When we allow the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit to direct and guide our decisions…our decisions will be excellent ones. When we listen to that still small voice rather than blurting out the first thing that comes to mind…our words will be timely and principled. When our plans align with God’s plans for us…we can stand firm with integrity and strength, knowing we are right where God wants us…in the center of His Will.
I love how Webster’s Dictionary defines nagging…to find fault incessantly, to complain or constantly scold. That’s what this Proverb is addressing…a contentious wife who is always finding fault, clashing verbally over often petty matters, and demanding the last word. No wonder her husband is out in the garage or in his man cave hiding out. No one wants to live in that kind of environment. And elsewhere in Proverbs, we find this interesting idea that coincides, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)
If you’ve ever had to pry the fingers of a two-year-old open around a toy they won’t share…you know just how selfish humans are about their possessions. But I Timothy 6:7 tells us, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” Everything you have or have ever possessed was a gift from God. But we consider possessions like potato chips…one isn’t enough…we want the entire bag! So where is the balance? The answer is contentment…happiness with what we have or don’t. We can then look at our possessions from God’s perspective and hold on to them not with tight fists but with loose fingers.
I’m not accusing anyone of flagrant disrespect towards the Lord…for we’d all be quick to deny it. But what I’m asking is more about the covert and secretive disrespect we show the Lord…the brashness that no one seldom knows of. The sin of omission is simply not doing what God wants us to do. It’s apathy and neglect on our part, but also thinking we know more than He does. Now we’re not brazenly telling God we refuse…we’re just quietly ignoring it…hoping it’ll just go away. But one of the most glaring signs of covert disrespect we can show God is to declare to Him, ” I can’t do that!” So as the verse asks…just who are you to talk back to God?
Verbal histories from our elderly family members give us insight into just where we come from. Those precious stories are filled with important events, human struggles, and surprising accounts of things we had no prior knowledge of. Within those verbal histories, we hear bits of wisdom, sage advice, personal warnings, and lots of humor. With our own ears we listen as important information is given to us about the past. But have you ever thought about how important it is to give a “verbal history” to your children or grandchildren about God’s influence in your life? A once I was… but now I am… testimony showing the Lord’s redemptive power over sin in your life is more important than any other story you could share with them.
The Apostle Paul was encouraging Timothy to stand up for himself as a Pastor, even though he was considered young for the position. Paul admonished him to behave in such an exemplary way, with integrity and confidence, that no one within the Church would question his assignment. Timothy was to lead by example…his way of life on constant display for others to imitate and follow. I would then challenge all of you who are also considered “young”…don’t think being youthful is an excuse to not set a good example. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t influence others for Christ while modeling God’s love to the world.
This verse is referred to as the “Shema,” which is how the first word in the Hebrew text is pronounced. This word means “to heed, listen, and obey.” Moses stressed the priority of belief in only one God as the people encountered countless foreign gods around them. And the next verse showed them, and us, the way to perpetuate and foster this belief of only one God, for it states in verse 5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” It tells us in proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” To know God is to love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we desire to listen and obey Him.
There I was a few nights ago…lying in bed, awake and worrying about medical tests I had just completed. Mentally, I was taking myself through every worst-case scenario, when God stopped me mid-thought with, “Haven’t I had your life in My hands all these years, and won’t I continue?” For the next few minutes it was like a video ran in my head of past situations where God had literally saved my life…some I had been immediately aware of at the time, but some I had totally forgotten about. By the time this “Video” was done, I was seeking forgiveness for my lack of faith and declaring with new-found confidence, “My life was in Your hands then, and it’s in Your hands now…my faith and trust is in You, Lord, regardless of what happens.”
God really does know who you are. To Him you’re not just a number or face in the crowd. Consider this Scripture in Psalms… “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4) Tonight go stand outside and look up…can you even begin to count the stars? So if this verse tells us God can name each one of those stars…how could you believe He doesn’t know your name? But it goes so much farther than that… for God not only knows who you are but is aware of every detail in your life, for nothing escapes Him.
As a Believer, you have been given the Spirit of adoption and strength. No longer are you an orphan, fearful of tomorrow. No longer are you a slave to anxiety or dread, for you have been embraced by your Heavenly Father…taken in as family and becoming a joint heir with Jesus.