Shunning the Fear of Man

“but whoever listens to me (Wisdom) will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Proverbs 1:33 (NIV)

Have you ever been seized with fear of rejection so strongly that you wanted to change your plans because of what you thought could happen?

I have.

In fact, I’ve recently been struggling with those feelings of fear of rejection — being left out amidst a group, feeling all alone and wondering what to do if this dreaded situation materialized — because of an upcoming event my daughter and I will be attending. My mind tells me, “Just cancel. Don’t put yourself through the anxiety. Avoid the humiliation and hurt.” But Wisdom tells me, “Trust God. He knows best, and that’s why you signed up for this event. This is an opportunity to meet people and grow closer to God.”

When this fear of rejection had overwhelmed me most, I began praying for God to speak to me. And, he gave me these three verses:

Proverbs 1:33, Proverbs 29:25 and Isaiah 41:10. That’s all I needed to hear to dry my tears, calm my heart and become excited about attending this upcoming event.

Proverbs 1:33 reminded me that when I listen to Wisdom, I do not have to fear harm. Wisdom (God’s Word applied to my life) has always worked in the past, so why should it not work now? There is safety in Wisdom. As the saying goes, Wisdom is “tried and true.”

Proverbs 29:25 was a reminder to not fear man, and to remember that just as listening to Wisdom keeps me safe, so does trusting in the Lord: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (NIV) In my case, fearing what man might do was only going to rob me of the blessing of the good that could come from my attendance. We might make new friends for life, learn something new about God and have the time of our lives together as mother and daughter. It would be a shame to miss out on those memories all because of fear of rejection.

And finally, my most comforting word from God is Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV) We are never alone. So, even if my worst fears do come true, I’m not alone. God is always with me.

I’m thankful that the Lord does not abandon us to our fears to shake and cower from uncomfortable situations. Instead, he has given us wisdom through his word to convict, exhort and encourage us to live a life that shuns fear of man and fosters our trust in God.

A Proverb a Day to Keep Disharmony Away

“To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,”

Proverbs 1:2 (ESV)

Why study Proverbs? Some may argue that they’re old sayings from ancient manuscripts that mean nothing to us today. But, people still struggle with the same human emotions and basic problems since the beginning of time when it comes to relationships. We study Proverbs for wisdom in making good decisions in our relationship to others.

Solomon makes it clear from the opening words of Proverbs exactly how this book can help us and why it is important: it is for gaining wisdom, instruction and understanding. Wisdom is not the same as knowledge: wisdom is knowing how to apply knowledge and use it correctly in any given situation because what may work in one situation does not always work in another. Anyone who has raised more than one child can attest to this!

Has knowledge ever steered you wrong? Over the weekend I was watching the 1952 movie rendition of Les Miserables, and it dawned on me that police inspector Javert’s unrelenting pursuit of Jean Valjean (who stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s family) all in the name of strictly upholding the law, was legalistic and Pharisaic. Javert was running only on knowledge of the law rather than the appropriate application of it. Had he used wisdom to weigh the situation, the lives of many, including his own, would have been better.

How often do we take a Biblical principle and stand so solidly on it that we harm those around us with it? Jesus came to fulfill the law so that we could live in his kingdom of mercy and grace (Ephesians 2:15). In Matthew 9:12 Jesus says to the Pharisees who are complaining that he is eating with tax collectors, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” He also challenges the Pharisees and teachers of the law who are so bent on upholding the law of the Sabbath with a question, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9) In essence, Jesus is telling them, and us, to use wisdom in our lives and not rely only on a mere knowledge of the law, for when we follow the greatest commandment and love the Lord with our heart, soul, and mind, and love others as we love ourselves, we fulfill the Law with grace and mercy (Matthew 22:37-40).

Proverbs are wise sayings that remind us of how we should treat each other in order to live a godly life. The beauty of their poetry and ancient culture references makes them interesting and relevant. Don’t just read them; study what they mean and apply them to your life. A proverb you read today may just be the thing that helps you maintain harmony with a friend or family member and it may be the agent of peace to a broken relationship.

 

The Greatest Love of All

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” 

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

May you feel God’s presence and remember his act of greatest love for you, that he sent his son Jesus to die that all who accept him might have eternal life. The Lord loves us with an amazing love and nothing can separate us from that love!

As you go throughout your day, take a few moments to remember the great love God has for you. He is your true Valentine. I hope you enjoy Rita Springer’s song, “Oh How You Love Me” as it is a wonderful reminder of God’s great love for you. To hear the song, click here.

 

 

A High Calling

“An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31:10-12 (ESV)

The Wife of Noble Character, often called simply the Proverbs 31 woman, is described in detail in Proverbs 31:10-31. Reading her “resume” can make the best of wives weep in despair because this woman is truly perfect. She is the most industrious woman about which I’ve ever read, and yet, I find comfort in identifying with her purpose: to support and care for her husband, children, friends and the needy.

All of the things she does stem from her noble character, which is aptly described in verses 10-12. I love the idea that her godly character makes her a valuable treasure and trustworthy to her husband. Trust is the foundation upon which any relationship is built and it is the greatest gift we can give to each other.

Because she is trustworthy, the excellent wife does her husband good, and not harm. Wives, can you say this about yourself? How can we do our husbands good?

We can pray for them. Philippians 1:9-11 is a beautiful prayer to lift up on behalf of our husbands.

We can honor and respect them. Ephesians 5:33 explains that husbands are to love their wives and wives are to respect their husbands. A great book on this issue is Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

We can trust them. When wives submit to their husbands as outlined in Ephesians 5:22-24, they are showing trust in their husbands.

Being an excellent wife is a high calling, and it is not easy; however, the rewards it brings are peace (Proverbs 31:25) and praise (Proverbs 31:30-31).  When all is said and done, I think all wives would love to hear the final words of Proverbs 31 spoken about them:

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.” (ESV)