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Smooth Words

July26Hello, Friend!  It is my hope that you have gained in wisdom through this study, and that you have been given some things to think about as well as having perhaps seen some new ways in which to apply the biblical standards for living given in the book of Proverbs.  Thinking back over the past year of taking part in this discipline of reading a chapter of Proverbs each day has brought a renewed sense of those things that God values (honesty, integrity, kindness, faithfulness, persistence, compassion, etc.) and what God rejects (wickedness, foolishness, cruelty, lying, cheating, deception, etc.).  The other thing that has stood out to me when reading this are the many ways in which we can excuse ourselves from seeing our own partaking of those things which God rejects.  We can easily think of ourselves as a “good” person, yet find ourselves lying in “little” ways or practicing deception in socially acceptable ways or situations among other things.  I have been reminded of the necessity of total honesty within myself through this!  Are you willing this morning to be honest with yourself, Friend?  Perhaps willing to admit that there may be things that need to be faced, repented of, confessed if necessary, and then changed with God’s help?  Making that decision to open ourselves to conviction of needed change before we even start reading God’s Word is crucial to being able to prayerfully hear God’s voice when we do so.

Today, we are reading in Proverbs, chapter 26, looking for the wisdom we will need for this specific day.  I encourage you to read it prayerfully, asking for God’s involvement and instruction as you do so and then to expect that there will be a new insight or piece of instruction given!

Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot.” (verse 23)

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Timing Is Vital

July10Good Morning Friend and Fellow Life Warrior!  Has setting priorities ever been a difficulty to overcome in your life, Friend?  Most of us typically find that there are periods of time where adjustment is needed to our priorities of where we spend our time and what we are choosing to focus on.  The knowledge that these times of conflicting priorities eventually pass and yet also the knowledge that the need to focus on those things that have lasting value can both guide and constrain us.  A friend is dealing with the competing priorities of a demanding job that needs some extra attention if it is to flourish, a family that includes young children and a volunteer position that while demanding, is very fulfilling to him.  I would typically look at that list of priorities and knowing that the time when children are small is brief and will never return and also knowing that a demanding job is where the funds are coming from to raise that family lie, choose to cut back or possibly even give up the volunteer position, knowing that it is something that can be picked up later in life, if not in the same manner, at least in a very similar way.  The crux of the matter, however, is that the volunteer position brings with it the satisfaction of believing that one has made a difference in the lives of others and therefore in the world.  The volunteer position also satisfies that “call” of God on my friend’s life.  While I am sure that my friend is praying over the choice that will soon reach a point of needing to have choices and adjustments made, I am also praying for that choice and am believing that God will lead them into the choice that is best for their life.  What difficult choices are you faced with today, Friend?  Are you seeking God for that best choice, refusing to ignore the fact that a choice needs to be made?  Are you willing to lay aside your own perceived satisfaction for a season in order to follow God’s leading?  A wise teacher once gave me the advice that when we don’t seem to be sensing God’s leading, it may be because we have not yet surrendered our will to his.  When the choice to surrender has been made, the way often becomes clear!  These thoughts this morning also bring to mind the trust that we can have that God’s will for our lives will be better than anything we can imagine or think as found in Ephesians 3:20, which says, “ Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Today, we are reading through Proverbs, chapter 11, looking for that wisdom with which we will tackle our day today.

A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.”  (verse 5)

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Happy Feet

July5Progress can’t happen without change.”  (-Joyce Meyer)  Change can be hard at times, can it not?  Even one such as myself, who has embraced many changes throughout life, can find themselves resisting needed change at times.  Although grieving over a period of life which is now past is sometimes necessary, the joy that making the determination to embrace change brings is not to be overlooked.  Sometimes one can get so “stuck” in grieving for what is past that the present is missed.  One of my dear grandmothers always referred to the ‘40’s as being her optimum time of life, although she lived many decades beyond that.  Although she was greatly loved, it always gave those with her the feeling that they were “chopped liver” when compared to her life in the 1940’s!  I am determining this morning that this will not be the case with me!  One can also get so focused on some future period of time hoped for that the present can be missed as well.  Will you embrace change along with me, Friend, knowing that it will bring progress?

We are reading in Proverbs, chapter 5 today, in our search for the wisdom we need to live our lives well.

Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.”  (verse 5)

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An Honest Witness

June14 | An Honest WitnessGood Morning Friend and Fellow Life Warrior!  Encouragement goes a long way in helping us through those battles that we encounter every day in life, do they not?  An acquaintance recently posted on facebook a picture of her text conversation with her sister.  This acquaintance was stressed as she was packing for a trip she was taking, as part of some training for an upcoming missions trip.  Her sister began sending her texts saying things like; “You are organized”, “You are good with your time”, “You are beautiful”, “You’ve got this”.  Her sister’s encouragement helped her to push past the anxiety that was threatening to overwhelm her and to finish the tasks that needed to be accomplished.  Reading of their exchange caused me to think over whom I might come into contact with today that I could encourage and how I might encourage them.  It also caused me to once again be thankful for those in my life who have been constant encouragements to me as well.  Who will you encourage today, Friend, even if by stating verbally what we think must be obvious, but which someone may need to “hear”, whether spoken verbally or by text?

Today we are reading through Proverbs, chapter 14, in search of wisdom.  Verse 5 says, “An honest witness does not lie; a false witness breathes lies.

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Seeking Discernment

June4Good Morning, Friend!  We’ve been recently talking about our strengths and weaknesses and what priority those things should be given in a balanced life, but this morning (still thinking of the article by John Maxwell regarding these things) I have been thinking about the place that trying new things or stretching ourselves should have as well.  We hear a lot about the need to get out of our “comfort zones”, and while that can definitely be a good thing, when is it really necessary?  One reason that we call them “comfort zones” is because they are comfortable!  Author John Maxwell advises that the new things that you try should be related in some way to an already known strength.  Author Joyce Meyers encourages people to step out and try new things with the knowledge that if you fail, at least you will have learned something about yourself!  Both pieces are great advice to incorporate.  A few years ago, I had a young friend who was gifted at the piano, yet she had the desire to also sing along with her playing.  She stretched herself through taking some voice lessons only to discover that this was not an area of giftedness.  Was she disappointed?  Probably.  Did she quit playing the piano?  No- she tucked that knowledge away and went on with those things that were strengths in her life.  At other times, we may be “stretching” ourselves to try new things at the wrong time.  I know of another woman who felt that leading a bible study was something that she should stretch herself into by taking on that responsibility when the opportunity arose.  While the experience was not ideal, it went well enough and she learned enough from her attempt to know that this should remain a goal, but that the timing was a factor and that this was something for the future rather than for the current time.  What are you thinking of “stretching” yourself into, Friend?  New things keep life interesting, that’s for sure…

Today, we are reading in Proverbs, chapter 4, in search of the wisdom needed for our day.

They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence!”  (verse 17)

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When Justice Doesn’t Make Sense

April28 | When Justice Doesn't Make SenseA bold heart is half the battle.” (-Dwight D Eisenhower)  Good Morning Friend!  This is a great quote to start the day with.  A Life Warrior needs a bold heart, wouldn’t you agree?  When we experience disappointments, failure, rejection, and any number of things that tend to figuratively knock us down, a bold heart will compel us to get back up and continue on.  A bold heart is one that is full of confidence, not necessarily confidence in ourselves, but confident that we are on the right side, the side of the One who is all-powerful, all-knowing, merciful, slow to anger and who loves us immeasurably.  “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

We are reading Proverbs 28 today in search of the wisdom which we will apply to our lives today, remembering that knowledge alone does not automatically give wisdom; application is the point at which wisdom becomes reality.

Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand completely.”(verse 5)

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Shrugging Off Deliberate Deceptions

April26Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  (1 Corinthians 2:9)  The title of one of the chapters in a little book that I have been reading by John Maxwell is “Behind Every Great Person Is A Great Encourager”.  In thinking of the verse at the beginning of this paragraph, Friend, it occurred to me that even when we might feel as if we have no one in our life who encourages us to be the best that we can be and to do the best that we are capable of on a continual basis, God fills that roll for each one of us, if we will take the time to read His Word and take it to heart, applying it to ourselves.

Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.”  Verses 18-19 of Proverbs chapter 26 offer wisdom for today which we can apply in many situations.

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The Weapon of Discernment

April19 | WealthHello, Friend!  A humorous quote recently caught my eye which said, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” (-J. Kerr)  Another quote to take note of is “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough.” (-J. Levine)  In the case of the first quote, though, I began to think about how easy it is to go through life, not even admitting that we have an adversary (which is what the Bible calls Satan, who is the enemy of our souls, tempting and deceiving each of us whenever possible). We can easily put that thought to the back of our minds, looking at everything merely as if we have “choices” to make, not recognizing or perhaps not admitting that we are being both tempted and deceived with the express purpose of our faith in God being stolen and the outcome of a life well lived being sacrificed.  The second quote could also be applied to Satan and his strategies (2 Corinthians 2:11 “so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”)  How Satan seeks to fool us!  Both our lack of knowledge of what the Bible says regarding the best ways in which to think, act and make decisions and our lack of discernment can contribute to how easily he is able to do so.

Does this motivate you to read a chapter of Proverbs this morning, Friend, as it does me?  Today we are reading Proverbs, chapter 19, seeking for wisdom, insight and discernment.

Verse 1 says “Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool.

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Gossip and Slander

April17 | Gossip and SlanderHello Friend!  This morning as I got ready for the day, I had every intention of curling my hair, which is long and which takes some time to do and is not something that I do very often.  However, as I used the flat iron to smooth it a little at the top, I began to think of the tasks for the day and the projects to be accomplished.  Then I went on to think of the plans for the afternoon and evening and the looked-forward-to visit from family members.  The next thing I knew, I had straightened my hair completely!  The idea of the intended hairstyle for the day was replaced as I looked at myself in the mirror and gave a mental shrug of the shoulders and thought to myself that I might as well go with it…  While I know that the men reading this may not identify with the hairstyling piece, I also know that I have observed my husband do similar things when intending to do one thing, yet getting side tracked and so then proceeding to do what was rote and easy and part of his routine rather than what was intended.  “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.” (-Horace)  Isn’t it true that we tend to do what we’ve always done, unless challenged by circumstances to break out of that mold?  We habitually go back to what we’ve always known and done very easily!

Today, as we read through Proverbs, chapter 17, looking for wisdom to live our lives by, I want to keep in mind that often the gaining of wisdom involves being willing to break out of old habits and to “smash” the old mold, so to speak.

Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.”  (verse 4)

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Pursuing Intentionality

April7 1 | Pursuing IntentionalityGood morning friend and Fellow Life Warrior! I recently read an excerpt from a book by John Maxwell called Encouragement Changes Everything, on becoming the type of person that others would like to be around. He listed four types of people, two that added value to the lives of those they were around and two that were difficult to be around.  The two types of people that others did not want to be around were characterized as “subtractors” and “dividers”.  The first type of person subtracted from the lives of others just by being needy, focusing on their own needs and through choosing not to intentionally focus on others.  Have you met someone like this lately, Friend?  Someone who is a “subtractor” by default; unintentionally?  Then the second type of person, the “dividers”, were those who knew that they were creating havoc in the lives of those they were around. They were intentional about their actions and even some hard-heartedness was exhibited. Have you been around those types of people as well? Reading this brought home to me the thought once again of the importance of intentionality in our lives. Even in the negative sense, intentionality is observed and noted. What if the person who intentionally created conflict wherever they went, instead intentionally created unity and a sense of belonging in those they found themselves around? Intentionality can be the hallmark of a person with a strong, yet disciplined will. It can be a very admirable trait. The question is not only “Will we develop this characteristic?” but also “Will we choose to develop it in the positive sense?”

Verse 20 of Proverbs, chapter 6 says,

My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

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