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Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

  • Progress or Procrastination?

    Posted on July 22, 2013 by Lisa Allen

    Lisa Allen

    "If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done!" Ecclesiastes 11:4 (LB)

    Unhealthy habits had crept their way into my life. At first it was only occasionally, but then it became easier to stay home rather than head to the gym. I turned a blind eye to how much sugar I was eating. And dinner from a drive-through became more convenient when I was in a rush.

    After a few months in this downward spiral, I knew it was time to reintroduce healthy habits. But then the excuses started: I know I should work out, but this just isn't a good time for me ... I have two trips coming up and then there's that birthday dinner for my friend this weekend. And everyone knows that Mondays are the best day to start a good habit!

    This pattern of thinking gives me permission to eat unhealthy foods and put off exercise. Somehow I justify that I will ultimately be more successful if all the conditions are perfect for me to improve my health. Perhaps it's my selfish nature that screams, "I want what I want when I want it." The truth is, if I know I should take steps toward healthier choices, then my response should simply be to ask myself, "What can I do today?" and then do it. I don't have to have a plan for a month or even a week ... only today.

    As I've observed this pattern of procrastination within myself, I find when faced with a desire and necessity to make a change for the better, sometimes I wait until I can do it perfectly before I'm willing to begin. Scripture tells us though "If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done!" (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

    I don't know about you, but I struggle with feeling that perfection is unreachable, so I push my goals to the back burner.

    We wait to start consistent quiet times until we feel like getting up earlier. We wait to clean our house until there is a convenient weekend. We wait to join a small group until our schedules open up. We wait to begin a healthier lifestyle until the holidays are over.

    Taking that first step is the hardest and yet most important step. Even a baby step toward a goal is better than staying in place. Aiming for progress rather than perfection can be quite freeing. So, I can't run a marathon. But I can lace up my sneakers and go for a walk. And while my home isn't in spotless, I can wipe down the counters and put away the piles of laundry around my living room. Yes, there are still dishes in the sink, but I have to start somewhere, right?

    God is teaching me that I can make progress in the midst of less-than-perfect circumstances. While I still want to do things with excellence, a friend once told me I need to be willing to "take a B instead of an A+" on some things in life, and that helps bring perspective when excuses start to rise up. Plus, I'm learning to overcome my tendency for excuses by telling myself imperfect action is better than perfect procrastination.

    There may never be a perfect time to get organized, eat less sugar, and workout more. However, we have to begin somewhere. The perfect place to start is where we are today.

    Father, You know me so well, and I confess to You I've been avoiding obedience by waiting for things to be easier, better and more convenient. I recognize this as disobedience and ask You to forgive me. Give me the strength to focus today on this area of obedience. Let me know that You are providing all I need to take this step today and tomorrow, as I continue this journey with You. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    What area of procrastination are you wrestling with? Whatever it is, choose to take one step toward your goal. Share it with your spouse, friend or mom and ask them to help you live this truth: "Imperfect progress is better than perfect procrastination."

    Power Verses:
    Ecclesiastes 7:8, "The end of a matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride." (NIV)

    Proverbs 31:27, "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Lisa Allen. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • Not Too Serious

    Posted on June 24, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Be happy young man while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart. Ecclesiastes 11:9

     

    Sometimes we are guilty of taking ourselves too seriously. We get caught up in our little world of what we have to do, where we have to go and who we have to please. Joy jettisons from our heart because we are driven by a “have to” attitude. Unfortunately for our health and for those who love us we become consumed by our agenda, our desires, our worries, our ideas, our work, our hobbies and our needs. Sadly, our unmet expectations become joy killers with no heart.

     

    How do you know if you are taking yourselves too seriously? Suddenly others become the object of your fury. They don’t seem to take things seriously enough. You erroneously think, “If they would just do what I want and work as hard as me, both of our worlds would be much better off!” You act like the Lord can’t get by without you, however the reverse is true. You can’t get by without Him. So, shed the world from your shoulders. Perhaps on your next vacation you totally disconnect from technology. No phone, email. Try it. Lighten up and let the Lord work for you.

     

    The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:6

     

    What is the solution for taking ourselves too seriously? Humility. A humble heart is released from the motivation of being the main attraction. When we walk in humility we are content to be behind the scenes and let others receive the attention. Like Jesus and by His Spirit, we empty ourselves of our reputation and expectations and replace them with His. We let go of our work and we let God work. We learn to take ourselves less seriously and the Lord more seriously.

     

    Therefore, enjoy the peace and contentment that accompanies a non acrimonious approach to life. Seek harmony not hostility. Give instead of take. Laugh at yourself and laugh with others over your quirks. Be yourself. Be still. Know God. Joy comes from being with Jesus. So, draft behind where God is working, instead of striving to get your way. Guard your heart from an overly serious state. Invite Christ’s calmness to relax your countenance and return your smile.

     

    Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Luke 10:21

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage to take myself less seriously and You more seriously.

     

    Related Readings: Psalm 19:8, 126:2; Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Philemon 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: Let go of your work and let the Lord work. #trust

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • I Am Not Alone

    Posted on June 24, 2013 by Whitney Capps

    Whitney Capps

    "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

    I sat at my computer and typed, deleted and then re-typed the same email at least three times. Did I sound too desperate, too needy? Surely things weren't this bad. Maybe I just needed a little perspective. So I stopped and looked around.

    Toys of a million varieties, parts and pieces were scattered across the floor. My 3-year-old and 2-year-old were still in their pajamas. It was nearly 10:30 a.m. and they'd been watching television far longer than any good mother should allow.

    To top it off, my newborn was crying. I'd stuck him in the swing because I just needed a break. I hadn't showered in two days. At least I think it had been two days. I was in a time warp, so who could be sure? I knew I hadn't changed clothes in as many days. My t-shirt and sweatpants were stained with unmentionables.

    Who was I kidding? Things really were this bad.

    I turned back to the computer and typed an honest assessment of the situation. I hit send before my pride vetoed my cry for help. I wasn't going to pretend anymore. I needed to know I wasn't alone.

    If I didn't send a SOS, things would go from bad to worse. So I did what Scripture tells us to do in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ("Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble") and called out to friends to help me out of this messy, sticky, stinky mess.

    Girlfriends, I am struggling. Life with three boys under four is hard. Ryder is such an easy baby that I feel guilty voicing my weariness. And Cooper and Dylan are just little boys. I don't expect anything to be other than what it is right now. It's just that right now is rather taxing. I know every stage of motherhood is.

    My life is no more difficult than yours. That's why I have started and stopped this email three times. I feel self-indulgent to talk about how parched my soul is. But I'm drowning in diapers, potty-training and milk.

    In a matter of minutes my inbox filled with messages. I had asked my girlfriends to pray for me and pick me up from this pit. These amazing women came through in a big way, sharing some of the funniest stories I've ever heard and offering the kindest commiseration a new mom could want. I felt connected, accepted and loved.

    Hearing their words in my head, I changed diapers, wiped noses and unloaded the dishwasher repeating:

    I am not alone.

    God's grace is sufficient.

    Do the next thing.

    Why hadn't I asked for help sooner? What was I afraid of?

    I knew what it was. I didn't want them to think less of me. Would they see the real me, and still love me? My pride shouted, but my heart trembled.

    In the moments before I sent that email I felt utterly alone. In the days that followed, I realized the fellowship I had gained was totally worth the embarrassment of admitting my fears and failures. As it turned out, these dear women didn't love me less for sharing; they loved me more.

    Through their kind words, my friends did the best thing possible: they lifted my focus from myself and put it on Jesus. I learned not to depend on my own abilities, but to depend on Him.

    Interestingly, I didn't have more confidence as a mom after that day. And I didn't suddenly get to take a shower every day. I realized I am absolutely inadequate. I am sincerely overwhelmed. But my friends reminded me that I'm not alone and my situation isn't unique to me.

    As my friends promised to walk this journey with me, I discovered there's safety in numbers. In the quiet of my head and heart, sometimes the voice of fear and condemnation drowns out God's truth. With a resounding chorus, these girlfriends shouted truth so loudly it couldn't be ignored. It was just what I needed.

    And they didn't care that I hadn't brushed my teeth.

    Lord, thank You for Your encouragement through Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Thank You too for friendships that lift me up when I'm overwhelmed and down. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In Always There, you'll find an inspiring combination of real-faith mothering stories and Scriptures that assure you of God's abiding presence, written by Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp and more.

    There's a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse: And Other Ways Motherhood Changes Us explores the traits and skills of a mother, including humility and patience, from God's perspective.

    Join our Facebook community for daily encouragement.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What makes you hesitate to reach out and share your frustrations?

    If you are not connected with close friends, look for a mom's group at a local church.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • The Micromanaging Mama

    Posted on May 6, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Don't let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9 (HCSB)

    I couldn't think of anything more exciting than going to Sylvia's house for the afternoon. She had fancy clothes and the neighborhood's only built-in swimming pool. But best of all?

    Sylvia had one amazing dollhouse.

    There were bedroom sets with dressers, cloth curtains in the windows, and colorful spreads on the beds. There was a living room set with a tiny television and a kitchen with real-looking appliances in the trendy shade of turquoise.

    To top it all off, it came with a family - pliable, lifelike miniature human beings who smiled no matter how I posed them. There was even a trusty canine I named Scrappy.

    I could arrange the furniture any way I desired. The petite pots and pans were just the way I liked on the stove to simmer. The baby woke up from her nap just when I wanted. The family members entered and exited on my cue. No object missed a single prompt in the scenarios that played out at the ends of my chubby little fingertips.

    However, my perfect little world was easily shattered. Sometimes, when I had to go home to eat dinner, Sylvia wanted to play with her own toys. Later I'd return to find the house rearranged by someone who was not going along with my program.

    I never liked when someone messed with my plan. In fact, it made me angry.

    Today my days still revolve around a house. The furniture is bigger. The dishes and rugs are real. The people are too. And I still don't like anyone messing with my plan.

    Messing with my plan often looks like this: abandoned dirty dishes, shoes scattered haphazardly, newly washed windows dotted with sticky fingerprints, mud tracked floors, crumbs trailed, trash not taken out as asked, homework undone, pokey kids making the family late for church. Again.

    And sadly, messing with my plan can also find me behaving like this: sharp words strategically hurled, a caustic demeanor meant to snap my family to attention, or a "martyr mom" pose I suddenly strike to convey my "I-do-so-much-for-all-of-you-people-and-what-thanks-do-I-get?" message.

    At times like this, as today's key verse from Ecclesiastes 7:9 states, my spirit rushes to anger. When anger takes the lead, I can go from mild-mannered mother to micromanaging mama in three seconds flat to try and make my family "get with the program—and PRONTO!"

    Rushing to anger in an attempt to micromanage can lead to hurt feelings, crumpled spirits and fractured relationships in need of repair. Of course we should expect our children to do as they are asked, to perform their chores or remember their school responsibilities.

    But, when they don't—because they are kids and like us, not perfect—how will we chose to behave? Do we choose to be like Jesus who would respond appropriately and with self-control or like a wild woman who somehow thinks yelling is effective although it has never, ever worked in the past.

    Will you join me in a challenge to pause before pouncing? To not rush to anger and instead rush to Jesus' side? It is there we can allow Jesus to temper our tempers and filter our words so we can behave in a way that honors Him—and our family members too.

    Dear Lord, teach me to rush to You instead of rushing to anger. I want others to clearly see You reflected in my actions and reactions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For a more in-depth study of the topic of this devotion, check out Karen's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think back to a time when you rushed to anger over the condition of your home or the behavior of a family member. What happened?

    How could the situation have been different if you'd rushed to Jesus' side instead, seeking His wisdom and self-restraint?

    Power Verses:
    James 1:19-20, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • The Friendship Challenge

    Posted on April 18, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?" Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 (NIV)

    What makes a woman tender also reveals her vulnerabilities.

    What makes a woman transparent also exposes her wounds.

    What makes a woman authentic also uncovers her insecurities.

    And there aren't many women who enjoy being revealed, exposed, and uncovered. But establishing real intimacy with another person requires pushing past the resistance—past the fear.

    Friendship is risky.

    To be known is to risk being hurt. But friendship can be beautiful, and worth the risk.

    We can look to the Bible for examples of monumental friendships. In 1 Samuel 18 we learn about the special friendship between David and Jonathan, an example of a true bond. When Jonathan's father, King Saul, threatened David with death, Jonathan risked his position in his father's household and warned his friend.

    Jonathan and David's friendship lasted their lifetime, and because of Jonathan's loyalty to David, the Lord blessed them both. David eventually became king, but by then Jonathan had died. David inquired, "'Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?'" (2 Samuel 9:1b NIV).

    Don't miss this beauty: it was customary for the present king to put to death any of the former king's family. However, because of his and Jonathan's strong friendship, King David tenderly provided for Jonathan's son. "I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table" (2 Samuel 9:7b NIV). "So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons" (2 Samuel 9:11b NIV).

    Awesome. Inspiring. Friendship.

    Yes, friendship is beautiful. The Lord gave it to us. He knew we would need each other to get through this life.

    Think about a friend you can make an investment in.

    Not the friend with whom you feel most comfortable. But rather one who might benefit from seeing a little more of your tenderness, transparency, and authenticity. Someone who might be worth a risk.

    Someone in your sphere of influence is desperate to know someone else understands.

    Might we take three steps and give ourselves a friendship challenge? Here are three things you can do to invest in a friend:

    1) Have a conversation with her in which you honestly admit one of your vulnerabilities. Chances are she'll reveal something to you as well. Then really commit to pray for her. Maybe wear a watch or bracelet and every time you're distracted by it, use this as a prompt to carry her burden in your prayers.

    2) Buy or make this friend a gift. Just because. It doesn't have to cost much. But make an investment of time to think of something that would personally delight her.

    3) Write your friend a note to attach to the gift. In the letter, tell her at least three things you admire about her and some way she's made a difference in your life.

    Then deliver this little "just because" gift and note to your friend. This friend who sometimes feels a little vulnerable. Wounded. Exposed in some way.

    Your honesty and thoughtfulness will be such a sweet investment.

    For her.

    For you.

    For your friendship.

    Are you up for taking the friendship challenge?

    Dear Lord, thank You for all of the friendships and beautiful blessings You have placed in my life. Help me to see this challenge as a sweet reminder to show Your love to those around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For more on how to maintain strong, healthy friendships through clear and honest communication, check out Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices In the Midst of Raw Emotions.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down the name of the friend or friends you chose for the friendship challenge. Don't wait until later. Your friend will thank you!

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times ..." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org



    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes, Friendship

  • For A Season

    Posted on March 21, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

    Most everything in life is for a season. Jobs are for a season. Relationships are for a season. Hobbies are for a season. Homes are for a season. Small children and teenagers are for a season. Grandchildren are for a season. Youth is for a season.  Economic upturns and downturns are for a season. Family vacations are for a season. Formal education is for a season. Income generating years are for a season. Good health is for a season. Life on earth is for a season.

    Perhaps you find yourself in a season within a season. You are eager to move on to a new stage of life, but the Lord still has lessons for you to learn before you transition. Or, you may not want to let go of where you are for fear of what lies ahead in the next chapter of your life. Either way, Jesus will show you the right way, and He will walk with you through the process. So, enjoy this season (do not wish it away), slow down, engage with God and all He wants you to experience.

    Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. Jeremiah 8:7

     

    What does the Lord require of you in this season? You have an 18 year span of time for your child to be under your roof and under your direct influence and authority. Now is the time to travel less at work or not at all, so you can be all there for your son or daughter. Moreover, it is stressful as a mom to give 24/7 emotionally, physically and spiritually. But, your sacrificial love carries Christ’s love into the life of your child.  Yes, the intensity of parenting is for a season.

     

    Is it time to let go of your role at work? It may be better stewardship for a leader with a different gift mix to be responsible. Don’t wear out your welcome. It's better to transition out on friendly terms than to be forced out in resentment. The peak of your performance is the best time to prepare for a new season of service. Wisdom watches for the winds of change and rides them on the wings of faith. Hold this season with an open hand and your next season will be significant!

     

    Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:20-21

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the patience to enjoy You and others in this season of waiting.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 20:4; Song of Songs 2:12; Acts 14:17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:3

    Post/Tweet today: Wisdom watches for the winds of change and rides them on the wings of faith. #change

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • A Q&A with John Bevere on Relentless

    Posted on February 4, 2013 by John van der Veen

    John Bevere

    Marked by boldness and passion, John Bevere delivers uncompromising truth through his award-winning curriculums and best-selling books, now in more than 60 languages, including Extraordinary, The Bait of Satan, Drawing Near and Driven by Eternity. He is an international speaker and co-host of The Messenger TV program broadcast worldwide.

    John enjoys living in Colorado Springs with his wife, Lisa, also a best-selling author and speaker, and their four sons.

    Below is a question and answer that we did with John over his new book, Relentless.

    What drove you to write Relentless?

    In Ecclesiastes 7:8, Solomon wrote that “finishing is better than starting” (NLT). When we look at various areas of life—such as relationships, careers, or business endeavors—we know this to be true. How we finish is more important than how we begin. Yet I am honestly concerned that many believers are not going to finish well. As I have traveled and ministered for more than two decades, I have encountered so many who have walked away from the faith or lost their passion for God. Why? Because they were not armed to suffer. When trouble arose financially, physically, relationally, or spiritually they did not know how to fight in faith.

    Imagine an army going into war without any guns, bullets, or protective gear. It would be ludicrous! This army certainly would not win, and they might not even survive. This “strategy” sounds absurd, yet many in the Church are just as ill prepared for the hardships they will face in this life. And make no mistake, we will all face trials—Jesus promised as much in John 16:33. Therefore it is vital that God’s people are equipped for suffering. Relentless is a tool for arming believers with the Word of God so that they can fight these battles and come out on top.

    How did you wake up to "unlock your tenacity" for Christ?

    When I became a child of God in 1979, my mother told me, “John, this is one of your new fads. You’ll quit this just like you’ve quit everything else.” As stinging as her words were, they were not without cause. Whether it was sports, hobbies, or relationships, I had always given up. But I discovered that God gave me a new nature when I was born again. According to the apostles John and Peter, it wasn’t just a different human nature: it was God’s nature! (See 1 John 4:17 and 2 Peter 1:4.) Hebrews says, “Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably” (12:28 NKJV). I discovered that God’s grace is what gives us the ability, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live well and finish strong. Once I received these sure promises, I became a relentless believer.

    What are the biggest challenges Christian men face today and how can they be overcome?

    Standing for truth and not backing down to the crowd’s desire. The only way to overcome this is to have a close relationship with the Holy Spirit and regularly feed on God’s word.

    Do you think the evangelical church here in North America is doing well, or are we limping along?

    I am privileged to minister in some of the most innovative and passionate churches in North America. Yet I would still say that Americans are sometimes the hardest people in the world to minister to. The reason for this is that they are trying to understand kingdom principles from a democratic mindset. God’s kingdom is not a democracy: it’s a kingdom, and He alone is on the throne. This disconnect in the minds of American believers is especially apparent when teaching on subjects like honor and authority.

    What is your favorite winter sport? Why?

    Hockey. I played until I was 44 and then laid it down. Now it’s golf! It is my favorite sport every season of the year. So I bring my clubs wherever I go if the weather is suitable.

     


    This post was posted in Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Sports, Church, Ecclesiastes, John Bevere, Relentless, Men

  • Walking Wisely

    Posted on January 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20

     

    Do you have a wise woman or man in whom you confide? Is there someone—your dad, mom, a business associate, or teacher—to whom you can go for objective, biblical advice? It is in humility we learn to harvest good sense and wisdom. Gaining God’s perspective is not a one-time event but a lifetime of leaning on others to grow in our understanding. Wisdom comes from walking with the wise, not flirting with fools.

     

    Good people engage with good company. There is no separation of being influenced by skilled people with seedy morals during the week and hearing a sermon on Sunday. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Instead, be intentional toward integrity. Seek out a wise peer, or ask a wise mom if you may call her for counsel. Wisdom walks with willing participants who obey.

     

    “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15).

     

    Beware of fools who talk fast but do not follow through. They may be aware of what is right and talk the talk, but they fail to walk the walk. They ignore integrity. Fools eventually damage relationships. Foolish behavior will come back to bite you; so avoid its influence. What seems like innocent fun eventually inflicts suffering and harms hearts. Fools practice anti-wisdom. “Fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).

     

    So where can you find wise companions? Look for them in church or in respected leadership roles in the community. Vet their resume of wise living by observing the countenance of their spouse, watching how they love their children, and studying their financial management. Jettison foolish friends so you have the capacity to walk with the wise. Ask, “Am I growing in wisdom or floundering with fools?”

     

    A wise ruler once said, “It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5).

     

    Prayer: With whom can I walk in wisdom to become more Christlike in my life?

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 13:12–13; Ruth 2:23; Acts 2:42; 2 Thessalonians 3:14

     

    Post/Tweet today: Wisdom comes from walking with the wise, not flirting with fools.

    #wisdom

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Proverbs, 1 Peter, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom

  • Multi-gifted For God

    Posted on January 17, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    "One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18

     

    God blesses some of His children with multiple gifts. David is a good example of God’s gifting:  musical talent, military valor, communication and writing skills, good looks and most importantly, the Lord's favor. Indeed, the gifts of God need the favor of God. Yes, there is a stewardship the Spirit expects of the gifts He gives, since much given requires much. The Spirit yearns for a prayerful administration of abilities for God’s Kingdom. Gifts are given for Him.

     

    You may be laboring faithfully on the outskirts of influence, under the radar of where most are focused. Thank the Lord that in your smaller responsibilities you can prepare for larger opportunities. Your gifts take time and intentionality to develop. Therefore, go to great lengths by God’s grace to understand your sweet spot of service for Him. Validate your skills with trusted mentors and peers who can peer into how God has made you. Be comfortable with your gifts.

     

    “To accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19

    Is the Lord’s hand of favor on your life? Has your character kept up with your success? In the flesh your gifts will flounder, but under the Spirit’s influence they will flourish. Indeed, it takes God’s work of grace in your inner being for the outward effectiveness of your gifts to enjoy the touch of Jesus. If the lion of anger lurks in your heart it needs to be tamed by grace, patience and forgiveness. If fear has erased your confidence, replace it with disciplined faith in Christ’s calling.

    Multiple gifts need to be managed prayerfully and productively. So, daily offer your gifts on the altar of the Lord as a sacrifice of praise and worship. When you surrender your abilities to your Savior Jesus, He will multiply them in a timely manner that gives Him the glory. The maturity of your faith will birth additional opportunities to use your gifts. So, wait on the Lord’s work of grace in your heart and His favor will facilitate your multi-giftedness for Him. He will bring opportunities to you, without you having to force matters. Seasoned gifts wait to see God work!

    “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” 1 Corinthians 12:4

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to steward well Your gifts in my life.

    Related Readings: Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:11; Hebrews 2:4; 1 Peter 4:10

     

    Post/Tweet today: In our smaller responsibilities we can prepare for larger opportunities. #prepare

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Ecclesiastes, 1 Samuel

  • Looking Around

    Posted on December 21, 2012 by Rachel Olsen

    Rachel Olsent

    "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NIV)

    Do you ever look around at other women and wonder how in the world they get so much done?

    Me too.

    It's frustrating to feel that you are somehow falling behind, or missing out on all the things you want to accomplish because you just can't seem to make it happen.

    So I started to analyze why it was others seemed to get more done than I did. Why did they reap more than me?

    Was I just not cut out to run at as fast a pace as them?

    I suspect there may be some truth to that. We all know people we'd classify as "high energy." Note: I'm energetic, but I'm not one of those perky morning people that I dislike, uh, er ... admire. Okay, envy.

    Was I just in a different season of life? I still have kids in the home - kids who cannot drive. Certain seasons of mothering or care-taking can be busier.

    But the more I thought about it, the more I realized these were not the full crux of my problem.

    No, the crux of my problem was waiting for everything to be perfect before I moved forward. If I didn't feel I could do something "right," I often didn't do it at all. If I couldn't control each move, or the outcome, I waited rather than began. And that meant a lot of things sat either un-started or unfinished.

    Home improvement projects.

    Sewing projects.

    Writing projects.

    Work projects.

    Even my elaborate study-the-Bible plans.

    I spent a lot of time waiting until I felt fully ready, and all conditions seemed ripe before I would begin. That was a lot of time wasted. In fact, when I reflect on the things I have accomplished in life, I'm not sure I've ever felt fully ready for any of them when I started.

    I wanted ideal conditions. A primary lesson in the book of Ecclesiastes is learning to distinguish between the things we have control over, and the things we don't. For instance, we can't control the weather, the aging process, or the job market. Trying to control such things is futile. And waiting for the climate, our appearance or the work industry to be perfect before we embark on our dreams is just as useless.

    Will we never plan a picnic because it could rain? Will we not bother exercising because we're going to die at some point? Will we put off training for that new job we've always wanted because the economy could turn?

    The message of Ecclesiastes 11:4 is: Stop procrastinating! Don't be overly cautious. Quit waiting on perfection. Staring at the clouds stops you from sowing, which ultimately limits your reaping.

    True, the conditions might not be perfect. Your efforts might fail. Or they might have to be repeated for months before they yield significant results. But they also might succeed! And you don't know in advance what is going to work.

    Nothing will work, however, if we do not.

    We can't control the rain, the locusts of life, or the size of our harvest. But we control the planting. And nothing grows that isn't first planted with energy and fertilized with prayer.

    Ecclesiastes teaches us our inability to control the future should lead us into diligent work, not into depressed daydreaming while we watch clouds - and others - go by.

    While we can't control everything, we can do something about one thing. She who stares at the clouds - waiting - does not reap. But she who plants, reaps.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for the time I've wasted waiting for ideal conditions. Waiting until I felt sure I could succeed. I want to move out in faith. I want to plant and reap. I want to be a good steward of the time and opportunities You afford me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Lose the long list of resolutions — all your sweeping promises to change — and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. In Rachel Olsen's newest book, My One Word, she and co-author Mike Ashcroft lead you in choosing just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. Pick up your copy by clicking here!

    Reflect and Respond:
    What have you been putting off doing?

    How does procrastination, fear, or perfectionism prevent you from being a good steward of God's opportunities and callings?

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

    Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

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