January 8 – The Total Package

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I like a good fight. I didn’t say I like to fight, especially when it comes to getting hit! Because I grew up watching some of the greatest boxers in the world on Saturday afternoons, I have a great appreciation for the sport of boxing.

Some of my favorite fighters were “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and of course, Muhammad Ali. It was like watching a chess match between fists when these men went at it. Every boxer had his own “style” and was often quite successful when he would stick to his game plan.   I

’ll never forget the first time I saw Mike Tyson step into the ring. Wow! What a fighter he was. Not only did he have the raw talent, and the fighter’s instinct, but he was well-trained. His coach, Costamatto, saw his potential when he was a boy and began to groom him to be a champion.   Tyson had the jab, he had a rock-solid defense, he was in great shape, and most of all he had a crushing punch. He indeed had the total package. Unfortunately, he made foolish choices and lacked character, and today he’s often referred to as “the champion that could have been.”

In the above verses, Dr. Luke accounts that Jesus grew up with the real total package. In my home, this is the highest priority for my little champions. I want them to grow up in an atmosphere that promotes strong bodies – inside and out, spiritual wisdom, and revelation of the grace of God.   For all practical purposes, life is truly a fight and each of us enters the ring every day, whether we want to or not. I don’t know about you, but if I have to fight, I would rather win! And if that be the case, let God’s Word be your gym and His Spirit be your coach.

Every day, get dressed in His strength, put on His wisdom, and let Him robe you in His grace.   Never take your eyes off these three keys. Say them on the way to work, while you cook dinner, and before you go to bed. Then watch yourself start floating through trials “like a butterfly” and stinging temptations “like a bumble bee.” You can’t lose with God on your side, the Holy Spirit in your corner and Christ as your example. You’ve got the total package!   When Joseph and Mary finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him. Luke 2:39-40  

Biblical Meditation: 1 Timothy 6:12

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February 4 – “That’s a Lovely Dress You’re Wearing . . . “

Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. Proverbs 28:23

“That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing, Mrs. Cleaver.” Oh, Eddie Haskell always had something nice and kind to say for the adult population. But all the while, he was up to no good.

Leave it to Beaver is a TV land icon. Though set in the 50’s and aired in black and white much of the time, many of its ideologies shaped our culture.

Most of what I remember about the show promoted wholesome behavior and responsible conduct.

But it was old Eddie Haskell that you loved to hate. His flatttery was so annoying. He never called anything straight. Anything he said or did had to do with getting his way or pulling the wool over somebody’s eyes. And most of the time, when it came time to pay the piper, somebody else was paying Eddie’s bill.

Most of us don’t struggle to that extent. But, if we are honest, flattery comes a lot easier to most of us than a rebuke.

I don’t suggest we go around being “brutally honest” to everyone we meet. However, there are many times situations arise that call for us to issue a firm word or two on behalf of a friend or loved one. And if we are in the custom of playing the flatterer, we will miss the moment by a mile.

Lest this proverbial pearl comes across as if I was solid and firm-footed like old Wally Clever, I admit . . . God has worked long and hard on my “Eddie Haskell tendencies.”

November 24 – Shot Through the Heart

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? Proverbs 18:14

I knew a man who was a very quiet and miserable old soul. He had very little to say and what he did say was colored with tinges of sorrow and regret. As you might suppose, the “true friend” populous was quite limited.

But one day, while eating a bite with some colleagues, we saw the sad soul. And one of them piped up, “You know that old man used to be quite the life of the party? Like a Will Rogers of sorts.”

Flabbergasted, of course the rest of us wanted to know what happened that changed him so much. “He lost his first wife and two little girls in a horrible accident. He’s never been the same.”

I can say I have experienced my share of tragedy and I have wanted to give up from time to time. But by the grace of the Almighty, I have not yet sustained a fatal blow to my human spirit…that part of you that produces the courage to keep on keeping on.

You may be reading this right now feeling very sad and morose because of a tragic event that left you barely breathing in your soul. I am so, so very sorry. I share your pain. But I must say, as long as you are still breathing, healing can come.  Even the deepest of wounds don’t have to prove fatal. God knows where you are and why you hurt. And He knows just who or what to send your way to awaken a new you, inside you, that you never knew!

 

November 4 – Does Aunt Ruth Have a Beard?

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: And a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” KJV Proverbs 15:23

Sometimes I run out of stories to tell on myself. When that happens, I have to borrow one from Lorenzo or one of the kids. In today’s case, my husband will be the victim.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “uncouth” as “outlandish, awkward in appearance or bearing, boorish, rude, untrained, harsh or blunt, unrefined.” For some reason (ha), this word is one I recall my mom teaching me sometime during my childhood. Whether it was my bluntness or my baby sister’s blurted comments during the children’s sermon, apparently we needed to know the meaning of this word. (I can’t remember anything uncouth my middle sister ever said, so Robin, you’re safe. Forgive me, Em!)

But I digress. My husband is the subject of this devo. . .

My mother-in-law tells the story of Lorenzo being a very forthright little boy and speaking his mind at even the most awkward moments. One of those moments was at church one morning. Apparently, the woman sitting behind them somehow caught his attention. Upon observing her, in the middle of the service, he asked her why she had a mustache.

Well. Oops. Any parent out there has had moments like that. And the training continues, long after the toddler and elementary stage is over. But what about us adults?

The truth is, we can be so right, yet so very wrong. We can feel the need to correct or elaborate to others “how it really is,” whether we’re giving the updated weather report or the correct pronunciation for a word in our conversation. You see what I mean? Those interjected comments may be right, but we can be very much in the wrong in how we come across as a know-it-all or superior.

Everyone we encounter has been created by God. Each human being is worthy of respect and care, just because they exist. Learning our way around other people is a skill that can only be directed by the love of God. Yes, the truth is the truth. But truth must always be balanced by grace. Each of them help the other.

Lord, give me gracious words for my conversations. Let them ring true but be balanced by grace.

If we can keep up with our own adult conversations, being on top of the toddler’s comments will be a piece of cake!

October 14 – And the Walls Came a Tumblin’ Down

Riches provide no security in any day of wrath and judgment, but righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God) delivers from death. Proverbs 11:4

What American could ever forget the horrible moments of September 11th? Those moments changed a nation and the world forever. I was in my office, sorting through the work for the day when the office assistant called me into the meeting room.

Some things were changed forever.

But one of the most obvious devastations went unnoticed, for the most part, in all the chaos, catastrophe, and confusion. What happened to world trade that day? How much of the financial wherewithal of the nations of the world were obliterated that day? Who knows what all went into keeping economies going on the surface with borrowed money and bailouts while financial ruin was hidden at the core.

Our modern day sophisticated fiscal maneuvers make it hard to see the cracks in a compromised wall of security. Therefore, being prepared when it crumbles is next to impossible.

That is why our ability to get wealth, manage wealth, or keep wealth is not a high priority where God is concerned. It is far too unpredictable and awfully subject to heart corruption. Not because possessions in and of themselves are bad, but because our hearts have a tendency to trust in the seen much more than the unseen.

Righteousness levels the playing field. There is nothing in the world I can do to earn my “right standing” with God. It is the by-product of His grace, His mercy and His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it makes no difference if fanatics decide to hijack a plane and slam it into the side of a building that represents the “wealth walls” of every nation and worldwide economics crumble to pieces. If your hope is anchored in God Almighty, the place you are standing will not be shaken.

October 3 – Grandora

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding. Proverbs 9:10 AMP

In my opinion, the beginning of wisdom is knowing that God loves you and me and He’s not mad at us. Even though our actions and our attitudes might warrant His righteous judgment, He grants us grace. For that, He is worthy of our respect and adoration.

On that note, time has proven to me that I get a whole lot more wisdom out of wise people when I value their time, their service, and their insight instead of taking them for granted.

“Grandora” was a great example of wisdom personified. In her nineties, when she went home to be with the Lord, she was dear to our family by then for many years. By her own admission, she was bossy, headstrong, and independent. But this dear soul knew the Lord intimately and longed to introduce every one she could to His love, mercy and grace.

Along the time she came into my life, there were many others who had the same opportunity to mine out the boundless treasures she possessed, but were unwilling to look past the rough edges on the surface to get the good stuff on the inside. Only by the grace of God did I begin to see it. I was so hungry for the wisdom she walked in, I gave her my solemn respect and adoration and in return, she left me and my family with holy insights that will last us for generations.

In a nutshell, that’s what the God-walk is all about. Respect and adoration of our Father and Creator. Not because He heals us or gives us what we think we need at a moment’s notice. But because He is and He knows. Period.

For Him, I have learned, that kind of attitude is undeniable. And like Grandora, He will fill to the full those who adore Him with all the wisdom and understanding their little hearts can hold…He will not deny!

September 26 – Erasing the Scarlet Letter

Proverbs 7:4,5 MSG

Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
 Treat Insight as your companion.
 They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress.

As long as time has been, the grass has had a tendency to look greener on the other side of the fence. It’s “human nature,” as Michael Jackson once sang, but still, NOT okay. If you’re wondering if our present national divorce rate and number of wandering spouses is something new, check out the Old Testament and look for David, Solomon, and Gomer (more about her later.)

Even though Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines, he still was obviously inspired to write these scriptures warning against the “seductress.” (Check out all of Proverbs 7 for a clearer picture.)

And this is refreshingly encouraging! Since we can easily identify with making mistakes, sometimes very serious ones, it is so sweet to know God still loves us and cheers for us . . . much as He did for King David of old.

No, this is not to say that the consequences won’t be severe. But as we’ve been seeing this past week in Proverbs, God hates a gossiper or a haughty look just as much as a murderer (Proverbs 6:16).

Hang on, I’m going somewhere here.

Look at the following verses in Proverbs 7:

Proverbs 7:19, 20 KJV For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.

After we are heavily implored to stay away from the “harlot,” verse 19 and 20 says the goodman is away from home on a journey and he will come at an exact and special time. Hmmm. My thought is that the “goodman” represents Jesus. And the rest of this chapter’s instructions about the harlot are for everyone, no matter what the distraction might be.

As with Gomer (the consistent adulteress married to Hosea – their story is the book of Hosea), God’s message is abundantly clear: WE are the adulteress. WE are the unfaithful. But HE is faithful, and unconditionally forgiving!

Yes, Jesus the Good Man is returning. And the distraction level is at an all-time high. So no matter the sin or level of depravity, He is willing and able to erase it all and restore us.

And just as importantly, it’s the time to offer mercy and forgiveness to those around us who are knee-deep in the distractions.

Because, but for the grace of God, there go I.

Jennifer 🙂