Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Choosing Wisdom

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we get to choose the lives we want to live (maybe not what actually happens!), and that we have choices on how we react and choose our responses.  How do you react when trouble comes or when good times come? Do you act in wisdom or foolishness, emotion or anger? Every moment of every day, you are making choices that either support your well-being or negate it. God gave us wisdom to experience life and the everyday “stuff” that we have to react to. When we see others around us losing their cool, we can choose to react differently because foolishness leads to disorder and chaos, but making wise choices leads to joyous and satisfying outcomes. Wisdom lives inside how we choose, and there is no getting away from the fact that we will have to deal with something as long as we are alive on this earth and in this world.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. ...” (Proverbs 3:13-18)

We can turn to God’s Word for help with every challenge, healing for every hurt, and comfort for every burden. When we consider God’s goodness, wisdom, and knowledge—we find great comfort and encouragement! God’s wisdom as Creator is designed into all things, skillfully visible so that we have the joyful privilege of discovering it. If we have the wisdom from above (God's wisdom), things usually turn out much more smoothly. To have wisdom that comes from God we must ask it from God, and when we ask, we must ask faithfully and without any doubt.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Proverbs 3:5-6 was one of my first memorization verses, but it wasn’t until later in life that I realized trusting God, when our path in life grows muddy, is not an easy task! Weariness, busyness and hurt can cause us to trip and even fall, and we wonder how we will ever get up again. However, I also (even later) learned that when we trust God with our lives even when at times it makes no sense, we receive wisdom and the ability to know the difference, the ability to discern right from wrong, good from bad, sound judgment, etc. The wisdom of depending on God will bring results in our lives that can surprise us! And then when it comes to all the stuff in life, we'll be ready when the really big decisions come that often define the course of our lives.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tit for Tat

“Patience withholds: It withholds vengeance, revenge, and retaliation, and endures instead. It endures ill treatment. It refuses to be angry, and it desires the offender’s good.” (Elizabeth George)

 "Tit for tat" or depend on God for the result?

One of the most difficult things to deal with is the hurt that others inflict upon us. When a friend or family member hurts us more deeply than even our enemies ever could, we are often tempted to tear them down or verbally get back at them. We may assume that if we “turn the other cheek” we are letting them off the hook to go about their merry ways while we suffer from their actions. Our hearts hold on to hurtful memories with a tight grip, and many times we conjure up ways to seek revenge or retaliate.

But…seeking revenge makes you as bad as the person who wronged you!

Having a revengeful, tit for tat attitude, makes you no different than the one who hurt you; payback does not justify your actions and nothing good can come from it. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold others accountable for their actions or words, it just means that we make the decision to let go of our resentment and in humility, seek God’s wisdom. We must give our burdens to Him and allow Him to carry them for us, knowing that we don't have to seek revenge on our enemies because God will take his vengeance on them.

“Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” (1 Peter 3:9)

Revenge brings about a hateful spiritual influence in our minds, and like a small root that grows into a big tree, revenge and bitterness can overshadow our hearts and minds and consume us. It doesn’t really change anything; it merely makes you feel better for the moment. God wants us to rise above getting back at those who hurt us, and instead respond with forgiveness and love. He wants us to be full of compassion and clothe ourselves with the garment of kindness; kindness does not mind other people's business but stays loose and relaxed and does not seek retaliation, or use revenge tactics.  People will continue to hurt us in our lifetime, and we can either be resentful and angry, or we can begin to keep our minds on our loving relationship with God, knowing and trusting in what is good.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

Linking up with Joan and Spiritual Sunday
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stop and Count Your Blessings

“Always be joyful; never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

How often do we thank God for the everyday things in our lives? When I started counting my everyday blessings a few months ago, I began to take stock of something to be thankful for every day.  It has been a wonderful journey of stopping and thanking God for blessings that I used to overlook or take for granted; the very things that deserved my gratitude! Even on a day where everything seems to go wrong, there is always something to thank God for........

  • A God whose love never fails

  • Family and friends who have been our companions in life

  • Our sense of sight and hearing that allows us to hear and see the colors in life

  • The sun, moon, and stars for bringing light and beauty into our world

  • Music to lift our spirits and sing and dance

  • Laughter to cultivate our life with joy

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father who created all the lights in the heavens.” (James 1:17)

The best way to count your blessings is to live with a thankful heart in every moment! And our blessings and thankful hearts should not be stored up and hidden away. The good things that God gives us should be shared and used to serve others.  Blessings are a sign of God’s grace and they are given to us so that we might produce more fruit and be used in the way God wants. All year around in every hour of every day God is richly blessing us. No matter what struggles or pain crosses our path we can always find something to give praise for if we take the time to remember and look. When we don’t count (make ourselves aware of) our blessings they disappear and we don’t think about them or we forget them.  Every day we need to remind ourselves of the many gifts God has given to us and keep them active in our minds.        

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! (Psalm 107:1)

A blessing is defined as anything that gives happiness; a favor or gift bestowed by God that brings us joy. Since they bring us joy we should make a daily habit to record them and treasure them. The smallest things can bring laughter and joy, and we are the luckiest people in the world to have so many reasons to celebrate every day of our lives. I am so thankful for a God whose love never fails and who opens my eyes to my every day blessings! I just recorded gift/blessing # 1,000, and I am excited to continue to experience and record what blessings God has in store for me today and every day!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hide and Seek

 “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7)

Do you remember playing hide and seek when you were a young child? As a child, it was the coolest thing in the world to find that perfect spot and elude the seekers for as long as possible! I have fond memories of playing this game in which I would try to hide in a place where no one could find me. As the years pass and we grow older we play a similar game in which we try and hide from God and people; we don’t want them to get to know us completely because we are afraid they will discover something about us that they won’t like. Well, we may be able to hide many things from other people, but we can’t hide anything from God!

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:8)

How often do we forget (or try to forget) that we can’t hide from God? He is present everywhere, and we cannot hide ourselves anywhere that He will not see us; He sees us even when we think we are hidden. There is no place to hide from a God who knows every hiding spot; everything is wide open to His all-seeing eyes! It’s kind of unfair in a game of hide and seek, but then again, this really isn’t a game anymore, is it?

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139: 9-10)

To say that God is present everywhere is just a way of saying that there is nowhere a person could go to escape God’s presence. This is good news to me! It means that no matter where we go or what we do, we can never be far from His comforting presence. Without Him our world would spin out of control! He uses His hand to show us so much gentleness and kindness, and is with us in every situation to protect, love, and guide us.

”If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me’, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:11-12)

God helps us by illuminating the way before us; He shines His light on our pathways to keep us from falling or tripping. He has called us into His light, and we no longer have to hide and live in darkness. He may not let us see everything His light illuminates right this minute, but He wants us to come out from hiding and learn to trust Him with what we can’t see and He can, knowing that He will help us walk forward, step by step in the warmth of His light, and clothe us with peace, hope, and truth.

Linking up on Spiritual Sunday and with Joan on Sharing His Beauty
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