Proverbs 3:5-6

Photograph by Trisha L. KnaulProverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make straight your paths.

What a comforting passage that is. But wait. Is it really all that comforting? Yes, it says he will make your paths straight, but think about it. Couldn’t a straight path go over a mountain? Doesn’t sound so easy now, does it?

Lets not forget the first part either. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” sounds easy enough, but there’s more: “And do not lean on your own understanding.” Wait! What do you mean? You mean my understanding might be wrong? You see where this is going, don’t you? This simple little verse, used to comfort people, scares me half to death!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

How many of us, when we say, “Lord, I will do whatever you say,” really mean, “Lord, I will follow you til the situation doesn’t fit what I think should be going on.” I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of this more times then I care to admit.

For years my youth group went on missions trips, and each year I would decide I was going to go. Then each year I would back out–too afraid of what might happen. You see, my understanding was that if I went something bad would happen. For years I did this until at last during my senior year I went. That trip was one of the most amazing trips of my life! Still, I occasionally wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t let my understanding get in the way of trusting on God’s understanding. That mission trip my path felt straight. I knew what I was doing and what I had to do. Furthermore, I did it even when I was scared and didn’t want to. I was trusting on God.

Ladies, don’t rely on Your understanding. Your sight is limited to what You see. Trust in God’s understanding. He sees everything.

In all your ways acknowledge Him…
Proverbs 3:6a

So much of what I did as a kid was to impress my brothers, parents, and even my friends. I wanted to be praised. Not to lord is over anyone or prove I was better than them, but because I wanted to feel like I did something right, that for once in my life I wouldn’t feel left out or out of control.

I wonder how many of us are doing the same thing today–wanting to fit in so badly we conveniently forget to mention God because we fear being rejected. We forget the skills that put us where we are were given to us by God, not necessarily to “fit in” but to be used for him. This is a trap many of us fall into.

This doesn’t mean you should go quit your job and work for charity. This means that whenever you get credit you should in some way give credit back to Him. Whether it be praise or just acknowledging him, never forget to acknowledge what God has done.

During the 2016 Olympics, there was a synchronized diving team* that did very well. These two men had started as discipleship partners and discovered a similar passion for diving which eventually took them to the Olympics. I don’t remember where they placed or even their names. However, they stick out in my mind, not because of how good they were, but because every time they were interviewed they never failed to mention God and that He was the reason they were there at the Olympics. How easy would it have been for these divers to just forget God’s involvement and talk about their dive or how participating in the Olympics was amazing? However, they never failed to acknowledge what God had done for them.

That is the kind of thing I would love to be known for doing and one of the things I fail at the most. When I write something or sew a garment, it is so tempting to forget what God has done for me that allowed me to do those things in the first place. You don’t have to go yelling about God every time someone praises what you’ve done. This can drive people away. Don’t take it for granted either.

Acknowledging God’s hand in things is a very important part of evangelizing that can be overlooked. We can acknowledge God in such a way that it gives Him a outstanding verbal referral.

And He will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:6b

Now what about that last part? “And He will make straight your paths.” What does that mean? Well, whenever I have been following God closely, I have known to some extent what I needed to do, even if it was just that I needed to obey my parents. As comforting as this sounds, I have bad news. It’s not always all that easy.

A walking path can be straight and smooth–seen for miles on end. A straight path can also have bumps and cracks inviting us to step in and twist our ankle. Or maybe, just maybe, this straight path could go straight over a mountain, disappearing over the other side not to be seen till you reach the top. Because even though it says, He will make our paths straight, it says nothing about the paths being easy. In fact, John 16:13 says, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart I have overcome the world.”

When I was little our family use to go on walks in the park. I enjoyed them for the most part, but I would get tired and want to stop. At that time one of my brothers or my dad would pick me up and carry me for a while. You see, they had overcome that path before and knew how to help me. In the same way, like an expert mountain climber, the Lord will help you up that mountain or encourage you to keep going because He knows you can make it.

So whatever the mountain is your climbing take heart and trust in His understanding for He has overcome the world.

Remember that our understanding is limited. God’s is not. Acknowledging God is not only a way to praise but to evangelize. Give the expert mountain climber the best referral ever, as he guides you along a straight path over the mountain.

I pray that you would lean on God’s understanding as He makes straight your paths.

 

 

*2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medalists in men’s synchronized 10 m platform diving, David Boudia and Steele Johnson

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

 

Dear Child

Dear Child

I love you!
Don’t ever forget:
I love you.

Nothing you do
(or don’t do)
Can change that.
I love you.

You will make poor choices.
You will mess up.
And, yes, you will sin.
Through it all,
I will love you.

You will (and have) hurt me,
By accident and on purpose.
Still, I love you.

Every decision you make will have consequences.
Good. Bad.
Relationships will be affected.
For good or bad.
I love you.

Sin. Shame. Denial.
Pride. Hardness.
Walls go up.
From the other side,
I will love you.

You may try to hide it,
But I know you.
The bad will boil inside
Until you either
Harden your heart
Or ask forgiveness.
Ask forgiveness.
Regardless of which you choose,
I love you.

I would give my life to save you.
My greatest wish is to see you walk with God.
Forever.
I love you that much.

But…

God loves you more!

I carried you for 9 months.
I love you.
But…
God created you.
God loves you more.

I raised you.
I love you.
But…
God made you who you are.
God loves you more.

You mess up.
Unintentionally.
Intentionally.
And, yes, you sin.
You hurt God.
You break His heart.
Still, God loves you.

You may try to hide your sin.
From me.
From others.
From God.
Even from yourself.
But He sees it.
In spite of what He sees,
God loves you.

Sin. Shame. Denial.
Pride. Hardness.
Walls go up.

From the other side,
God loves you.

I would give my life for you.
He would sacrifice
His only Son for you.
(I wouldn’t. But He did.)
God loves you.

He waits patiently
When you spit in His face,
And God loves you anyway.

I long for you to love God.
Open your eyes.
See God.
God loves you.

Do not harden your heart.
Confess.
Repent.
Accept.
Renew.
Live.

I love you,
But…

GOD LOVES YOU MORE.

Free to Love

When asked what love looks like, most of us would describe acts that portray kindness, gentleness, generosity, service, or sacrifice, and I doubt these answers would cause much debate.  We can easily agree that love spurs on life-giving actions, but it is oh so good to remember that the love we give is more of a reaction to the perfect love poured into us as we abide in God, as God is love. I have always been deeply encouraged by 1 John 4:7-21 and reflect on the truth of verse 19 regularly.  “We love because He first loved us.” This truth rings out loud and clear as I seek opportunities to love those around me. I receive from my Lord and, therefore, can share and spread His love.

As a mother, I long to reflect Christ as I love my children. This Christ-like love can be revealed in many ways as we mommas nurture our children. Maybe it is revealed when we experience personal heartache when our child has been teased or rejected. Maybe when we long to assure our child of our love and faithfulness when he or she feels alone and uncertain. Maybe when we simply hold our child. Maybe when we laugh and sing with our children or recount fun memories together. Maybe when we shed tears with them in hard times. Maybe when we enjoy the beauty of God’s creation as we are out exploring nature together. Maybe our love is Christ-like when we tend to them through those long nights when they are sick or even in the fact that we know our children so well that we are the first to recognize when they are getting sick. Maybe our love reveals Christ when we pray over them and with them, when we humble ourselves and confess our faults, when we stand beside them and help them fight battles of anxiety or pride or insecurity or anger, when we continue to model over and over our dependence on Jesus. Our love for our children displays Christ when we persevere in teaching them about the goodness of God, when we speak words of truth and comfort and grace into their lives, when we value them as gifts from God created with a purpose.

Loving our children as our Heavenly Father has lavishly loved us may be somewhat more natural than loving our sisters in Christ, but our Lord has clearly commanded us, His children, to love one another. I know that throughout my lifetime, I have wasted way too much time and energy getting stuck in destructive thinking as I have related to other women. Whether holding a grudge or withholding forgiveness or letting jealousy rule in my heart or letting bitterness take root. Whether getting trapped in the comparison game or judging when I do not have the right to do so…too often I have taken my focus off of what really matters and just let my flesh rule which never has a happy ending. Even striving too hard to please others or enabling them in an unhealthy manner or putting others on pedestals distracts us from living how God intends us to and disables us from loving well.

God’s Word is overflowing with lasting treasure and counsel to store up in our hearts. Ephesians 4:20-32 proclaims such wisdom regarding how we are to treat one another. This passage tells us we are to put off our old self, which may want to boast in our accomplishments or find a little satisfaction in the failures of others or hang out in the pity party palace or…you fill in the blank. We are called instead to be renewed and to put on our new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So loving what is holy, we are able to put away falsehood, and we speak truth to one another. We do not give Satan ammunition to use as he finds ways to cause division. Our speech is seasoned with grace and encouragement. We throw away anything contrary to what brings edification to the body and glory to our Lord. By default, we are kind and tenderhearted and quick to forgive because, thanks be to God, we have been forgiven.

Whether we are mothering our children or encouraging our sisters in Christ or building up our husbands or reaching out to our neighbors or serving our co-workers or interacting with complete strangers, let us remember that it is God who sustains us and let us fill ourselves with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). Let us rely on Him and live out His love as we relate to one another. How radical would it be if we all treated one another with such honor and uninhibited love that the perfect love of Christ Himself is proclaimed to the love-deprived world around us? Let us build one another up and strengthen each other and spur one another on with God’s truth. Let us weep with one another when the hurt is too much to bear alone and rejoice together over how grand God is. Let us cheer one another on as we walk or run or crawl on this journey of life for we have eternity before us. Let’s think, act, and live in a way that furthers Christ’s redemptive purposes in our lives…for unity and peace and for righteousness.  Let us love one another freely because He has freely loved us first.

How radical would it be if we all treated one another with such honor and uninhibited love that the perfect love of Christ Himself is proclaimed to the love-deprived world around us?

 

Laurel Faith Noble. Grateful Wife of my Favorite Person. Imperfect yet Devoted Mother to my 4 Little Loves. Lifelong Learner and Seeker of Wisdom Daily. Always in Need of My Savior. Finds Joy in the Small Things. Humbled and Happy Child of God.

Love in Adversity

Love. Not your typical romantic St. Valentine’s Day type of love but the love that should be shown to everyone. Proverbs 17:17 states “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Both terms of a friend and a brother are referring to a fellow Christian, someone who has already committed themselves to follow Christ’s example. Our command is to love. This verse tells us to love AT ALL TIMES, not just when it feels good. It’s telling us we are born for those tough times.

I was struck by the simplicity and complexity of this verse. Who would ever think that there is a time when a friend would not show love? Well, it’s in those times of adversity when people fall short. It’s very apparent that people all over the world struggle with this type of love. The news is drenched with anger, hatred, and evil. For the average person in every day relationships, I don’t think it’s generally done with an intent to harm. It’s more likely that the person doesn’t know how to show love in that moment. Uncomfortable situations are just that–uncomfortable. Unless you are a nurturing person by trait this does not come easy. You have to think about it. You have to make a conscious effort to show you care about the other person.

I am convicted to be more aware of when I am falling down in this area. I want to be looking for those times when someone is struggling. I want to be the person that steps in and fills the need that they may not even realize they have. Maybe it’s providing a meal for someone who’s been ill or recovering from surgery. Maybe it’s watching the children of a single parent so they can have a much needed break. Or maybe it’s a handwritten note of encouragement.

Will you join me? I pray; Lord, I praise you for giving us the Holy Spirit to show us where we need to be. I pray for each person reading this prayer, that our hearts are softened to hear your still small voice. Please bring people into our paths that you want us to lavish with your love. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17

Let us hear from you: Share ideas on how to show love during difficult times.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Don’t Tell God No

He did everything God told him to do. Followed all the rules. Then, God told him to follow Him in something he didn’t want to do. “No. Just NO, Lord. I am not going!” Can’t you just hear yourself, oops, I mean Jonah saying that?

Sound familiar? Sure sounds familiar to me. Over the years I have told God no many times. No, I won’t go over and talk to them. No, I am never getting braces. No, I don’t like working with kids. I would be so passionate that these things would never happen, but (sigh) God loves to make you do the things you don’t want to do or the things that scare you. Not because God is mean, but because He wants to see you rely on Him and not your own understanding.

Jonah tried so hard not to do what God was telling him to, but eventually he gave in. From the inside of the fish, Jonah decided His way of living wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

A couple years ago I got braces even though I didn’t want them because I thought God wanted me to. Last summer I felt lead to talk to a lady. When I did, I found out that she was a Christian and was struggling with some choices. She was very grateful when I prayed with her. Over the years I have gotten pulled into some of the children’s events at church because they were short on helpers, and I discovered I really enjoy working with grade school children.

“There I did it are you happy,” He thought, “Now, you’ll see how pointless that was”

Now there is one part of Jonah’s story I hope you don’t ever repeat.  After doing what God told him to do, he left and waited for his efforts to fail. Can you believe that? He was so convinced it wouldn’t work that he actually wanted his work to fail! Sometimes we can give in to what God is leading us to do because life is miserable where we are. We think Ok, God, I’ll do it. I will show you it won’t work. Doesn’t this remind you of a child being told to do math? “Aargh, yes, Mom,” with a little eye roll. Then they proceed to do math and to their chagrin get an A.

Through every one of the areas in my life where I have told God no, I have discovered those things really aren’t that scary, and in most cases I really enjoyed them.

Are there any areas in your life where you have told God no?

Why have you told God no? (fear, hatred, comfort)

How can you make your first step in the direction God is leading you?

(To learn more about Jonah, read the book of Jonah.)

Finding Conviction, Comfort, and Clarity in Discouragement

Do you ever find yourself discouraged and at a loss for what to do next? I found myself there a few weeks ago. The stress built up on all sides of me; work, family, marriage, and my health. As I tried to find answers to problems, solutions to puzzles, and the way out of troubles, I only came up with dead ends and more frustration. I was discouraged. I was losing hope and the courage to stand on my convictions. I was on the edge of giving into defeat.

I shared my feelings with a dear friend of mine. She brought a great perspective to my situation. She challenged me to ponder the thought that I was discouraged because I had the wrong focus. Was I looking through the wrong lens? As we discussed my hardships, dead ends, and frustrations, it became quite evident that I was out of focus! I was completely caught up in what I wanted, what I needed, and what I thought I didn’t have. What was the common thread there? It was I.

My friend encouraged me to focus on God our Father instead. I was brought to Psalm 73:21-28 (ESV), 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Colossians 3:1-17 and Hebrews 12:1-3. I meditated on these for days; Praying, Reading, Listening. I became refreshed, renewed, and reassured that I just needed to switch my view from internal to eternal. Psalm 73 mentions the eternity that gave me the conviction to stand strong on the promise of God’s faithfulness. I found comfort in knowing He is my refuge. And I found clarity in what I first thought was unanswered problems. The struggles dissipated as I loosened the grip on my impatient and foolish desire to be in control. God knows what we need before we even think a thought. Why should we not trust his lead? He created the world, He created us with his own hands and breath, and He wants to bring us joy through his glory. Our hearts can keep the faith that all will be for the best when God is in control.

In the verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”, God calls us to share such experiences. I encourage you to read the rest of the passages in 2 Corinthians to learn more of God’s comfort and how when we share our comforts we are strengthened to continue through the trials. I hope you find encouragement though my journey. May God bless your path as you follow his lead.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

This Time
I Will Praise the LORD

This time of year, our thoughts turn toward what the year may hold. We make plans and think about the previous years with all their disappointments and regrets.

Leah (Genesis 29:31-35) was doing this year after year. She thought children were the answer to not being loved. Having children was very important in biblical times, especially sons for they would carry on the family name. Leah believed that if she had sons her husband would be pleased, see her worth, and love her. The Lord gave her what she thought she wanted. Leah had three sons. Sadly, Isaac still didn’t love her.

Finally, Leah looked elsewhere and found love where it had always been waiting for her–in God’s arms. So when she had a fourth son, she praised God with that son’s very name, Judah which means praise. Pleasing her husband to make him love her was no longer the thing that defined Leah. Rather she decided to please God. After all, he had always loved her.

Have you ever done this? So caught up in what you think will make you happy, you miss how God can make you happy right where you are, nothing else needed.

Sometimes God gives us what we think we need to show us what we really need.

God is there for you whatever you feel you are missing in your life. God can satisfy it.

Is there anything in your life that you keep looking to for happiness other than to God?

Active Patience

Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow–that is patience. ∼Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes our journey with God is hard. Sometimes it seems as though we’ve struggled forever only to look around and discover we’ve barely moved. We need to look up ahead and focus on our future hope, and look beside us at the One who is there to help us. Then, we will be able to take the next step. And the next. And the next. Until we find ourselves at our destination.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
∼2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

Retucking My Foundation

Stone and brick home foundations develop cracks, loosen and crumble if not maintained. They need regular inspections, testing, analyzing and sometimes retucking. If there are cracks or deteriation in a foundation it allows rain & pests to get in and cause damage. If this damage is not taken care of in time, the damage can be irreversible. Retucking is a construction process that stabilizes a damaged foundation. The old, cracked and crumbling mortar must be scrapped out and replaced. This reinforces and stabilizes the foundation. It will now be able to withstand bad weather, pests and time.

So, why am I telling you about construction techniques? I believe there is a great correlation with our lives. If we allow our foundation to weather, deteriorate and crack, the enemy will be able to get in and destroy. At first, it may not be visible to the naked eye. We can mask over the damage to hide our imperfections. Over time the cracks get bigger and our ability to stand against the storms of life decreases.

My 2017 seemed like it was a year and a half long. My year had so many troubles, hardships, and tragedies most would have run as far as they could in the opposite direction. Why didn’t I? What kept me from doing what so many told me I had the right to do? It was my Lord, my Father, my God. He was my rock. My solid foundation.

I must confess it has not always been solid. There was definite damage. The cracks had been there a long time. I was hiding behind serving in the church, facilitating bible studies, and attending small group studies and prayer meetings. I’m not saying that these things are bad and only mask your real life or even that I knew that is what I was doing. I only want to point out that if we are not careful, we only allow God in on the surface of our life.

Just like a stone or brick foundation of a house that has damage, My life needed to be retucked. I didn’t even know it! But last February, God took a hold of my heart and breathed new life into it. I, for the first time, TRULY believed He loves me. All of me.

“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” – Ezra 3:11

This verse is about the Levites, God’s chosen people. After a better part of a century of hopes and desperation, anguish and resentment their hope was restored. The Levites were overjoyed, singing praises to the Lord. Like the Levites, I sing praises knowing God’s mercies fail not. Is God your foundation or is he a cover up? Make time for reflection and inspect your life. Look for areas where the enemy is getting in and creating havoc. I am so glad I did and allowed God to stabalize my footing. I was able to withstand the storms and see the rainbow on the other side. I pray the same for you in 2018.

Blessings.

 

Bev Pomering has been married to her husband, Terry, for over 20 years. Their family includes two teenage boys and two dogs. Bev describes her home as anything but quiet. She works as an administrative assistant in the medical field. In addition to being an avid crafter and gardener, Bev is also active in her church where she focuses her talents on Women’s Ministries.

 

 

credit to
http://www.biblegateway.com NIV Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Ezra 3:11”. “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ezra-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™