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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Wisdom’

 frazzled-career-woman

 

Ever had a pending appointment you didn’t want to keep? A person you didn’t want to encounter? A task you didn’t want to complete?

Some days are filled with unpleasantries. And if I’m not careful, it’s an easy slide down into a gloomy funk.

How does that happen?

My thoughts provide the slippery slope…

What a lousy day this is going to be. I sure hope So-and-So is in a good mood for that meeting this afternoon. Last time he was as irritable as Oscar the Grouch. And while I’m looking forward to that (Ha-Ha!), look at this impossible to-do list. Talk about crazy. And then there’s our double-date tonight with that new couple from church. I am in no mood to be sociable. All I want to do is go home, put on my sweats, and park on the couch!

 Can you identify my problem here? I’m focusing on the negative. The solution is obvious: turn my thoughts to the positive.

But some days that is next to impossible. It’s as if the problems and challenges are shouting giants, jumping up and down, with arms waving no less. They block any view of the positive.

Making the effort to think about praiseworthy things works for a while, but those negative thoughts often return, unbidden and oh, so unwanted. To make matters worse, I feel guilty for allowing those giants access to my mind and spirit.

Why can’t I get rid of them once and for all?

Maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe God wants me to become more watchful, to learn perseverance, and to practice proactive behaviors, like gratitude and praise.

But one strategy for fighting the giants is particularly important: Get out my sword.

I’m talking about the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

Scripture is full of wisdom and encouragement for doing battle, like Psalm 73.

Asaph writes about his challenge: arrogant and wicked people (v. 3) who scoff and speak malice (v. 8).

“What is going on here?” he writes. “Is God out to lunch? Nobody’s tending the store. The wicked get by with everything; they have it made…When I tried to figure it out, all I got was a splitting headache” (vs. 11-14, The Message).

Sounds like the giants of negativity had been pestering Asaph, too.

But at the end of the psalm, Asaph affirms what he knows about God and his ways:

 

“You [God] hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

And afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart

And my portion forever.”

(Psalm 73:23-26)

 

I need to meditate on Asaph’s affirmations and make them my own:

  1. My loving Heavenly Father holds me by the hand, offering protection and security.
  1. He guides me with wisdom, especially through his Word, infusing me with comfort and strength.
  1. God gives me perspective for my earthly troubles as I look forward to blissful eternity with him.
  1. He is all I need.

 

Thank you, Asaph. I’m going to memorize those verses so they’re ready to draw like a sword—on a moment’s notice!

 

(photo credit:  www.ideas.tome.com.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear.”

1 John 4:18a

M-m-m.  Interesting.  John doesn’t say perfect courage drives out fear.  Not even perfect faith.  Why does he say perfect love will drive out fear?

First of all, this verse is not talking about fears of financial ruin or life-threatening events.  Verse eighteen gives us the context.  John is talking about Judgment Day.  He’s reminding us that, if we know Jesus, there is nothing to fear when we leave this earth for eternity.  Jesus gave his life to save us from the consequences of our sin.  Our place in heaven is secure, if our faith is in him.

And once that matter has been settled, other fear-producing questions can be put in proper perspective. We have to remind ourselves that earthly life fades quickly like the leaves (Isaiah 64:6).  These questions will cease to matter–questions like:

  • Will my job survive the cutbacks?
  • Will I be able to keep my health insurance?
  • Will my kids make it through their personal crisis?

But such questions can cause torment to the point of ulcers and high blood pressure.  If we allow fear to control us, we’re saying that the troubles we face are more powerful than our God.

So here are a few ways to fight against fear:

  • Rename your difficulties as possibilities—possibilities for God to do something glorious.  Without a problem, there’s no opportunity for a miracle.
  • Picture God Almighty accompanying you all day long.  He’s standing right behind you at the sink.  He’s sitting beside you in the car.  His ever-watchful eye is upon you,  his infinite strength is available to you, and his perfect wisdom will guide you.
  • Don’t feed your fear with worry; feed your faith with the truth of God’s Word.  Psalm 23 is a perfect place to begin.  Remember verse four?  “Even 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.”
  •  Listen to what he says:  “I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you (Isaiah 41:13).  Visualize God holding you by the hand as you walk through each day.

Years ago, when a I was a young teenager, my family visited Lookout Mountain in Tennessee.  Dad and I were hiking over the mountain paths when we came to a deep, narrow ravine.  He easily jumped across, turned, and held out his hand for me.

“I can do it myself,” I announced confidently.  Then I looked down into that deep ravine.  What if I fall? I thought.  Grinning sheepishly at Dad, I said, “’Guess you’d better help me after all!”  I had great confidence in my father.  I knew he loved me and would never let me fall.

God is ready to walk hand-in-hand with me along the mountain paths of life.  Problems arise, though, when I repeat that moment on Lookout Mountain and focus on the ravine, the what-ifs.  The  result?  I’m frozen with fear.

How downright foolish of me, when my loving, trustworthy Heavenly Father has assured me:

“Don’t panic.  I’m with you.  There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.  I’ll give you strength.  I’ll help you.  I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you” (Isaiah 41:10, The Message).

 You see, perfect love drives out fear because we can trust the perfect love of our perfect God.

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Mr. Chump thinks he’s pretty smart.

He doesn’t need experts; he already knows what’s best.

He doesn’t need repairmen; he fixes things himself.  Of course, many items turn out to be very poorly made, so parts don’t go back together the way they’re supposed to.  Frequently he’s forced to replace such items.  It never dawns on him how often that scenario occurs.

Mr. Chump also thinks he knows better than God.

“So many things in this world just don’t make sense,” he loudly complains to his neighbor.  “For example, why did God create mosquitoes?  And what’s up with the rain?  Sometimes we get too much, and sometimes not enough.  What would be wrong with a little balance?  And why does winter have to be so cold?

“And look at this tall, strong oak tree here, with all of its tiny acorns,” Mr. Chump continues.  “And then over there, on that puny, limp vine lying on the ground, huge, heavy pumpkins grow.  It makes no sense.

“People talk about an all-wise God in control of the universe, but there are just too many inane situations in nature for me to believe in Intelligent Design, much less God.”

And then an acorn falls on his head.  And his neighbor quietly remarks:

“What if that had been a pumpkin?”

Poor Mr. Chump.  Little does he realize that:

“God is exalted in his power.   Who is a teacher like him?  Who has prescribed his ways for him,  Or said to him, ‘You have done wrong?’  (Job 36:22-23).

Or…

“What a wonderful God we have!  How great are his wisdom and knowledge and riches!  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!  For who among us can know the mind of the Lord?  Who knows enough to be his counselor and guide?…For everything comes from God alone.  Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory.  To him be glory evermore (Romans 11:33-36 TLB).

I begin to shake my head in pity for Mr. Chump, who doesn’t understand that God most certainly knows what he is doing.

Then I realize:  there are times when I am no different from Mr. Chump.  Oh, I may not complain that acorns should grow on vines and pumpkins on trees.  But I allow negative thoughts to swirl around in my mind that sound an awful lot like complaining.  Thoughts like…

…This situation is unbearable, Lord.  When will you intervene?

…I don’t know why I keep hoping for such-and-such to happen.  It would appear I’ve been working and waiting for nothing.  Am I wasting my time, God?

…I’m frightened, Lord.  What is going on?  Where are you?

So what can I do to avoid behaving like Mr. Chump?

Paul’s idea in the Romans passage above is a great place to start.  Paul confesses he’s at a loss, that the depths of God are beyond his reach.  So he humbly sits down at the brink, and adores the depth.*

Worship.  That’s the answer.

Move over Mr. Chump.  Make room for adoration, gratitude, and trust.

Amend that.  Move out, Mr. Chump.  Your foolishness is not welcome here.

 

 

*paraphrased from Matthew Henry’s Commentary

 

 

(photo credits:  www.alexandriavaappliancerepair.com ; http://www.onlineathens.com ; http://www.flickr.com ; http://www.godmeandacupofcoffee.blogspot.com )

 

 

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Steve and I received a calendar for Christmas with a quote for each day. Sometimes the choice is quite meaningful, such as:

Babe Ruth, full-length portrait, standing, fac...

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way” – Babe Ruth.

We can actually find similar truth in scripture.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Sometimes, as I turn the calendar page to a new day, I have to wonder what the selection committee was thinking. See if you agree.

Sample #1:

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” (I won’t name the person who said that!)

Forgive me, but that makes no sense. Am I missing something? If so, please set me straight.

But here’s what makes sense to me:

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...

“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes” — Winston Churchill.

Wise men also admit mistakes and correct them. When we don’t, we heap another mistake on top of the first: pride.  Ouch!

When we do admit and correct, we develop humility and maturity. And God values those traits (James 4:6, 1:4)

Sample #2:

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”

Here’s what makes sense to me:

Although there is joy in the journey, it is not home. Our final home is heaven. I do not want to become enamored with the journey and lose sight of my home.

With Paul, I want to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Heaven

(Photo credit: irunandshoot)

Sample #3:

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Problem is, no matter how well we take care of ourselves, these bodies have expiration dates. But praise God our earthly bodies are not the only place to live!

In fact, for those of us who know Jesus, “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We’ll have new, spiritual bodies fit for heaven — strong and vibrant, with no expiration date.  Can you imagine?

Paul said, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (v. 23).

Oh, yes.

Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Is...

Thank you, Father, for your Word that speaks reliable wisdom and truth—truth that guides, teaches, and protects. But I need your help to live by its truths. Remind me that only fools despise your wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).

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A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, pa...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  

Have you seen this cereal commercial?

Several women decry the frustration of nutrition and diet research which contradicts itself. Examples:

  • Carbohydrates are good; carbohydrates are bad.
  • Eliminate as much fat from your diet as possible; a little bit of fat is good for you.
  • To lose weight, eat no more than 1500 calories a day. To lose weight, eat no more than 1200 calories a day.

And then the ladies say something like, “You know what? I’m not listening to expert advice anymore. I’m going to listen to me. I know better nutrition when I see it.”

I want to ask them: “And how do you know what’s good? How did you find out? What makes you wiser than the experts? Sure, they make mistakes. But haven’t you made a few yourselves?”

I’ve seen the same attitude in discussions of spiritual matters.

“Well, I believe…”

“In my opinion…”

“I just know that…”

 Oh? Sometimes we forget that there is a standard for truth—the Bible. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter what we believe or think. What matters is what God’s Word says. If our thoughts and beliefs do not coincide with the Bible, we’re on the wrong track.

Bible Study 1

Bible Study 1 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

 

 “The Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). In other words, God is the only source of true wisdom. We humans cannot manufacture it on our own.

 God pointedly warns us about thinking of ourselves as experts of wisdom. “Do not be wise in your own eyes,” he says (3:7a). “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (12:15).

EXPERT

EXPERT (Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl)

I, for one, would not set myself up as an expert, like the women in the commercial. I don’t always know what’s good for me. I’m not that smart!

Instead, my measuring tool is God’s Word.  That’s where I turn to verify if my line of thinking is straight. There is only one Mastermind, the One who created me. And unlike human experts, he is completely trustworthy.*

It would behoove me to know what he thinks before I spout off my own opinions.

 

English: Eric H. Cline excavating at Megiddo

English: Eric H. Cline excavating at Megiddo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

* The Bible is also trustworthy, proven time and again to be accurate, by the ancient manuscripts, archaeology, prophecy, and other proofs. You may wish to read Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction by Eric H. Cline and The Evidence of Prophecy edited by Robert C. Newman for a deeper study of these fascinating topics.

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