Wisdom

Wisdom shouts in the streets.  She cries out in the public square.  She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate:  How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded?  How long will you mockers relish your mocking?  How long will you fools hate knowledge?  Come and listen to my counsel.  I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.
This passage of Proverbs (1:20-23) has always drawn my interest. Wisdom here is personified as a wise woman who does not direct her listeners away from relationships, but puts them in the heart of community. The NIV puts it this way: “As a young man confronts life in its social context; two voices lure him, appeal for his allegiance, and seek to shape his life: (1) the voice of wisdom (as exemplified in the teacher’s of wisdom) and (2) the voice of folly (as exemplified in the sinners of v10-14 & in the adulteress of 5:3, 6:24, 7:5).  Thus in the midst of life the youth must learn to exercise discretion. Here and in ch 8 & 9 wisdom makes her appeal.  She speaks neither out of heaven (by special revelation, as do the prophets) nor out of the earth (through voices from the dead….), but out of the center of the life of the city, where man’s communal experience of the creation order (established by God’s wisdom 8:22-31) is concentrated.  And it is there also that the godly, the truly wise, test human experience in the crucible of faith and afterward give divine wisdom a human voice in their wise instructions – as in Proverbs.” NIV notes
Listening and observing this past election and the past 14 days that the 45th President has been in office I am reminded of this passage.  We are not meant to run from the city gates, our communities, our relationships but we are to engage but not just any way you and I feel.  Paul Tripp says this about wisdom:
“You can’t buy wisdom. You can’t get it by hard work or lots of experience. No, wisdom is  the result of rescue and relationship. To be wise, you first need to be rescued from you. You need to be given a new heart, one that is needy, humble, seeking, and ready to get from above what you can’t find on earth.  And then you need to be brought into a relationship with the One who is wisdom.  Colossians 2:3 says of Jesus, “in (him) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Think of this: grace has connected you to the One who is wisdom.  Grace has caused wisdom to live inside you.  This means that wisdom is always available to you.”
When Christians, you and I are arguing with each other on social media,  at school, at work, and in front of our children, we are forgetting the wisdom that lives inside us. We are drawn into being simple the Bible says. It means we are open to evil, unrighteous anger, and we behave in a way that others who differ are beneath us, and we become self-confident and fools – sin reduces you and I to fools. We forget we have been rescued. We forget that through grace we are in a relationship where Christ has poured out His spirit and He has made His words known to us and in us. Wisdom directs us; redirects us, protects, and matures us. You and I need to reflect on what is being revealed about our hearts in these occasions of divisions in our culture.   We don’t have to  air our opinions, or respond to every comment against our opinion, and we don’t have to become simple, scoffing, fools to wisely engage in our cities, communities and social media realms. We don’t need to be reactionarily, and emotionally swayed by media, masses, and marches of voices.  Dear Children of the Living God, may I gently remind you and I that we have wisdom and are called to demonstrate to our children and those who do not know the love and wisdom of Jesus that wisdom that is first and foremost from God, so that ALL may come to experience the rescue and relationship of the One who is all wisdom and knowledge.  His presence should be reflected in each of us as we live out our days in thought, word and deed, in communities with others both, Non-believers and Believers.  We can demonstrate that wisdom as we wisely  choose to not engage or to engage with others demonstrating the new hearts we have been given with  grace and truth as Christ modeled not like the world models.  As Paul says:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”Rom 12:2
How have you modeled Christ this week to those around you? And on social media?
Where have you been angry?  Who have you been angry towards and how did you respond?
Do your words reveal a willingness to serve others, or do they reflect an entitled attitude to be served, to be right, to win?
What thoughts, words, actions that you spoke in the past week do you need to confess and ask forgiveness for?  Be specific.

Grace

img_8015Through Jesus, who was both fully God and fully human, we can know what God is like and enjoy a relationship with him. Jesus Christ came to bring us God’s unfailing love and forgiveness and to reveal God’s faithfulness to us. God’s forgiving grace says, “I forgive you for your wrongs; I love and accept you freely for the person you are.” His faithfulness says, “I will follow through on all I have promised.”LRB

It is in the thousand everyday moments where you and I receive grace upon grace, one blessing after another. It is in the mundane of doing everyday life where in each moment whether alone or with others around, you and I choose to allow the work of Christ in us to reveal and form our character, who we love; who we serve, worship and praise. Today if you believe in Christ, you are loved and accepted, you are forgiven, you are under His faithfulness. You and I have everything we need (2 Pet. 1:3-11) to live in and through God’s grace…moment by moment…grace upon grace. Think on it!

What keeps you from following Jesus?

 

Peace

devo-ig-peace-ball
It makes no sense to take the name of Christian and not cling to Christ.  Jesus Christ is not some magic charm to wear like a piece of jewelry we think will give us good luck.  He is the Lord.  His name is to be written on our hearts in such a powerful way that it creates in us a profound experience of His peace and a heart that is filled with His praise.
William Wilberforce
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I like this definition of peace from Vocabulary.com:  “Peace is a stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there’s no fighting or war, everything coexisting in perfect harmony and freedom.”  Do you feel peaceful and calm? Are you free of anxiety, and stress? Do your thoughts take you to meddling in other people’s affairs, gossiping, comparing and sizing up what co-workers, other students, your spouse, or friends do or not do? When you and I begin to look around us it can be extremely destructive to our process and peace from God.  When you and I are bothered by and meddle with others we trouble our trouble, breeding discouragement and maybe even hostility back onto us, but we also lose the ability to take our own inventory of our hearts.  In 2 Thessalonians Paul encourages them to stop gossiping, to work, and to live in the power of God, so that the work of Christ in them might demonstrate a life lived by faith in peace in relationship with God, and with others.  He points them back to who’s peace it is – the Lord’s, who is peace himself (Is.9:6 the Prince of Peace), and because Jesus lives in us to those who believe then He is with us at ALL times and that means you and I have the grace to access that peace every moment of every day. His very presence not only offers us a “stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there’s no fighting or war, everything coexisting in perfect harmony and freedom”, but by His very presence demonstrates where our hearts are not at peace and living in His power.  But He doesn’t just leave us in our angst and restless state but offers His refining grace, calling us to repent in those specific areas where you and I are restless, stressed and not experiencing the abundant life (Jn 10:10) Jesus died for and offers to us.
 Let me encourage you with Paul’s same reminder and blessing to the church of Thessalonica:
 “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2Thess3:16
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Think About It:
What does peace look like to you?
Where is the evidence of peace or lack of peace in your life?
Do you believe He is who He says He is: the Prince of Peace?
Where are you experiencing stress, turmoil, friction, unrest?
In light of Christ’s and His presence and peace, where do you need to repent of using your own means, and where do you need to claim Christ’s power, presence and peace in your life?
What would it look like to lay your stress, turmoil, unrest down at the cross?  What would be revealed behind your anxiousness?

Believe

Above Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan is the word, “Believe“. Believe what? Anyone who has ever watched the parade knows they are asking to believe in Santa, but as I watched men and women coming out of the store and onto the streets with bags that had that same word and beautiful red and white packages tied with ribbon that said, Believe, it made me think of all those around me: “what do you believe in?”, and “what do you believe about God?”.

 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones of dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven making peace by the blood of his cross.” Col 1:15-20

 

In the 1994 movie, Miracle on 34th Street, the little girl goes up to the judge and hands him a Christmas card with a $1.00 bill in it.  As he looks at the bill he sees the words, “In God we trust”, and declares,  “if the us government can trust in an invisible God then this court can trust in the spirit of Santa in the man, Kris Kringle: case dismissed.”  Happy ending; Christmas is saved at least from the material standpoint!  But think about it for a minute Christmas is about God giving us himself; Jesus is the image of the invisible God”. Jesus, Emmanuel, God the Son, came to live among us, to become one of us, to descend from heaven to live in his creation. Why? Because of his great love for us Jesus came “to reconcile to himself all things”, so that you and I might have eternal life. This simple unpretentious baby in a manger would cry, laugh, do chores for his parents, and grow up to walk among us, healing the sick, making the blind see, the dead alive and preaching the good news. He came into the world to save sinners to those who believe in Him by faith, to make the invisible God visible for all eternity. Think about it? How cool is it that we not only have a God who saves us because he loves us, but we have a God with experiential knowledge of what it means to suffer, to grieve, to be tempted, to laugh, to love, to cry, to be hungry, tired, anxious, rejected and everything in between.  And what does He ask; Simply to believe in Him, and acknowledge that you and I are sinful and in need of a Savour, and not any savior but Jesus who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, the creator of all things in heaven and earth, even governments, rulers, and who is before all things and in him holds all things together, and head of the church (his people).  He is the beginning, and first over the dead so he is the first in everything.  And, the fullness of God was pleased to live in Christ and through Christ reconciled everything to himself, making peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. So when you see Macy’s commercials, or shop at their store or see their packages wrapped in ribbon with the word, “Believe”, ask yourself, “What do I believe in?” and “What do I believe about Jesus?” He came for you and I, won’t you believe?

 

Think About It!:

What do you believe about Jesus? How and where did you form your belief or non-belief?

Do you believe God will give you the strength you need to face whatever he has ordained for you to face?

Do you believe that God is actively committed to meeting every one of your true needs?

How does the description of Christ from Colossians strengthen your belief in Him?

 

 

Black Friday

Today is Black Friday in America. As you go about shopping and purchasing those door buster goods putting stores’ accounts in the “black” (positive), I am reminded of one who put our accounts in the black, who accredited to us His righteousness those many years ago! He paid a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.

“It is a story of astounding mercy granted to rebels, of amazing grace bestowed upon fools….Grace works to rescue you from you by progressively breaking your bondage to the created world and turning the deepest affection of your heart toward God, God alone is worthy of your worship. God alone is able to satisfy and bring peace to your heart.” – P Tripp

The grace of Christ is their waiting for you and not just on Black Friday, it’s not a door buster, early bird special, deep discount; no it is available 24/7, 365 days a year, as long as you have breadth, it is there offered to you. He offers you life, peace, love, grace and truth through His Son’s death and resurrection. Jesus loves you _____ (name) enough to die for you. There is nothing you or I can do to put our accounts to God in the “black”. Jesus is our payment. Jesus is the gift you can not live without because Jesus is the only gift that gives you life. Think about it! 🙏🏼

  • What did you buy today that you had to have? Do you feel peace or are you on to the next new thing?
  • Did the purchase last year you had to have bring you contentment or have you already disposed, forgotten or broke it?
  • What keeps you from following Jesus?