Category: Understanding

Skillful Living 101—5 Adultery

In Proverbs 5, we take a sincere look at marriage and the number one ploy of the devil to destroy God’s plan for marriage. In Proverbs 5:1-2, the Word cautions all young men to be wise and refrain from lust and immorality. “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding, that you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge.” Four words in this verse are of the utmost importance for men to consider and to apply to their life; wisdom, understanding, discretion and knowledge. According to the scripture men who grab a hold and own these principles will be able to avoid immoral behavior. Men, young and old, do well to pay attention to Proverbs 5. God’s heart for men is that they would rule and subdue the earth. He desires men to humbly love Him, to find Him as Lord and source of their strength. God offers wisdom, understanding, discretion and knowledge in abundance—it’s for the asking. The righteous man only needs to abandon pride, recognize his weakness and partake in all that God has to offer. God is searching for men who will lead by godly behavior—the church, the world, wives and children long for men who will rise to the occasion abandoning costly, destructive actions. Satan on the other hand, sits and applauds while church going men cower to his plan for marriage. Proverbs 5:3-11, uncovers the truth about the immoral woman. She is bitter, sharp, her feet are attached to death, her steps lead to hell and she is unstable. It warns men to remove their way far from her—do not even go near her house, unless you want to give your years to the cruel one. Basically Satan will own you—you will be his tool, if you visit her home and in indulge in her lies. Verses 12-14, relays the gut wrenching, remorseful words men speak after visiting her bed. “How I have hated instruction and my heart despised correction! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!” Verses 15-19, counsels men on the truth of their marriage, telling men “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Asking in verse 20 “Why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?” Adultery—sad to say, is common—even in our churches. Not only does it do the obvious—destroy the covenant of marriage, but destroys God’s plan for the lonely—family. Scripture says God hates divorce but gave it for the hard hearted and only on the grounds of adultery. (Matthew 19:3-9) Satan rejoices when families are devastated by divorce. And that’s not all, Satan is after the strong—the men; he desires to sap away their manhood, steal their faith and lead them to hell. Proverbs 5:21, enlightens us, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” This verse is water to a thirsty soul. It’s refreshing to be reminded that the God who made heaven and earth sees us and ponders our path. Caring God watches over us, yearning for relationship. That’s what these warnings in Proverbs are all about—a loving God mapping out the pitfalls of life. Cautioning the men of God to avoid foolishness and steer clear of Satan’s plan for their life. Proverbs 5 ends with verses 22-23, telling what will happen to those who do not heed instruction. “His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” The Message version of the bible says it this way, “The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark. Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead-end.” Death is the reward for an undisciplined life—this is true for all of us. I pray our heart would embrace the ways of God. That the men of God would take heed to God’s Word allowing wisdom, understanding, discretion and knowledge to guide them. Most of all I pray that we fall deeper in love with Jesus, craving His presence and living accordingly. Everyone has a relationship with a man, whether it be your husband, son, father, brother or friend. Please be encouraged to cover them in prayer—the enemy is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We must be vigilant. I understand men are not the only ones who commit adultery, women are susceptible as well and many men have been wounded by their wives committing the sin of adultery. Proverbs 5 is for both genders, please apply it accordingly. A note to those who have been devastated by adultery: Lean into to Jesus, He is enough for all your pain and rejection. God will heal you and fill in all your gaps, He will enlarge your heart and help you to find freedom in forgiveness. Skillful Living Tools for Men:

  • Grab a hold and apply wisdom, understanding, discretion and knowledge to your life.
  • Humbly love God, find Him as Lord and source of your strength.
  • Remove your way far from the immoral woman—do not even go near her house.
  • Obey the 7th commandment—Do not commit adultery.
  • Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
  • Abandon pride, recognize your weakness and partake in all that God has for you.
  • Embrace instruction and correction.

Skillful Living Tools for Women:

  • Do not be an immoral woman.
  • Do not associate with immoral women.
  • Pray without ceasing for the men in your life.

Skillful Living 101—4 Your Life is at Stake

Proverbs 4, titled:  Your Life is at Stake, shows us the intense importance of getting wisdom.  

The book of Proverbs overflows with exhortations urging us to be smart enough to grasp wisdom and apply it to our life. The Proverbs go as far as to say that wisdom will preserve our life both physically and spiritually.

In Proverbs 4:1-13, Solomon implores us to grab a hold of wisdom, telling how his father and mother educated him on the seriousness of getting wisdom. As parents we need to pay close attention and teach our children the key necessities of life.

It’s no wonder when God said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1 “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon answered “wisdom.” As a result of  Solomon asking God for wisdom to wisely rule His people, God gave him wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king had before him or after him.

Read Proverbs 4, his parents drilled it into him. David, his father knew the importance of making wise choices—his life was a reflection of both the good and the bad—of choosing and not choosing wisdom.

Let’s take this a step further, we have to teach our children not only to get wisdom but to get God—to make Jesus Lord of their heart and life. Wisdom has to lead us to knowing God.

The wisest choice a person can make, is to give up their life and choose a relationship with God.

If our children only know about God and never know Him in a submitted personal relationship—they can end up just as Solomon did. This is true for us parents as well. We have to teach by lifestyle example. Our relationship with God has to go beyond a quaint Sunday service—truthfully we cannot give away what we don’t have.

Unfortunately Solomon didn’t let wisdom keep him bound to what was of the utmost importance—a lifelong sold out heart.

Skillful Living Tool for Parenting:  Know God yourself. Drill the importance of wisdom into your children—pray it leads them to know God personally.

Proverbs was written when Solomon was at the height of maturity and power. Proverbs gives us worthy practical guidance. We should not down grade its instruction because of Solomon, but should use it as a skillful living tool—teaching us to always keep our heart loyal to the Lord.

Proverbs 4:14-17, warns us of the hazards that occur when associating with the wicked. What do you think happened to Solomon? Why in his old age did he turn away from the Lord God and worship other gods? Why did he associate with and marry wicked women? (Read 1 Kings 11, it tells of Solomon’s tragic fall.)

It’s hard to fathom someone of such great wisdom being foolish enough to give into idolatry. Nonetheless it happened. His own self-will overrode God’s will for his life. God warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods and marrying foreign women, but Solomon did not listen or obey the Lord’s commands. He was captivated by lust and married foreign women who turned his heart away from God and influenced him to worship their gods. Scripture says Solomon’s heart was not loyal to God.

Skillful living tool:  Keep your heart loyal to God.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Likewise, to live skillfully we need to be very vigilant to what we allow in our home and heart. Solomon did not fall over night but slowly let foreign women into his household, and then his heart—consequently diluting his convictions and eventually persuading his heart to follow their methods for life.

It is also essential that unmarried adults guard who they allow themselves to fall in love with. Similarly parents need to teach their children the importance of marrying someone of common faith, passion and beliefs.

We have to guard what we permit in our home and heart, so we do not compromise our faith and relationship with God

Skillful Living Tool:  Guard your home and your heart.

Another skillful living tool is directed at wives. A wife has amazing influence in the life of her husband. By her words, beliefs and actions she can turn his heart and soul in a good or bad direction. As women we need to love our husbands as we love Christ. We should be an example to him of God’s unconditional love and faithfulness. Always being watchful of our actions—bridging him to Christ and not away.

Skillful Living Tool for Wives:  Be careful in what direction you turn the heart of your husband!

As a result of Solomon turning his heart from God and into idolatry, the kingdom was taken from his lineage and they were only given rule over one tribe. And worse, the people of Israel intermarried and began to worship foreign gods—living lives of idolatry—breaking the first and greatest commandment. Thus began Israel’s demise and eventual exile.

Solomon’s father sinned—but he repented. David never fully turned the worship of his heart away from God. He did suffer the consequences of his sin, yet he continually sought God and His forgiveness. In turn God poured out His grace and mercy upon David. There is no record of Solomon’s repentance, or of him destroying any of the altars he set up for idol worship in Israel.

Skillful Living Tool:  Continually seek God and live a lifestyle of repentance.

The end of Proverbs 4 gives sound advice. Verse 26-27, “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.”

Solomon became lax and compromising in his old age, to the point of not following his own godly wisdom. Now’s a good time to check your own heart, have you allowed anything ungodly to come along side your Christianity? Is there any form of idolatry in your life? If so—be like David—repent and turn.

Please be encouraged to live distraction free—keep your eyes on Jesus, guarding your heart all the days of your life!

Thank you for following along with this series on Skillful Living. Living skillfully is a daily choice for all of us. I hope these insights on Proverbs assist you in decision making. Please share with those who long to live skillfully!

Note:  The Skillful Living Toolbox has its own page! Check it out! To access it, click the tab at the top of this page.

Skillful Living 101—3 Bow to Relationship

Applying wisdom requires faith. It’s necessary to shift our thinking and believe that the wisdom of God can live in us and yes, we can make deliberate wise decisions.

On that note—I made a decision to restructure the way I write the Skillful Living series. I was trying to make it real short but it lacked depth. I realize even though our culture wants microwave answers to life, I can’t short change God’s Word. Skillful living is worth the time it takes to download the information into our heart and soul so we can apply it to our life. I rewrote Skillful Living 101-3—sorry about how shallow the last one was. The “Tool Box” will have its own blog page…coming soon! I hope you enjoy this series, (I know I will) as together we learn how to live skillfully!

Have you ever heard people talk about choosing the right spouse? Job, house or church? These decisions although very important—are not rocket science. Making right choices takes wisdom; not the wisdom the world or culture has to offer but God’s wisdom—big difference!

The question that always arises is; how do we actually apply the words on the page to our heart and life? How do we make the right decisions?

The answer is not illusive but rather opposing to our human nature. Everything that has to do with the Word of God is in contrast to human nature. Why? Because to apply God’s Word we have to bow our heart, our desires and our soul to it—causing them to take the back seat, letting God take the driver’s seat.

We can read all the Proverbs we want, but if we do not bow to God as Lord of our life we will not live skillfully. The amazing thing about making God Lord of our life is that it’s not this rigid dictatorship but rather an intimate, personal, love relationship with God!

Proverbs 3:6 indicates personal relationship; it reads “In all your ways acknowledge Him” The word acknowledge in the Hebrew is “yada” translated as know, referring to direct intimacy as in marriage. In regards to God the meaning of this word suggests, direct relationship with Him through prayerful conversation. Developing a close personal bond where trust & love abound and are reciprocated.

The word ways in this passage means in all our days. In essence Proverbs 3:6 instills the truth that we should have intimate relationship with God in all our days and in doing so He will direct our path.

You’ve got to love this! The answer to how to live skillfully, to parent wisely, how to find a good spouse, how to avoid pitfalls—is by living in close relationship with God!

The beginning of Proverbs 3 gives skillful living advice for parenting, stating that parents need to use the Word of God to establish good ground rules for their home. It encourages us to engrave His Word on our heart, and to trade our own understanding and wisdom in for God’s infinite knowledge.

Moreover verses 9-10 give financial counsel. As believers we need to recognize giving is not to be a burden, but we are told to honor God with our giving, making it a form of worship not duty. That’s the premise; the promise is—we will have plenty of overflow!

Very crucial guidance for skillful living is found in Verses 11-12; telling us not to despise or reject God’s discipline. A pliable heart and soul that welcomes correction is something we can never outgrow—not if we want to live wisely.

The benefits of wisdom by far out weigh the consequences of stupidity! (Trust me on this one—I have some experience!) Verses 13-18 reveal the treasures of wisdom.

A breath of fresh air is found in verses 21-26. They relay the message that sound wisdom and discretion are life to our soul. Discretion is defined as; the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid embarrassment or distress, good judgment, caution, prudence. I need life to my soul, what about you?

Verses 27-30 basically reiterate the Golden Rule…Do unto others as you would have them do to you!

I love verse 32, it says it all “For the perverse are an abomination [extremely disgusting and detestable] to the Lord; but His confidential communion and secret counsel are with the [uncompromisingly] righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with Him).”

He offers His friendship to the godly! An amazing promise—one to grab a hold of!

Please read and apply Proverbs 3, it can change and enhance your life!

Thanks for reading, comments are always welcome—please share with those who need skillful living advice!

Life…A Jenga Game!

Have you ever played the game Jenga? Blocks are neatly stacked, then extracted one by one; taken out of their order, removed from their secure location and precariously rearranged. The repositioning of the blocks causes the stability of the tower to appear unstable.

Some experts can play this game very precisely, without compromising the tower. Others, such as my grandson, play similarly to a tornado! All you can do is watch and hold your breath!

As I was talking with God today, the words “Lord, my life resembles a Jenga game” came rolling off my tongue. Even I was surprised! I had never thought of that analogy before. I chuckled.

Then I started to name each block. My kids and grandson all had one, my husband, my marriage, my heart, my heart attitude, my will, emotions, mind, church, church people, finances, relationships, health, blogging, writing, school, my past, and my future. Everything important in life was a block. At some point in time each one extracted from their comfortable place and precariously rearranged.

I saw my tower of life reordered. Standing—in what would seem to the natural eye as an unstable position—then God spoke. Don’t you just love when He speaks?

He told me yes it’s true, your life does resemble a Jenga game, but I AM the One who has repositioned all the blocks in your life. And to the supernatural eye they are not viewed as precariously rearranged—but rather divinely repositioned.

God—the Master—the expert—has very precisely reordered my life—and yours. He is fashioning it, according to His will, purpose and plan.

Sometimes with so many people and responsibilities, life can seem unorganized and maybe even unstable. Do you ever get that impression? If so there is no reason to fret, it’s all going to work out!

Please be encouraged—if your life resembles a shaky Jenga game—release it, give the control over to the expert Himself, He will divinely reposition every block!

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Skillful Living 101—2 Premise to Promises

Living skillfully requires us to accept and give our attention to the instruction of wisdom. The attributes of wisdom unmistakably are the qualities of Christ. The book of Proverbs stirs our hunger for wisdom and Christ satisfies our appetite.

Wisdom described as:
1. Skillfulness in a moral sense; skills for living correctly or craftsmanship.
2. Prudence, comprehensive insight, enlightenment, right application of knowledge.

1 Corinthians 1:24 tells us that Christ is the wisdom of God. That being said, without relationship with Him, wisdom is out of reach. (Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Basically this sequence of blogs on Proverbs is designed to give us tools for skilful living. I’m always apprehensive to give tools/methods, for fear the methods will be sought instead of God. These are just tools from the Word of God to help you know Him more—the tools are not the answer to life, God is.

This week’s treasure is found in Proverbs 2 titled, The Value of Wisdom. This chapter is full of promises for God’s people however as with most promises in scripture there are premises. A premise is the basis of a promise, similar to an agreement. Example: If you seek then you’ll find, seek is the premise—find is the promise. You won’t find if you don’t seek.

Proverbs 2:1-4, provides us with the three IFS. The IFS are premises to the promises in Proverbs 2:5-9.

Proverbs 2:1-4: Premise

  • IF you treasure, receive and apply wisdom to your heart
  • IF you ask for insight and understanding of wisdom
  • IF you seek and search for wisdom

Proverbs 2:5-9: Promises

  • THEN you will understand the fear of the Lord—gain knowledge of God
  • THEN you will be given wisdom, knowledge and understanding about life
  • THEN you will be a recipient of common sense
  • THEN you will make wise and right choices
  • THEN you will understand what is right, just and fair
  • THEN God will shield, guard and protect your path

Proverbs 2:2 “Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
set your heart on a life of Understanding.

Skillful living insights:
IF you seek God and value wisdom you will know the fear of the Lord.
IF you apply wisdom to your life you will be able to make right choices.

Proverbs 2:10-11, gives the conditions for avoiding the evil behavior illustrated in Proverbs 2:12-19.

Proverbs 2:10-11

  • WHEN wisdom enters your heart and knowledge is pleasant to you
  • THEN wise choices will watch over you and understanding will keep you safe

Proverbs 2:12-19

  • Wisdom will save you from evil people
  • Wisdom will save you from immorality

Skillful living tools: Wisdom and understanding keep you pure.

The last part of this chapter informs us that only those who follow God’s ways will make it. Not because He isn’t willing to pardon sin, but because of unwillingness to repent.

Proverbs 2:20-22

  • Stay on the straight and narrow path—learn to love this path
  • The godly, blameless, and those with integrity will remain
  • The dishonest, deceitful and unfaithful will be uprooted

Skillful living tools: Bend your will to God’s will—learn to love His ways.

Please read Proverbs 2 for yourself, asking God to reveal it to you. Thanks for following this series, as we read and apply proverbs to our life, God will increase our skillful living abilities.

Below you’ll find a tool box with skillful living tools and insights. Each week new tools will be added. Eventually I may give the Tool Box it’s own blog page and update it weekly but for now it will be at the end of each blog post.

Skillful Living Tools and Insights to be applied to life.
TOOL BOX

Proverbs 1

  • There is no wisdom apart from God.
  • Fear the Lord.
  • To parent wisely, follow Proverbs 1:7.
  • Wisdom comes by responding to instruction.
  • Respond to God’s instruction and you will know how to respond in any situation.

Proverbs 2

  • IF you seek God and value wisdom you will know the fear of the Lord.
  • IF you apply wisdom to your life you will be able to make right choices.
  • Wisdom and understanding keep you pure.
  • Bend your will to God’s will—learn to love His ways.

Skillful Living 101—1 The Manual for Living

Have you ever longed for a manual on how to do life? Craved insight on how to raise and nurture kids? Do you ever just ache for a method for relating to teens? Asked for techniques to communicate with your spouse? Wondered what to say and how to respond in various situations? Yearned for procedures on how to keep living when life stops or hurts? How to find a spouse? How to keep a spouse? How to get and maintain a job? How to live on less? How to avoid foolishness? The list is endless.

God has dropped an idea into my heart. The idea unfolds as a sequence of blogs on skillful living. I’ve heard it said that Proverbs is the manual for skillful living. This sequence will elaborate on Proverbs—“The Manual for living” as The Message version of the Bible has so appropriately named it.

The main thing I’ve learned about life, took 25 years to learn. Nonetheless I am very appreciative for the truth I now understand. The truth is: I, Regina Forest—in the flesh—know one thing or maybe its two things—that I do not know anything, but God, who lives in me, knows everything. He is the Living Word, wise, alive, active and discerning; therefore I as I abide Him—His attributes become mine.

To live skillfully, it’s essential to have relationship with God and by His grace to heed His Word.

I will try to make these blogs as small morsels of information to be savored. I hope to breakdown certain proverbs and plainly explain them (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course!). Hopefully this will help ordinary people like you and I to understand and apply the instruction given to us in the book of Proverbs.

We should view the book of Proverbs as a chest full of treasure, where each nugget and gem are available to enhance our life—assisting us to live skillfully. Everyone needs a little help with the how to’s of life…I know I do!

Enough said, now let’s get started…

Proverbs 1:1-6 states: applying the principles in Proverbs causes us to gain:

  • Wisdom and instruction for sensible behavior
  • To know justice
  • Gives knowledge and discretion to the young (much needed)
  • Adds learning to the wise (also much needed)
  • Gives us understanding about proverbs and parables

Skillful living tool: There is no wisdom apart from God.

Right off the bat Proverbs 1:7 describes the first rule in skillful living:

  • We must fear the Lord
  • Only fools despise wisdom

Proverbs 1:7 as articulated in The Message, “Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.” (Good advice!)

Skillful living tool: Fear the Lord.

Proverbs 1:8-19 truthfully says, kids honor your parents, it also expresses the importance of good parenting:

  • Pay attention to your father’s words
  • Remember your mother’s teachings
  • Pick your friends wisely “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

Parenting insight: To parent wisely, follow Proverbs 1:7.

Proverbs 1:20-33 expresses the truth:

  • Wisdom is available to everyone
  • Being unwise (stupid) is a choice
  • The unwise make themselves miserable. Proverbs 1:22 asks, how long will you hate knowledge and understanding?
  • Repent from foolishness, and wisdom will be poured out on you
  • Pride will keep you living like a fool. Proverbs 1:29-31 “Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”
  • Whoever listens to wisdom will live skillfully and be in peace.

Practical insight: Wisdom comes by responding to instruction. Respond to God’s instruction and you will know how to respond in any situation.

Please prayerfully read Proverbs 1 for yourself, ask God to illuminate it to you. Also, ask for the grace to apply His Word— so you can skillfully live your life.

Thanks for reading, please share with those who need a “Manual for Living”. Comments welcomed!