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Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs 16:20’

 

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Sometime in the 1940s the New York Museum of Natural History created a living room space–from the perspective of a dog. Table legs rose like tall pillars, chair seats hovered overhead, and the mantel of the fireplace loomed higher still.

Now any human museum-goer would instantly know this was an unrealistic representation. But if we were all terriers, we’d bark to one another how accurately the decorator had appointed the room.

Which view of the museum display is correct—that of humans or dogs? Our instinctive response is: the way a room appears to us as humans is the accurate view.

And we think, The poor dogs—living their whole lives with an illusion they accept as reality.

 No doubt that museum space provided plenty of entertainment. But perhaps an important lesson was hiding among the over-sized furniture and features. What if we compared Planet Earth to that room? Then we are the small creatures gazing upwards—at towering mountains, high plateaus, and tall waterfalls.

 

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(El Pailon del Diablo–Ecuador.  Can you spot the people?)

 

Oh, but our view must be expanded further—far beyond Mount Everest even. We must consider what Planet Earth looks like to God, who made the numerous planets, spinning in billions of galaxies. On a map of the stars, our tiny planet isn’t even represented.

Yet it’s so easy to lose sight of this reality.  Our sphere of contacts–family, friends, and coworkers –becomes our whole world.  The pursuit of happiness within this microcosm becomes our whole focus.  And we think living life “my way” is the ticket to happiness and satisfaction.  Like our poor canine friends, we can easily spend our whole lives accepting an illusion as reality.

Then there’s God’s point of view, as taught by Jesus:

 

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“How blessed are those

who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness,

because it is they who will be satisfied!”

–Matthew 5:6 (ISV)

 

Which view of reality is accurate–our view or that of our sovereign Maker (who sees, understands and controls everything)?

Logic supports the latter. The real world-view is God’s view.

And if we’re ready to accept that reality, then we must also agree it makes sense to follow his instruction manual, the Bible, for living in the world he created.

My self-serving, egocentric side says, Wait a minute. I have my own ideas of what’s best for me. I ought to know what will make me happy. Doesn’t my viewpoint count for anything?

Such thinking exposes my lack of understanding, putting me on the level of a dog in that museum living room! My world view is flawed.

No, I’d be much wiser to embrace God’s point of view as revealed in his Word, and learn about true reality—the reality of his invisible, spiritual kingdom and its benefits:

  • His foundation of security

 

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“Those who know your name will trust in you,

for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

–Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

 

  • His way to happiness

 

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“The one who trusts in the LORD will be happy.”

–Proverbs 16:20b (HCSB)

 

  • His gift of peace

 

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“Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.”

–Colossians 3:15a (NLT)

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, Father, for these benefits and more, lovingly bestowed as we seek to live within the spiritual reality of your kingdom. Yes, it’s invisible to our human eyes, but no less real than the wind. And as we follow you and obey your Word, the more real your world becomes, the more wonders we experience. Help me to outgrow the immaturity of illusions and embrace your reality!

 

(Information about the New York Museum of Natural History room display came from Ralph Sockman’s book, The Higher Happiness, Abingdon Press, 1950.)

 

Photo and art credits:  www.wikipedia.org; http://www.trafficamerican.com; http://www.dailyblossom.com; http://www.pinterest.com (3).

 

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7

Nancy and I taught together at the same school for seventeen years until she retired. (Yes, the same name, teaching the same grade.)

One morning she and I simultaneously climbed out of our vans, side-by-side in the parking lot, said good-bye to our kids, grabbed our multiple totes of stuff (teachers were the original bag ladies, you know), and headed to our classrooms.

As we traipsed up the slight rise to our building, we commiserated over the long-to-do list requiring completion before Spring Break. Our hands were on the doorknobs when Nancy said, “ ‘You know what we need?”

And in the split second before she answered her own question, I thought, Hallelujah! Nancy, with all her wisdom, common sense, and problem-solving skills has an idea to lighten our loads!

 “What we need,” she concluded, “is our lipstick!”

 

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I burst out in a very unladylike guffaw. You see, neither one of us had yet completed that step of our morning routine. And though life does go better lipstick (as most women would agree), it does fall short of erasing to-do-list chores.

Nonetheless, as I entered my classroom that morning, the tension in my spirit and shoulders was erased.  I felt renewed, powered up to face the challenges of the day. Nancy’s humorous comment had indeed lightened my load—at least attitudinally.

That old song we used to sing years ago at church was right:

  • Verse 1: “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10c, repeated four times).
  • Verse 2: “If you want joy you must laugh for it” (4 times).
  • Verse 3: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” (4 times).

Who could finish a song like that without a genuine case of the giggles?

Laughter works wonders to stir up happiness, contentment, and even improved health.

Remember King Solomon’s observation?

 

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(“A cheerful heart is good medicine.”

–Proverbs 17:22)

 

And the medicine is all the more powerful when enjoyed in pleasant company.

Laughter shared is multiplied.

With improved health may very well come longer life.

 

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(“He who laughs, lasts.”

–Mary Pettibone Poole)

 

And even if that’s not quite true, this bit of wisdom certainly is:

 

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(“Laughter may not add years to your life,

but it will add life to your years.”

–Anonymous)

 

Besides laughter, another ingredient for that cheerful-heart medicine is: trust.

 

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(“The one who trusts in the Lord will be happy.”

–Proverbs 16:20b, HCSB)

 

When our trust is strong, we can be light-hearted and content. After all, God is:

  • Completely trustworthy, never forsaking those who seek him (Psalm 9:10).
  • Gracious, surrounding us with his favor (Psalm 5:12).
  • Wise, making known to us the path of life (Psalm 16:11).
  • Attentive, sustaining us here on earth (Psalm 18:35), and
  • Loving, preparing our eternal home in heaven (John 14:2).

 

Childlike trust in God allows us to relax and enjoy childlike fun–even exuberant hilarity, belly laughs and irrepressible giggles.

 

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(“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter

and your lips with shouts of joy.”

–Job 8:21)

 

So look for laughter. It’s everywhere!

 

Just this morning, our daughter-in-law (a medical resident), shared this story with me:

She was headed out the door to see a massage therapist for her aching neck.

“Where are you going?” asked her daughter, Elena.

Mommy explained.

“You need to see a doctor,” remarked Elena. After a pause, she added, “Wait a minute…

… I’M a doctor!” (Her toy physician’s kit has three-year old Elena convinced she’s as qualified as Mommy to advise and treat patients.)

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Where has laughter and good cheer provided therapeutic medicine for you this week? Please share in the comments below. Laughter shared is multiplied!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.ice-inc.net; http://www.quotationof.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.quotio.com; http://www.thedailyquotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.newlife.com.)

 

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FORTUNE COOKIE WITH BLANK FORTUNE

‘Cracked open a fortune cookie not long ago and discovered this bit of wisdom:

“It’s not the years in your life,

but the life in your years

that counts.”

Come to find out, that’s not from Confucius or any other Chinese sage.  It’s from a beloved, former U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln.

Many folks might interpret this proverb to mean:

Live each day to the fullest; a full life is a meaningful life.

But what brings fullness to the day? And what makes a life meaningful?

The answers to those questions lie in another collection of proverbs, not found in fortune cookies, but in the Bible:

  1. A meaningful life comes from finding favor with God and with others (Proverbs 3:4; 21:21). 

Proverbs 3:3 names the qualities that garner favor: faithfulness and love.

It’s true.  Those two character traits play out in goodness, generosity and grace. Without fail, that kind of person experiences great satisfaction in her relationships. After all, that’s how God designed us (Acts 20:35).

“A full life cannot be measured by the quantity

but rather the quality of one’s relationships

with others and with God.”

–Warren Mueller

  1. A meaningful life comes from living wisely (Proverbs 8:35).

And just how do we do that? By applying integrity to our actions, discretion in our conversations, and prayerful, Spirit-led discernment in our decisions.

“Wisdom is the power to see

and the inclination to choose

the best and highest goal,

together with the surest means of attaining it.”

–J. I. Packer

And wisdom leads to peace of mind, contentment, and a clear conscience—important foundation stones for a meaningful life.

  1. A meaningful life comes from internalizing God’s ways (Proverbs 11:28, 21:21). 

These proverbs, (11:28 and 21:21), provide a corollary to the previous one. A wise person follows the course of conduct established by the Father of Wisdom and revealed in the Bible.  He made us; he knows the best way for us to live.

Countless millions have devoted their lives to the accumulation of stuff, the pursuit of fame, and the climb to a position of power.

Yet King Solomon (who had it all) proclaimed: “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).  Did you notice that four words out of seven in that verse are the same?   “Meaningless!” I hear a bit of frustration in Solomon’s voice, don’t you?

Wouldn’t it be wise for us to avoid the mistakes he made? Maybe we should post that verse on the fridge, to keep us grounded in what really matters: God’s purpose for our lives.

“No real meaning exists

apart from linking our lives

to God’s purpose.”

–John Maxwell

  1. A meaningful life comes from reverencing God (Proverbs 14:27; 19:23). 

And reverence includes honor, respect, adoration, and awe. Embracing these attitudes toward God leads to deep satisfaction, complete peace, and true joy, because:

“The man who has God as his treasure

has all things in One.”

–A.W. Tozer

  1. A meaningful life comes from trusting God (Proverbs 16:20b).

God alone knows me better than I know myself. He alone is aware of what’s going on in the lives of those around me. And he alone can see into the future. Why do I think I’m capable of moving ahead on my own?

Even when trouble comes to call, I can rest assured that such experiences have purpose and meaning (Romans 8:28).

I would do well to remember: 

“Relinquishment is a prerequisite to fulfillment.”

–Eugene Peterson

  1. A meaningful life comes from an attitude of humility (Proverbs 22:4).

Humility is the proper perspective of oneself, especially in relation to God. He is all-powerful, all-wise, all-seeing, and more. Reminding ourselves of his magnificence is one way to foster humility.

Another way is to be thankful. A full, satisfied life is grounded in humble gratitude.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving,

turn routine jobs into joy,

and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

–William Arthur Ward (italics added)

M-m-m. Living thankfully, joyfully, and blissfully aware of each blessing. Yes, that does sound like a highly satisfactory way to live.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Service, Wisdom, Obedience, Reverence, Trust, Humility, and Gratitude.  That’s a long list, Lord.  Perhaps the full, meaningful life is out of reach for me.  Oh, but if I consider the interrelatedness of these qualities, the reach is shortened considerably.  Obedience includes service, and reverence naturally leads to humility.  Humility includes gratitude, and trust leads to wisdom.  Most important of all, YOU want all of your children to experience life to the fullest. Oh, how  I praise you for your direction and provision to make that happen! 

(John 10:10; Philippians 1:6; 2 Peter 1:3)  

(Photo credit:  www.kitchendaily.com.)

 

 

 

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I love words. I love the rhythm of syllables, like automaticity or higgledy-piggledy.

I love the precise images words can create: glam-shackle house, iridescent skin, aquamarine waters.

I thought about water

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

And some words I love for their depth of meaning.

LEARN is just such a word. (Leave it to this former teacher to notice the word LEARN!)

When curious about a word and its nuances of meaning, a good place to begin research is with the dictionary. LEARN means: 1) to gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through study or experience, 2) to fix in the mind, 3) to become informed.

Those definitions certainly describe the LEARNing that is part of the Christian life. God wants us to:

• Gain knowledge of Him and His Word (Psalm 9:10; 119:24)
• Comprehend His ways for us (Psalm 25:4)
• Seek mastery over selfish impulses (Romans 13:14)
• Keep focused on Him (Psalm 141:8)
• Become informed about what pleases Him (Ephesians 5:10).

And God promises blessed dividends as we LEARN, like contentment, joy, and fulfillment in life. But how do we accomplish all this LEARNing?

A bit of research produced the following steps that also form an acronym of L.E.A.R.N.

L = Laws. “I will praise you with an upright heart as I LEARN your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:7). God’s Instruction Manual, the Bible, lays out the way to a rich, satisfying life. A wise person LEARNs all he/she can, because the Author is 100% trustworthy. He will never lead us astray.

Reading the Christmas Story

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

E = Effort and Experience. “Continue in what you have LEARNed and have become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14a). What we learn from God’s Words we put into practice. Yes, it takes effort, but as our experience grows, so will our resolve.

I’m reminded of how I feel before my work-out most days. I hate exercising. But like so many distasteful tasks, getting started is the hardest part. Once I’m into the routine, it’s easier (not easy, just easier!) to keep going. The results of regular exercise are what motivate me: 1) The strength and energy I feel. 2) My back doesn’t give me as much trouble. 3) Moderately-firm flesh trumps flabby!

Exercise

Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)

You see, I’ve LEARNed that effort (to exercise) leads to experience (the results are worth the effort). The same holds true in the spiritual realm. As I make the effort to apply God’s Word to my life, the experiences prove God’s way is best. And I like the results—the peace, joy, and contentment mentioned earlier.

Am I successful every day to apply God’s truth? No. But I take great encouragement from Philippians 1:6: The God who began this good work in me will keep at it and bring it to completion when Jesus returns.

A = Acclamation. “Blessed are those who have LEARNed to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15). Practice acclaiming—enthusiastically approving—your God. We can establish several “interludes of gratitude” into our daily routines—even leave notes here and there as reminders. Whatever it takes. According to the verse, great blessing awaits!

R = Righteousness. “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still. Teach a righteous man and he will add to his LEARNing” (Proverbs 9:9). The more we LEARN, the more teachable we become. LEARNing accelerates. It gets easier.

I remember looking at my grandmother with admiration. She seemed perfect to me. How does she do it, I wondered. No doubt it came through years of attention to God’s Word, effort that produced experience, and much acclamation for her God.

Grandmother

Grandmother (Photo credit: Samantha Steele)

N = Notice. “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you…Whatever you have LEARNed or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice” (Philippians 3:17; 4:9).

Paul was not claiming to be a perfect. Back in verse 12 he had made clear, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect.” Paul, too, was LEARNing.

But his life of passionate pursuit after Christ-likeness was a worthy pattern to follow.

Perhaps there is someone in your family, church, or small group that would make a good role model. Look to him/her and LEARN.

And why is all this LEARNing about God’s Word and godly behavior worthwhile?

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). To flourish in my soul, to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, to rest in trust—these are the ends that more than justify the means of LEARNing.

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