Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs 16:7’

Near to God

January 18th, 2013

Spiritual intimacy requires intention and initiative.

“Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 NLT.

Have you noticed that you feel loneliness when isolated from the company of others? You are at your best and happiest when enjoying a comfortable lifestyle that allows plenty of room for others. God created you to enjoy community with others and fellowship with Him. Your Adversary desires your isolation from others and your separation from God, if you will allow it. The Incarnation, when God came into our world, evidenced God’s desire for your fellowship. John marveled that “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us . .” John 1:14 NIV. Spiritually, you are safest when nearest to God and living happily alongside others.

James, the brother of Jesus, urged, “Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 NLT. Spiritual intimacy requires intention and initiative. What would being “close to God” mean to you? The promise is clear; the process is just as evident. When you move in God’s direction, you will always find God responding in kind. But how do you draw close to God? James describes the process simply. Drawing close to God is evidenced by two deliberate actions by you, “Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil . .” and a corresponding reaction by the Devil, “. . and he will flee from you!” James 4:7 NLT. The sincerity of the first determines the success of the latter. I am reminded of Solomon’s proverb, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 NIV. Get things right with God and you will find things better with others.

Humility is the proper posture of heart for a right relationship with God and others. How you walk with others will often reflect your heart attitude before God. Peter echoed the principle of humility this way, “All of you, [young and old], clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may exalt you in due time” . . when you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him [humble yourself], He will lift you up and give you honor.” 1 Peter 5:5-6/10 NIV. Read Colossians 3:12-17 NKJV.

Any relationship either grows or diminishes, not long remaining as they were.By their nature, relationships are dynamic, not static. That is also true of your personal and spiritual relationship with God. Any distance that occurs between you and God results from your lack of initiative, not His. A healthy, growing relationship requires your vigilance in giving a priority of time and attention.

Jesus’ coming gave lasting proof of God’s passion for closeness with you, who are made “in His image and likeness.” The invitation is His; the initiative is yours, “Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 NLT. When you are closer, it just feels right. “For You created everything, and it is for Your pleasure that they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11 NLT. God finds pleasure in your company; you will find your ultimate fulfillment in His.

My prayer for you today is that your heart draws ever closer to God’s heart.

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Ally or Adversary?

March 29th, 2012

“If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 NKJV

“God’s intent is that you enjoy supportive company in your journey of faith.”

My thoughts and comments today ask, “ally or adversary?”

Isolation is an unnatural circumstance, even unhealthy to your personality and development. Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 NLT. You were made for meaningful relationships. You can be better if they are the right kind of friendships, not so good if the wrong kind. The Bible is plain and simple about that; “Don’t be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:35 NIV.

Just as truly as I learned a Law of Physics in high school that, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” I have learned you must choose the right kind of helpful companions, or you will find the lesser kind all too available. You must learn to differentiate between allies and adversaries. God’s intent is that you have and enjoy supportive company in your journey of faith. The reality also is that there are those who will be adversaries to your faith. You will have friends; choose them well and walk with them closely. You will have adversaries; avoid them when possible, and ask for help when you need to do so.

Life can be hard on your own, because God never meant for you to be without the mutual benefit of companions. That truth was established early at Creation when God made Adam, then announced, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18 NIV. Generations later, David declared the same truth when he wrote, “God sets the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6 NKJV. Though it sometimes feels like it, you do not have to be alone in life.

There are times you may feel as Joshua when facing the obstacle of a fortified Jericho impeding his journey. Read Joshua 5:13-15 NKJV. Standing before him with sword drawn was an imposing figure. Joshua, ever the courageous soldier, asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” That’s important to know. May you be certain as Joshua discovered – God will always be for you!

The Apostle Paul recites difficult life experiences and then asks, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 NKJV. In that truth safety and assurance of soul is found. David recalled his own difficulties and dangers, recounting, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side . .” Read Psalm 124:1-8 NKJV. I cannot imagine my life without God on my side, and Jesus at my side. When God is on your side, “No weapon turned against you will succeed . . When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Isaiah 54:17 NLT/Proverbs 16:7 NIV.

The Bible warns, “Be vigilant because your adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV. You have a dangerous, credible adversary but God is your ally, “an ever present help in time of trouble.” Psalm 46:1 NIV. Be persuaded that “God is for you,” and live in such a way that He can be. Do not live in a way that sets you in opposition to God. “You are of God, and have overcome . . because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:5 NKJV. God is greater than any and all who would posture themselves to harm you.

My prayer for you today is that you live with courage and confidence in God’s strength.

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Reaching Higher

April 26th, 2011

“Raised us up together . . in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6 NKJV

“Wise people learn from mistakes, theirs and others’.”

My thoughts today urge you to “reach higher.”

It is a fact of life; if you are going in the wrong direction you are going to arrive at the wrong destination, unless you realize your mistake in time and change your direction. Some people just don’t seem to learn from mistakes. The Bible describes a time when, “Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25 NLT. That is not a good way to live. It becomes easy to believe that  wrong is right, down is up, and mediocre is good enough.

Some people follow the crowd, but is it the right crowd? Some insist on charting their own course, stubbornly and independently choosing their way, but is it the right way? “Every way of a man is right in His own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.“ Proverbs 21:2 NKJV. Look around; is this where you meant to be and who you meant to have alongside?

It is sad that a recurring phrase in Samson’s story had to be, “Samson went down . . to Timnah . . to Ashkelon” Judges 14:1/19. In the context, this expression may very well be a geographical reference, but it can also suggest a direction and action that lessens and diminishes the person doing so. The expression is often used to describe a person whose behavior “lowers them in others’ eyes.” You have seen it happen on the evening news in the broken trust and personal scandals of prominent leaders in government, business, entertainment, churches, and ordinary people – esteem lost, opportunity missed, and years wasted. Don’t let it happen to you; reach higher!

Samson had many warnings and chances, but he ignored them and continued his way until, “He did not know the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him.” Judges 16:20 NKJV. That was tragic and such a waste. Yes, Samson’s story mercifully ends in grace and restoration (Judges 16:23-30), but there were years and tears that could not be undone. When God’s blessing is not upon what you are doing and God’s presence is not with you, it’s time to do differently, and do so immediately. Wise people learn from mistakes, theirs and others’.

Let your attitude be that of Nehemiah who had returned from the Persian royal court to the ruins of Jerusalem to rebuild and restore. When the enemies of his task – “Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and the rest of our enemies” – tried to bring this leader down to their level, he responded, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Nehemiah 6:3 NKJV.

Know your identity in Christ; stay true to what He has called you to be and do; do not move away from your Godly calling and commitments. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 NKJV. Who you live to please determines how you live. Here’s where you belong: “God has raised us up together . . in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6 NKJV. Reach higher!

My prayer for you today is: hold yourself to high standards – God’s standards.

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Kind Affection

September 8th, 2010

“Be kindly affectionate to one another.” Romans 12:10 NKJV

Kindness is always best, and holds the least cause for regret.”

My thoughts today are about “kind affection.”

There will always be situations and people that confront you with important choices. Choosing to be kind rather than unkind is always the right choice. You alone have the power to choose what is best, what is right to do. No matter what the situation may be, or how the other person has acted or what another has said, the real decision is yours alone.

Have you ever thrown a ball against a wall? The force with which the ball is thrown determines the force and speed with which it returns. Your natural reactions will always be like that, unless you choose Godly responses. Jesus changed the standard. “Whatever you want others to do for you, do the same for them.” Matthew 7:12. No wonder they call that “the Golden Rule.”

I have learned that my choice can either be a reaction or a response. By default, I can react to another in a like manner, or I can more wisely forego my right and justification of doing so and thoughtfully reserve my own responsibility to respond in better ways. Your reactions are not really your choice at all; they merely duplicate what someone else chose to do. A righteous response, however, is your choice alone.

That evidences a Godly maturity and reflects your devotion to Christ. I long ago formed a helpful definition: “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” That sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t it? See Matthew 5:10-12/1 Peter 2:23-24 NIV.

The Bible says, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath . . When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 15:1/16:7. Reactions always escalate, exaggerating and worsening whatever the initial and subsequent words or actions are. Kindness is always best, and holds the least cause for regret. There is always and excuse for doing otherwise, but you will certainly regret doing so.

Our English word, “kind,” has its origin from a word not currently in use, “kinned,” meaning to be related as family. Over time the word evolved to its current spelling, and suggests acting in a manner as you should to members of your own family – “kindly affectionate.”

A family, by its very nature, requires kindness. When people live daily in close proximity for such a length of time, relationship with appropriate love and good will can only be sustained by extending kindness generously. Responding kindly, whatever the provocation or behavior, is your worthy and Godly objective.

In some ways are we not all “family,” or at least meant to treat one another as such? “Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.” Romans 12:10. The Bible reminds you, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:32. Who sets the standard for what you will be and do?

My prayer for you today is that you will be known for your kindness.

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