I remember an old pair of scissors I owned. I loved those scissors but as time moved on they did not work like they once did because the blades were dull. When cutting a piece of meat, you want to pick a good knife. You want to be able to cut through the piece swiftly rather than sawing the thing till it looks like a mess. Most people have knife sharpeners for that reason.
Solomon mentioned the extra strength that is needed to cut with something like a dull ax. More energy is needed when a blade is dull. He made it clear –“Sharpen the blade.” He further states that wisdom helps you to succeed. So how do we sharpen our blades? How do we get this wisdom that will help us to succeed?
I try to sharpen my blade daily because each day brings us new challenges, new temptations, new situations. We need to be able to stand firm. We need our blade sharp. Read your Bible. Be intentional about it. In the morning, the first thing I do before my feet hit the floor is read my morning devotional. It is as if to say, “No thank you devil. My day is for God. I’m going to have a God day.” Then I spend my lunch with God and His Word. I sit alone and eat some fruit, and then I turn to the Word. Finally, in the evening before I turn in for the night, I grab my Bible once again. Sharpen your blade so you can stand firm.
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10 [NLT]
Have you ever given an excuse that you were waiting for the right moment to do something? Solomon wrote that “farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” And because “they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” If you do not get started with something, how will you ever get to the finish line?
When it comes to what God is calling you to do, if He says it is time to get started, we cannot sit and wait for the “perfect weather.” We all are weak and are only able to accomplish what we were created to do through God’s strength. Yes we must wait for God, but when He’s telling us to move forward, it is time. We should not be sitting around waiting for something else to happen for us to move. We shouldn’t say we are not ready because God says we are ready—through Christ we are ready.
Today do not sit around watching every cloud. There is work to be done. We need to plant so we can later harvest. If we wait around for the perfect time, we will find that there is no perfect time than the time God has chosen. He has a beautiful plan—trust it!
“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” – Ecclesiastes 11:4 [NLT]
Remember the gold calves that were created? Jeroboam made two gold calves and said it was “too much trouble” for them to go to Jerusalem to worship. The gold calves he said were to represent “the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” He wanted the people to believe they could worship these two gold calves rather than travel to Jerusalem and worship the one true God. It was a shorter trip.
But the gold calves were not about God at all. If you read the text, he was not making these two gold calves to save them a longer trip to worship in Jerusalem. The king was fearful about both his position and his life. God was not first in his life—he was first. He feared that if the people would go to Jerusalem to worship they would return to King Rehoboam and they would eventually kill him as well.
There are moments in our lives when we make gold calves. We have a great excuse for them—and our reasoning makes it sound legitimate. But often, if we evaluate things closer, if we strip down the pieces, we find that there is something else at the surface. Today, look at your own life. Are there any gold calves lying around?
“So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!’” – 1 Kings 12:28 [NLT]
“Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord,” we read in 2 Chronicles 14, and we learn of his reforms. We also read of the battle against the Ethiopians. They came marching out with a vast army and Asa called out to the Lord for help. He said, “There is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty” (v. 11 NLT). They received great victory, a victory that only could come from the Lord.
The Bible continues to say that “Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life,” and yet something happened (2 Chronicles 15:17b NLT). Baasha king of Israel was on the attack. Now this time Asa didn’t approach the Lord as he did when the Ethiopians were before him. Instead he took silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and sent it to Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram. Asa’s trust went from the Lord to an army’s power—from the Lord to what money could buy him.
Hanani visited King Asa and informed him of the consequences of his actions. Not only did he miss the opportunity to destroy the army but he also would be at war for the rest of his life. No peace. He was once fully committed but he slipped. Our passage today says, “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Remember that. When you are facing something, He is ready to strengthen you. You are not alone and you do not need to devise some plan trusting in money and people—trust in Him. Through Christ you can do all things!
“At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the LORD, and he handed them over to you. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” – 2 Chronicles 16:7-9 [NLT]
Jehoshaphat was deeply committed to the Lord and His ways. He showed this in many ways. He removed the pagan shrines. He removed the Asherah poles. But he didn’t stop there. He gathered his officials, the Levites, and others, and sent them off with copies of the Book of the Law. They went traveling around through all of the town of Judah. They were teaching the people the Law.
If we are deeply committed to the Lord, we will follow His commands and we will attempt to remove the bad things in our lives. We slowly transform by the power of Christ, by the Word of God. But we aren’t simply to be deeply committed to growing in Christ in our own lives. There should be an overflowing that reaches others.
Jehoshaphat was in a position to send the Levites, his officials, and a group of others to teach. He had that within his power due to his position. He not only had them travel with the copies but also to teach them to the people in ALL the towns of Judah. That’s a lot of towns. Today, what are you in a position to do? Are you committed or are you deeply committed? You might say you do not have the power to take the message of Jesus very far; however, remember that this isn’t on your power but through His power. Don’t limit what can be done. By His power, you may only be starting a great work. Let us reach the finish line of this great race. I pray you all will be deeply committed.
“He was deeply committed to the ways of the LORD. He removed the pagan shrines and Asherah poles from Judah. They took copies of the Book of the Law of the LORD and traveled around through all the towns of Judah, teaching the people.” – 2 Chronicles 17:6, 9 [NLT]
One of my favorite books of the Bible is 1 Kings. Not so long ago I was led to make a Bible study for the book and it was a great journey through God’s Word. We are introduced to Elijah in 1 Kings and we see a lot unfold. From the moment he is on the scene, we are not provided much of an introduction into his life, but we slowly see this picture of Elijah revealed through the drought, the time with the widow, and the magnificent display by God at Mount Carmel.
Now Ahab describes Elijah differently than most of us would. He called him a “troublemaker.” A troublemaker. Most of us would not call Elijah a troublemaker. He was following God’s commands. He was anything but a troublemaker. But to Ahab he was a troublemaker because Ahab was not following God’s commands. What Elijah was doing was causing trouble for Ahab and his evil ways.
In the same way, people might see Christians as troublemakers. We stand firm and uphold the Word of God but that goes against what society desires. The world wants what the world wants. So you might be called a “troublemaker.” Just remember that there are two types of troublemakers. There are troublemakers who are simply standing firm on God’s Word so they appear as the disorder amidst the world. Then there are the troublemakers who are against God’s Word and are living a life filled with evil. Ahab saw Elijah as a troublemaker. We see Ahab as a troublemaker. The difference is—one is following God’s Word and the other is not. Where do you fall?
“When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, ‘So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?’” – 1 Kings 18:17 [NLT]
It is always interesting to find something contained in parentheses in a book, especially the Bible. Parentheses are used to clarify something—to make something clear. First Kings 18:3 says that “Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord,” and this is contained in parentheses (NLT). That is a great statement made about Obadiah and it was felt necessary to include for a reason.
Obadiah hid a hundred prophets. In 1 Kings 18:12, he says, “Yet I have been a true servant of the LORD all my life” (NLT). As we read 1 Kings, we cannot help but see these words within the parentheses – Obadiah was a DEVOTED follower of the Lord. Devoted. What a wonderful description of a person.
Today consider one line that would describe you. Could it be said that you are a devoted follower of the Lord? Could it even be known that you are a follower of Christ? What would your parentheses say?
“So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devoted follower of the LORD.” – 1 Kings 18:3 [NLT]
I often get my dog Max soup bones. I cook them, allow them to cool, and then he has enjoyment that lasts for a long time. He has bones all over the house. We often have to collect them and put them back in his bin of toys. Sometimes he takes them and places them right in our pathway. The other night, I went to walk to the stairway so I could go downstairs and start my day. The problem was Max grabbed a bone after I had gone to bed and stuck it in the middle of my pathway. I walked right by the bone and the end of the bone cut my foot.
I would have seen the bone if I had turned on the lights, but I did not want to wake up my children. The problem is that things hide in the darkness. We cannot always see what is lingering about when it is dark. Sometimes we do things that we should not and we like to keep people in the dark. Darkness is usually linked with evil. But when there is darkness, there’s always some light—even if it is only a flicker of light.
I love Zechariah’s song. Consider this “morning light from heaven.” He noted that it would “break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness” (NLT). There are still so many sitting in the dark—so many who need to see the Light. Today, be a beacon of Light. Shine the Light. This world can be a dark, dark place; however, with each one of us shining Light, we are able to pour out the grace and mercy that God has poured out to us.
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79 [NLT]
There was a great visual demonstration that a pastor once shared with me, and it will always stick with me. It has to do with open hands. He said if you have your hands closed, you are unable to receive blessings. You hold on to what you have and deny yourself from receiving what God has for you. Ever since I first heard this, I have carried it with me.
Today’s passage tells us that if we “give freely” that we will “become more wealthy.” We live in a society that says to save everything you have, invest, store up, get more, have more, and that’s how you be more. Culture tries to get us to build up a fortress here on earth. But God tells us otherwise. This passage says that if you are “stingy” you are going to “lose everything.” This isn’t just a scare tactic to get you to tithe more. If you put your energy into storing up here on earth, you will soon find that the moths can eat it all.
You become so much more wealthy if you freely give, recognizing that nothing is yours. I recently heard a response from a pastor that speaks volumes. His daughter said her day was going badly. He reminded her that it wasn’t “her” day. It was God’s day. Each day is God’s day and He gives it to us as a gift. The same goes with everything else. He gives it all to us. So give freely and see just how wealthy you will be for living life with open hands.
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” – Proverbs 11:24 [NLT]
Most women love jewelry. Walk by the jewelry store and there will be some ladies peeking through the glass eying a nice gold ring setting. A gold ring is nice. How about a gold ring in a pig’s snout? How beautiful is that?
To take a beautiful, shining, sparkly ring and place it in the nose of an animal known to roll around in the mud, makes it not so pretty. Many would not like the looks of the ring. It becomes dirtied. It becomes gross.
A beautiful woman is not so pretty if she lacks discretion. As she speaks offensively, her true lack of beauty is revealed. The lack of discretion reveals her true identity. What is in her heart spills out of her mouth and shows her true character. Remember Jesus said to clean the inside of the cup. Today examine the inside of your cup and consider the words you speak.
“A beautiful woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.” – Proverbs 11:22 [NLT]