Learning Wisdom

"Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." ~Proverbs 1:7 NLT
In reading this morning, I began at Proverbs 1:1 and read that verse. Then I couldn't get very much farther on without my eyes returning, almost of their own accord, to it. I didn't really grasp what it meant . . . so it surprised me that it stood out to me that much. I'd read down the column a bit, and my eyes would search back up to find and read that one over again. And again. Some questions came to my mind:

  • How can I be wise?
  • What is fear of the Lord?
I tried a few different translations to see if that would open that verse to my understanding. The Amplified version was the best:
"The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction and discipline." ~Proverbs 1:7, AMP
Revering and worshiping the Lord God of Hosts really is the beginning of godly Wisdom. If you don't accept the Lord for Who He Is, you cannot receive the full blessing of what He offers.
"He who receives and welcomes and accepts a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives and welcomes and accepts a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward." ~Matthew 10:41 AMP
When we honor God for who He is, and value the Wisdom He teaches us, we can receive the reward that comes from the true value of what we learn, and from our relationship with Him, from accepting God for Who He Is.

So, if reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning of godly Wisdom, what comes next?
"If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you." ~Proverbs 1:23 AMP
As we position ourselves to revere and worship God as we should, we can't help but have repentant hearts, turning to Him. And what comes next is wonderful: an outpouring of the spirit of Wisdom and understanding. I could really use more of that in my life . . . how 'bout you? ;o)

In Proverbs 2, we get a step-by-step tutorial on how to understand what comes next:

  1. Receive words of wisdom and treasure up prophetic instruction. (2:1)
  2. Listen for, ponder and meditate on them. (2:2)
  3. Pray for insight and understanding. (2:3)
  4. Seek for it as you would a precious treasure. (2:4)
And here's the result:
"Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God." ~Proverbs 2:5
 Boom. I love it when God lays things out so simply for me.

As I walk out the things I have come to understand, the second half of verse seven comes into play:
"He is a shield to those who walk uprightly and in integrity, that He may guard the paths of justice; yes, He preserves the way of His saints." ~Proverbs 2:7
I learned, the hard way, over the last week, what it's like to fear mortals more than God. To walk outside of the guarded path, without the Lord's shielding. In my case, it was denying very clear promptings because I didn't want to cause discomfort to others. As a result, I wandered spiritually all week. I walked without the presence of God's Spirit in power, struggled with depression and all the old demons, and my family had a less than stellar week. Sunday was the worst, when I ignored two more (very clear) instructions on how God wanted me to use my time that day. That cost me sore repentance, and finally brought me down in humility, once again confessing the wisdom and love Jesus Christ has for me, if I'll but stay turned to Him and follow.

Walking without Jesus is a crushing weight. I don't ever want to do it.

It's simple craziness to ignore what He tells me, even when it doesn't seem that important, and expect to have the same deep connection as when I am walking in His will for me. One of the instructions I ignored I was able to fulfill last night . . . and it was such a sweet blessing. All of the concerns I had were totally unfounded. (Whaddya know? God knew what He was talking about! {facepalm}) As for the others, I know my Lord will give me more opportunities to obey Him. He wants to be close to me, and that requires offering me opportunities to obey Him, so I can get to know Him better, learning His ways.

I'm so. glad. He loves me so much, that when I come to Him He does not upbraid, doesn't get on my case or send me on a guilt trip. Universally, the response I receive when I've turned to Him anew after following my own will: "Oh, Annalea. I'm so glad." It's filled with love for me, and awash with a deep relief that the suffering I put myself through is over . . . even if only for a short time, until I stumble again. My goal is to continually shorten the length of that period between stumbling and returning.

Lord, I'm so grateful this morning for Your love. Your steady, patient, unfailing and overwhelming love that heals and entreats, persuades and teaches. I'm so grateful for your infinite nature that means You can lavish me with love and a fullness of Your attention in my linear, earthly existence, as if I'm Your only and most favorite daughter . . . just as You do for every other one of Your children. Thank you for the innumerable chances You've given me. Thank You for Your mercy that still offers Your sustaining love in my foolishness, and for Your amazing grace that empowers me to become more than my flesh would ever permit. I'm beginning anew, Lord. Keep leading me, please. And show me how to better accept Your grace so I can glorify Your name more, bringing more joy to You and into the life of those I love most of all. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.

You Can Only Fool Yourself

Now go and completely destroy  the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.” ~1 Samuel 15:3
God's instructions are clear, simple, and straightforward. We best understand them through His Spirit, but even without the Holy Spirit's assistance, we can easily understand the meaning of His word.
Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality. ~1 Samuel 15:9
But how often and quickly do we humans take what God has said, and then put our own spin on it? How readily do we add to His instructions and will because it is appealing to us? We tell ourselves that we're fulfilling His command, but in breaking what we see as only part of His word, we disregard it completely. Adding even just a drop of gasoline to a tall glass of milk makes it completely undesirable.
Then the Lord  said to Samuel,  “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord  all night. Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. ~1 Samuel 15:10-12
The Lord cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance. No matter what we personally believe our state of obedience is, wrong thinking about that state won't save us. Justification, excuses, they don't change what we've done. When we continue on in our idolatrous ways (putting our own desires or fear of mortals above and before what He instructed us) we utterly reject the God of Israel, our Savior and Redeemer, who gave everything for us. When we're in harmony with God, and listen to His Spirit, we are alive to the tragedy and loss that idolatry is. My heart goes out to Samuel, who had to go through that--had to witness Saul falling from the Lord's favor, despite the pleadings of an entire night.
Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.” When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord  bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” ~1 Samuel 15:12-13
And meanwhile, those who have rationalized their idolatry continue on, having convinced themselves that all is well, they are blessed, and the Lord will be so, so pleased with what they've done. (After all, they worked their tails off getting it done, and look at what they accomplished!)
But Samuel replied,  “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” ~22-23
Samuel lays it out so clearly here: don't do it. When we transform the holy word of God, we break His command. Obedience to what God actually said, what He actually commanded is what He wants. Not the fat of rams. Not sacrifices. All of those things are already His . . . all He wants is our love. He wants a real, close, familiar relationship with each of us, so He can continually reveal to us more of the true extent of His love. Saul had convinced himself that he had done what the Lord commanded--but his delusion was no guard against the truth of what he had done.

I've been feeling lately that this time is one of urgent preparation, that I and my family need to draw close to the Lord, for the time is far spent. I need to know God, truly, for myself, and have a living, constant connection with Him as I go through each moment.

Father, thank you. Thank you for Your love, your patience, and the incredible Gift of Your Son that makes my happiness and peace and intimacy with You and Him so much easier. I praise You for Your eagerness to reveal Yourself to me, for the way you continually offer peace and freedom, righteousness and rejoicing, even in the hardest times. Lord, I pray that the hearts of those who profess Your name will be softened. That those who do many things in Your name might have a radical encounter with Your love, and be changed forever. Open their hearts and minds to know You, the only true and living God. You are good, faithful, kind and loving, and I rejoice that I can trust You completely, in everything, because You are perfectly just, too. I know that anything I endure for You will bring support and strength down from Heaven, and that You will redeem the pain, redeem the time, and bless me on every hand for what I might experience because I follow You. Lord, bless and guard my family. Lead them in the ways of truth and righteousness. Reveal Yourself to us more each day, and always show us better how to follow You, how to follow, Jesus, how to follow the Word of God. In Jesus' beautiful name, amen!

Cast shame far from you!

Give no more place to shame--it is the enemy of your soul! God doesn't CARE what we DO. He only cares what we ARE. What we are is connected to what we do, but our doing does not determine His inner climate. Our doing only matters to Him as it allows Him to direct and transform us further into inhabitants of His Kingdom. He keeps no checklist, no score sheet in this process. He burned the score sheets in the glorious fire of His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. He is not a mortal man, subject to wounding over and over by our actions. He has already suffered all, (ALL--nothing left out!), and has claim on all comfort in the Father for anything we do now. I firmly believe He sorrows with us now, because of that same love, but we have no power to hurt Him the way we would be hurt if we were as fully invested in/in love with another mortal as He is in and with us. Love heals all. God is Love. He is the healer, not the hurting.

He loves you just as much as He always has. Our own growing awareness of our mortal failings changes nothing. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Isn't that such an awesome comfort and reassurance???) Your failings have already been atoned for--your debt already remitted in full: it is done! Cast shame far from you!

Jesus is Lord of ALL, even the least of all of us. He walks beside you, every moment, loving you steadily and lavishly, already having broken down ALL the walls sin could ever build, already having bridged the precipitous chasm of the Fall.

The only thing that keeps us separate from Him, despite His constant proximity, is our own reluctance to abandon our attachment to the idea that we are sinners, separated from God. And in claiming the identity of Redeemed, Reclaimed, Beloved of Jesus, we then change the way and magnitude in which He can work in our lives, and He begins to transform us into His own image. But we have to accept, claim without apology, what He holds out to us.

The gift is given. Praise be to God!!! :o)

He is OURS, now!
Here is HERE, now!!!

And He wants us to accept Him now, as we are, so He can help us, heal us, and make us His. :oD

(I need a Toyota jump smiley . . . )

Father in Heaven, reach out and touch Your children. Open our eyes, open our minds, open our hearts to Jesus, to His nearness, to His reality, to His earnest desire to engage with us. Work Your mighty work in us, Lord we pray . . . cast out the orphan spirit that keeps us separate from You, from Your love, from Your presence, and let us fully claim our place beside you as Yours! So be it in Jesus's holy and blessed Name. :o)

What really matters . . .

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NLT)

This passage has long confused me. Jesus tells Martha that He's not going to make Mary get up and help with the housework . . . that what Mary is doing is most important. (I wish we knew what He was saying!)

Mary sat with the men, learning from Jesus. Martha stuck to her role as hostess, and saw to the housework. Martha was intent on being a "good" woman in her home for the Lord. On showing Him, with what she did that she was good. Mary was neglecting her role both as woman and kinswoman to the hostess, and sat with the disciples (who may have been mostly men). But she had tasted of the living waters, and thirsted for nothing else. I have a feeling that Jesus would have provided all the food they needed, had Martha chosen to sit at His feet and listen, as well. How often do we do that . . . work hard, distracted from the things God really wants us focused on, in an effort to please Him, when He would provide much of what we worked for if we just walked in His will?

Lord, I know you've told me (repeatedly--thank You for Your patience!) what You want me to do. Please show me how. Open my mind and heart so I can know how far to step, and in which direction, to carry out Your instructions. Increase my faith, so I can recognize Your cues, and follow You more smoothly. Please. So be it, in Jesus' name.

All Are Alike Unto God

Scripture: Hebrews 5:4-6, 10 NLT

And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.  That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. ” And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Observation: Priesthood, authority from God, is given by God. No one else. Christ showed that the old model of priesthood, that of lineage, isn't the only way.  (As did Melchizedek, and others.) He showed us that if we wish to know God, wish to obtain priesthood power (power in the Holy Spirit to do things not possible in the flesh), we must learn God's word, conform ourselves to Him, and receive more from Him, leaving our own flesh behind. There are no outward performances which, absent a heart wholly and completely abandoned to God, can bring priesthood/God's power into our lives. (Diligence is necessary, after a heart wholly for Him.) We can claim the proper bloodlines, ordination at the hands of the holiest of mortals, and a perfect righteousness in works . . . but until God Himself ratifies our authority personally to us, we have none.

Application: I think I'm familiar with the areas God has granted me authority/stewardship in my life. (Or most of them. lol) And I've been thrashing around, trying so hard in the flesh to "do it right", when really all He wants is for me to come find out from Him what it is I should do to see His glory brought to bear. He wants me to come to Him, so He can give me more. So He can teach me more. So He can lead me to be more, for Him, and to share more fully with Him in the love and grace and peace He has.

It's so, so good to know that priesthood is so utterly different than I had always supposed.  That I am just as eligible for power and authority from God as anyone who ever has, or ever will, walk the earth. Places of power in the organizations of men hold no allure for me. I only want God's enabling power, His direction and influence, in my life. I want, more than I think I could ever put into words, to help His people . . . to be able to bring God to them somehow, to show them that He loves them. To be even a tiny bit as Peter was, so healing miracles would follow in my wake wherever I went. Holding the knowledge of the love of God in my own heart is a treasure more valuable than anything . . . and bringing to others a witness of that love, an enabling personal experience of it, stands out as one of my foremost desires. And knowing that my own intimacy with God will yield fruit that I before believed was reserved only for men that had been ordained by other men is more exciting, more hopeful, more empowering, than I can say.

Prayer: Dear, dear Father. I praise you so sincerely, so sweetly, so solemnly, so boisterously and joyously, for Your love for Your daughters and sons. That You really do not change from day to day. That I can take You at Your word, and approach boldly the throne of grace to claim my own blessing that, best of all!, I can share with whoever You place in my path. Walk with me, Lord. Show me how to remember, to keep in the forefront of my mind, my consciousness, that I am walking to You. Shine the light of Your love on everything around me, show me the truth of all matters, that I can let go of those things that keep me from You.  I rebuke the enemy and all of his influences in my home, in my family. I declare that darkness has no power here. Life is changing for us, because of You. I know I can trust You completely . . . and that's such a relief. Thank You, thank You, thank You. In Jesus' lovely, lovely name, amen!