Wise Choices

Wise choices will watch over you.
    Understanding will keep you safe.

—Proverbs 2:11

 

 

While photographing my rose bush this afternoon, I suddenly saw the tiniest little green frog.

Huddled up between the pink petals of a bloom, he had taken shelter.

Surrounded by beauty, he was protected in many ways.

 

Our choices have a definite effect on our lives.

If we make wise choices, we reap the benefits.

If we search for understanding that comes from God, we will avoid many troubles.

The understanding that comes from God will keep us safe from the consequences of poor choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

wise choices

Think On

Finally, brothers and sisters,

whatever is true,

whatever is noble,

whatever is right,

whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable–

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–

think about such things.

—Philippians 4:8

 

Changing the dial on my radio as I was driving home, I came across a broadcast of someone speaking about God. 

Having only a few moments to listen before the program was over, I did not hear his context entirely. 

However, one of his statements stood out to me. 

He said to “spend your time wisely.”

But that wasn’t all of the sentence. He actually said, “Spend your time and your mind wisely.”

I had never heard someone say that I needed to spend my mind wisely. 

I understood the principle of spending my money wisely. 

I understood the concept of spending my time wisely. 

But my mind?

How does one spend their mind?

Could it be that the thoughts I allow to turn over and over and over again in my head are what I am spending my mind on?

I suppose I could see the difference in someone spending an evening thinking only about video games and someone spending an evening thinking and studying for a chemistry test. 

But what if I spent an evening worried about an illness as opposed to spending that same evening in prayer and praise?

Would I be spending my mind wisely by worrying?

What if I spent my thoughts criticizing others?

Being angry?

Bitter?

Jealous?

For those moments, I think it would fair to say I’d be wasting my mind. 

What about the times I spend my mind thinking about God?

Loving others?

Considering what God is showing me?

That would be spending my mind wisely, wouldn’t you say?

think on

 

 

Wisdom

“Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south?”

—Job 39:26

 

My wisdom.

What is that?

A pastor friend once made this statement in our home:

“There is no wisdom apart from that of Christ.”

I have always remembered that statement, because it rings true in my heart.

The hawk I photographed yesterday at the lake was beautiful.

Stately, in fact.

Although he was perched, I knew at any moment he could fly away, far from my view.

Who taught him that?

Who gave him wings that function so perfectly as to lift him high in the air and carry him swiftly on the wind?

I didn’t.

It’s not from any wisdom I have.

It is by God’s wisdom that the hawk exists.

It is by God’s wisdom that he can fly.

Every day I must seek to trust God’s wisdom and not my own.

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wisdom

 

 

Seasons

 

 

 

He changes times and seasons;
    He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    He knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.

 

–Daniel 2:21-22

 

 

As I walked along the wooden deck, I stopped to look at some fallen leaves.

It’s that time of year again when the trees begin to let go of their leaves and prepare for winter.

In doing so, we are blessed with seeing a vast array of autumn colors for several weeks, heralding a time of dormancy and rest for almost every plant and tree.

Spring will come after a period of waiting, bringing with it a new and vibrant growth.

Seasons in our lives are not always defined by aging.

God brings us in and out of various types of seasons.

Seasons of growth.

Seasons of learning.

Seasons when wisdom is given.

There are seasons when we have to let go of some responsibilities in order to take on new ones.

These seasons are defined by God.

With each passing interval, we can say, “This is different–but it’s okay.”

Whether we are at a season in life’s journey where we are a vibrant green leaf attached to a branch or a vibrant red leaf lying on a deck, we are in a particular place at a particular time where we can be used by God.

What season of faith are you in today?

 

seasons

Your Wisdom

Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom

and spread its wings toward the south?

—Job 39:26

This morning as my husband and I were driving on a rural area of highway, I began thinking about how God places people in the lives of others.

I shared a few of my thoughts with him.

God is holding everything together–all life, all the universe.

He sustains all things.

Yet, I truly feel that He knows about us individually in a complete way.

I believe that He orchestrates things to happen, people to meet and opportunities to be in community with each other.

As for my understanding, things don’t just “happen” to us.

God is very personal to us, and at the same time, He has a sovereign plan for all of His creation.

In the book of Job, God asks many questions that lead to the answer that He is in control.

We are not in control, but we can be in fellowship with the One who is.

hawk take

Established With Integrity

Take away the impurities from the silver,
    and a good smith can create something of value;
 Take away the wicked from among the king’s advisors,
    and his reign will be established with integrity.

–Proverbs 25:4-5

While reading this passage in The Voice translation the other night, I began to ponder what the words might mean if I put others in the place of the king.

Others, meaning you or me.

If I were to “take away the wicked from among [my] advisors”, what would be the result?

Kings had formal advisors to converse with about important things.

Not considering my friends to be formal advisors, they are, however, a very real influence.

Now, what about that word, wicked?

I can honestly say I don’t have any wicked friends.

Being curious about it, I looked up some words that mean the same thing:

Wayward.

Degenerate.

Mischievous.

Immoral.

Unethical.

No. My friends don’t fall into this category.

So, what is the result?

My reign will be established in integrity.

Not being a king (or queen),  I don’t have a reign.

I do, nonetheless, have influence.

Influence on my family.

Influence on the people I work with.

Influence on the people I see at church.

Influence on the very friends that I am influenced by.

Applying this scripture to myself, I can come to the conclusion that if I choose only wise and God honoring people to be my advisors/friends, then my own influence will be one of integrity.

And how important is that to me?

Extremely important.

How important is that to you?

integrity

Turn Away

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

Proverbs 3:7

 

 

How quickly should be turn away from evil?

Just how fast should we run from temptation?

If we picture ourselves just walking away, we are still close enough, perhaps, to be ensnared by it.

If we imagine ourselves running away from evil, or even getting on a motorcycle and speeding away from evil, that seems better.

We need to get far, far away from evil, and instead, draw closer to God.

 

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Oh, the Joys

Oh, the joys of those who do not

follow the advice of the wicked,

or stand around with sinners,

or join in with mockers.

—Psalm 1:1

If I am not following the advice of the wicked, then I am probably following the advice from those who aren’t.

If I am not choosing to embrace the lifestyles of  people who are living ungodly lives, then I am probably choosing to embrace the lifestyles of people who are living a godly life.

If I do not join with people who are mocking others, mocking faith or mocking God, I am choosing to distance myself from those who do.

There is joy for those who have a desire to please God and follow His guidance for everyday living.

joys

Let Him Ask of God

If it looks good for you, then it surely IS good for you, right?

Well….not exactly.

Several weeks ago, I was walking along the beach and saw a beautiful sea creature on the sand.

If something is beautiful, then it must be good, right?

Well….not exactly.

I recognized the creature for what it was, having witnessed its dangerous characteristics before.

It was a dead Portuguese Man of War.

A particularly poisonous jelly fish with venom-filled tendrils.

Since it was dead, there was no problem, right?

Well…not exactly.

Years ago at the beach, one of our young sons, being curious and inquisitive, poked a dead Portuguese Man of War that was lying on the sand with his snorkel.

A few moments later, he decided to go out into the water for a swim.

Touching the part of his snorkel that had touched the jelly fish, he was suddenly in desperate pain.

I will probably remember those moments the rest of my life as they taught us both a valuable lesson.

The venom is still potent even AFTER the creature is dead.

True wisdom is wisdom that comes from God.

If we ask for His guidance in life, He will do just that—guide us.

Things will look good, but He will say it’s not for us.

Things will be beautiful, but He will tell us of the potential danger involved.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

—James 1:5

 

wisdom let

Wildly Wonderful

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As I walked into the grocery store to pick up a last minute item, I saw a display of fresh flowers for sale.

Stopping to admire the colorful blooms, I found many varieties producing a delightful visual fanfare.

Everywhere I turn, God’s creations tell of His greatness!

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What a wildly wonderful world, God!
    You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
    made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.

—Psalm 104:24, The Message

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wildly wonderful

Wisdom

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Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom.

Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

—Proverbs 9:10

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Some people don’t fear God.

They may not even believe in Him.

At the end of their lives, no matter what they were known for, will they be considered wise?

And what of those that do have fear and reverence for God, believing in His Son?

They will find at the end of their lives that doing so was the wisest decision they ever made.

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wisdom

I Have Called You

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The sky was getting gray and the wind was picking up.

Hoping for rain, I checked the weather report.

A storm was coming, and there were warnings about its severity.

Once it came, the lightning and thunder lasted for a few hours.

Finally, when I thought it was safe, I took my dog outside for a walk.

She is a 15 year old basset hound.

Long ears.

Big nose.

Stubborn….

Yet, very loving.

We were well into my front yard when lightning flashed.

I had been wrong.

The storm was not over and we were not safe.

Immediately, I began to talk to my dog and tug on her leash, telling her that we had to go in.

This was not what she wanted to hear.

I pulled on the leash and verbally commanded her to come with me into the house.

She was reluctant.

All 65 pounds of her…..

Trying to coerse and encourage as I tugged her leash, we both finally made it into the house and away from the lightning.

Almost immediately I began to think about how we act sometimes with God.

When we are in danger—physically or spiritually, God is aware.

He may tell us to do something in order to get out of that danger.

If we are stubborn and we don’t listen to what He says, we place ourselves at continued risk, even in the midst of God’s direction.

In Proverbs 1:24, Wisdom is speaking:

I have called you so often, but still you won’t come. I have pleaded, but all in vain.”

Are you listening for God’s wisdom to direct you?

Am I?

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called

Let Him Ask God

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Do you remember when you were a child?

You wouldn’t just walk away from your home without telling your family and asking permission.

In fact, you probably wouldn’t have made plans to do anything without talking to your parents first.

Virtually all your childhood plans were subject to the thoughts and guidance of your parents or guardians.

When you became an adult, things changed somewhat.

Being mature, many of your decisions could be made independently.

There was no longer any need to ask your parents about everything.

Still, it was a good thing to seek advice and listen to your parents’ opinions.

Parents are only human and, of course, they may not always know what’s best.

In thinking about this today, I was considering how we, as believers, have God as our Heavenly Father.

Even though we are adults, we are His children.

Unlike our earthly parents, God cannot make a mistake.

His judgment is always right and His guidance is perfect.

Knowing that, why is it that we make plans without asking what He thinks about it?

If we feel that we should seek the advice and opinions of our parents, shouldn’t we also ask the same of our Heavenly Father?

Shouldn’t all our plans be subject to the thoughts and guidance of God?

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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

—James 1:5-6

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lacks wisdom

Those Who Cling

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There is a tree in my front yard that is locally known as a “popcorn tree.”

Each year, the berries on the tree produce white balls that resemble pieces of popcorn.

Right now, the berries are just small brown balls hanging on leafless branches.

The other day, a bird was clinging onto a twig, determined to get to eat a berry.

The tiny branch was bending with its weight, to the point that the bird was upside down.

The bird could’ve chosen not to try for those berries.

Instead, he clung to the twig and got what he was after.

In the last few days, I have been seeking guidance from God about a certain issue.

I know I need God’s wisdom to make decisions concerning this matter.

Proceeding without God’s guidance would not be good.

The writer of Proverbs 3 tells us,

“Wisdom is a tree of life for those who take firm hold of it. Those who cling to it are blessed.”

—Proverbs 3:18

In the days ahead, I know I will need to cling to the wisdom that God grants to me, taking a firm hold.

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wisdom

That Appears To Be Right

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Sometimes, life lessons just show up—like in my kitchen.

Yesterday, I decided to make waffles for breakfast.

If you’re going to have waffles, butter and syrup have to be on the menu, as well.

When the meal was over, I put away the ingredients I had used.

Ready for the day, I left the house and did not return until fairly late at night.

The next morning, I saw that I had left the maple syrup on the stove with the cap on, but not tightened.

Upon closer inspection, I realized it was filled with ants.

Not ten.

Not twenty.

Probably more than a hundred ants.

Maybe two hundred!

A scout ant had found the “gold mine” of the century and had alerted all his co-workers of the his sweet discovery.

Ant after ant had decided to take the trip down the bottle to sample the gooey, brown lusciousness of endless syrup.

Ant after ant became trapped and unable to crawl out of the bottle.

If they had only come upon a small drop or two spilled on a counter, they would not have met with their demise.

If they had only been satisfied with the small residue on the cap of the bottle, they most likely would have survived.

The inside of the bottle looked too good.

It smelled too good.

It tasted so good.

Yet………

it killed them.

Proverbs 14:12 warns us:

There is a way that appears to be right,

 but in the end it leads to death.

Right there, in my kitchen, this verse was illustrated perfectly.

The ants thought going into the bottle of syrup was right.

It wasn’t.

If we are wise, we will ask for God’s leading and guidance before heading into any situation, even if it seems right at first.

God knows what is best for us.

If He tells us to pass on the syrup, then that’s what we had better do.

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seems right

Of Wisdom and the Knowledge

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Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
    teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

—Proverbs 9:9-10

What if I were to take this passage and replace “wise man” and “righteous man” with my name?

Being personalized in that way, how would that speak to you if you inserted your name?

If instruction is given to me, will I be still wiser?

If I am taught, will I increase in learning?

It may seem to be a given, yet there are those who pay no attention to instruction.

There are those who are in the presence of teaching, yet they learn nothing.

I don’t want that to be the case with me.

Knowing God is the most important thing.

At the end of life, is there anyone who could be called wise if they had never acknowledged God?

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insight

Stride Freely

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Sailboats fascinate me.

Something about them catches my interest every single time I see one out on the water.

This time, it was a rather large boat on the ocean.

Drifting along with sails spread out, the wind above the sea carrying them along on a bright and sunny day.

I took several photographs of the boat, capturing its journey in still snippets of time.

Describing the scene would be easy.

Free.

Unhurried.

Sure.

The definition itself draws me in.

Psalm 119:43-48 from The Message reads,

Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever – your commandments are what I depend on.  Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever;  And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom;  Then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed.  I cherish your commandments – oh, how I love them! –  relishing every fragment of your counsel.

What if I didn’t have God’s truth deep within my heart?

What if I didn’t know how He wanted me to act?

What if He had never revealed anything to me?

I would be lost and desperate.

Bound by confusion.

Uncertain.

Thankfully, I am not without God’s truth and direction.

I can “stride freely through wide open spaces” as I grow closer to Him, like a sailing vessel out on the open seas.

As I find more truth and more wisdom on my journey, I am changed—day by day—into the person God wants me to be.

Free.

Unhurried.

Sure…..

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stride

A House is Built

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The web made by the orchard orbweaver spider was nearly perfect when I noticed it.

Row after row of mathematically perfect sections.

A geometry lesson waiting to happen.

A lesson for people, that is.

The spider is not in need of further instruction.

Without any problem at all, he can whip out a marvel of beauty, working steadily and efficiently with intense focus and determination.

Who taught the spider to do this?

God placed the wisdom and intellect needed to create such a masterpiece in the spider’s mind.

People don’t make webs like spiders, but we do many other things.

Consider this scripture:

By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;

—Proverbs 24:3

God gives us the ability to learn.

With our learning, we may construct a physical house.

By gaining understanding, a “household”  or family can be defined by loving care and nurturing.

Who gives us understanding?

How can we know how to build and establish our households?

God gives skill and understanding concerning webs to a spider.

He is certainly willing to give wisdom to His people.

Asking for guidance and instruction from God is always the right choice.

Always.

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wisdom

My Mind Tastes Truth

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The sun was shining so brightly on the flowers in the yard this afternoon.

After looking out the window for a few moments, I decided to get my camera and walk outside for a closer look.

I noticed a butterfly on a lantana bush.

He was a busy guy, and I only took two photos of him.

Looking at those photos more closely on the computer screen, I could clearly see the butterfly’s proboscis inserted into the yellow flower.

It was dinner time!

Or, perhaps, just part of his regular day-long activity, taking in nourishment as he found it.

He would not have found any nourishment in plastic flowers, even if they had graced my patio table with delicate colors.

Nor would he have found it in neatly lined stones on the ground.

What he needed could only come from specific sources.

Sources that God created to do certain functions—like feeding butterflies.

Wisdom and truth come from God.

We can’t find it anywhere else.

Looking for wisdom and truth apart from God is like a butterfly trying to feed off a plastic flower.

Discerning what our eyes see and our ears hear is vitally important.

Are we seeing and hearing truth?

That is a significant question to ask—-

all day long.

From the book of Job, chapter 12:

Just as my mouth can taste good food, so my mind tastes truth when I hear it. –verse 11

But true wisdom and power are God’s. He alone knows what we should do; He understands. —verse 13

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mouth can taste

Listen

 

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It was dusky dark and getting hard to see.

Mosquitoes were coming out to greet the night and it was time to be ending the walk.

A rabbit suddenly scurried out ahead of me.

A hop here.

A hop there.

Wait.

Stand up on two legs.

Listen.

Listen with those big, tall ears.

I have read that rabbits can hear very well.

In fact, they are thought to be able to hear a sound from two miles away.

There’s a lesson for me in all this.

In everything that I do, I need to be wise.

When things come up, I should wisely consider my choices.

My words and my actions.

Even my thoughts.

I don’t have to rush into things.

Just a hop or two might suffice.

I might need to stand up.

But, at all times, I should listen with my ears.

I should listen for wisdom and guidance from God.

 

 

 

Listen to what is wise and try to understand it.

–Proverbs 2:2

 

wise final