Recently we were going to sand some floors down to refinish them. The cost to pay someone to do them was astronomical. We decided to do them ourselves. The cheapest way to do them was by hand. That would take forever so we went to rent a machine. I saw the machine I wanted and asked about it. He said it would do the job well, but they were out of sandpaper for it. He grabbed a “less aggressive” machine and then the sandpaper for it. As he rang it up, the sandpaper alone was over $100. I couldn’t believe the price. I had to remind myself that having the right tool was worth the money.
Proverbs 14:4 says, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest” (NLT). Having oxen would require feeding them, watering them, housing them and ultimately cleaning up after them. Many people would look at the down side of owning them and choose not to get them. On the other hand, without them it would be difficult to plow the land or to bring in the harvest. There’s give and take in everything. It’s up to us to count the cost and to understand you get what you pay for, even if the cost is ongoing. In an agricultural society, if you wanted an abundant crop, you needed to invest in oxen.
Each one of us has a purpose to fulfill. You can do it with the natural tools you’ve been given (like sanding the floor by hand) or you can invest in yourself to increase the effectiveness of those tools. Going to school, taking a class, buying books and other ways to increase your effectiveness will cost you. It’s up to you to make sure you use the right tools for what you’re called to do and to invest in your future. There are pro’s and con’s to everything. That’s why we’re encouraged to count the cost physically and spiritually. Investing in the right tools for whatever God is calling you to will translate to your effectiveness.
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We live in an interesting time. For the first time in the history of the world, people value knowledge over wisdom. They are two very different things though. Knowledge is all about what you know. Wisdom is how you use knowledge. I like to tell my son, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. Wisdom is not putting in a fruit salad.” Knowledge is gained through learning (or in today’s world, Googling), but wisdom is learned through making mistakes or learning from other’s mistakes. To value knowledge over wisdom is very dangerous, and I believe it will have serious repercussions on the future.
The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, who is considered the wisest person to ever live. He recognized early on after becoming king that knowledge would on,y take him so far as a ruler. He asked God for wisdom in how to lead his people and God opened the flood gates. His example is one you and I should follow. Knowledge is good, but we need godly wisdom in how we steward everything God has given us. God imparts wisdom to those who ask because He values wisdom and He has plenty to give us.
Proverbs 2:6-7 says, “For the LORD gives [skillful and godly] wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores away sound wisdom for the righteous [those who are in right standing with Him]” (AMP). Just like parents on earth want to give their children the wisdom to make the best decisions in life, God wants to give wisdom to us as His children. All we have to do is go to Him in prayer and ask Him to help us make the best decisions in our relationships, our finances and in our choices. He has a storehouse full of it to give out once we seek it.
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We all need counseling from time to time. We need the wisdom of a trusted friend, advisor or professional. Whoever we get it from, it’s important that the counsel we receive lines up with God’s Word. The Bible is full of wisdom that can provide insight and give direction in just about anything we face. The book of Proverbs alone is full of wisdom and great insight into how we should think and make decisions.
As King, David was often in need of counseling. He wanted to make the best choices. If he couldn’t find someone to give him godly advice, He went straight to God for help. In Psalm 16:7, David wrote, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (ESV). David took what God said and put it in his heart so that even at night he dreamed about what to do.
The thing about counsel is, it’s worthless unless you follow it. You can listen to it, dream about it and think about it all you want, but nothing in your life will change until you do something with it. So many times, we get good, godly advice, but we are afraid to act on it. People who are like that are like those who admired the Brooklyn Bridge when it was built. They stood on the edge and admired it, but were afraid to walk across it. It wasn’t until P. T. Barnum walked his elephants across it that they started using the bridge.
God’s Word, like the Brooklyn Bridge, is strong and can be trusted to handle whatever you’re going through. Listen to the advice and counsel that comes from Him. Put it deep in your heart so that it becomes a part of you. Trust your heart too. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us discern what is right. It’s not a sign of weakness to need or to get counsel. It shows strength to admit you don’t know everything. Just make sure the people you’re getting it from know God’s Word.
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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
One of the greatest disparities between people today and every other generation in history is the amount of knowledge that is so readily available. In the past, knowledge was handed down from books and elders. Today, the internet has everything you need to know. I’ve used YouTube to learn how to do mechanical work on my car, cook dinner, learn about history and so much more. Living in the age of the internet has definitely increased people’s knowledge.
What it hasn’t done is increase wisdom. I believe because we have forgotten the difference between the two. Knowledge puffs up, but wisdom builds up. Since time began, wisdom has been passed down from elders. With all the knowledge available, we have forgotten to walk with the wise to gain wisdom. God’s desire is that you and I grow in wisdom. Remember, it was the Tree of Knowledge that brought sin into the world. God isn’t against us being knowledgeable, but He understands that knowledge without wisdom is dangerous.
Here are some Bible verses on wisdom.
1. Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.
Proverbs 28:26 NLT
2. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5 HCSB
3. Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do. Whatever else you get, get insight.
Proverbs 4:7 GNT
4. Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.
Job 12:12 NLT
5. He who walks [as a companion] with wise men will be wise, But the companions of [conceited, dull-witted] fools [are fools themselves and] will experience harm.
PROVERBS 13:20 AMP
My son is very inquisitive. He is always asking why or how. In most cases, the answer is above his ability to understand. I try to tell him to let it go, but sometimes he just keeps at it. So I tell him. His nose scrunched up, his eyes squint and he looks confused in those moments. Then he starts asking more questions trying to understand. I’ll just keep going down the rabbit hole with him until he gives up or I can think of an easy explanation that he can understand so we can move on.
I’m not so sure that we are so different when it comes to God. When things happen in our lives, we ask God why or how. What I’ve found is so many times the answer is beyond our ability to understand. It’s tough for us to let it go too. I’m a person that needs to know the why behind things before I do them. If I don’t know the why, I don’t understand the importance or urgency that needs to be behind what I’ve been asked to do.
When God asks me to go somewhere or do something, that’s usually my first question. For me, it doesn’t come from a lack of faith or disobedience. I just like to know why before I do something. With that in mind, Proverbs 20:24 speaks to me in regards to when God asks me to do something or go somewhere. It says, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT)
If we believe God truly directs our steps, then we need to trust His reasons that are beyond our ability to understand. How much time and energy do we waste while we question God? I know He’s patient, it I bet sometimes He just wishes we’d simply obey and trust that He sees the bigger picture and is working out things for our good even though we can’t see it or understand it at the moment. We need to let go of trying to understand everything and just obey.
When I’m going through a certification at work, part of what I’m graded on is my ability to accept, receive and implement feedback. After I finish my part, I have to stand in front of a room of my peers and get feedback publicly. One of the hardest things to do is to not respond with, “But I did that,” or “My intent was…” Even if I disagree with the corrections, I have to come back the next day and implement them into my presentation. When I’m done with that one, the process starts over.
I can tell you that this process of receiving corrections and having to implement them has made me better at my job. It’s not easy to hear someone offer corrections to what you do. It’s even more difficult to change what you do based on their feedback. However, I’ve learned that advice given from another perspective is often what I need to get to my next level. If I keep doing things the way I’ve always done them, I’ll never improve.
King Solomon, the wisest person to ever live, understood this. Even though he had more understanding than anyone on the planet, he still valued advice and correction. In Proverbs 19:20 he penned, “Take good counsel and accept correction— that’s the way to live wisely and well” (MSG). You are never too smart, too wise or too good that you won’t need counsel or correction. Those who hear it, accept it and implement it will live wisely and well.
How well do you receive advice or correction? I can tell you it doesn’t come natural to us, but it is something we each need to adopt into our lives. Some of the greatest leaders I’ve worked for routinely stopped their process to invite advice or correction. They didn’t pretend to have it all figured out, nor did they continue down a path because that was what was successful last time. Inviting other people to give us advice, without explaining our reasoning back, accepting their advice and implementing will be difficult, but it’s the path to living well.
One of the cool things I got to do this year was to be a part of YWAM’s Houston Street Church. After we set up all the chairs, the homeless and street walkers started showing up. They were fed a meal and then given a church service. There was a booth set up called Kuts for Christ. They offered free hair cuts in exchange for the ability to pray for them. After the service, those still in attendance were able to stop by some tables and pick out some clothes. Every bit of it was free and designed to help this team build relationships to win them to Christ.
As I drove away that night, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I had just witnessed and been a part of. I saw society’s outcasts waiting to hug the couple that leads this church. I saw them lining up almost two hours before the event to get help physically and spiritually. I watched a team of volunteers and full time mission workers org together to do something special for people the rest of us look away from. I witnessed ministry taking place in an unexpected place.
It reminded me of Proverbs 19:17 that says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord- and He will repay you!” (NLT) I know that these ministers aren’t doing this to get paid back by the Lord. They’re doing it as an expression of love. When I saw their faces light up as much as the people on the street, I knew this was more than a feeding and clothing program. Real relationships had been built. Real help was being given. Real ministry was being done.
One thing I’ve learned in life is that there’s always someone who has it worse than me. No matter what financial, emotional or physical state I’m in, I have the ability to help others less fortunate. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that when we do things for the poor and outcasts, we’ve done it to Him. The least of these are all around us every day. Take some time to look for them instead of away from them, and do something to help them. It doesn’t matter what they do with your help as long as you’re doing it unto the Lord.