of what God has done for US,




to (as Proverbs 23 counsels) continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long,

to keep our focus focused on truth!


While it may appear as though the wicked are the ones truly enjoying their time here on Earth, we know this is only a deception from Satan.  The joy that the wicked are enjoying is not a true  and lasting joy. It is fleeting...just like the world itself.  Here for a moment, and gone the next.  In fact, the wicked spend their entire life in pursuit of joy, only to find it keeps slipping right through their finger tips.

The only joy that remains now, and through out all eternity, is the JOY found in Jesus.



With Christ, we have the blessed hope of Heaven,

(DON'T MISS THIS!)

WHILE we live here on earth.




With Christ, we have the hope of living forever with God in Heaven,

(DON'T MISS THIS!)

WHILE Christ lives in us here on earth.





With Christ, we have an eternal reward waiting for us in Heaven,

(DON'T MISS THIS!)

WHILE Christ daily (though undeserving are we!) rewards us with love, joy, peace, mercy and grace here on earth.



The next time Satan tries to lure you into thinking you are "missing out" on life,

 just focus your eyes back onto THE ONE,

Christ Jesus,

who has come that we might have life and life more abundant (John 10:10)

....here and now......and through out all eternity.

 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off. ~ Proverbs 23:17,18 (The Amplified Bible)






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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Who is Influencing Who?~ Day 22 (31 Days of Wisdom)

Have you ever noticed how people have a way of rubbing off on you?

Those who are upbeat and positive put a spring in your step and soon have you seeing the world all sunshine and roses.

Those who are down, depressed and disgruntled soon have you moaning the blues right along with them.

It's a strange phenomena,
the way we humans easily influence
and are easily influenced.

I have a feeling this is why Proverbs 22 warns us about who we choose to associate with:

Don't make friends with quick-tempered people
or spend time with those who have bad tempers.
If you do, you will be like them.
Then you will be in real danger.

~ Proverbs 22:24-25

Like it or not, a part of who we are is shaped by those around us, especially those in our "inner circle".

Children are a perfect example.

Have you ever seen your behavior being lived out in the actions of your child? 
Have you ever heard your words coming out of their mouths? 

I was never blessed with children of my own, but I did have the privilege of being an elementary school teacher for eighteen glorious years.  Time and time again, I was amazed at how often I saw me in them!

As adults, we are no different.  We are still susceptible to the bug of influence no matter how many years we have under our belt or how many gray hairs adorn our head. 

And while God has called us to go into the world, and to be His light in a dark place, He has also called us to hold tight to the identity we have in Him.

We are called to lift others up, and we must never forsake this God-given responsibility, but we must always be aware of who is influencing who.


If we ever begin to see

our behaviour,

our actions,

our thoughts,

our opinions,

our words,

our self,

being influenced by the un-Godly,

then it is time to walk away.



It's as simple and as serious as that!



Let me tell you why you are here.
You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.
If  you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?
~ Matthew 5:13, The Message





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Day 21~ (31 Days of Wisdom)







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Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweet Release~ Day 20 (31 Days of Wisdom)

Have you ever wanted to get even?

Have you ever wanted to reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelly make someone pay for what they did?

Have you ever devised plan after plan, rehearsing what you would do, what you would say, what they would do and what they would say, over and over and over and over again?

Have you ever kept re-living the hurt by going through the motions of the betrayal or injustice like a broken record in your heart and mind?

Yeah, me, too.

And, you know what I have discovered?

All the remembering,

all the planning and scheming,

all the re-telling and re-living,

only keeps me stuck right smack dab in the middle of my hurt.  It does nothing to bring  me comfort, healing or closure. Absolutely nothing.

And, here's why.

God hasn't called us to revenge.

Don't say, "I'll pay you back for the wrong you did."
Wait for the Lord, and he will make things right. ~ Proverbs 20:22

God has called us to forgive
              and to trust Him to make things right.

As long as we are "in it",
remembering it,
reliving it,
planning our revenge,
there is no room for God.

I don't know about you, but there have been times when my entire being has been totally consumed by the hurt and the desire to get even. It was all I could think about. From the moment my eyes popped open, until they closed at night, it was on my mind. Sometimes, it even woke me up in the middle of the night! This is not how God intended for us to live.

In this world there will be hurt, betrayal, injustice, manipulation, false friends, and back-stabbing.

But,
in our heart,
indwelling us,
living inside us,
empowering us to forgive,
we  have the Spirit of the Living God.


If we are willing to step out of the way,
if we are willing to surrender our need to take care of it,
if we are willing to forgive and forget, to let go and let God,

God will take care of it.

No. God might not see fit to handle it the way you or I would. Chances are the plans you spent all night scheming up won't be played out in the life of the offender. But, God will take care of it. In His timing, and in His way.

It is in releasing our hurt to God that we find our ultimate release. 

It is in forgiveness that we find freedom.

This is why God tells us to hand it over to Him.  This is why our Heavenly Father tells us to forgive and to trust HIM to make things right.

After all,
what could be more right

         than an offense that is forgiven?

         than sleep that is sweet?

         than a mind that is at peace?

         than a heart that is healed?

Letting Go..
{Photo Credit}

Let go,




Let God.




And, get back to living your life.







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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Blame Game~ Day 19 (31 Days of Wisdom)


"Why are you mad at me? I didn't throw any rocks at your dog." ~ my dad.

When I think back on my childhood, I fondly remember:
the adobe brick house that was my home,
the trails through the pasture I blazed on my bike,
the aroma of fresh baked bread greeting me after a long bus ride home,
the turquoise colored curtains in my bedroom,
the hum of my mother's sewing machine late at night,
the thrill of spotting a roadrunner on our kitchen window sill,
and among a zillion other things,
the grin on my father's face each and every time he looked at someone in our family and said,
"Why are you mad at me? I didn't throw any rocks at your dog."

Admittedly, as a child, I had absolutely no idea what this meant. Especially, since he would still say this even during the times of my childhood when we didn't own a dog!

As I grew older and was given more liberty to make my own decisions, I began to understand. 

Bad choices = bad consequences.  And when the bad came back around to bite me, naturally, I would get upset.  I would start announcing how unfair life was and everyone within a 20 acre radius knew I was not a happy camper.

Sometimes, I did the unthinkable and (yes!) tried to blame someone else for my own foolishness.

"Well, it's not my fault.  You should have stopped me.  You should have told me not to do that.  It's all YOUR fault"

But, alas.  I had no one to blame but myself. 

The blame game.

I have a feeling, at one time or another, we have all played it.

Maybe, even with God.

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
and then are angry at the LORD. ~ Proverbs 19:3, NLT


Have you ever blamed God for the consequences of your foolish choices?

I have.  (Don't jump ahead in hopes of finding some examples.  They won't be there. Simply admitting that is enough transparency for this girl!)

It's not fun reaping the harvest of seeds sown in the soil of foolishness. 

And yet, the harvest is sure to come.

And, when it does, the only one we can blame is................our self.

Not the bathroom scale, not the cigarettes, not the officer who gave us the speeding ticket, not the wall we hit in a rage of anger,

Not God.

Choices come with consequences, and, even though we may not like the result of our actions,  these consequences can become the very thing that motivates, inspires, and compels us to choose differently the next time. 


If someone has a hot temper, let him take the consequences.
If you get him out of trouble once, you will have to do it again. ~ Proverbs 19:19

My father was a wise man. He knew in my mistake, there was lesson to be learned and in my failure, there was wisdom to be gained.

But only, only when I accepted the blame for my own actions.

Being mad at my father wasn't going to free me from the consequences.  Being mad at God, won't either. 

Today, put down the rocks of accusations.  Take a good, long, hard look at yourself.

Are you reaping the harvest of seeds sown in the soil of foolishness?
Then, own up to it. Admit your mistake.  Then, ask God to help you use this experience for future advantage. Learn to seek God in all you do, and BEFORE making any other decisions. 

Just like my earthly father, our Heavenly Father is a father of forgiveness, love, mercy and grace. 

We still have to pay the price,
 but if we learn from it,
our God can and will use it for our good, and His glory~





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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Avoiding the Fall~ Day 18 (31 Days of Wisdom)

Have you ever heard the story of the frog?

the frog and the faery ~ frog flies
{Photo Credit}

Once upon a time, there was a frog who wanted to fly. Not content to merely hop around for the rest of his life, he thought long and hard, and he thought hard and long. Finally, he devised a plan that, in all estimations, would take him to the sky.


His plan, however, involved the help of a couple of his friends; friends who just happened to be feathered.

And here is what they did.

They found a short stick and then each took their place: a bird on each end and the frog in the middle. As the wanna-be-flier grabbed hold of the stick with his mouth, the birds gently picked it up with their feet and headed skyward.

And you know what?

It worked.

The frog was flying,

             soaring high above other earth dwelling creatures,

    gazing down on them in sheer delight.

As you can imagine, it wasn't long before this unusual sight caught the attention of the entire neighborhood.  Soon, everyone was looking up, pointing at the frog and exclaiming, "Ooooooooooooooo" and "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah".

"Wow! Look at Freddy! He's flying. He's really flying. Wow! Who would of thought a frog could fly?"

Comment after comment, exclamation after exclamation, slowly drifted upward.  And, as you can imagine, the frog was feeling mighty good about his accomplishment.

"What a great idea! I wonder who thought up this amazing plan."

"Yeah. Who could have been wise enough to figure out a way to get a frog to fly?"

As the search for the man-behind-the-plan intensified, the frog swelled with pride.

"I know! I know! It must have been the birds," someone said. "After all, they are masters of the sky. I bet they are the ones who came up with this brilliant idea!"

"Yes! You're probably right," agreed another.

"Yay for the birds!  Hip Hip Hooray!"

And with that, everyone applauded the wisdom of these two birds.

With his mouth wrapped tightly around the stick, the frog gazed down upon this celebration. As shouts of acclamation for his feather friends reached his ears, all the joy he first felt, suddenly disappeared.

It wasn't the birds idea, he thought to himself, This was MY idea. I'M the one who thought of this great plan. I'M the master mind behind this amazing feat.

Finally someone yelled up at the trio. "Tell us. We just have to know. Who thought up this great idea?"

Within seconds, the answer came.

"I d
      i
        i
         i
           i
            i
             i
              i
               i
                 d" the frog exclaimed,

all the way to the ground.

First pride, then the crash—
the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. ~ Proverbs 16:18, The Message


And, just in case we missed this when we were studying chapter 16 of Proverbs, here is it again in our chapter for today:

Pride first, then the crash,
but humility is precursor to honor. ~ Proverbs 18:12, The Message


Pride.

It swells up in us all from time to time, and each time it's acted upon, the results are the same.

D O W N

D o w n

down

we go........

It happened to Lucifer and 1/3 of his angels.

It happened to Haman, who was hung on the gallows built with Mordecai in mind.

It happened to king after king.

Remember King Saul and King Nebuchadnezzar?

It happened and it still happens.

We don't have to look any farther than our own lives to see this priniciple is truth.

Do you think it is simply a coinincidence that smack dab in the middle of the word pride is the letter "I"?

Sadly, the frog learned his lesson...the hard way.

How will your story end?

How will mine?

Wisdom has spoken.

May we heed her counsel and soar on the wings of God's Spirit.

May He be the wind beneath our wings.

When others see our success,

when words of praise ascend to our ears,

may we give honor where honor is due.

May our lips always declare that it is God,

and only God,

who deserves the praise.





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Monday, January 16, 2012

This is a Test~ Day 17 (31 Days of Wisdom)

Tests.

We all have them. Unfortunately, we don't always pass them with flying colors.

Fire tests silver. Heat tests gold.
But the Lord tests our hearts. ~ Proverbs 17:3


As I studied Proverbs 17, the above verse is the one that jumped out at me. Then, the Lord brought the following post (written July 2, 2010) to mind, so I am re-posting it. To my faithful readers, I hope you don't mind a "re-run", but sometimes, a girl just needs a little reminder~

Smelting fire
{Photo Credit}
                                    But he knows where I am going.
            And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. ~Job 23:10

"All right, class. I need everyone to clear the top of his or her desk. Today, we are having a pop quiz." Aah....a pop quiz. Unlike other tests, this is a test that just "pops up", totally unexpected and totally unplanned. As a student, whenever I heard these instructions from my teacher, I always started to feel anxious and in some ways, tricked. I hadn't been warned of this test ahead of time and a result, I hadn't taken the time to prepare. I hadn't studied. I simply wasn't ready. But... ready or not, the test landed on my desk.

Yesterday, I was surprised with a pop quiz. It didn't come in the usual way...as a paper placed on my desk. No, this test popped into my life when I found myself confronted by an angry person.

Amazingly, I had started my day meditating on countless scriptures in God's Word that pertained to peace. When I walked out my door that morning, I was filled to the brim with peace.

Then......all that changed. As this woman attacked me with bitter words, I felt anything but peaceful. Oh, you'll be happy to know that on the outside, I remained calm, cool and collected. I responded in love and tried to de-fuse her anger in a gentle way. But.....on the inside......I was a mess! Anger, hurt, resentment, frustration. All of these emotions and about a zillion more were having their own "private" war.

When this "battle" was over, my peace was gone. For the next couple of hours, I kept replaying the scene in my mind. What just happened there?!?!? How could that have just happened?!?! Today, of all days, I was going to walk in peace. I was all "peaced up" when I left my home. But, where was my peace now? Why hadn't my peace survived this altercation? Wasn't that the whole purpose of peace in the first place?

Then, it hit me. POP QUIZ! Only this is one test I should have passed with flying colors. I knew all the verses about peace. I was prepared. I had studied for this one. Yet....when the test came. I failed. Why?

It is one thing to know something. It is something entirely different to apply this knowledge and make it who you are. Teachers often use testing as a means to determine whether or not a pupil has mastered a skill or discipline. A wise teacher will use not one, but multiple tests, to gauge the level of understanding in the student. It is not enough to simply memorize facts, repeat rules, or circle A, B, C, or D. A student must apply the knowledge in order to gain the wisdom. The child must take the information and then use it, apply it, make it work.

I had the information, but now I was being called upon to use this information, to apply it, to make it work.

Peace isn't simply something we can merely talk about. It is something we need to put into practice in our daily lives. If we don't.....what's the point?! Peace isn't for the times when all is hunky dory and peachy keen. NO! Peace is for the moments when all of hell is trying to break in. Peace is to be the guard fighting at the door of our heart.

Peace needs to be ready at all times. And then, when the heat is on, peace needs to step up and defend. In these moments of the battle, if we are prepared and have hidden God's Word in our heart and if we know that we know that we know peace is ours for the taking and the living in, then we simply need to call on the power of the Holy Spirit and hold our ground.

We are in spiritual warfare. This is a 24-7 fight. We cannot for one moment let our guard down. We cannot for one moment think we have arrived! We cannot take our eyes off our Jesus and place them onto the "test of life" placed in front of us and expect to walk away victorious.

I shouldn't have been caught off guard. I am not ignorant of the devil's devices.  (2 Corinthians 2:11) I know to " Be self-controlled and alert. [because] Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8).

I also know my God. I know that greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4) I know that with Christ, I can do ALL things. (Philippians 4:13) I know when I have a demand placed on me, my God shall supply ALL my needs. (Philippians 4:19) I know to be anxious about nothing, but to pray about everything, and in doing this, the peace of God will guard my heart and mind. (Philippians 4:6-7). I know, I know, I know. Now, it is time to live it. Time to apply it. Time to make it work in my life.



What about you? Has your peace been tested this week?

Remember, our God is faithful.

Life is all about learning how to live it. Thankfully, in Christ, we are able to sit at the feet of the Master teacher.

Yes, indeed...

"...he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold."




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Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Interruption? Or An Invitation~ Day 16 (31 Days of Wisdom)


The other day, a buy-one-get-one free coupon found me in line at Quiznos.

New York Times on iPhone 3GS
{Photo Credit}
In front of me, three teenagers, all at the beck and call of their cell phones.
 Conversation, ordering, purchasing - all interrupted by a small hand held device. No matter what they were doing, no matter what might be happening around them, when their phone jingled, beeped or vibrated they stopped everything and gave it their full attention.

As I observed their "dedication", I thought about my own dedication to God.

Am I THAT connected to God?

Am I truly at God's beck and call?

Do I allow God to interrupt my life whenever His Spirit calls?

We fill our day planner, circle dates on our calendar and map out our days.  We have our agenda, our to do list, our plan of action.  When the alarm sounds, we step out of bed and then step to the beat of what we have orchestrated for the day ahead. 

No time for prayer. (unless we've penciled it in)

No time for devotions. (unless we've added it to our list)

No time to be still.

No time to help a person in need.

No time to listen to a heavy heart.

No time to write a note of encouragement.

No time to wipe a tear, give a hug, share some hope.

No, siree.  We have our plan and we are sticking to it. 

No "interruptions" allowed. (at least not without resentment, bitterness or some level of frustration.)

As I read Proverbs 16, God spoke to me about "my" plans.

 1 We can make our own plans,
but the LORD gives the right answer.

9 We can make our plans,
but the LORD determines our steps.

Plans.

We make them every day.
And,
while making a plan is not unwise,
making a plan without the direction and guidance of the Lord is. 

Plans keep us on task, keep goals ever in front of us, and make our day run more smoothly.
And,
while following through on our plan is not unwise,
following through on our plan instead of detouring to accomplish God's plan is.


What we often view as an unwanted interruption is often

    a Holy invitation,
    an opportunity for God to use us to bless someone else, a chance for God to bless us~

    a Divine intervention,
   an opportunity for God to keep us safe, a chance to direct us to a new and better way~


We should always be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 We should always be willing to allow God to interrupt our day with HIS plans.

From the moment we awake,
we should be at God's beck and call,
willing to stop what we're doing,
ready to answer the call to do HIS bidding.



Self-Portrait
{Photo Credit}
When God calls, will you answer?




When God interrupts your day, will you respond?




Are you willing to allow God's voice to direct your steps?



Wisdom answers yes.






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