Sunday, September 11

Wisdom and Perspectives: Thanksgiving

Who isn't thankful? Anyone? Have you ever gone through one day without something to be thankful for? You might not have had a thankful attitude all day, but was there anytime you can think of when there's something you can't be thankful for?

Thankfulness is something that has been giving me trouble over the past year of my life. There have been many personal problems that have made things the hardest for me than they have ever been in my life. And for a while, I was allowing myself to be wisked along in my Christian walk, not even thinking about all the other great things in my life. These events in my life were such a burden that there seemed NOTHING to be thankful for...like life didn't even really have a purpose. I know. You're thinking, "Wow! She's so young! What kind of hardships is she talking about? A breakup or something?? I made it through plenty of those! Why's this so hard for her?"

And to tell you the truth, it's not like I went through anything that anyone hasn't gone through before. It's just that so many things happened all at once. Funny how that happens, huh?

But anyways, to save you from a sad tale (and myself from some embarassing truths that I cannot bring myself to admit), I'll skip the details and move on to my point.

When all of this was going on, and mind you it's still going on, I could not bring myself to see how God meant for this to be something good for me. You read passages like James 1:2-4
      "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing," and you consider them. You see that somehow, God uses all the trials you go through to help you, but it's so hard to see the outcome, that you can easily drop your faith underneath the weight of all these burdens. So, as I was wondering along, not really doing much for God, I now see that He had a plan for me! I saw how many people at the Jacksonville congregation were challenging themselves to read through the Bible in a year. I knew I had never done that before, and I really wanted to be able to say that I had. So I set to work.

And wouldn't you know that while reading Genesis, I came across a man who was faced with a similar situation...none other than Joseph himself! Talk about hardships! This man had seen it all! Obeying his father throughout childhood only brought him hatred from his own brothers. He was sold into slavery, where he was daily tempted and eventually had to flee before he sinned against many, chiefly God. After being imprisioned for a long time, he is called upon to interpret a dream. And finally, after years of being away from home but constantly serving God, he is rewarded with the place of authority right under the Pharoah! WOW! You would think this would be the great life lesson I'm trying to teach, right? Serve God, and you'll be rewarded. That sounds wise I guess, except for the emphasis on material things. But let me show you one of my other favorite passages of the Bible that really lets us know why we should be thankful for our trials.

Near the very end of Genesis, Joseph's father, Jacob, dies. As his family mourns his death, Joseph's brother's are also terrified Joseph will now enact his revenge against them now that their father has passed. But Joseph's answer to his brothers is what is so astounding! He was able to look over his life and see exactly what God intended for him.

Genesis 50:19, 20- "And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."

All these trials were meant to be something evil in Joseph's life, but as we all know, because of all that Joseph went through, not only did he end up saving many people from the famine in the land of Egypt, but he has also been a great standard for those suffering spiritual famine today to look to for strength and encouragement! We should rejoice in our trials, not only because they will make us better, but that one day, we will see the true value of our strength when we will be helpful to others!

Like now: all of you that have read this post have actually benefited (I hope!) from the trials I went through. They were one of the driving forces compelling me to study more, to teach more, and to DO more for our Lord! I hope that with this one grain of wisdom I've given you, the trials you face from now on don't seem so much of burden anymore, but rather God's way of making you into what you need to be, for yourself, others, and Him!

The Lord Has Been Mindful of Me:

Though I through the valley of shadow, o'er mountain or troubled sea, and oft in the darkness, have traveled, the Lord has been mindful of me!
Much more than my grief and my sorrow, much more than adversity, much more than the all I have given, the Lord has been mindful of me!
I'm rich! I am saved! I am happy! I've health and prosperity! I've friends! I have doors ever open! The Lord has been mindful of me!
The Lord has been mindful of me! He blesses and blesses again! My God is the God of the living! How excellent is His name! 

Have a great week everyone! And remember: be thankful!

Tuesday, September 6

Daughters of Wisdom: What Will You Be Known For?

This summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to go on a campaign as a chaperone and led the young girl's Bible devotionals at night. We were spending the week in the book of Acts, and each night, I tried to make at least one application from the text we'd read that would really hit home to young women. On one of the very first nights, we had just read through Acts 1-4. I challenged the girls to look closely at Acts 4:36, 37: "And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet."

Now, when you were little, did anyone ever ask you what you wanted to be when you grow up? I still get some form of that same question while walking around campus: What's your major? What do you intend on doing with your life? My usual answer is to become an English teacher. But when I was looking at these young girls, and remembering being asked all my life about what I wanted to be, I made them do some heavy soul searching to answer a question we might not think of asking young people today.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR?

Well, technically speaking, I asked them to tell me what they would want to be the daughter of, and why. It all boils down to reputation. We always stress the importance of building a reputation, but I don't think that it really sank in for me until I thought about it in this way. If we want our children to rise up and call us blessed, and for our works to praise us at the gates, we have to start NOW! (Proverbs 31: 28-31) Children are trained to be obedient and thankful, and reputations take time to build.

The girls gave me great answers and backed their answers up with scripture, like I asked. And, as I always like to do in an open discussion, I ended with my remarks last. I explained to them that one day, I hoped to be the daughter of wisdom. At the ripe old age of nineteen, I've already made more mistakes than I'd like to admit. They weigh on my mind daily, and that's a weight I wish I had never gotten. So, in order to try and fix my wrongs, I wanted to teach as many people as I could to start working toward their goals now, and not lose sight of them, because the minute you look away, you lose your way. I showed them some of the characteristics I'd like to have one day, referencing Proverbs 8 where wisdom speaks truth and is valuable to those who find her. She has understanding and strength (vs. 14). I wanted to be just like this "woman" of the Bible! She sounds like a joy to count in your company, and a blessing to all she surrounds herself with!

And as I ended our devotional, I showed the girls my favorite Bible verse, one that took me years to pick, and hopefully many more to apply.

Psalms 90:12- "So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom."

If we don't understand that the time we have on this earth is limited, we won't even begin to set goals for ourselves, let alone be known for anything! So, why not be known for something that will have an eternal effect! Choose to number your days, and make wise decisions so that you may be known as a daughter of Wisdom.