January 11, 2005
Encouragement for Today
Mary Southerland, Director of Development, author and speaker
"This is what the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: Jeremiah, go and tell the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem: 'You should learn a lesson and obey my message,' says the LORD." Jeremiah 35:13 (NIV)
When my daughter, Danna, was about three years old, she became fascinated with electrical outlets. One of her favorite activities was working the childproof cover off of the outlet and sticking various objects in it. I was not thrilled with this little game of hers, repeatedly taking her to the outlet and firmly warning, "No! No! It will hurt you!" She would then look up at me with her beautiful brown eyes and dimpled smile. After several trips to the outlet I thought, "She's got it!" She did - for two whole days. I was putting groceries away when I heard her scream from the family room. By the time I reached her, I found a sobbing toddler holding up a tiny burned finger for me to kiss and make better. Even at her young age, Danna had acquired a nugget of wisdom and has never touched an outlet again.
When we give in to temptation the result is always sin. Attached to that sin is the price tag of consequences. Every choice we make - every action that we take has consequences. We can learn from those consequences, hear the message God assigned to them and gain the wisdom that they hold.
Hebrews 12:11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (NIV)
Everyone in the Garden of Eden had consequences. Eve's wrong choices led to pain in childbirth, subjection to her husband's authority and the loss of her perfect world. Adam forfeited his "cushy" job to find that growing food would require a lot of sweat and hard work. The fertile ground would grow only thorns and he, too, would be thrown out of the garden. Death for man and animals became a reality and the serpent was doomed to crawl in the dust forever, facing the hatred of all men as well as judgment and death.
A young man of thirty-two was appointed President of a large, well-established bank. He'd never dreamed he would be president, much less at such a young age. Therefore, he approached the Chairman of the Board, a man known for his wisdom, and asked, "You know, I've just been appointed President. I was wondering if you could give me some advice." The old man came back with just two words, "Right decisions!" The young man had hoped for a bit more than this, so he said, "That's really helpful, and I appreciate it, but can you be more specific? How do I make right decisions?" The wise old man simply responded, "Experience." The young man said, "Well, that's why I am here. I don't have the kind of experience I need. How do I get it?" The final and somewhat terse reply came, "Wrong decisions!"
Wise people accept the consequences of sin; then learn from their wrong choices and apply the lessons learned to their lives. God honors that application with wisdom and understanding.
Psalm 111:10 "Wisdom begins with respect for the LORD; those who obey his orders have good understanding."
Proverbs 2:7 "He stores up wisdom for those who are honest."
The disciplines of a godly woman are powerful and life-changing. Furthermore, they are available to each one of us. It is simply a matter of choice. The enemy wants to discourage us. I have often thought that I could never "be as godly as her" or "be as strong as she is". That is a lie from the pit, and smells like smoke! God's power is available to each one of us, no matter where we have been or what we have done. You can be all that God wants you to be and more than you ever dreamed possible of being by submitting to the will of God, guarding against sin and temptation, controlling the way you think and gaining wisdom from God as He speaks wisdom through His word, the bible, and life itself. The choice is yours to make. Will you choose to practice the disciplines of a godly woman?
My prayer for today:
Lord, today I ask you to strengthen me for the journey of becoming a godly woman of discipline. Help me to depend upon you, and not myself. I choose to pray and become a lover of the bible. I choose to stand against sin and avoid temptation. May my life be one you can use in your kingdom work and may all I do draw others to you. Amen.
Accept the fact that temptation will come.
Get ready and stay ready to face temptation.
Accept the consequences of my sin.
Learn the lessons of the consequences.
Apply those lessons to my daily walk.
I need to evaluate the readiness of my heart and mind to face temptation. What consequences of sin am I living with right now? What lessons can I learn from those consequences? How can I practice the wisdom of those consequences in every day life?
"Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed." Proverbs 3: 13-18 (NIV)
Message of the Month Club
How to Live a Life of Victory (tape set) by Mary Southerland