August 31, 2011

All Things Wise and Wonderful: Applying God’s Wisdom in Every Day Life

Wendy’s study, All Things Wise and Wonderful: Applying God’s Wisdom in Every Day Life, is a five week study grounded in the book of Proverbs.  It teaches you how to make Bible passages understandable and applicable.  It will bring God’s Word alive and bring perceptible transformation in…

  • Your relationships
  • Your attitudes
  • Your speech
  • Your priorities
  • Your whole heart

 

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February 13, 2010

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

Welcome to our first week of study!!! We will meet here each Monday (Feb. 15, 22, March 1, 8) with a new lesson and new homework questions. I am so excited to study the book of Proverbs with you. Before we begin, let’s pray together:

Father God, we praise You as Wisdom and Truth. You are the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. You tell us in Your Word that if we lack wisdom, we need only ask, Father, and You will give to us generously without finding fault. So today, as we begin our study for the week, we ask in faith, fully believing You at Your Word that You will reveal Truth and Wisdom to us. We invite You into every step of this journey. Fill us with knowledge of Your will; guide us into all Wisdom and Truth as we seek to know You more. Apply our hearts to understanding what we read through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You, Father, that this is Your promise to us and that not only will You do what we ask, but also You will do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine! We ask this all in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord, AMEN!!

Have you ever said: “I can’t understand the Bible.” “I read the Bible, but I just don’t get anything out of it” I remember repeating those phrases many times early in my journey with God…especially when I joined my first Bible study. What I discovered over the years is that the reason I did not “get” the Bible is because I never really read it the way God intended for it to be read. I picked it up every now and again when it was convenient or I needed something from God.

I had no idea that God sent His Word so that He could speak into my life. As we begin today, friends, we will stand on two powerful Scriptural truths:

My Word that goes out from My mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purposes for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Solomon, the author of Proverbs, was King David’s son. Scripture tells us Solomon began his reign as king with his heart wholly devoted to God. God was so pleased with Solomon that in 1 Kings 3:5-14, He came to him in a dream and offered him one thing, anything he wanted, to reward him for his devotion. Look at Solomon’s words to God:

Now, O Lord my God, You have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of Your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted Give me a wise and understanding heart so that I can govern Your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours. 1 Kings 3:7-9.

Scripture tells us the Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request. He desired wisdom not for selfish gain but to govern God’s people. In response, God gave Solomon a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have. 1 Kings 3:12.

Solomon penned these God-given words of wisdom into a beautiful book and gave them as a gift to his children. That is the book we are reading today.

Several writers define wisdom as having the knowledge and the ability to make right choices at opportune times. But the key here is, where do we find that knowledge and ability? Where do we begin? Do we look to Oprah, Dr. Laura, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, child psychologists, marriage therapists, self-help books, parenting books, Nanny 911????

As Christians, it is clear that our search for knowledge begins with God. Why is that? Because Proverbs 1:7 tells us:

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Beginning as used here derives from the Hebrew word “resit” which means “the start.” You cannot gain knowledge of spiritual things if you begin at the wrong starting point. Just as you cannot unlock your car without the key or the code, you cannot unlock the wisdom of God without acknowledging and revering God as the source of all Truth.

Reading God’s Word gives us His perspective on what is going on in our lives. We read how He worked in the past to understand what we need to choose today. Romans 15:4a says,

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.

I want to celebrate you today, sweet friend. You have many places you could be today, but you have chosen to be here, to be in God’s Word with us. As we delve into our study time together let us first…

1. Open our ears and our hearts to receive God’s Word. Pray for God to speak into your heart personally; ask Him to make your heart tender and humble to hear His voice. Pray this simple prayer, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, to help me see and understand the wonderful things in Your law.”

2. Commit to apply what we learn. Pray for God to show you where you need to live out the truths He reveals and pray for Him to enable you to do it. Pray for opportunities for Him to work in your life through what you have learned.

3. Seek after more. In your homework, don’t just “do” the questions. Ponder His Word. Soak in His Truth. Search for more. When you sense the Lord speaking to you in a certain passage, dig deeper, use the study notes and commentaries.

Friends, Solomon invites us to search for truths and promises in God’s Word as we would search for hidden treasure. Let’s commit together to desire God’s Truth above all else. Let’s wait expectantly to see God at work in our midst. Let’s open our eyes, ears, and hearts fully and completely for God to enter in and do a mighty, mighty work in each of us.

Homework: Read Proverbs Chapters One and Two 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. Rank in order of importance the following sources of wisdom in your life.

a. parents b. spiritual mentors c. friends d. spouses e. The Bible

f. self-help/parenting/marriage books g. talk shows

2. Read Proverbs 1:1-7.

List Solomon’s purposes in writing Proverbs.

Refer back to Question Number 1, do your primary sources of wisdom accomplish these purpose in your life?

3. List the action verbs Solomon uses in Proverbs 1:1-7.

4. Read 2 Timothy 3:16.

Share the stated purposes of Scripture.

How do these purposes relate to those stated in Proverbs 1:1-7?

5. Read Proverbs 1:7a.

What is the very first step you need to take to gain wisdom? What does this mean to you?

6. One author defines fear of the Lord as “acknowledging God’s power and sovereignty then offering our obedience in light of that power and sovereignty.” Why is it necessary to acknowledge God as our authority before we can gain wisdom?

7. What areas of your life will benefit the most from studying Proverbs (personal relationships, personal journey, role as wife, role as mother, speech, finances, other)? In which area would you like to see God work most?

8. What wisdom did your parents pass down to you? Did that wisdom involve conversations and/or prayer centered on God’s Word and godly wisdom?

9. To whom has God given the primary responsibility of instructing children regarding wisdom and truth (hint: read Proverbs 1:8-9 and Ephesians 6:1-4)?

10. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

How can you live this out in your own home?

11. Read Proverbs 1:10-19.

Who or what entices you away from the things of God? How do they entice you? How do you respond?

What is Solomon’s advice in these verses?

12. In the Greek, “yoked together” in 2 Corinthians 6:14 means to couple two things together. The example often given is two oxen yoked together plowing a field. There is one yoke connecting the pair to prevent them from going in opposite directions. They are bound together and must travel together.

Why does God warn against being “yoked together” with unbelievers?

How does that apply to what you are reading in Proverbs?

How can you obey the wisdom given in these verses and still live in the world?

13. List the verbs Solomon uses in Proverbs 2:1-5. In your daily life, how can you live out His direction?

14. Read Proverbs 2:20.

The Message reads: “So – join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried and true paths.” According to this verse, what are two ways to keep our steps from sin?

Do you have good men/women in your life? If you do praise the Lord. If you do not, pray and ask the Lord to bring them into your life.

How would you define the “tried and true” path (the path of righteousness)? Do you believe you are on this path? If not, how do you find this path?

Friends, may God richly bless your time with Him in His Word. I will be praying for you. Feel free to invite new friends to join us.

Throughout the week, please share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” at the end of the post. You can comment anonymously if you do not have a blog. Also, if you cannot figure out how to leave a comment, you can e-mail me at spkrcoord@proverbs31.org to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing how God works in each of your hearts!

Blessings to you,

February 22, 2010

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

Good Morning!! May I tell you how you have blessed me this past week as you have shared what God has taught you in His Word. For some of you this is your very first Bible study, and I am OVERJOYED and HONORED the Lord brought you here to begin that journey.

Today we are talking about what it means to walk in obedience to God’s Word. God sets boundaries for us in His Word. Those boundaries are meant to protect us, our families, and our relationships from evil and harm. Let’s travel forward a few centuries to the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote this letter to an audience of Jewish and Gentile believers who made up the Ephesian church. Paul knew these people were desperately trying to live a godly life in a pagan culture. There were temptations all around. Their culture was pulling them in one direction and their faith in another.

Does that sound familiar? It could easily describe our world today.

In Ephesians 5:15 Paul writes,

Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…

In the original Greek language it says, walk circumspectly. Circumspectly derives from the Greek word “akrothinion,” which expresses accuracy. By using this word, God is asking us to walk accurately and carefully according to His Word. This is where our struggle as humans begins. More often than not, the world, our feelings, and/or our emotions direct us one way and God another. What our culture deems acceptable and what God says is acceptable often conflict.

Sometimes the lines are hard to draw. The reality is very few of us intentionally plan to make bad choices. But we also do not plan NOT to make bad choices. Quite often it’s simply that we speak and/or make decisions without much thought, without thinking through all the consequences. We make small compromises in what seem to be minor decisions. And then one day those small decisions eventually turn into something bigger that can destroy our families, our marriages, and our lives.

God gives us the boundaries, rules, and commandments to obey. If we learn and commit to obey those ahead of time, when we are faced with the choice, our decision is already made. We do not even have to think about it.

Paul puts us on the right path in Ephesians 5:15-17 because he tells us how to plan NOT to make bad choices:

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise….Don’t act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (NLT)

Proverbs teaches fools live in the world. Though we too live in the world, we are not to be of it. Listen to Romans 12:2:

Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (NLT)

Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (NIV)

As we mature in our walk with God, overtime we become more and more like Him and less and less like the world. How do we accomplish this? By renewing our minds? How do we do this? By lining our thinking up with God’s.

The best way I can teach this is by sharing a story.

I vividly remember one night last summer when I had prepared a wonderful dinner for my family as a surprise. Monty told me earlier in the day that he would be home at 6:30, so I planned dinner to be ready at 6:30. The kids and I sat down for dinner at 6:30…no Dad. 6:35…no Dad. 6:45…no Dad. No call from Dad. By 6:50, when the phone finally did ring, I was fuming and did not answer. I told the kids to eat. When he finally walked in at 7:00, I was so angry I would not even look at him or speak to him.

I reacted selfishly based on my hurt feelings and my emotions.

Friends, this night would have ended so differently had I been prepared with God’s Word in my heart and on my mind. I would have had a weapon to combat my feelings and emotions. Instead, they ran wild.

Let’s replay the night but this time I have prepared my mind. 6:30 arrives, no Monty. The thoughts enter my mind: Where is he? Why hasn’t he called? He knows we eat at 6:30 every night. He always calls when he is late. My anger begins to rise as time ticks away. But then I remember some verses I posted above my kitchen sink. I walk over and read them:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

A fool gives full vent to [her] anger, but a wise [woman] keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

In the heat of my anger, I look up and read the powerful, life-giving, life-transforming, mind-renewing words of my Savior who only wants the very best for me, my marriage, and my family. When I read them, I am reminded of God’s character and who He wants me to be. The Holy Spirit softens my heart. So when the phone rings at 6:50, I answer it. I hear my husband’s sincere apology and accept it. He walks in the door at 7:00, after a long day’s work, forgiven and ready to enjoy a wonderful meal with his family…experiencing grace, love, forgiveness, and joy.

Which is the better scenario?

If there are places in your life where you struggle to live out God’s Truth, where you follow the ways of the world rather than the ways of God. Don’t give up. Find verses that address your situation. Read them. Immerse yourself in them. Pray them. Apply them. Persevere. Believe God at His word. He will renew your mind and do a mighty work in your specific circumstances. As you continually expose your heart and mind to Truth, He will renew your mind.

Let today be the day you commit to feed the Spirit of God living within you, yield to His control, submit to His Word, and renew your mind, so He can transform your life, your marriage, your family, your job, and/or your home.

Homework: Read Proverbs Chapters Three and Four 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. In Proverbs 3:1-12 Solomon gives four commands that if obeyed result in great blessings. Find the four commands and the resulting blessings/rewards. (Hint: Proverbs 3:5-6, 3:7-8, 3:9-10, and 3:11-12).

2. In Proverbs 1:22-33 explain what wisdom says to fools.

3. Read the following verses and explain why in our world today, people reject the wisdom of God.

a. Mark 4:3-20 b. John 3:19 c. 1 Corinthians 2:14

4. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” One author writes that the kind of trust spoken of here means to “lie helpless face down.” It is placing your entire confidence in God…in who He says He is, in His wisdom, His power, and His goodness.”

How are you at trusting God wholeheartedly?

What, if anything, keeps you from trusting God with your whole heart?

What would help you trust Him more?

5. What is the promised blessings in Proverbs 3:6b?

Upon what is the fulfillment of this promised conditioned? (hint: Judges 2:17)

Read Romans 12:2. If you choose to walk in obedience to this command, what, if anything, would you have to change in your life?

6. Read Colossians 2:2-3. Paul writes these words to the church at Colosse because he wants to encourage them. he wants them to be filled with a rich and deep understanding of God that cannot be shaken no matter what troubles may come. When all other comforts fail, when answers cannot be found, when sense cannot be made of circumstances, Paul wants them to know the answers will be found in Christ.

Read Habakkuk 3:17-18. Habakkuk learns a great lesson of faith – to trust in God’s providence and His Wisdom regardless of circumstances. What do his words speak to you today in your circumstances.

7. Read Proverbs 4:10-12, 18. Describe the path of wisdom. Contrast the path of wickedness as described in Proverbs 4:14-17, 19. What is wisdom’s advice to the wise in these verses?

8. Does the path of wisdom described in Proverbs differ from the path upon which you have been traveling? How?

9. Read Proverbs 4:20-21, 23-27. This is one of my favorite passages.

List the body parts Solomon speaks of and the instructions given for each one.

Write out Proverbs 4:22. Based on what you have studied, what does this verse speak to you personally?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, Creator and Author of Life, I come before You with a thankful heart for all that You have taught me this week. Thank You for revealing Truth to me! I humbled myself before You and asked that You fill me with Your Spirit of Truth and You were faithful to do so. Help me never to forget all that You have taught me. Remind me daily that within me I have all the riches and treasures of Your wisdom and knowledge. Continue to give me a heart that loves Truth and seeks after Truth above all else. Keep my eyes fixed on You. Guard my heart. If I ever turn from Your path, reveal Yourself to me in very real and powerful ways and draw me back. Make my heart tender to hear Your voice and give me recall of all that I have learned so that I may stick with You. I love You, Lord. AMEN.

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.

March 8, 2010

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

I can’t believe four weeks have passed so quickly. As we end this study, my heart is sad. I have loved every minute of our time together. God has taught me much through my time of preparation as well as through your candid answers and comments. Your words reveal that God has been faithfully been at work in and through our time together.

Even though I cannot see you face to face, I have prayed for you. You have shared from the depths of your heart, and that means so much to me. It has been my joy to walk side by side with you through the living and active Word of God. My prayer as we have studied Proverbs together is that you have seen how it speaks to the situations, opportunities, issues, questions, and decisions you may encounter. May He now take all that we have learned, and what we will learn this week, and plant it deep within our hearts so that it will take root and begin real life transformation.

So, before we say goodbye, let’s open our Bibles one more time. Your only reading this week will be what you find in your homework. So please, grab your cup of coffee (or sweet tea), your Bible, and your journal, and let’s join God in His Word.

We have talked about wise choices these past few weeks. I think all of us, when faced with a problem or question, truly desire to make the wise choice. We want to do the wise thing. But we do not always know what that is. Sometimes the answer to our question is not spelled out in Scripture. There is no chapter number. There is no page number. We can infer from God’s Word what He wants us to do, but it is not stated in black and white. So, when there is no page number, when there is no verse speaking directly to your situation, what do you do?

HOLY SPIRIT

First, we look to John 14:15-18.

Jesus spent three years walking side by side with His disciples. He taught them all the knew, encouraged them daily, and they depended on Him for all their needs. But, Jesus knew he had to leave them. He knew that when He departed they would feel frightened and abandoned. He wanted to comfort them and prepare them, so He spoke these words:

If you love Me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with yo and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

Jesus was speaking some radical, powerful words to His disciples. He told them that the Spirit of Truth that at that time was living with them would soon be in them. Think about the ramifications of that promise. The Spirit of the Living God would come to live inside of each one of them. God made good on this promise and transformed this bumbling, fearful group of misfits into some of the greatest evangelists that ever lived.

God desires the same result in each of our lives. The Spirit of God dwells inside you and me. It is the gift of His Spirit that allows us to love the unlovable, overcome the unthinkable, and believe the impossible. And what’s even more amazing is that God gives us this gift without measure!

The Holy Spirit is how we understand God’s Word and His Will for our lives. When we don’t know what to do or what steps to take, we need only ask God to fill us with more of His Holy spirit and manifest His Presence in a very real way in our lives.

WISE COUNSEL

Sometimes after much time in God’s Word and prayer, we still struggle to hear His “answer.” That is when we go back to our first lesson. Solomon repeatedly tells us that one of the secrets to being wise and to making wise decisions is to surround yourself with wise people.

Wise people seek wise counsel.

Listen to these verses:

Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance. Proverbs 1:5

The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faith. Proverbs 10:8

People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray. Proverbs 10:17

The heartfelt counsel of a [godly] friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9

Plans succeed through good counsel. Proverbs 20:18a

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15

When we are confused and cannot “see” or “hear” God’s leading in a particular matter, we should pray for the Lord to bring us wise counsel. She might be a friend, a mentor, a parent, a spouse, a pastor, or a teacher. But how can we ensure that the one whom we choose really is “wise” counsel?

Ask yourselves three questions:

Is she a godly person?

Does she spend time in and know the Word of God? Is she a woman of prayer? Does she surround herself with godly friends? If you see evidence of these in her life, you can be assured she will provide wise counsel.

Has she been down the path upon which I am traveling?

As a mother of a teenage daughter, I seek out godly women with daughters a few years ahead of mine. They have completed the journey on which I am about to embark. They have godly wisdom as well as practical experience. Ask yourselves: Do their lives glorify God? Are the choices they have made in marriage, parenting, career (or whatever your issue) God-honoring?

Is this someone who will speak truth to me?

Yes, you want wisdom from someone who will speak truth to you even when it is difficult. Anyone can tell you what you want to hear. A godly advisor is not afraid to speak truth in love. They have no mixed motives. Their hearts are pure.

One day I received an e-mail from a good friend and someone with whom I was a co-leader in Bible study. She sent the e-mail to a large distribution list. In it, she jokingly used crude and foul language. It bothered me. We had been in Bible study together for years and everyone knew it. I prayed about whether or not to speak to her. I feared risking our friendship. But, her words continued to play repeatedly in my mind. I knew God wanted me to speak truth to her.

Finally, I obeyed and sent her an e-mail. I shared how her words not only reflected poorly on her but also on us as Christians and as leaders in our Bible study. I felt sick as I pressed “send.” Immediately after I sent it, I prayed for her heart to receive it in the love with which it was sent.

Her response amazed me. She was so appreciative and said she never once thought about the effect or impact her e-mail would have on God, His character, on her, and on our study. We had a great conversation about how we are salt and light in this world. How we need be in the world but not of it. She thanked me for holding her accountable. It was a wonderful place of trust and growth in our friendship. Since that time, she has done the same for me.

Godly friends will lead you back to God’s Word every time. Godly friends will pray for you and encourage you every step of the way. The will not give a flip answer; they will wait to hear from God. They will speak TRUTH in LOVE.

As we end our time together, never forget….God gave us His Word so that our faith would grow.

Romans 10:17 says,

Faith comes hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of God.

God gave us His Word to speak into our lives today.

2 Timothy 3:16 says,

All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that men of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible is a book written by God to be read by us so that we may KNOW God and KNOW who we are in Him. No matter where you are…seeking Him for the first time, a new Christian, or someone who has walked with Him for years, He will meet you where you are. But, it is up to you. No one else can take your journey for you. He is waiting to reveal Himself and His wonderful plan for your life!!

Answer the following questions. You can do as few or as many as you have time. May God take whatever time you have and use it to speak a fresh Word in His heart.

Meet me here next week and share your comments about the study, most especially how God used it in your life and the life of your family. We will share these comments with the publishers to whom I have submitted the Proverbs curriculum. From the comments I receive, I will select a name to receive a copy of the full 5 week curriculum.

1. As you follow the path of wisdom and walk in the righteousness that is yours in Christ, God promises many blessings. The first is divine guidance and direction. Read the following verses and share what you learn:

Proverbs 10:9 Proverbs 11:3, 5 Proverbs 13:6 Proverbs 14:16, 26 Proverbs 16:1, 3, 9

Proverbs 19:21 Proverbs 20:24 (relate to Proverbs 3:5-6) Proverbs 21:5, 21, 23

Proverbs 23:19-21, 29-35

2. Read Proverbs 8:17-21 and Philippians 4:19. What does God promise in these verses?

3. Read Matthew 11:28-30. God wants you to trust Him with your needs. Let’s pray together for you to surrender…your needs, your doubts, your questions, your burdens, and your frustrations and trust Him to take care of them today.

Heavenly Father, I thank You that You promise me a sound mind, one uncluttered by fear, anxiety, and worry. I ask You help me to trust You and trust Your Word. Help me to hand [blank] over to You. May the Truth of Your Word be firmly established in my heart so that my faith in You grows brighter and stronger and my worries, fears, and anxieties grow dim. I know that trusting You with these things is a choice, and I CHOOSE today to trust You. May my faith from this day forward be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Instill in me a confidence that You will work everything – all that concerns me, that keeps me awake, that makes my heart race, that causes stress and headaches – together for good to accomplish Your plan and Your purposes for my life. Father, Your Word says that without faith it is impossible to please You and that she who comes to You must believe that You are who You say You are and that You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You. Today, Lord I believe You , and I commit to diligently seek You in the midst of my circumstances. I ask for Your peace and Your blessings as I take this step. In Jesus Name. Amen.

4. Another blessing we receive as we walk the path of righteousness is godly counsel. However, as with other blessings it requires ears to hear and a heart to obey. Read the following verses and note what you learn:

Proverbs 10:32 Proverbs 12:15, 26 Proverbs 13:14, 20 Proverbs 14:7 Proverbs 18:4

Proverbs 25:19 Proverbs 27:9, 17 Proverbs 15:7, 22

5. When a problem arises in your life, to whom or what do you turn first? Scripture warns against relying on human wisdom and ungodly counsel. Instead God directs us to listen to the experience of those who have journeyed the path of wisdom before us. Name some godly influences and how they have impacted your life. Take a moment to drop them a note or an e-mail and thank them for what they have meant in your life.

6. Part of God’s plan also requires wise women willingly accept discipline. Read the following verses and share what you learn:

Proverbs 10:17 Proverbs 13:1, 18, 24 Proverbs 15:5, 31-32 Proverbs 16:20

Proverbs 18:15 Proverbs 19:18 Proverbs 29:18, 19 2 Timothy 3:16

Is it hard for you to accept that sometimes God may use His Word to discipline and correct you? How do you respond when you hear His Word correcting you?

7. Proverbs 27:19 says, As water reflects a face, so a [woman's] heart reflects the [woman]. I hope you have learned through these past weeks that the condition of your heart reflects your true character. Honestly examine your heart today.

What are the parts of your heart you love and that are pleasing to the Lord. And YES, you must do this exercise!!! There are wonderful parts of you that God has created, shaped, and molded. Pray for Him to open your eyes to see them. Write a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking Him and praising Him for those beautiful parts of you that reflect His heart and His love.

Now what are the parts of your heart that sadden you, that fail to reflect God’s character. As you do this, read Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 51, both written by King David. Write a prayer asking the Lord to help you change these parts of your heart and make your heart more like His.

8. Read Proverbs 24:3-4. These past few weeks, you have learned how to gain a heart of wisdom and how to seek out God’s treasures. As you consider this verse, ask the Lord how to reveal to you how you can live out these truths in your home? How can you build your house? Share your ideas with us.

LOVE YOU GIRLS!! ENJOY YOUR WEEK AND SEE YOU HERE NEXT WEEK TO HEAR WHAT’S ON YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR NEXT STEPS!!!

March 15, 2010

CONGRATULATIONS PROVERBS STUDY GRADUATES!! – Win a Copy of Wendy’s Study

Greetings my sisters,

Congratulations on completing our Proverbs Study. Thank you for the time you invested and the wonderful comments and stories you shared. It has been a joy to spend this month with you.

Please leave comments on my blog today and share how God has used this study in your life. More specifically, how has spending time with God in His Word practically changed your life. I will share your comments with the publishers who are reviewing the Study for possible publication. I also will select one winner from the comments left on my blog to receive a copy of the complete Proverbs Study. Please include your e-mail address in your comment so that I may contact you if you are the winner.

God promises that His Word that goes out from His mouth will not return void but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purposes for which He sent it. That has been my prayer for each of us as we have studied together. So I cannot wait to hear how God was at work in His Word this month, accomplishing His desires and achieving His purposes in your lives. Through your comments and stories, may He receive great glory, honor, and praise!!

One more thing, my devotional, entitled Prepared by God, will run on our P31 Web Site this Wednesday, March 17th. Please stop by our Proverbs 31 web site to check out the devo and then pop over here and leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

Thank you again for the past four weeks. I will miss our time together and hope you will continue to visit and update me on your journey with God!