Wisdom 12.25

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25 HCSB

An encouraging comment from a friend or a random compliment from a stranger can positively change someone’s day; and that friend or stranger can be you. May we speak “a good word” today.

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The Elements of Trust

“Confidence” and “expectation” are elements of “trust”.

When it comes to people, to place trust in someone is to have confidence or expectations regarding their character. The interesting question is, “What produces the confidence or expectation?” Does it come from experience, word of mouth, research, or conversations? Yes, it could be one (or all) of them. And what about faith? Is it the same? The scripture says this:

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

Faith is a “trust-walk”. It’ a confident expectation in Him, regardless of the visual panorama. Sight is an amazing gift, but the visual senses can be deceived. For example, professional illusionists make a living by tricking the audience through slight-of-hand and misdirection. But in the life of faith, what are the things that produce “confident expectation”? It’s the “history”; the previous encounters (with Him), the word of mouth (testimonies), the research (His word), and the conversations (prayer).

Have you stopped lately and considered the previous steps of your journey? Has God ever failed to be faithful to you? Has He ever stopped loving you? Has He ever called you to places He wouldn’t go? Perhaps today is a good time to consider the “history” and move forward by faith, not by sight…

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Day-by-Day Renewal

How does renewal come from the Lord? Is it something received at a Sunday worship service or Bible study? It can be. However, even though gatherings can have a powerful impact, the biblical picture of God’s sustaining often looks more like manna, oil and flour. For example, in 2 Corinthians 4 there’s a list of pressures and difficulties Paul faced while carrying out his mission. It was physically demanding and emotionally draining. He was weakened in every way from the journey, but he points out God’s sustaining power:

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV

The Holy Spirit’s renewing is a daily provision. Like manna given to the Hebrews in the wilderness, it can’t be stored up for later unless it’s something God orchestrates (such as the double portion on Fridays to last through the Sabbath). We see the same thing in the widow’s oil and flour when the prophet Elijah went to her house (1 Kings 17). During desperate times, God gave them a miraculous supply of oil and flour (but just enough each day to provide for their needs).

Don’t lose heart, He’s faithful to supply what we need…daily.

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An Extraordinary Find

We’ve all heard stories like “$10,000 Baseball Card Found in Old Trunk” or “Priceless Painting Bought at Yard Sale for $5.00”. It’s amazing what turns up when attentive eyes are looking. And yet, while those stories are intriguing, one of the most incredible stories of discovery is the finding of God’s Law in the Temple after years of being lost and forgotten (2 Kings 22:3-20). At the time, King Josiah was trying to “do what was right”, (repairing the Temple, removing idols, etc.), but when he heard the actual words written in the Book of the Law, he understood completely and tore his clothes in repentance. He had found real treasure indeed.

As followers of Christ, we possess the same precious treasure…God’s life-giving Word. In much the same way, many around us recognize the need for reform; such as changing habits, cleaning up language etc., but like Josiah’s pursuit of good changes, they’re incomplete. Only God’s truth and the Holy Spirit can move someone from pursuing reforms to the point of real-life transformation.

Perhaps you agree and would like to be the agent of change but feel intimidated. If so, consider how Paul described the good news of the gospel:

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not us.” -2 Corinthians 4:7 HCSB

You’re not alone in feeling inadequate…we all do. Paul was skilled and experienced, yet he described himself carrying the gospel as a clay jar. And like him, we’re simple, breakable and common, but the treasure is not. It’s extraordinary, durable and priceless. You may be just the person to help someone make the discovery of a lifetime.

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Giving Thanks…

I love Thanksgiving. To me, it marks the official beginning of “the most wonderful time of the year”. As we gather with family and friends, Psalm 100 seems especially appropriate:

 “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD He is God; it is He who has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.” – Psalm 100 NKJV

There are many things to give thanks for, here are some ways I’m considering them this year:

I. Giving Thanks for Things Past

  • God’s creative work – “It is He who has made us”, we are no accident and all lives are precious.
  • God’s providential hand – “We are the sheep of His pasture”, He chose to bless our country’s founding and raise us up to be a powerful influence in the world. This quote from William Bradford (Governor of the Plymouth colony) sums it up well: “Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand…as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.”
  • God’s personal blessings – There are many people and events in our past that were direct blessings from the Lord.

II. Giving Thanks for Things Present

  • God’s provision – He provides for us not only physically, but in many other ways too.
  • God’s blessings – He brings goodness to our lives out of kindness, because He is good.
  • God’s Empowering – He sustains us each day by giving us the strength we need.

III. Giving Thanks for Things Future

  • God’s plans for us are filled with goodness – His ways are always good because He is good (even if we can’t see it).
  • God’s plans for us are filled with mercy – He is a loving Father and “His mercy is everlasting”.
  • God’s plans for us are filled with truth – There will be ultimate ‘vindication’ for those of us who believe, and His Word will prove to be true (all of it).

So, what are you thankful for this year? May William Bradford’s words also be said of us, “…the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.”

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Unchained and Free

What does freedom and liberty in Christ look like? Is it throwing off the shackles of religious legalism? Yes. Is it hope of being without condemnation at the judgement? Yes, by God’s grace that’s absolutely true! But what about day-to-day decisions and activities? Is it a reckless approach allowing one to simply do what feels right? Not at all.

Even though self-oriented things are often called ‘liberty’, a New Testament liberated life is about God-honoring activity. Consider this verse:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV

The context of the chapter is how the Lord opens the heart and mind at conversion, then continues to transform us as we grow (glory to glory-v.18). Concerning the liberty part, it’s directly tied to the Holy Spirit. Thankfully it’s true that the constraints of the Law were broken, but His presence still guides us with loving boundaries as we go. His leadership will never violate principles established in the scriptures and will always be consistent with God’s character. During His earthly ministry, Jesus modeled what the leadership of the Holy Spirit looked like. Yes, the Temple establishment often challenged Him, but the conflict was never because of pride in His heart; it was because of its presence in theirs.

So how do you view Christian liberty? Is it something just benefitting you, or something tied directly to the Holy Spirit’s leadership? Concerning gray areas, are you willing to stop and ask, “Does it honor the Lord?” How will you follow today?

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A Deep Sense of Contentment

What does sufficiency mean for a disciple?

The word “sufficient” means “needed amount”, or “wanted amount”; and in life, there are lots of needs and wants. For example, food and water are needed to live, and of course, humans are designed to work and have purpose. However, the description of sufficiency in the Bible is very different than food, water, and work; it’s a deep adequacy in a person’s spirit. Paul described it this way:

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV

Is there a sense of adequacy deep in your spirit? We all have a certain hunger within our heart and Christ is the only sufficient nourishment. Substitutes, like increased attention to a spiritual checklist or emotion-evoking activities can help temporarily, but ultimately fall short. When there’s a deep peace within, there’s a sense of worth and contentment that permeates everything else in life. The Law could never do that, but Christ did, and still does…every day. Will you embrace His sufficiency today? “Our sufficiency is from God…”

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