Yesterday I took a rest day, so I didn’t post a devotional. I did read Chapter 13, but chose to take a day from any kind of work. I stayed in bed for most of the day and I only got up to go to a friend’s house for dinner.
It was a sweet time at their house for dinner. We hadn’t seen them in probably 2 or so months, but when you are with people that the Lord connects you too, it’s always awesome. The Holy Spirit is truly amazing. During a time that we most need it, we have found ourselves surrounded with amazing leaders of the Body of Christ reaching out, praying, and encouraging us.
While I know that the Church (Body of Christ) isn’t perfect or as united as they can be, I have to say that I am experiencing a unity that many thought would never be possible. I know it’s not everywhere, here in Jacksonville we are experiencing the beauty of a unified Body. Now, not every church and pastor is on board, but it’s ok. The Holy Spirit is moving and we see it. So much so that part of our current mission is to be a part, in anyway, of bringing the Body together.
Going against the current a couple years ago was quite challenging, but in only 2 years I can say that the current is changing and the Church uniting in worship and missional movements is becoming, dare I say it, normal – at least around here. Again, maybe not every Church, but it’s ok. We must start somewhere.
The most important thing is the unity that we are seeing amongst the pastors and leaders of this city. The Holy Spirit has been breathing a Kingdom mindset and it’s changing everything. When we see our mission as expanding the Kingdom of God on Earth, it becomes clear that the Church is not the Kingdom. The Church is a part of the Kingdom, but not the Kingdom itself. That truth enables us to breakdown our local Church kingdom and pursue to expand and build the Kingdom of our Lord, King Jesus.
So, now that I’ve shared what’s on my heart first thing this morning, let’s discuss Proverbs.
I’ll be honest, I’ve read this chapter this morning was a bit harsh because of the correction I received from it. While the verse I am going to write about today isn’t related to the verses I was found discipline for in my own life, those verses are more important to me today than the one we will discuss. Why? Because they are the words that pierced my spirit and soul, not from each other, but from good and evil. That is a teaching for another day, but suffice it to say that His word cleanses us – if we allow it to.
If the Bible is a rule book, it leads us to conviction, but not as much transformation as there could be. Sure, we may experience some behavioral modifications because of the convictions, but rules and punishment for broken-rules tend to (not always the case) temporarily change the outside behaviors. What we want as children of God, however, is to change from the inside out. God wants our entire being, not just an appearance of love, but true love.
The Bible is not a rule book, but it’s a revelation of the most important relationship in our lives – our Father. When the Bible becomes about our relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – when it’s read in that manner, it
pierces our entire being
removes the flesh purifying our heart, soul, and spirit
brings back to life all things once dead.
Reading the Bible in the context of relationship and worship, brings the heart of God to the surface and allows us to see His beautiful intentions and purpose for our lives, collectively and as individuals.
So, while the Lord dealt and deals with me in that area, let’s talk about the verse of the day…well, at least mine.
S – Scripture
Poverty and disgrace come to the one who refuses to hear criticism. But the one who is easy to correct is on the path of honor. When God fulfills your longs, sweetness fills your soul, but the wicked refuse to turn from darkness.Proverbs 13: 18-19
I guess this verse has to do with His discipline more than I realized now that I’ve written it down.
At first I was only going to share verse 18, but during a worship service we had on Saturday evening, verse 19 was spoken/prayed over us. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that words spoken over us just this past weekend happens to be in the chapter of Proverbs I have been reading for the past couple days.
Recently we had a chapter in proverbs where we read quite a bit about being teachable. I don’t believe I wrote about it, but I do remember that being a theme in on of the chapters. We see it again today in chapter 13. There is so much wisdom in being surrounded by wise people (verse 20), listening to wise counsel, and correcting ourselves according to that counsel/criticism/discipline. As it states in verse 18, it places us on a path of honor.
I remember when I was about 21 or 22, sitting in my managers office during an annual review and him telling me that one of my strengths was my ability to take criticism. He had quite a few young people on his team and he told me that he found it easy to have tough discussions with me because I always took it so well. I still remember what I told him because it’s something I still say.
“It’s not like I don’t know what you are saying is true. I know my areas of weakness and where I fall short. Denying it would just make me a fool.”
If there is something I am is very self-aware. Not in a bad, obsessive, or unhealthy way. But, I know myself pretty well. I spend a lot of time thinking and assessing my heart. Now so it’s even deeper because I do it in the presence of the Holy Spirit so He can search me in places I may not be willing to go.
Last week in one of my mentoring classes, that’s exactly what the mentor talked about. Criticism. I believe she may have even referenced this verse – no coincidence, friends. We don’t have to follow every bit of criticism we receive. We need to receive it, assess if there is wisdom in what we are hearing, and then move forward from there. I think who we surround ourselves with determines how often we actually take the advise that comes from criticism. The more you are around with wise people, the more likely what we hear should be applied.
In my personal and ministerial life, I would say 90% of the counsel, suggestions, and criticisms we receive winds up being something that causes us to change in some form or fashion. Now, keep in mind I’m not referring to criticism from people who don’t like us or want us to fail. That’s not the kind of criticism we are speaking of. We are speaking of those that we love and love us. Those who care enough to see us grow as people and leaders that they would share their heart with us, no matter how much we might like the word or not.
Those that only know to criticize and do it from a heart of jealousy, bitterness, and hatred – we do not accept those words. Those words tend to be of death.
I’m talking about the words of wise counsel that bring life. There is a difference and it’s pretty easy to identify the difference. Well, at least to me anyway.
A – Application
Whenever we receive words of criticism/counsel/discipline from those we admire, respect, and love, we must listen to those words and go before our Father with them. Usually we will immediately know if the counsel is good or not, but sometimes it’s not as easy. We must, however, always check our hearts to make sure that it’s not ego or pride resisting the words.
When the Lord gives us the light, whether red or green, we move from there. We make the necessary adaptations and watch the results of the wisdom of following wise counsel.
P – Prayer
Thank you, Holy Spirit, from connecting us to people of character, integrity, and love that speak wisdom and life into our lives. I pray that you may send more amazing people to speak and pour into our lives. I desire to know you more and to be closer to you. I know that I am a house in which you live and I don’t want you living with a bunch of junk, so I ask that you search my heart. Continue to bring things to the surface that need to be dealt with. May I always heed those who give counsel according to your heart and reject those that are spoken to bring death.
I do not want to be someone who ever utters words of death – for any reason. I ask that if I’ve ever or ever unintentionally uttered words of death that they not have any effect. I pray that those words die themselves as soon as they come out of my mouth – and that you convict me so that I can repent and speak words of life.