Month of Prayer, Day 4

Lord, in Pr. 4, I hear the words of a father, pleading for his son to hear and follow his wise commands.  Solomon implores his son to hear him, pay attention, receive his sayings.  He longs to spare his son heartache and the consequences that bad choices bring.  He tells his son not to forget, nor turn away from the words of his mouth.  As parents, we all long for the same.  Having wisdom beyond our children’s years, we long to guide and protect our children.  We want our children to be wise, to be honored, and to keep their eyes on You.  We hope to impart the wisdom behind our rules and instructions, knowing they will lead our children in right paths.

Likewise, Lord, You have given us Your own Word.  You have imparted unto us wise commands.  Ps. 119:17-19 says, “Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word.  Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.  I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me.”

Just as a young toddler would be considered a stranger on the earth, not yet understanding the dangers, the consequences, or the long-term effects, so we are strangers here on this earth.  Lord, You alone know what today brings.  You are our Father, guiding and protecting us each step of this journey.  Just as we ‘toddle’ behind a young one beginning to walk, You are ever behind us, ready to steady us when we fall.  You have gone before us, clearing the path so that we will not stumble.  You are there guiding us with encouragement, love, and comfort as we find the courage to continue on.

Lord, You are a loving Father, who has given us Your Word, Your instructions on how to live here on this earth.  You are ever with us.  Help us see the wondrous things in Your law, to receive Your words, to pay attention as You lovingly guide and protect us.

Thank You, Lord, for loving me so much that You not only sent Your Son to die in my place, but You gave me Your commandments that I might live abundantly.  Help me, Lord, to heed Your word, as I toddle through my day.  You are gracious and kind.  Your love and attention make me feel safe.

I love you, Lord.

jamie

 

 

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Month of prayer, Day 1

Lord, in Pr. 1, we read the words a father has lovingly written to his son.  He beseeches his son to hear his father’s instruction and his mother’s law.  He writes words to impart instruction and prudence upon his son.  He implores his son to shun evil counsel and listen to wisdom’s call.  He warns his son what will happen if he forsakes wisdom.

In Ps. 119:1-8, I read about another Father who has written to His children for those same reasons.  I read that those who walk in Your law and keep Your testimonies will be blessed.  I am reminded that You have instructed us in Your rules, Your precepts, and beseeched us to keep them diligently.  If we would but do that, Lord, we would not be ashamed.  If we would do that, we would make wise decisions and forfeit the consequences of forsaking wisdom.  If we would shun evil and do no iniquity, we would be blessed.

Lord, help me to heed my Father’s word.  Help me to walk in Your ways, and to praise You with uprightness of heart.  Help me to listen to wisdom’s call, so that I will not have to suffer the consequences of shame.  Bless me when I seek you with my whole heart.  Bless me when I choose to walk in accordance with Your instructions.  Help me increase in prudence as I learn from Your word.

Lord, I thank you for what I read in Your word today, and I ask that You would allow these instructions to help me hear wisdom’s call more readily.  Help me to become so tuned in to Your mighty voice, that all other ‘instructions’ around me simply fade away.  Thank you for the privilege to have access to Your mind, through Your Word.

I love you,

jamie

Tasty but destructive

Pr. 26:22:  The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”

I read an article that was written about one of my great-aunts who passed on a few weeks ago.  She would have been 100 years old this winter.  The author of the article had gone to visit her and asked my great-aunt what life advice she would give a middle-ager.

The 3 things my great-aunt said she would have done differently were to read her Bible more, pray more, and not believe things she heard about others without having first heard their side.

I didn’t see that last one coming.  Not something I would expect to hear a 99-year-old woman saying; however, perhaps a relationship in her life was lost or altered in her middle years that caused her to still think such a thing all those years later.  I’m not sure.

This verse tells us that it shouldn’t be surprising, though.  Words of gossip do not just bounce off of us, but are taken in, savored, digested, and soaked up into our very core.  It then becomes very difficult to erase what we’ve heard, lie or not, because our minds are so hungry to make us feel better about ourselves.

If a 99-year-old woman, knowing she’s passing on to eternity, is still thinking about the effects of a decision like this, it seems it is certainly something we shouldn’t take lightly.

I guess the best thing is probably to avoid gossip at all, whenever possible.  Then, if there is a situation where we do hear something, we can take her other advice and pray more.  We can pray that God would help us be responsible with what we’ve heard and either help us forget it, if it isn’t necessary for us to know or concern ourselves with; or to give us a proper setting to hear the other side.

Remembering that no one is perfect, and that we all fall short of the glory of God and of perfection, we must be careful with not only what we hear, but also what we choose to do with those words.  We can choose to savor, digest, and soak it in to raise ourselves up, or we can choose to protect, love, and build others up.  With God all things are possible.

Soaking in the advice,

jamie

The healing tongue

Pr. 12:18:  “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”

Almost 3 years ago, I was admitted into the hospital for a lovely 5-day visit.  A dear friend of mine came to visit.  She and I are close friends, and she was also my fitness pal and co-worker at the time.  I vividly remember when she walked through the door because her eyes were brimming with tears and I could see pain on her face.

I eventually found out that prior to her visit she had been “beat up”  and “pierced” by careless and inconsiderate comments by our co-workers concerning the cause of my condition.  Feeling guilt and shame, she asked me, “Did we do this to you?”  Instead of simply offering comfort and care to her as her friend was lying in the hospital, our co-workers had been criticizing our choices and pointing out how we had brought this upon me with exercise and food choices.

Since I have never been fully diagnosed, that could be true.  Who knows?  However, their words at that moment wounded my friend and brought her more pain that she was already feeling.  It’s easy for us to think of all the kind, encouraging things they could have said to her instead that would have promoted health and comfort within her.  As I was lying in the hospital bed, I began to encourage and comfort her, hoping to ease the pain they had inflicted.

This kind of situation is somewhat normal, however.  Human nature makes us quick to throw out words of opinion, criticism, correction, advice, or solution; and much slower at simply offering comfort.  I’m so thankful our Father in heaven isn’t as quick to do those things as we.  His Word is full of healing, comfort, and consolation.

This morning I read Psalm 23, which is indeed filled with comfort:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

If you’ve been pierced by careless words, turn to the Word of God for healing.  Then, being full of His Word, when we find ourselves about to pierce another with our own words, we need to take a moment to find healing words to offer instead.  There is enough pain in this world already.  Healing is what is truly needed.

Grateful for His staff,

jamie

Don’t reject wise counsel

Pr. 15:22:  “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”

King Solomon requested from the Lord an understanding heart to discern between good and evil and to judge the Lord’s people.  1 Kings 4:29 says, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.”

Fast forward to his death and burial, and the beginning of the reign of his son, Rehoboam.  Because Solomon had turned his heart to other gods, the Lord had told him that his kingdom would be torn out of the hand of his son, and we find that his son played a critical part in what the Lord had spoken.

At the beginning of his reign, King Rehoboam consulted the elders who previously stood before his father Solomon, asking “How do you advise me to answer these people?”  They advised Rehoboam that if he would be a servant to the people, answer them, and speak good words to them, then the people would be his servants forever.

But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the wise, experienced elders who had helped make his father’s reign successful.  He went and found the young, inexperienced friends he had grown up and hung out with and asked for their advice.

The advice the young men gave was to oppress, chastise, and belittle the people.  While he did received counsel, he made a very unwise decision about which counsel he would accept and which he would reject.  As a result of his decision, 10 of the tribes of Israel rebelled against Rehoboam and chose another as their king.  Rehoboam’s plans certainly went awry.

We cannot be too proud to seek out or receive counsel of others.  We must be careful, however, which counsel we reject or accept.  I am semi-young myself, but I am wise enough to understand that those who are older and more experienced than I are going to be the ones who have the most wisdom, if for no other reason than the lessons they have learned and seen over their lives.

My 5-year-old still thinks that if there is no money in our “eating out” account that we can just use our check card to eat out.  I would never allow his whims or lack of understanding to control my check book.  After seeking the Lord’s will through His word and prayer, we should seek the counsel of those wiser than us when making plans.  If we want our plans to be established (fixed), then we need to ensure the foundation will be strong and secure.

Even in his unsurpassed wisdom, Solomon knew it was wise to seek counsel.  We need to do the same, but prayerfully, carefully, and with discretion.

Thanks for the lesson through Rehoboam’s mistakes, Lord.

jamie

 

Don’t give in!

Pr. 12:5:  “The thoughts of the righteous are right, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.”

Last night, my daughter was instructed to clean her guinea pig’s cage.  When it was time for her to put new bedding in the cage bottom, her little brother went to “help.”  The bedding is in a closet on our back patio and through the screen door I could hear them both yelling, laughing, and just generally making a ruckus.  After the 1 minute warning period had passed, I went outside to check on the progress.

To my horror, I walked in to find bedding strewn about all over the floor of the closet and most of its contents.  Interestingly there was only about a handful of bedding actually in the cage bottom.  Either the bag of bedding had exploded or the cause of ruckus I had heard was now being revealed.  My daughter quickly let me know that it had been her little brother’s idea to toss the bedding about like confetti.

Leave it to God to use something like that to illustrate His word to me.  🙂  Can you infer from this situation, as I did, that the counsels of the wicked are indeed deceitful?  They may sound fun, exciting, intriguing, interesting, possibly ok, or even invigorating, but that is a deception.  While tossing pine shavings about may have seemed stimulating in a moment of madness, the consequences of such a choice are bigger than those kids could have imagined.

Because of the choice they made, they not only have to pick up each and every piece of pine; they also lost several privileges.  Perhaps it was my son’s idea, and he was truly the mastermind behind it all (I don’t doubt it), but my daughter is responsible for the choices she makes as well.  Had she simply done her job and left him to his own mess, she would not have to face the same consequences.  However, she chose not only to condone his actions, but to be deceived by and entrapped in his unwise counsel.  Sadly, she now has to face the same consequences as he.

This is what happens so often.  We get some bad advice.  We may know better, but we lose ourselves in a moment and become deceived by the allure of sin.  Consequently, we will then have to face the same end as the one who lured us in.  Be careful whose advice you’re taking.  If you are righteous, bought with the blood of Jesus, then you must take responsibility for your own actions and choose what you already know to be right.  Through the word of God and the Holy Spirit’s presence within us, we know what is right.  We must not let a moment of deception lead us astray.

There ARE grave consequences to sin and we must remember that our souls are far too important to put into the hands of those deceptions.  Keep doing what you know to be right.  Heaven awaits and we will rejoice for eternity!

Persevere,

jamie

You will be so wise

Pr. 19:20:  “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.”

This summer my Pastor has been doing a short series about simple, godly money management for the teenagers and young adults in our church.  As he teaches, we all learn, but I also pray for them to listen with their whole hearts.  He speaks as a man of experience, a man who has raised children, learned the hard lessons of being a servant to debt, and has created better habits for his future.  If anyone would listen to him and put his wise teachings into practice now, they will be grateful 15 years from now.

Same goes with Sunday school.  If children listen to the wisdom of their teachers, they will be able to avoid making some mistakes, remember how to steer around certain temptations, and know upon who to call when they need wisdom, help, or peace.  If teachers will share the wisdom of their own experiences, it may just save those children from learning the hard way.  But the children have to listen.

All of us have had counsel and instruction that has or could have taught us, so that we would be wise in our latter days.  Maybe we listened; maybe we didn’t.  The best thing is that if you’re reading this, you’re still alive, and you still have the opportunity to listen and receive counsel and instruction now.

We can still dig in to the Word of God and receive direction and cautions to direct us throughout our lives.  We can still listen to those who have already been through the fire, fun, and obstacles.  Whether they’ve been through it themselves or have watched others, they know what comes on the other side of certain decisions.  If we observe their lives or ask for advice, we could learn so much.

God gave us an abundance of advice, instruction, caution, and warnings in His Word.  The key to using it?  We have to listen.  Open your ears to the Word today and to godly people who are full of wisdom.  In your latter days, you will be grateful you did.

Listening,

jamie