Working Towards Wisdom

2 Chronicles 1-2 and Proverbs 31

It was 10 o’clock. The air was heavy with humidity and filled with the familiar sound of girls giggling from the top bunks of the cabin. Crickets buzzed. Floorboards creaked. The busyness of the day was finally settling down. I slid into my freshly washed sheets and laid down on my lumpy plastic mattress with a smile. It was so good to be home. After a long two years, we were finally back at our beloved Family Camp. 

“Hey, Casey?” One of my cabin daughters called.

“Yes?”

“Can we borrow your AirPods? We want to watch a movie together.” 

We’d barely arrived and I already felt my preachy-cabin-mom instincts kicking into gear. Here we go. “Girls, girls, girls! That would defeat the whole point and the beauty of family camp! This is meant to be a week of IMMERSION. A detox from all the outside junk of the world. I used to love the feeling when I was young, before we even had the capability of having technology in the cabin, that I was on an entirely different planet when I was at camp. No TV. No news. No music that wasn’t worship. When I’d get in the car after camp and finally hear a radio station playing secular music, it’d be like, ‘Whoa! Oh yeah! I forgot everyone else on the outside was still doing this!’ It was a great escape from everything that distracted me from focusing on my faith and my relationship with God. For a couple years after I first got a smart phone I thought, “Hey, this will be cool. I can fall asleep listening to TV at camp now.’ But then I realized I was robbing myself of that high I used to get. And its SUCH an amazing feeling that I don’t want you girls to miss out on it either. Cut all of that stuff out and give yourself a break. You’ll feel renewed!” 

Fortunately, my cabin girls are super awesome and wise (or perhaps they just wanted me to stop preaching at them) and didn’t push back at all. We went on to have an amazing week, cut off from the world, and I was delighted to return home with that blissful Family Camp high. 

Then… Saturday came. Life was returning to normal and we were back into the routine of things. The TV was on, my browser tabs were multiplying, and social media was overtaking my thoughts. I felt my fire simmering down to coals.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I needed Cabin-Mom-Casey to give Every-Day-Casey a loving lecture. “Your fire is burning out because you’re not fanning it! Why do you limit yourself by only cutting out worldly things and focusing on God that one week a year?! What can you limit and cut out right now today and everyday?”  

The daily Bible readings for today are 2 Chronicles 1-2 (on the wisdom of Solomon) and Proverbs 31 (on the virtuous woman). As so often happens, I think God gives us the right passages when we need them most. So how do these verses apply to my current conundrum? 

In 2 Chronicles, we see Solomon didn’t ask for wealth or riches, but for something much greater… wisdom. That wisdom in turn brought on all the desires of his heart. But he had to actually implement that wisdom. I feel God provided me with the teaching, knowledge and  experience to know what I need to do in order to keep my fire burning, but I need the wisdom to actually make those right decisions. 

In Proverbs 31 we read the long and daunting list of the ideal woman. It’s a popular and somewhat intimidating chapter. The virtuous woman makes her own clothes? And does all the cooking? And brings food from afar? And gets up when it’s still night time?! How does she have the time?? I occasionally ponder on this before getting distracted by the interesting part of my current Netflix show… and wait, someone just messaged me on Facebook… I’ll think more on it when I finish this oooone last round of Candy Crush. I may never know how she did all that, but there is one thing I do feel fairly confident about: I think the virtuous woman was focused. She didn’t allow silly worldly distractions to separate her from the godly tasks before her. Proverbs 31:26 says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”  She was wise in what she allowed to occupy her time and thoughts.

So what would Solomon advise me in his wisdom? What would the wise and virtuous woman instruct me to do to keep that fire burning? I’d imagine they’d encourage me to cut out or greatly limit my TV time. They’d probably advise me to stop wasting as much time on my phone and to use my time wisely. I think they’d love for me to make my home a holy oasis away from the world for my family. 

My prayer today for my cabin girls, for myself, and for you reading this; is that our fire and faith would be lit anew as of today. I pray that we would eliminate some of the worldly winds threatening to snuff out those flames. Finally, I pray that God grants us the wisdom to actually do it. 

-Casey Kiel

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 1-2 and Proverbs 31

Holding Nothing Back

Genesis 22-24

Genesis 22 12b NIV

One of the sayings that I sort of cling to in my life is, “You get out of life what you put into it.” I find this can be helpful in those moments where Netflix or a nap can be much more appealing than doing homework, reading a book, folding laundry or any of the other responsibilities we have in this life. Even though some of those things listed like folding laundry or reading a book I can really enjoy and get a sense of accomplishment from doing those things. In a way doing things like taking naps or watching Netflix are just easier and don’t require any brain activity from me. For instance there can be a temptation to just read devotions and not actually read the Bible on your own. This is because reading a devotion, which is an already processed thought is easier than having to read and process the Bible on your own.

Now, is reading devotions great?  Absolutely.  Devotions are great because you can see what God worked on in another person’s heart and that is pretty cool to be a part of. I love writing these devotions and hope they add to your spiritual growth and help you understand God better.

You may be wondering why I wrote two paragraphs about putting an effort into life and what I really think is the principle at work here is sacrifice, and that is what Genesis 22 is really about.

In Genesis 22.1-14 is a story about sacrifice and commitment to God and I don’t think it is necessarily in the way that we think. Right now, you should go read Genesis 22.1-14. My next paragraph will wait for as long as they maintain the rights to the domain name. Haha

I’m glad you are back. What Abraham was about to do here is crazy. He was willing to offer his son, that he had waited 25 years for and had at 99 years, because God told him to. Abraham could have so easily rationalized disobedience away by saying “There is no way that I am going to harm a child.” But Abraham decided to obey God despite all reservations that he had. One of my favorite verses as a teenager and even now is Matthew 6.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Abraham didn’t treasure his child more than he treasured God and IT SHOWED in a big way. He held nothing back from God.

You may be getting a mixed message at this point. I’m not telling you to give all your stuff away or to sacrifice your brother or sister as a burnt offering. That would not bless God. What I am telling you is that if you live your life holding nothing back from God, you will reap the reward from that. The same principle applies to how much work and effort you put into your spiritual growth.

If you want God to really change your life cut Netflix out of your life for a month and instead spend that time with your head in a Bible and see what God does in your heart and how he changes you.

If you really want to serve others and see God do something through you then commit yourself to that and go do it. Make it your center point! Go help others in whatever way you can. Look for ways to serve others and give your life away to them.

The reason that Abraham is the father of our faith is because he held nothing back. After this story Abraham received a promise from God that his offspring would be as the stars in heaven and sands on the seashore and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. Abraham got out of life what he put in. Abraham was used by God through this promise because Abraham was completely devoted to God.

I know there is a better life. When our lives are completely focused on God, something changes. I want to say this to you and hope you take it to heart. I know what being sold out to God is like and it is uncomfortable and can be really hard but the reward is life altering, it’s God glorifying and it’s kingdom strengthening. Our sacrifices don’t go unnoticed by God and they will come to fruition and it isn’t always how we expect it.

Do not take this as me telling you that you can make God do things but rather God honors the sacrifices that we make in our lives for him. He in turn wants to bless us and help us. Do not do any of things that I mentioned unless you really want to do them. God doesn’t want just sacrifices. He wants our hearts behind the sacrifices that we make and, honestly, that is the key to love. When your heart and actions combine into one that is true love.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22-24&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s passage will be Genesis 25 & 26 on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan