Wise Decisions

Do you desire to bring joy to your parents? Would you like to see them rejoice over you? Do you know what it takes to make them proud of you? Do you understand what it is your parents want for you? Is it not to be wise and successful?

I believe most of us want to please our parents. We want them to be proud of us. We want to please them and hear their praise in our ears. Yet, too often we don’t always make decisions with that in mind. What should be our guidance for making decisions that will result in our parents being proud of us?

As we see in today’s passage, parents look for their child to be righteous and wise. This passage is as true today as it was when it was written thousands of years ago. Parents want their children to do the right things. They want their children to make good decisions. How can children go about doing that?

Parents should not make all the decisions for a child as they grow up. Parents need to teach their children to make decisions for themselves. This means walking a young child through the decision-making process, helping them see the consequences of the choices, and allowing them to decide. This may mean the child suffers a setback from the decision. Yet, this will impart wisdom on the child for making future decisions.

You may think this a bit harsh. As a good parent, you won’t allow a young child to make a decision that can harm them badly. Yet, you need to allow them to make decisions that may not produce good results and allow them to feel the negative consequences. This may mean they are allowed to stay up late when they must get up early the next day. It may mean allowing them to choose their lunch, knowing they won’t really like it.

As children grow older, the decision-making process they learn when younger will stick with them. They will look at the options, weigh the consequences, and make a decision that best fits their goals. When parents and children work together on decision-making when they are young, the child will continue to ask for the parent’s advice as they grow older. The parent must be careful, especially as the children grow older, to not make the decision for the child, but help point out the consequences truthfully.

I pray we all teach our children to make wise decisions. I pray we allow them to make their own decisions. I pray each of us follow a collaborative decision-making process. Teach wisdom. Reach out to your parents. Make the wise decision. Be collaborative. Bring joy to your parents. Trust God in all decisions.

Proverbs 23:24-25

The father of a righteous child has great joy;

a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. 

May your father and mother rejoice;

may she who gave you birth be joyful!

All For All

Are you put out by people who don’t carry their share of the load? Would you like to energize them in some way? Or, would you prefer they leave your presence and not return? Do you not know that all of us have a part to play?

We often get upset when we are working hard toward a goal for our company, organization, or church and there are some who just don’t seem to be doing their part. We complain about them, but not to their face. We grumble to our leaders about them. We plea for the leaders to do something about the laggards.

Have you stopped to think that perhaps you should do something? No, you can’t fire them, and you probably aren’t in a position to tell them to leave and not come back. Yet, you are in a position to encourage them. Ask them to assist you with a task you have. Then praise them for helping. You might be surprised how that positive impact works on them. Oh, you may not see a 180-degree turnabout on the first try, but you will see improvement as you continue this tack.

You see, we are to love one another, take care of one another, and encourage one another. When we do these things, we see improvement in one another and our team. Sure, we might run into someone who is absolutely obstinate. If we do, and we’ve made several attempts with them, then we go to the leader and ask for help. But why not try to help ourselves by helping others first?

In the end, we are responsible for our own actions. Even if we decide we don’t want to help others, we certainly are not to set on the sidelines and complain about them. That puts us in the same boat with them. We are no better. Even if we are working.

On the other hand, if we see someone is working hard, doing a good job, we should acknowledge them. This is encouragement for the one taking on the hard tasks. It will boost their energy, make them feel appreciated, and will also increase our team productivity.

I pray we all become encouragers. I pray we recognize those who are working hard. I pray each one of us stops our complaining and encourages those we want to complain about to join in doing the work. Be an encourager. Recognize the hard worker. Encourage those who are disheartened. Do not return wrong for wrong. Strive to be good to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Selfishness or Success

Are you looking for a step-by-step program that will guide you into a prosperous life? Do you want a checklist for being productive? Have you read self-improvement books to find them? Have you looked at the book that contains the secret to a good life?

I believe the majority of us are looking for guidance in some fashion or another. We may not always admit we need it. In fact, we often deny we need advice at all. We like to think we have it all together and we know exactly what we need to do to be happy.

Unfortunately, when we think we know it all, we are usually deceiving ourselves. It is our own desires driving our thought process. That is not say all our desires are bad. Yet, they can be selfish and lead us astray. They can also cause us to be rude and mean spirited toward others.

In today’s passage, Peter gives us the step-by-step process we need to live a successful life. No, it isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. It is a process that will guide us to a long life of joy, peace, and calm. It is a process that will develop us into a person who is respected by everyone who knows us. It is a process we should follow, if we desire to make a positive impact on this world.

Though the process is provided in a short list, it is not one that can be accomplished quickly and easily. We will need to work at it every day. We will need to ask God to help us each step of the way. The process requires us to set aside our selfish desires in order to be who we want to be.

Isn’t that an interesting dichotomy? To be who we want to be we must set aside our selfish desires. We have these two opposing desires raging within us. We want immediate satisfaction and we want long-term success. Unfortunately, we typically can’t have both.

As Peter states, there is a proven process for long-term success. It isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. But it is worth every bit of our effort and sacrifices. It isn’t something we can do on our own, but God is there to help us each step of the way.

I pray we all seek respect and long-term success. I pray we seek God’s help as we live our lives. I pray each one of us will follow the process Peter lays out for us. Set aside selfishness for success. Seek God’s guidance. Follow the proven process. You can be successful with God’s help.

2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Stay In God’s Love

Are you looking for something to hold on to? Does it seem as though your world is out of control? Do you need an anchor to steady your life? Are you willing to step out in faith? Are you willing to spend time in prayer?

There are times when our lives seem to be in utter chaos. We go through periods of times when it seems as though nothing goes right. There is even an old wives saying that implies bad things happen in three’s, meaning there will be three bad things happen in quick succession.

It is true that there are rhythms to this world. There are rhythms in our lives. There are times when it appears old wives tales are true. Yet, there are also times when these are dispelled out of hand. All the while, we continue to look for answers.

We often don’t find answers to the question, “why?” In part, we don’t look in the right place to find the answer and in part we don’t have the resources to conduct all the research needed to get to the bottom of it. Yet, most of the time, we simply need to read our Bibles to find the answers we are looking for.

The book of Jude, a very short book of only one chapter, provides a lot of answers. It forewarns us concerning ungodly people who continually strive to deceive us. We fail to see them in our midst. If we do happen to recognize them, we want to take matters into our own hands rather than turn them over to God.

When we take just a minute or two to read the book of Jude, we find that even the archangel Michael did not condemn the devil, but he said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Michael left it to God to do the condemning. Yet, he continued to follow God’s commands, trusting in Him.

We, too, can leave it in God’s hands and trust that He is just. We do so by holding on to our faith and spending time in prayer. Our prayers are to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, seeking God’s will in all things rather than our predetermined notions. When we do, God provides the peace we need.

I pray we all spend time in prayer. I pray we seek God’s will in all things. I pray each one of us leave it to God to condemn the ungodly. Pray in God’s will. Trust God. Accept the peace God wants to provide. Hold on to your faith. Be in God’s love.

Jude 20-21 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Peace In Our Hearts

Do you long for peace? Do you wish all the chaos would stop and calm would come into the world? Are you constantly upset, anxious, or even disgusted? Do you wonder if things will ever settle down again?

We regularly face difficulties, whether changing jobs, broken relationships, or deaths in our families. Over the past several months we add to those difficulties the stresses of a pandemic, racial unrest, and election discord and things seem to be out of control.

I’m sure most of us are weary. We’ve grown tired of hearing the same news over and over, even if it is packaged a little different, each day. Our weariness makes the other difficulties we inherently know we will face during our lives even harder to deal with. We long for relief.

We may not be able to stop the chaos permeating our nation on our own, but there is a way for us to withstand it with inner peace. That peace comes through our relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Though it is difficult to build a relationship during times of trouble, it is not impossible, and it is never too late.

As our relationship with God is strengthened, we can share the peace we have with others. As we lean on the peace Jesus gives us, that dwells in our hearts, we are less anxious, and sing praises to Him for His wonderful blessings. God is willing to provide the perfect peace we seek, if we will only ask and believe in His promises.

God desires to give us the peace we seek. Jesus desires to firmly plant His peace in our hearts. Will we seek the peace of Christ or continue to look for peace to come from this world? If we are looking for peace from the world, we will be sadly disappointed.

So, as you go about your day, gives thanks to God for His blessings, do everything in the name of Jesus, and sing songs of praise to Him. You will find the peace you seek in doing so. God will plant it in your heart, and it will permeate your entire body.

I pray we all seek the peace of Christ. I pray we do all things in His name. I pray each one of us welcome the peace of Christ into our hearts, allowing it to rule our lives. Allow Christ’s peace rule your heart. Be thankful. Sing songs of praise. Do everything for God.

Colossians 4:15-17 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

From Poor To Rich

Are you looking to become rich? Do you struggle to get by with what you have? Are you striving to improve your standing in life? Do you desire to have more? Do you know the riches of heaven are available to you?

Our nature is to be leery of any offer to give us something for free. We eye such an offer with skepticism. Our tendency is to believe it is too good to be true. We are right to view such offers here on this earth in such a manner.

However, there is a free offer that we should accept. It is an offer from God and given in the abundance of His mercy—it is His grace. We often view His offer with the same skepticism we view human offers. We suspect there is a catch. We often hear there is a catch.

God made His offer without a catch. We simply need to accept it. Oh, there will be changes in our lives as we gain a better understanding of all that God has done for us. But that is not a catch, rather it is a positive that takes place as we mature in His love.

You see, it is by God’s grace that He sent His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for us. It is by His grace that Jesus left heaven to come to earth. It is by His grace that Jesus became poor in order that we may be rich—that we may inherit heaven.

Jesus is the only one to leave His riches behind for our benefit. Perhaps that is why we are skeptical. It has only happened once in the history of this world. It will not happen again. Of course, there is no need for it to happen again. It is done.

God’s grace not only provides us an inheritance in heaven, but also gives us life in the here and now. His grace gives us the very breath we breathe. It is through God’s grace that we are blessed with all that we have and will achieve.

I pray that we all see the truth of God’s grace. I pray we accept the riches Christ provided us by Him becoming poor. I pray each of us grow in God’s love. Recognize God’s grace. Accept God’s free gift. Grow in love. God’s grace is enough.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Accept God’s Grace

Have you heard the true message? Are you searching for hope in a chaotic world? Does it seem that love has escaped you, once again? Do you know there is a hope that has existed for thousands of years? Do you know that hope was perfected two thousand years ago?

It is our very nature to search—search for love, for a better life, for a hope that never goes away. We often search in all the wrong places. We search in human ways, looking for people or possessions to provide it for us…and we are disappointed.

Our disappointment will entice us to make a variety of choices. Unfortunately, many of those choices are unhealthy. They are unhealthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Yet, our desire to squelch the disappointment will push us to make a choice.

There is a better choice. In fact, there is one best choice that we often ignore or overlook or discard out of hand. We may believe it is the right way to go, but we don’t like the idea of having to wait. We want immediate gratification. So, we won’t choose the best choice.

If we will put our hope in the eternal, truly put our hope there, we will find what we are looking for. We will hope in the true hope. We will find love that never ends. We will find a faith that grows stronger as we experience it each day.

The hope we search for is provided through God’s grace. His grace is beyond our understanding. It doesn’t follow our human ways. His grace is far grander than we can imagine. His grace is freely given to those who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.

As we accept His grace, we gain a hope that is everlasting. Our hope sprouts faith that grows and matures as we continue to experience God’s grace. Since God works in His time and not in ours, we often chase hope through other means, attempting to speed up the process, which results in our missing the wonderful work of God in our lives.

I pray we all choose to accept God’s grace. I pray we put our hope in Him. I pray each one of us will experience Him working in our lives—finding the love, faith, and hope we are all seeking. Accept God’s grace. Put your hope in God. Allow God to grow your faith. Experience God at work. Feel the love God has for you.

Colossians 1:5-6 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

Be Like Grace

Have you ever wondered if you are making an impact on this world? Do you, perhaps, think you are too young to have an impact? You are not too young, and you can make a large impact on this world. I suggest you make it a positive impact, one like a young lady I am going to tell you about.

First, I will admit I did not know her personally. However, I have seen the positive impact she made on others with my own eyes. Over the past eight days I’ve been an eyewitness. I’ve seen the tears of her schoolmates, teachers, and family. I’ve seen the shocked looked on their faces during those first couple days, unable to comprehend what had happened.

You see, there was an ATV accident that took the life of a vibrant, loving, caring, and infectious 15-year-old girl. Her friends and schoolmates could not fathom that she would not step foot in a classroom with them again. They could not imagine not seeing her smiling face again.

Often our immediate reaction to a tragic accident is shock and denial, followed by bouts of sorrow and depression. Slowly, we overcome these emotions, but it can take months to do so. Though it can be a bit easier when we know where that person went.

As I supported the students and staff immediately following the accident, then attended her memorial service yesterday, and heard stories about her, there is no doubt in my mind she is in heaven. It’s obvious her family, friends, and the pastors from her church believe so, as well.

What makes them believe this? The way she lived her life, her beliefs, and the positive impact she had on many, many people. A movement has started based on her life and it is spreading across our country and now beginning to go around the world. It has already taken hold in multiple states and at least one other country.

It is teens who are showing us the way. They have picked up her message of “be your best self” and made it fly across this country. In a time when we all need some hope, a bit of good news, something positive to grab hold of, let’s look to this movement and take it up ourselves.

The #belikegrace movement encourages each person to take a moment “to smile at everyone you meet, say good morning, and open a door for a stranger. After all, it costs you nothing.” What a wonderful movement to be a part of!

I pray we all take up the #belikegrace challenge. I pray we determine to make a positive impact on others. I pray each one of us will exchange our bickering for smiles, our hatred for opening doors, our selfishness for saying, “Good morning.” #belikegrace.

1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Guiding Light

Are you looking for a guiding light? Are you looking for you life’s pathway to be lit up like an airport runway? Are you simply asking for the next step to be revealed? Are you willing to see the light, if it is placed in front of you?

We often ask what our next step should be, even if we know what profession we believe is the right one for us. There are numerous options and we wonder which is best for us. We like to think of ourselves as being independent, and yet, we long for direction from someone else.

There are times when it seems as though we are going down a muddy path. It seems as though our feet are being sucked into the mud, making it nearly impossible to take one more step. The path isn’t clear. We can’t see the solid ground off to one side.

We may be missing the path we are meant to travel due to taking advice from the wrong people. We listen to advice given by someone who is selfish or doesn’t know the big picture. Perhaps we are listening to advice from someone who is also getting advice from the wrong source. After all, we are all seeking the path meant for us.

It can be very confusing seeking our path. There are many paths we can take. There are numerous forks in the road. When we make the wrong choice, it makes it harder to navigate our way back to the correct path—the path we are meant to be on.

So, how do we know what path we are meant to be on? We know when we are grounded in God and listening for His voice. Our path is lit by God, if we are willing to trust Him. God is patiently waiting for us to turn to Him, hear Him, and follow the path He has for us.

You may be wondering how you can hear Him. The first step is to spend time in prayer. As we spend time in prayer with God, both laying out our requests and listening, we will hear Him speak to us. He will provide clear guidance through His Holy Spirit. He will shine a light on the path meant for us—perhaps just the next step we are to take.

Isn’t it funny that we will trust someone we don’t know all that well but won’t trust God? We may ask for directions from a complete stranger because they live in the area, yet we won’t ask for directions from God who knows everything and His plan for us. Why not change our behavior today and start asking God?

I pray we all look to God to light our path. I pray we ask God to direct our lives. I pray each of us will spend time in prayer, both requesting and listening to God. Trust God to light your path. Ask God for direction. Listen for His guidance. Follow the path God has laid out for you.

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp for my feet,

a light on my path.

Trust Me

Are you looking for something you can hold on to? Do you long for stability? Would you like to be able to count on something or someone forever? There is One you can count on from now into eternity.

We all want stability in our lives. We want to count on things functioning as they should. If we don’t, why do we get upset when the car won’t start in the morning? Why are we disappointed when a friend doesn’t show up on time? We all have the desire for dependability in people and man-made objects.

Unfortunately, we are disappointed more than we care for. Cars break down. Houses need repair. Clothes wear out. Jewelry loses its luster. Anything humans make will eventually fall apart and become useless to us.

People will disappoint us as well. They will be late for appointments, not make it to our sporting events, fail to return our calls or text messages, turn their backs on us, and fall out of love with us. People are broken, too.

Knowing the things we spend our money on will eventually fall apart and people will disappoint us can be depressing. However, there is One we can count on at all times. Oh, we may be disappointed in Him at times as well, since He doesn’t work exactly the way we would like. Yet, He is perfect and His timing is perfect.

God is our firm foundation. He is our Creator. He is everywhere at all times and knows everything. He set nature in motion. He created our human brains to think and understand. He put a spirit inside us that is similar to His Spirit, even if not perfect.

God is faithful to His plan. He is faithful to His children. He existed before creation and will continue to exist long after this earth is gone. He is the One we can count on now and for all time. Let’s put our hope in Him.

I pray we all put our hope in God. I pray we put our trust in God. I pray each one of us will stand on God’s promises and look to Him. Know that God is eternal. Know God as your Creator. Trust God in your situation. Stand on His promises.

Psalm 119:89-90

Your word, Lord, is eternal;

it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations;

you established the earth, and it endures.