Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
I tend to think that I’m a pretty patient person…for the most part, anyway. Over the years I’ve learned that time doesn’t always do what we want it to or bring what we want it to bring when we want it to be brought. Ha! I don’t know about you, but moments like those can either discourage me and make me question the things in my heart, or worse yet, the promises of God on my life, or they can stir my heart into restlessness.
Lately, I’ve been feeling that old stirring feeling of restlessness creeping up. There’s so much that I want to do, so much that I want to step into, so much that I want to achieve and grow in. My heart leaps at the thought of it, mostly because I know those things are God-dreams. They’re desires that have been placed deep in my heart that I haven’t even fully uncovered or discovered yet. The plans are good, they’re SO good in fact, that sometimes I forget to do the part of committing my plans to God and allowing him to establish the way for me. I had a choice to make this past week between going along with some immediate plans that I’d made (that were good) or holding out a little longer, and going along with some alternate steps that I believe God is establishing for me. I wrestled with this decision. I STRUGGLED with this decision, because in my heart, I had already planned my way. But I had to come to the realization (and thank God for leading me to it) that at the end of the day, his way is better and his timing is better. If I’m building my life around his call on me, then his steps will always be the path better than mine, my route may be good, but his will be better. I may have planned my way, but he establishes my steps.
Father, thank you for your plans and thoughts towards us that are always good. Thank you for establishing our way when we commit our work to you. Help us to remember to commit our work, our hearts, our thoughts and ways to you. Help us to trust that you will establish our plans and show us the way. In Jesus’s name, amen.
S: Proverbs 15:13
A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.
O: When someone experiences joy, peace, comfort, their face will look happy. However, for those with a broken heart, their spirit is crushed. And, they may look and/or act sad, upset, or troubled. I can tell when a face is ‘cheerful”. Can I do so when one has a crushed spirit?
A: It’s good to have a discerning spirit so you can tell when someone has a broken heart or down spirit. So today I will pray for that discerning spirit that way I have the opportunity to love, encourage, and be kind to a brokenhearted person. I pray that the Holy Spirit blesses me with kind and encouraging words to speak.
P: Lord, please bless me with a discerning heart and spirit so I can help encourage those with broken hearts.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. (ESV)
No cattle, no crops; a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow. (MSG)
During this season of my life, I have been repeatedly faced with the challenge of choosing to do what is easy and comfortable or going beyond contentment and working hard towards more meaningful things. The human brain’s default is to seek safety and control and order. But the verse tells us that we will have to tend to the messiness of the oxen in order to reap the fullest harvest. I’m not a farm expert, but I can imagine that it’s not the most pleasant thing in the world to care for cattle. You have to feed them, clean up after them, and they probably don’t smell great. You have to deal with crap (literally) in order to get to the crop. I find myself rationalizing why I shouldn’t take the next step or put forth effort to reach the next level, sometimes without even realizing I’m just looking for a way to make myself most comfortable in the immediate. But because I know I’m inclined to stay in places where I feel like I have the most familiarity and control, I constantly have to look inward and ask myself if I’m just trying to take the easy way out and missing out on opportunities for growth.
Jesus, thank you for not taking the easy way out!! Thank you for wading through the messiness that is ME and believing I was worth it. Holy Spirit, help me to not be complacent with anything less than the full harvest that God has prepared for me. I pray for passion, perseverance, and purposefulness, in Jesus’s name, amen!
“Ignore the Word and suffer; honor God’s commands and grow rich.”
Proverbs 13:13 (MSG)
Whenever I am going to prepare a word that I want to share, I take the time to read through some of the verses I want to use and look at those verses in different translations to get a better understanding. As I read through Proverbs 13, I read many different translations and one word stood out to me and convicted me! Proverbs 13:13 (MSG) says “Ignore the Word and suffer; honor God’s commands and grow rich.”
When I read the word “ignore”, I didn’t think of it as someone giving me a word or God using someone to give me a message and I simply ignore the message that was given to me. I thought of the countless times I should have picked up my Bible and read it. I thought of the countless times that I did something that was wrong and ignored what was the right thing to do (I mean we all kind of know what are the right and wrong things to do). When I think of ignoring the Word, I think of someone saying “I know the right thing to do, but I am going to choose my way.”
How many times have you told God “I know the right thing to do, but I am going to handle it my way”? If I can be quite honest, I am guilty of doing it all the time. And when I do things my way, it doesn’t come out the way I expect it to, and I end up with a big mess on my hands. But when I do it Gods way, WHOA the turnout is such a difference! When I follow God’s command, it says that I will grow rich. When I think of rich I don’t think of money but I think of growing rich in faith and spirit. As I take heed of God’s word and honor what God tells me to do in his word, my faith is strengthened and I grow in a deeper relationship with God.
As you go about your day, make a conscious effort to think about how you are honoring God in what you do, what you don’t do and how you live. Honoring God doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Sometimes honoring God’s command can mean staying quiet (when you want to give someone a piece of your mind) or loving on someone the way Christ loves us, despite the fact that they are working your nerves! Think about it, how can you honor God today?
To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. Proverbs 12:1
In this verse discipline is being associated with correction. We are encouraged to love discipline/correction if we are to learn and grow. Not doing so and despising correction is foolish.
Two words I would never use side by side in a sentence: love and discipline. I wouldn’t even think it possible and here we are called to love discipline?
I normally associate the word “discipline” with some sort of punishment and/or agonizing pain. As a child when my parents disciplined me they DID. NOT. SPARE. THE. ROD! or if If they put me on punishment by grounding me, I felt it was equally dreadful. When I had to train for my first-ever 5K , and had discipline myself to regularly train even when I didn’t want to, I had to push myself to run longer every time, even when I felt that death was imminent. I had to overcome shin splints, runner’s knee, and achy feet in order to reach this goal. Discipline has always involved some sort of pain! Hence my disdain for it. Even the first definition in the dictionary for discipline is “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” Not very love-inspiring. None the less we are encouraged to love discipline if we want to learn and told that it is stupid if we hate correction. Correction. Not punishment. In fact, throughout the bible, discipline is synonymous for correction. It is even written that being disciplined by God is evidence that you are his child (Hebrews 12:) The Lord corrects and disciplines all those he loves (Rev 3:19).
Whenever I have undergone discipline, I focused on the punishment and pain rather than correction and the lesson or growth as a result of it. When I place my attention on the correction, what is being learned or gained, I can experience all discipline in a new way that makes me stronger and smarter. Let’s not get crazy, discipline is never going to be fun – as noted in Hebrews 12:11 ” No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, It’s painful. but afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
God, thank you for your word. Thank you for teaching me the fundamentals of living this life. Thank you for showing me the importance of embracing discipline and correction in my life, for opening my eyes to see your love for us in your correction. Lord, I love my children too much to let them go uncorrected when they do wrong or need grow. How much more do you love us to leave us in a broken and hopeless state? Lord, help me to remember and see the benefits of discipline/correction by focusing on what it yields: a peaceful harvest.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Proverbs 11:14 ESV
This verse hit home for me, especially with the season that I’m currently in. Life is full of transitional phases: some high, some low, some when you’re coasting. It’s clear that this verse is encouraging us to seek people who are wiser than us, who can give us guidance in life. When I read this verse a few times over, in this translation, it says “IN an abundance.” When you’re IN something you’re completely surrounded by it. When you’re in the pool you’re not just sitting on the edge swinging your feet, your whole body is in the water and it’s all around you. God calls us to be in an abundance, an overflow, of wise counsel. Having voices of wisdom help guide decisions in times of need. They give clarity when you might be too caught up in your emotions. In this verse there is no promise of an easy life. Rather there is advice on how to live your life, in all circumstances.
In church we have pastors up who can pray for you, find you the right help you my need and point you in the right direction. However, you also have the ability to immerse yourself in community by joining a connect group where you will constantly be surrounded by people who want to help guide you. They’re there to catch you when you fall in whatever season of life you’re in. They’re there to celebrate your wins also. No matter your season. You’re not meant to do life alone, but with good company.
My prayer today is for God to give me the discernment to seek wise counsel. Help guide me in the direction of people I can trust enough to surround myself with. Thank you for loving me, thank you for caring for me through the details and for bringing/will bring the right people into my life.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers and overwhelms all transgressions..” Proverbs 10:12 (AMP)
“Hate” is a strong word. I mean it when talking about that annoying song on the radio that plays every 15 minutes…on EVERY. SINGLE. STATION. I also mean it in reference to cats and to pineapple on pizza. I mean it when I say I hate abuse and injustice and when talking about sicknesses and diseases. As Christians, though, we know that hating people, or in Biblical terms, our neighbor, is more than just wrong, it’s sinful. We’ve been commanded to love our neighbors and so with the barely tolerable ones in our lives we don’t hate them. We know better. We’re good Christians (let’s all collectively polish our halos). This verse, however, doesn’t stop at saying that hatred stirs up quarrels–it also tells us that “love covers and overwhelms some…”
“…ALL transgressions.” Ouch. This is a tough pill to swallow. Especially when we feel we have reasons to hate; we’re being told in this book of wisdom, that hating does no good, but instead that in loving, all our “reasons” to hate are both covered and overwhelmed. This means throwing out the burn list. It means, keeping short accounts of wrongs. In fact, to “cover” means to put something such as a cloth or lid on top of or in front of (something) in order to protect or conceal it. To “overwhelm” means to bury or drown beneath a huge mass–the huge mass being, in this case is LOVE.
Hard as it is, we have the perfect model of this kind of love in Jesus. While hanging on the cross and being cursed at, mocked, spit on and dying, he asks Father to forgive them for doing what they were doing. Jesus chose to extend forgiveness, to cover us and overwhelm our sin with his perfect love and through that, offer salvation to all of us. We also have the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives leading us on in this love that covers sin. Let’s be relying on him this week as we encounter difficult people or situations. Instead of stirring up hate and strife, let’s choose to cover people AND OURSELVES in love.
Father, thank you for your perfect love. Thank you Jesus that you teach us how to love well and set the example of loving others even through challenges. Holy Spirit, we ask that you work in our hearts and help us to choose love over hate and forgiveness over grudges. In your name, Jesus, amen.