Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘wisdom’

Truth and Beauty—Eve’s perspective or God’s?

Eve’s perspective on her situation was much like today’s postmodern view:

The fruit was beautiful—“beautiful thoughts, words…”  Anyone can claim anything is beautiful (e.g. abortion, perverted sex, euthanasia, false words about God).

Would make one wise—we get to be like God and decide what is right and true!

Tasted good—it’s fun—if it feels good, do it!

She ate the poison and disaster resulted.  Meanwhile, Satan laughed up his sleeve and thus commenced the battle for the human heart down through the ages.  Have we learned?  Have we forgotten the lessons of the ancient past?  Do we even believe that this happened?

From the Facebook post of a friend: 

The darkness says, “What is truth? Just do what I say. You’ll never really know what is true. And why should it matter, as long as you’re pleasing yourself?”

The Holy One says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

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Seeking God’s Rubber Stamp

I must admit that often when I ask someone a question, I don’t listen well to their response.  Am I really interested in the other person or preoccupied with my own plans and thoughts?  Or have we ever asked someone’s advice and then turned around and done the other thing? 

Jehoshaphat began his reign over Judah very well, but then he married into the family of the infamous King Ahab of Israel and got drawn into some unwise situations.  Ahab proposed that Jehoshaphat go to war with him against another nation.  When Jehoshaphat wanted to first get God’s guidance on the matter, Ahab provided him with 400 lying prophets who enthusiastically promoted Ahab’s plan.  Jehoshaphat saw through that and asked for a real prophet—one who would give God’s word. 

I have to smile at Ahab’s response:  “Yes, there is one, but I don’t like him because he never prophesies anything good about me; always bad.”  Well, duh! 

So Micaiah is called and eventually predicts how Ahab is going to be killed in the proposed battle.  Ahab locks Micaiah up ignoring his warning, and—what does Jehoshaphat do?  He wanted to know God’s decision, didn’t he?  He asked for it, didn’t he?  He heard it, didn’t he? 

But he ignored it and went ahead to do what he’d already decided to do beforehand!  He had a close call that day in the battle (Ahab was killed), but God was merciful.  (Read about it in 2 Chronicles 18.)

So when I ask God for His guidance, am I really listening and willing to follow?  Or do I just want His blessing on my own plan?

Wise Investment

Every once in a while my husband and I wonder if our modest retirement savings are in the right place.  Will they be there when we need them?  Or should we invest them somewhere else?  Experts don’t agree, and of course they can’t see into the future. 

Even more important—because its effect goes way beyond our retirement and even our death—is how we invest our affection, our priorities, our time, our energies.  Are our thoughts and efforts focused on physical pleasure, possessions, power, and popularity—OR on things that will last forever?  Why is this such a difficult choice?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.  (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)

Just do it, or just say no?

Due to my lack of artistic ability, I’ll have to ask you to draw the mental picture.  Imagine a guy with a small creature sitting on each shoulder. One is whispering in his right ear, “Just say no!”  while the one on the left side urges, “Just do it!”  Both of these have been popular slogans.  So are they both to be heeded?  What do they mean, anyway?  What are we doing?  And what are we saying “no” to? 

According to Wikipedia, “Just Say No” was an advertising campaign during the 1980s and early 1990s, to discourage children from engaging in illegal drug use.  Eventually, this also expanded the realm of “Just Say No” to violence and premarital sex.

So how about the origin of “Just do it”?  It sounds like what a mom would say to her kids about the daily chores, and I must confess I probably did this lots of times when mine were young.  But the truth is much more interesting.  On a video clip, Dan Wieden of Nike laughingly tells how he was inspired by the last words of a notorious spree-killer, Gary Gilmore, who was executed in Utah in 1977!  (His actual words were “Let’s do it.”)

Back to our guy with the little creatures whispering conflicting messages in his ears.  I hope he thinks long and hard about what it is he’s thinking of doing, who it is that’s urging him to do it and who says not to do it–and why.  When the “still small voice” urges us do what is right, the siren calls around us can easily drown it out.  Who are we listening to?

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  (Titus 2:12-14)

Move over, Ben Franklin!

If one believes the proverb, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” then I ought to be doing pretty well right now.  Jet lag is luring me to bed way too early in the evening.  (My husband had to keep waking me up as we watched a documentary last night about diamonds.)  And in the morning I’m popping out of bed too early again.  (That’s why I’m writing a blog in the morning!)

But as for being healthy, wealthy, and wise—my Scripture reading just now reminded me of the real secret of success in all those areas:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
WISE:  Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
HEALTHY:  Then you will have healing for your body
and strength for your bones.
WEALTHY:  Honor the LORD with your wealth
and with the best part of everything you produce.
Then he will fill your barns with grain,
and your vats will overflow with good wine.  (Proverbs 3:5-10)

So, Benjamin Franklin, move over.  Here’s a better plan for success!

Treasure Hunt

I love to visit the display of precious stones at the Smithsonian museum.  What wonderful things God has hidden deep inside the earth for people to find!

Did you know there is a treasure hunt tucked into the dreary chapters of Job (chapter 28)?  Look at this!  At first it seems like an amazing description of mining for jewels in a very ancient setting.  But in verse 12 we find out what the real treasure is.  And not until the very end of this chapter do we find out where it can be found! 

Okay, ready, set, go.  Go mining with these guys and enjoy the whole hunt till you find the treasure at the end!  Smile

1 “People know where to mine silver
and how to refine gold.
2  They know where to dig iron from the earth
and how to smelt copper from rock.
3  They know how to shine light in the darkness
and explore the farthest regions of the earth
as they search in the dark for ore.
4  They sink a mine shaft into the earth
far from where anyone lives.
They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth.
5  Food is grown on the earth above,
but down below, the earth is melted as by fire.
6  Here the rocks contain precious lapis lazuli,
and the dust contains gold.
7  These are treasures no bird of prey can see,
no falcon’s eye observe.
8  No wild animal has walked upon these treasures;
no lion has ever set his paw there.
9  People know how to tear apart flinty rocks
and overturn the roots of mountains.
10  They cut tunnels in the rocks
and uncover precious stones.
11  They dam up the trickling streams
and bring to light the hidden treasures.
12  “But do people know where to find wisdom?
Where can they find understanding?
13  No one knows where to find it,
for it is not found among the living.
14  ‘It is not here,’ says the ocean.
‘Nor is it here,’ says the sea.
15  It cannot be bought with gold.
It cannot be purchased with silver.
16  It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir,
greater than precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17  Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal.
It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.
18  Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it.
The price of wisdom is far above rubies.
19  Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it.
It’s worth more than the purest gold.
20 “But do people know where to find wisdom?
Where can they find understanding?
21  It is hidden from the eyes of all humanity.
Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it.
22  Destruction and Death say,
‘We’ve heard only rumors of where wisdom can be found.’
23  “God alone understands the way to wisdom;
he knows where it can be found,
24  for he looks throughout the whole earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25  He decided how hard the winds should blow
and how much rain should fall.
26  He made the laws for the rain
and laid out a path for the lightning.
27  Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it.
He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.
28  And this is what he says to all humanity:
The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
to forsake evil is real understanding.’ ”

How Wise Was Solomon?

The fabled wisdom of Solomon:

—Choosing wisdom as his “one wish” from God (Wow, what would I have chosen?  I think the request in itself was pretty wise!) (1 Kings 3)

–Threatening to cut a baby in half to determine who was the real mother         (1 Kings 3)

–Thrilling audiences from far and wide with brilliant lectures on botany and zoology (1 Kings 4:33-34)

But how wise was he when he flaunted God’s list of guidelines for kings in Deuteronomy 16:16-20:

–Do not accumulate a lot of horses, especially not from Egypt.

–Do not take many wives.

–Do not accumulate vast amounts of wealth.

–And DO copy out God’s whole law, READ IT daily his whole life, and OBEY it!

Solomon had everything going for him:  God’s special favor, wisdom, wealth, fame, a huge and peaceful kingdom.  And God’s promise of an ongoing prosperous dynasty IF he would remain faithful. 

So what did he do?  He threw it all away, violated every one of these regulations.  His heart turned away from the God who had lavished favor on him to the gods of his myriad wives. Sad smile  Read the sad story in 1 Kings 10:23 to 11:13. (I have lots of “sad faces” in the margin of my Bible beside the stories of the kings of Israel and Judah.)

So what about me?  Will I cling to God when things go well, or do I need problems to keep me holding tight to His hand?  By God’s grace, I choose the former.

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