When I look to the sky…
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.
When I look to the sky…
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.
With all the images coming out of the islands decimated by hurricane Irma, one resounding word keeps popping up in my mind: barns. In just one day, the “fun” was washed away…
We moved off our farm in spring of 2015 and became city-dwellers. My husband’s family farmed that land for around 150 years. You would not believe the old equipment lying around…continually replaced by the new.
Needless to say, it took us more than two months to clear our junk out of the barns! We sold, gave away, and threw away…and still found more and more…stuff.
Though our intention was to downsize…our new house…you guessed it…bigger.
Do we ever learn??
Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”
Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
The Proverbs. Day 3. Chapter 3. It’s packed full of great little nuggets! Several verses have been popularly quoted throughout the millennia, especially the 5th verse…the one about leaning on our own understanding. It always amazes me when we do that since we obviously don’t know everything. But, after all, we are control freaky humans!
Two verses on this day seem to be tossed in the background:
At first glance, the verses are saying to be sure and pay our debts. Don’t be stingy. When we are diligent to pay everything we owe, not only do we show our good character, but we show honor to God in our trusting Him to meet our needs. Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25-35 that worrying is for the birds, “…Are you not of more valuable than they?” Figuratively: He loves us so much more than we tend to believe, so why do we hold onto our finances and not trust God to provide?
Yet, these verses also bring up another underlying thought. Procrastination is an all too common enemy. A definition of procrastination is to put off or to delay. Why do we put off that which we are capable of accomplishing today? Sometimes, we procrastinate out of pure laziness. Most often, we put others off out of our desire to control our situations. We believe our schedule, our money, etc. is more important than anyone else. Both procrastination and laziness are rooted in self-centeredness and pride. Most of us never thought of procrastination as a sin. We excuse ourselves with our good “intent” of giving, but only when it is convenient for us. One of the first companies I worked for had a saying, “Five minutes now will save five hours of cleanup tomorrow.” That concept is not only true in the business world; it is true in our relationships.
Gardening…Lots of hard work!
Do you have unresolved conflict with anyone? Time is not the healer; God is our healer. Ephesians 4:25-27 says to not let the sun go down on our anger, followed by saying not to give the devil a foothold. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Taking that step toward reconciliation doesn’t always mean the other person will respond, but it’s our responsibility to do our part.
We need to take an honest look at ourselves. Are we withholding money, forgiveness, or restoration from anyone? Let’s give where the giving is due, and trust the Lord to take care of the rest.
The hard stuff of discipline, forgiveness, and restoration only lasts for a moment…the rewards last an eternity.
“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” ~Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)
What are you procrastinating today?
**If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles book can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!
Well…another birthday down. It was a good day. Naturally, as with most of my previous birthdays, it rained. Well…more like torrential downpours complete with lightening, thunder, and disintegrated hair! I’m not exactly sure why, but so many of my birthdays came trenched in stormy weather…so much so that it became the running joke in my family. It used to bother me, but eventually I learned to laugh at it and just go with the flow.
I usually don’t care to have any celebrations. Oh, but I’m all about the ice cream!
That’s about as far as I go in enjoying any kind of party. I never really asked or expected one growing up and the few parties I had ended up with unwanted drama. I remember my 13th birthday very well…we wound up in the neighbor’s basement hiding from the tornado that ripped through town!
The day before yesterday, my husband told me he was going to take me to work and we would go out after since I only worked in the morning. While I was at work, he serviced my car, complete with new windshield wipers! Then he said the day was mine…to do with whatever I wanted. Wow. He even took me shopping for clothes…for girly clothes! 😉 Now that’s love!
No, I didn’t hear from all my kids. No, I didn’t even hear from my parents. And, no, my social media didn’t blow up with well wishes (mostly because I hide the date!!).
But, I don’t need all the pomp and stance. I know I am loved by those that matter. I know I am valued by the Lord. He gives me purpose. I am completely content with who God made me to be.
No, life is not perfect. Sometimes it really stinks. But, God gives joy in the middle of the storms.
And yet, the day ended with another of God’s beautiful sunsets…in spite of the rain clouds!
Who could really ask for more?
143 – Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
2 Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
3 For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
6 I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah
7 Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
9 Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
To You I flee.
10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
11 Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!
For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
12 In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Your servant. ~Psalm 143 (NKJV)
Have you followed any of the many “Leadership Guru” forums? Believe it or not, I believe all those forums can be condensed into just three points, the three taught in Proverbs 31. If we get these three points right, every step will fall into place.
Since this is the 31st day of the month…below is an excerpt from the 31st day of the Proverbs devotional I wrote while living in Ukraine. Since this chapter is such a favorite, and the last in the book, it is twice the length as the previous 30 chapters. I guess I just felt wordy on that last day! 😉 Honestly, the 31st chapter is packed full of great little nuggets!
Day 31 ~ Proverbs 31
“The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:” ~Proverbs 31:1
When most people refer to Proverbs 31, the Noble Wife is the usual commentary, describing what is commonly known as The Virtuous Woman. This section of the Proverbs is an interesting study as verses 10-31 are an alphabetic acrostic in Hebrew, comparable to Psalm 119.
The first 9 verses, however, are an isolated oracle written by a mother to her son, with the counsel given by a father listed in chapter 4. History shows the name Lemuel (meaning Devoted to God) to possibly be a name of endearment given to King Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba. Only in more modern times has the identity of the subject been questioned. Unfortunately, seeing as specific names were not given, their true origins may have been lost unto historical nonexistence.
The oracle was written as a prophetic admonition, possibly out of a mother’s desire for her son’s success. Most mothers’ counsel is derived from past experience and a desire for their children to avoid the same mistakes made from their own life. Ironically, the three pieces of advice this mother gave were the very actions that eventually brought King Solomon to his ruin: flippant relationships, self-indulgence, and a slothful attitude toward injustice. Bathsheba would have been well equipped to warn of the consequences of these sins; the very sins of which she and King David, Solomon’s father, were mercifully forgiven and restored. Centuries later, our leaders continue to embellish the same sins. We are still human. Her advice to her son, the King, could most certainly be applied not only to our government leaders of today, but to anyone in a leadership position, especially the family father.
The influential role of the mother has been greatly diminished in modern times. While the role of the father has become known for absenteeism, most people do not realize the correlation to the diminishing role of the mother. With more than a third of American households being raised by a single parent, mostly by the mother, great concern is growing over the moral decline in our society. Our children are raised without the stability of the security in a family unit, resulting in higher poverty, crime, drug usage, and lack of education. The issue is not whether the home is run by a single dad or a single mom, the issue is that neither parent is a constant in the home. Unfortunately, in modern society, most two-parent homes have two-parent incomes. The children are left to raise themselves through babysitters and day-care.
I find the addition of a woman’s instruction in a man’s world to be very comforting. Solomon was attributed the wisest man of all time therefore his mother’s penned words must have been very influential to be included in the ancient scrolls. Never underestimate the hand that rocks the cradle. Most of scripture was written by men and toward men. Yet this passage contains the words of a woman giving instruction to her son, a man, a King. With such high importance placed on one oracle, it is disheartening that her words fall on deaf ears to most of our leaders today. Corruption in high places has been at work since the beginning of mankind.
“What, my son?
And what, son of my womb?
And what, son of my vows?” ~Proverbs 31:2
In older translations, the chapter begins with his mother asking the question, “What?” What are you doing? Are you paying attention? Listen! Since the time-frame is not given as to when in Solomon’s life the oracle was written, it is possible his mother saw in his youth warning signs of potential problems. We all have tendencies toward certain temptations. Some temptations are more common in higher positions or stations in society. This mother wished to get her son’s attention to bring a warning for pitfalls of someone of his status. This mother very wisely was teaching him that the responsibility of a King is not to be taken lightly. In James 3, we are told that teachers will receive a stricter judgment. How much more for a King? In 2nd Peter 2, a description is given of the consequences of false teachers who lead people to destruction. Her desire was for her son to lead responsibly.
“Do not give your strength to women,
Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.” ~Proverbs 31:3
The passage gives three separate pieces of advice for successful leadership; relationship, sobriety, and advocate. The first piece of advice has been ignored by politicians and pastors alike all throughout history. Many a mighty man has fallen from the public eye due to sexual indiscretions. With the introduction of the Internet, pornography is the number one ‘secret’ sin of today’s clergy. The temptation can be overwhelming. Bathsheba knew this first hand. Bathsheba and King David’s indiscretion resulted in two deaths, a divided family, and a lost kingdom. While their hearts were forgiven and restored in relationship with God, the consequences can be felt to this day. We need to be very careful and selective with whom we are in relationship.
“It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
Lest they drink and forget the law,
And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to those who are bitter of heart.
Let him drink and forget his poverty,
And remember his misery no more.” ~Proverbs 31:4-7
The second admonition is in mind altering substances. This piece of advice should be simple common sense. But even in our society today, drunken parties for politicians are the norm. Will a people put trust in a leader who is not clear minded while they are issuing judgments, decrees, and laws? Without morality we have only chaos. Alcoholism and self-medicating are rampant. She points out that those who are perishing or are in anguish drink to forget their troubles, though her urging to give strong drink is not for a King. Her son has a greater responsibility than to be self-focused. A good King, Ruler, or Teacher, a good Parent, is focused on those whom the Lord has put under their care. From the President/King all the way down to the parent in the poorest family, the quality of leadership is destroyed when alcohol or drugs control the mind. Just as a King is responsible for the condition of the Kingdom, Dad and Mom are responsible for the condition of the family.
“Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.” ~Proverbs 31:8-9
The final plea this wise mother instructs her son is simply to do good. I believe she knew from experience within her own family how imperative righteous ruling is. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Do we sit by idly, being more concerned about our own skin, watching those under us get trampled? Do we use our position to aid those less fortunate? Most Kings and leaders throughout history succumbed to the influence of power followed by arrogance. Self-serving leaders support only those who are able to give back to their establishment or campaign. But to the little people, the poor and needy, or the unjustly charged, these leaders are mute and turn a deaf ear. Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first. If we are in a place of position, God honors the humble in heart and giving in spirit.
Whether we are the ruler of a nation, or a stay-at-home mom, leadership comes with great responsibility. Lemuel’s mother very wisely conveyed the three most important aspects of righteous leadership: stay away from physical indulgence, keep a clear head, and use the position to benefit others.
“Learn to do good;
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.”
**If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…this can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, below is an excerpt of the 17th devotional of my book I wrote about in my last post. I love Saint Patrick’s Day! Not just because I am of Irish descent, but because of the heart of the holiday. While most here in America use the holiday to drink whiskey and green beer with the intention of getting plastered, the holiday actually began with a slave from Wales, England, whose parents were from Rome, to bring good deeds and hope to a pagan bound culture. I hope you like today’s devotional…
Day 17 ~ Proverbs 17
“Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1
At least six verses of Proverbs 17 speak directly to the family. King David is my hero! I love reading in 1st and 2nd Samuel the account of David’s life. My spirit is lifted and heightened every time I read David’s Psalms. More than anyone who ever lived, David was attributed as a man after God’s own heart. Yet, because of King David’s own sins (2 Samuel 12:10), the sword never left his house. His was one of the most dysfunctional families in history. His wives were…well, he had way too many cooks in the same kitchen. His children lied, cheated, stole, raped, and murdered…each other! Absalom, his oldest son, conspired to overthrow the kingdom and kill his own father. If Hollywood were to film the actual events of David’s life the movie would be released with an “R” rating or worse! His children grew up in wealth, yet had more drama than a soap-opera!
“A foolish son is a grief to his father,
And bitterness to her who bore him.” ~Proverbs 17:25
Though King David saw his children make horrible decisions, even unto death, he grieved for his children. David recognized in 2nd Samuel 16:5-14 that the calamity he experienced was due to his own sin; calamity prophesied by the Prophet Nathan in chapter 12. The Apostle Paul admonishes fathers in Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Children learn as the example they are given, not the words spoken. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary states: “The fathers are specified as being the fountains of domestic authority. Fathers are more prone to passion in relation to their children then mothers, whose fault is rather over-indulgence.” Fathers, do you project anger or ridicule your children? Then you can’t be upset if they show outbursts of anger. Mothers, do you belittle or lie to or about your children? Then you can’t be upset when they despise you. Do we project indifference to our children? Then we can’t be upset if they show indifference to our beliefs. This is what King David experienced. He was busy elsewhere. He showed his children contradiction. As a result, they rebelled, bringing humiliation and destruction to their own family.
“He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.” ~Proverbs 17:21
The dictionary describes scoffer as; someone who expresses mockery, derision, doubt, or derisive scorn; to jeer. We all occasionally fail. Do you fall into that category? Out of your own insecurity, do you make fun of others in hopes to elevate yourself? When your derogatory jabs are questioned, do you laughingly claim the recipient of your mockery is too sensitive and you were only joking? I don’t believe people realize their own divisiveness. When a family falls into the habit of squabbling, no meal is joyful. Sometimes, the test of Christian love is greater within our own families. Oh to love with the love of 1st Corinthians 13; “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What would happen in our families if we took just one of these attributes? Kindness? Hope? Love?
“Children’s children are the crown of old men,
And the glory of children is their father.” ~Proverbs 17:6
****If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…this can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!