Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Daily Wisdom

A few weeks ago, I picked up a little book called, "Daily Wisdom To Satisfy the Soul." It is a book that offers short, four paragraph devotionals that expand upon a Bible verse and are designed to offer encouragement for every day. The publisher encourages sharing these devotions with others and they have graciously granted permission to do so for non-profit reasons. At the end of this post, I will share the introduction page.

I love books like that. With all of the turmoil and bad news going on in the world, it helps to know that God is with us through it all.

The Bible study that I attend on a weekly basis keeps me in tune with God's Word and has created a fellowship with new friends. We study together, pray together, laugh together (a lot!), enjoy a meal together, and hear great speakers and worship songs.

Our guest speaker yesterday morning was awesome. She is gifted in acting out parts of the various characters of the Bible. Her latest performance was a skit that showed how Mary Magdalene probably felt after Jesus Christ was crucified, died and was buried. It was certainly a moving experience. Her performance was so powerful that many in the audience were weeping.

Previously, I never really did focus on what Mary must have gone through. The skit really brought home the realization that she had to wait for three long agonizing days to eventually find out that her Lord would rise from the grave. Prior to that joyous morning, she must have been in the throes of despair, thinking that her Messiah was gone forever.

Marie (the actress) imagined that Mary Magdalene would have thought, "he (Jesus) wasn't done yet!" "He hadn't finished his ministry here on earth!" Mary didn't want him to leave...she wanted to cling to him forever. Her hopes must have been dashed by the terrible sight of her Lord beaten, bloody, and hanging on a cross like a common criminal.

My thoughts led me to the fact that I have the Bible. I have God's Word from the beginning to the end. I know why Jesus died on that cross and that He went willingly. No one could have taken his life away without his permission. He could have called legions of angels to rescue him from that cross.

However Jesus did not have his own body in mind as he allowed the whipping, torture, brutalization, and death that I deserved, and all mankind deserved, because of our sin.

No. He had all of mankind in mind and knew that his resurrection victory would "make all things new." If Jesus had gotten down from that cross and hadn't taken upon himself the sins of the world, he would have re-entered heaven alone. He had us in mind when he gave up his body and blood for our sakes!

We have the whole story available to us in God's Word, so there is no need to despair as Mary Magdalene did. I thought about how I would have reacted if I were there, with Mary, at Jesus' crucifixion. Would I have thought "it's over?" Would I have thought that following Jesus was for naught because...look what happened to him? Would I have awakened early that first Resurrection Sunday morning to go and anoint Jesus' body with spices in an act of love and devotion to his memory as Mary did?

Mary was rewarded for her efforts to honor Jesus. Her one act of kindness, devotion and love as she prepared to anoint Jesus' dead body enabled her to become the very first person to see the risen Christ! Her deep, deep sorrow and despair turned to the most fabulous joy imaginable! Her Redeemer lives! Her Savior is alive! What a moment in all of human history that SHE got to experience!

Think about that for a moment. Mary could have been "wise in her own eyes" and decided that because God didn't immediately give her what she wanted (Christ NOT to die on the cross and stay with her and the disciples forever on earth) then she could have likely had the attitude that she should just dismiss Jesus from her mind and consideration and not visit the gravesite.

But she didn't do that.

She wanted to show love, honor, devotion and praise DESPITE her grief!

Mary couldn't have even imagined the marvelous event that was going to happen that morning, even though Jesus foretold it all to her and the disciples. She only focused on what SHE wanted Jesus to do for her, not what God knew was best for her...and us!

How often do we do the exact same thing? We think we know better than God and when we can't see the reasons for our suffering here on earth, we ask God, "why?" The reason is that there is a greater good that will result because of it.

God's ways are higher than our ways. We see as "through a glass darkly" while here on this earth, but one day we will "see Him as He is" and gain complete understanding. Meanwhile, our trust and faith in the Lord is what carries us through. He knows better than we do!

Here is a simple illustration. Remember when you were a child and you always wanted to eat candy and stay up all night? Our parents knew what was good for us. They knew that our bodies needed vegetables and sleep!

Our little finite minds often act in similar ways in regards to God's infinite mind and ultimate purpose.

Proverbs 3 describes the further benefits of wisdom...God's wisdom!

3My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
4 And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall *direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your *flesh,
And strength* to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.
19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.
21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes--
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
22 So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.
23 Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
"Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,"
When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
For he dwells by you for safety's sake.
30 Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways;
32 For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord,
But His secret counsel is with the upright.
33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just.
34 Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
35 The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools.
Or make smooth or straight
Literally navel, figurative of the body
Literally drink or refreshment


Back to Mary Magdalene. God didn't immediately give her what she personally wanted and probably prayed for. God knew what was best for her and us! Do you think that Mary's soul was satisfied once she saw Jesus risen? Did she instantly recognize and realize that God's promises were true? Did she finally see that God's purpose is greater than her desires?

Devotional: What Is A Satisfied Soul?

What is a satisfied soul? you may be asking yourself. And do I really want one? Those are good questions.

Everyone looks for satisfaction in many ways and in many areas of their lives. We all want to feel fulfilled. But the person who experiences satisfaction on the job, in a marriage, and in other areas can remain empty if the soul remains confused, doubtful, or ignored.

Christians have learned that soul satisfaction is an unsurpassed delight, and it comes only from one place: Jesus. When we rest in Him, our spirits experience that long-sought fullness. Though it may be a challenge to do so, giving our lives entirely to Him, to direct in whatever way He desires, offers previously unimagined benefits.

Being a satisfied soul doesn't mean being self-satisfied -- just the opposite. As believers, we find satisfaction in God, not our own efforts to gain His favor. Left to ourselves, our mechanical attempts to obey (and eventually we're bound to fall into automative methods if we go our own way) fall short of His kingdom. As hard as we try, we don't have it in us to be perfect enough to deserve heaven. Only Jesus and the work of His Spirit in our lives can make the change we're really looking for.

Because the Christian life focuses on Jesus, and believers live out His broad blessings, you'll find many faith experiences [in the devotional and the Bible]: praise, joy, thanksgiving, overcoming, and so on. The satisfied soul is not a bored soul, but one that experiences both good and bad and comes forth victorious in Jesus.

Seek to be satisfied in Jesus. There's no one else who gives the full life you're looking for.

From Daily Wisdom to Satisfy the Soul, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

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