Saturday In The Proverbs—Two Pursuits, Two Outcomes (Proverbs 7)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…call understanding your nearest kin… [or be] devoid of understanding… (Proverbs 7:4, 7).

Two pursuits lead to two totally different outcomes. 

Pursuit #1—I can keep God’s Word in my sight, treasure His laws and commands, and pursue His understanding. Outcome: I am kept safe from the flattery of anything that would try to seduce me (vv. 1-5).

—OR—

Pursuit #2—I can ignore God’s ways and rely on myself. I become devoid of understanding and I pursue what I want to pursue. Outcome: Seduced by flattery and led to the slaughter (vv. 6-27).

And your choice is….???

How NOT To Make A Decision

Adonijah thought he was the obvious heir to the throne so he stated what he believed, “I will be king” (1 Kings 1:5). 

On what evidence did Adonijah base his claim? 

  1. All of his friends said he would make a great king
  2. His father (the king) had always given him everything he wanted
  3. He was handsome and popular
  4. A couple members of the king’s court supported him
  5. No one had ever told him “no” 

While all of this sounded good, Adonijah overlooked some vital points. Like…

  1. …more men backed his brother Solomon to be king than backed him
  2. …his father had the decisive and definitive say in who would be king, and he chose Solomon
  3. …God had chosen Solomon to be king

It’s tempting for us to read the popular sentiment of the moment, or to listen to the cheering voices around us, or even to think that our plans are wise and well thought-out. But this is NOT the right way to make a decision.

Instead, we need to humbly consider three things that are external:

  1. The unbiased, wise counsel of others
  2. The buy-in of key stakeholders
  3. God’s clear “yes”

If these three things are in alignment, you cannot go wrong!

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 1

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 1 

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 1.]

     The servant of God is never self-elected, there is always this impelling call of God, and it is always the most unlikely man, the most unlikely woman, God calls. …  

     Jeremiah’s courage was superb. It was not the courage of foolhardiness But the courage of a hyper-sensitive man being held by God; he sees the terror of the evil and wrong and knows his own sensitiveness, and yet hears God saying, “Be not afraid.” There are people who are fearless and we say they are courageous, but there is no moral virtue in their courage, it is born either of physical or moral obtuseness. Spiritual courage is the high heart that sees the difficulty and faces it. That is the courage that is valuable to God. …  

     How am I to know what God has ordained me for? By His eternal Word. We have to stir up our minds and find out what God’s purpose is by obeying His Word and relying on His Spirit. … Will the Word of God come to me? Of course it will! Will the Spirit of God see that I fulfill that Word? Of course He will! If we will keep in the light with God, our destination is as sure and as established as God, as certain as His throne.

     When once you realize the divine purpose behind your life you will never again say, “I am so weak”; you will know you are, but you will be strong in His strength. The only strength we have is the strength of God, which comes to us from the vision of God and of His power. The time of stress in which there is no vision, no insight, no sensing of the purpose of God, is the time to stand firm in faith in God and God will do all the rest. Keep true to God and your development in God’s plan is certain. …  

     The reason men and women are exhausted in life is because they have not realized God’s purpose for them; when once they are awakened by the Spirit of God, regenerated by Him, and fitted on to His purpose for them, they will end where God wants them to end. 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

God had a purpose for Jeremiah’s life. He has a purpose for your life too! 

Get into His Word. Listen to the voice of His Spirit nudging you forward, awakening compassion, prompting you to go or to speak or to serve. God is glorified when you do what He designed you to do, and the rest of us are blessed and benefitted when you do what God designed you to do!  

8 Quotes From “How To Listen So People Will Talk”

In How To Listen So People Will Talk you will learn some invaluable skills for taking your relationships and your leadership deeper. Becky Harling has given us an amazing resource! Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Honestly, it’s impossible to be a good listener without developing a humble spirit. Think about it. When you’re listening and fully engaged, you allow the other person to have all the attention. Listening forces you to lay aside your agenda. It challenges you to let go of your need to share your opinions, theories, and assumptions in favor of listening to another’s feelings, thoughts, and sentiments. That decision can only come from a heart of humility.” 

“Resist the urge to dive in with your own story. … Whenever you dive in with your own story, you are stealing the microphone from the person who is telling their story. … The best advice is to remember to let someone be the star of their own show. Keep the focus on the person talking.” 

“How is it that we who have problems ourselves are so quick to try to fix someone else’s problem? James was spot on when he wrote, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak’ (James 1:19). I’d like to suggest that a great paraphrase for this verse is, ‘Let everyone be quick to listen and slow to give advice!’” 

“Don’t tell people what to do; ask them questions. … You gain greater insight, they gain greater self-awareness, and the two of you grow closer. … When we dare to ask someone what they want, we give them the opportunity to verbalize their need. … The best questions allow people to explore what’s in their hearts.” 

“When you validate another person’s feelings, you’re basically saying, ‘Your feelings make sense.’ You compassionately acknowledge that the person’s feelings are important and that those feelings are understandable. You don’t correct feelings or instruct a person on how to feel. You simply offer understanding. … Validating someone’s feelings doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the actions of the other person. … Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just feelings. It’s what we do with those feelings that determines whether or not we sin. … Validate feelings, but only validate actions that line up with Scripture.” 

“In your relationships, what does it look like for you to mimic Jesus and show others how valuable they are? How does your face send the signal, ‘I want to hear what you have to say’? Your nonverbal signals act as a green light, inviting others to share their feelings.” 

“Conflict can be transformational. In the chaos of an argument, if you will listen to understand and focus on meeting the others need, you’ll be more able to work as a team, coming up with a solution that satisfies both. In the end, your relationship will emerge stronger and more resilient.” 

“People are dying to feel heard, and unless we’ve purpose in our hearts to offer our full presence to others, we’ll drift through life distracted and dishonor those who matter to us in the process.” 

A Double Portion

“I am convinced that we don’t get a double portion of God’s Spirit by watching Elijah walk away while standing at Jericho. When we choose to remain behind, we also leave behind all that God desires to do in us and for us and through us. If we want to inherit a double portion of the spirit of Elijah, we need to walk in the steps of Elijah until he leaves no more footprints. …

“Don’t wait to be asked—volunteer. Volunteer to go forward. Volunteer to go further. Volunteer to go harder. You cannot pioneer out of obligation. It is not an adventure if it is not your choice. You have to want it. You have to want more. If you are going to be greedy, this is the right place to be greedy. Want everything God has for you. Want more than others think you can obtain. Why settle for a single portion if a double portion can be yours for the asking? …

“Perhaps the reason so few of us have received a double portion of God’s Spirit is that the lives we have chosen require so little of God because they require so little of us. … I want to live the kind of life that cannot be lived without the fullness of Christ in my life.” —Erwin McManus, in The Last Arrow (emphasis added)

How To Listen So People Will Talk (book review)

If this title was the switched, I’ll bet a lot of people would snap it up. Why? Because all of us want to be heard. In fact, some people are dying to be heard! Which is exactly why Becky Harling hits the nail on the head for ultimate, intimate, life-changing conversations in her book (very aptly titled) How To Listen So People Will Talk.

If Christians are going to follow the teachings of Jesus, there are two relationship principles that must be followed: (1) Love others and (2) serve others. There is no better way to love and serve those around us than by letting them know how deeply we are listening to them. 

Becky introduces us to at least eight major principles to raise our listening game. She uses her own life experiences, lessons that Jesus taught, the wisdom from Scripture, and even some insights from those in the psychological fields. Becky says, “People feel more loved and valued if we are actively and attentively listening to them.” And these principles will help you do just that. 

In addition to Becky’s insightful teachings, she concludes each chapter with some follow-up lessons and exercises to help us begin to apply the lessons to our conversations. 

How To Listen So People Will Talk is a game-changing book! I encourage all leaders—pastors, parents, teachers, coaches—as well those who want to enrich the relationships they have in their lives to get a copy of this book. 

I am a Bethany House book reviewer. 

5 Lessons From 2 Mothers

If you’ve been reading my series of posts on God’s favor, I hope you are becoming more aware of how strongly I want you to know this: God is for you! He’s not looking for opportunities to blast you, but to bless you. (If you want to read some of these previous posts, check out the link at the bottom of this post.) 

In writing his account of the birth of Jesus, Luke is captured with the idea of God’s favor. Luke uses the word favor more than any of the other gospel writers, and he uses the word quite frequently as he relates the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. During his narrative we meet two women—Elizabeth and Mary. Here are five lessons we can learn from these two mothers. 

(1) “Favor” is not the same thing as “favorite.” To say, “I am the one on whom God’s favor rests” is not the same as saying, “I am God’s favorite.” Elizabeth recognized God’s favor on both herself and on Mary (Luke 1:25 & 43), and Mary also recognized God’s favor on herself (Luke 1:28, 30, 48-49). But nowhere did these women think they were God’s favorites. God has no favorites, but instead He showers His abundant, never-ending favor on everyone! 

(2) “Favor” probably didn’t look like what they would have planned for themselves. Elizabeth didn’t get pregnant until the age when she should have been a grandmother, and Mary got pregnant before she was even married. I’m sure neither of them thought their lives would go this way! But God knew what He was doing all along (see Isaiah 45:7-9; Psalm 139:16). 

(3) They needed humility, obedience, and perseverance to remain in the place where they could recognize God’s favor. No one can stop God’s favor, but the devil would love to keep you from recognizing God’s favor. One way satan does this is by trying to get us to appeal to our pride (“I think I can do this better”) because then obedience to God and perseverance through the trying times is very difficult to maintain. 

(4) God’s favor is for God’s glory (not necessarily for our comfort). God is accomplishing HIS plan through us. His favor toward us places us where He needs us, when He needs us there, and with the talents we need to respond correctly when we get to that moment. Mary spoke the words that I’m sure were also in Elizabeth’s heart: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me just as you have said.” 

(5) God’s favor doesn’t necessarily answer all our questions. Even though God’s favor places us in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, we will still undoubtedly have questions about why God is doing what He’s doing. If you feel that way, you’re not alone—Hebrews 11 is full of people who felt the same way. But hang in there and keep trusting God: He knows what He’s doing! In the meantime remember this: God is able to make ALL grace abound toward you, that you, ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency in ALL things, may have an abundance for EVERY good work (2 Corinthians 9:8). 

Check out this video of the full message I shared on these lessons from the life of Elizabeth and Mary. 

Join me this Sunday as we continue looking at God’s favor. You can join me either in person or on Facebook Live. 

If you’ve missed any of my previous posts on God’s favor, check out: 

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