Thoughtful Thursday: The Choice of a Good Name

Proverbs 22:1, 4, 29

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great wealth, good favor more than silver or gold. 4 The reward for humility and fearing the LORD is riches and honor and life. 29 Do you see a person skilled in his work?  He will take his position before kings;  he will not take his position before obscure people.”

2 Corinthians 6:3

“We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”

Acts 24:16

“This is the reason I do my best to always have a clear conscience toward God and toward people.”

Colossians 4:5

“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities.”

A good name in the sight of God and man is more valuable than anything this world can offer.  But a good name is not the pursuit of popularity, nor is it a desire for approval from man.  Today as I read Proverbs 22, it is choosing a good name that stands out to me.  No one wants to be thought of in a bad light, but we also cannot control people’s perceptions.  So how do we choose a good name?  A faithful walk with God.

Solomon offers clues later in the same chapter about the pursuit of humility and fearing the LORD as being the most prized approach in life.  The fear of the LORD and humility are not “put on”, so how are they chosen?  We really cannot exhibit godly characteristics apart from God infusing them into us.  Humility is a recognition that we are completely incapable of anything good in and of ourselves.  It is not just a mental assent to this fact, however, as our posture is affected when we see how very needful we are of God.  So, how do we see our need of Him?

Attaining humility is not possible on our own.  We are the complete antithesis of humility, but with God all things are possible.  He often uses circumstances to affect our understanding and to produce in us what is pleasing in His sight. Sometimes we do not appreciate His methods, but we are also unaware of what He is accomplishing in us.

The fear of the LORD has been greatly misunderstood.  Recognizing that I am deserving of judgment and was instead extended mercy is the beginning of the fear of the LORD.  The fear of God can keep people at a distance from Him or it can affect us powerfully to draw nearer, prostrate and humbled by his greatness.  In this awe and a reverence of our Holy God, we conduct our lives with an accountability of all aspects of our lives laid bare before Him.

This month as been excruciatingly challenging for my family for many reasons.  In the midst of the difficulties, yesterday I paused and thanked God.  I also wept and surrendered to Him.  Had we not had some of the challenges that humbled me, I would not have been brought to the realization of what God showed me.  These momentary struggles are changing us for His glory. Sometimes pain is the best tool as it fashions us to be more like our Father.  But more than just circumstances, the discipline of seeking Him is a tool that places us in His hands to be transformed.

We are never done seeking Him and we never arrive.  Consistently walking before Him is a necessity.  Added to this foundation of humility and reverence of God is a call to be skilled.  Not so we can boast about our accomplishments, but as we seek to be faithful to our God, we need to develop all of the talents and skills He has placed in us for His glory.  It is not the seeking of our fame or acknowledgement, but the diligence of growing all of our God-given abilities for use by our Master.

However He wants to use it all is up to Him, but consistency, faithfulness, fear of the LORD, and humility speak to those around us of who we are in Christ.  Ultimately, we are hidden in Him and His Name becomes our own.  Representing Him is the highest honor we can have in this world – the best choice for a good name.  The good name we pursue is not our given name, but the name of Christ alone.

Lord Jesus, it is You we glorify – You who we want to please and be like.  Help us to never cease seeking to know You more and to embody Who You are to this world.  May we be found faithful and make You famous.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Purpose of Time

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, 14, 17

1 For everything there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. 5 A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7 A time to rip, and a time to sew; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak. 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. 9 What benefit can a worker gain from his toil? 10 I have observed the burden that God has given to people to keep them occupied. 11 God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time, but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart so that people cannot discover what God has ordained, from the beginning to the end of their lives. 14 I also know that whatever God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it. God has made it this way, so that men will fear him.  17 I thought to myself, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked; for there is an appropriate time for every activity, and there is a time of judgment for every deed.”

Ephesians 5:15-17 

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the LORD is.”

I always feel like there is not enough time in a day.  God, outside time, has placed us within a capsule of time, which we cannot escape while on this earth.  In His perfect wisdom, He knew we needed time.  Last week we explored from Solomon’s heart the purpose of monotony. This week I tackle my enemy: time.

Why my enemy, you say?  Time is my taskmaster and I am forever late!  I set out to conquer my day well for the LORD’s glory, but I am encumbered by multiple interruptions and a “to do” list which is never fully accomplished.  How can this futility be of God?  Time humbles us – we have an end.  We are finite, we cannot take for granted each moment we are given.  Time causes us to set goals, lest we never achieve what we were placed here for.  Time reminds us of our place in creation.  Our Creator lets us steward the gift of time, and we are held accountable for it.  It is ours and it is not ours – we are living on borrowed time.

Time creates within me a reverence and awe of God.  Living in this fear of the LORD can help me to number my days well for Him.  God cares about how we use time.  Managing time is difficult, much like managing finances or other behaviors, but at the root of all that we steward is the question – will we be faithful with what we have been given?  I confess that I can be too busy for my own good.  Overwhelmed by life’s demands, prioritizing can be a difficult occupation.  That is when I realize things left undone is often victory, after all.  Putting God first sets my day in order and what I cannot complete was either not meant to be done in that space of time, or God will provide another opportunity for it to be done.  That is a tough truth for me to accept, but I am just a vessel and trust God’s wisdom in giving us 24 hours in a day, 365 days and 4 seasons in a year.

When I am in a season that is particularly difficult and feel I am wasting time and not accomplishing much, I ask God to help me see through His eyes.  Taking care of a hurting child is more important than tasks that are always there to be done.   Being sick might prevent me from completing something I deem more important, but simultaneously achieving character and something God deems as more valuable within me.  If I cease from all of my striving and look at the wall my ladder is leaned up against, I see that time is a servant to me if I use it wisely.  Time is given that we might gain a heart of wisdom and walk with God’s purpose for our lives.

It is difficult to always be disciplined and living on purpose.  I fall short – I can be lazy and would rather just let my sails fill with the breeze God sends my way then try to plan.  Both are aspects of the life hidden in Christ – He directs our course but expects us to be diligent within that course.  I am reminded in Psalm 127:2, that God has enough time in the day and that he also makes time for us to rest in our busy lives.  He made sleep a part of each day.  He knows we are just dust.  As we surrender our planners over to Him and ask Him to help us live His purpose each day, moment by moment, perhaps we can understand the purpose of time in our lives.  It will not always make sense to us in each stitch of time, but the Master quilter sees the complete design.

Lord, You are Sovereign!  You are the Master Designer and make all things beautiful in Your time.  I surrender my life to you, moment by moment, day by day.  Be glorified in me and help me to use the time You have given wisely and live a life that brings You honor.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Mark of a Beautiful Woman

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Proverbs 31: 10

10  “Who can find a wife of noble characterFor her value is far more than rubies. 11 The heart of her husband has confidence in her, and he has no lack of gain. 12 She brings him good and not evil all the days of her life25 She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the time to come26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. 31 Give her credit for what she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates.”

I went there today – the dreaded passage – Proverbs 31.  The one most women feel inferior to, but is such a wonderful picture of what God can do through His daughter, yielded to Him.  Used as a checklist, we miss the point.  This Proverbs 31 woman is actually a compilation of many women, and an example of what a Holy life, walking in wisdom looks like.

She is not subjugated and treated like an object as some cultures insist.  She is not a poster child dressed scandidly, as some cultures put forth as beauty and the definition of her value.  She is powerful.  Not because of a liberal agenda that supposedly empowers with equality – no she is all her own – powerfully adorned in character and wisdom, uniquely made for God’s glory with a specific calling on her life.

The strength and honor she possesses come from a vibrant faith in and dependence on her God.  Her husband has confidence in her because of her walking in wisdom.  She is not silent – she instructs lovingly.  But the character trait that brings her the most praise is fearing the LORD.  You won’t see that on any tabloid, but the eternal Word of God says it.  Fearing God instructs how she lives – each day a gift – not perfect, but beautifully walking with her Savior.  She is guided by God’s Word and invests her life in her family – the amazing gifts of a faithful life partner and precious children.  I can hear someone saying, this is a Norman Rockwell image and my husband and children are not perfect.  No, but neither are we.  It is this Holy calling of being a wife and mother that humbles us but achieves an ultimate righteousness.  It will be difficult and will take our all, but it will be worth it all.

So many distractions prey upon women today – images and fashion cheapening her existence and worth, societal pressures putting forth goals that are not biblical .  If she yields to the world’s definition, focusing on vanity and selfish endeavors, future generations are not impacted by the wise example she neglected.  If she cleaves to God’s Word and seeks to live as God created her to be, the fruit of such a life is endless.  Ultimately, the fear of the LORD is where the greatest satisfaction and peace are – it is what we were made for – to fear the LORD and enjoy Him forever.

Lord, help us all to live in a manner that pleases You.  Even when the world seems so appealing, may Your wisdom and Your Word win the battle for our souls.