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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Wisdom’

(a personalized psalm)

 

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“Trust in the Lord and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

–Psalm 37:3 NIV

I praise you, oh God, that you are trustworthy. Your motives are always pure, your guidance always wise, your actions always righteous. Everything you do in my life is for my good.

Now, Father, I want to do good for you. May I dedicate myself each day to fulfill the to-do list you’ve designed. Remind me that interruptions may be divine appointments, ordained by you to accomplish a specific purpose.

I praise you that I can “dwell in the land and live securely” (v. 3, HCSB). How comforting to know my dwelling place is in you (John 15:5), where I find:

  • Refuge (Psalm 46:1),
  • Good things (Psalm 65:4),
  • Rest (Psalm 91:1), and
  • Enjoyment of all your glorious attributes (Ephesians 3:17-19).

 

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Delight yourself in the Lord

And he will give you the desires of your heart.

–Psalm 37:4 NIV

 

At first glance it would appear this verse teaches that as long as I’m worshiping you, you’ll grant what I want. But that would discount your wisdom, compelling you to do only what’s good for me.

No, undergirding this verse is an important truth: the more I delight in you, the more I’ll want what you want. Your desires become my desires, as I’m influenced by your infinite wisdom.

I praise you, Father, that steadily over time you have molded my spirit to be more accepting of your delights. Jeremiah’s words are more readily becoming my prayer: “As for me, I am in your hands, do with me whatever you think is good and right” (26:14*).

I praise you, too, that when a particular delight of my heart does not come to pass, you ultimately cause it to melt away!

 

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Commit your way to the Lord;

Trust in him and he will do this.”

Psalm 37:5 NIV

 

I praise you, oh God, that you provide guidance in what I should do, wisdom for how to accomplish that plan, and strength to see it to completion. I can depend upon your enablement for success in the endeavors you have ordained.

How comforting to know:

  • This is your world (Psalm 24:1). That includes the little corner where I live and work and love. I can relax, knowing that Someone much wiser and stronger is in charge.
  • You’ve already planned out the events of my life in advance (Psalm 139:16). You don’t make decisions as you go along, nor do you leave everything to chance.
  • Your plan is good (Jeremiah 29:11). No matter what happens, good will come out of it.

With your goodness that desires my highest welfare, your wisdom to plan it, and your power to achieve, I. Lack. No. Good. Thing!**

All praise to you, my loving Heavenly Father!

___________________________________________

* These words of Jeremiah were not a prayer to God, but a response to the officials of Judah who wanted the prophet sentenced to death. However, when addressed to God, they do communicate heartfelt trust and submission to Him.

** Based on a quote from A. W. Tozer: “With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?”

 

(Art credit:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.holy-bible.org; http://www.indulgy.com.)

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“Teach us to number our days,

that we may present to you

a heart of wisdom”

–Psalm 90:12 (NAS)

 

I did the math and numbered my days: over 24,000 so far. That means I’m well past the half-way point of the average earthly life. And such a sobering thought would surely weigh heavy on my mind, if I did not have heaven to look forward to.

But I’m certain Moses (the author of Psalm 90, above) wasn’t asking God for a multiplication lesson.

Perhaps in learning how to number his days Moses wanted to: 

  • make each day count by accomplishing worthwhile tasks, or
  • live mindfully so steady growth and learning took place, or
  • dedicate himself to the well-being of others, or
  • look for God throughout each day, worshiping and praising, or
  • revel in the positive instead of grovel in the negative.

Perhaps Moses was thinking of all those things.

According to two commentators, Numbering our days means:  1) living in such a way that each day has value, and 2) living intentionally in ways that bring glory to God and blessing to others.

Then notice what Moses indicates will happen when we live with those supreme purposes:

We’ll be able to present to God a heart of wisdom—a heart with “the ability to see life from God’s perspective, and then to know the best course of action to take” (p. 1055, Living Application Bible). 

That seems to me a lovely gift to present to my Heavenly Father—accepting his perspective and acting upon it.

 

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But learning to number our days and grow in wisdom are such abstract processes. It’s difficult to determine progress. So how might we know that we’re learning and growing? These ten questions may help; they’re based on the Book of Wisdom, Proverbs. Try answering in the context of the last ten—maybe even twenty—years:

  1. Am I more aware of God’s daily gifts and more grateful to him for these blessings (15:13)?
  2. Do my thoughts frequently turn to God during the day? Am I continually turning to him for guidance? (2:1-6)
  3. Do I express trust in God more often than worry about circumstances (3:5-6)?
  4. Am I pursuing biblical instruction (8:33-34a)?
  5. Do I take great pleasure in building up others (10:11)?
  6. Am I able to think before I speak (10:19b)?
  7. Do I give people the benefit of the doubt (19:11)?
  8. Am I becoming more patient and kind–especially toward challenging people (25:21-22)?
  9. Do I thoughtfully consider the advice of those who are knowledgeable and wise (19:20)?
  10. Am I able to do what’s right even when there’s no one around to notice (10:9)?

 

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Scripture tells us that when Abraham died, he was “satisfied with life” (Genesis 25:8, NAS).  Surely satisfaction with life includes the development of a heart of wisdom, which Abraham demonstrated by his life of faith–in spite of challenges, disappointments, and uncertainties.

But the pinnacle of satisfaction must have been presenting that heart of wisdom to God Almighty on the day he entered heaven’s gates.

My prayer is that I’ll be able to do the same.

You, too?

“What we weave in time

is what we’ll wear in eternity.”

– Mart DeHaan

 

(Photo and art credits:  www.faithgateway.com; http://www.quotesgram.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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 “By myself!” “By myself!” “By myself!” Numerous times each day our granddaughter asserts herself, announcing with much gusto that whatever the task, she can handle it.

But Elena just turned two. Although her confidence is high, skills are limited. When it’s time to go upstairs, “by myself” means down on all fours, one limb at a time. One hand up, and then the other. One foot up and then the other. It is a slow and laborious process.

In addition, the grown-up in her wake must be very sly about offering support. No hand on the back, or even hovering where Elena can see it. She’ll cast aside such safety precautions and announce firmly once again, “By myself!”

Child Washing Hands

Hand washing is another activity she prefers to do independently. But her attempts to pump out a dollop of liquid soap often end unsuccessfully. The soap usually lands in or around the sink—not in her hand.

And once the soap is in her palm, Elena reaches for the faucet. Forget the actual washing. If we try to help, she pulls her hands away. “By myself!” Even when she acquiesces, her scrubbing efforts leave much to be desired. Squeezing is her version.

And rinsing is another issue. “By myself” often results in enthusiastic splattering of water on dry dishes, counter, and backsplash.

spoons

Mealtimes offer more opportunities for autonomy. “By myself” means she will hold her spoon or fork as she chooses, not as the grown-ups have shown her numerous times. Elena has yet to figure out that holding a utensil at the very end of the handle is not very efficient.  (The child in the photo is not our Elena, but is demonstrating the same technique.)

Because of her unwieldy grip, Elena ends up turning the spoon upside down as it approaches her mouth. Needless to say, most of the food ends up on her chin, in her bib pocket, on her clothes, on the tray, or back in the dish.

We shake our heads and roll our eyes. Toddlers!

Then it dawns on me. Sometimes I’m not much more mature than a toddler in God’s family. I’ve been known to proclaim “by myself,” too:

  • “Yes, Lord, I need you to take care of the important matters, but I can handle the small stuff by myself. ”
  • “I’ll make this decision by myself, Lord, because—to be honest–I’m not sure I’ll like your choice.”
  • “I can decide by myself what will make me happy, Lord.”

Yep, I can be as foolish as a toddler, even though great wisdom is available to me.

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Wisdom such as:

“Start with God.

The first step in learning

is bowing down to God.

Only fools thumb their noses

at such wisdom and learning”

(Proverbs 1:7, MSG).

Ouch. But Solomon is right.  God made me; he knows the best course for me. Over and over again he has proven himself worthy of my trust — guiding my way, providing for my needs, empowering me to accomplish his plans.

If I can’t trust the One who died for me, who can I trust?

Any time I’m tempted to approach a situation or decision by myself, I need to remember:

“God always gives the best

to those who leave the choice to him”

–Selwyn Hughes

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Oh, Father, forgive me for the times I have foolishly asserted my independence. Help me to relinquish control to you. I’ve lived long enough to know from experience that living life by myself does not result in satisfaction. Help me become a person who turns to you first, and asks, “What do YOU want me to do, Lord?” because you are the all-wise One of the universe.  And I know the benefits of following you will far outweigh any costs.

(Photo credits:  www.motherhood.modernmom.com; http://www.childcare.oxfordcounty.ca; http://www.cleftstories.com; http://www.covedevotions2010.blogspot.com.)

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Pretend you’re on an ocean liner that has embarked from New York City and is sailing to England.   You and several thousand other passengers enjoy your days at sea, free to choose from dozens of activities—games, shopping, shows, sports, crafts, and more. You can eat anytime you like, sleep whenever you feel drowsy, make friends among the other passengers, or remain solitary. In other words, you make many choices during the voyage, but all the while the ship is headed towards its predetermined destination.

A.W. Tozer gave us this illustration in his classic, The Knowledge of the Holy (Harper & Brothers, 1961), to help us understand God’s sovereignty: 1) Our all-powerful God has total authority in the universe, just as the shipping authorities exercise sovereignty over the course of a ship. 2) We have been given much freedom, within the confines of God’s sovereignty, to move about and make choices.

Now some folks take issue with God’s control. They want to direct the course of their life-ships.  I, for one, find great comfort in the numerous, reassuring scriptures about God’s sovereignty.

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For example, everything in heaven and earth belongs to Him. He is the glorious head over all, the ruler of all things (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). That includes us–those who know Jesus and belong to the family of God. As our Heavenly Father, he provides for our needs, guides us through decisions, bestows many blessings, and more. What encouraging truth! The Almighty God of the universe is in charge of our lives, as we submit to him. We don’t have to navigate alone.

The key, however, is submission. God is a gentleman and will not force himself upon us. He has chosen to limit his sovereignty, to allow man free choice.

Another reassuring truth: God is totally competent. We’ve all known inept leaders who could not fulfill their responsibilities. But our Ruler is supremely capable.  Nothing is too hard for him (Jeremiah 32:17).  As we focus on his complete sufficiency, our worries shrink in significance.

In addition, no plan of God’s can be thwarted (Job 42:2).   What God says, happens.

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His sovereign plan is efficient and goal-oriented. He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his perfect plan (Ephesians 1:11).

God’s sovereignty is also employed with infinite wisdom (Job 12:13).  No foolish decisions come from God’s throne!

And contrary to appearances, he does maintain over-arching rule on mankind (Jeremiah 32:27). That would include the barbaric Babylonians of Jeremiah’s day, who destroyed Jerusalem, murdered the nobles of Judah, and took thousands of Jewish captives to Babylon.  God’s over-arching rule also applies to the wicked forces creating havoc in our day.

Good people are often hurt in the process, and it breaks our hearts.   Every century has had its martyrs for the faith. And our questions of why God allows bad things to happen to good people don’t always get answered. We’re not privy to everything God knows or to all the reasons behind his decisions (Romans 11:33-36).

What we do know is this: Evil never wins in the end. Every evil empire of history that rose in prominence and power eventually fell in ruin. Our sovereign God knows what he is doing. He will have the last word.

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So when the squeaky wheels of worry, doubt, or fear begin to spin in your head, and you wonder, Is God in control?, apply the oil of gladness in who God is—our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, and yes, in-control God!

Take joy in the knowledge that “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

And rest in the affirmation that “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36, emphasis added).

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Sovereign Lord of the universe, we bow in worshipful wonder of your magnificence. Your greatness shatters all boundaries! We stand in awe of your vast power and infinite wisdom, always at work in the world.

“And when I cannot understand” [your plan or your ways], “help me just to stand” (Selwyn Hughes).

(Art & photo credits:  www.en.wikipedia.org; http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.spiritualinpsiration.tumblr.com.)

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Check a map that traces the trek of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, and you’ll see a meandering, looping pathway:

Wilderness Journey

God could have taken them along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, a much more direct route. One commentator says that route would have required just days of travel. A short journey would have been so much easier on everyone, right?  Less chance of fatigue, boredom, and impatience to develop and create problems.

But God had his reasons for a long, winding route.

Reason #1: The Philistines. That’s not conjecture; that’s exactly what scripture tells us. “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt’ ” (Exodus 13:17).

The Philistines’ territory stretched for fifty miles along the Mediterranean Sea, with the southern border touching Egypt. They were a well-organized, warring people. Five great cities, strategically located throughout their coastal holdings, created an alliance, the famous Philistine pentapolis.

A people suppressed by slavery for four hundred years would not be able to fight such an adversary. The Israelites didn’t have any trained soldiers among them either. Could God have given them a rousing victory over the Philistines anyway? Of course. But he chose not to.

Reason #2: Perhaps God determined his people needed some wilderness experience to train them in his ways and build their trust in him. Instead of quick and easy, God chose slow, step-by-step progress. He was like an eagle, teaching his fledglings by degrees how to fly (Deuteronomy 32:11).

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I wonder if the Israelites thought, Does God have any idea where he’s taking us? What is he DOING?!

In hindsight we can see God’s purpose:

  • To prepare them to be his holy people by giving them the law. (By the way, according to Exodus 19:1, Moses went up to Mount Sinai during the third month after they left Egypt. God was certainly in no hurry to get his children to the Promised Land.)
  • To teach them.  Through the laws he gave Moses, God taught the Israelites how to treat one another and how to worship him. They were to be different from all other peoples on earth.   “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy,” he said, “because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44).
  • To challenge them. For example, God let them experience great thirst and hunger. Then he stepped in and supplied their needs. By degrees God taught them to trust him.

I have to admit: my life experiences have paralleled the Israelites’ in a number of ways. I’ve encountered a few winding roads, puzzling detours, uncomfortable wait times, and unanswered questions of my own.

You, too?

Here’s what we can remind ourselves of: God may not direct us by the nearest, fastest way—even though he could. In his omnipotent wisdom, he knows a better way. And he has perfectly sound reasons for his decision.

My choice in the matter? I can plead for the shorter route, complain about the delay, try to forge ahead on my own self-chosen fast track, OR…

…trust my all-knowing, all-wise Heavenly Father.

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Seeing the choices laid out in black and white, here on my computer screen, the decision is easy. However, complete trust in the moment of uncertainty, fatigue, and discomfort is much more challenging.

Perhaps I can encourage myself by reviewing God’s purposes for the Israelites. Chances are, he desires the same results in me:

  • God prepared the Israelites; he may be preparing me for the next chapter in my life.
  • God taught the Israelites; he may be teaching me what the next level of maturity includes.  (Yes, even an old Christian like me still has growing to do!)
  • God challenged the Israelites; he may be challenging me to trust him—in spite of a long, winding road and uncomfortable wait time.

In summary:  As I cooperate with him, God can transform me into a prepared, mature, trusting servant for the next chapter of my life.   I like the sound of that!

You, too?

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“Who compares with you, O God?  Who compares with you in power, in holy majesty, in awesome praises, wonder-working God” (Exodus 15:11, The Message)?  You are over-the-top trustworthy!  So, in advance, I thank you for the good that will come out of the winding road, detours, and wait time in my life–experiences you ordained for me, before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16).  I place my hand in yours, my caring, constant Companion.  Help me to focus on your strong grip, not the uncertainties ahead.  Amen.

   

(Art credits:  www.registrypartners.net; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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How would you finish this prayer: 

“Oh, Lord, what I need most right now is ____________________.”

What word would you put in the blank?

Guidance?

Provision?

Strength?

Purpose?

One glorious Bible verse tucked into Isaiah presents four comforting promises that cover each of those needs:

 

Isaiah58.11 

“The Lord will guide you always;

He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

And will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

Like a spring whose waters never fail” (58:11).

Lots of truth packed into five short lines. Each phrase warrants careful consideration. For example:

 

1.  The Lord will guide you always.

 

He’s not a life coach, counselor, or psychologist. The almighty God of the universe promises to be your guide—free of charge! And he’s available 24/7. Think, too, of his astounding attributes that make him the perfect guide:

  • God is omniscient—He knows everything (Psalm 139:1-6), including every detail of your situation and the people involved.
  • God is righteous—Everything he does is good (Deuteronomy 32:4). He can be relied upon to lead you down a perfect path.
  • God is merciful—He responds in loving compassion (Psalm 116:5). He’s your understanding Father, your strongest ally.
  • God is truthful—All that he says can be trusted (Titus 1:2). He will not lead you astray.
  • God is faithful—He keeps his Word (Psalm 33:4). God does not lie or forget what he said. Neither does he change his mind.

Notice that first phrase says God will always be your guide. Not every once in a while when you’re really in a quandary, but always. You are never left alone to your own devices—unless that’s the way you want to live. God is a gentleman; he leaves the choice up to you.

 

2.  He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land.

 

Not he might satisfy your needs if he feels like it. He will. 

No matter what the landscape of your life looks like, God will see that your needs are met.

Have you ever been surrounded by sun-scorched land, perhaps a desert or wilderness where no life is visible?

Steve and I visited Israel a number of years ago. One of our tour stops was in the Judean wilderness—a desolate and foreboding sight to behold. Not a single tuft of grass. No bushes or plants of any kind—not even cactus. Only two things are visible when standing in the midst of this desert: sky and pale gray-brown mountainous rock, as far as the eye can see.

 

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Should you decide to live there, you’d have to bring with you everything necessary for survival: all your food, water, and clothing. For shelter, you might find a cave.

Ah! But what if there was Someone there ahead of you? Someone who already had at his disposal the supplies you required? And they would never run out? That’s the life-giving, unfailing provision of your Heavenly Father.

Let’s you and me rest in the assurance that the essentials—and even many delights!—will be generously supplied. If something is meant to be, he will take care of it—just as he’s been doing since each of us was born.

Think how he has led you through the wilderness of broken relationships and difficult circumstances. His grace has been sufficient for every challenge (2 Corinthians 12:9), right?

Now project that assurance into the future. Even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we have no need to fear. Our all-powerful God is with us (Psalm 23:4)–guiding and providing.

(Please remind me of that when I come to a wilderness-patch, will you?)

 

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Heavenly Father, I praise you that day by day, moment by moment, you are delighted to guide us in perfect wisdom. You generously provide for our needs and lovingly care for us body, soul, and spirit. Thank you for your compassion, your faithfulness, and grace to see us through the wilderness valleys. “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands.’” (Psalm 31:14-15a).  

 

Please come back on Monday. We’ll meditate on the second half of Isaiah 58:11.

 

(Photo credits:  www.hischurchwomen.com; http://www.freerepublic.com; http://www.biblestudytools.com.)

 

 

 

 

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time

 

Does it ever seem to you that God shows up late sometimes? Surely you’ve had it happen to you.  In spite of persistent prayer and patient waiting (OK, almost patient), God did not intervene in a timely manner.

For example:

  • Applications for grad school were turned down—three years in a row. Finally, the fourth year, acceptance was granted. Why?
  • The job you needed ASAP didn’t materialize for two years. Why?
  • The bracelet that had been your grandmother’s suddenly disappeared. Heartsick, you searched and searched. No bracelet. Suddenly, months later, there it was–caught in a sweater you hadn’t worn in ages. Why?

Why the delay???

I know this sounds impertinent, but in all of these cases and many more, it would appear God was not paying attention.

Or…

…Could it be God operates in a different time frame, one not governed by days, months, or years?

After all, God is eternally the same, always was and always will be. Time is rather inconsequential to him. He lives in a dimension where past, present, and future are not separated.

Time for God is measured more in seasons. Paul included the concept in his persuasive address at Athens:

“From one man [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26).

The Greek word Paul used in that verse is kairos. It means, “the suitable or appropriate time for something to occur or for something to be accomplished.”

In his speech, Paul was referring to the appropriate times certain people-groups would rise to power, such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans.

The Greeks had a second word for time: chronos. This is the kind of time we measure with clocks and calendars. This is our comfort zone–the kind of time we know and understand best. Perhaps that’s why we anticipate God should operate within chronos.

But kairos is God’s time, as in “I choose the appointed time, it is I who judge uprightly” (Psalm 75:2).

Taking the definition of kairos into consideration, this verse would read:

“I choose the suitable and appropriate time to accomplish my purposes.”

And what would be the foundation of God’s choice of kairos?

His righteousness.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” (Psalm 89:15).

Everything God does is right, including when he does it.

His wisdom.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out” (Romans 11:33)!

It’s been said: “If I had the power of God, there are many things that I would change; but if I had the wisdom of God, I would not change a thing.”

That would include the timing of events, too.

His love.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him” (1 John 4:9, NLT).

Would a God who loves like that fail to pay attention, and mess up the timing of his involvement?

Kairos implies “at just the right time.”

At just the right time, the door opened for grad school.

At just the right time, that job was provided.

At just the right time, the keepsake bracelet was found.

By not asking why we had to wait, perhaps we demonstrate a modicum of maturity.

 

(Art credit:  www.inscribewritersonline.blogspot.com.)

 

 

 

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