Read: John 1:10-12; 1 John 2:22-23; 1 John 3:23-24; I John 4:2

I like happy messages. Words that convey I am doing a good job, not falling short. Criticism has historically been difficult for me because I want to get it right. If I didn’t get it right, someone must be disappointed with me.

Through various avenues the last few weeks, I keep hearing the same question, just worded a bit differently each time. But basically, it sounds like this: What are you doing with Jesus? C.S. Lewis said it like this:

I taught Christian History for several years. The element of early history that stands out to me is the way people came to be followers of Jesus after his death and resurrection. There was something so compelling about the way these people lived – the ones who called on the name of Jesus – that it required a response. People wanted to join them, even when they knew that decision may bring persecution, separation and sometimes death.

So, what are you doing with Jesus? Does the way you live compel people to make a decision about Jesus? Does it create a hunger in people for something more? Who do you say Jesus is?

This week while studying for the Daily Reads, I listened to a song by Bethel Music, sung by Kristene DiMarco. It is entitled “Take Courage.” It summarizes how I often feel…there seems to be a lot of waiting. But it is in the waiting that I often experience God most deeply.

I pray it will bless you as well. You can listen to it here. May you be at peace as you wait on your triumph, to experience God’s unfailing movement in your life.

I remember it like it was yesterday. My younger sister and I were playing on the step into our family room. She was singing a song – maybe reciting lyrics – about having a treasure worth more than silver or gold or diamonds. I asked her what she had but, in true sibling fashion, she wouldn’t tell me and she wasn’t going to share. I didn’t have a treasure.

In true sibling fashion, I went to Mom and told her my sister had a treasure and she wouldn’t share. Mom made her tell me. She smugly said, “It’s Jesus!”

Jesus and his wisdom are a treasure. Yesterday we read it is worth leaving all to find.

Read: Job 28:1-4, 12-13, 23, 27-28

If time allows, read the whole chapter. It is fascinating. Otherwise, jump around as suggested.

We began this week thinking about what we put into our minds. It is wisdom that guides those choices and protects us from content that drags us away from a place of peace. Wisdom also guides us and gives us courage to face obstacles in our lives.

Again I ask: How is your diet? Is it helping you grow stronger and filling you with faith? Or is it eating away at your soul and filling you with anxiety, worry, self-loathing?

You choose.

I arrived at my house in Florida Wednesday about 7 p.m. Unconcerned about getting in, I walked confidently to the door, punched in the four digit code and watched the light flash red. Normally, it flashes green and there is a slight whirring noise indicating the deadbolt is engaged and can be opened.

I put in the code several more times and experienced the same red light. Now, I was in a bind. We don’t take a key with us because we have this nifty electronic door lock. But without the power of the battery, the combination and lock were completely useless.

That is how wisdom works. We can have all the best efforts and plans in place, but without the power source, they will be useless and ineffective; they will come to nothing.

Solomon said in Proverbs 1:7 that the fear of the Lord is the foundation, the beginning of knowledge and knowledge is the foundation of wisdom.

Fear of the Lord is not to be afraid, but to stand in awe of, to respect, to revere and honor him.

Read: Proverbs 8:1-11

The desire for wisdom is a turning point. We meet it at crossroads, on the path of decision, after a tragedy, when life gets tough. She is there, inviting us to follow her and to learn from her.

This week I have cried out for wisdom. I need to know how to act on what I know. What about you?

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure your faith is in God alone.

James 1:5-6

Let’s review what we have established about wisdom. First, it is knowing what to do with what we know. Acting in a just way on our knowledge.

Secondly, obtaining knowledge is as simple as asking God for it. He freely gives it with no judgment. The only stipulation? Your faith has to be in him alone. That means we can’t trust our selves or our own good ideas.

Third, if we reject wisdom’s offer to come and learn to live a disciplined and successful life, we will eat the bitter fruit of living our own way. Yikes!

Read: Proverbs 2:1-10

The reading passage yesterday ended with this encouragement: “But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”

Maybe that sounds too good to be true, the stuff fairy tales are made of. I invite you to give it a run. After all, if your life is a mess and you have found yourself eating the bitter fruit of living your own way, it can’t hurt.

In the reading today, Solomon tells us how to get wisdom. Listen again: he says “cry out for insight,” search for them as you would for silver, seek them like hidden treasures.” Walking in wisdom isn’t something to dabble in when we feel like it or we get into trouble. It is a lifestyle.

It is understanding that my ways might not be all that impressive; my plans lack the 40,000 foot perspective that God’s plans include. Turning my heart to him and simply asking for wisdom to know how to act on what I know is all it takes. And he will show up.

A few years ago I took a teaching position at a small Christian school. Not only did I not have any formal teaching education, I did not have any experience teaching in a school. I had never made a lesson plan or a rubric or a grading scale. I was in over my head. The first semester I was at the school a couple days a week for chapel and to meet the students in an effort to develop rapport before I started teaching.

Second semester rolled around and more than once I was one my face in my office crying out to God for wisdom. And he always showed up. He calmed the sea, he led me into the classroom and I managed to make it through the first year. But it was a pretty sharp learning curve.

What are you experiencing right now? Could you use a does of heavenly wisdom? It is only one breath away and it is given without any judgment. Why don’t you ask him now?

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure your faith is in God alone.

James 1:5-6

I am so thrilled with wisdom. You know, it’s been one of those moments when you knew something, but then you really KNOW something.

Yesterday I wrote that wisdom is not just knowing something, but the ability to make a just judgment regarding action to take. So it is knowing what to do with what you know. That is mind blowing for me!

Reading: Proverbs 1:28-33

Beginning at the beginning of the book of Proverbs, the purpose of the proverbs is clearly stated. It is “to teach people wisdom and discipline…to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives.” Proverbs 1:2-3

It only makes sense to me, then, to read them. King Solomon presented Wisdom as a fine woman who calls to us, inviting us to learn what she has to teach. (The Greek word translated wisdom is a feminine noun, thus the use of feminine pronouns. In no way does this suggest that men are not wise.)

Wisdom invites us to come and learn, so we might live a successful life. What happens when we don’t respond? That is the essence of the reading selection for today.

If we reject wisdom, we will eat the bitter fruit of going our own way. As much as I wish it wasn’t true, that is what will happen. And then we cry in desperation, blaming God for leaving us in our time of need. Hmmmm….if we reject the provision God has made for our peace and joy, what else is there?

Are you willing to say “yes” to the call of Wisdom? Are you ready to turn away from your own ideas, your own plans and let God guide you? He will give wisdom to all who ask without any judgment.

Years ago, when Dave and I were first married, I enjoyed reading books by Janette Oke, Gilbert Morris, Lori Wick and other authors who wrote Christian fiction. I love to read and once I start I book I can hardly put it down which has not always proven to be life giving for my family.

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What are you taking in? I don’t really care about your food choices, but am concerned about your media, listening, reading, looking choices. This has been swirling around all week and the more it swirled, the more I kept hearing about choices people close to me made that didn’t prove to be helpful. So, what are you taking in?

In preparation for this week, I would like you to think about the media you regularly allow into your mind. It might be books you read, podcasts you listen to, music you stream, websites you visit, can’t miss TV programming – whatever you take in on a regular basis.

Secondly, consider the feelings and responses these things stir in you. Negativity, joy, delight, sadness, anxiety, worry, fear, courage….how would you describe the tenor of your day after participating in the media that streams through your mind.

Reading: Psalm 19:14; Psalm 104:33-34

Looking forward to a wonderful week in Jesus! Let’s remember the people around us who are faced with terrible tragedy. Perhaps your community is like ours where death has visited in really tragic ways. Together we can help bear the burden by praying for comfort of the Holy Spirit to surround those who are filled with sadness and grief.

Last week I worshiped at my home church in Indiana. It wasn’t the best for me. I only tell you that because I want you to know that even for someone connected to a body of worshipers, I have off Sundays. I wanted nothing more than to run like the wind and get out of there.

I think today will be different! It is a new day and I have confidence that God’s mercies are new every day and so each new day brings endless possibilities.

This week we have learned some incredible principles regarding who God says we are and what he says we can do with him as our companion. Maybe today is the day to seal that in corporate worship.

Wherever you are, connect with him in a way that is meaningful to you. And know that he is right there with you.

Read: Psalm 19

What does this psalm say about all the ways we can see God at work? In what ways has he revealed himself to us?

Photo by Chad Kirchoff on Pexels.com

The final principle is key to changing how you interact with the world. I have been so blessed by this passage and my prayer is that you have been as well.

Read: Judges 6:11-18

Fourth Principle: Go with what you have and he will make it enough.

When the angel first spoke with Gideon, Gideon launched a narrative on why he didn’t believe the Lord was with him (his lament). And then he was told to “Go with the strength you have…I am sending you!” In verse 16 the Lord repeats, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”

Now that is remarkable. If you continue reading the account, Gideon asks and receives further confirmation that the Lord is actually sending him.(You will have to read all of chapter six and seven to get the whole story.) But then the story takes an interesting twist.

Gideon recruits an army of 33,000. Great! The Lord provides!

Except the Lord said that was too many. If they defeated the Midianites with that many men, they would take credit for it and miss what God wanted to show them. So, Gideon told everyone who was afraid to go home. Twenty-two thousand went home, leaving him 10,000 men.

That was still too many. So God passed them through another test and only 300 men qualified for service. Now that is what the Lord wanted to see. An impossible situation by man’s accounting so, at the end of the day, they would know the victory came from God not them.

And with 300 men, Gideon, Mighty Hero, fought against and defeated an army so large they were described as “a swarm of locusts” with camels too many to count (Judges 7:11-12).

When God provides, he does it completely. He will give you everything you need to live a life fully alive. There is no need to try to be like someone else or to run after what others run after. Listen to his voice and move out when he tells you. When he sends, he also equips.

Embrace the truth of who he knows you to be and walk in the boldness of his provision for you. Your only responsibility is to offer him what you already have. And that is enough!