WHAT IS BETTER THAN GOLD IN YOUR LIFE?

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16 NIV)

Wisdom is better than gold.  Insight is better than silver.  In other words, knowledge is worth more than money. Attaining wisdom helps you live a better life.  The wisdom found within the pages of the Bible will help you live a life beyond your wildest dreams.  Your relationships will thrive as you learn to love like Jesus.  God’s light within you will draw people to you.  Money is a resource, not a god.  Wisdom is a key to a better life.  Wisdom beats gold.

Wisdom beats gold.

Solomon is the wisest man whoever lived.  King David’s son, he was king after him.  One night, the Lord appeared to him in a dream.  He gave Solomon a directive:

“Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you.” (1 Kings 3:5 NIV)

What Solomon asks for is the reason he’s the wisest man:

“Please make me wise and teach me the difference between right and wrong. Then I will know how to rule your people. If you don’t, there is no way I could rule this great nation of yours.” (1 Kings 3:9 NIV)

Solomon asked for wisdom.  He didn’t ask for money, long life, or his enemies destroyed.  Instead he asked for knowledge to rule the Lord’s people well.  He put others before his own needs or wants.  As a result, God gave him wisdom and blessed him with more than he asked:

I’ll also give you what you didn’t ask for. You’ll be rich and respected as long as you live, and you’ll be greater than any other king.  If you obey me and follow my commands, as your father David did, I’ll let you live a long time.” (1 Kings 3:13-14 NIV)

Wisdom is more valuable than gold because it shows you how to have good relationships. When we ask God for wisdom, He gives it to us:

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17 NIV)

When we receive God’s wisdom and apply it to our lives, they blossom.  Our hearts align with God.  His love for His people will flow through us to those around us.  Just as a seed begins to grow where planted, we’ll begin to grow in our surroundings.  We’ll understand, God has us where we are for a reason.  His insight will help us see people in a new way.  We’ll have more understanding, more compassion, more love for them.  In order to have God’s wisdom, like Solomon, we have to ask.

God’s wisdom beats money.  He’s waiting for you to ask.  His answer is already prepared: “Yes!”

Question of the Day:

Have you asked God for His wisdom?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 19:11-20:13 NIV, John 21:1-25 NIV, Psalm 120:1-7 NIV, Proverbs 16:16-17 NIV

WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM STUMBLING IN LIFE?

“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165 NIV)

Love of God’s law keeps you from stumbling in life.  Relationships are how we falter.  Everything we do involves a relationship.  As children, our relationships are with our immediate family. We go to school and have relationships with teachers and faculty, as well as friends.  In the working world we have bosses and co-workers.  We marry and begin our own family with its own relationships.  And last but not least, we have a relationship with God. Relationships formulate our lives.  If our relationships are not peaceful, we stumble.

When you look at the 10 Commandments, you realize they are about relationships.  The first four are about our relationship with God: no other gods, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, no idols, keep the Sabbath holy.  The last six are about relationships with other people: honor parents, no murder, adultery, stealing, lieing or coveting (Exodus 20:1-17 NIV).  Applying these laws to your life will cause you not to stumble in your relationships.  Life is about relationships.  God made us for community with others.  Having solid relationships are a result of God’s law.  God’s law makes you surefooted.

God’s law makes you surefooted.

I’m working on my masters right now.  Each class has projects that I need to complete.  This past semester, I had three different projects I worked on throughout the term.  As the end of the semester drew near and the projects were nearing completion, I spent time reviewing the instructions for each of them.  With a fine tooth comb, I re-read them and made sure I had done the requirements for the project.  I made sure I used the right font and formatting.  Each project had a designated length, I met those requirements.  I checked off each point to ensure I had done all the work required.  By the time I turned in my finished assignments, I had peace because I knew I had done what my professors had asked me to do.

God is the same way.  His word is the instruction manual for our lives.  We get to know Jesus better as we read the words of His followers.  We see clearly, Jesus is a master at relationships.  No matter what the situation, Jesus had an answer.  Often He quotes Old Testament scriptures when he’s dealing with an issue.  Jesus loved the law.  He fulfilled the law.  He did not stumble.  When we follow Him, we’ll have the same results.  We’ll love the law more and more as we apply it to our relationships.  

God’s laws are the formula for healthy relationships.  When we apply them to our lives, our relationship with Him and others flourish.  We’ll have peace in our lives, we won’t stumble.

Question of the Day:

How has God’s laws helped your relationships flourish?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 18:1-19:10 NIV, John 20:1-31 NIV, Psalm 119:153-176 NIV, Proverbs 16:14-15 NIV

WHY ARE GOD’S COMMANDS DELIGHTFUL TO YOU?

“Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.” (Psalm 119:143 NIV)

God’s commands are delightful because they give direction.  In life, we are constantly faced with circumstances we can’t control.  COVID19 is something we can’t control.  We can’t stop the virus from spreading.  Yes, we can socially isolate and quarantine to slow the spread of the illness, but we can’t control it.  Focusing on what we can’t control stops us from doing what we can control.  Focusing on God’s commands is something we can control.  Obeying His commands gives us something we can do.  In times of uncertainty, having something to do is delightful.  God’s commands give us direction.  Direction is delightful.

Direction is delightful.

When I was in my late 20’s, my life was out of control.  I was not following Jesus.  I had alienated my friends and family.  I was not following any of God’s commands.  Financially I was in debt up to my eyeballs.  Spiritually I had turned my back on God.  Physically I was not treating my body as a temple.  The path of self-destruction I followed had left me desolate and alone.  I didn’t know what to do.  I needed direction.  In desperation, I turned to God.  I found delight in His commands.  

The first and greatest command God gives us is to love Him, love others (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).  In order to love God completely, I renewed my relationship with Jesus.  He is the link that binds me to God.  In today’s terms, Jesus is the wifi that connects my computer to God’s network.  The beauty of Jesus, His connectivity never fails.  His wifi signal is always at full bars.  As a result, love flows freely from God to me.  God’s love allows me to love Him, and others.  God gave me direction when I turned to Him.  He helped me gain control of my life by giving it to Him.

When we submit to God’s commands, we’re letting Him control our lives.  We’re saying, “Your way is better than mine.  You make the decisions for my life.”  For me, when I turned back to God, it meant I needed to make changes.  I started to rebuild human relationships as I built my renewed relationship with God.  I began to live within my means and pay off my debt.  I stopped having premarital sex.  My way had not worked.  I decided to try God’s way.  God’s way gave me direction.  Each day, I choose God’s commands over my desires.  After 20 plus years, I can honestly say, following God is the best decision I ever made.  In His commands, I found delight.

Choose today God’s demands over your desires.  Let Him have control of your life.  Let His commands bring you delight.

Question of the Day:

How has God’s commands given you delight?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 17:1-29 NIV, John 19:23-42 NIV, Psalm 119:129-152 NIV, Proverbs 16:12-13

WHO CAN KEEP YOUR HOPES ALIVE?

“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.” (Psalm 119:116 NIV)

God keeps our hopes alive.  His promises are what spurs us on.  Believing God’s promises holds Him accountable to His word.  According to Biblegateway, God has made 5467 promises in His love letter to us.  God fuels our hope with His mighty words.  His promises are irrevocable and trustworthy:

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19 NIV)

His faithfulness assures our hope:

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)

His promises overflow from His goodness and glory:

“And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:4 NIV)

God’s promises are our hope.

In this time of COVID19, we need hope.  News outlets and social media report doom and gloom predictions for our world.  Division in our country is unrelenting.  But those are not promises of God, they are people’s perspectives.   People’s opinions destroy hope. God’s word ignites hope.

God’s promises bring peace:

“I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people.” (Psalm 85:8 NIV)

To receive the hope we find in God’s word, we must be obedient.  We must listen to what His promises say in order to have the hope they offer.  We must faithfully seek God daily to learn His promises.  If we studied one of God’s 5467 promises a day, it would take just under 15 years to complete.  God has given us enough hope in His word to last a lifetime.  Our job is to seek what He has already given.

Where does God’s hope begin?  Jesus:

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)

I’ve been following Jesus all of my life.  At 50 years old, I feel like I have just dipped my toes in the water.  The hope Jesus offers is unending.  The lessons Jesus teaches us are invaluable.  The promise Jesus fulfills gives us life eternal.  He overcame death so that we can too.  Hope springs eternal in the promise filled by Jesus.

God keeps our hope alive with Jesus. Renew yours today with His promise of Jesus.

Question of the Day:

Have you found hope in Jesus?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 15:23-16 NIV, John 18:25-19:22 NIV, Psalm 119:113-128 NIV, Proverbs 16:10-11 NIV

HOW TO ILLUMINATE YOUR PATH IN FRONT OF YOU

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  (Psalm 119: 105 NIV)

God’s word lights your path.  When we need direction, we can find it from the authors of the Bible.  Solomon, who wrote the majority of Proverbs gives us practical wisdom for all aspects of life.  During this pandemic, fear of death is the primary emotion guiding people’s actions.  However, fear of God is how we gain knowledge:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  (Proverbs 1:7 NIV)

Fear of the Lord is accepting the Bible’s teaching as truth.  Within the books pages, there is instruction for all aspects of life.   Solomon informs us:

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

If we have fear of God, we no longer need to fear death.  When we believe God’s written instruction as truth, then apply it to our lives, He will direct our paths.  His word will illuminate our paths.  We no longer walk in darkness, but in light.

God’s word lights our path.

Solar lights are like Christ followers.  Solar lights receive power from the sun, Christ followers receive power from the Son.  Only when you spend time in God’s word, with God’s people, in God’s presence does He fill you with His light.  Just like solar powered lanterns, we can’t help but shine God’s light when we’ve spent time with Him.  

Solar lights bring light to the darkness.  When the sun sets, the lights turn on.  In the same way, when we walk into the world after spending time with God, we light the darkness.  God’s presence in our lives will allow us to lead with grace and humility.  We’ll love the unlovable because of His light in us.  The dark world will have light  because of God’s power at work within us.

But solar lights can’t stay in the darkness.  They must have the sun’s rays to re-fuel them.  By the time the sun rises in the morning, their energy has been spent.  In the same way, if we spend all of our time in the world, we will run out of God’s light in us.  We need refueling daily to continue to shine in the darkness.  Each morning, when we spend time with God, he fills our batteries and turns the light back on within us.

Solar lights depend on the sun for their light.  Christ followers depend on the Son for their light. In order for our light to shine brightly, we must read God’s word.  When we fill ourselves with His word, we are a solar light to the world.   God’s word illuminates our path and brings light to the world.

Question of the Day:

Does your solar battery need charged with God’s word?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 14-15 NIV, John 18:1-24 NIV, Psalm 119:97-112 NIV, Proverbs 16:8-9 NIV

ONE WAY TO FIND PEACE WITH YOUR ENEMIES

“When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.” (Proverbs 16:7 NIV)

One way to find peace from your enemies is to please the Lord.  When you please God, your enemies make peace.  Pleasing God doesn’t mean you are perfect.  Pleasing God means you try.  Nothing pleases God more than when you believe in His Son:

“Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29 NIV)

In other words, the first thing we do that pleases God is believe in Jesus.  When we believe Jesus died for our sins, then overcame death on the third day, we please God:

“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7 NIV)

One way to find peace from your enemies is to please God.  You please God when you trust Jesus.

You please God when you trust Jesus.

Trusting Jesus means you take His advice.  As a female, I look for advice from my friends.  I know which friends will tell me the truth versus those who tell me what they think I want to hear.  Jesus is the friend who always tells me the truth with His gentle love.  I know His advice is the one to follow.  But Jesus’ advice is the hard way, not the easy way.

Jesus’ way takes work.  Me writing these devotionals is work.  I feel called by Jesus to write.  I started reading through the Bible yearly over 20 years ago.  After a few years, I began to journal as well as read.  My quiet time grew from 10-15 minutes to 20-30 minutes, then an hour.   My devotional writing has become an extension of my quiet time with God every morning.  My relationship with God has grown from 10-15 minutes a day to hours.  Jesus’ way takes work, but it’s worth it.

Trusting Jesus pleases God, but also changes your life in ways you can never imagine.  Your enemies are at peace.  Doing the hard work frees you to let go of negative emotions and fill yourself with God’s love:

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19 NIV)

When we overflow with God’s love, our enemies can’t help but make peace with us.  They will want what they see in us: Jesus.  You’re heart’s desire and God’s will become one.  As others meet Jesus through you, You’ll rejoice with God.  You’ll begin to understand why God was so pleased with you when you first believed.  

Question of the Day:

Have you pleased God by trusting in Jesus?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 13 NIV, John 17:1-26 NIV, Psalm 119:81-96 NIV, Proverbs 16:6-7 NIV

YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE IN THIS LIFE

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33 NIV)

No matter how hard you try to avoid trouble, it’s a part of life.  Jesus knew this, that’s why He overcame it.  Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, and overcame the world.  He fulfilled the law because we can’t.  He sent His Spirit to help us through the troubles we have.  We will have trouble in this life, but Jesus has already overcome it.

Jesus overcame the world for us.

We’re in the midst of a pandemic as I write.  Our nation is in turmoil.  People are on opposing sides of how to handle the situation.  I’m fifty years old.  I’ve never felt tension in our world like I do today.  After 9/11 the world had tension, but it was different.  We identified the enemy to fight, Osama Bin Laden.  With COVID, an unseen enemy by the human eye has affected everyone on the planet.  No one is immune to the illness.  We are all united in the battle, but divided in the plan of attack.  Fear of death is a reality people are living with more than ever.  

In addition to the pandemic, mental illness has skyrocketed.  Depression and suicide rates increased.  Domestic violence has risen.  Drug and Alcohol abuse is soaring. Coupled with ⅓ of our population being unemployed,  lives are in turmoil.  They don’t know how to handle their own personal situations.  They don’t know how they are going to survive.  But God does:

“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” (Isaiah 25:1 CSB)

God knows exactly what is going on in the world.  He’s known since the beginning of time.  He wants us to focus our attention on Him, not COVID. He wants us to praise Him, even in the dark times.  He wants us to trust His love and plan for us.  He sent Jesus as a representative of Himself.  He gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us from within. 

In Jesus, we have eternal life.  No matter what troubles we face on earth, Jesus is the answer.  He is our hope on dark days.  He is peace for our troubled hearts.  He doesn’t want you to live in fear, He wants you to live life to the fullest:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

COVID is the thief, Jesus is the answer.  You will have troubles in this world, but Jesus overcame them for you.

Question of the Day:

What is the thief trying to steal from you today?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 12 NIV, John 16:1-33 NIV, Psalm 119:65-80 NIV, Proverbs 16:4-5 NIV

HOW TO BEAR GOOD FRUIT IN YOUR LIFE

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:2 NIV)

If you want to bear good fruit, let God prune you.  Pruning involves removing any dead limbs which no longer produce fruit.  Only God is able to see the dead limbs in our lives.   When pruning, farmers remove branches for two reasons: open branches to allow more sunlight and encourage fruiting spurs to grow.  When God prunes us, the same effect happens.  More Son light flows into our lives, budding fruits of the spirit grow.  If we want to bear good fruit, God needs to prune us.

If we want to bear good fruit, God needs to prune us.

God prunes our relationships by removing people from our lives.  One way God taught me this happened when I was single.  I went on blind dates, I used online services and joined singles groups.  I was intentional about forming relationships.  However, my heart often was hurt by the rejection I received.  Blind dates I thought went well, never called back.  Online matches would close the connection before a date happened.  I met a lot of friends in singles groups, but no love matches.  I didn’t understand why, then I realized, God is pruning me.

I learned, God knew more than I did about the people I was interacting with in these situations.  He knew the conversations they had I didn’t.  He knew the activities they did.  He knew their hearts.  He removed these people from my life because they were bad branches for me.  He knew if He allowed them to grow in my life, they wouldn’t produce good fruit.  Instead, He used this as a way to draw me closer to Him.  I learned to trust Him more.  Once I realized, He was protecting me from heading in the wrong direction, I accepted the rejection easier.  As a result I produced good fruit.

God prunes bad relationships from our lives.  Unhealthy people cannot have healthy relationships. My pastor used this analogy to help me understand.  Two friends are driving down the road.  The car gets a flat tire.  They pull over to fix the flat.  Once repaired, the driver is ready to continue on the journey.  The passenger decides he doesn’t want to go any further, he likes the scenery on the side of the road.  The driver now needs to decide: do I stay with my friend or continue on the journey?

The driver doesn’t want to leave his friend behind, but in order to continue growing, he must.  We make the same decisions when in relationships that aren’t healthy.  We can’t force people to take the journey with us.  Fortunately, God does the pruning for us.  Our job is to let Him.  

Question of the Day:

Who has God pruned from your life that you’re still holding onto?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 9-11 NIV, John 15:1-27 NIV, Psalm 119:49-64 NIV, Proverbs 16:1-3 NIV

HOW DO YOU GET UNDERSTANDING IN YOUR LIFE?

“Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.” (Psalm 119:34 NIV)

If you want understanding, ask God for it.  Understanding is important.  If we understand our circumstances, they are easier to accept.  If we understand other people’s perspective, they are easier to love.  Only God knows the complete picture.  He is the only One who knows why you are in your circumstances.  He is the only One who knows why that person did what they did.  No one else.  If we want understanding, we must go to the One who knows.

God wants us to understand.  Ultimately, the law God wants us to keep is to love Him and love others (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).  Accepting our life circumstances affirms God’s purpose.  Like a seed planted in a garden, God wants us to grow wherever He plants us.  We can’t grow if we’re rebelling against our lot in life.  We grow when we accept God placed us where we are for a reason.  Our reason is to love those God has placed in our lives.  Loving the people in our lives is easier when we understand them.   In order to understand other people, we need God’s intervention.  In order to understand, ask God for understanding.

In order to understand, ask God for understanding.

God intervenes when we begin to pray.  Prayer is how God helps us understand.  As we shift our focus from ourselves to Him, He transforms us.  He opens our eyes to things within ourselves we don’t see.  He shows us ways to love, not by changing others, but by changing ourselves.  Controlling other people’s thoughts, emotions or actions is impossible.  Controlling ourselves is possible.  Prayer is what makes positive change in ourselves possible.    

I had an individual in my life I felt feelings of hatred towards.  The fact I felt hatred made me angry.  My mother raised me not to hate anyone.  Yet, hatred for someone consumed me.  I started to pray about the situation.  I asked God for clarity and understanding.  I asked Him to remove the hatred from my heart.  He did.  Not immediately, but over time.  He revealed things within me that needed attention.  I began to understand why I was feeling the way I did.  I identified triggers in my life which were adding to these negative feelings.  I started viewing this person differently.  Over time, the hatred turned into love.  The person didn’t change at all, but God changed me.  He used this situation to grow me closer to Him.  He helped me understand, which allowed me to turn hatred into love.

If you need understanding about a situation or person in your life, go to God.  Ask Him for clarity and understanding.  Let Him reveal His understanding to you.

Question of the Day:

What do you need God to help you understand today?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-8:18 NIV, John 14:15-31 NIV, Psalm 119:33-48 NIV, Proverbs 15:33 NIV

HOW WILL PEOPLE KNOW JESUS IN YOUR LIFE?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)

People will know Jesus in your life by love.  How you love others is a reflection of Jesus’s presence in your life.  He has shown us how to love people, now we’re to do it.  Jesus was present with people.  He listened to them (Luke 24:17-20 NIV).  He had compassion for them (Matthew 9:36 NIV).  He set healthy boundaries, allowing people to make their own choices (Mark 10:21-22 NIV).  He didn’t enable people in their sin (John 8:11 NIV).  He loves deeply (John 3:16 NIV).  He spoke truth (John 18:38 NIV).  He did everything with grace and mercy (Mark 6:34 NIV).  If you want people to know Jesus, love like He did.

If you want people to know Jesus, love like He did.

I can’t love people like Jesus if I don’t spend time with Him.  I don’t want to love everyone in my humanness.  None of us do.  People in our lives who hurt us deeply, are hard to love.  But Jesus loves them too.  We don’t get to pick and choose who we love, Jesus doesn’t give us that option:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:30-31 NIV)

Who is our neighbor?  Everyone.  The person standing in front of you at the grocery store is our neighbor.  The poor driver who cuts you off in traffic is our neighbor.  The family member who constantly causes trouble is our neighbor.  The ex-boyfriend who cheated is our neighbor.  The person who murdered my good friend’s son is our neighbor.  How are we to love people who have caused us pain in our lives?  We let Jesus show us the way.

The first part of the great commandment is: “Love the Lord your God…” (Mark 12:30 NIV).  In order to love others, we have to love God first.  We have to seek Him daily, asking Him to fill us with His love.  We can’t love others without first receiving love from God.   He will show us how to love those who have hurt us deeply.  He will help us forgive those who have committed unspeakable acts against us.  He will protect us from further harm by helping us set appropriate boundaries.  Through Jesus, we can love anyone.   He doesn’t intend us to be their Savior, that’s His job.  He just expects us to love. 

Question of the Day:

Who do you need Jesus’ help loving today?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 4:1-6:23 NIV, John 13:31-14:14 NIV, Psalm 119:17-32 NIVProverbs 15:31-32 NIV