Our Circle of Friends Should Spur Not Spurn Others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Circle of Friends Should Spur Not Spurn Others

And let us…spur one another on to love and good deeds, and let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another… Hebrew 10:24-25

In the hustle and bustle of life, we may discover, if we take the time, there is at least one person that is hanging around our circle of friends who is looking to be asked to join you and your friends. 

Why? Maybe, they feel left out or are merely curious, or even a bit jealous. Either way, they do not know what they must do to join you and your circle of friends. 

Could it be you never took notice and extended an invitation?

What motivates people to want to join your circle of friends? 

It could be pride: They desire to have what you and your circle of friends possess because they do not have it.

It could be fear: They are afraid they could be wrong about you and your circle of friends. 

It could be ignorance: They simply do not know why they want to join but feel drawn to know more about you and your circle of friends. 

Whatever their motivation, should it matter? 

The fact is they have a need ripe to be spurred on and encouraged. Inviting them regardless of their motivation provides the opportunity for them to discover that your relationship with God makes your circle of friends so inviting. They will realize sooner or later that it has nothing to do with anything you and your friends have but what you share. In the end, it should never be because of who we think we are but who we represent.

Therefore our motivation for offering the hand of friendship should never be based upon what will be in our best interest, but for the one seeking our friendship. God providentially grows our circle of friends as we unselfishly connect with others and then spur and encourage one another. Fellowship and friendship are gifts we receive from others and are necessities to our social well-being in this life.

Remember what Jesus is quoted as saying on the matter. How different our society might become if more of us walked each day with this message on their heart.

“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give [mercy and forgiveness], and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:27-38

How inclusive is your circle of friends? Have you offered genuine invitations to others? Do you extend the hand of friendship with sincerity? Does your attitude toward others reflect the same mercy and forgiveness that others have extended to you?

Our daily walk was never intended to be a lonely, lifelong sojourn. Fellowship and friendship offer an eternal connection found in the many “one another” encounters we experience each day.

Remember this final point, we are not responsible for the actions and attitudes of others unless we are the cause. How would you define your circle of friends?

Never instigate a fight with others to be right, rather fight to do right before others.

Coach

Values shared in T. M. Brown’s Shiloh Mystery Series. Follow the link to learn more how entertaining stories can instill encouraging messages to ponder.

Wise Man, Mad Man, or Fool

 

 

Wise Man, Mad Man, or Fool

Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the man be like who comes after the king? He will do what has already been done. And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.

Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both. So I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will also happen to me. Why then have I been overly wise?” And I said to myself that this is also futile. For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man, since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise man dies just like the fool? Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Eccl 2:12-17 (HCSB)

The difference between the wise man, the mad man, and the fool is this: If all are at a busy crossing on a street corner–

    1. The wise man will wait and look both ways before proceeding across the street, making certain there is no traffic;
    2. The mad man will look but will begin walking across even though he sees traffic, but in his estimation, he can make it across before getting hit;
    3. The fool, well, he starts walking assuming no one will hit him, and never bothers to look if it is safe or not.

Which of the three will likely live longer and avoid injury? Which will avoid death altogether?

The answer is clear, the wise man may outlive the other two, and the mad man likely will outlive the fool, but all have the same destiny–death!

If all three share the same fate, is there any logic that concludes why not live like the fool or the mad man, and ignore the light (clarity) that God’s gift of wisdom offers us?

Consider there are many people in this world that you may know who live like the mad man or fool. They walk a riskier path, always seem in a hurry, throwing caution to the wind. They seem to believe they are invincible, but sooner rather than later, they discover after it is too late that such a lifestyle presents risks that eventually includes hazardous consequences.

Does Life Require Some Risk?

However, is it not true, life without some risk prevents a man from exploring new horizons?

If wisdom is so good for us, then why do so many people opt not to apply it to their lives?

Why do so many walk away from the pursuit of it?

Why do some people embrace the thrill of living on the edge of danger? Is it madness or folly?

On the other hand, does God desire us to live a totally safe and cautious lifestyle?

I believe the Bible states otherwise. One can be wise yet still walk boldly and confidently in the face of danger if it is for the right purpose.

When we walk in the light of God’s will, ways, and wisdom, we realize there is a mission we have deep inside of us to make a difference in this lifetime. Sometimes that mission will undoubtedly place our lives at risk, but we are never alone to face the danger. When we are attuned to the Lord’s direction in our life, his presence is ever-present in the valley of the shadow of death, and we can feel his presence when we face our enemies (fears). The Lord’s presence will always calm our fears, comfort our soul, and guide our steps as we pursue our God-sanctioned mission in life. There lies the difference between a wise man and the mad man or the fool.

The Teacher in Ecclesiastes saw the folly in it all. He argued over and over, in the end, we all face the same inevitable fate–death. However, when we walk in concert with God’s will, ways and wisdom, death becomes merely a predestined portal to something much greater. The wise man approaches each crossroad assessing his course of action in the light of his mission in life. The mad man and fool only stumble through life unclear about their mission in life and thus rush off the street curb with reckless abandon only to cross to the other side.

Which course you pursue matters…

What about you, are you challenging the wind, chasing the wind, or are you being capturing the wind? Three sailing ships with similar rigging head out into the ocean. One is determined to navigate headlong into the wind, determined to challenge the wind. The second ship decides to chase after the wind no matter where it ultimately takes him, determined only to go fastest. The third steers a course that captures the wind and adjusts his course to make headway toward the ultimate destination that all three ships desired. Which will flounder? Which ends up chasing the wind without considering the ultimate destination?

Coach

Many of the Coach devotional messages appear in T. M. Brown’s Shiloh Mystery Novels. Visit TMBrownAuthor.com to order your copies and follow the exploits of Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy, as they get drawn into dark secrets and scandals and solving mysteries that only lil’ ol’ Shiloh can muster.

Understanding the Psalms, Proverbs and Parables – The Source of Godly Wisdom

Book-of-Proverbs-Revised

 

Understanding the Psalms, Proverbs, and Parables – The Source of Godly Wisdom

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: For learning what wisdom and discipline are; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving wise instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man— a wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance— for understanding a proverb or a parable, the words of the wise, and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:1-7 HCSB

Reading the psalms, proverbs, and parables found throughout the Bible is highly recommended for a daily study of God’s Word. So many common sense truths reside in them. Yet, beyond what is deemed as common sense, one discovers the spiritual connection within each of us that instinctively links truth with living rightly before God. However, how many of us take the time to truly explore the depth and breadth of wisdom found amongst the Bible’s proverbs and parables. Even Jesus referred frequently to the psalms and proverbs to justify His teachings. His parables are a legendary part of his tradition of speaking truths in riddles and proverbial truths. So what is the value of psalms, proverbs, and parables?

for receiving wise instruction [in] righteousness, justice, and integrity – In other words: they help us to become more receptive to gaining godly wisdom within the Bible, which guides us in living our daily lives in ways that please God. They offer evidence of what is the truth and how to apply it in our relationships with others, in a manner pleasing God. In essence, it helps us to live our lives according to the perfect, pleasing and good will of God.

for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced – The words of wisdom found in the psalms, proverbs, and parables help us to walk more confidently through life as a child of God. In circumstances when we lack the practical experience to deal rightly with life issues, the Bible provides the godly advice we need to choose wisely the right course of action. Shrewdness or astuteness comes with experience unless a wise mentor steps forward offering advice. However, in the absence of a mentor, the psalms, proverbs, and parables offer the shrewd counsel to help you to handle daily situations and relationships with sound judgment.

for teaching knowledge and discretion to a young man – A teacher’s goal with any student is to become obsolete, ergo every worthy teacher desires to become obsolete because their pupil has learned how to learn for themselves, thus eliminating the need of the teacher – the foremost goal of education or knowledge one can achieve. Once one has increased in knowledge, discretion defines the proper use of knowledge to navigate life’s situations and relationships.

a wise man will listen and increase his learning – This is the test that one has grown in his or her spiritual maturity: the ongoing pursuit of knowledge and the understanding. A spiritually wise man or woman acknowledges their responsibility to pass-on understanding and knowledge with others. Yet, wisdom also reveals to a godly person, no matter how much we have learned, we will never know it all! In fact, the more we learn, the more we realize there is more to understand and learn! Only God is omniscient, or all-knowing! Wisdom is but a journey, not a destination.

and, a discerning man will obtain guidance – A wise person never attempts to walk through life alone. He or she realizes more than anyone that God provides signposts and mentors for us to seek out and acknowledge for our own good. Only an ignorant person, or a fool, walks through life eyes-closed and stumbles and falls at every twist and turn throughout life’s journey. A wise man is a discerning man, choosing his or her way without haste but with confidence.

It is for this reason the passage concludes with this statement of truth: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. This “fear” is not fright or horror but in the sense of reverence and honor. It is the fear that we would miss out on knowing and understanding how much the Lord loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. It is the fear of never knowing the truth and not receiving the blessings that come from living truthfully before the Lord, seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom.

How about you? Have you made the investment in seeking to learn by investing time each day in the psalms, proverbs, and parables, seeking a fresh “aha” moment of truth and understanding? Remember, the first step of wisdom is the fear of never knowing God and His love.

Coach

He (Jesus) would speak the word to them with many parables like these, as they were able to understand. And He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, He would explain everything to His own disciples. Mark 4:33-34 (HCSB)

What did the Lord want His disciples to learn by teaching them in parables? The closer you are to the Lord, the clearer the parables and proverbs become to you.

NOTE: For more information about how I transformed psalms, proverbs, and parables into entertaining fictional stories filled with truths about life’s challenges and choices please visit TMBrownAuthor.com.

Sanctuary Resides at the End of the Story

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary Resides at the End of the Story

In Chapter 21 of the Book of Revelation, God defines a Sanctuary.

The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone; the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each gate made of a single pearl. The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I did not see a sanctuary in it because the Lord God the Almighty is its sanctuary. 

What defines a sanctuary? Is it what people take pride in – their wealth in gold and precious stones? However, God declares such things will be nothing more than building materials where he resides? The most valuable thing will be who not what is revered. There the Lord’s light surrounds those who seek sanctuary in him (a clear metaphor for the revelation of wisdom and truth).

Where do you invest your hope in life? Where do you invest your time and energy? Your retirement portfolio might be the envy of your peers, but what good is your grand portfolio at the end of your days?

Unlike Disney and Universal Studios where fantasies are promised to come true, there is a cost to enter their gates. However, God’s sanctuary requires only an affirming, sincere smile to enter and discover God’s invaluable, immeasurable grace.

What is the focus of your life? What relationships are more important, financial or spiritual ones? Remember, Jesus declared, You cannot serve God and money equally? One will influence your interest in the other.

Coach

This message rests within the pages of Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories. Discover how the notion of Sanctuary galvanized the folks in lil’ ol’ Shiloh after Theo Phillips arrives in town and sheds light upon the dark secrets, scandal, and tragedy for all to confront. TMBrownAuthor.com 

 TMBrownAuthor.com

The Pursuit of Wisdom

The Pursuit of Wisdom
The pursuit of Wisdom is a most worthy and desirable journey. These facts remain true about the pursuit of it.
 
There will always be those wiser than ourselves. Conversely, this should become true too, others will see us as wise to them.
 
Wisdom is the application of goodness, righteousness, and justice, ergo godliness, in all choices of life.
 
Wisdom can never be fully reached in one’s lifetime, but its pursuit remains a worthy destination. The further one travels acquiring and understanding it, one’s relationship with God grows.
 
Wisdom defines one’s spiritual maturity.
 
Sadly, each of us recognizes wisdom residing in others long before we recognize it in ourselves.
 
I believe before one can truly attain wisdom one must grasp the dichotomies in the possible consequences for choices we make in life: Goodness against evil. Righteousness opposed to wickedness. Justice in contrast to injustice.
 
Yes, my younger friends, the pursuit of wisdom is a most worthy goal in life, and as you likely have recognized some degree of wisdom in others, others will look up to you as you look to your far wiser friends.
 
Wisdom should be a cherished destination in one’s life; the pursuit reveals God. The further you progress along the way of wisdom fading regrets will lose their grasp; any notions of retreat dissipate; all reserve left behind.
 
Again, no one attains wisdom, but the pursuit makes you wiser. Embrace the quest it takes you for the rest of your life.
 
Coach
After many years studying God’s Word, I wrote my Shiloh novels about a time-lost South Georgia town with colorful, realistic characters dealing with choices and consequences in life, and the response of others to our choices. I pray my grandchildren will eventually grasp the lessons that reside in the stories and become wiser as a result, and hopefully long before I discovered the value of wisdom in one’s life.
If you choose to read any of my inspirational Southern mysteries, please let me know what lessons you found within the twists and turns between the covers of each story.
Southern Fiction with a message.

Light Never Forgets the Dark Days

Ecclesiastes 11 7Light Never Forgets the Dark Days

Light is sweet, and it is pleasing for the eyes to see the sun. For if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, since they will be many. All that comes is futile. Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sights of your eyes; but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment. Remove sorrow from your heart and put away pain from your flesh, because youth and the prime of life are fleeting. Eccl 11:7-10 (HCSB)

Darkness by definition is the absence of light. Absolute darkness leaves no reference points to stumble around. In total darkness, only fear exists. Fear reigns because we do not know what the next step will bring. Future hope as a destination does not exist to focus our eyes.

In our darkest days there is only desolation and desperation. Yet, even in the darkest days, God provides us with sufficient light to find our way. His love is so great that even when we cower in the darkness, he seeks to draw us toward his gift of light. However, as the passage reveals, our fears of the light reveal the state of our lives. Light reveals truth. Though truth sets us free, it also reveals the shortcomings of our life.

Light is relative. In God’s presence there is absolute light; no darkness exists. In God’s presence man risks entering the “shekinah” glory of God – God’s light of truth.It not only reveals but also cleanses away what is not pure. Man must be exposed to God’s radiant light to purify him, dispelling all remnants of darkness. However, our memory of those dark days draws us closer to the light!

Hope, faith and love thrive in the light, whereas fear, desolation, and desperation rooted in darkness are cast away. From isolation and separation we discover fellowship and lordship. In pure light, we focus upon the “good” and discover the “truth.” Both are a gift of God as we leave behind the dark days, and pursue the light.

One final thought, once we value light, we become light to those left in the darkness. It is for this purpose God drawed us out of the darkness. His radiant light is meant to be shared, never hoarded as if given exclusively. It is a gift to share and is inexhaustible sharing with others.

Coach

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

My Shiloh stories contain these themes in both Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories and Testament, An Unexpected Return.

For Southern Fiction with a message, may I suggest.

The Wonder of God’s Love

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Wonder of God’s Love

Love is patient; love is kind; love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things; hopes in all things; endures all things. Love never ends… Now, these three things remain faith, hope, love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

Love desires to be free and separated from all worldly attachments so that its inward sight will not be obstructed and it will not be entangled by any temporal prosperity or conquered by any adversity. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing more courageous, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth, for love is of God and can rest only in God, who is above all created things.

Those who love, fly, run and rejoice – are free and cannot be restrained. Those who love give all and have all in all because they rest in the one who is highest above and, from all good comes. Those who love do not esteem gifts but turn themselves above all things to the giver.

Love knows no limit and is fervent beyond measure. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, does not complain about impossibility, for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.

Love is able to undertake all things and complete many of them and cause them to take effect – where the person who does not love would faint and give up.

Love is watchful and alert even when it is dormant. When weary it is not tired, when pressured it is not stressed, when alarmed it is not confused, but like a living flame and burning torch it forces its way upward and securely passes through everything.

Anyone who loves knows the cry of the voice. For the ardent affection of the soul is a loud cry in the ears of God when it says, “My God, my love, you are all mine and I am all yours.!”

For-in-whatever

Love is swift, sincere, affectionate, pleasant, amiable, courageous, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and never seeks its own. For in whatever circumstances when we seek ourselves (our own interests) there we fall from love.

Love is circumspect, humble and upright. It does not give in easily, act frivolous, or pay attention to meaningless things, but it is sober, chaste, steady, quiet, and guard all its senses.

Love submits to its superiors and obeys them, but is unkind and contemptuous toward itself. It is devoted and thankful to God, and trusts and hopes always in Him – even when God does not impart sweetness to it, for without sorrow no one lives in love.

Those who are not prepared to suffer all things, and to submit to the will of their beloved are not worthy to be called lovers of God. A lover should willingly embrace all that is hard and distasteful for the sake of God, and not turn away from Him because of adversities.

My daily prayer: Lord God, my Savior, my Salvation, my Strength, the Spirit of Truth and Life that dwells within me, I humbly come before you to share that I love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am completely yours, and I believe in my heart you love me, and nothing else in this life I live matters otherwise. I pray likewise that I am able to love others, beginning in my family with the kind of love that you exemplify within me, so that they may discover your love for themselves and surrender their lives to you as well. Thank you, my Lord and Savior, my Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of love that defines what love truly is: Yourself for me so that I can share that love with you. You are truly an awesome God, you are my God, and if all other things in my life were lost, I know your love will remain.

Lord, as Thomas a’ Kempis prayed, so do I pray these words and thoughts to you as well: Increase my love so that with the inward mouth of my heart, I may taste how sweet it is to love, to meet and bathe myself in your love. Let love possess me so that I rise up above myself in exceeding fervor and admiration. Let me sing the song of love; let my soul lose itself in your praise, rejoicing in love. Let me love you more than myself and not love myself but for your sake, and in you let me love all those who truly love you as the law of love that shines out you’re your commands. Amen

For additional reading: Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 10:33; Mark 12:30

Receive the Light But Never Forget the Dark Days

Light is sweet, and it is pleasing for the eyes to see the sun. For if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, since they will be many. All that comes is futile. Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sights of your eyes, but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment. Remove sorrow from your heart, and put away pain from your flesh, because youth and the prime of life are fleeting. Eccl 11:7-10 (HCSB)

Receive the Light But Never Forget the Dark Days

Darkness, by definition, is the absence of light. Absolute darkness leaves you without any reference points to stumble and bumble your way around. In the darkness, fear reigns supreme. We fear what the next step will bring. What future hope does a destination hold that we cannot identify? In the darkest days of our lives, despair, desolation, and desperation have dominion. However, even in the darkest days, God provides sufficient light to find our way. His love is so great that even when we try to hide in the darkest abyss, he reveals his light.

Any fear we hold of the light is because of the truth it may expose about our lives. Light is the truth, and though the truth may set you free, it also highlights the shortfalls and flaws of our life.

In God’s presence, there resides pure light. Thus no darkness exists. Thus every person is at dire risk when we stand exposed to the “Shekinah” glory of God – the perfect light emanating from God’s presence.

Light not only reveals, but it also purifies all that is not as pure as the light. Humanity must be exposed to the light progressively to expose and to be cleansed to leave the darkness totally behind.

It is our memory of the dark days that draws us to the light! Hope, faith, and love abound in the light, whereas fear, despair, desolation, and desperation are left behind as we walk away from the darkness of our past into the newness of the light. From out of the shadows, we leave behind isolation and separation and discover a desire for fellowship in our lives. In the light, we can always focus clearly on any number of destinations which will make us better. We will find along our journey in the light; our present outshines our past. We discover the truth that light reveals, and we thus become “wiser” with each step we take. When we leave behind even the memories of our dark days and seek after the light, we cherish our younger, more innocent days all the more as we enter into the prime of our life.

One final thought, once we have understood the value of the light, we are to share God’s gift with others. We have become God’s chosen harbingers of the truth of his light to others still residing in the shadows. We should not forget, by the light passed on by others we found our way out from the darkness. The light never to be hoarded as if it is ours exclusively. We have been given the light as a gift to share, and it will never be exhausted by sharing it with others.

Coach

Words of Wisdom #254-38EC

www.coachbrown.org