Prosocial behavior

Prosocial behavior

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. – Luke 6:35

Philippians 2:3-4

 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

On January 31, 2020, The Week magazine published an article titled, “The parrots to look out for their pals.”

Researchers in Germany have observed parrots carrying out seemingly “selfless” acts of kindness – behavior that has previously only been seen in humans and a few other primates. Désirée Brucks, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, trained several African grey parrots to pass her small metal tokens when she held out her hand, in exchange for a walnut treat.

She then placed two of the birds in adjacent clear-walled compartments with a small opening between them; one compartment also had a hole at the front. Brucks gave the tokens to one parrot, but only the other bird could reach her hand. Immediately, the parrot with the tokens started passing them through the opening to its neighbor, who could then exchange them for food. The first parrot carried on helping its feathered friend even though it received nothing in return.

This “prosocial” behavior isn’t apparent in all birds; when the experiment was repeated with blue-headed macaws, the birds only acted selfishly.

It is natural for fallen people to look after their own interests first. As part of our fallen DNA, we tend to look out for “numero uno.” At the same time, fallen man can be generous. The standard that the Father has set for believers is far higher. We are to be like our Father. He is kind to those who are ungrateful, malicious and wicked.

Luke 6:31-35

 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

 32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!

 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!

 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

Many of us perform acts of kindness often. Acts of kindness in of themselves are excellent things to do. But what is our motivation? Do we do it to impress others? Do we do it to feel good about ourselves? Are we trying to make up for past wrongs?

REFLECT & PRAY

It is natural to put own interests first. It is supernatural to put the interests of others first.

Father what a high and lofty standard you have set. Only through your supernatural enablement will I ever begin to even try live up to it. Encourage me, empower me to do just.

INSIGHT

Doing good and helping others, is always a good thing to do. But having the right motivation for your actions is more important than the actions themselves. We are to be motivated by the same love and concern that the Father has for us. We are commanded to have the same prosocial attitude that Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:5).

Philippians 2:3-4

 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

We are to be humble. “The humble person is not one who thinks mainly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all” (Andrew Murray). We are to know ourselves as we are according to the grace that the Father has bestowed upon us. We should not think ourselves either better or worse than we really are. “The truly humble person knows himself and accepts himself (Romans 12:3). He yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has for the glory of God and the good of others” (Wiersbe).

Putting our own interests first is natural and normal. Having the same regard for the welfare of others is rare and extraordinary. We are to be genuinely concerned about the well-being of others, “The key is to take that same level of concern and apply it also to the interests of others. Such radical love is rare” (ESV notes). This is the standard that the Father has set for all of His children, pure, unadulterated agape love.

Agape love “is that unconquered goodwill which never knows bitterness and never seeks anything but the good of others. It is not a mere reaction of the heart, as human love is; it is a victory of the will, achieved by the help of Jesus Christ. It does not mean loving only those who love us, or those whom we like, or those who are lovable. It means an unconquerable goodwill even to those who hate us, to those whom we do not like, to those who are unlovely” (Barclay).

But there is more. Generous, unselfish giving always provides a generous return.

Luke 6:38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

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Identity politics

Identity politics

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. – Ephesians 2:14

Ephesians 2:15-19

 15 He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.

 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

 17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.

 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

 19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

The term “identity politics” has only recently entered the mainstream of the American culture. Identity politics, called by different names, has been around for millennia. In 1991, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., historian, authored a book, The Disuniting of America. The book discussed identity politics at length.

At the present time, in overly simplistic terms, identity politics refers to social groups categorized mainly on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, social class, profession, culture, language, disability, education, occupation, gender, urban or rural habitation, or veteran status.

For liberal democracy to function properly, a common basis for culture and society is needed. America was once called the melting pot of the world. The term was first coined in the 1780’s. It came into common usage after the play, The Melting Pot by Israel Zangwill premiered in 1908. Melting pot is a metaphor describing immigrants “melting” into the receiving culture. Heterogeneous individuals and groups “melting together” into a harmonious whole with a common culture via the assimilation of immigrants to the United States. People came to this Country to become “Americans.”

Is there any doubt that whatever consensus formally existed in America has fractured? Rather than focusing on what unites us as Americans, differences are emphasized. Today it is all about privilege or the lack thereof, power and powerlessness. The riffs, fractures, and marginalization grow stronger through affirmations of differences. The differences become battle cries to rally around.

Spirit of the day screams, “What matters most to me and those with whom I identify with is me utmost priority.” The concerns of other groups, or the “greater whole” of society are ignored and disregarded.

As children of the King, what are our identity politics? Putting it another way, who or what do we identify and bond with? What removes divisions based upon identity politics and unifies us?

REFLECT & PRAY

The Lord Jesus Christ tore down the walls that separated people.

Father thank You for providing a way to allow all people, from all time to become one, united together in Your forever family. Encourage me to abolish any remainder of walls that exist within my heart. May I welcome each and every brother and sister.

INSIGHT

Ancient Rome was very much into identity politics. It was extremely class-conscious and hierarchical. There were essentially only two broad categories of classes: upper and lower. Rome had no middle-class.

There were two upper classes. The Senatorial class (senatores) those who served in the Senate. The basis for this class was solely political. The Equestrian class (equites) was based solely upon economics. If you had enough money you are considered an equestrian.

There were five lower classes. Commons (plebs or vulgus) were all other freeborn Roman citizens. Latins (Latini) were freeborn residents of Italy. Foreigners (peregrini) consisted of all other freeborn men and women who lived in Roman territories. Freedpeople (liberti or libertini) had been slaves that had either bought their freedom or had been released from slavery. Slaves (servi) were chattel. They were property of their owners by law. It is estimated that about 25% of the population were slaves.

The New Testament has multiple examples of identity politics.

1 Corinthians 1:12 Some of you are saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”

John 4:9 Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

John 1:46 “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

Colossians 3:11 Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman,

Galatians 3:28 slave or free, male and female.

Witnessing firsthand all of the enmity and animosity identity politics created amongst the Father’s children, Paul was incredulous and asked, “Has Christ been divided into factions?” (1 Corinthians 1:13)

What was the Father’s answer to identity politics? He created one forever family. Everyone is welcome in His family. Everyone is loved, and treated fairly and equally. His family includes people from diverse backgrounds, classes, ethnicities, wealth, religions, and gender.

To create unity, to overcome discord, animosity, and hatred between opposing groups required the ultimate sacrifice. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who chose to die to rid planet Earth of this problem for all children of the King for all-time and eternity to come.

The division and animus between Jews and Gentiles was perhaps the strongest and the most severe. The law of Moses required legal separation of Jews and Gentiles. It was improper for them to join together, commingle, and intermarry.

Ephesians 2:15-19

 15 He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.

 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

 17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.

 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

 19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

Ephesians 4:4-6 

 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

In the Father’s family, all His children enjoy the same privileges and gifts. It provides unity while maintaining uniqueness. It is the ultimate melting pot.

ME Too loses one

ME Too loses

If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead. – Proverbs 26:27

Luke 6:36-39  

 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

 37 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.

 39 Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?

Former Universal executive Josh Goldstine has won an approximately $20 million arbitration case against NBCUniversal. Via of the Twitter venue of Me Too, he was wrongfully accused. There was no trial, he had no opportunity to defend himself. Based upon the accusation alone, he was dismissed from the Universal Studios in 2018 for “inappropriate conduct.”

Goldstine was formally the marketing president at Universal. He was responsible for the promotion of such blockbusters as “Jurassic World,” and “The Mummy.” In February 2018, film division president Donna Langley and chairman Jeff Shell sent a memo to staff saying they had received complaints about Goldstine in early February that they found “credible and indicative of an unacceptable climate.” Three weeks later following an investigation, he was dismissed.

Goldstine was now “toxic” and unable to secure a job. He was by contract required to go through an arbitration process. In America, who would ever think that it was possible for totally innocent people to be wrongfully accused, judged and convicted, without being permitted to make any type of defense or being able to face their accusers. We would have thought that those times ceased with the passing of the days of the Old West and unjustified lynching. But those are the times in which we are living.

Imagine the total nightmare and embarrassment this was for Goldstine, his family, and friends. Now imagine it happening to you.

The presumption of innocence is one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system. Simply speaking, it assumes that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That is, the prosecution must prove that the accused is guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the crime with which they are charged.

Our country has become a toxic place at many different levels. Traps and snares are set to catch us and ruin our lives. How many times has this already happened? Of course there are many cases where the accusations are absolutely true and vicious, controlling individuals have taken advantage and abused countless innocent, perhaps vulnerable and helpless people.

But there is an odd but wonderful thing about the Father’s justice.He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him who starts it rolling (Proverbs 26:27).

REFLECT & PRAY

We are commanded by the Lord God Almighty not to bear false witness. Malicious prosecution refers to a case that is filed without an adequate basis and for an improper purpose, such as harassing the defendant, ruining another person’s reputation, or to knowingly place blame on someone other than the actual wrongdoer.

Father I pray that going forward I will not be guilty of making false accusations of others or committing similar evil deeds myself. Father encourage me to be just, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, and slow to judge.

INSIGHT

There is no question that much harm and evil has been done by people in authority to those that are under their supervision. Coercion by the powerful over the weak has been with us since the days of creation. But it seems that America has lost its way and all sense of probity.

What does the Mosaic law code say regarding crimes in general, and sexual abuse in particular? The Mosaic law consists of specific commandments and instructions and also  case law. Case law deals with particular from these cases we are able to derive general principles by which we are to be guided in matters not specifically covered.

Accusations regarding serious crimes were to be reported. But they were only to be acted upon if there was more than one witness. The minimum required is two or three witnesses. The matter was to be thoroughly investigated. Why? Because some witnesses are malicious and have hidden agendas.

If the accusation is proven to be correct, then the accused is punished accordingly. But if the accusation is proven to be incorrect, then the accuser receives the punishment due the accused. And the accused goes free. Why? First, it would purge evil from the nation. Second, others will hear of it and think twice before maliciously, falsely accusing others.

Deuteronomy 19:15-20

 15 “You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

 16 “If a malicious witness comes forward and accuses someone of a crime,

 17 then both the accuser and accused must appear before the LORD by coming to the priests and judges in office at that time.

 18 The judges must investigate the case thoroughly. If the accuser has brought false charges against his fellow Israelite,

 19 you must impose on the accuser the sentence he intended for the other person. In this way, you will purge such evil from among you.

 20 Then the rest of the people will hear about it and be afraid to do such an evil thing.

Suppose an accusation of rape is made. And it is determined that the accusation is correct. What happens? It depends upon the location. The assumption is that when a woman is taken forcibly and sexually abused, she will cry out. If she is in the city, she would be heard and rescued. But if she’s in the country, she would not be heard.

If such sexual intercourse occurs in the city, it is assumed that the woman did not cry out and was a willing participant. They are both to be stoned to death.

If such sexual intercourse occurs in the country, it is assumed that the woman did cry out. But no one was there to hear. The man will be considered guilty and stoned to death. The woman would go free.

Deuteronomy 22:23-27

 23 “Suppose a man meets a young woman, a virgin who is engaged to be married, and he has sexual intercourse with her. If this happens within a town,

 24 you must take both of them to the gates of that town and stone them to death. The woman is guilty because she did not scream for help. The man must die because he violated another man’s wife. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you.

 25 “But if the man meets the engaged woman out in the country, and he rapes her, then only the man must die.

 26 Do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no crime worthy of death. She is as innocent as a murder victim.

 27 Since the man raped her out in the country, it must be assumed that she screamed, but there was no one to rescue her.

And there is the specific instance of Tamar and Amnon. Ammon was one of David’s sons. Absalom was another of David’s sons and Tamar was his sister. Thus Amnon and Tamar were half brother and sister.

Ammon falls hopelessly in love with Tamar. He is so much in love that he is literally lovesick. Amnon had a very crafty cousin, Jonadab. Jonadab devises a very clever scheme that eventuates in Tamar winding up in Amnon’s bedroom. There he rapes her. But immediately his love turns to hate, and he runs her off. Tamar is doomed to live a life of disgrace never to be married because of what her half-brother did to her. When Absalom finds out about this, he bides his time and then has Amnon murdered. Absalom flees for his life (2 Samuel 13:1-29). The family is never the same again. Absalom becomes his father’s enemy.

Beware of hidden agendas. Make wise choices when falsely accused.

Spiritual germination

Spiritual germination

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives. – John 12:24

John 12:24-26

 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives.

 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.

 26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.

Germination is an amazing paradox that is not yet fully comprehended by modern science. Plant seeds are like miniature survival packages. Each one contains enough food, nutrients, and instructions to burst into life and begin growing roots and a small plant. It then will break through the soil and sprout. This entire process is referred to as germination. To continue growth, it requires light, water, and nutrients found in growing location.

Before the seed is planted it is dormant, and for all appearances seemingly dead. By itself, the seed serves no function and it is practically speaking, useless. When it is planted everything changes. It truly dies and then becomes truly alive.

Spiritual germination is also a miracle. It is likewise an amazing paradox. Spiritual life and growth only comes by death. In order to bring redemption to the world, the Lord Jesus Christ had to die. But his death was not the end of the story. By the mighty power of the Father, Jesus was raised from the dead to live again. He offers salvation and eternal life to anyone who will take it. Life comes from death.

“Jesus used the image of a seed to illustrate the great spiritual truth that there can be no glory without suffering, no fruitful life without death, no victory without surrender” (Wiersbe). All of the Father’s children are His seeds. Each of us come with life within, the Father’s eternal life, and an instruction manual of sorts. New pages are added continually to the manual as we walk with Him.

REFLECT & PRAY

It is only when we die to our personal ambitions and goals, that we truly began to live for the Father.

Father how I long to fulfill Your dreams for my life. Encourage me to continually surrender my personal ambitions and goals in exchange for yours.

INSIGHT

As children of the King, to truly live and fulfill His dreams and ambitions for our lives we have to make an exchange. Dying to self is difficult and each of us struggle with it. This personal challenge is presented to each of the Father’s children.

“If a seed could talk, it would no doubt complain about being put into the cold, dark earth. But the only way it can achieve its goal is by being planted” (Wiersbe).

We have the option of choosing to remain alone, isolated, seemingly protected, and comfortable. But as such we are not producing the spiritual life that the Father intended for us. It is a decision that we have to choose for ourselves. Once we make the choice to die to ourselves, we must continue making it throughout our lives.

John 12:25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.

We are the Father’s seeds; He is the one who does the planting. Consider a story involving a very remote mission station. A group of outsiders went to visit to speak with the missionaries there. The conversation went like this:

“You certainly have buried yourself out here!” one of the visitors exclaimed.

“We haven’t buried ourselves,” the missionary replied. “We were planted!” (Wiersbe)

But there’s more. It is only when we make the choice to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, that we become servants of the Father and disciples.

John 12:26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.

While the statement “I serve at the pleasure of the President” has been used since the 1700s. The phrase “I serve at the pleasure of” was commonly used by people who served kings and other royal leaders. To serve the King was a great privilege.

How great is it to be a servant of the King of Kings?

How do we achieve the most in this life? The Lord Jesus Christ teaches very clearly that it is done by living sacrificially and dying to ourselves, rather than living for ourselves. Putting it either terms, a self-centered life is a life wasted. Whatever we gain is temporal and fleeting. But if we live a Father-centered life, we gain eternal value and worth. The Father will honor anyone who serves me (John 12:26). “People whose priorities are right have such an attitude of love for the things of God that all interest in the affairs of this life appear by comparison as hatred” (Constable).

The Root of Jesse

The Root of Jesse

A shoot will grow out of the stump of Jesse, his roots a Branch will bear fruit. – Isaiah 11:1

Jeremiah 23:5 I, the LORD, promise that a new time will certainly come when I will raise up for them a righteous branch, a descendant of David. He will rule over them with wisdom and understanding and will do what is just and right in the land.

Trees are broadly classified as deciduous trees and coniferous trees (conifers). The easiest way to identify whether a tree is deciduous or coniferous is by the shape and type of its leaves. Deciduous trees have leaves which are broad. Conifers have extremely narrow and, at times, overlapping leaves.

Coniferous trees when cut down, do not grow back from the stump. There may be offshoots in following years, but they will never be the same. When you cut down coniferous woods, the trees will only grow back from the seeds. When deciduous trees are cut down, new growth sprouts from the stump or root.

The Father is righteous and holy and promises judgment on Israel for its sin and Assyria for being the instrument of judgment that He uses. He promises restoration for the remnant of Israel. But there will be no restoration of Assyria whatsoever.

When the Assyrians devastated the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the destruction was likened to a forest of deciduous trees. They would regrow. But when the Lord was done with the Assyrians, they were lopped off completely. They were compared to coniferous trees that would never grow back. The lofty and proud kingdom of Assyria was toast.

Isaiah 10:33-34

 33 But look! The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power! He will cut down the proud. That lofty tree will be brought down.

 34 He will cut down the forest trees with an ax. Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One.

Isaiah 10:18-19

 18 The LORD will consume Assyria’s glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague.

 19 Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive – so few that a child could count them!

Isaiah sees far beyond the current trials and judgment of Israel to the coming glorious kingdom. The Father leaves a stump, a root of the house of Jesse behind. A root is an early ancestor within a family’s tree. Jesse’s children survive and become part of the remnant. From the house of Jesse will come David’s greatest son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 11:1–9).

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father keeps His promises.

Father there are times when it seems like I cannot get any lower than I am. Sadly I often wait until then, to call Out to You. But You are always faithful.

INSIGHT

The Assyrians did indeed capture the 10 Northern Tribes and take them into captivity. About 150 years later the two Southern Tribes were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. For 700 years, the people of nation of Israel were little more than stumps cut down by their oppressors. While they were living under yet another oppressor, the Roman Empire, the seemingly dead stump, gave birth to a tender shoot. What seemed absolutely impossible, happened. The righteous Branch of David was born in Bethlehem. He lived a righteous life and died for the sins of the world (John 3:16).

Isaiah and the rest of the Jewish prophets see far beyond the present difficulties of Israel and the worldwide dispersion to come. They see a day when the father’s promised glorious kingdom will be established. The Branch, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ will reign and do what is just and right

Jeremiah 23:5 I, the LORD, promise that a new time will certainly come when I will raise up for them a righteous branch, a descendant of David. He will rule over them with wisdom and understanding and will do what is just and right in the land.

The Father has kept alive the believing Jewish remnant. Through the remnant the Scriptures have come, and the Messiah has been born. One day a Jewish king will rule the planet Earth from Jerusalem sitting on the throne of David. That day will demonstrate that the Father has always been the ultimate moving force of history.

The Father’s methods may seem strange, even inexplicable. We who are the children of the King experience difficult times. It is as though we have been cut down to the ground and nothing is left but a seemingly useless, dead stump. When times are at their worst in our lives, and everything seems impossible, remember the promise that the Father made to the people of Israel concerning the Branch, the root of Jesse.

At any given moment, we can always invite the Lord Jesus Christ to sit on the throne of our hearts and let Him reign.

The Father has made great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). Could it be that He finds our goals and aspirations too limited? We seem to settle for so little, when He has marvelously offered us so much. Many people do not venture far from home. Others find the adventure of travel and going new places and meeting new people exciting. The Father has marvelously promised us that we can share His divine nature and escape the Earth’s corruption and limitations. In spite of all that he offers, do we still live as paupers?

2 Peter 1:4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

“Isaiah’s vision of God can stimulate in us such a longing that we stop settling . . .” (C.S. Lewis).

Revelation 5:5 Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome . . .

If you could ask the Father for anything what would it be?

If you could ask the Father for anything what would it be?

God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” – 2 Chronicles 1:7

Psalms 119:96-100

 96 Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

 97 Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.

 98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide.

 99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws.

 100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.

King Solomon, when he began his reign, had a personal conversation with the Father, the living God. “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” (2 Chronicles 1:7). It was almost as though he had found the mythical magic lamp and rubbed on it, and out popped the genie.

What would you ask for? Learn from Solomon.

2 Chronicles 1:7-10

 7 God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

10 Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”

When you have wisdom, many wonderful things follow and so it was Solomon.

2 Chronicles 1:11-12

 11 God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people–

 12 I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!”

What is Wisdom? People recognize wisdom whenever they encounter it. Wisdom is a bit of an oddity. It is a gift. The Father has given the gift of wisdom to many over the millennia. Yet at the same time, it is a skill that can be acquired and developed.

The Hebrew word translated wisdom is chokma. Chokma is basically “skill for living.” Wisdom includes both knowledge and the ability to make use of knowledge to the maximum benefit.

At one level, wisdom is the ability to see and comprehend from the Father’s perspective. How does the Father think? He has an extraordinary ability and comprehension of all things.

Wisdom permeates hearts and minds, curiosity and comprehension, discernment and shrewdness, and moral and practical application.

Wisdom is the special capability to understand, discern, and make intuitively exceptional decisions. Wisdom often penetrates the inner being of people, providing insight and comprehension of their inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations (John 2:24-25).

The Father’s wisdom is hidden from all but His children. He delights in making it known to all who seek Him.

REFLECT & PRAY

Psalms 51:6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and want me to possess wisdom.

Father, oh how I desire to be wise. Encourage me to spend time in your Word and grow in wisdom and make ever better decisions as I go through life.

INSIGHT

The best news is that even the naïve, slow, average, or ignorant can all become wise. He desires to make wise the simple (Psalms 19:7). Wisdom is available to all who seek it by exercising their mind and heart to learn, comprehend, and apply the Word of God. It begins with entering into a relationship with the living God.

King David was a perfect example of a person who acquired wisdom. I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. – Psalms 119:99

Where did David’s wisdom come from? Sheep do not make for great conversationalists and they have a very limited vocabulary. David spent hours upon hours alone with them. How did he use his time? He spent a great deal of time with the Father, reading and memorizing His words, meditating upon them. He cherished them and locked them in his heart forever.

Psalms 119:100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.

Other people might have thought that David was pretty smart. Perhaps he did have a superior intellect. But that was not the basis of his extraordinary talents and decision-making ability. He became wiser than all of his elders and teachers by spending time in the Word. David demonstrated time and time again his ability to integrate faith, knowledge, and experience with his deep understanding of the Word of God. He had extraordinary tolerance for the ambiguities and uncertainties of life. He more than managed life’s ups and downs for decades, he vanquished them.

Each child of God has an unlimited resource of knowledge and wisdom.

It is up to us to determine how we spend our time and how wise we become.

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand” (Albert Einstein).

OK Boomer

OK Boomer

Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:32

1 Timothy 5:1-2

 1 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers.

 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.

Thousands of videotape recordings were made of TV commercials from the 70s and 80s. Actress Dena Dietrich made many memorable 30-second ads (1971–79) for Chiffon Margarine. Playing the role of ‘Mother Nature’ dressed in a white gown and adorned with a crown of daisies. The ads show ‘Mother Nature’ sampling what she believes is butter, coming straight from nature. She comments on how wonderful it is. An unseen narrator (Mason Adams) informs her, “That’s Chiffon Margarine, not butter.”

Perplexed, she replies, “it would be impossible for it to be margarine because it tastes too much like real butter.” The narrator responds, “the margarine is indeed so close to real butter that it could fool even ‘Mother Nature.’”

Dietrich angrily responds, “It’s not nice to fool ‘Mother Nature!’” She commands nature to act out and bad things happen.

Disrespect for authority can have major negative consequences.

The New York Times has written that, ‘‘OK Boomer’ marks the end of friendly generational relations. Their assessment is about 2800 years too late. But we’ll get to that later

“OK Boomer” is more than a flippant retort. It has become the unofficial rallying cry of resentment of Generation Z against Boomers. The Gen Z folks see a society in crisis that they are not responsible for and are fighting back. They fear seemingly irreversible global catastrophe that looms on the horizon. Somebody is to blame! It’s the Boomers!

The Generation Z folks are “woke.” The Boomers and others with a similar mindset, are “un-woke.”

A fast rundown on the generations since world war II: Generation Z late 1990s – 2010s, Millennials 1980 – late 1990s, Generation X 1965-1979, and Boomer 1946 – 1965.

But disrespect for earlier generations is nothing new. It is almost a time-honored practice going back thousands of years. As a matter of fact, Boomers felt the same way about those that preceded them. They rebelled against their parents. And what exactly had their parents done? Their parents survived the depression and won World War II. Had the greatest generation lost the war, we might all be speaking German or Japanese.

But also Boomers rebelled against the “Establishment” and the “Military Industrial Complex.” They gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement and helped end the Vietnam War.

Existential fear for the survival of planet Earth is nothing new. Boomers lived in fear of nuclear destruction and the end of the world. They built in-home bomb shelters and had frequent public-school bomb drills.

But not all of the Boomers’ “achievements” were considered stellar at the time. They issued in rock ‘n’ roll, disco music, Woodstock, flower children, hippies, the drug culture, and many now almost forgotten singing groups like the Beatles and the Doors.

Young people often see things with a keener eye. There’s lots of unfinished business that cannot be papered over or ignored. But utter disrespect and disdain for elders brings matters to a whole new level.

REFLECT & PRAY

Respect shows esteem, deference, or appreciation for others to whom it is due. Respect is freely granted by the Father’s children. It does not have to be earned.

Father thank You that You have provided guidelines regarding respect for those who have preceded us. Encourage us to follow the Scriptures and not the culture.

INSIGHT

The Scriptures set a standard for the Father’s children to honor and respect their elders. But as I mentioned earlier, disrespect for authority can have disastrous consequences.

It’s about 850 BC. Elijah the prophet had an encounter of the third kind. He had been miraculously taken to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha his protégé, had taken his place as one of the Father’s prophets. He was now prophet in charge .

Elisha was on his way to Bethel. Apparently, there was a group of young ruffians out looking for trouble. Perhaps much like a modern street gang. They were probably armed with knives and swords. Perhaps for fun it was their practice to pick on people, possibly mug them or worse.

Regrettably for them, on this day, they singled out the wrong man. Thinking of course there was not much he could do about it; they began to sneeringly mock him. They made fun of his baldness.

2 Kings 2:23-24

 23 Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of youths from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!”

 24 Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. 

To modern ears, the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. Mocking elders is never a good idea. But mocking elders that are the Father’s servants and have the power to bless and curse is a far worse idea. Disrespecting the Father’s prophets, shows disrespect for the Father Himself.

The gang had crossed a line. They had dissed the wrong guy. Elisha pronounced a curse upon them in the name of the Lord. Two bears appeared and 42 of them were mauled, but not killed. Their scars would be a constant reminder of their insolence and contempt for the living God and His servant.

It is doubtful, Elisha was taunted or ridiculed again.

2 Chronicles 36:16 But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the LORD’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.

Analysis paralysis

Analysis paralysis

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. – Psalms 1:1

Hebrews 11:24-27

 24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.

 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.

 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.

Analysis paralysis occurs when an individual or group over analyze or over think a decision or situation that causes the decision-making process to become “paralyzed.” As a result, no solution or course of action is decided upon.

The Cat and the Fox (Aesop’s fables)

A cat and a fox were walking and talking with each other. The Fox boasted he had lots of ways of escaping a pack of dogs. The cat on the other side so good for you. But I only know one way to escape dogs, climb a tree.

One day they were both attacked by a pack of dogs thoughts ran here and there but eventually was caught and killed. The cat on the other hand climbed a tree and was perfectly safe. The moral of the story is it is better to have one good plan that works than a bunch which are works in progress and fail.

How do the Father’s children make wise decisions and avoid analysis paralysis? Wouldn’t be nice if it was always the simple?

Isaiah 30:21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.

The Father always has a plan. As His children, we seek to pray His plan into existence. It begins with knowledge of the word of God, trust, prayer, and a desire to see His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Joshua 1:8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Psalms 1:1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.

Sometimes the Father’s instructions don’t make a lot of human sense. But in fact, He already knows what’s going to happen before it does, and He calls us to participate in His plan. He wants us to pray and seek that the Father’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Joshua 6:2 I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.

The Father knew the end from the beginning. He provided Joshua with explicit instructions. But on the surface, they seemed nonsensical. The fighting men and priests of Israel were to walk around the city of Jericho for six days in a row carrying the Ark of the covenant. On the seventh day, they were to walk around the city seven times and then shout. That was the plan! Really?

The Lord promised that on the seventh day, at the sound of the trumpet the walls would collapse. And so, they did (Joshua 6).

Think about Moses and the children of Israel at the Red Sea. They were trapped and doomed to certain death (Exodus 14). But the Father mmiraculously opened the sea and they escaped alive, while their enemies drowned. Consider the destruction of the Assyrian army. A total of 185,000 soldiers, and surrounded Jerusalem and were about to attack. Miraculously they were all slain in the night (Isaiah 37).

The formula seems quite simple: depend upon the Father, seek His help, then a miracle occurs. Our daily and lifelong guidance may not require miracles of this magnitude. But depending upon the Father and seeking His help are mandatory.

REFLECT & PRAY

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil (Proverbs 3:7). Seek trusted, wise counsel from godly children of the King. It is far better than trusting your own.

Father thank You that You are trustworthy and desire me to depend upon You for making decisions, big and small. Encourage me to pray Your will into existence on earth as it is in heaven. Help me not to be overwhelmed or discouraged by the difficult, or even seemingly impossible situations in which I find myself.

INSIGHT

Being fallen people in a fallen world, we will probably never make perfect decisions. But we need to seek to make the very best decisions that we can.

Critically consider and evaluate the comments of President Theodore Roosevelt, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Of course, the best thing to do is the right thing. But what about Roosevelt’s second-best choice or what he considered the worse? I don’t think this is very good advice.

We can glean some wisdom from principles that fallen people in our fallen world have laid out. It is up to us to take what is useful and applicable and discard the rest

Where to begin? Define long-term goals for yourself, along with a few short-term goals. How do you see your life in the years to come? Do you seek to develop an ever-closer relationship with the Father? Do you aspire to become strong in your spirit?

How will the decision you make now impact those goals? Will the outcome of your decision be a step towards or away from your objective? Every choice has its pros and cons. Short-term decisions should move you towards your ultimate objectives. Our lifelong journey moves forward one step at a time. Plan on taking iterative steps, not quantum leaps.

There are a few more questions to consider that may prove to be helpful. How important is this decision? Will this impact me a year from now? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Set aside sufficient time to ponder and to liberate. Be sure to seek the Father’s face. Decisions with long-term consequences, may require weeks or months.

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you cannot understand at the time (Oswald Chambers).

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