Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More to the story...

The other day I read a verse from the Bible and this picture popped into my head. It's from over 5 years ago, but it always brings a lesson to mind.

On first look the picture is cute...2 boys and a puppy are bound to bring a smile, right? My son and nephew were having a wonderful time giving grandpa's new puppy a ride on the swing.

We've heard it said that a picture paints a thousand words and I agree with that statement, but I also know there's almost always more to the story. When a moment is captured in time, we can not possibly know all the details. By simply looking at this picture, you can't tell me where it was taken, who was in it or what was going on. You don't know what led up to the event or what took place afterwards.

You will be quite grateful I don't have a picture for what happened next. You see the verse I read that brought this picture to mind was Proverbs 26:11, which says - "Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly." 

I apologize for the image that may have popped into your head and though I battled with writing about this gross reality of a dog's life, God's led me to share. It's true - this cute little puppy got sick from his ride and did what makes us sick, he returned to his vomit.

Friend, instead of focusing on the nastiness of that picture, let's shift our eyes. Let's take a closer look at the end of this proverb. Solomon informs us that this disgusting picture is no different than a fool returning to his folly. This is wisdom we need to pay attention to!

Now, chances are you don't consider yourself a fool, but I want to encourage you to think for a minute. Do you ever do anything foolish? Do you participate in folly? That's not a very common word, so let's define it quickly: to lack good sense or a foolish act, idea or practice. We can dig a bit deeper and look at it from a biblical perspective. Here we find the meaning: anything contrasting wisdom, to act with self-sufficiency, ignorance, and without thinking.

When we look at it that way, I have to admit I've been a fool. It pains me even more to say - "I've repeated my folly." How about you?

The picture we see as we read the beginning of this Proverb isn't good, but friend the picture God sees when we live out the end of verse 11 is even worse. Thankfully, God is a good, gracious and forgiving Father, but we must remember He is holy and hates sin. Our foolishness separates us from the One who called us to be set apart. 

It's vital that we as believers have our eyes opened to the foolish things we say, do and think. I trust these words will help us do just that...

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7) No matter what folly came to mind, remember God can help you turn from it. Go to Him, humble yourself and ask Him for wisdom. Then once He provides, apply what you learn. 

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26) Self-confidence is not a good thing. When we rely on ourselves and live according to the flesh, bad things happen. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit and help you walk in His ways...He will lead us away from the folly, but we must trust Him!

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly (Proverbs 15:14) What are you looking for? Who are you looking to? In our world today, countless things vy for our attention and promise what we want, but we must stay focused and set our eyes on Christ and allow God to feed us with His Word. It is the living water that will equip us for life. 

Friend, please know these words don't come from one who has this figured out...God always has me write a message I need to read. He's opened my eyes to foolish things I do over and over again. It's truly no different than a dog returning to his vomit. That's a gross picture, but it's a powerful one too. Sometimes we need to look past the surface and beyond the perfection a picture can paint, we need to remember there's more to the story. We're not perfect, but our perfect Lord and Savior can change us from the inside out. 

As you wrestle with this and do the work wisdom requires, please remember Jesus loves us and always welcomes us back just like man does with his 4-legged best friend! 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Knock, Knock

Hello Friends! Thank you for joining me today. A big welcome to those of you stopping by from Encouragement Cafe. It was a joy to share a devotional with you! (Read it HERE.) We were talking about choosing friends wisely and thoughts about friends brought Proverbs 18:24b to mind. Here we read - "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Aren't you thankful that Jesus is that friend? I know I sure am!!

I want to encourage you to pause for a moment and think about your friendship with Jesus. How would you describe it? Are you working on it? Are you investing in the relationship?

If you're taking this exercise seriously those are challenging questions. But that's OK. It can be helpful  to have our eyes opened and beneficial to realize improvements can be made.

There's a verse my pastor taught on back in August that continues to be on mind and I trust could be helpful for you to think about as well. It truly helps our relationship with our BFF!!

Revelation 3:20 says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."

Chances are you've heard these words before, but have you studied them? Have you applied them to your life?

Don't worry if your answer is no...the beauty of our relationship with others, including Jesus, is it can grow. The same is true with God's Word...it is living and active and our understanding of it grows as we mature in the faith.

Revelations is not the easiest book to read or understand, but it opens with letters to churches. Jesus offers words of encouragement, but he also mentions areas of concern. Chances are He would do the same for you and me today.

We can get a glimpse of what He might say to us from  His letter to the church in Laodicea. He points out some problems, gives advice and offers an invitation. If we consider Him our friend, we must listen to His words.

Friend, He is standing at the door of your heart and knocking...will you let Him in?

You may be thinking - "I've already done that. I've accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I've confessed my sin and professed my faith." If that's the case I'm grateful, but I also know you may need to respond to yet another knock.

These words in Revelation 3:20 were written to the church. Jesus was instructing them to let Him in. As believers you and I have accepted Him, but have we surrendered all? Have we welcomed Him into every area of our lives? Does He have ownership of our whole heart? Are there moments we go in a different room? Are there times we act like He's not with us?

Again, I realize these aren't easy questions, but the past few months have shown me they are important ones. We are in the midst of harvest season when days are busy and patience can run short, in these moments it can be easy to respond in the flesh. I'm mom to 5 and there are times my reactions don't match my desires. When that happens, I know I haven't responded to the knock.

We are in a spiritual battle...our enemy, Satan, knows Jesus has power and has already left him defeated, but he also knows how to tempt. He doesn't want us to open the door. When we leave Jesus on the outside, we are weak and likely to fall. If we don't open the door, we react and end up with regrets.

Today, won't you open the door, invite Jesus in and enjoy time with your best friend?!

For my mom friends...if you'd like to teach your children about this, here's an idea. We've spent time studying this as a family and have agreed to use a knock to help each other out. When we sense or observe someone in our home living in the flesh, we do a gentle knock (only after making sure we've already answered the knock on our heart). It has been a simple way to get attention and encourage one another to walk in the Spirit. It was a humbling experience when my daughter did a knock for me, but I'm grateful for the tool it has been as we all walk with Jesus.