Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Seeking Wise Counsel (How Hard Can It Be?)

Ever feel confused or uncertain about an upcoming decision or life choice?

A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. Proverbs 1:5

The Bible tells us not to lean on our understanding, but to let God guide us in every area of our life. When faced with a decision, we are to pray and read the Word to get our answers. 

There are times, though, that even after prayer we still feel confused and desire to seek the advice of a friend. But who should we talk to? Who qualifies as wise counsel?

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Is the person I am considering for counsel walking in integrity? Are they the same person in all situations?(church, work, socially)
  • Are they "walkin' their talk"? In other words, are they living as they say they believe?
  • Do they easily share information about others (gossip)?

This week, let’s read and meditate on the following scriptures as we examine what God’s word tells us about wise counsel and His wisdom.

The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. Proverbs 12:15
The word is very clear that godly counsel is valuable and that un-godly counsel is very dangerous. Examine the character and values of the person with whom you are seeking guidance.

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel. (Proverbs 1:5)
Seek to understand and be open to learning, even if that means correction. Acquire wise counsel when necessary. This is a sign of spiritual maturity.

Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe. Proverbs 28:26
Trusting our own insight can have destructive results. Pursuing and following God’s wisdom is always a safe choice. 

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Learning to discern between wise and unwise counsel requires complete trust in God. We can rely on those who seek, listen and follow the Holy Spirit to give sound guidance.

Seeking Wise Counsel (How Hard Can It Be?) Proverbs 12:15 Tweet That

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Building Character through Honesty

The following is an excerpt from my book Becoming a Woman of Character. (Available August 2015)

Christine wanted the promotion to district sales manager more than anything. She had the experience and training, but she did not have the advanced degree required for the position. She knew she could perform the duties of district sales manager better than any other candidate.  At first, she dismissed the idea of claiming she had the necessary education when she didn’t. But the more she thought about it, the more it seemed harmless to lie about having the degree. After all, what would it matter once she was secure in the position and helping the company meet its sales goals? Christine thought that the Human Resources department would most likely not verify her degree, because she was well liked and very successful within the company and they trusted her. The more she thought about it, the easier it became to lie. 

Webster defines honesty as “honorable; characterized by integrity and straightforwardness in conduct, in thought and in speech; free from fraud; genuine, fully unadulterated; open; frank; sincere.”

A woman of character is honest. If we live a life of honesty, we are trusted. If we are trusted, we are able to speak into other's lives about Jesus Christ.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19

Honesty is more than telling the truth. It is being honest with God, ourselves and others.

We must be honest with God. God is all-knowing so it’s not like He doesn’t already know what’s going on with us. But He wants us to be honest with Him. When in prayer, He wants us to talk to Him about our emotions and feelings. We should confess our sins and repent. He wants us to talk to Him our life issues.

We must be honest with ourselves. God wants us to accept who we are in Him and live as our true selves, rather than try live according to other people’s expectations.  We can accept who we are and who we are created to be?

We must be honest with others. Don’t lie! Be truthful with your husband, children, family, friends and co-workers. Be known as a woman with character who tells the truth and can be trusted.

So what gets in the way of being an honest woman? The desire for money, self promotion, title or position can be very enticing. But we can’t let anything throw us of the honesty train. A woman of character is honest and lives her life that way!

For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man. 2 Corinthians 8:21

Living It Out

1. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. Proverbs 12:22. Knowing this is true, what are some things that could tempt a Christ follower into being dishonest?

2. Do you believe that being dishonest with yourself is better or worse than being dishonest with others? Why?

3. To become a woman of character, we must be trustworthy. Name some ways we can become trustworthy with our spouse, children, friends, co-workers.

4. Think of a situation where you needed to be honest with someone. Was it about you or the other person? Were you honest with love and kindness or with judgment?

Prayer Points
Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you any areas of dishonesty in your life. Repent and ask for forgiveness. Then ask God to show you a new way of living with honesty in all areas of your life.

Further Study
Using online tools, or a study bible, find at least 10 scriptures that pertain to honesty. Try  as an online resource.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Condemnation or Conviction?
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 NKJV

As a born again Christian, it is important that we know that there is a difference between the conviction of Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the enemy of our soul. We must know the difference in order to walk in true freedom!

Condemnation comes from Satan and is meant to tear us down. It continually points out what a failure we are, or how badly we've messed up.

God never condemns us, but rather the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin or areas of our life that need to change. Condemnation tells us “You are a failure” but conviction says “You are forgiven”.

Here’s an example: Maybe you failed to exercise as scheduled. Condemnation would include thoughts such as: “you are a failure, you have no will power, give up, you are never going to accomplish your goal, you are worthless.”

On the other hand, convicting thoughts would be “exercise is important, according to the scriptures our bodies are temples and we need to take care of them, start again tomorrow.”

The Holy Spirit wants the best for you and the devil wants to tear you down. We must know and recognize the difference. 

This week, read and meditate on the following scriptures:

  • And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. John 12:47 
  • So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. Isaiah 30:18 
  • Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4
  • Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Rev 12:10
  • If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
  • So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
  • Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4

Prayer Points/Action Steps
Pray: Lord, please help me to know the difference in condemning thoughts and thoughts of conviction from Holy Spirit.
Action Step: Write down any specific condemning thoughts that the Lord points out.
Pray: Heavenly Father, help me to take every thought captive(2 Corinthians 10:5).

Further Study
Look up the words condemnation and conviction in the dictionary. According to these definitions, how can condemning thoughts affect your walk with Jesus?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Listen Longer, Hear More

It is so easy for us to talk to God about we need or want. 
But He is also speaking. Are we always listening? 

Many people I counsel say “I can’t hear God”. But we know from His Word that He is always speaking. Let’s talk about how to fine tune our ears to hear Him.

This is not to say that we must sit for hours in order to hear all He has to say. But we do need to PRACTICE hearing His voice by giving time to Him. We are to praise Him, worship Him, and....listen!

A few years ago there was a popular television ad that featured a man on a cell phone. He was walking around, changing locations, moving in and out of buildings as he asked the question "can you hear me now?” He was trying to find the perfect reception area in order to hear and be heard. 

Sometimes I think God might be saying to us “Can you hear Me now? Do we have a good connection?"

 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Since God is constantly speaking to us, then we must learn to clearly distinguish His voice above all others. 

We can practice what I call “purposeful listening”. We can purpose to hear from God. 

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

The Lord speaks to us in a "still small voice" 1 Kings 19:12. But there are times that the chatter and noise of daily life drown out that voice. 

What can we do?

Remove inner noise, the “chatter” in your mind. Often, thoughts of chores and tasks create distraction. Keep a pad of paper handy to jot those down to get them out of your immediate thoughts. Some people find that playing worship music softly in the background helps.

Remove outer noise. Pick a quiet room or an area of the house where there is less noise distraction. Maybe a time of day when no one else is home, after everyone has gone to bed or before others get up in the morning. Or try leaving your work place at lunch, even if it is only sitting in your car.

Get physically comfortable and calm. Being uncomfortable can be a distraction. Your favorite chair, sofa, or pillow on the floor. Whatever works!

Pray-confess and repent. Then be still and listen. Keep your journal, Bible and pen handy.

Begin to schedule time with God daily to practice listening for His voice. 

This week, begin setting aside part of your devotional time to just sit quietly and listen. Challenge yourself to listen a dew minutes longer every day.

If we listen longer, we will hear more.