Turning Away or Stirring Up?

Proverbs 15:1A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Responding gently does not mean that we have to be a doormat. But it does show that we value relationships, peace and reconciliation over rights, strife and pride.

My Advice – You will have many opportunities to respond harshly to others. But even when you are wronged, and may be justified in answering harshly, try a gentle response. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how often this turns enemies into friends rather than affirming their animosity and how well it maintains rather than damages relationships.

Upside Down Frowns

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Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. – Mark Twain

Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – A song I remember from my childhood included the phrase a smile is just a frown turned upside down.  Peace with others will come much easier with smiles than frowns.  And usually, whether we smile or frown does indeed depend on us.  Even if the others are frowning, our smiles can help turn those frowns upside down.

My Advice – Is not any better than today’s comic.  Be like the little children, just try giving a smile away.  And make sure the wrinkles of growing older are where smiles have been, not frowns.  In fact, make sure the smiles are not “has been,” but still are.  Just because we grow old does not mean we have to stop smiling.

Things Too Wonderful

Job 42:3“You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – This is the way it is with man. We speak when we do not understand or know when we should be quiet and listen for God to instruct us.

My Advice – Be sure to acknowledge God when He shows you the way. For you will certainly find that His ways are best. Better by far than our ways. Be thankful He did not do it your way.

Darkening Counsel

Job 38:2 – “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?

My Musing – As children of God, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have the privilege of being able to approach the throne of God with confidence. Let’s not abuse that privilege. We should be respectful, humble and thankful before Him.

My Advice – God’s counsel is beyond our comprehension. When things are not going the way you like or think that they should, it is okay to ask God why. But don’t do it in a way that challenges Him with words without knowledge. He knows what is best and when is best.

Getting Off The Couch

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1 Corinthians 1:26-31Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Not feeling too wise?  Not very influential? Not of noble birth? Weak and lowly?  Then perhaps God can use you.  That’s not to say God cannot use those who are.  But sometimes our wisdom, influence, stature and strength can get in the way of being used by God.  Perhaps maybe because we do not think we need Him and can manage just fine with what we have.

But life in Christ is full of oxymorons.  The poor are rich and the rich are destitute.  Gaining the whole world can cost you your soul. Those who give out of their want give more than those who give out of their wealth.  The foolish shame the wise.  The older (Esau) serves the younger (Jacob).  The least of the lowliest clan (Gideon) becomes the judge that delivers all Israel.  Ordinary fishermen (Peter, John and James) and a hated tax collector (Matthew) become disciples of the Messiah. The King of kings is born in a stable and raised in backwater Nazareth (can anything good come from there?).  The Apostle Paul is given weakness so he can be strong.  The persecutor of early Christians (Saul) became the Apostle of grace (Paul).  The Savior had to die on a cross (cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree) in order to offer the blessing of eternal life to all mankind.

So, maybe we should not feel so inadequate after all.  Maybe we don’t need to be up on the couch where it is nice and comfortable.  We’re needed more down in the trenches.

My Advice –  Go in God’s strength.  His grace is always sufficient.

Even If I Perish

Esther 4:16 – “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – As harsh as it may sound, this should be our attitude when responding to God’s call. If it costs us everything we must still be willing to answer the call. This is not being fatalistic. It is being faithful to the One who sent His Son to die for our sins. We can never pay back that debt, but we can make down payments.

My Advice – Be devoted to God and obedient to His call. The cost will usually not be this high. He is more interested in the willingness than He is in the execution.