Stay away from a fool,
for you will not find knowledge on their lips. Proverbs 14:7
I imagine today’s wise advice has everyone shaking their heads in agreement. If a spotlight were pointed at your gaggle of friends, however, would there be that one person you know you should limit your time around? The one always making bad decisions, dragging you into uncomfortable situations, struggling in their marriage because of their behavior, and the list goes on and on.
Why do we keep these folks on our Christmas card list or included in our party invitations? Unfortunately, some are a bit too close to home as relatives. But those other ones, those are head scratchers. Maybe you think they are funny, your kids are on the same sports team, you’re in a Bible study group with them, or they are a neighbor. As Christians aren’t we to show kindness, compassion and grace?
Yes, to all of the above. However, nowhere in scripture will you find the Lord advising to bring into your close sphere a fool. As scripturally well-informed Christians we should be able to spot fools fairly quickly and make wise choices about boundaries. According to an article in Sharper Iron, look for these traits: arrogance, overconfidence, lacking shame, braggart, reckless with words and choices, self-indulgent, quarrelsome, and insulting. It doesn’t matter that they also have an amazing talent for scrapbooking, working out, wine collecting, or whatever mirrors some hobby or interest of yours. Stay clear. Smile and wave. Be kind and gracious. Protect your heart, mind, family and wallet.
Friend, a fool is no friend. In the end, you will most likely look the fool along with them. Take what they say with a discerning ear. Surround yourself with people you can trust and help you on your sanctification journey. God will cleave the fools. You just need to let them go. He will place the people you need in your path.
Holy Father, open my eyes to the foolish people I have held on to in my life. Help me to be discerning with my time and boundaries concerning them. Bring me wise mentors into my life. Amen
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and to insight, “You are my relative.” Proverbs 7:4
The word “wisdom” can be found about 200 times throughout the Bible. Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes are the frequent “go to” wisdom books for any Christian. Proverbs teaches us how to treat people, the fear of the Lord, how to manage finances, how to behave in marriage, about laziness and greed, the importance of our words and so much more. Yet how often, when we are seeking advice on our real world problems do you say, “let me look that up in Proverbs”?
Is it because we think eh, it’s old world thinking? Or maybe we just haven’t considered the Bible as a reference book for teaching and correcting. We seek out a friend, look it up online, ask a counselor, read a self-help book, go to a seminar. I would venture to say every single modern quandary has its answer in one of the wisdom books or even in Jesus’ own words.
The beauty of any type of proverb, which can be found throughout history in every culture, is that they are short, concise reminders of the way things are or even what happens when we go astray. Like that favorite praise song that always seems to be on your lips, a few good biblical proverbs memorized can be constant reminders of say, when to keep our tongues silent or our wallets secured.
God’s proverbs are never in conflict and can be trusted guides. Read and memorized they are that gentle reminder by our sister in Christ. I challenge you to take a sin with which you struggle and find one or two wisdom statements, or proverbs, and memorize them. Have them in the forefront of your mind guiding you on the path God wants for you.
Friend, the thing about God’s desires for you are this: He, unlike others in our life, has no ulterior motives. He loves you and wants the best for you. His advice can be trusted without fail.
Lord, I trust your advice. Thank you for giving me a clear path. Guide my every thought and steps today with your wisdom and insight. Amen
“Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes… but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverb 1:30-33
Are you the kind of person who likes to dole out advice? According to an article in Psychology Today, research tells us that whenever a person tells us what to do and how to do it, we respond with defensive defiance because we want to maximize our personal freedom and decision-making. And in another study about giving advice, it indicates that, even if you’re not actively out to take the reins over others, giving advice can make you feel like you have some sway, which helps you feel more powerful.
So here you have two polarizing human actions. The need to have some, a little or maybe even a lot of power over people’s decision making coupled with a defiant audience wanting to, as toddlers so often say, “do it myself!” Is it any wonder that the entire first chapter in God’s book of wisdom, Proverbs, focuses on the challenges and pitfalls of ignoring God’s advice? We humans want so often to go it alone. We buck and itch at someone telling us how to do it better or different – even when we can see they are correct. Our sinful nature seeks immediacy, comfort and pleasure. Yet, God’s Word can sometimes ask us to do the exact opposite.
Here’s a secret about God. He doesn’t need to feel more powerful. He is all-powerful already. He doesn’t need you to listen to Him. He can do just fine without you or me. You will eventually experience any consequences of ignoring Him all on your own. He doesn’t have any other motivation in giving advice than this one thing: He loves you immensely. He won’t be a “stage mom.” He’s not pushy and obnoxious. He simply lays out a very clear path to make living this temporary life in this broken world as best possible.
So friend, while you may spurn the advice of others because you are unsure of their motivations I encourage you to embrace His wisdom. We can be assured of His motivation. He loves you so much that He wants you to live a good life with eyes toward His eternal kingdom.
Lord, help me not to turn my ears from your Words. I want to soak up your advice and live out a life full of your wisdom. Amen
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14
This week I’ve been reading a lot about going ahead of God. Thinking I know the right way, the right answer, and moving forward on that path without first seeking God. I was reminded of when I was asked to be our elementary school’s PTA president. At the time, the elementary school was the largest in the district with over 1,000 students. And it was about to undergo a major construction program to build more classrooms. That meant a lot of turmoil with the way kids were dropped off at school, where classes would be held and how many of our PTA programs would take place. I told the committee I could do the job but I didn’t think they would want my style of leadership. I wasn’t an “insider” and didn’t have any qualms about squashing old ways of doing things. Yet they returned to me multiple times asking me to take the job. And I did.
You’ll notice in this story, like we do in so many Biblical stories of failed leaders, that I haven’t mentioned consulting God. Because I didn’t. That is, until after I said, “yes.” I believe it was the next day after I agreed to the job that I had my first of many conversations with the Almighty about this decision. It went like this, “Lord, I’ve done this thing. Please help it not be the wrong decision.” In other words, I went ahead of Him and now wanted Him to fix my mess.
And God was with me throughout the two years of my term. He was there when I cried myself to sleep. He was there when I had parents screaming at me over the phone. And He was there when people who I thought were friends turned their backs on me. But He didn’t take away the consequences of my decision.
Thank God that most of the time when I’ve failed to let God lead my life it hasn’t resulted in some horrible final outcome. He has picked me up and dusted me off. And after too many times of being on that same wheel I’ve decided to take a different path. To trust that God is the Great I Am. The One who has the best laid plans. Who can make my path much more smooth if I just consult Him first. If I release my need to be the most knowledgeable, not just about my life but other’s.
I praise God today, on this final 30th day, for being I Am. For being the Lord Almighty. The God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
If you’ve ever seen the Jim Carrey movie Bruce Almighty you’ll see a man who takes this idea of control to the extreme. He wants to be in charge of his life and no one knows better than him. So God sort of turns over His powers to him. And what a mess he makes of it. At first he thinks answering prayers is so cool and then when he becomes inundated with millions of prayers he just gives everyone what they ask. And as we know, God doesn’t give us all we ask. He gives us what we need. The movie is hilarious to be sure but it speaks to our innate need to be in control. To take over the job of I Am.
We can shake our heads at characters like Saul who stop seeking God’s direction and make every mistake possible. But how many of us today will do the same? How many of us yesterday forgot to place God at the top of our consultant list and instead called our friends or family for advice? And then probably did what we originally wanted to do anyway?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”Isaiah 55:8
Friends, God is God and we are not, thankfully. His thoughts and ways are so much better than ours. If we truly believe this and accept Him as our creator, as an active participant in our lives, then we need to seek His plans for us. Let’s all start right now by thanking Him for being the Great I Am.
…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.Philippians 2:13
How glorious would it have been to live when Jesus was physically here on Earth? To sit at the Sermon on the Mount and hear His words directly from His mouth? To be in a busy marketplace and bump into Him – turning to see directly into His face? Isn’t it amazing how He spent so little time here with us yet the impact has been so astounding that even our days are marked by when He arrived? And when He ascended, the gift He left behind is something for which we can never be thankful enough.
“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.John 14: 15-17
When you study the Bible you see how Jesus and the Holy Spirit touched lives even before the time we say God became fully human. Their presence is woven throughout the Old Testament. So it’s not as though they were created suddenly. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all spoke the world into creation and have placed their holy hands on our lives throughout history.
So, today specifically I praise God for the gift of the Holy Spirit and for being our constant intercessor, our inner voice, our God whisperer.
It is the Holy Spirit that helps us to pray when we don’t know what to pray – because the situation has gotten so dire. It is the Holy Spirit who whispers to us to get up and do God’s work. It is the Holy Spirit who partners with us when we need rescue.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.Romans 8:26
I shared with my BSGs in the past that when I’m really stressed or worried I have a difficult time praying. My mind is so jumbled and full of negative thoughts I can’t seem to quiet it down. One of my BSGs responded saying, “I’ve just cried out, “help me!” when I don’t know what to say.” That’s great advice. It says it right there in Romans 8. The Holy Spirit will help us pray. Will give us the words to speak to God.
Friends, God is so beautiful and loving that He didn’t leave us orphans. He didn’t leave us grieving because He left us with a piece of Him inside of each of us. I once heard a Christian teacher say that we don’t need to attain patience, kindness, love, etc. We already have all those imputed through the Holy Spirit that lives in us because we believe. We just need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us release those gifts. To help us pray the words to fight back against the devil. To whisper to us “love this person right now.”
We need to believe that God has given us the access to this awesome power. And once we do that, we should pray to unleash it with all its glorious might.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9
Have you ever been in a difficult situation where you don’t want to be the one responsible for making the decision? Somehow throughout my life when the hard discussions need to take place or the difficult decisions are required all eyes turn toward me.
I didn’t really realize what was happening until I was in college. It started when everywhere I went people assumed I worked there. Random people would come up asking me where to find x, y or z. It got so strange that one time I was in the college library with a friend and we were near the reference desk (not behind it). I told her, “Just wait, it’ll happen.” And it did. I had multiple people pass over my friend and turn to me asking for assistance. If I ignored their questioning looks, I would then get a throat clearing or, “excuse me!” It got so odd that I usually just tried to answer their question as best I could. And when I started working in my career, even as one of the youngest members of a team, I found myself being the “source” for solutions.
I remember telling my husband one time after a long day that I didn’t want to make any more decisions for a week. I was exhausted from solving everyone else’s problems! But of course, along came my children.
Our children look to us to answer every question, solve every problem. Even as teenagers, when they act like we are the most inane people alive, they still seem to rely on us for getting them out of trouble. Don’t we all though, want someone to be able to turn to for solutions to life’s messes? So many of us work hard at trying, like a toddler, to “do it ourselves!” But in reality, off-loading those burdens would be a welcome relief!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Today I praise God for having solutions that I can never imagine on my own. And I thank Him for almost begging me to place my burdens at His feet so He can show me a better way to live. We don’t have to “go it alone” or fix it all ourselves. When we trust in Him and are patient (ugh!) He will show us something new.
I had a conversation with someone about a month ago about creative solutions. I told him he needed to seek counseling – if not directly from God then from a trained human counselor. He was struggling to find solutions for his struggling marriage. But he said, “I know what needs to be fixed but she doesn’t want to listen.” My response? We can only know the solutions our flesh-led brains have devised. Someone outside us, like God, can see things from a bigger perspective. A path we may never have dreamed of could be waiting for us, if we just ask. If we just lay it at His feet.
Praise God that He is the one I now turn to for advice, problem solving, and Mr. Fixit. It truly is exciting to see how His solutions are magnificently incalculable.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
The day I sat on the edge of my bed whining to God about my miserable life – the lack of peace and joy – He spoke quite clearly to me. “What have you really done (to be close to me?),” He said. I got down on my knees and wept. I prayed for Him to show me the steps to take to draw nearer to Him. The next day He tasked me to go to the bookstore and get a devotional. So, I stood in front of the hundreds of books and prayed, “Show me.”
The book the Holy Spirit placed in my hands that day was called, “Power Thoughts” by Joyce Meyer. I try my best not to question God. He knew exactly where my problem lay – my mind.
“I am content and emotionally stable.”
“I purse peace with God, myself and others.”
“I live in the present and enjoy each moment.”
“I am disciplined and self-controlled.”
“I put God first in my life.”
These are just a few of the “power thoughts” I read over the course of the devotional that year. My God-centered counseling session began each morning to help me battle the overwhelmingly negative thoughts I had so solidly built. My stronghold was not fear of man, in fact my propensity was to be ready to fight each day I left my house. My stronghold was not fear of serving in His name. I did that willingly and often. My stronghold, my addiction you might say, was self-hatred and self-doubt. My husband once called me the “Queen of the Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.”
I’ve frequently been told I don’t come off that way. But I’ve come to realize there’s a difference between what a truly confident woman in Christ looks like and one that blusters her way through life.
Allowing Jesus and the Holy Word to become my wise counselor isn’t easy. It’s painful sitting in “the chair” having someone show you your weaknesses. And I have many. But the beauty of our Lord’s Word contains something that no one else can provide – a deep and lasting love behind every nudge, every reveal, every chastisement.
That’s not to say human counselors don’t have a place in our lives. God uses many ways and messengers to guide us toward righteousness. A poll released in May 2004 found that an estimated 59 million people had received mental health treatment in the two years prior, and that 80 percent of them found it effective. But for the Christian we should seek guidance that has our faith in mind. What is the point of a, say, marriage counselor who does not view or support marriage from God’s point of view? When we seek out counseling for our weaknesses, past hurts, we should be reminded of God’s overwhelming love and forgiveness.
This is why I love the counseling session at the well.
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:15-18
Jesus speaks to the woman about truth. Truth without condemnation. Just the naked truth. He goes on to share with her the truth about forgiveness of sins and salvation. She had lived her life in sin and shame. And kept doing the same thing over and over. That’s what shame does. It envelopes us to twist our minds into feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, self-destruction.
Throughout Jesus’ three-year walk we see Him love and heal the sick, bring people into God’s service, comfort those in fear, teach so many about the ways of God. And woven amongst the stories of His life are the counseling moments like the one at the well. Moments where He uses all His God-given knowledge and skills to bring someone to a “truth” reveal.
Isn’t that what we seek when we ask a friend for advice about a problem? Or go to a professional counselor concerning a life issue? How can I fix this? How can I fix me? Unlike a teaching situation, where a topic outside ourselves is learned, seeking a wise counselor aims to reach into ourselves to find the “why?”
So often when our own friends or family express concerns about their life we know the “why” but are afraid of the damage the truth might do to our relationship so we stay silent. That’s the challenge of being a wise counselor. The culmination of all the Jesus traits.
I believe the stories of Jesus’ counseling moments are included in the Bible not just for us to see ourselves being counseled like the woman at the well. They are included so we can also learn to help others. Others who are hurting. Others who are living in sin. Others who don’t know about the gift of forgiveness of self.
We need to take an inventory of how our individual lives, our fruit, our behavior are affecting the people we come in contact with. The world is in such a desperate situation. Get yourself off your mind and see how you can bless someone else today.
Join me this week, as we complete our series on The Jesus Mindset, in a deep dive into the methods of a wise counselor and how we might touch those around us, helping them to take a few bricks down from their strongholds.
But one thing I do: Forgetting
what is behind and straining
toward what is ahead, I press
on toward the goal to win the
prize for which God has called
me heavenward in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:13-14
A prayer to live without regret
Holy God, it’s been many years since I accepted your gift of salvation, which along with that gift came forgiveness. And yet, so often I am unable to forgive myself. My heart still twinges when I think of the times I lived in sin. And once saved, I look back at the years I realize I wasn’t fully committed to obeying your Word. I’ve wasted enough time, however, not accepting your grace. I am learning how much you love me, LORD. And with that, I’m working to accept that I am a new person because of your son Jesus. The old me can’t take up any more precious time when you are filling up my heart with overwhelming love. I admit I sometimes need stern admonishment from you to keep me on track. But at other times please send me a gentle kiss or unexpected hug to remind to live in today, not the regrets of the past. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
I don’t know about you but I’ve done some very non-Christian things in my life. I spent about five years of my younger life seeking inappropriate relationships with men. I thought that if I turned over my precious gift of intimacy that I would find love. We can watch endless movies, read countless novels, and dispense wisdom about how fruitless this path is and yet never seem to apply it to our own lives.
The first time I said a desperate prayer was when, at 19, I thought I was pregnant. I begged God to save me from myself. And He did. I don’t really know why since I know others were not. I bargained with God to do His part and I would stop such reckless behavior. And I did not. I wasn’t a Christian at the time – although I believed in God. So maybe He was giving me a few allowances. I won’t know until the day of my eternity when I can ask Him.
Fast forward a few years and I was a young mother with two kids. I was a Christian by then. And yet I continued, time after time, to disobey God. Boy did that lead to a lot of unnecessary hardship. Of these two situations it’s actually this second that I tend to regret the most. Because I truly knew better. I think of all the wasted hours of tears and painful relationships I could have avoided. I think of the times I could’ve been a better mother and wife and friend had I just surrendered myself completely to God.
If we confess our sins, he
is faithful and just and will
forgive us our sins and purify
us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
I realize that by holding on to my forgiven past it’s like a log tied around one ankle. It hinders me to fully grab onto the joy of today and promises of God. It’s not that we need to forget our past. We can learn a lot from our choices and their consequences. But when we accept Jesus as our savior we must accept that we are now changed in our spirit. Sometimes we just need to remind our heart and mind of that change.
Friend, I don’t know what sinful choices you may have made in your past, but Jesus came so we don’t need to live an entire life of repentance for our past regretful choices. We need to turn those sins over to God only once. And turn our faces toward today.
There’s a lot from my past that I’m still working on fully releasing to God. He has already forgiven me for them. I just need to let go of the string and allow them to float into the heavens. With His gentle reminders of His love for us we can be free.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
My dear brothers and sisters,
take note of this: Everyone
should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to
become angry.James 1:19
A prayer to speak only when needed
LORD, I would like to make this brief but I seem to have an issue with words. They flow freely from my mouth without filters. At times I gasp at myself for the words that exit me. James is so right when he shows me that my mouth is like the rudder for my ship. And I want to be on the right course with you, God. Sometimes I need the entire trinity to help me grab hold of my rudder. But I know with practice, your grace and the urging of the Holy Spirit I can and will be the quiet captain of my ship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
At my first professional job after graduating from college, I found myself in a new position in which the company heads wanted me to help get the entire company on a new course. I was only 23 years old and immature in many ways. The job entailed me meeting with the directors of each division of the company and educating them and guiding them through this new direction. One particular gentleman was one of those types that doesn’t say much in meetings. He needed to ruminate a while – go take a walk and a “secret” smoke – and then give his input. He made me very uncomfortable.
After I would bring up a topic and give my input we would sit in silence. That is, until I couldn’t bear it anymore and then I would start babbling. And the more I babbled the deeper, as they say, into the weeds I would get.
Avoid godless chatter, because
those who indulge in it will
become more and more ungodly.
2 Timothy 2:16
When we feel the need to fill empty spaces with words we can find ourselves making promises we can’t meet, contradicting ourselves, confusing the issue, giving bad advice, or revealing more than we should. I found myself doing all of these things in those meetings until one day a friend gave me the good advice to stop talking and let the man catch up.
You would think that lesson alone would’ve trained me in the art of being ok with silence but it hasn’t. Just the other day I had to apologize to someone for interrupting her while she was sharing a difficult issue. One of my walking buddies, with whom I have a very trusting relationship, has taken to saying, “That isn’t helpful for me right now,” when I am talking at her too much.
The root of this babbling seems to stem from a need to make sure people know my opinion. So many of us want to make sure we are “heard.” When in actuality God places more importance on the kindness of listening.
I am getting better at this thing called silence. My prayer life now includes the request of God to help me keep my mouth shut when I need to and speak only when I need to. I have a feeling I’ll have that as part of my prayers for a long time. Until I get it right, my ship will tack back and forth a bit until I can get it to smooth sailing.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!