Good Angel, Bad Angel?
Life is full of choices; everyone is familiar with the expression “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other.” The devil represents temptation, while the angel represents conscience. We can all choose between doing what is right and doing what is wrong. Do we take the easier, more tempting and exciting path and accept the consequences, or do we choose the more difficult, less traveled path and avoid the consequences? It can be difficult to tell the difference at times, but if you read God’s Word the answers will become clear.
Solomon, son of David, King of Israel, animates right and wrong as two different women in Proverbs 8 and 9: Wisdom and Folly.
Wisdom says, “Listen to my instructions and be wise, don’t ignore it. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:33, 35 NLT).
Folly “calls out to men passing by who are minding their own business. ‘Come in with me,’ she urges… ‘Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret, tastes the best!” (Proverbs 8:15-17)
Verse 18 even boasts that those who listen to Folly are as good as dead.
According to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, folly is thoughtless action resulting in tragic consequences and wisdom is the soundness of an action or decision regarding the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
When I was a teenager, I listened to Folly far too often. Wisdom was shouting at me, pleading with me to listen. However, I didn’t care about the consequences at the time, I just wanted to have a good time! My friends stole things from almost every store we entered. They seemed to enjoy stealing and got some great things. I knew it was wrong to steal, so I resisted the urge. However, when my friends pressured me, I started stealing right along with them.
One day, I made a bad decision that nearly landed me and my little sister in serious trouble! I attempted to steal some snacks from a small convenience store. When we tried to leave, the cashier stopped me and said she had been watching me and knew I had things in my pockets. She threatened to call the police unless I emptied my pockets. I was terrified and didn’t want to get in any trouble, and I especially didn’t want my younger sister to get in trouble because of my poor decision, so I did as she asked. Fortunately, the cashier let us leave without repercussions. That day I learned a life lesson I will never forget!
As Solomon described in his parables from the book of Proverbs, we must pay attention and listen to Wisdom and do what we know is right. And we must steer clear of Folly’s schemes and avoid being tricked by her deception.
I encourage you to read through the book of Proverbs. It is rich in wisdom and instruction and helps you recognize and discern folly more clearly.
Father, please help us to take the time and listen to the truth of Your wisdom and say no to folly, no matter how strong the temptation. We want to do right by You and inherit Your love and favor.
How to Rejoice in the Good and Bad
By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV)
Storms on the prairie are breathtaking. The wind roars and swirls the grass. Clouds turn dark gray as they roll in like waves. Lightening sparkles in the sky and strikes the ground. But prior to the storm’s arrival, the weather conditions shift. The temperature drops, the humidity increases, and the sky transitions from brilliant blue to ominous gray. We see the storm coming and prepare for it. We tie down outside furniture and tuck our potted plants in the garage, and then we wait.
Sometimes we see storms on the horizon of our life. It might be a sense of unease about a situation or be fissures in a once close relationship. We tuck our hopes and dreams into a pocket in our hearts and prepare for the worst. Not everything in life will be sunshine and blue skies, but when we rejoice in both the happy and the sad times, we grow in our walk with Christ.
We don’t rejoice in God because of what he can do for us, we rejoice because of who he is. The book of Habakkuk reminds us to rejoice even when we experience desolation. Habakkuk knew God through a personal relationship, and so can we. We can get to know God and believe that he is good and can work out all things for his glory. God doesn’t need to prove himself to us in exchange for our allegiance and faithfulness. He calls us to himself because he is love. His love for us draws us, and as we draw near, we know him. When we know him, we can rejoice in him, even in the storms.
The Israelites needed Habakkuk’s encouragement to choose rejoicing even though they faced invasion by the Chaldeans. God’s people followed an unhealthy cycle of crying out to God, recommitting themselves to him, and then returning to idol worship. Each time they rejected God, another people group took them captive, but God continued to rescue them. During Habakkuk’s time, the people could see the storm on the horizon, and yet, they were called to rejoice through the invasion, destruction, and captivity.
Those who live by faith in God will be victorious. Living a victorious life doesn’t mean a life without suffering and pain. Victory means that God is with us, and rejoicing reminds us of who he is. Rejoicing helps us take God at his word because he is sovereign, good, and kind. It’s remembering that he keeps his promises and that he draws near the brokenhearted. Rather than fretting, we can rejoice.
We find joy because of what Jesus Christ has already accomplished for us and in his unchanging Word. We can know this kind of joy when we remain in a growing, personal relationship with him, obeying him, loving others, and being set apart from the evil in the world. This type of joy makes rejoicing possible when the storms overtake us and bring devastation. Rejoicing happens not because of where we are and what we experience but because of who holds our lives.
Streams in the Desert – September 10
- 202210 Sep
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me (Ps. 138:8).
There is a Divine mystery in suffering, a strange and supernatural power in it, which has never been fathomed by the human reason. There never has been known great saintliness of soul which did not pass through great suffering. When the suffering soul reaches a calm sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering, and does not even ask God to deliver it from suffering, then it has wrought its blessed ministry; then patience has its perfect work; then the crucifixion begins to weave itself into a crown.
It is in this state of the perfection of suffering that the Holy Spirit works many marvelous things in our souls. In such a condition, our whole being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every faculty of the mind and will and heart are at last subdued; a quietness of eternity settles down into the whole being; the tongue grows still, and has but few words to say; it stops asking God questions; it stops crying, “Why hast thou forsaken me ?”
The imagination stops building air castles, or running off on foolish lines; the reason is tame and gentle; the choices are annihilated; it has no choice in anything but the purpose of God. The affections are weaned from all creatures and all things; it is so dead that nothing can hurt it, nothing can offend it, nothing can hinder it, nothing can get in its way; for, let the circumstances be what they may, it seeks only for God and His will, and it feels assured that God is making everything in the universe, good or bad, past or present, work together for its good.
Oh, the blessedness of being absolutely conquered! of losing our own strength, and wisdom, and plans, and desires, and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus.
Bake Some Bread!
Julia Prins Vanderveen, Today Devotions
SCRIPTURE READING — GENESIS 18:1-8
“Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
Part of me has to laugh when I read Abraham’s urgent instructions: “Quick . . . bake some bread.” Baking bread from scratch is not something you can do quickly! It requires careful work and time.
But hospitality required that Abraham and Sarah’s visitors should have bread and choice meat and curds and milk prepared. So, whatever time it took to prepare all that, it was worth the work and the wait to provide a hospitable, generous environment for their guests.
Hospitality was central to the culture of that time, and it demonstrated God’s purpose for relationships. When people break bread together, something important happens. People who eat together develop a deeper understanding of each other.
Sadly, in our North American culture today, we’re often in such a hurry that we don’t take the time to really extend hospitality to each other. Yet the Bible often depicts the kingdom of God as a hospitable, even extravagant feast.
In our lives today, could we learn from our neighbors in other cultures about what it means to be hospitable? Could we make room for each other in a patient, generous way—even using the finest ingredients—so that our gatherings echo a biblical vision of hospitality?
Jesus, you promise to gather us at a great banquet. May that extravagant vision of breaking bread with you inspire us to spread a generous table for others who might even be your messengers (Hebrews 13:2). Amen