Category: Skillful living

Suddenly Moments

What do you do when you are having a bad day? Do you ever just worship God? Give thanks, glory or praise? Understandably being the humans that we are—this is not always our default reaction.

But I want to challenge you to step out of your normal default box and into the realm of suddenly moments—that result in God shaking our life to its very core and bringing about change.

I heard an amazing message—totally worth repeating—on Acts 16. Follow along with me as I reiterate what was happening and how God—our Knight in shining armor suddenly comes to save the day.

Paul and Silas, in the will of God—directed by Him—went to Macedonia. As they were lingering in Philippi, they met a God-fearing woman named Lydia who on hearing the Word of the Lord believed with all her heart, as a result she and her household were baptized and insisted the men stay at their home. At this point all is going well, Paul’s preaching—God’s moving and they are invited to stay and be cared for, in a rather nice place. Acts 16:6-15

One day on the way to prayer a demon possessed psychic, slave girl, started following them around, drawing attention to them by yelling out “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!”

Paul, not wanting to be in agreement with her or to be identified as being with her, ignored her for a few days then finally when too annoyed he cast the demon out of her. The slave girl was suddenly free and her owners very upset—their lucrative little business had come to an end. Consequently, Paul and Silas were dragged into the market place—they were lied about and accused, causing the crowd to turn into an angry gang. Their clothes were torn off and they were ordered to be severely beaten and thrown into prison, under high security wearing leg irons.  Acts 16:16-24

Paul and Silas—bloody and beaten, sit chained in prison. Would you say they were having a bad day? Absolutely!

What did they do? Did they accuse God of unfaithfulness by whining and complaining?

No—just the opposite! Paul and Silas were found praying and worshipping.

What would you do?

I love how Paul and Silas handled the situation! Their default heart and soul reaction was to pray and worship God—in doing so they were giving thanks.

I pray our default heart reaction would be to silence the mouth of the accuser and give thanks by worshipping God.

How? Why? Because the truth is—He is always good. We must train our heart and soul to worship and give thanks according to truth—not circumstance.

This is when the suddenly moments of God’s faithfulness rule our life.

What happens next in Acts 16:25-26 is the cry of our heart.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! Paul and Silas’ worship caused God to shake the very foundations and set the prisoners free—the scripture says immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Not just our own freedom from the prisons we find ourselves inoccurs when we worship, but freedom for others as well.

I don’t know about you but I need and want God to suddenly shake the foundation of various situations in my life and in the life of those I love and care about.

This Word from the book of Acts has brought fresh understanding to the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 5:18

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Please be encouraged to grab ahold of and own this concept. Worship God, giving Him thanks in every situation—lifting our eyes from life and circumstances to the God of the impossible—the One who can suddenly shake any situation and change the landscape of impossible surroundings.

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Character Matters

A solid foundation for life is established by our character. Ponder that a moment. If you really think about it—many of life’s issues are weighed and measured by our character—it determines the paths we take and the choices we make. Consequently, it also determines the choices and opinions of other people in regard to us and our life.

Character defined as:  A combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing. Distinguishing quality and characteristic; moral force, ethical quality and integrity of a person.

Excellent character sustains the blessings in our life. I have this concept I call the “sieve theory.” It unfolds as this—God in His goodness continually pours blessings on us—His children. If our character is weak then our ability to possess, preserve and sustain these blessing is inept. A character of poor quality resembles a sieve. Unfortunately, questionable character rots the bottom out of our life and sadly, blessings fall straight through.

How many times has God blessed us with a relationship, a job, money or an opportunity where unstable character ruined all our probabilities?

The sieve theory has operated in my life more times than I choose to count or remember!

A great way to excel in good character is to notice the word nature in the definition of the word character. The definition says “A combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person.” Our nature is who we are fundamentally—at our core. Have you ever heard someone say “That’s just the way I am” this statement is in reference to the nature of a person.

One of the things I love about knowing God is the exchange He has made available to us at the cross. Exchanging our nature with Jesus’ nature is one of the first and most ongoing actions we as disciples of Christ partake in.

No matter who we are, where we come from or what we have been through—our nature does not have to stay the same. We have the amazing privilege to shed off our old nature and take on the nature of Christ. This is the essence of true Christianity—you have got to love this—how fortunate we are!

Having a house full of young adults is very interesting—we are at the stage where some are interested in finding a spouse. When it comes to my children finding a spouse, I never thought it would be such a huge process! But being on this end—where I’m a concerned parent whose been married for 31 years—knowing the intricate workings of marriage—and the sieve theory—it’s a big deal! Why? Because what we want from our kids before they marry is excellent and solid character. And the character we are looking for in a mate is nothing less than blameless and unwavering.

Fortunately, God has set my heart at ease. He’s done this by showing me that the most important character trait that we are expecting in our children and in a mate for them—is not necessarily a virtue—but what we are looking for is—how much they know and love God.

For a heart truly relinquished and sold out to God, His will and His purposes, will possess all the godly and moral character traits one could ever ask for. A person with this conviction will continually exchange their nature for God’s nature.

Thank God—all the world’s problems are solved—all we have to do is be Christ Like!

Please be encouraged to know and love God with all your heart and soul, in doing so you can’t help but to throw off your old sinful nature and take on the character of Christ.

Ephesians 4:21-23

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

1 Peter 1:3-8

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Passion

If someone invited you to a party using these words; “The party will be dull, pretty much boring and very stale—you should come”—would you go? I think not.

How about relationship? What if a young man has interest in a young lady and when asking her to date him uses this line, “I really like you and want to date you, but first you must know—it will be a very dreary and lifeless relationship.” What girl, in her right mind, would date a guy with that personality and perspective?

What would be missing from such a relationship? Passion.

There are a couple of meanings to the word passion—the passion I’m referring to is the zest in life.

The opposite of passion is—mundane, routine, common, boring.

Passion causes people to go beyond normal—in life, relationships, work and play.

All my kids love and play extreme sports. Why play chess for a hobby when you have rock climbing or MMA? Hockey, dirt bike riding, white water rafting, kayaking, snowboarding, skateboarding and skydiving? They are passionate people and could never be satisfied with anything dull or commonplace.

Likewise we should press the limits on our Christianity. Always moving forward—insistent on loving and knowing God more—adamant in service—courageously sharing our faith—undaunted by culture and boldly exhibiting godly character.  We are to be people who go beyond normal in everyday life—faith filled people who represent God—people consumed with passion!

When God created us He set passion inside of us. Just look at the young—who live with child-like wonder, excitement, and enthusiasm about everything they encounter.

Our relationship with God should be one of passion, where we crave His Holy Spirit, and His presence. A relationship packed with zeal and fervor—not mundane—birthed out of obligation.

Matthew 22:37 boldly states what is most important in life,

To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (NKJ)

Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. (MSG)

It takes passion to love God in this manner.

Many things steal passion—heartache, sickness, offense, doubt, disobedience, selfishness and busyness. Mainly the devil—he loves to usurp our passion, along with it he steals our faith. He is master at causing situations to arise where we question and doubt God’s goodness. It’s what he lives for.

Along with passion for God we must have passion for His Word. God’s Word amongst many things, is where we read about the greatest love story ever! Not only that—but in His Word is the secret to living life skillfully.

John 1:1 says,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

If you love God and are in a relationship with Him—filled with His Spirit, then you also love His Word and are in relationship with it as well. We must diligently guard our passion for the Bible—the sneaky devil is expert at making the Word seem uninteresting and irrelevant.

Last but not least—another area where passion gets evaporated by the enemy is where church is concerned.

Psalm 69:9 says,

Passion for your house has consumed me

We should be passionate for our church—if we belong to God, then church is our house and we should passionately—with all our heart—not just out of duty—love to be there, serve there and be a part of what God is doing in our local church.

The reason the devil loves to steal passion for God’s house is the isolation factor—he isolates the weak and picks them off. He initiates grumbling, offense and disunity—which make church seem routine and pointless. Fact is—passionless church goers weaken the church.

We have to be intentional in protecting our passion. Making sure not to waste our affections on trivial things of this world.

What’s your passion level? Has the enemy seized your passion for God, His Word and His house?

An incredible attribute of God is his loving-kindness. He will never be content with allowing the devil to steal from His people! He has made a way for each of us, by His grace, to take back what the puny devil steals. It will take an act of our strong self-will, but after that it’s a cake-walk.

We must simply use our will, to turn to God—access grace, confess our passionlessness and lean into His great and awesome love. With an open embrace He welcomes us—here we exchange our dryness for a greater thirst.

Please be encouraged to ask God for more passion—and it will be yours!

Skillful Living 101—21 Obedience

How many people like the word obedience? Culture—even Christian culture, considers those who are concerned with obedience to be narrow-minded, old fashioned or too religious. Regardless of what we think about obedience—it is a requirement for living skillfully.

Proverbs 21:3 says,

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

God is pleased with a surrendered, tender and obedient heart, far more than with a heart and life that give service (sacrifice) void of love. This is true in all of life; no matter if we are serving God, family, church or our community—a heart based in the love of God can only pour forth love, righteousness, justice, mercy and grace.

Mark 12:33 tells us that loving God with our whole heart is superior over sacrifice,

And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

What this means is that God is far more concerned with our heart. He’s not into empty rituals, or just going through the motions. He doesn’t want to give us a list of rules to follow so we can be qualified as His. No, He wants relationship—the kind of relationship where we live in obedience—simply because we love Him. Obedience birthed out of love is what keeps us from the empty rituals of Christianity.

Proverbs—the book of skillful living, gives solid advice on how to live in obedience and avoid living a life filled with empty rituals.

Proverbs 21

Verse 2—“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs and tries the hearts.”

  • Commit our way (heart and life) to Lord—obey His directives

Verse 5—“The thoughts of the [steadily] diligent tend only to plenteousness, but everyone who is impatient and hasty hastens only to want.”

  • Obedience to diligence pays off

Verse 9 and 19—“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” (Deep wisdom here for us ladies!)

  • Our relationship with God needs to be the most important or else everything we do will be an empty ritual
  • If Jesus is not enough—women (and men) become unhappy and quarrelsome
  • We must let the Lord be our source of love and joy or we will be contentious

Verse 10—“The soul or life of the wicked craves and seeks evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”

  • A blameless person obeys God’s directive to love his neighbor as himself

Verse 13—“Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor will cry out himself and not be heard.”

  • Obedience to God regarding a heart for the needy (both physical and spiritual) is imperative for our own answered prayers

Verse 21—“He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.”

  • Obedience to righteous living results in favor

Verse 29—“Unscrupulous people fake it a lot; honest people are sure of their steps.”

  • Dishonesty is an empty ritual
  • Honesty allows us to be confident

Verse 30—“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord.”

  • There is none like Him
  • There is no one who can stand against Him and win
  • Obedience to God’s authority is essential

Verse 31—“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.”

  • Obedience to complete reliance on God brings deliverance

Skillful Living Tool Box

  • Obedience is a requirement for living skillfully
  • Loving God is superior over sacrifice, Mark 12:33
  • God is not into empty rituals, 1 Samuel 15:22
  • Obedience to diligence pays off
  • Our relationship with God needs to be the most important or else everything we do will be an empty ritual
  • If Jesus is not enough—we become contentious
  • Love your neighbor as your self
  • A heart for the needy is imperative for our own answered prayers
  • Dishonesty is an empty ritual
  • Honesty allows us to be confident
  • Obedience to God’s authority is essential
  • Complete reliance on God brings deliverance

Please be encouraged to embrace obedience—for no reason other than love.

Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. 1 Samuel 15:22

Read and apply all of Proverbs 21 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

 

Skillful Living 101—20 Faithfulness

Have you ever spoken to someone confidentially, only to find out your confidence was betrayed? Or have you yourself been the one not able to hold a confidence?

Unfortunately, sometimes a faithful person is hard to find. In today’s culture faithfulness is not a value or high priority. Why? Because being a faithful person requires us to stretch beyond the norm and live selflessly—where we are not focused on our own needs, wants and desires.

Proverbs 20:6 states

Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?

Basic skillful living requires faithfulness. All day, every day, we are faced with the choice to be faithful. We must be faithful stewards of all God entrusts to us—family, spouse, relationships, work, church, the call of God on our life—faithfulness is required in our heart, soul, spirit and body. We have to be faithful with our words, thoughts, actions and reactions, with money and possessions—the list never ends! Who can do it? I know I struggle. The good news is—faithfulness is an attribute of God—the more time we spend with Him—the more we become like Him.

Ascertaining faithfulness first takes humility—an admission of our lack, then a simple exchange—our lack of faithfulness for His abundant faithfulness. It’s a process that happens layer by layer.

The Book of skillful living—Proverbs, has endless advice on how to be faithful. Something to remember as we glean life skills from the book of Proverbs is that skillful living is not just a cloak we wear, nor is it a to do list. The skillful living the Bible teaches has to embed in our very being, becoming who we are—not just what we do. This is why we need to live the Word not just read it!

We could probably go through every Proverb in Chapter 20 and see how faithfulness applies, but we will look at just a few.

Verse 1—“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

  • My father was a drinker—I was a drinker—anyone who loves or even knows a drinker can attest to the fact that faithfulness is not a high priority in their life. Be wise—don’t be led astray by the seductiveness of drinking—even in its simplest form—it’s a substitute for the fulfillment a deep relationship with God can give.

Verse 7— “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”

  • Faithfulness to righteousness and integrity, cause blessings to fall on us and our family.

Verse 15—“Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.”

  • Be faithful in attaining godly knowledge—then we will truly be rich.

Verse 20— “Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in deep darkness.”

  • Faithfulness to authority can save our life!

Verse 23—“God hates cheating in the marketplace; rigged scales are an outrage.”

  • Be faithful in business—who wants to outrage God?

Verse 27—“The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.”

  • When the light of God illuminates our inner person—may He find faithfulness.

Skillful Living Tools

  • Esteem faithfulness
  • Choose faithfulness over selfishness
  • Basic skillful living requires faithfulness
  • Ascertaining faithfulness takes humility
  • Be wise—don’t be led astray by the seductiveness of alcohol
  • Faithfulness to righteousness and integrity, cause blessings to fall on you and your family
  • Faithfulness to authority can save our life!
  • Be faithful in businessdon’t outrage God
  • God requires faithfulness in our inner person

Please be encouraged to seek, find and apprehend the faithfulness of God for every detail of your life.

Read and apply all of Proverbs 20 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

Skillful Living 101—19 Integrity

It seems at every turn our integrity is being tested, pushed or pulled in some direction or another. It’s no wonder when the core meaning of integrity is to be complete. The devil, the world and our flesh are in full rebellion against complete, sound, whole people. With this in mind we should wholeheartedly pursue integrity.

Others words for integrity are: upright, morally sound, truthful and honest. I have found the integrity that God desires us to have is best displayed when nobody is looking—it’s integrity of the heart, found in the deepest part of who we are. As we become integrious in our inner person—our outward person will follow.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Something that will help us to live in integrity and holiness is the realization that God knows all the thoughts, intentions and motives of our heart and soul—nothing is hidden from Him. This should motivate us! And remember, God in His faithfulness never asks us to do what He won’t equip us for. God will help us be people of integrity—hence we have the book of Skillful Living—Proverbs—our integrity equipping manual!

Proverbs is inundated with advice on how to be people of integrity. Here we review a handful of verses from chapter 19.

Verse 1—“Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”

  • A person of integrity is wealthier than any rich man

Verse 2— “Desire without knowledge is not good, and to be overhasty is to sin and miss the mark.” (AMP)

  • Integrity requires Godly knowledge and wisdom

Verse 3—People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed? MSG

  • Acquire integrity and stop blaming God for the mistakes you make

Verse 9—“The person who tells lies gets caught; the person who spreads rumors is ruined.” (MSG)

  • The integrious are truthful and do not indulge in gossip

Verse 11—“Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.”

  • Integrity will help us restrain from anger
  • The integrious do not embrace offence

Verse 13—“A foolish son is the ruin of his father, and the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.”

  • Train children to have integrity
  • An integrious woman makes a good wife

Verse 16—“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”

  • Integrity keeps us mindful of our obedience to God

Verse 17—“Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full.” (MSG)

  • People of integrity are merciful

Verse 22—“What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar.”

  • The integrious are kind

Verse 26—“He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.”

  • People of integrity honor their parents

Verse 27—“Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

  • The integrious have an ear to hear God’s voice and the heart to listen

Skillful Living Tools

  • Wholeheartedly pursue integrity.
  • God desires integrity in our inner person
  • God knows the thoughts, intentions and motives of our heart and soul
  • A person of integrity is wealthier than any rich man
  • Acquire integrity and stop blaming God for the mistakes you make
  • Integrity will help us restrain from anger
  • Train children to have integrity
  • An integrious woman makes a good wife
  • People of integrity honor their parents

Please be encouraged to indulge in integrity—we can never have too much!

Read and apply all of Proverbs 19 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

Skillful Living 101—18 Our Strong Tower

A life that is lived skillfully would most definitely be a life lived in God’s presence.

Proverbs 18:10, describes God as a strong tower where the righteous run in and are safe. I love how compassionate and loving God is, that He provides a place where we can find refuge and peace. This refuge is not just any old place—no, our place of security is in the very presence of God.

One way to understanding God’s presence is to see it as a shelter, a fortress and a hiding place. A dwelling—where our life is hidden in God, not that we necessarily hide from life, but an actual place where we live life.

Colossians 2:3 says

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Proverbs—the book of skillful living, is all about setting our mind on things above and not on the things of the earth. Living a life hidden with Christ in God, helps us to rise above earthy circumstances—rise above trivial—setting our heart and soul on the most important—the things of God.

A good way to remain diligent in living skillfully—thus setting our mind on things above is to make living in God’s presence our daily objective. In doing so we must grab a hold of His Word—making it our source of nourishment.

In Proverbs 18, we find a myriad of good advice and nourishment. Granted the whole chapter is beneficial but we will look at six main points, found in verses 10, 15, 19, 21, 22 and 24.

Verse 10—“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

  • The righteous make God their refuge
  • God is our help

Verse 15—“The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”

  • A sensible person esteems knowledge
  • To set our mind on things above, we must pursue biblical knowledge
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge

Verse 19—“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

  • An offended person, whether they be right or wrong, is harder to talk to, and work things out with, than a fortified city
  • It’s better to pray and wait—rather than argue with an offended person
  • Remember offence is a choice—we must keep our heart free of offence

Verse 21—“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

  • Our words will bring life our death to those on whom they fall
  • If we love gossip and slander, we will reap its rewards
  • We need to make habit of speaking life into people and situations
  • Controlling our tongue is a heart issue

Verse 22—“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.”

  • A spouse is a blessing from the Lord
  •  We have to be good stewards of God’s blessings

Verse 23—“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

  • First be a friend
  • Faithfulness is priceless

Skillful Living Tools

  • Make it your daily objective to live in God’s presence
  • Learn to know God’s presence as a shelter, refuge, a fortress and a hiding place
  • Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth
  • Grab a hold of God’s Word—making it your source of nourishment.
  • To set our mind on things above, we must pursue biblical knowledge
  • It’s better to pray and wait— rather than argue with an offended person
  • Death and life are in the power of the tongue
  • Make habit of speaking life into people and situations
  • Treat your spouse good—they are a blessing from God
  • A faithful friend is priceless

Please be encouraged to seek God as your strong tower and place of refuge—here your heart can settle and be at peace.

Read and apply all of Proverbs 18 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!

 

 

Skillful Living 101—17 Foolish Behavior

Everyone is given to foolish behavior at various times in life, that’s just normal. Continuing in foolishness on the other hand, is a very disagreeable way of life that’s not only frowned upon by society, but worse—God is not pleased with incessant foolishness.

Almost all of Proverbs addresses foolish behavior, giving us ways, ideas and instruction on how not to be foolish. Proverbs 17 holds quite a few truths in regard to the fool and gives sound advice on how to step out of unwise behavior.

Essentially the word unwise says it all. Foolish behavior is nothing less than unwise behavior—this is the memo that all of Proverbs is shouting out…“Get Wisdom!”

Verse 10 of Proverbs 17 is quite interesting,

A reproof enters deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred lashes into a [self-confident] fool.

Have you ever heard the saying “Knock some sense into him”? This passage skillfully reiterates the fact that fools can be so hard-headed that not even a hundred whacks will change them.

This is not so with a wise person who possesses discernment and understanding. A person who has Godly wisdom is not prone to offence and can gracefully receive rebuke and correction, be it from the Lord or from a friend. Not only can they receive but they will also seek God on how to change such behavior.

Proverbs 17:12 says,

Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs than a fool hellbent on folly.

This is such a startling description of a fool!

Read the following verses from Proverbs 17 and see what else God says about a fool and their behavior. In these verses we also see that a fool is said to be:  unruly, an evildoer and a liar, one who mocks and gloats, empty-headed, one who repeats a matter (gossips), one who seeks rebellion, rewards evil, a person without a heart for wisdom, devoid of understanding, one who loves transgression and strife, someone with a deceitful heart and perverse tongue, a scoffer, a person who takes bribes, argues with justice, a grief to their father and bitterness to their mother and a fool is said to be a dunce.

Verse 2—“A wise servant takes charge of an unruly child and is honored as one of the family.” (MSG)
Verse 4—“An evildoer gives heed to wicked lips; and a liar listens to a mischievous tongue.” (AMP)
Verse 5—“Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator; gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime.” (MSG)
Verse 7—“Fine or arrogant speech does not befit [an empty-headed] fool—much less do lying lips befit a prince.” (AMP)
Verse 9—“He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.” (NKJ)
Verse 11—“An evil man seeks only rebellion; therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.” (NKJ)
Verse 13—“Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.” (NKJ)
Verse 15—“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both an abomination [exceedingly disgusting and hateful] to the Lord.” (AMP)
Verse 16—“Of what use is money in the hand of a [self-confident] fool to buy skillful and godly Wisdom—when he has no understanding or heart for it?” (AMP)
Verse 19—“He who loves transgression loves strife, and he who exalts his gate seeks destruction.”(NKJ)
Verse 20—“He who has a deceitful heart finds no good, and he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil.” (NKJ)
Verse 21—“He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.” (NKJ)
Verse 23—“The wicked take bribes under the table; they show nothing but contempt for justice.” (MSG)
Verse 25—“A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him.” (NKJ)
Verse 28—“Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise; as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.” (MSG)

Skillful Living Tools

  • Get Wisdom—God is not pleased with incessant foolishness
  • Hate Gossip—a fool listens to a mischievous tongue
  • Don’t gloat—instead pray—a fool gloats over misfortune
  • Cover transgressions and seek love
  • Never reward evil or justify wickedness—or they will be our constant house guest
  • Have a heart for wisdom
  • Love justice and don’t take bribes
  • Train children in Godliness
  • Keep quite—our opinion is not always needed

My hope in writing this entry in the Skillful Living series is to awaken our heart and soul to the seriousness of foolish behavior, therefore assisting us to seek God for help in areas where we might still dabble in foolishness.

Please be encouraged to read all of Proverbs 17 and share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!

Skillful Living 101—15 Taming the Tongue

Though the tongue may be small it carries tremendous weight, having the power to bring either life or death. A perpetual topic throughout scripture is on the use of this petite, but very influential member of our body.

Controlling the words that roll off our tongue are of utmost importance to the Lord. One passage of scripture goes so far as to say, that if we cannot control our tongue than our belief is useless.

James 1:26,

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion [faith, belief] is worthless.

This is critical. If we are not cognizant of this fact, we could live our whole life in deceit—gossiping and slandering people under the guise of Christian concern. I do not want to live my life unaware of how important an unbridled tongue is to God!

Truthfully, the use of the tongue is one of those matters that most of us know about and suffer from (in some degree or another) but choose to disregard or let slide as not really a sin. Why? Basically, our flesh loves to gossip—grosser still—it feeds on it. Not to mention the devil’s plan to deceive us with the lie that it’s okay and not really gossip or slander. Worse yet, we can be deceived to the point of not even thinking gossip and slander are sin. Read 2 Timothy 3:2-5, Titus 1:15-16, Psalm 101:5 and I Peter 4:15, to see if it’s a sin or not.

As the beautiful bride of Christ this is an area we constantly have to guard and purposely keep in check.

Another important point to make about the tongue is found in Matthew 12:34,

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

If our words are foul, we need not look any further than our heart for the answer as to why. Our speech is a heart issue. Our heart is to be God’s home, a place where He alone can reside. It’s our wellspring and it needs to be kept pure.

Words that give life come from a blameless heart—such words refresh the soul of those on whom they fall. Let’s make it our passion to keep a pure heart that overflows with words of life.

Proverbs 15 holds many truths about a controlled tongue and a pure heart:

Verse 1—“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Verse 2—“The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”

Verse 4—“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

Verse 7—“The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so.”

Verse 14—“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”

Verse 23—“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”

Verse 26—“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but the words of the pure are pleasant.”

Verse 28—“The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.”

Living skillfully requires an undefiled heart and a bridled tongue.

So maybe this all sounds great and the Holy Spirit is nudging (convicting) you to guard your heart and tongue, but it seems a hard task. If so, please remember He gives grace to the humble. Simply repent and turn to God asking him for the grace to purify your heart and cleanse your speech. (Read and apply James 4:6-10) God loves it when we come to Him asking for help to be more like Him!

Two, really good scriptures to pray daily are, Psalm 141:3 and Psalm 51:6;

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts [heart], and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Please be encouraged to keep your heart pure and your speech above reproach, you will live skillfully if you do!

Skillful Living Tools:

  • The power of death and life are in the tongue, (Proverbs 18:21)
  • Controlling our tongue is important to God
  • Don’t be deceived—Gossip and slander are sin, (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
  • Don’t feed your flesh with Gossip (Galatians 5:16)
  • Our speech is a heart issue, (Matthew 12:34)
  • Keep a pure heart that overflows with words of life
  • A soft answer turns away wrath
  • A wholesome tongue is a tree of life
  • A perverse tongue breaks the spirit
  • The words of the pure are pleasant
  • The heart of the righteous studies how to answer

Please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!

Skillful Living 101—14 Upright

If you’ve read the Bible for any length of time, you’ve no doubt come across the word upright. A huge component to living skillfully, is to ascertain uprightness. I know it can seem as an out dated expression or concept, but truthfully, living uprightly is key to relationship with God and to blessings.

The attributes of the upright are: Integrity, blameless, prudent, virtue, honor, morality, truth, reliability, decency, discrete, honest and righteousness.

Two character traits of an upright person are wisdom, and understanding. The book of Proverbs is drenched with instruction on being wise and acquiring understanding.

Everyone with any sense—desires to navigate through life skillfully. Remember—the book of Proverbs is our guide for skillful living. A firm grasp on uprightness will assist us in living wisely.

One way to look at uprightness is to see it as freedom. Leviticus 26:13 says,

I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.

The burden of bondage causes us to slump over with heaviness, worry, condemnation and shame. Freedom looses us to stand upright, both in our stature and in our heart and soul.

Almost all of Proverbs 14 has to do with walking uprightly, but I will highlight just a few (or more) significant verses, using NKJV and The Message.

Verse 1, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”
This is huge and one of my favorites (being a woman and all). If we are not in unity and submission with God and His will, as well as with our husbands, we—with our own hands demolish our family! Careful ladies!

Verse 2—“He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.”
The Message version reiterates this verse very frankly. “An honest life shows respect for God; a degenerate life is a slap in his face.” Ouch!

Verse 3—“In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.”

Verse 9—“Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.”
Upright people have a hard time sinning—God’s favor, is their reward.

Verse 10—“The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish.”

Verse 12 & 13—“There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.”

Verse 25—“Souls are saved by truthful witness and betrayed by the spread of lies.”

Verse 29—“Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.”

Verse 30—“A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”
One way to attain good health is to align your heart with God’s.

Verse 33—“Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, but what is in the heart of fools is made known.”

Maybe you’re wondering—how do I live uprightly? How do I get wisdom and understanding? These are not stupid questions!

First, start with sincerely asking God—if we seek Him we will find Him. Seeking God means to wholeheartedly go after Him.

Proverbs 8:17
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

Next, if you’re seriously seeking Him, expect that He will answer and show you His will. When He does—deny yourself and obey His directives.

A lot of the time God keeps silent because He knows we won’t listen and do what He tells us, that’s why we must seek Him diligently. If we want to be wise and have understanding thus live uprightly—the first wise step is to listen and obey.

Proverbs 1:28-29
When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.  For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear (obey) the Lord.

Changing our lifestyle is not always easy and change has to start on the inside. In seeking God first, we can be confident that He will take care of all the things we are concerned about. (Matt. 6:33)

Please be encouraged to ask God to help you live your life uprightly, you will not regret it—there are many rewards for upright living!

Skillful Living Tools

  • To live skillfully—ascertain uprightness
  • Understand that living uprightly is freedom
  • Build your home with wisdom—don’t tear it apart with un-submissiveness
  • The home and family of the upright will flourish
  • Respect and honor God by living an honest life
  • Be slow to anger
  • The first step in being wise—is to listen and obey
  • Remember change starts on the inside

Please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!