Posts Tagged advice

Pride, Advice and Wisdom

Proverb 13: 10               NIV

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Among the unpopular topics of the day, this must be one. We have become a proud, arrogant people who value our own opinions above all others and rarely will lower ourselves to receive advice from anyone, even God. We don’t inquire of the Lord because we are smart enough ourselves. Hasn’t God given us wisdom? He has given us brains for a reason, right?

I have observed us become smarter than our doctors, smarter than our lawyers and smarter than our pastors. While no one is perfect and no one except the Spirit has all the answers, surely some people know better than we on some subjects. We have become so prideful that we do not wish to hear advice or even teaching. Learning should be a lifelong process. I heard it said one time that as soon as you stop learning, you die. The point is not that you die physically but rather the person within you begins to decay. How shall we continue to learn when we are unwilling to bow to the expertise of another? Even though the Bible is packed with the wisdom of God, Christians don’t value it very highly. We certainly are not clawing for wisdom. We worship the Bible itself but not the content.

We don’t want to be told what to do, we don’t want to be under the authority of another. To listen to the counsel of another is to raise them above us, and that we will not have. I think, “God, save me from myself,” but perhaps what I should pray is, “Father, save me from my pride.” How do we change this tendency in ourselves, much less in our culture? If we do not humbly seek our God, then how will we be able to receive the wisdom He gives others for us? We talk often about our cultural woes and bemoan how our nations are becoming less godly, but I think people have other things in mind when they decry the current state of the culture. This issue, though, is more dangerous to the fabric of our culture than some of the things people would cite. We need to understand which issues are merely symptoms and which are causes. Pride would seem to be a root cause. In fact, I believe it is embodied in the Ten Commandments in which God told us to have no gods, no idols before Him. Our arrogance lifts us up above God which is the original sin. Satan thought he was as smart as God and his insolence shook heaven. God cast him and all of his cronies out because of his insolence. Then man was silly enough to listen to the devil and elevate himself to godlike status. That is what caused man to eat of the forbidden tree.

Pride certainly does breed quarrels. It won’t allow us to listen to anyone’s thoughts so each person vies for the floor which causes friction. Wisdom awaits those who enable themselves to receive instruction. The question, though, is how to we train our egos to allow advice? What is needful? Perhaps we should throw ourselves at the feet of Christ and ask his advice?

Wisdom is for those who take advice. Therefore, seek wisdom. Inquire of God but also allow yourself to be led by those who have gone before you. If you don’t have anyone who knows more than you, you need some new friends. There is guidance available for those who will humble themselves. I pray that we all can learn this valuable life lesson.  Please think about, or even meditate on, today’s verse and email us with your thoughts.  What can we do to right this ship?  Thank you.

TV Bomb

Joshua 1: 8

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Joshua was about to take over the leadership of the nation of Israel from Moses. How would you like to follow in those footsteps? Yahweh God went to Joshua. This is the advice the Father gave him. If you were about to take over the leadership of an entire nation of people, the nation of God’s people, wouldn’t you expect the advice God gives will be the most critical piece of advice available. Perspective on the situation Joshua found himself in when God gave him this instruction gives great insight into its importance.

Should we expect God’s guidance to us to be any different? Of all the things God could tell us, this is the one bit of wisdom He chooses for us. Keep this Word in your mouth; meditate on it day and night. Well, one would easily conclude that to keep the Word on our lips constantly, we will have to read it and meditate on it continually. How else will we know enough of it? We have major impediments in modern life, though. Joshua didn’t have television or the internet. He didn’t have a video console or an electronic tablet. He didn’t run his kids to soccer practice or any of the many other distractions we have.

We are busy people, over busy really. Somehow we have to learn to control the chaos so that we do as Mary, Martha’s sister did, put first things first. If we don’t have time for prayer, mediation and time in the Word, then we are too busy. Most of us, I find, have time for TV and few of us miss many meals. If I had a red button that, when pressed, would blow up every television, I bet many of us would find more time for contemplation and our Bibles. There are just too many things demanding our attention and who doesn’t enjoy sitting in front of the TV to relax? Perhaps we could have our time with our beloved and then turn on the TV. I know that I am much more productive if I don’t turn it on. Once on, it is hard to pick up my book and read or to pray.

God gave Joshua the secret to success and prosperity. In truth, He has revealed this key to us as well. What do we have to do in order to find the time necessary to engage this all important principle? Each of us must decide for ourselves but I would suggest we each have that button which will disable the television, at least for a while. Push the button. Go ahead. You will find some time you didn’t have before. Here’s to your success and prosperity.

Wise Counsel

James 3: 17

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Learning to hear and recognize the voice of God is a skill and like all skills, it can be learned. One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “How do I know that I hear is God speaking?” That is a good question. Brother James gives us a good response today. If what you hear in your head (or heart) contradicts any of the godly characteristics he lists above, then it is not God. When you ask God for advice and/or wisdom, He will always answer with pure, peaceable, reasonable, merciful, unwavering, non-hypocritical answers which are full of good fruit. One caveat, however. What God tells us does not always sound reasonable to our human minds but when you look at it through the eyes of the Spirit, you will see the reasons for it.

You can extrapolate a bit further with this advice from James. What if you have asked another person for advice or wisdom? Run whatever they say through this machine. If it does not pass the test of James 3: 17, then it is not “wisdom from above.”

Okay, now take it even one step further. What if a person runs a business in which its guiding principles are not as enumerated above? It does not mean the owner is not a Christian but it does mean that God’s wisdom is not being employed in that business. We are all on a learning curve so don’t judge the owner. They, perhaps, have just not learned how to run a business in partnership with God yet. However, you should ask yourself if it is a business you are comfortable aligning yourself with. And, if you really want to hear something radical, watch all of the businesses you deal with. You may actually find a non-Christian who employs more of God’s wisdom than the Christian.

James told us that we are to ask God for wisdom and that the Lord gives it freely (1: 5). Now you know how to check it to determine if it really is wisdom from above.

Good Advice

Psalm 37: 7 – 9

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.

The most difficult thing about Psalm 37 is choosing a passage to write on because the whole psalm is so good. The idea which occurred to me as I read this psalm was about receiving advice and from whom we choose to take advice. This psalm was written by David, who is one of my personal heroes. He learned how to live in a daily relationship with the Lord and I guess his trust in God was unparalleled until the time of Jesus.

David began as a humble shepherd boy but that boy defeated a real giant because he knew the Lord and the power of His might. He was chosen by God through the prophet to be the king of Israel, he was a faithful servant to Saul, and even when Saul persecuted him and chased him across the desert, David never took advantage of a situation to harm Saul but instead remained loyal. His rule is considered the golden age of Israel. The nation prospered under him and throughout it all, he remained devoted to his God. He knew what it was to be persecuted and hunted but he also learned how to hide in the shelter of the Father’s love. Of all of the Old Testament people, no one shows us the Holy Spirit to any degree other than David. He was truly a man after God’s own heart and I believe I can learn a lot from him.

Therefore, when I read these impassioned passages from David I find my spirit energized and I am inspired. When David tells us to wait upon the Lord without become envious of the prosperity gained by unholy, even wicked people who use ungodly means of acquiring wealth, I feel I can trust this advice. David is not speaking from the point of view of a philosopher. He teaches us from his experience with God. How many people can give us such first hand experiential knowledge and wisdom?
Look at what David says about anger and wrath? Don’t you suppose he wrote that sentence from his experience as well? Wrath and anger will only lead us down roads we do not wish to travel. The way of peace is what the Father has chosen and provided for us.

I did not mean for this to be a piece on David. I liked the message the passage conveyed. However, the messenger can add weight and credibility to the message through their life experiences. When God describes someone as a man after His own heart, then I dare say that is a pretty good referral. David’s relationship with God is an example we all can learn from. Additionally, I think that when David shares his wisdom and advice with us, it is advice we can trust. We too show wisdom when we hearken to David’s words. I think if you will spend time in David’s life and words, your own relationship and trust with the Father will be increased.

 Why the Golden Rule?

Matthew 7: 12

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

God spent the entire Old Testament pointing out the way we should go. He gave us rules which were meant to guide us and keep us from harm. I think of these statements from God as very similar to when we tell a child not to touch the burner on the stove. That instruction is not meant to rob the child of any liberty but rather to protect him. This is what the Law and the Prophets did for us. Those words point out the safe and also lucrative paths.

So, with that background, we reach the question of why we should adhere to the Golden Rule. Another way we have heard the Golden Rule stated is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat people the way you want to be treated. Well, why? The answer is because it is in your best interest. When we truly understand that the Kingdom of God operates according to the principle of sowing and reaping then so many of the Bible’s admonitions make sense. Father God gives us specific directions because He knows what the outcome will be for us. As you have undoubtedly heard many pastors teach, forgiveness of someone is not for their sake but for your own.

God has marked out the path. He has advised us of actions specifically to do, as above and acts to intentionally avoid, such as judging others. His motivation in giving these guidelines is the same for each. He is attempting to bring us into a good place. He has demarcation lines which, if followed, will lead us to the land flowing with milk and honey. We fail to follow the correct path sometimes because it looks like a path of rules and restrictions. Nothing could be further from divine reality. In absolute truth, these pathways lead us to greater freedom, victory and success. All the ways of God are filled with His glory and goodness. His aim is to lead you in the way you should go so that you avoid pain and experience success. So, when you read the Bible and see what looks to you like a rule, refocus your eyes and see advice from the wisest of all, advice which will always lead you into abundance and joy. Such is the Golden Rule. Be kind to others. Treat them as you wish they would treat you because God wants to nurture and fertilize your good seed.

Healed by Grace

Psalm 107: 20

He sent His word and healed them.

Query – does this mean supernatural, divine healing? What comes to your mind as you carefully ponder this verse? I believe in the supernatural power of God to touch you such that your healing manifests instantaneously. I have also learned, however, that there is an additional type of healing that our Father provides.

This type of healing is spiritually significant in that it takes prayer and communication with the Father to effectuate it. As you spend this extended time in the presence of the Lord you begin to learn about changes you can make in your life which will speed your healing on its way. Maybe in your quiet time with the Lord the thought floats upon your mind that you need to drink more water. Perhaps there are dietary adjustments Father would like to make with you. If you begin to feel better; if your joints work better from implementing God’s advice, does that make the solution any less spiritual? I think sometimes we want to continue in abusive patterns but expect the healing power of God to flow anyway. Is it possible that we, by our habits, are interfering with the healing power of God which is flowing in our veins? Worse still, do we pray on Sunday, have God start His flow of healing power and then quench it on Monday morning?

Speaking for myself only, I used to skip breakfast Monday morning, get to the office and start drinking coffee, drink coffee all day, rarely drink a glass of water and if I did it was not from a good clean source; then I would have junk for lunch and sit at my desk for 8 – 12 hours straight. Now, why was I surprised that I was physically challenged? My joints felt like they had concrete in them. It took me several minutes to straighten up after sitting or lying down. Was my problem that God’s healing power doesn’t work? Was it because when He sent His Word and healed them, He skipped me. And now that I have made many changes and feel amazingly better, is it because of my brilliance, my effort or is it simple obedience to God’s Word and guidance? Did He in fact heal me or did I?

Believe me, it has been a long journey back from the precipice and I am not done but I am so relieved not to be where I was. There is healing in the Word. God told us to give Him our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice (Romans 12: 2). Surely, He has also provided the means by which we can do so. He also told us that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth (John 14: 13). Now all truth must mean truths even beyond spiritual things, although, I am not sure that our Father would consider your health anything less than a spiritual matter. In fact, when it comes right down to it, is not everything ultimately a spiritual matter? My point is that the Holy Spirit has wisdom from the Father on every single thing in the world. So, the answer you need for your physical health and well-being may be found in prayer, no doubt, but do not be surprised if God gives you practical, earthly things to do.

You were meant to live a long, healthy life. This rubbish about beginning to fall apart at age 40, 50 or whatever arbitrary date people use is just that, rubbish. Moses was climbing mountains at age 120. I can make you this promise, God’s vision for you includes a healthy, well-functioning body. Now, let’s get in line with His Word and His counsel and grow strong in spirit and body.

Reverential Awe

Psalm 25: 12                                   Index Card 4

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

First, let us remind ourselves that the kind of fear written of in this passage is more akin to reverence. It is reverential fear. I personally think of it as awestruck wonder and veneration. For those who revere the Lord, who admire and respect Him, there is a multitude of blessing. Among the myriad blessings is that God will instruct you and lead you. 

Understand, though, that God is not withholding any blessing now. His desire is always to help you to choose wisely and to lead you according to His ways. The only reason He does not do so more often is because of our attitudes. He cannot advise a person who does not turn to Him asking for His advice. We fail to seek Him and to seek His advice.  

Look, you are not going to ask advice of someone you don’t respect and God is not going to force His wisdom down your throat. He wishes to instruct you. He longs to lead you. Turn to him with a reverential attitude seeking wisdom and guidance and you shall receive.

 

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