Week 35 – Wise Warriors

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Proverbs 21

A wise person went up against a city of warriors and brought down its secure fortress. Proverbs 21:22

I know why this is one of my favorite Proverbs! I can’t count the number of times I’ve been faced with a situation, conflict or challenge that has seemed impossible to tackle or overcome in my life. Let’s just say, it seems like millions sometimes. This verse, from Proverbs 21, is a wonderful reminder that we don’t need all the answers, strength or solutions if we are wise.

And what is a wise man/woman? Where does wisdom come from? And how do we get it?

Thank goodness it’s not from reading all the books in the library, earning multiple college degrees or playing jeopardy daily! It’s much less work than all of that, but it does take discipline and an earnest desire to gain wisdom and be wise in all situations.

I found these scriptures to answers our three questions:

What is a wise woman/man?

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Where does wisdom come from?

For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, . . . Ecclesiastes 2:26 

because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 1 Cor. 1:25

And how do we get it?

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 

The wisdom we need to overcome all obstacles isn’t from us or anyone among us, but from God. No amount of schooling or degrees will give us His wisdom, but through prayer, reflection on His word and just asking Him, we can have the wisdom He so desires to give us. And what makes this Godly wisdom so amazing and so much better than worldly wisdom?

 

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

There isn’t much on this Earth that is full of mercy, impartial, sincere and peace-loving. Heavenly wisdom is the kind of wisdom that helps us conquer fears, scale walls, face unthinkable grief, look at giant obstacles as mere ant hills, keep our eyes on the cross and offers a safe place to anchor your heart in the midst of a violent storm. My prayer for all of us this week is that we are able to seek and receive God’s wisdom in the midst of the chaos that looms around us each day and that we can go out as wise warriors among wolves.

 

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

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Week 34 – We are Letters

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2 Cor. 3

It is clear that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God—not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh. 2 Corinthians 3:3

Paul (author of 2 Corinthians) wrote this epistle in Philippi. The Corinthians were still begging for him to come back and teach them, but Paul wasn’t able to and sent a letter in place of his visit. In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote about the condition of the church and what needed to change, but in 2 Corinthians we see him turn his focus to the state of ministry in the whole church body. I have always enjoyed reading Paul’s letters, but in 2 Corinthians I really feel as if Paul expresses himself and his heart in ways we don’t see in his other letters.

I love the imagery that each of our lives are letters written from Christ to any and all we cross paths with in this life. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power we have to shine with Christ in us. However, to really take hold of this scripture we need to start with chapters 1 and 2. In these first two chapters, Paul pours out his heart about many things, including the struggles they faced when they entered Asia to spread the Gospel. Paul explains, “It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!” (MSG, 2 Cor. 2:8-11)

Paul wanted the people of Corinth to understand how dire the situation in Asia had been and to be proud of the accomplishments they made with God in control and the prayers that had been prayed for them. It was a huge praise report in written form. Then, we get to chapter 3 where Paul make a great point and basically says, “Don’t worry. We know we aren’t the super heroes here and we don’t need any recommendation letters from you. The fact is, you all are our letters. You are the proof that our ministry is working, that the Holy Spirit is active in us and hearts are changing.” One of my greatest desires is to be a letter for Christ in all my thoughts and ways. Some days, I feel as if I have totally failed and others are much better. Thank goodness He knows were aren’t ever going to be perfect! The goal is to keep moving forward and striving to be the one He desires for us to be.

I really urge you to read 2 Corinthians in its entirety this week. It’s truly a heartfelt letter from Paul that is worth revisiting. I’m glad the verse I chose this week took me back to this book and reminded me that as Christians, whether you have a blog or not, we all have a ministry.  The way we live out our lives is a ministry to those around us and can draw them closer to Christ so that they too can be a living letter of Christ’s love and life one day.

2 Cor. 3 2nd option

You will notice new art and pictures in my blogs starting this week. I want to introduce to you my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, N.C. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com. 

Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards. She also leads individuals through Spiritual Art Journeys which are personalized art retreats customized for individual clients.

Week 33 – Search Me

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Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. Psalms 139:23-24

Well, after last week’s post. It looks like God is answering my prayers and leading me to new levels of trust in Him. Maybe it’s just me, but does this verse strike a bit of fear in you like it does when I first read it? As I think, “Yikes, not really sure I want God looking into my heart and testing it today. I’m not sure He would like what He saw in there.”  I mean there is surely some good stuff, but let’s be real, it’s not all sparkly clean in there either. I’m sure there is trash I don’t even realize is hanging around in there making things a little dusty. Just to start: fear, pride, frustration, insecurity . . . . what else? I’m sure I could keep adding to those things.

My mom isn’t a “Type A” like me. Just looking in her office can give me the hives. She’s always talking about cleaning it up. We have even done it together a few times, and it will stay that way for a few weeks and then it’s right back to where she started. In her defense, I may have a super clean and organized office, but I hate weeding my flower beds. You won’t find one weed in flower beds!

My point in sharing that is, making cleaning and weeding a priority can be difficult. There is a lot to do, it can be dirty and hard work. It takes time, effort, discipline and a willing heart to make it a priority. But when we do, the benefits are AWESOME! When my mom has a clean office, she loves it and enjoys using her office again. When my plant beds are weeded, I enjoy sitting on my front porch so much more.

It’s the same with God and our hearts! Asking God to search (examine & investigate) our hearts for discrepancies and fears can be scary. But my heart is asking me, “Why is your first response to this scripture/request fear?” For me, I think there are several reasons.

  1. I don’t want God to think badly of me or that I can’t handle it.
  2. I know it will require some hard work with God to work through the heart things with Him.
  3. It’s just easier to tuck things away and keep moving forward.

OK, when I type all those reasons out, they don’t seem very good or logical anymore. How about yours?

Here is how my heart responded to my initial fears after reflecting on God’s truth. FIRST, God already knows everything about me, my heart and loves me anyway. He also knows I can’t handle anything without Him nor did He create me too. Plus, He doesn’t judge. He extends mercy, forgiveness, and grace to all His children. SECOND, yeah it’s going to require some work, but don’t all great things. Isn’t that little bit of work, discomfort, and pruning worth the gift of eternal life, a whole heart and His glorious light in my life to share with others. THIRD, everyone knows that tucking things away never gets you anywhere. It only holds you back. Plus, it’s just letting Satan win and for goodness sakes, I never want him to win!

Sometimes, we just have to dig into the fear or our first instinctual feelings. Ask ourselves why it’s so scary, makes us angry or causes us anxiety. Why we are having a negative response? Once it’s out in the open and we have processed the emotions, they shrink to the size of a sunflower seed compared to the glorious promises of our Creator, King, and Father. May His word continue to pierce our hearts and uncover any and all offenses so that we can continue to grow stronger in our faith and shine His great Light into the world.

Week 32 – Shield Me

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Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Proverbs 30:5

I was delighted to pull out this verse from Proverbs for the week. Reading Proverbs is like reading poetry. There are so many poetic styles (rhyming, Haiku, Limerick, etc.), but Proverbs is Hebrew poetry. It throws you this way and that way, comparing and contrasting points one after another. The Holman Study Bible explains it this way, “Hebrew poetry is terse and concise, it uses a lot of imagery, and generally, the second line complements or contrasts the thought of the first. Contemplating how the second line relates to the first is a profitable way to meditate on a proverb.”

There are two words that jump out at me, to sum up, this verse ~ Pure Shield. My husband and I just saw the new Wonder Woman movie (which I highly recommend). So, when I think of a shield, I picture Wonder Woman’s shield. She used it to protect herself and friends, but also to deflect the approaching enemy and their warfare. It was awesome and don’t even get me started on her arm bands. Those things could send a pulse of energy blasting that sent every oncoming danger whirling away from her. But that is just a movie and she is just a made-up character. However, our God is not made up. He is very real and has more power than we can even imagine. He is our hero and waiting for us to ask to be saved.

In other translations, the word pure is replaced with flawless (NIV), tested and refined (AMP), and proves true (ESV). We see this truth repeated in other Scriptures (Psalms 18:30 & 2 Samuel 22:31) as well.

Let this sink in for a moment. Every word (not just some, or part, or portions), but every word (truth & promise) of God is pure (flawless, tested, refined, true). God is a shield for all of us who call to Him for help. I’m not sure about you, but that is an AWESOME reminder for me today and two questions well up in my heart.

  1. What do I seek refuge in, instead of God?
  2. What do I need refuge from today?

Recently, a lack of control over many circumstances in my life and those in my family has brought up an element of fear and uncertainty. My heart knows God is in every detail and He is my protector and shield, but I have to fight to keep that truth in my head at times. The fighting is much easier with the appropriate armor and gear. That will always be the Word of God and prayer. May we all take refuge in Him no matter what the day holds and giants we are facing. Wonder Woman wouldn’t go into battle without her sword and shield. Let’s make that our game plan too!

The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in an earthen furnace,
purified seven times. Psalm 12:6