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Apples of Gold

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I’m convinced that one of most precious gifts a person can have in life is to have wise people to consult, especially when perplexing trials and difficult situations arise.  While almost everyone has an opinion about everything, very few actually have wisdom and understanding about the deep matters in life and of the heart.

Years ago, I remember being in one of the most challenging times in my life.  I had major decisions to make, and I didn’t know what to do.  One of the decisions facing me was whether I’d stay in graduate school or move away.  I knew that Proverbs 11:14 instructs, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors, there is safety.”  As a result, I began to really pray, hoping I would hear God’s voice instruct me on what to do. Yet, I heard nothing.  I was miserable, but I kept praying.  I went to three different people that I respected and that I knew would be truthful with me.  It was miraculous.  All three had the same advice! 

I remember sitting in my car and crying, asking God why he couldn’t answer me.  At first, it didn’t occur to me that he had answered my prayers—three different times.  Only when I stopped panicking, and reflected on the events of the day did I realize what God wanted me to do.  He had led me to three wise individuals, who really helped me to gain proper perspective of my situation and to make the decision to finish graduate school.  God did answer my prayers, but it was a difficult thing to receive at the time.  I wanted to run, but wise counsel instructed me to stay and finish what I had started.  That one decision has impacted my life in countless ways.

Too often, people rush to make judgments, give opinions, and advice without really considering the weight of their words.  There really is life and death in the power of the tongue.  When people think enough of us to come to us for advice, we have to remember to be quick to listen and slow to speak, carefully considering our response.

Proverbs 25:11 tells us that, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  Whether it’s an important life changing decision or a seemingly meaningless one, we should always strive to use God’s wisdom when we speak, remembering that our words do matter and can change lives.

I am so thankful to God for giving me the discernment (most of the time) to recognize the wisdom in others.  Truly, it has made my life richer and helped me to avoid many pitfalls.  As a result of the influence that wise individuals have had on me, I strive for God’s wisdom when listening and speaking to others.  It can be tough because sometimes my opinions are so strong, and I may feel like I know what the right thing in the situation is.  However, when the spirit leads me, there is a peace and calming ability to listen carefully and thoughtfully consider how I respond. 

When we respond in wisdom, “like apples of gold in pictures of silver,” we create beauty, harmony, and peace in any situation.  Join me in appreciating those who have imparted wisdom, guidance, and truth in our lives, and pay it forward by doing the same in others’ lives.

Blessings,

MaRita

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Recharging Your Battery

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When I expressed that my iPhone wasn’t running correctly, my husband examined it for a second and said, “Well, one thing is, that you have all these apps open, running in the background.”

I had no idea what he meant, but he then showed me how all the game apps that my youngest son plays were all open.  As a result, my battery was being drained much faster, and I had no idea!  One by one, he began closing down the apps that were depleting the charge, and sure enough, my phone ran much better.

I couldn’t help thinking about my iPhone and realized that many times I felt like I was running around, doing all the things necessary for the day.  However, just like my iPhone, I was working but not at optimum speed and capability because I had too many things running in the background, draining my battery.  Whether we are dealing with health issues, family concerns, financial issues or job situations, we all have pressure that our bodies are simply not equipped to handle.  If we don’t turn those situations, people, and things over to someone who can handle them, we will find ourselves drained, short-tempered, and faint-hearted.

Just as I watched my husband, one by one, close out the open apps that drained my battery, we have to daily make the decision to prioritize—keep first things first, if we want to be recharged.  When we keep first things first, we won’t get run down.  For me, part of keeping first things first is to spend time reading His Word in the morning, as well as praying.  Even if it’s just a few minutes, I’ve discovered over the years that it really does change your outlook and whole day.  I find myself reminded of what I’ve read and meditated on during the day, and I respond differently to life’s challenges when I’ve spent time with Him.

Reading the Word isn’t just a motivational read or pep talk.  His Word is living.  It’s God-inspired, and although many try to minimalize its power, there is power in His Word.  Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  The Word shows us ourselves much better than any mirror and sets our priorities in divine order, something our intellect simply cannot accomplish on its own.

It takes discipline, consistency, and a made up mind to set aside time each day in prayer and meditation in His Word, but the payoff is immeasurable.  Every day that I spend time with Him, it allows me to, one by one, close those “apps” that run in the background, trying to drain my battery.  No amount of exercising, healthy eating or any other method can take the place of building up the spiritual man.  All other strategies are a temporary fix to a spiritual problem that can only be resolved by addressing the spirit.

If you need a recharge, like I have, set aside time to meditate on His Word, and talk to Him in prayer.  There is no charge that keeps you energized, refreshed, and fully-optimized for the pressures of life than His Word and prayer.

 

MaRita

  

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Surviving the Full-Court Press

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One thing that I’d never imagined as a little girl was that I’d one day have the privilege of being the mother of three boys.  Somehow, I’d always thought I’d be picking out frilly pink church dresses and pearls for my daughters.  Instead, I am now in the midst of another exciting basketball season, going between practices and game-filled weekends. 

I’m a mess at basketball games.  Occasionally, I have to whisper in my husband’s ear to make sure that I’m yelling, “Defense!” and “Get the rebound!” at the right times.  Although I don’t understand the game well, I’m really intrigued whenever there’s a full-court press.  In a typical full-court press, the defense puts man-to-man pressure on the offense for the entire court.  When teams do this in a game, as you know, they press to try to get a turnover.

This whole concept got me thinking about how there are times in our lives when we have the “ball,” but Satan has us in a full-court press.  In other words, God has equipped us with the faith, joy, peace, and other fruits necessary for victory, but Satan always attempts to distract us.  We already have the final victory, but hardships and trials can cause us to forget that we have possession of the ball.  When pressure is on, we have to know that the enemy isn’t going to sit idly by and allow us to make the winning basket.  Almost always, there’s some type of fight and/or struggle necessary for the win.

Pressing in the spirit, just like the full-court press, is challenging.  There is clear and present resistance to where we’re trying to get to, but we always have to remember that in the spirit, we’ve already won, every single time!  The outcome is a done deal! Satan is defeated, so we have the assurance of knowing that regardless of what things look like, when we are on the side of the righteous, we are on the winning side.

 Paul explains in Philippians 3:13-14 , but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  No basketball team can really win in a full-court press if they’re heads aren’t in the game at the moment.  They have to be fully engaged, ready to meet the opponent.  In that same manner, we have to let go of things in the past and focus our attention of the promises of God.  We have to let our focus be on pleasing God and obeying His Word.

After all, the Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:4 that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through the pulling down of strongholds.”  We do have an enemy, and despite what many people think, Satan is real.  He is out to steal, kill, and destroy, but thanks be unto God who causes us to triumph!  We can endure the full-court press by identifying the tricks of the enemy and believing and confessing His living Word.    

Another tactic that the enemy uses is to get people to believe that they don’t need to come together in fellowship with other believers.  They focus on the flaws and shortcomings of the people instead of the living God and what He has instructed us to do.  We do need to attend church faithfully, and the Word supports this.  Hebrews 10:24-25: “let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as ye see the day approaching.”  Being surrounded by others strong in the faith can help us in all seasons of our lives but especially stabilize us in times when we’re under the enemy’s attack.

For over a year now, I’ve been in the full-court press, yet I’m not a victim but a victor!  In the press, the Lord has helped me to mature and develop a resolve to love and serve Him like never before.  He’s shown me my shortcomings, and I’ve been working on aligning myself with His Word and His ways.  In the press, He’s giving me endurance to get to the finish line.  He’s showing me that He is the blessed hope, my deliverer, sustainer, and strong tower.

If you’re in the full-court press, be encouraged, knowing that He will bring you out!  Don’t be dissuaded by the attacks of the enemy.  Keep trusting and continue to do all you know is right and the peace of God will keep, deliver and bless you.

MaRita