What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 3

Still reading in Proverbs about the thirty sterling principles. Today I will look at principles #6 and #7.
Proverbs 23:1-3 states the 6th principle:
“When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners; Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite.”
This sounds like very practical advice, and it seems like common sense to me. However, if a rich person is paying for dinner, someone might be tempted to order the most expensive thing on the menu, something they might not ordinarily order because they couldn’t afford it. This passage warns us against doing that. It doesn’t give us a reason why, but politeness sounds like a good enough reason to me. I wonder what the customs of the day were that would make this one of the highlighted principles in Proverbs.
Proverbs 23:4-5 states the 7th principle:
“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself! Riches disappear in the blink of an eye; wealth sprouts wings and flies off into the wild blue yonder.”
Most jobs these days won’t get a person rich, so working so hard that you wear yourself out seems pointless. But are there other things, besides a job, that we might work so hard at and wear ourselves out? We need to evaluate all our activities and make sure that we are only giving our best to the things that matter to God. Wealth and riches are not as important to God as they are to us, so working towards those things is a waste of our efforts. What God wants is our worship, praise and obedience. Those are the things we should put our efforts into.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 2

Last week I started looking at the important principles laid down in the middle of Proverbs (Proverbs 22 – 24). There are lots of good principles to follow highlighted in Proverbs but these chapters point out 30 that every person should know and adhere to.
This week I will look at principles 4 – 5. Principle #4 basically talks about fooling others into thinking you have more land than you do. Proverbs 22:28 says, “Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines staked out long ago by your ancestors.” So it appears on the surface to be talking about the boundaries of a piece of land. But I think it could also be talking about taking anything of value by stealth and deception. Sneaking money out of my husband’s wallet could be an example of that. Or shoplifting in a store. We are instructed to not do anything by stealth and deception.
Principle #5 is found in Proverbs 22:29. It says, “Observe people who are good at their work – skilled workers are always in demand and admired, they don’t take a back seat to anyone.” Skilled workers are always in demand and admired. That is so true. And, skilled workers usually are employed and valued by their employers. I have the responsibility of trying to raise children to be skilled workers. I think we’ve succeeded with at least one child, but there’s three to go. I don’t know how to teach them the value of being skillful in their studies as preparation for becoming skillful workers. We encourage them and try to get them to do their best work now. That’s the best we can do. They will be observed as they go through school, and if they do their best work, their skills will be noticed and they will be in high demand – by colleges or employers. I think the most I can do to help them become skilled workers who are high in demand and admired is to pray for them.
This verse also has application in my life. I need to strive to be a hard worker in my daily activities, whether it’s meeting with God or substitute teaching. This also requires a great amount of prayer for myself. I can’t be the kind of worker God wants me to be without turning everything over to God and praying for His strength in my life.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 1

The book of Proverbs is filled with principles for living a godly and upright life. This week I came across a passage of Scripture that tells us outright that the next 30 things we are going to be told are “sterling principles:” [Proverbs 22:20-21 from The Message]
“I’m giving you thirty sterling principles –
            tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me – these are truths that work;
            and will keep you accountable to those who sent you.”
I decided to study and pray over each principle one at a time over the next 30 or so days. If God felt they needed to be singled out, I should give them the attention they deserve.
The first principle was to “not walk on the poor just because they’re poor” and to “not use your position to crush the weak.” I don’t think I do those things. I think I view the weak and poor as those needing help and direction. I prayed that God would open my eyes to the poor and see them as He sees them.
The second principle hit closer to home: “Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious – don’t get infected.” There are many angry people in my life (including myself at times). My prayer was for me to not catch the disease of anger and to not get angry even with angry people in my life. Sometimes it’s not possible to “not hang out with angry people” because of life’s situation, but I can work on not being contaminated by the anger around me.
The third principle was about gambling: “Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, hocking your house against a lucky chance. The time will come when you have to pay up; you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.” Fortunately, I’m not a gambling person. I think the key here is to not gamble on what you cannot afford to lose: your house, your clothes, your food. Those things can be very hard to replace and because of the gambling, you won’t necessarily have the means to pay up. You will be left high and dry, and without the things you need most in this life. I prayed I would never fall prey to the gambling bug.
There are 27 more principles that I have yet to concentrate on. You will probably hear more about those in the coming weeks as I read and pray over them in my morning devotions.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Avoiding Grief

From The Message, Proverbs 21:23 says, “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” This gave me a lot to think about today.
I need to watch what I say and how I say things. I need to restrain myself from saying certain things. There are many situations in my life where not saying things may come in handy. Sometimes talking at all may just lead to an argument or hurt feelings. I need to be careful about what I say and how I say it.
The problem is communication is an important tool for parenting. The parent needs to communicate with the child and the child needs to communicate with the parent. There are lots of things that need to be said, and things that need to be heard. So not talking is not always the answer. But what is said and how it’s said is important to preventing miscommunication and hurt feelings.
As the parent, I need to model good communication so my children know what it looks like. This verse doesn’t say we should never talk to others; it just says we need to be careful about what and how we say things. The part about watching your words means to pick the words carefully so you are not picking hurtful words. I think the part about holding your tongue focuses on how we say something. For instance we shouldn’t say things in an angry or loud way. We need to be calm and kind, even when we are saying things that might be hard for a child to hear.
A saying I’ve heard around the AA tables puts it clearly: “Say what you mean; mean what you say; but don’t say it meanly.” If I was to follow this in all my attempts to communicate with my children I could do what the second half of Proverbs 21:23 says and save myself a lot of grief. Now to just get better at it and to teach it to the children and the others in my life that need to follow the instructions given in this verse.