Tag Archives: discernment

Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

My oldest daughter graduated high school this year. She’ll be in college full time this fall, and while she’ll still be living at home, I won’t see her as often. I think of what I’ve learned about people and life, but mostly what I’ve learned at Jesus’ feet, and I want to cover her with warning and discernment as she heads out the door, to make sure she’s equipped for the journey. How could I ever say it all?

Proverbs feels like the fervent warnings of a parent condensed on pages, and as I read them, it’s a flood. This is good. I don’t want to forget this. Oh, this is so true, I think to myself. Choices, resentments, trust, character, leadership, reputation, integrity, bravery, strength–I don’t know about you, but as I read through these proverbs, I see how many have played out in my life or the life of someone I know.

This was like a bright red flag when someone recently looked for support and validation in a turbulent situation, one I did not want to be witness to or advisor in: 17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. (Proverbs 26:17, ESV)

This, a further reinforcement to steward my own affairs:

23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
    and give attention to your herds,
24 for riches do not last forever;
    and does a crown endure to all generations?
25 When the grass is gone and the new growth appears
    and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered,
26 the lambs will provide your clothing,
    and the goats the price of a field.
27 There will be enough goats’ milk for your food,
    for the food of your household
    and maintenance for your girls. (Proverbs 27:23-27, ESV)

I’m currently reading Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church by Philip Yancey. I think of it as I read this chapter 1 Thessalonians 3:2-6, NLT, emphasis noted:

and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you.

Troubles will come. Troubles in circumstances, relationships, choices. Just like I see the life of history past and present at play in these proverbs in 26-28, my daughter will too. I hope she will find encouragement like Yancey did through the testimony of others and through the pages of God’s Word. I hope she walks in wisdom. (I hope this for myself too.)

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 13,14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

One acted to protect. Another was stirred to anger and fear. And yet another was blessed. All were participants in a common circumstance.

The whole assembly agreed to this, for the people could see it was the right thing to do. So David summoned all Israel, from the Shihor Brook of Egypt in the south all the way to the town of Lebo-hamath in the north, to join in bringing the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. Then David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (also called Kiriath-jearim) to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord who is enthroned between the cherubim. They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. (1 Chronicles 13:4-8, NLT, emphasis added)

David was bringing back the Ark of God. He consulted his advisors and acted under the Lord’s consenting will. It was a joyful procession with an unexpected end.

But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. 10 Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God.

11 David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today.

12 David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” 13 So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 14 The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned. (1 Chronicles 13:9-14, NLT, emphasis added)

Some of my joyful starts have had unexpected ends. I have been powerless to protect things and people I treasure. I have been confused, wounded, disheartened by the unfolding of events–and some of these have taken years to recover from. I have been blessed beyond thought in seasons where I never expected it.

But I think on this–a common cause and three different perspectives, three different consequences–but one singular thing. Each man assigned his own narrative to it.

I don’t know what sparked Uzzah’s action: Certainly he was chosen to help carry the Ark because he was competent, responsible, and trustworthy. Were his actions instantaneous with no thought but to be helpful? Did he act because he thought David would be furious if the Ark fell? Was he protective of the impression of God, to save Him from a dishonor or embarrassment of a fallen Ark? All motivations seem reasonable. Whatever it was, Uzzah’s action was out of line, crossing a boundary of what the Lord required or expected of him, regardless of his intention or his credentials. It cost him a price. Lord, please be my guide. Give me wisdom and discernment. Keep me from butting into circumstances that are not my place to intervene. Your ways are higher than mine.

David was angry and afraid. The God he loved had acted in a way David didn’t expect, and he felt all the feelings. He didn’t understand. David was trying to do the right thing, and it went horribly wrong. This was not the happy ending of a joyful journey he had envisioned. His desire to honor God was marked by tragedy. Lord, when I struggle with expectation versus reality, help me to sort through all the feelings in a right way. Your ways are higher than mine.

An unexpected detour. When A to B takes a turn, the Ark is redirected to Obed-edom’s home for a time. In His presence, they are blessed. Lord, help me to be obedient when the unexpected happens. I pray to be aware of Your presence in all circumstances, confident in You and Your Will. You are my source of joy and peace, and I’m glad Your ways are higher than mine.

Courtney (66books365)

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 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 that your faith is in God alone. (James 1:2-6a, NLT)

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Ecclesiastes 10-12; 2 Timothy 4

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 4:1-5, NLT)

Oh, Lord, help me. So much crowds and clutters my mind, wanting my attention–help me to be intentional about the things that matter. Help me to stay focused on wholesome teaching and seeking truth so that I will be prepared. Help me to keep my mind clear in every situation.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Proverbs 3-5; Romans 10

23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

24 Avoid all perverse talk;
    stay away from corrupt speech.

25 Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
    keep your feet from following evil. Proverbs 4:23-27, NLT

Sometimes sin is so subtle. It comes packaged as fun or funny, exciting or entertaining.

God, help me to guard my heart. Help my children to guard their hearts. Help our family to build boundaries and set straight paths. Help us so that when troubles and trials and temptations come, we keep our eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 5-6; 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

“Well, whatever happens, I know God will bring something good from it,” she said it so matter-of-fact that I laughed. I love the view of hindsight–and among the many lessons learned from looking back, one is the truth in her statement. However, in the years of the sometime-struggle, I know I wondered often–what good can come from any of this? And it was years more on the other side of it to see that good could come from it. From start to finish, it turned out to be an enormous and foundational lesson on trust. All those things I thought were good, actually weren’t so good in the end (on some level, I think I even knew it). And the thing that looked like a hot mess was the biggest blessing. God sees things much differently than I do.

For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
    examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
    they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
    he will be lost because of his great foolishness. Proverbs 5:21-23, NLT

I have to watch reading through Proverbs, because my eyes skim and my head nods in agreement, and all too soon it’s out of my mind–this stuff on adultery, poor decisions, laziness. Self, slow down. Aren’t the days evil? Sit with these holy words. Hold onto them. Pass them down.

My son, obey your father’s commands,
    and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
21 Keep their words always in your heart.
    Tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, their counsel will lead you.
    When you sleep, they will protect you.
    When you wake up, they will advise you.
23 For their command is a lamp
    and their instruction a light;
their corrective discipline
    is the way to life. Proverbs 6:21-23, NLT

Lord, I’m thankful for your great mercy. Many of the teachings I received led to dead ends. Thank you for challenging my pursuits, values and beliefs. Open my eyes and heart to your word. Lead me, protect me, advise me. Your way leads to life.

Courtney (66books365)

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