Wisdom and Jelly Shoes

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Proverbs 19:20

I should have listened when my mother told me not to go into the river wearing my brand new, sparkly jelly shoes. Man, I loved those shoes. I loved how they felt and how they looked. Mine were clear slip ons with sparkles imbedded in them, how I imagined Cinderella’s slippers. Most of all I loved the sound they made when I walked on certain surfaces, almost like high heels.  Those were the “in thing” in the 80’s and I had received a brand new pair right before we went to the river with my Aunt and cousins.

The problem was that I hated walking around in the river. The slimy feel of seaweed, the fear that something might bite me, and the jagged rocks that kept poking my feet had to be avoided. So when we took a boat out to another sandy spot I wore my jelly shoes into the water. That was another great thing about them, they could get wet!

I was waist deep when I got knocked off my feet and one of my shoes slipped off. I frantically looked everywhere for it, but it was gone. Dread is not even close to what I felt walking out of that water. I cried, of course, but that didn’t bring back my wonderful shoe. If only I had listened.

It’s a silly story, but it still tells the truth about wisdom and folly. A wise person listens to the advice given by others, especially those who are older and wiser in the faith and in life.

Had I listened to my mother’s wisdom I would have kept my shoes. In Esther, we see wisdom shared and heeded leading to a much more important outcome.

Esther was now queen. God had placed her on the throne for a very special purpose–to protect his people. This account should remind us that God has placed each of us where we are for very specific purposes. We may not know all of them at the moment, but we do know many of the purposes for our lot in life. If you have a husband and a family then it is to minister to them and point them to Christ, their only hope for salvation. If you have friends then it is to be a godly example to them and encourage them. If you have to “clock in” at the workplace then it is to show honor to God through your faithfulness and work ethic.

Though Esther was queen she did not disregard the advice which Mordecai gave her (to keep her ethnicity a secret). She honored him not only by listening to his counsel but by doing what he advised.

There are two beautiful things seen here.

1. The Honor of Age

Many people ignore the elderly. They are viewed as irrelevant and unnecessary. In the West we place them into communities where they can live with others their age. Sometimes we do this to alleviate ourselves from having to care for them, listen to them, and practically love them. For the most part we do not honor those with gray hair in American culture. But Esther respected Mordecai, an elderly man, and listened to what he had to say. With age comes experience and wisdom. “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Prov. 16:31)

2. The Honor of wisdom  

Esther respected Mordecai. She did not nod her head and patronize the man. She listened and followed his counsel. She knew that he had more insight than she did. She knew that “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” (Job 12:12)

We need wisdom. And God is faithful to supply it to those who seek it; to those who ask for it (James 1:5). We must be ready to seek it when we need it, and heed it when we hear it. The book of Proverbs tells us over and over again about the beauty and value of having it. It is a mark of someone who fears the Lord, who is mature in the faith and who will have an impact on others.

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

Esther Week 2…

Esther Week 2 Header

Welcome to week 2 of our Esther study.

The verse for today is found in Ephesians 5. I have been thinking about this for a while now and just want to share a couple of things with you.

Ephesians 5:15 says “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,”

Why are we to live as wise? Paul tells us in verse 16, “because the days are evil.”

There was a lot of evil during the time of Esther… just like there is today. This week Esther will be called to the court of a King whose lifestyle is extravagant and excessive. This will become quite clear when we study how he went about finding a new queen. Esther will have to tread carefully and live wisely in order to save her people.

When it comes to evil our culture is not much different.  You can’t turn on the TV without seeing some of the horrible things happening in the world. Some of it is saddening, and some of it is terrifying. I am also positive that there is evil in our own hometowns, whether you live in a small town or large city. Evil is everywhere.

Paul is reminding us that because there is sin and evil in the world, we must live carefully.

So how do we then engage our culture that has so much evil in it? Here are a few points that will help us think about our culture.

1. Reject what is evil

There are a lot of terrible things in our world. Evils like human trafficking, porn and racism are just a few of the obvious ones. But there are also some that are not so obvious. Materialism, discontentment, selfishness, laziness and entitlement are also evils that need to be rejected and fought against.

2. Embrace what is good

There is a lot of beauty and truth in the world. All humans are created in the image of God, which gives each human value and meaning. Creativity is one of the characteristics we have because we are created in God’s image. Therefore we can enjoy and appreciate some amazing art and music. We can also embrace humanitarian causes, disaster relief, random acts of kindness, and many of the festival and fairs our communities put on.

3. Redeem what is broken

But there are some things in our culture that are broken and need to be redeemed. Things like the educational system, government, families and marriages, peoples lives, and neighborhoods just to name a few.

The world is a dangerous place, but we have been sent here. While we are not to view this world as our home, we are to be in it but not of it… and this takes wisdom. The same wisdom that Esther needed to save the Jews.

 

 

WEEK 1 READING PLAN

WK 2 Reading Plan

WEEK 2 MEMORY VERSE:
Esther Week 2 Memory Verse

WEEK 2 CHALLENGE

Week 2 Challenge

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

jenthorn.com

God Is At Work

Pink
One of my favorite attributes of God is his providence.  I could read and talk about it all day. The reason is because I don’t have to look far to see how little control I hold over my life. The fact that my lack of wisdom sometimes causes me to make poor decisions makes the truth that my God, not only holds all power but uses it to orchestrate all things for His glory and my good,  calming, peace inducing and freeing.

The providence of God is the unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory.
J.I. Packer

In our studies this week we are already coming across the providence of God beginning with King Xerxes extravagant party.

King Xerxes was a very proud man. He was especially proud of his kingdom and decided to show off just how great he was. He started by displaying his wealth for 180 days and then ended by partying hard for a week with an enormously elaborate  dinner.

The author points out that wine flowed freely and everyone was allowed to drink as much as they wanted (vs. 7,8). It was in this context that the King decides to show off one last thing, his Queen.  But she refuses to come. We are not told why she so blatantly disregards his wishes. The reason doesn’t really matter. The point is she refuses to come and the king is furious (vs. 12).

He is so angered by her stubborn refusal to obey his summons that she is stripped of her position and title of queen and an edict is given to all the land that women must respect their husbands (vs. 20).

It is difficult to figure out whether or not Vashti was at fault or not. Some speculate that she would have had to parade in the nude, others think she may have had some disfigurement, and some believe she didn’t want to be heckled and gawked at by hundreds of men in various degrees of inebriation. Whatever the reason it was viewed as disrespect.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Eph. 5:33

Ephesians 5:33 says that wives are to respect their husbands, but what does this look like and to what degree should a wife respect her man? Is it disrespect to refuse to follow his ungodly counsel and command? Of course not. A woman who refuses to follow the sin of her husband is honoring the Lord and respecting her husband by at least potentially leading him out of more sin and trouble. But none of this is the point of the text.

Esther is a historical account of God’s deep love and sovereign protection of his people. The Jews will find themselves in great peril, but before that happens God is already at work, orchestrating events to work together for his glory and his people’s safety. The fact that Vashti disregarded the summons of the king was a part of God’s providential plan which was to make way for Esther to the crown.

You can rest assured that whatever is happening in your life, God is already at work putting the pieces together.

You do not know how your story will unfold, but come what may, God has a plan and you can know this: that those who hope in Christ alone will be preserved in faith by God’s Spirit, and one day will be saved completely from sin and death, will inherit a kingdom and a crown, and will see their Saviour face to face for all of eternity.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

William Cowper

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

Kingdom Work

582660_10150696883662898_581670922_n

There are a lot of things that Children are not strong enough to do. They even lack strength and stamina to sometimes do the jobs that, as parents, we find very easy. My youngest, for example, thinks that picking up legos is the hardest job in the word. He is not shy about telling me that it is too hard, or he is too tired, or his arms hurt too much for him to get the job done. But I know what he is capable of, I know that if he perseveres he can do it, and if the job is too big I will come alongside and help.

We often feel the same way with the mission God sends us on and the jobs he calls us to fulfill. THere may be many things in life which we feel ill equipped to handle and yet God calls us to obey and follow him anyway.

And yet he isn’t some harsh task master who delights in our weaknesses and cracks the whip on our backs if we fail or stumble. He is our loving God who has made us and knows exactly what we can and cannot handle. And when we are faced with difficulties and jobs we don’t think we can do our Creator is at our side making his grace known in our lives and working his power through our weakness.

So how can we  have this power working in our life, through our struggles?

It happens by faith.

1. Believe by faith

It is by faith that we must trust that God is good and knows what he is doing. It is through faith that we must tackle our jobs and believe that He will work through our, sometimes, feeble attempts of obedience. He doesn’t always give us easy circumstance but he only places those things in our lives which will bring us greater holiness and more dependance on him. It is by faith that we must believe that in God’s kingdom there are no insignificant people or jobs. Therefore, making dinner, doing laundry, running errand and training little ones are important.

2. Pray with faith

We must pray with faith. When we come to God with our struggles and afflictions, when we feel overwhelmed and inadequate than we must believe that God will act.

“Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady”
Matthew Henry Commentary on 2. Corinthians

When we pray we are admitting that we can’t do it on our own, When we tell him how we feel and when we ask him to work in us we must believe that he will use us for his glory!

3. Work by faith

When God gives us a job we must obey in faith. We may not understand it all, we may feel unprepared for the task ahead of us, but we must have a courageous heart and work with all our might for the glory of God. This may be raising children to the best of our abilities not knowing what impact they may on others in the future.

Faithfulness not only glorifies God but it also causes us to grow because we will see God at work in and through us.

How beautiful to read the story of the conversion of Angela’s mother because of the faithfulness of a little girl. That family has no idea the impact that saved soul would have on her own family and on the world.

We tend to think too little of the power of God. Yet, in his love, he offers to us the great power that can make us bold for Christ, strong under persecution and persevere through any task God gives to us. On our own we will be fearful and overwhelmed and maybe even quit altogether. Instead, let’s ask Christ to use his power in our lives  in ways that we can never imagined.

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

Our Faithful God

Faithfulness
Trust is something that all humans struggle with. There is very little that everyone can really count on. We are confident that the sun will rise and set each day. All of humanity is confident that death will someday find them, and pretty much everyone trusts that they will face adversity in some form or another. But there really isn’t much in life that we can place our complete confidence in, and I think this why we often have trouble believing that God can love us with an unconditional and unwavering love.

One of the reason we cannot depend wholly on ourselves or others is because we and they are always changing. We are not constant, but God never changes (Mal 3:6), and this is why we can rest in him and in his faithfulness to us.

Understanding the faithfulness of God is critical to our confidence in him and hope for the future. Here are 4 things we must know well that will help us see the faithfulness of God.

We must know that God never changes in:

1. His purposes

While we cannot know all of God’s purposes we can know a few of them because he has revealed them to us in scripture. His main purpose is to glorify himself. This means that all things will be used for this end. With that he also causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, as well as their sanctification. changed into the image of God. (Jn 17:17; Rom 8)

2. His Character

Don’t be afraid to do a study on all the different aspects of God’s character. You will be in awe of how great our God is and you will be greatly blessed and encouraged. You will see that because he is faithful he cannot go against his character. The old catechism says that God is unchanging in his “being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” (WSC Q. 4, and see Ps. 102:25-27; Mal. 3:6; James 1:27)

For I the LORD do not change;
Mal. 3:6

3. His Promises

His faithfulness requires that he accept us through the blood of Jesus because he has spent his wrath against our sin on his Son. Therefore he has promised to save all of those who repent and call on the name of Christ (Rom. 3:26). His faithfulness causes him to sustain you when you are burdened and to strengthen you when you are weak. He has also promised to return and make all things right and because of his faithfulness he will come back to rescue us all.

God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.
Heb 6:18

4. His Love

His love is constant, relentless, and eternal. And we see it best at the cross. This is where the love of Christ shines brightest. Here he was willing to lay down his holy, innocent life for rebellious, sinful, forgetful and unloving creatures like us. At the cross we see the Judge step down from his bench and become the one judged in our stead.

He is not like a wave that is always moving. He is our rock–our fortress that cannot be shaken, moved or changed. Because he cannot change we can place complete trust in the love he has for his people.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Psalm 36:5

Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. Jn 13:1b

Perhaps you are having a hard time trusting God right now. In the midst of life that is constantly changing. In the middle of a season where crises are constant and you aren’t sure what going to happen next, you must go to God’s word and learn over and over again that he is trustworthy because he us good and never changes. You can rest in that.

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

jenthorn.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Hide me
Sign up below to receive free study materials!
Enter your email address:
Show me