Thursday, January 29, 2015

Where Does Our Peace Lie?


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13

Circumstances will always be swirling around us, frustrations and imperfections will be abundant in daily life. While we live our earthly lives, they will never be perfect. Yet, when we know the One who is perfect, who resides in our hearts, who has already triumphed to give us eternal life, we can know peace. We can know peace because we know Jesus, who is peace. Jesus loved us enough to understand our weary and worried hearts, and He brought peace through his sacrifice. Not peace on earth, but peace to our hearts, and eternal peace once we enter the gates of heaven.

So many Christians are as worried as people of the world; we are trembling in fear and trepidation, as if we have never met the God who saves, who will triumph, who is all powerful and is peace. Our eyes are fixed on the troubled world, and not on the God who loves us and gives us eternal life. We have to fix the eyes of our hearts on heaven, and on Jesus who guides us in His ways of life and peace. Peace in our hearts and minds; because the world will never offer peace. We are not permanent residents of earth, but temporary tent dwellers. Our permanent, perfect, and peaceful home is in heaven. Our earthly homes are merely flimsy tents to house us on a pilgrimage, our unshakable and eternal home is with God.

People need to see others who aren't tossed and crashed onto the rocks by every strong wave that hits them, people who have peace and life about them even when their outer surroundings are seen as imperfect by the world. A love and peace radiating from us is what the world needs, as Jesus' hands and feet we must be sure to truly know the One who gives us this peace in a troubled world.

May we take our eyes off of the world and it's troubles, and fix them one the only One who matters. While our eyes and hearts are fixed on the temporal and troubled, we will waste a life never knowing the love and peace of our Savior. When we fix them on God and who He is, study His word and His truth and make it a deep part of our soul, our very being, we know peace, and we truly know Jesus for who He is.

"But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." Hebrews 11:16

"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." Hebrews 13:14

"For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2 Corinthians 5:1

Prayer: "Lord, take away the blindness of my eyes on earth so that I may see your peace and that it will reign in my heart. No matter what surrounds me, give me the unshakable foundation of your word and your peace. Show me how to take my eyes off of what doesn't matter, and to fix them on you." Amen.

“There is nothing dreary or doubtful about life. It is meant to be continually joyful...We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose joy is our strength.”-Amy Carmichael

"We now demand glamour and fast-flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals...The tragic results of this spirit all all about us: shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies...the glorification of men, trust is religious externalities....salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit. These and such of these are the symptoms of an evil disease.”  -A.W. Tozer "The Pursuit of God"

“If we were less of what seems like ease in our lives they would tell more for Christ and souls...We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don't wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has.”-Amy Carmichael

Be A Doer of the Word

"And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it." Luke 8:21


The Bible is a treasure chest of riches; filled with the finest wisdom, love, mercy and knowledge that can exist. It is God's guide for life, His wisdom, the very words He breathed out for us to benefit from. In His perfect love, He didn't leave us to fend for ourselves, but sent us Jesus, His very word made manifest, and gave us His written word. We aren't helpless, or without the perfect wisdom of God. The Bible should be read not as a simple storybook, or a history book, but as an unchangeable source of wisdom and truth for our lives. It applies to us, it is not just sentences and paragraphs that are stored away in our brains and not put to use. We have to apply God's word to our lives. It is not up to us to pick and choose what is truth. A doer is "a person who acts rather than just talking or thinking."

 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:20-21

We are tossed by the waves of life so easily because we have chosen which parts of God's word apply to our lives and which parts we'd rather trash and not live by. In doing so, we are choosing our own path, and not God's way. Surrendering to Jesus as Lord means we are no longer charting our own course, God's word and His guidance are our course now. Contemporary, "modernized" Christianity reads the Bible's commands and guidelines as 'outdated' but God's word is true, eternal and unchanging. God has known what is best from the beginning of time, and He will know it through eternity. God doesn't change and His word doesn't change, why do we change it, interpret it, modernize it and think we can do better than God?

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4

When Jesus was tempted in the desert after he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he told the tempter (satan) that man would live by every word that came from the mouth of God. We cannot live by bread alone (our own way) we can only live by the word of God. Jesus did not decide he would 'interpret' the word of God to suit his needs, wishes and fleeting desires, He lived the eternal truth. He was the ultimate fulfillment, the doer of God's word. We aren't called to be interpreters, or even decide to do our own form of 'decluttering' of God's word, we are called to belief, and then to be doers.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We need scripture to instruct us, guide us and train us in God's ways. Then we are built up in character, practicing the ways of God, our hearts are trained, and we are being transformed into people who live out the word of God. Living out God's word doesn't mean signing up for excessive activities or being 'loud' about it. In most cases, living out the word of God is something that is much quieter---God sees, and those closest to us, but we will not gain pats on the back from the world. Living out truth is in the small things; how we deal with our families, how we love our children, our responses, our attitudes, taking every thought captive, and paying attention to the commands of scripture. If we have lived in the worlds ways, or even permissive modern religions ways, this will take many diligent life changes.

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

 Our belief in Jesus has to be lived out daily, He is our daily bread and we must feast on God's word to understand the deep and lasting peace that comes from living out our faith. Chaos, confusion, clutter of the mind and heart---living as if we have no foundation but saying we are Christians, is not God's way. Jesus says when we hear the word of God and do it that we are His brethren, His family.

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." James 1:22-25

If we are only hearers of the word, but make no other life changes, the Bible says we are deceiving ourselves, we aren't living out truth. When we look into the perfect law, and persevere in action, being a doer who acts, we will be blessed in our doing. Being blessed may not mean material wealth, but there is a peace and wealth of wisdom and the riches of God that far surpasses any material wealth or temporary happiness we would have found following our own way.

When we get a new cellphone, a new laptop, a new lawnmower, or even have to put together a piece of complex furniture, what do we do? We read the instructions in order to know how to put it together or how to best work what we just invested in. Jesus has invested in us, we have accepted His sacrifice, have we looked in God's perfect manual for us? Unlike a stale manual for an electronic, we have the living, breathing word of God, and the Holy Spirit to guide us.

"But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." Matthew 22:29

We must come to know the scriptures, and the wonderful power of God. He knows what is best for us, and He will guide us to live out His perfect truth. Don't try to live like everyone else, or to be popular, but strive to live out the word of God and be a living witness to the fruit it bears.

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

Prayer: "God, show me how to live out your truths in actions, thoughts, words and attitudes of the heart. Show me your perfect law, guide me in your peace. Shape me into a doer of the word, a living breathing testimony of your living word, so that others may find life." Amen.

 "Radical obedience to Christ is not easy... It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.” -David Platt

“Satan is so much more in earnest than we are--he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.” -Amy Carmichael

“Avoid trivial pursuits. You are a child of God, destined for glory, and called to do great things in His Name. Do not waste your life on hobbies, sports, and other recreational pursuits. Do not throw away the precious moments of your life on entertainment, movies, and video games. Though some of these things can properly have a 'small place' in the Christian’s life, we must be careful not to give undue attention to temporal and fruitless activities. Do not waste your life. Employ the time of your youth in developing the character and skills necessary to be a useful servant of God.” -Paul David Washer





Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Lost Art of Being Gentle


"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." Isaiah 66:13


 The children above are deeply relaxed and confident in their mother's love and care. They can tell her anything, perform their childish antics, and know that her love will be there, steadfast and unwavering. She will comfort them through mistakes and trials, they will break her glass jar and not fear that she will yell or physically punish them. God is our loving Father, and His love is perfect, even better than a mothers. He will comfort us, even to those who have not known a comforting mother, God is the perfect parent to His children. 

 The calloused human heart is naturally prone to harshness. Yelling, anger, punishment, and 'hurting' someone back comes too easily. The harsh ways of others we have absorbed are perpetuated onto more people, and the cycle continues. If we break the cycle of a hard heart, and ask God to renew us and create a cycle of gentleness and wholeness we can begin a new pattern in our lives. We must begin by viewing God as the loving and perfect father he is, getting to know his character and nature. When we learn of His perfect ways, we can begin to see how gentleness should become part of our renewed nature in Christ.

A gentle shepherd will look for his lost sheep until it is found. He will carry it in his arms, bruised and bleeding, to make sure it will rejoin the flock. He gently guides the flock with his staff. His staff is to guide and direct, to let the sheep know they can be confident in him. The staff is not to inflict harm. It is a sign of authority and of comfort---the sheep can be absolutely sure they are cared for and they do not live in fear when walking with their shepherd.

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11

Jesus shall gently lead those who are with young. We have the guidance of our gentle shepherd, and we can pass that gentleness on to those around us. Jesus, who knew the perfect heart of his father, lived and reflected gentleness. He was not spineless, or a pushover, but in knowing perfect love, he reflected love in it's perfect state---strong, gentle, guiding love. Jesus did not beat or berate those who cried, who made mistakes, who sinned---He gently led them to himself and showed them his love, and in doing so, people were changed. It was not his yelling, his harshness, his chastening---it was his perfect love and gentle, spotless nature that healed people and left a permanent mark on hearts.

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

The woman at the well, the woman who had committed adultery, the woman who touched Jesus' robe in the crowd, the children who came to see Jesus---Jesus showed them all gentleness, and their hearts became his. If his response had been different, yelling, physically or emotionally punishing them, stinging their hearts and then followed that with telling them he loved them, these people's picture and image of love would have been forever changed. How they passed on love and care to others would have also been forever changed.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

When we are gentle in heart, we truly know Jesus, and we find rest for our souls. Carrying a hardened and harsh heart, one who always has to punish others, even little ones, is a heavy and harmful burden to bear. Jesus took the punishment, He took the burden, He took the bitterness, anger, harshness, and calloused corners of human nature for us. They aren't ours to carry or pass on to others. There is no punishment to bear, no burden to pass to others---"...he said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Now knowing Christ--- his very nature, love and gentleness--- that is the legacy we should pass on. Knowing who he truly is, and reflecting him to others, especially our little ones.

"He will not shout
    or raise his voice in public." Isaiah 42:2

It is easier to react, than it is to love with gentleness. God is his perfect love and mercy will show us the way of gentleness. It means leaning on the strength of God, being renewed by Christ to be consistently gentle. Yet one who always responds in frustration, anger, and spite is reactive and does not yet understand the love of God. They are the weaker ones, who need to be made strong by the love of Christ.

"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." Proverbs 16:32

Little children can best come to know Christ when we are his hands and feet. Sometimes tantrums and tears are out of frustration, being tired, or not being able to communicate something, and yet so often we are harsh. Sometimes it is normal childish antics. How many times are we frustrated, tired, angry and without words for something we take to God? To God, we probably daily perform childish antics ourselves. Faithfully he is always there comforting us, as a mother comforts. 

We are more apt to follow someone who is gentle and kind, than harsh and always punishing. Children who grow into adults will turn their hearts away from a God they view as harsh and uncaring, and they will pass that on to future generations. God embraces us, and we can embrace little ones and those we love on the journey of life, with love and gentleness, just as Jesus has embraced us, his sheep. We can point them to the perfect shepherd, and they will grow to lead others to Him. Jesus, the One who was gentleness in a harsh world, the One who came to show us God. God in the flesh, who took our punishment upon Himself, because He loves his sheep.

"For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." 1 Peter 2:25

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength." Saint Francis de Sales

"Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong." Leo Buscaglia



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Purity: Pray for it and cling to it

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8


Keeping the heart wisely and guarding it's purity is not a task easily accomplished on our own. Yet, when we ask God to purify our hearts, to take away our sin, to show us the hardness that has crept in and darkened it's corners, He will help us. The culture around us won't help us keep a pure heart; only God can give us the wisdom to pursue it. In Hebrew, the word for pure is "bar" and it means to be clean and innocent. Each of us lives in the same imperfect world, and wrongs have been done to us. The culture we are exposed to does not promote purity, ideas that are wrong creep in our hearts, and our own sin takes over and begins to harden the heart. Often, we are too caught up in life to know it, yet all the while we are missing out on God.

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." 1 Peter 1:22-23

Most of us have dealt with piles of clutter that build up and pretty soon we are decluttering our stuff for an entire day. Most of us do it hundreds of times throughout our lives. Keeping ourselves pure to see God, listen to His voice, and do His work is the most successful when we are not buried under piles of soul clutter. "Heart clutter" is similar to our piles of junk---it creeps in slowly and we don't notice it until it's built up. Poor attitudes, anger, resentments, bitterness, poor choices of entertainment and media consumption, even vanity and too much focus on outward things can erode the softness and purity of heart we are called to have as Christians.

"Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

Out of mercy and love for us, God will help us to have new eyes to see the areas He wants to change in our hearts, the things to eliminate from our lives, and thought processes He will change to become new again. He will show us how to focus on purity, but we must respond with the necessary steps and focus to make purity a priority in our lives. Our culture is very slack with entertainment, even Christians let things creep in where they ought not too, and pretty soon we become conditioned to watch things that promote violence, poor relationships, hardness of heart and poor attitudes. The enemy would like nothing more to erode us seeing things through a pure heart, because in doing so we become closer to God---and he wants to blind our hearts from seeing God as we should.

The pure in heart shall see God--- after taking the time through prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit, God has removed the clutter from their old, calloused heart and given them a new heart of flesh. We can then respond to the call of God, see His world anew, and have a soft heart to see Him and serve Him. The impure things that we once partook of now stand out glaringly--- we can see them for what they are. The heart is no longer calloused and blinded to them, but sees these sins for what they are---darkness that blocks the pure light of God into our hearts. A lot of focus is put on keeping our children pure, but so often we turn the corner only to ingest something that is of impure quality ourselves. Adults aren't to let our hearts and minds go---we are to have the pure heart and mind of a child and guard our purity as closely as we guard our children's.

"And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh..." Ezekial 11:19

Scripture is always a good filter to sift things through on our journey to more purity in our lives. It tells us what is holy and pure to God, and the way of life to follow to have a renewed heart. Most likely God will require of us to give up things not good for us, but He will fill us with Himself and the things we give up will seem petty and trivial. The desire to take on the impure clutter will wane with time because our new heart has changed desires. The Bible is clear what we are to think on and "digest" in ourselves, and we are not to dwell on or give much time in our lives to that which is not pure and fitting to God's standards.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

Let us give up what callouses us, what makes our life dark or filled with grief and strife--- instead of searching after what will not satisfy and always leave us hungry for more, may we search and strive after God, who is pure and will fill us with living water. This world will never lead us to purity, but when we seek God's face, He will.

"But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19

 "The pure in heart are blessed because they will see God. Although this will not be ultimately true until the new heaven and earth, yet it is also true even now. Our perception of God and his ways, as well as our fellowship with him, depends on our purity of heart. The visio Dei—what an incentive to purity."
D. A. Carson, The Sermon on the Mount

"Now when [people] attempt to live a double life spiritually, that is, to appear pure on the outside but are not pure in the heart, they are anything but blessed. Their conflicting loyalties make them wretched, confused, tense. And having to keep their eyes on two masters at once makes them cross-eyed, and their vision is so blurred that neither image is clear."
Clarence Jordan, Sermon on the Mount

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Refined and Changed In the Potter's Hands


("In the Potter's Hands" By: Steve Abbott)

"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8 (KJV)


It is a wonderful thing that as a child of God, we are not permanently stuck as we are. God molds us, shapes us and grows us---if we turn to Him with our whole heart, listen and obey. It is a miracle of God that the world does not understand--- God can and does change people to reflect more and more of Christ's image. We cannot change ourselves on our own, but our Master Potter is capable of taking a lump of clay and changing it into something new. Jesus came to wash us of our sins, to make us new creations inside. Yet, how many of us are letting that work be done in our lives, and understand what dedication of heart that will take? To be changed and renewed means we daily must walk with the Holy Spirit, and we must have open ears to listen.

"The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts." Proverbs 17:3 

God sees deep into our hearts, He knows us and nothing is hidden from Him. He created us and loves us. As a loving Father, He will guide us, teach us, and mold us. After accepting Christ as our Savior, we now have a new master of our hearts---Jesus. If we continue on as we did before we became Christians, and are not changed in the core of who we are, then the message of Jesus' love and sacrifice has not been fully taken to heart. God did not send His son so we would remain the same, He sent Jesus so we would be redeemed, changed into His likeness, and called His own. This is not easy, as God will try our hearts, and He will stretch us with His refining fire.  

"I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'These are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'" Zechariah 13:9
 The melting point of pure silver is 1761 degrees Fahrenheit; the melting point of pure gold is 1945 degrees Fahrenheit. God tells us He will take us through the fire to refine us like silver and purify us like gold. He knows these metals require very hot temperatures to be mold-able and God knows our human hearts are hard, they are stubborn to change. Yet, loving us as He does, He guides us through that fire to be changed. The gold or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire, and God will never leave us or forsake us. To be changed by God is not easy and it requires letting go of control and many things we thought about life. The easier path is to stay the same, not be open to change, and 'coast' through life. In the end though, this path leads to our own demise as we did not live fully as God intended for us. Rather than living as one who is wise, a life was lived as one who was taken with their own foolishness. The other path, being taken through God's refinement process leads to peace.

"We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment." Psalm 66:12

After the clay is shaped and worked on the potters wheel, the final product is something perfect, usable and designed by the potter. God promises us after being led, guided and changed by Him that we will be brought to a place of rich fulfillment. God's riches are the ones to chase after in this life. They lead to eternal life, to peace and being refined by a God who loves us. In the end, there is a richness to this that we would not have known had we not let ourselves walk through the fire. 

“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.  Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50

There is much said about the beginning of the Christian walk, that we are washed of our sins, that God loves us unconditionally. These are foundational truths to learn, yet God speaks many times in the Bible about His people being refined and tested, and this is a vital part of the Christian life. While God's grace is freely given to us, it does not free us from faithful obedience. If we are still stuck in old patterns, ways of worldly thinking, habits and attitudes that are wrong, if our whole worldview and life is not shaken and changed by Christ---we have not gone through the fire, and perhaps we must acknowledge to ourselves that we have not truly made Jesus the King of our life. Other things may be in His place. When we accept Christ's sacrifice for us as our Savior, we also accept Him as Lord of our life.

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Romans 2:4

Job, having been put through the fire of trials, faithfully trusted God. He recognized that all of this was for a purpose and he did not give up even in the greatest weakness. He knew this furnace of affliction would be for his good. 

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

Like Job, through trials, tears, and afflictions, we can trust God and the work He is doing to refine us. It is all for our good, as God is loving and faithful. He will never go against who He says He is. God cannot lie. As we faithfully serve Him, He wants us to listen, to change us and mold our hard hearts into something pure and new. We can have confidence knowing that in God's hands we can change, because with God, all things can be made new. With God, there is never hopelessness over who we are, and as Corrie Ten Boom says "there is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still." With God, there is always hope for change, and always hope to be made new and brought to life by Christ.

"...that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ..." 1 Peter 1:7

"For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29


 “Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering. The love of God did not protect His own Son. The cross was the proof of His love – that He gave that Son, that He let Him go to Calvary’s cross, though “legions of angels” might have rescued Him. He will not necessarily protect us - not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” -Elisabeth Elliot

"This time he blows the fire hotter than it was before, and each time he puts the gold into the crucible, the heat of the fire is increased; "it could not bear it so hot at first, but it can bear it now; what would have destroyed it then helps it now." "How do you know when the gold is purified?" we asked him, and he answered, "When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible] then it is pure.”  -Amy Carmichael, Gold Cord


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Seeking Wisdom in the New Year and Considering Our Ways 

"Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you 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."
Proverbs 3:13-18 (NLT)

New years resolutions fly around this time of year; many worthy and good goals. Yet rarely do we hear the resolution "this year I am going to seek God with all my heart, I am going to seek wisdom, and I am going to ask God to show me these treasures." When wisdom is sought first, we are better equipped to fully accomplish what God has for us. Wisdom is not elusive; but those who truly seek God must apply themselves with their whole mind and heart.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5

God generously gives us His wisdom, for He is the only source of truth. He is the living fountain of wisdom and He wants to give us this tree of life. Financial goals, fitness goals, growing in a skill, job goals, these can be good things, but often they are the only focus. God is pushed aside as if He is not to be sought with as much, if not more diligence than the rest of these things! We will often succeed in a more peaceful, joyful way in these goals when we seek God first. He then gives us the wisdom to know how to walk the path of life and move towards the goals He puts in front of us. God is the "Captain" of the ship of our life, yet so often we don't think we need Him and we put ourselves in His place.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17

Walking the path of the wise requires a reordering of priorities. We must consider our ways thoughtfully, ask God for direction, and reorder our steps. Old habits may need to fall away, but God will help us towards to new, peaceful way so that we develop habits of wisdom and truth. Seeking God, reading His word, and asking the Holy Spirit to show us the ways of wisdom and the truth of walking with God every day and applying disciplines to our life. First, our hearts must be turned to God and any other idols in His place must fall. Sometimes this means we say no to tasks, activities, and material things so that we can say 'yes' to God. We must examine our hearts to see if we are shoving God aside with meaningless things, perhaps because at times we are afraid to change old habits, let go of control, and hand the control over to God.

"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

The wisdom from God is perfect. He will guide us and show us His loving ways. Giving up old habits is nothing to fear because God's ways lead to the fruits of righteousness. Our own ways lead to confusion, chaos, lack of growth and discipline, and often we don't even know the road we are really traveling. We haven't measured our steps by any plumb line, and all our ways, decisions, actions----should be measured and considered by our plumb line, the foundation of our faith, God's word. He gave it to us as a great treasure, a guide for life, and a fountain showing us the way to righteous living. 

"But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:24

Each of us, in desiring to seek God more in the new year, should want to boast in the end that we are truly coming to know Him. The One who is steadfast love, justice and righteousness. This is better than boasting that we have built the best retirement fund, the best gym workout, a promotion or the best remodel of our homes. Knowing God, seeking wisdom, and ordering our steps are the best things to be proud of. 

Many desire to do this, yet ask "how?" "How is it possible to reorder my ways?" First, seek God daily. Ask Him for wisdom to restart again. Study the ways of God's people in the Bible, and the verses on living a holy life. Eliminate things that are not pure in your life. Watching shows that are violent, promote ungodly living and ideas, slowly sink into the heart and mind, they are also a distraction from what really matters. Reading romance novels (trashy ones) promote wrong ideas about life and love and do not grow the mind and heart toward God. Ask God to reorder  pathways of thought. He will change our minds to be transformed and renewed so that old toxic thought patterns are replaced by godly thinking. Spending too much time on the internet seeking useless knowledge, rather than seeking God can be ways we are ordering our steps in the wrong direction. Being undisciplined or wasteful with our time and lifestyle can turn us quickly down the wrong path. If we seek to replace the impure things in our lives with pure things of God, He will guide us and direct us on His paths of wisdom and peace.

With wisdom comes joy, understanding, and peace. Resolving to seek God with all of our heart is the most worthwhile resolution of all.

"Who is like the wise? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed." Ecclesiastes 8:1

"Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days. “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding." Job 12:12-13

"Patience is the companion of wisdom." --Augustine

"Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom." --Charles Spurgeon