A Wisdom Like No Other

We would all like to be wiser.  There are ways to gain wisdom.  Education gives knowledge, and practice of things learned brings about wisdom.  Life situations are better walked through when wisdom has been gained through experience.  The study of psychology explains emotional tools we can use to make us stronger in mind and behavior as we face the uncertainties and hard knocks of relationships with ourselves and with others.

All of the above helps us to attain knowledge that may lead to wisdom, but does it give us lasting joy, peace, meaning in life, and hope that never fades?  What is the difference between wisdom learned on earth and wisdom given by God?  Let’s take a look at Proverbs 3:13-18: “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.  For wisdom is more profitable that silver, and her wages are better than gold.  Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  She offers you a long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left.  She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying.  Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”

Wisdom we gain on earth is profitable.  It will help us in difficult situations.  It will help us to be stronger in broken relationships and in dealing with circumstances that frighten us.  Learning and practicing wisdom through education and practice is not a bad thing, but it will never take us to the heights of hope and joy that the wisdom from God can take us.  You see, the wisdom of the world is incomplete.  The wisdom of the world cannot help us to understand the riches of life in the spiritual realm.

In the spiritual realm we learn to take hold of a joy that surpasses any other happiness found on earth.  In the spiritual realm we come to understand the value that God Himself places on each one of us; we know that we are precious to Him and loved beyond measure.  This love surpasses any earthly love.  (If one has not experienced the personal love of God, the above will make no sense, because spiritual wisdom can only be gained by those who know Jesus Christ personally.)  Spiritual wisdom gives us insight to life after death; the light that those in Christ will live in for eternity, and the darkness that those who reject Christ will live in, also for eternity.  Do you see the explanation of the above scripture in Proverbs 3:18 ; “…wisdom is a tree of life…”  

There are many ways to gain wisdom to help us educationally and relationally on this earth, but there is only one way to gain the wisdom of God that will let us soar the heights of splendor, dive deep into pure love, and embrace hope for an amazing, eternal future.

Such wisdom is available to anyone who reaches out to take this gift from God; given through receiving His Son Jesus, believing He died and rose again, conquering death, forgiving all sin, granting eternal life with Him.  This wisdom is literally from out of this world.

One Thing After Another

Do you remember those periods of time when nothing goes right?  You walk in one direction and the sky of all things possible produces storm clouds that pour torrents of dashed dreams on your parade. You make a turn and fall into a ravine of calamity.  You climb up the side of, keep on trying, only to have the cliff edge crumble as you dig your fingers into the ledge of last hope.  Ever taken that trip?  It’s literally — one thing after another — time and time again.  It’s emotionally debilitating and spiritually exhausting.

What can we do when — one thing after another — follows us wherever we go?  What did Moses do when God told him to lead the Hebrew nation out of bondage?  He was doing exactly as instructed, when all of a sudden, he looks back to sees the army of Pharaoh getting close.  That must have been a scary moment; but wait, what happened?  God parted the waters so all the Hebrews could escape.  Oh, what joy, but then?  Moses had to listen to one complaint after another from the people he was leading to safety.  In the wilderness Moses faced one calamity after another.  What did Moses do?  He stayed focused. He just kept moving forward with his heart bent toward God.

In the New Testament we have stories of Paul.  He listened to God, made the decision to follow him, and what happened?  He was falsely arrested, imprisoned, and beaten, but God gave him the strength needed and he pressed on.  What happened next?  He was shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, and finally ended up under house arrest.  He endured — one thing after another.  What did Paul do?  He stayed focused.  He just kept moving forward with his heart bent toward God.

You and I have our own stories of — one thing after another.  It’s not fun.  We don’t want it.  What can we do?  Stay focused.  Just keep moving forward with our hearts bent towards God.  What good will that do?  The promise from God is as follows in Isaiah 26:3:  “He will keep your mind in perfect peace, all who trust in Him, all who keep their thoughts fixed on Him.”  Stay focused.  You will get through.  You will not drown in sorrow.  You will not stay fallen in the pit of depression.  The Light of the Lord always shines in the darkness.  Stay focused.

 

 

 

 

What Jehoshaphat Knew

Every person of every generation has to face trouble.  There’s no getting around it.  There’s no special exemption to avoids life’s struggles; however, there’s great news in that we don’t have to muddle through the mud of our dilemmas on our own.  There is a mighty weapon available who will strengthen us, lead us, and bring us through to victory in every battle we face.  The weapon?  The wonderful Holy Spirit who resides within every follower of Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is of Jeshoshaphat recorded in II Chronicles 20. He was alerted that a vast army was coming against him and his own smaller army of soldiers.  In our own battles of life, armies of fear and confusion often come against us.  It’s easy to let panic set in.  Jehoshaphat and his army did not waste any time fretting.  The record reveals that they “sought help from the Lord.”  I love this because so often our first thoughts are “what can we do?”  Jehoshaphat’s first thought was “what will God do?”  As the story continues we are told in verse 14, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah…”  Jahaziel shares with the whole army what the Lord had said to him.  The instruction is found in verse 15, “This is what the Lord says to you, ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.'”  Taking hold of that encouraging reminder, the army poised themselves for battle and marched forward.  However, they did not put in the front their best soldiers armed with spears and bows and arrows.  They put forward the musicians to play and sing praises to God.

Doesn’t that sound an unusual thing to have done?  We tell ourselves that such a thing was for Old Testament times.  God worked more mysteriously then, we  mistakingly convince ourselves.  I’m thrilled to tell you, not so!  We know this pattern of facing life’s battles is the same today,  It’s recorded for us in the New Testament book of Ephesians 5:18-19, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.  Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”  

What does this mean exactly?  Is it a verse about the evils of alcohol?  No, it’s a passage about the power of the Holy Spirit.  It’s a reminder of  just Who is residing within us.  We have a power keg to lead us and empower us with all we need to get through any of life’s difficulties no matter how severe the difficulties become.  When a person is drunk on alcohol, that person is influenced by the content of what they put inside them.  It’s the same with the Holy Spirit.  When we keep in mind Who is living within us, and when we ignite into action His power, we are on the sure road to victorious living.  How to ignite that power?   Go back and look at the instruction in Ephesians,  “..sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs…making music in your hearts to the Lord.”  That’s what Jehoshaphat did: he worshiped first, knowing victory would follow.  He looked immediately to God to show Him the way.

Battles will come.  There’s no escape for any of us to face challenges that at times seem insurmountable.  Never believe the lie of Satan’s darkness that there is no way out.  Never forget the weapon of the wonderful Holy Spirit residing in all who trust Jesus as their own Savior.  Take hold of your weapon.  Engage the Holy Spirit.  Praise and worship God and walk on in victorious living.

 

Putting On Her Socks

What are you squeamish about or what makes your skin crawl?  Everybody has something that makes them go wobbly all over.  For me, it’s touching feet.  I have no idea why but the thought of touching someone’s feet or having anyone touch mine is a horror.  A friend wanted to give me a pedicure as a gift some years ago.  The thought was so abhorrent that I had to come clean and tell her that I would rather remove my own tonsils with a fork.

Then the moment, that all my life I thought I could never handle, presented itself to me.  It was last week while my mother was in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism (doing so much better now).  She swung her legs to the side of the bed as she wanted to go to the bathroom.  I saw her look down at her bedroom shoes.  I moved nearer to her feet.  “My feet are so cold,” she said.  I noticed the socks in her shoes.  She began to lower her arm with great effort to bend down and get her socks.  That’s when it happened; a rush of compassion poured over me.  I heard myself say, “I’ll do that, Mom.”  I reached down, picked up her socks, and pulled them onto her bare feet and up over her ankles.  Then I slipped each bedroom shoe onto her feet.  I helped her stand, get steady, and walked with her to the bathroom.

As I stood outside the door waiting, the verse from Jeremiah 31:3 came to my mind, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; with great tenderness I have drawn you unto myself.”  That’s how Father loves me.  That’s how He loves  you.  He is forever bending down, pulling up our socks of need, helping us to stand steady on shaky legs of weakness.

“How deep the Father’s love for us,  How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son, To make a wretch His treasure.”  Lyrics by Stuart Townsend

 

One Minute Scrambled Eggs — The Next?

It happened this past Monday morning.  My mother and I were enjoying a breakfast of scrambled eggs with toast and coffee.  We were eating with speed as I had made an appointment for her to see a doctor because over the weekend she had developed a fiery red throat with white patches.  We both wondered if it could be strep.  The first disappointment came when the doctor she particularly likes was not on duty that day.  She felt thwarted again.  It’s been a tough year as she has disappointingly had a long bout of illness off an on.  Therefore, getting the sore throat, along with an appointment with a doctor she had never seen, was another nail of frustration hammered into an already nail-scarred door of “what next.”

Upon entering the doctor’s office he immediately asked if my mother’s breathing was always that labored.  She answered that she guessed it was asthma or allergy.  “You look grey,” the doctor stated as he grabbed his stethoscope.  After several moments of listening front and back and front again, he said to me that he would call an ambulance but as the hospital was so near I could probably get to Emergency quicker myself.

We got in the car and away I went.  The staff were waiting for us.  Quickly and efficiently my mother was hooked up with an EKG and monitoring of all sorts began.  The doctors discovered a pulmonary embolism.  “It’s big, big ,big,” the doctor said to me.  He then told me that if she hadn’t come to Emergency it was doubtful she would have lasted to the weekend.

She was sent to the Emergency Care Ward, hooked up to oxygen, and a regime of tests began.  The right side of her heart is strained as it over compensated to assist the lungs working hard to breathe while the blood clot was blocking free passage of air.  I was praying and sending out requests to everyone I knew to please join in lifting my mother’s needs to Father.

As the day faded into night, activity lessened around my mother.  I watched her lay there, pale, an oxygen tube attached around her face, very still, exhausted, eyes dull.  “Mom,” I said as I sat close to her, “we can surely thank God that you got that sore throat. It took you to the doctor.  We can surely be thankful that your regular doctor wasn’t in because this new one saw right away that something major was going on.  He got you to Emergency.  We can be thankful for a wise and efficient emergency team.  They saved your life.  It’s actually been a very good day.”  She smiled, nodded, and said, “We can surely be thankful.

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster,  to give you a future ad a hope.'”  Jeremiah 29:11

 

Out Of This World

I read a snippet of an article this week which caught my attention.  Desiring to share it on my blog I searched for the name of the author who wrote the piece but it was no where to be found.  So, with that information, that the following analogy is not from me, I share the following:  “Imagine planning the trip of a lifetime.  You board the flight to proceed to your destination.  You are filled with excitement until you hear the following announcement. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we hope you are enjoying your flight.  We have no destination; therefore, we will fly until we run out of fuel and plunge into the ocean.'” The writer of this article went on to imagine how one would feel being caught in such a situation, comparing it to how we all live life.  We all need to know our life’s destination; not just for our numbered days on earth, but most importantly for eternity.  That was the point that the writer of the above was emphasizing.

It really made me think about those I care about who still have made no decision to invite Jesus Christ into their lives.  It’s like attempting to pilot a plane when you’ve had no flight training whatsoever.  You will surely crash land.  It will be catastrophic.  Such a destiny awaits those who have no spiritual flight plan on earth.  Surely there is more to life than the here and now.  Surely there is something that will take us into eternity.

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:19, “If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”  While it’s so true that knowing Jesus in a personal relationship affords us daily access to His guidance, peace and joy no matter what comes to us, it’s also wonderfully true that there is a life beyond that is literally out of this world!

John wrote in Revelation 21:1 & 5, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared.  And the One sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!”  John goes on to tell us that when we get to heaven there will be no more tears and no more death.  Isn’t that amazing?

Life on earth today, with our family and friends, can be so good but it’s only temporary.  If all we can count on is some hopeful days while we are alive now, then what is there to look forward to?  Nothing at all.  But if we are living today with the very Spirit of God residing in us, which comes to anyone who believes that Jesus died for them, will forgive them of everything, and make them a new person, then we have that glorious hope that when we breathe our last breath on earth, we inhale our first breath in heaven which will know no end.  It is eternal.

If I am the pilot of my life, there is no good end in sight; but if Jesus is both the navigator and the pilot, I have nothing to fear and everything wonderful to anticipate.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to die for us, so that all who believe in Him, should not die without hope, but should live with Him for eternity.”  John 3:16

A Flippant Encouragement?

It was a dangerous time in the city of Thessalonica when the Apostle Paul and Silas travelled there.  They first went to the Jewish Synagogue.  Then they went out into the market places.  Their reason?  To tell others the truth of Jesus Christ who had been killed by crucifixion and then rose up from the dead.  Paul and Silas were passionate about the message of who Jesus is, why He came, and how He could radically change a life.

They had only been there for three weeks when a bunch of thugs got together and stirred up a riot against them.  It was known they had been staying in the home of someone named Jason.  The thugs went there demanding to have Paul and Silas given to them, but Paul and Silas weren’t there.  The people who had believed their message of love and hope had hidden them away; then in the night they helped them to escape to safety.

Naturally Paul and Silas were very concerned at the danger the new believers were in for pledging their allegiance to Jesus.  Therefore, with great desire to encourage these baby Christians, Paul wrote a letter to them.  Today we call the letter I Thessalonians.  In chapter 5 and verses 16-18, Paul writes something that is rather strange, given the difficult and dangerous situation in which the believers found themselves.  Paul encouraged them with the following words: “Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Does that piece of advice not sound just a bit flippant to you?  I could not understand this for years.  I believed it was right, but I could make no sense as to the value of it.  I tried to put myself in the shoes of the people of Thessalonica.  I told myself that if I were having a great problem in my life, and some well meaning person said to me what Paul said to them, that would not be a great help to me.  In fact, it might just irritate me.  It’s like that song of some years ago, “Don’t worry; be happy.”  How is that advice supposed to help?

Such an irritation would have come to me because I greatly lacked in my understanding. You see, Paul wasn’t being flippant.  He was revealing to them an important truth.  I’m sure the Holy Spirit within them guided the people into understanding just as He guides and teaches you and me today.

Paul was, in fact, doing something amazing.   He was teaching them to address a natural problem with a supernatural solution.  How radical!  He was encouraging them with the truth that whatever happens to us in our natural world, we have access to supernatural power.  We can be overcome with great sadness and discouragement due to natural circumstances in our lives.  Paul was telling them that they now have hope like never before.  They now have supernatural access to their Heavenly Father who has everything they need to get through anything at all.

That wonderful message is the same today.  We can be downtrodden, grief stricken, crushed with feelings of fear and worry, but we need never be defeated.  We have a supernatural access to get us through any natural pain.  That is indeed God’s will for us because He wants to see us as over comers, capable through His power to be strong in any situation life throws at us.

What Do We Own?

I once knew a woman who said to me of herself, “I am a very wealthy woman, yet I own nothing at all.”  She recognized that God had blessed her with a heart to give of His riches to others whom He chose.  She said she was a steward of God’s finances.  She is now with the Lord but her gift of giving lives on.

The world has a very different view about ownership.  Communism believes that the government owns everything and will share it out among everyone.  Capitalism believes that the individual owns what they earn and they don’t have to share it with anyone. The world’s philosophy is very much an — everyone for his or her own self.

Christianity is unique.  It teaches that God owns everything and will give each of us what we need as He sees best.  God teaches that we are to look for reasons to bless someone in need; to make a relevant difference for the good of others, even it at times it means our own personal discomfort.

There is an interesting passage in Psalm 50:10-12 & 14, “For all the animals of the forest are mine and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.  Every bird of the mountains, and all the animals of the field belong to me.  If I were hungry, I would not mention it to you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.”  Whether we recognize it or not, everything we have is because God let us have it.

He blesses us with our physical needs but at all times He is showing us that the most important things to possess is that which we cannot see with our physical eyes.  The riches of our Father are priceless; jewels of peace, wisdom, and joy set in eternal crowns that cannot rust or decay.

What do we own?  On earth, absolutely nothing that will last, but available in heaven, a fountain of wealth that never runs dry.

Knowing Your Identity

In this world we live in, proper identification of who you are is a must.   Picture ID’s are often required in banks, hotels, and other places of business.  Proving who you are is a must to keeping hold of your finances, your job opportunities, and your security.  Knowing who we are and proving who we are is key to stability in all our worldly affairs.

It is even more important in our spiritual world.  Our arch enemy, Satan, is always attempting to bring us down.  He tempts us, tells us lies about ourselves and others around us, and seeks to confuse us as to who we really are.  You see, if we keep our minds concentrated on the truth, that the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is the same Holy Spirit who inhabits our being, then that is cause for Satan and his kingdom to tremble.  We have nothing to fear; Satan does, when we know who we are.

Apostle Paul wrote in Galations 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  When you and I remember our identification in Christ, then we also know from whom comes our power to conquer anything, to stand strong against temptations that would cause us harm, to move in peace when the world is swirling in storms of confusion, and grappling with all manner of madness that we see daily on any news channel.  When we know who we are; that our lives are hidden with Christ in God, then we walk forward in God’s strength.  We reason with God’s wisdom.  We make decisions with God’s guidance.  We hold our heads up courageously, no matter the name calling others may slander us with, all because we know who we are — children of the Most High.  Sons and daughters with a most amazing heavenly inheritance.

When we know who we are, there is no emotional onslaught that we cannot walk through in absolute victory because we know that “with God nothing shall be impossible.”   Luke 1:37.

Therefore, be courageous.  Be victorious.  Know who you are.

Dipping In The Treasure Chest

I was watching the news this week, being saddened by all the crazy politics around the world, by the bickering, but mostly by the total lack of understanding concerning the holiness of God and of His amazing love for us.  He only gives us His plans to follow because they are the only plans without mistake. When we ignore His guidance, we take ourselves off the road of peace and joy and fulfilled meaning.

We all face so many challenges in life; some are merely degrees of difficulty to wade through, but others are utterly distressful.  We feel lost, like the turmoil will never fade away.  It’s at those moments that we must remember the treasure trove that God has given to us who belong to Him.

You see, when Jesus died on that cross to take away the ugliness of our sin, He also died to give us something beautiful in its place.  The Apostle Paul refers to this in Ephesians 3:16, “I pray that from His (God’s) glorious, unlimited riches, He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.”  Meditate upon that truth.  What is God saying?  He is reminding us that because we belong to Him through receiving Jesus Christ into our lives, He has provided us with everything we need to get through anything at all.

When our peace is shattered, we dip into the treasure chest of His promises.  Our inner spirit is calmed when we read of His peace that will see us through any trouble.  Our tears are dried when we remember that He is already in our next moment, making the crooked places straight.  Our fears are replaced with hope when we know that He holds our tomorrow in His hands.

When we forget to dip into that holy treasure chest available to each, fear, dismay, and depression is sure to prevail, but by grabbing hold of the riches of God, we are indeed “empowered with His own inner strength.”  What an amazing God to give us such riches that no amount of money in this world can buy.