Smart vs. Stupid

I know in many settings (frequently with children), the word stupid has been outlawed.  I understand.  I still remember as a child giving and receiving that word in hurtful ways.  While the word can be abused, I think we need to seek to use the word stupid in its proper context.

Proverbs 12:1 tells us that “he who hates reproof is stupid”.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary stupid means “given to unintelligent decisions or actsacting in an unintelligent or careless manner” and “lacking intelligence or reason”.  

Discipline is not fun (Hebrews 12:11).  However, the Bible tells us that the love of discipline is the love of knowledge.  Discipline is a teaching tool.  We need to be willing to learn what sin issues are in our lives.  We need to be willing to make changes.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for providing discipline to help us change our lives.  Please help us to encourage one another towards wisdom and knowledge. 

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Give God’s Way and Gain More

The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
    the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
    another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
    and one who waters will himself be watered. 

Proverbs 11:23-25

I love the Word of God.  The Bible is loaded with encouragement and challenge for my benefit.  I need to come to Scripture with a humble, prayerful attitude to find what God wants.  I think it is too easy to bring my own view or experience and misinterpret Scripture.

Verse 23 tells us, “The desire of the righteous ends only in good.”  I fear that Christians sometimes assume our desires are always good.  We need to live righteously as God describes in His Word.  We can only do that if we go to God’s word with a humble heart.

I chose verse 24 for my picture, because I think it gives an interesting idea.  Too often after giving we feel depleted.  I get it – I have been there.  Unfortunately, some people decide to take too much and drain resources.  If more of us chose to give freely, I think our resources would multiply instead of just subtracting. 

Each of us needs to obey Scripture and encourage others to do the same.  Imagine the blessing and enrichment we will see.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for the words You have given us.  Please help me to give as You intend according to the righteousness in Your Word.  Please help me to be an example of righteous giving so others would join me in that endeavor.  I want more to see the beauty of the blessing You give.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Wisdom and Humility

I knew when I read this verse I wanted to write on pride vs. humility.  Unfortunately, this is a very difficult topic.  Pride in our modern-day world has been changed to mean “a healthy self-esteem”.  The longer I live, the less I like “self-esteem”.  We need to have a humble view of ourselves, but that comes with some pain.

First, I think we should be humble since we are all sinners (according to the book of Romans) and that comes with a penalty.  We cannot do anything to change that penalty.  Jesus had to die for us.  He did so willingly.  That alone should bring about humility. 

Unfortunately, as Christians we sometimes forget what Christ did for us.  We take a higher view of ourselves than we deserve.  We end up being proud of the fact that we are saved by grace.  That is such a contradiction.

Proverbs combines pride and disgrace and then humility and wisdom.  I want wisdom.  Therefore, I must work towards humility.  How do we become humble?  I think there are 3 steps.  First, I need to realize that I am prone to pride.  I am not going to naturally be humble.  Second, I need to find examples of humility.  This is hard because humility is quiet.  It doesn’t vie for attention.  I need to look for people who seek to imitate Christ.  He was the ultimate example of humility (Philippians 2).  As I see the character traits lived out in humble people, then I can imitate them.

Humility is hard, but worth it.  God’s way of wisdom is always worth pursuing.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to imitate the examples of humility you have placed in my life.  Please help me to learn humility to be an example for others.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Hope and Joy

We talk a lot about hope.  We hope things will go well.  We have hope for a better future. Earthly hope is more of a wish.  There is no guarantee.  Heavenly hope is certain.  For those who have trusted in Jesus, we know with absolute certainty that we will spend a glorious eternity with God.  When I spend more of my time thinking about eternity – the sure hope I have in Christ – the more joy I find.  If I think about my friends who know Christ and the future we will have together in heaven, I smile a whole lot more.   If I focus on the here and now, I am more likely to get bogged down in negative emotions.  While we need negative emotions to be honest about living in a sin cursed earth, we cannot let them dictate our outlook.  This is a balance I will fight for my entire life.

The first step towards eternal hope is following God’s way by trusting in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.  Then we need to search Scripture to learn God’s way.  I like the strength God’s way gives.

Dear Heavenly Father, there is so much need for true Biblical hope.  Thank you for providing the way to find the joy that hope brings.  Please help me to continue to seek Your way.  I need You every day.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Words, Words, Too Many Words

Today’s verses talk about words.  We live in a society where talking is commonplace, but I’m not sure we always say much.  Too many words often complicate matters. 

Does this mean we never speak up?  No.  Verse 21 tell us that “the lips of the righteous” provide great benefit.  The righteous seek wisdom.  Wisdom will give us the best words to say. 

I want to make sure my words provide benefit.  I need God’s help with that.  On my own I will say too many words without much content.  I want to reverse that and speak more content with fewer words.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to focus on learning to say something meaningful with fewer words.  I want my words to direct people to You so they will know what is wise, true, and right.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Delight and Desire

I have seen Psalm 37:4 posted recently talking about God giving people what they wanted.  I’m concerned that we miss the first part of the verse and the context in which it was written. Just because we get what we want, doesn’t mean we have trusted or delighted in the Lord.  God sends blessing on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  Fulfilled desires, unfortunately, can be indulging in our own flesh (James 1:14-15).  We need to look at the wisdom of Scripture to make sure we are trusting God, being faithful, and delighting in the Lord.

As I go through life, I want to be able to say that I am delighting in the Lord.  How do I do that?  I need to ask several questions.  How excited am I to spend time with God?  How much do I desire to learn what He has for me through the teaching of God’s word at my church?  How much do I delight in spending time with fellow believers who sharpen me (Proverbs 27:17)?  How much can those around me see that I love God?  Uffdah – that last one is the most convicting.  I pray that my life is filled with God.  That He is truly my everything.  I have found no other life worth living.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for how delightful You are.  Thank You for providing ways to delight in You.  Please help me keep my focus on You in everything.  Please help me to encourage others to do the same.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Who Needs Wisdom?

I am taking a brief break from Proverbs to look at a wisdom verse in the New Testament.  I like James 1.  There are many things I need to learn from its verses.  The Bible clearly talks about the need for wisdom.   I think the first part of James 1:5 is similar to a rhetorical question.  The “if” applies to all of us.  We all need wisdom.  We need to seek wisdom daily – throughout our lives. 

I enjoy Warren Wiersbe’s take on why we need wisdom.

“We need wisdom so we will not waste the opportunities God is giving us to mature. Wisdom helps us understand how to use these circumstances for our good and God’s glory.”

Wiersbe, Warren W.. Be Mature (James): Growing Up in Christ (The BE Series Commentary) (p. 38). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.

God sends us down a path to grow and mature us.  God’s wisdom is the only way to manage that.  I am so thankful God loves me enough to provide the means for my good.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to continue to pursue the wisdom You have for my life.  Please help to grow and mature so I can honor You more.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Wisdom, Love, and More Value Than Gold

The writer of Proverbs frequently personifies wisdom.  Proverbs 8 is wisdom talking to us.  These two verses show the beauty of loving and pursuing wisdom.  The benefits of wisdom are better than precious metals. 

I see so much pursuit these days of things that don’t have much value.  I wonder what life would be like if more of us pursued wisdom.  The only true wisdom comes from God and God has shared that in His word.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to pursue wisdom and encourage others to do the same.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

The Challenges to Listening

Thank you to my friend, Abby, for the picture.

The Bible tells us that wisdom and understanding have a voice.  I think we can often struggle listening to that voice.  Life is full.  I know my to do list never seems to shrink.  Without priorities, we risk wasting time.  My prayer is to efficiently use the time I have each day for the honor and glory of God.  I have a long way to go. 

I need to start with listening to wisdom and understanding.  They come first from God’s Word and then from other believers who have faithfully studied and lived God’s way.  There is no better way.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to listen to the voice of wisdom and understanding.  I need Your help to discern what is right according to Your ways.  Please guide me and help me to be a positive influence in those around me.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Repetition for the Best Influence

Thank you to my aunt for sending this beautiful Wyoming picture.

The book of Proverbs is very repetitive.  I had a teacher in 7th grade tell us to say, “Repetition is the key to learning.”  We thought we repeated it about a thousand times.  I don’t know how many it really was, but we said it enough I still remember.  Now I see why we need repetition.  We will never be done learning.  We need to hear certain concepts repeated to have them readily available.

These verses share again that God’s commands are important. We need to treasure them and keep them close.  God’s way provides the most positive influence.  I know my personality pushes me to want to make a difference (I think all of us want that to some extent).  The more I read and study the Bible, the more I realize God’s wisdom is the only answer. 

Dear Heavenly Father, I see so much ugliness in the world today and I want to be a part of the solution.  Please help me to hold tight Your commands.  Guide me to have a Christ-like influence on others.  I want them to see the beauty of Your way.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.