I remember the first piece of advice I ever got as a kid. It was, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” I wasn’t sure what a wooden nickel was, but I knew not to take one. Ever since then, people have been giving me advice, whether solicited or not. Some of it has been good, and some of it has been terrible. I discovered it was terrible because I followed it not knowing better. Over time, I’ve learned (mostly) what is good advice and what is not.
Since we do t know everything, it’s important to seek advice in matters where we are unsure of what to do. When seeking advice, we should look for people who have wisdom, experience, and are grounded in God’s Word. It’s also good to get advice from multiple people if you can. If they all give the same advice, you can bet it’s the right thing to do. If they give different advice, go with the one who has experienced what you’re going through.
Seeking advice is one thing. Following the advice is another. Proverbs 13:13 says, “If you refuse good advice, you are asking for trouble; follow it and you are safe” (GNT). There have been times when I’ve received great advice, but I refused to follow it. I either didn’t like it or I didn’t like the cost of following it. It turns out, the cost of not following it was even greater. Not following good advice has its consequences.
I love the Proverbs because they bring to light simple truths like this one. When I was a teen, I received some other advice. It was to read one chapter of Proverbs a day. There are 31 chapters so it will take you a month. Reading it throughout the years has helped to increase my wisdom because I’m learning from the wisest person who ever lived. There’s a lot of great advice in this book of the Bible. In fact, my advice to you is the same. If you want to grow in wisdom, read a chapter of Proverbs a day.
I’m curious, what’s the best advice someone has ever given you?
If you’ve ever restored anything, you know the rewarding experience it is. There’s something about taking something that is outdated, worn out and unusable and restoring it to its former glory. I’ve done it with furniture and also with cars. Once that project is restored, not only does it serve a purpose again, often it us worth more than it was before it needed restoration. Yes, it does take some work, but in the end, it’s always worth it.
I’m so glad that God is in the restoration business. What we do with cars and other objects, God does with lives. He takes people who are broken, worn out and unusable and brings them back to life. When He’s done, those lives are more valuable because if the work He’s done. They have experienced the rebuild process and have come back from places where they thought restoration was impossible.
The Psalmist understood that there is no life or nation that is beyond God’s restorative power and ability. In Psalm 85:4, they wrote this prayer, “Now restore us again, O God of our salvation” (NLT). Israel had disobeyed God and had experienced the effects of that. They knew that even though they had moved away from their purpose and had become unusable, God could restore them. They cried out to God and He was faithful to do it.
You may think you’ve gone beyond God’s ability to restore your life, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not. God wants to restore you and rebuild you. He wants to bring value back to your life and to make you useful for His purposes. You simply need to pray like the Psalmist and allow God to do the work. If He can restore my life, He can restore yours.
I love how Luke 18 starts out. “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up” (NLT). Jesus knew that not only they would give up after praying for something for awhile, but so would we. He didn’t want us to stop asking just because it’s been a while. I wish I understood why some prayers are answered immediately, some take a while, and others are never answered. No matter what though, Jesus didn’t want us to give up.
He told the story of a widow who was suffering injustice from someone. She went to a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people. When she didn’t get her justice, she went back to court begging him fir it over and over. Finally, in verse 6 the judge says, “This woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!”
When our answers come slowly, we can take courage from this story. We can bombard Heaven with our requests until we drive God crazy. I heard the story recently where Leonard Ravenhill told a friend of mine, “God doesn’t answer prayers. He answers desperate prayers!” When we seek God desperately for an answer, the way this widow did, we can expect answers. And just as the woman believed that the judge would respond, we need to believe that God I’ll respond.
Jesus finishes this parable out just as strongly as He opens it. In verse 8 of The Message, Jesus asked, “But how much of that persistent faith will the Son of Man find on earth when He returns?” That’s our challenge. We live in a world where we can get same day deliveries on things we buy online, but God is looking for a persistent faith. He’s looking for people who will call to Him in prayer the way they would to Amazon if they didn’t deliver their package. He wants us to drive Him crazy.
In the late 90’s, I worked for an oil tool company. I was pretty inexperienced at management and was running into several issues. I found myself chasing my tail and having to put out fires all the time. The owner pulled me aside one day to give me some advice. He said, “I’m going to tell you what Zig Ziegler says. ‘If you take care of the small things, the big things will take care of themselves.'” If I wanted to be a better manager, then I needed to focus on the details.
The same principle holds true in our Christian walk with the Lord. In my own life, I found that I seemed to be going from one problem to the next. Bad things Kent happening successively. When I evaluated my life, most of the things that were happening were a result of my own actions or inactions. I had been failing to do the small things like daily prayer, reading the Bible, or living my life according to Scripture.
In Luke 16:10, Jesus said, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (NLT). Jesus didn’t just provide the basis for what Ziegler said, He added that how we treat the little things is how we will treat the big things. If He couldn’t trust us with the little things, how could He ever trust us with bigger things?
Today, take an honest evaluation of your life. Are you being faithful in the little things? Are you taking time to read the Bible, to pray, or to have simple obedience? If you’re going from one problem to the next, chances are that you’re skipping on some details. Get back to the basics, do the things that matter, and the big things will be entrusted to you and they’ll take care of themselves. Your success lies in the details.
We all know the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, and we’ve heard many sermons on it. But what if there’s more to the story that we’ve missed? What if it’s not just about a lost soul returning home? I believe it could also be about how we care for the poor as believers. Take a look at verses 16-17. “The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!” (NLT)
There was no one in the land he was living in who gave him anything when he was in need. So he left that area. He remembered how his father cared for the poor. He thought that even if he wasn’t his father’s son anymore, that his father would have compassion on him because he was poor. So he returned. In looking for compassion, he found salvation. There’s a lesson there for us as believers. When we care for the poor, they’ll find salvation.
Here are some verses on caring for the poor.
1. Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.
Proverbs 14:31 NLT
2. Jesus answered him, “If you wish to be perfect [that is, have the spiritual maturity that accompanies godly character with no moral or ethical deficiencies], go and sell what you have and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk].”
MATTHEW 19:21 AMP
3. Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless. Rescue them from the power of evil people.
Psalm 82:3-4 GNT
4. Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry; shut your eyes to their needs, and run a gauntlet of curses.
Proverbs 28:27 MSG
5. Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
Proverbs 21:13 NLT
Years ago I knew a man who made his living on dumpster diving. During the day, and often at night, he would drive around looking in dumpsters for things people had thrown away. He would then take them home, repair them, refinish them, and then sell them. He had an eye for breathing life into things that had been discarded, and he wasn’t too proud to go into dumpsters to get those things.
He reminded me of the gardener that Jesus told a parable about in Luke 13:6-9. The master had purchased a fig tree, and year after year, he had come to it to get figs. After a few years, he became upset. He told the gardener to chop it down because it was a waste of soil space. But the gardener replied, “Leave it alone, sir, just one more year; I will dig around it and put in some fertilizer. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down’” (GNT).
Out the gardener and my friend had an ability to see potential where others saw none. They both understood that it would take work to bring about restoration, but they were both willing to do it. It makes me question how I see people. Am I like the gardener or the master? Am I looking for the potential in others, or my self? Or am I quick to discard them as useless? I think if we truly looked in the mirror, most of us are like the master, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When I was a kid there was a song about an auction. At this auction the auctioneer held up on old, dusty broken looking violin. He asked who would give him a dollar for it. Then a man walked up, dusted it off, tuned it, and began to play. When he finished playing, the auction asked, “One give me one thousand. Who’ll make it two?” The people asked what made the change, and he answered, “It was the tough of the master’s hand.” There’s no one that God can’t touch, repair, use and increase their value to others.
When it comes to keys on a key ring, I’m a minimalist. I’ve got my car key and a key to an office. I don’t even have a house key on there. I’ve got friends though who have lots of keys on their key chain. They’ve got a key for every door in their life on their key ring. I’m not quite sure how they remember what key goes to what, but they know. Every key on their ring has a purpose. What’s great about keys is that they open locked doors. So when I read that their is a key to life, I immediately peeked up.
Deuteronomy 30:20 says, “You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life” (NLT). The first key to opening the locked doors in your life is loving God. Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment of them all. It’s the master key of you will. When we love God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, our purpose in life becomes clear and doors open.
The second key is often the toughest for us. It’s to obey God in whatever He tells you to do. I believe in simple obedience. I expect it from my son and God expects it from us. It’s the faith to simply act on what God says without always understanding why. We have to trust that God sees the bigger picture of not just our life, but all lives and how they’re connected. Our obedience never just affects us. It has a ripple effect across His Kingdom.
Finally, is to commit ourselves firmly to Him. We’ve got to get past our commitment issues and cling to God through thick and thin. Just like we make a vow at our wedding, we need to make a similar vow to God. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death unites us. We can’t allow ourselves to be seduced by the things of this world causing us to break that vow. We must fully commit to Him. When we do these three things, I promise you that locked doors will open because these are the keys to life and blessings.