February 28, 2010

Proverbs Study – Chapter Three: Applying God’s Word to Everyday Life

A few years ago, my daughter and I struggled through a very difficult time. At times our house felt like a battle zone. We argued about something nearly every day. It was exhausting. It seemed at times she literally hated me. I felt helpless and hopeless. My constant cry being “What is wrong with her?”

One afternoon, I confronted her and unloaded all the anger and frustration that had been building in my heart. Although I did not yell or scream, my words were strong and harsh. At the end of my diatribe, my girl began crying…something she very rarely did. Then she spoke these words: “All you ever do is tell me what I do is wrong.” “I can’t do anything right in your eyes.” “Do you realize how often you tell me I am mean and have a hardened heart?” “Well, mom, I guess that is just who I am…mean with a bad heart, and I will never be any different.”

Her words pierced to the core of my heart. As she walked out of the room, I fell on my knees, my face to the floor, and wept…wept till I could cry no more. My head pounding, my eyes swollen, I took out my journal and wrote:

Father, I am struggling with my girl every single day. I am exhausted, and I cannot do this anymore. I cannot deal with her, and I don’t know what to do. She is self-centered, angry, hormonal, and lacks any semblance of kindness and compassion. She is growing up and pulling away and it hurts so much I can’t stand it. I have nowhere else to go. I have nothing left. So I am bringing her to you. I commit to fast and to pray for me, for her, and for our relationship.


I committed to fast one day a week for as long as it took to hear from God. Within weeks, a few women approached me to teach a 4 week series on wisdom to young mothers. Everything in me wanted to say no. What kind of wisdom could I offer other mothers about raising their children? I was a complete failure in raising my own. But as I prayed, I knew God was calling me to teach this series. In the end, I accepted, and I am so thankful I did.

As I opened my Bible in preparation for this opportunity, God took me to the book of Proverbs. What I thought was a lesson for 120 other women was most assuredly a lesson meant for me.

The Scriptures to which He led me spoke to the cry of my heart:

The words of the godly are life-giving fountains. (Prov. 10:11)

Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise are healing. (Prov. 12:18)

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. (Prov. 14:1)

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Prov. 15:1)

Gentle words are a tree of life. (Prov. 15:13)

If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. (Prov. 15:31)

Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (Prov. 16:21)

These verses brought me to a humbling realization. God wanted me to examine my behavior and my heart, not my daughter’s! In fact, I read many verses addressing disobedient, foolish children and not a single one spoke to me. I passed over each one. God made it ever so clear that He had a work to do in me…not my girl.

The Holy Spirit repeatedly played Lauren’s words in my head…how I criticized her, labeled her mean, told her nothing she did was right. Of course, I had heard her say these words many times in the past in a fit of anger, but I never took them to heart. I disregarded them as rude comments spewed from the mouth of an irrational, unreasonable, disrespectful teenager. But this time they came through tears…her tears. It was different…her broken spirit manifesting itself.

I had spoken hurtful comments in the form of sarcasm to make my points. My words …”mean,” “messy,” “self-centered”…had crushed her spirit. She seemed so tough on the outside, but she was broken on the inside.

I grabbed my journal. The prayer I had written now totally transformed:

Lord, I hear You. My heart is breaking. Please help me. Begin a work in me. I come to You in Jesus’ name and surrender Lauren to You. You know what she needs right now, and I do not. Teach me, Lord, how to mother her. I commit to pray about everything I have been trying to control. Teach me, remind me, and guide me every step of the way. You have created her to be different from me. She is a free spirit; I am not. She is her own person now; help me to accept that. Help me to love who You have made her to be. Enable me to me to release her to You, Your protection, Your guidance, and Your counsel. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Continue to feed me Your Wisdom. Speak to my heart; show me when to speak and when to hold my tongue; put a guard at my mouth and a sentry at my lips.


Friends, if you find yourself struggling in a relationship, go to God’s Word. He will direct your steps. And His first step will be to look into your own heart. Matthew 12:33 says,

A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, it’s fruit will be bad…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.


We bear fruit consistent with who and what we are. The question God presented with me that day was what did my words reflect about the condition of my heart?

As we end today, I want to share a simple but profound truth:

If you want more of God in your in your home and in your relationships, you must have more of God in your heart.

To have a God-honoring heart, you must determine what fills the treasury of your heart.

When you have

God’s Word hidden in your heart,

the law of God written on your heart,

divine Truths dwelling and ruling in your heart,

then your treasury will be full,

and you will bring forth good things from your heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says,

Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.


How can we do this?

Set your heart on God’s laws (Psalm 119:30)
Hide God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:1)
Obey His commands (Proverbs 3:1)
Write His commands on the tablet of your heart (Prov. 3:3)

When you do this, He will show forth in everything you say and do!

What God’s word taught me is to check my words before they leave my lips.

“Is this something I really need to say?”

“What is my motive in saying this?”

“Am I trying to make or point or get my way?”

“Are my words meant to hurt or heal?”

“Will my words draw us closer or push us apart?”

“Will my words draw me closer to God or farther away?”

We must cultivate a habit so that speaking words of life becomes our way of life and not an exception to the rule.

For Lauren and me, God did a mighty work in our lives. Today we have a beautiful relationship, one we treasure. You see, Lauren noticed the change in my heart and in my words. She commented on how she saw me trying to change and thanked me for it. And friends, as God changed me, Lauren changed. Her heart softened. She is more respectful and willingly follows rules. Our home is no longer a battle zone. It is a pleasant and peaceful place. God answered my prayer exceedingly, abundantly above more than I could have ever asked or imagined. No, it is not perfect, and as with any relationship, we are a work in progress. But we are a living testimony of God’s faithfulness to answer prayer.

Homework: Read Proverbs Chapters Ten and Eighteen and answer the following questions. You can do as few or as little as you have time. May God take whatever time you have and use it to speak a fresh Word into your heart.

1) Why do words matter so much?

2) Being from Texas, I love Mexican food. Engage in a little comparison with me. If your words were salsa, which answer best describes your words when you are angry?

a)no salsa – I never use angry words

b)mild salsa – sometimes I use harsh words

c)medium salsa – I often speak harsh words, but I get over it rather quickly

d)hot salsa – I usually explode when angry and lose control

3) In the past have you tried to tame your tongue? If so, how did you do it and were you successful?

4) Over this week, we will study wisdom as it relates to our speech. Keep a journal or mental record of the words you speak. At the end of the week, honestly examine your words and characterize them (critical, controlling, negative, angry, biting, sarcastic, encouraging, uplifting, positive, bitter, peacemaking, etc.).

5) Read Proverbs 10:11, 13-14, 19-21, 31-32, Proverbs 18:20-21, and James 3:8-12.

Do you see parallels in these passages?

Explain what you find.

6) Continue reading in James 3:13-18.

Contrast the two kinds of wisdom discussed here.

How should this reflect itself in our speech?

7) Would you say that a woman’s speech determines her character? If someone followed you around for a week recording your conversation, how would they describe your character?

8) Define gossip.

Being honest, how often would you say you participate in some form of gossip (instigate, agree, actively listen)?

Why do you think we gossip even when we know what we are saying is hurtful and sometimes may even be false?

Are there people in your life who bring out the worst in your speech and tempt you to gossip?

9) Read the following verses: Proverbs 6:16-19, 11:13, 16:28, 18:8, 20:19, and 26:20.

Explain the dangers of gossip.

What does Proverbs 18:8 mean when it says gossip sinks deep into a person’s heart? What does that mean to you? Have you ever personally experienced this?

What advice do we receive in Proverbs 20:19?

10) Read Romans 12:2.

Take each sentence and put in your own words what God is speaking to you.

11) Read Colossians 3:16. Walking in obedience to God’s wisdom is a full time job. It requires a heart sold out to God’s Word being the ultimate authority in your life. You must continually fill you heart with His Truth and allow it to be at work within you.

How does this verse help you live out Romans 12:2?

12) Read Proverbs 8:6, 8:9, Psalm 119:137-138, and Romans 10:17.

What do these verses tell you about God’s Word?

Let’s pray together:

Heavenly Father, I come to You today as my Authority. I submit myself to the authority of Your Word this week as I study. Open my eyes to see and my ears to hear a personal message from You. Father, I confess that my heart wanders from You, my speech does not always glorify You, and my actions do not always honor You. But I am here in this study because I want to live my life differently; I want to live my life to honor You. Penetrate my heart this week. If necessary, Lord, put me through Your refining fire. Burn off those things that keep me from walking in step with You. Grow in me the things that will make me more like You. As I study this week, fill me and saturate me in Your Truth. I love You, Lord, and eagerly await all You have to teach me. I wait expectantly. Speak, Lord, speak. I ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Comments

  1. Sharon Sloan says:

    Good morning, Wendy! Thank you for sharing your heart so transparently. I appreciate that. And I think most moms can relate to your brokenness over harsh words spoken to a child. Thank God that He used your daughter's words through her tears to speak to your haert. It is heart-breaking, but His faithfulness is so good. My children are very good about communicating (I think!) and I am so thankful for that. :)

    Love you, friend. Going to read the Proverbs chapters here and do the homework. Will be back later this week!

    Hugs,
    Sharon

  2. patricia e says:

    Good Morning Wendy,
    I'm off to read as well ~ thanks for sharing this story ~ I'm a mother of 2 daughters/1 son. They have all been challenges in their own ways. One of my daughters in particular I battled back and forth with. A story very similar to yours. I will write about that and include with my post later in the week..

  3. Sylvia Goode Basham says:

    God just makes me smile so big sometimes! You could have replaced the names of you and your daughter with the names of my oldest daughter and me.

    Plus, I'm doing the devotion tomorrow night for a homeschool support group, and this is exactly what I have planned to tell them. The curriculum that costs them no money is the costliest of all: Our example teaches our children. Putting aside our desire to lash out, and instead model Christ-like behavior will teach our children far more than any of our lectures.

    And just for the record, my now 22-year old daughter is in her 5th month of a 6 month mission trip. :-) It's amazing the work God can do when we get out of the way.

    Headed to my desktop to print out this study…looking forward to digging in the rest of the week. Thanks Wendy!

  4. Anonymous says:

    How wonderful that God would answer my prayers so quickly! I was praying about my relationship with my daughter just last night–wondering how I could bridge the gulf that seemed to have opened up. I came to your blog "randomly" and found the wisdom that God had for me.
    Thank you for allowing yourself to be used by God for His kingdom and His glory.

  5. I treasure my relationship with both of my grown children but have a closness with my daughter that I would never want to jeopardize. That said, she has not been the easiest child to raise due to the common issues that young woman face in this world. I have learned the hard way from experience that patience and thinking before I speak are key to any relationship. The questions that you post lead us to really analze our reasoning for the things we say before we do. Is it a reactive comment, am I trying to fill my agenda or need, is what I have to say helpful, and so many more. I think an important question for us to ask is does this lead that person to the peace and security that only God can provide. Thank you for the thought provoking insight.

  6. Thank you Wendy. I am a mother to my goddaughter who lost her mother to cancer – my best friend I could tell anything to. Your story with lauren has encouraged me in my relationship with Beth. On my recent birthday she sent me a card and said I was like a 2nd mother to her; can't let her go no matter what she says and how she responds; how I react and respond will rub off on her as her mother said once "before she turns 25, all will be well (I have five years go to….) God bless you with this study.

  7. Runner Mom says:

    Oh, precious friend! This post is wonderful. As Sharon said, thank you for sharing your heart so transparently. I have moments with the boys as well. I need to watch my attitude and continually pray for God to do a good work in me.

    I'll be printing off the study as soon as I buy a new cartridge!!

    I am SO sorry that you've been under the weather too! Bless your heart! I'll be praying for complete recovery for you. We'll just have to let God find that perfect time for us to meet!

    Love ya!
    Susan

  8. Lynn - JnL4God says:

    Good Morning
    Well I started reading through this yesterday. I can tell this is going to be a good one. :) My Children are grown, however this can be applied to any relationship. A heart issue. Thanks Wendy I'll be back with more comments later.

  9. Hello Wendy~
    Just wanted to pop in and say that I absolutley love this study so far! I started with you all but just have not had time to post.
    But each week I have been printing out the questions and completing them. I am going to place them all in a spiral bound notebook then I can go back and reference it again.

    Have a great rest of the week everyone!

    :)

  10. Pajama Mama says:

    I came here to print out the study for the week but ended up captivated by your transparent words of the amazing work Father did in your relationship with your daughter. The Bible says that life and death is in the power of the tongue…so lately, we've purposed to speak life over each other and ourselves in our home. BUT. That's not always the case!! I loved being reminded of the verses you included…esp the one on "honey." Ok…going to print out the study now!! Many blessings and thank you for this study!!

    Jeannie

  11. tiggerdaisy says:

    Wendy,

    This is such a powerful message!!! And to think that God lead you to produce a Bible Study that helped you heal the relationship with your daughter. Our God is so good!

    Prayers and blessings,
    Rebecca

  12. patricia e says:

    Hi Wendy,
    I'm back and wanting to comment on my issues with my daughter. When she was 16, she tried everything she could. She was spreading her wings big time. If we said something she didn't like at the dinner table, she would leave in tears thinking we were ganging up on her. It really wasn't the case, but it was like walking on pins and needles. The hinges on her bedroom door came loose from all the door slamming. I was in tears most nights when these outbursts happened. Thinking she didn't care, didn't want to be part of the family, join in on any family dinners because she thought she would be made fun of. Well if I think about it, maybe things were said that we could have been more sensitive about. But her hormones were raging and we were both up against a brick wall. Everything blew up one night when I confronted her about slamming her door and leaving the dinner table. She started packing her things right then and there and said she was moving out and I would never see her again. I stood in the doorway with my arms stretched across trying to stop her from leaving, but she came out with "If you touch me I'm calling the kids help line" etc. I'm not sure if those were the exact words, but basically telling me not to try to stop her in any way. She was leaving no matter what. I asked her where she was going and she told me never mind and that I would never know. I told her I needed to talk to her and know that she was safe she said I could call her. (I think she must have had a cell phone by then – 16 years old I know crazy). It was devasting for me to see her walk out that door. We discovered that we were able to get into her online messaging and found out where she would be. It sounds like an evasion of her privacy, but I just couldn't stand her leaving without knowing some details. Well to make a long story short, she was staying at her friends, just down the road. I called her daily to see how her day was going and to tell her I loved her. What a trying time. She stayed away from home for 1 week. That was the longest week ever. She came back understanding that there were rules that she needed to follow. She was a little calmer and we all worked really hard to be more sensitive to her feelings. She's 23 now and for those of you that have gone through similar or are in similar situations with their children, I want to let you know ~ there is a light at the end of the tunnel. She went off to college, got a job right away and lives on her own. We have a fantastic relationship and are very close. Just wanted to share that…

    Theses really brought me back to these years of trying times with my daughter. I know now that I spoke out of emotion and didn't always "pause" and think of a positive way to communicate my concerns with my daughter. Words are so important. You can't take them back once they've been said. I like how you use the work "Show" here.

    Set your heart on God's laws (Psalm 119:30)
    Hide God's Word in your heart (Psalm 119:1)
    Obey His commands (Proverbs 3:1)
    Write His commands on the tablet of your heart (Prov. 3:3)

    Blessings tonight ~ Patricia

  13. Kimberly says:

    Hi, Wendy:

    Oh, this bible study is awesome. This weeks lesson for me has really hit home. As I am studying God is speaking to me, so thank you.

    I have memorize SHOW and now here come the test.

    Kimberly

  14. Wendy Blight says:

    Friends,

    It is so sweet to read your comments and see how God is using this study to meet you right where you are. He brought us together because we are at a common place with our tongues and our hearts. Love your honest stories about your relationships. Authenticity is so important to God being able to work in our hearts. This study shows me I am not alone in this struggle with my tongue.

    I am praising God for Anonymous who said she came here "randomly," but God used it to speak directly to a prayer she had just prayed about her relationship with her daughter. God is FAITHFUL to His Word that when we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him.

    Love what Jeannie reminded us of from Scripture, "Life and death are in the power of the tongue."

    You are an amazing group of women. Thank you for taking time from your busy lives to invest in the Bible study. I am so very thankful for each of you. We have many more not commenting on the blog but who send me e-mails. KEEP STUDYING, PRAYING, and SHARING. It is such a blessing to visit her each day. God is doing a great work in and among us!!

    Love you,

    Wendy

  15. Danielle says:

    I am so far behind on everything this week. Haven't even started yet, but I'm printing it off now and hoping to get to it this weekend.

    Thank you for sharing your story about you and Lauren. I see that happening with my daughter and I… and she's ten. She does cry, however. Too much. And it's something that I can't stand. But, it shows the tenderness of her heart and the state of my hard heart. This is something that I've been praying about, too, and I'm going to write down those verses God brought you to.

    I'm also printing out the SHOW part. That is wonderful. Do you mind if I use it in the group I'll be starting again with my young girls. They are 8-12 and I think they'll like it.

  16. Wendy, I must say that I literally read about my self in your entry today. My 15 year old daughte and I have been at odds for 3 years as well. Wow, thinking it was all her was exactly where my heart and spirit are. Thank you so much for this reading and pouring of your personal experience. I yearn to be close to my daughter and be an example, not a wall.
    blessings, angie

  17. Lynn - JnL4God says:

    Wendy –
    Well this can be applied to so many areas and all types of relationships. God has been nudging me to get away from a couple of people that gossip is their only form of conversation. I have partially obeyed in the fact that I now only listen, but as the scriptures you picked out clearly state that is not good either. As my husband would say, we don't want our ears to be garbage cans, because faith comes by hearing. Eventually we will fall in the trap of participating.
    I work with these people and have several hours alone with them daily in close quarters. One of them is a Christian and I have over the last two years continued to point out that we are not to be gossiping. She at least is a little receptive, however, the other does not walk with the Lord, and is the boss's wife. She also clearly states – "Hey it's all about me and don't forget it." I could go on a point out my struggles but then is that gossiping? :) I appreciate all prayers and help. I have been praying on a way to peacefully pull away from this relationship, but it is a very small office, (5 people).
    Thanks Wendy for the great scripture's you pulled from I have written a note card with the SHOW principles on it and want to keep it with me as a reminder.
    As I have been typing these comments God has helped me to see He is with me. Please give me courage to do what I must.
    Blessings, Lynn

  18. Wendy Blight says:

    Lynn,

    You have our prayers as you navigate such difficult relationships…especially in such a small work environment. It is so hard to balance walking our walk in this world where we are aliens and strangers. My prayer is that the Lord will protect you from these conversations and that when they occur He will make those speaking unkind, unedifying words uncomfortable to speak them in your presence. I also pray for Him to convict the heart of your believing friend to be strong and to join you in being salt and light in your office environment.

  19. WOW!! I have a very similar story, it was my 3rd blog post "Talk about hitting home". Thank you so much for posting this – I am going to refer to it and the scriptures listed often to keep me check!

  20. Danielle says:

    Proverbs 10:11a The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. Oh, how powerful are those words. I want to be a fountain that pours out life into my family. So often I don't even realize how sarcastic I can be until later in the day when I'm playing over again all that was said. Sarcasim is not a Godly trait!

    This whole study has been so enlightening, Wendy. I love it! And wait expectantly for the day you let us know when it will be published! I wish it would be soon so I could have your sign that copy for me at She Speaks this year.;-) I feel God leading me back this year and am praying for His wisdom and guidance… and provision. I know He will provide.

    One thing really struck me, and that was in your ending prayer.

    If necessary, LORD, put me through Your refining fire. Burn off those things that keep me from walking in step with You. Grow in me the things that will make me more like You. These words made me really sit up and meditate on them. Sometimes, at least for myself, I pray words that are truly only half-hearted. But, my desire is truly to walk with God in such a way that it's all Him and not me. The Refiners Fire is one that's talked about, but inwardly you know we are hoping that it's not something we actually have to go through. Life should be easy and about all that we want… at least that's what the world promotes. But, I keep remembering what God said about Paul– He would suffer many things for the sake of the gospel. The Fire is for our good. It's to bring God glory. How sad I am when I take a backseat to bringing God glory because it might be uncomfortable to me.

    Sister, you bless me beyond measure.

  21. You have no idea how this word spoke to me today. Thank you. I see God has a lot of work to do in my life as well.

Speak Your Mind

*