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

Week 31 – Prayer Posture

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And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. Mark 11:25

As I first took this week’s scripture out of my box and read it, my mind quickly went to the important and obvious point about forgiving others if we desire to be forgiven by God. Also, unforgiveness can be a barrier to answered prayers and hearing from God. Our hearts need to be cleaned out so the static and noise don’t override the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

However, that’s not what I studied or reflected on this week. As I reread the scripture something new stood out to me that I hadn’t noticed after reading this verse over and over again in the course of my life. The words “stand praying” would not leave me alone, so I dug deeper to gain a better understanding of why this verse was so specific about the posture of prayer.

After some research, I found several scriptures that mentioned standing in prayer. In Luke 18:11, the Pharisee stood and prayed, in 1 Samuel 1:26, Hannah states she is the woman who stood and prayed and in Matthew 6:5 we are encouraged not to stand praying in public for attention, but that is due to pride and being seen not because they were standing.  Apparently, one of the most common prayer postures for the Jewish people was standing. It symbolizes and celebrates the freedom and privilege we have to approach the Creator of the Universe, our Heavenly Father, and request His guidance, forgiveness, favor, and blessings. If you think about it, anyone who is allowed to go before a king usually stands and delivers their request. However, sometimes in humility, they also kneel.

Kneeling is another prayer posture. It shows great humility, reverence and it is also supported by Scripture. In 1 Kings 18:42 we see Elijah kneeling at the top of Mount Carmel, in 1 Kings 8:54 Solomon arises from kneeling at the altar in prayer to God and in Daniel 6:10 we learn the reason for his trip to the lion’s den was his commitment to getting on his knees in prayer three times a day.

I pray all over the place! In my prayer closet, car, shower, walking my dog, sitting in carpool and many other places. Those specific locations aren’t mentioned in Scripture, but all of those things fall into some place between standing and kneeling. I pray you won’t let rules or ideas of what you (or others) think prayer is supposed to look like get in the way of talking to your Heavenly Father. He just wants to hear from you. He knows your heart and when you are seeking Him with a humble, grateful and open one He hears your request. No matter what position or location you may be calling on Him from, I pray you trust He is listening. Because He is listening . . . always!

Week 30 – I love a list!

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The instruction of the Lord is perfect,
renewing one’s life;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,
making the inexperienced wise.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
making the heart glad;
the command of the Lord is radiant,
making the eyes light up.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are reliable
and altogether righteous.
They are more desirable than gold—
than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey,
which comes from the honeycomb. Psalms 19:7-10

Oh, I do dearly love a list. I know, it’s my “Type A” coming out! Let’s break down this week’s scripture and see what glorious reminders Psalm 19 has for us. For each one, I’m going to find supporting scripture to back up the claims of Psalm 19. I love a treasure hunt too. Studying the Word of God can be so exhilarating. Let’s dive in.

1. The Lord’s laws and  instructions = perfect

The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His instructions are trustworthy. Psalms 111:7

2. The Lord’s testimony = sure (firmly established, bound to happen)

Lord, Your testimonies are completely reliable; holiness is the beauty of Your house for all the days to come. Psalms 93:5

3. The Lord’s precepts/statutes/commandments = right and radiant (able to lift you up)

Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:6

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalms 33:4

4. The fear of the Lord = pure & clean

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

5. The Lord’s ordinances, decrees, and judgments = true, righteous and reliable 

Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. Psalms 119:142

6. The Lord’s ways = more valuable than any earthly treasure and sweeter than honey

Instruction from Your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalms 119:72

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:3

What sweet reminders of the God we serve and all He has promised those who believe and follow Him. May all of our hearts be open to the truth of who our Lord is. He is perfect, sure, radiant, right, able, pure, reliable, righteous and worth more than anything else in all of creation. AMEN!

Week 29 – I will wait all day long!

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Make Your ways known to me, Lordteach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long. Psalms 25:4-5

I can’t help but see the word “wait” in this scripture highlighted, in bold script and flashing as I read over this beautiful Psalm. Wait has been the theme in my life the past several weeks. To each prayer or request, I seek the Lord for, the answer has been wait. Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait for the answers, wait for others to respond, wait for others to take action. It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve had to remind myself over and over again:

love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him— Deuteronomy 11:22

The Rock—His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, He is righteous and true. Deuteronomy 32:4

For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. Psalms 91:11

As I searched for the word wait in the Bible, I found it over 120 times. I know I’m not the only one God has told and tells to “wait”. In fact, reading back through Scripture, God reminded me that more often than not, the faithful are asked to wait.

Noah had to trust and wait for the rain and then the dove in Genesis.

In Numbers, Moses told his people to wait until he heard from the Lord and returned to them.

In Ruth, both Ruth and Naomi labored in the fields while waiting for God’s final plan and the saving grace of Boaz.

Joseph had to wait in bondage and prison before becoming the King’s first in command and restoring the family that sold him into slavery.

David had to wait and undergo loads of persecution before fulfilling his God ordained destiny as leader of his people.

In Luke and the other gospels, God’s people waited for the Savior. They even thought their Savior might be John the Baptist before Jesus arrived on the scene. And, the disciples had to wait three days before the news of the glory of the Risen Lord reached them.

In Acts, the church had to wait for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them after Jesus’s ascension into Heaven.

Even now, we are still waiting for our Savior’s glorious return to bring us all into His loving arms for eternity. Wait! I can’t express enough how much I needed this revelation and reminder from the Psalms. God is worth the wait! His plan is worth the wait. Yes, in this lifetime there is going to be a lot of waiting. I think I need to shift my focus back to the wonder of the wait and the glorious riches that can come by embracing the wait.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

We wait for Yahweh; He is our help and shield. Psalm 33:20
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25