The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. Proverbs 16:9
I do not always sleep well at night. My mind races with thoughts and plans, with dialogues and ideas. While this used to frustrate me, I have come to appreciate the ability to think and to work things out. I know that laying things out in my mind reduces my stress and allows me to cope. At the same time, I have learned the power of this proverb—that I must hold my thoughts and plans loosely, with humility. God’s direction and guidance trumps any plan that my mind can imagine. May we walk into this day allowing our God to direct our steps.
Prayer - Dear Guiding God, help me to hold my ideas and plans loosely so that you can direct my steps. Amen.
Written by Stacy Ikard, Senior Associate Pastor at WHPC
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3
For thousands of years, people have known how to extract and purify silver and gold and how to shape these precious metals into objects. I’m no expert, but from what I’ve read, it’s an arduous, multi-step process that involves a lot of heat; first to remove impurities, and then to mold the metal into something useful, beautiful, or both.
This proverb suggests that, at times, God may also “turn up the heat” on us to see what we are made of. Are our hearts pure? Is the love of God and neighbor first and foremost, or will something else—some other love—rise to the surface? When we are under pressure, who do we become? These questions may convict us. But here is good news: God can—and often does—use difficult circumstances and suffering to shape us into even more beautiful, precious, and useful instruments for God’s purposes.
Prayer - Loving Creator, in those situations of my life where I’m “feeling the heat,” where I’m under pressure or stress, where I am suffering, cleanse me of every motivation but love, show me whatever else you would have me learn, and shape me into the person you made me to be. Amen.
Written by Claire Berry, Associate Pastor at WHPC
One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend. Proverbs 17:9
Forgiveness can feel so backwards sometimes. When someone hurts me, it does not feel natural to forgive. Natural is bitterness, holding a grudge, taking away trust, and ultimately a block in the relationship. This proverb says that when we forgive friends, meaning, it is not “if” a friend affronts us, but when. As Romans clearly states, “all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Rom. 3:23). We all make mistakes. We all have been given the same amount of grace because of Jesus. We all need to offer that same grace to others.
Prayer - Forgiving and gracious God, help me to extend to others today the forgiveness that you extend to me each moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Emily Wright, Senior Pastor at WHPC
Some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin. Proverbs 18:24
This proverb reminds us that it matters who we “hang” with. If we choose the wrong group with which to socialize, emulate, do business with, at best we have poor role models to follow and are negatively influenced. At worst we can be seriously harmed and move away from God’s will for us. A “friend who sticks closer than a brother” is one who knows us well, sees our faults, but loves and accepts us anyway. This kind of friend is loyal, defends us in the face of gossip or slander, walks with, prays for, and encourages us over the long haul, and listens without judgement. This friend is among the first to “weep with us when we weep and rejoice with us when we rejoice” (Romans 12:15). Their advice is wise and trustworthy. It was an incredible indication of his love for them (and for us) when Jesus said to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants . . .; I call you friends . . .” (John 15:15). I know I want to have this kind of friend and it causes me to reflect, “What kind of friend am I?”
Prayer - Jesus, you are the most perfect friend I will ever have—you are the “lover of my soul.” Thank you for the earthly friends you have given me, who lift me up and point me to you. Empower me to be that “friend that sticks closer than a brother.” May my friendships bring glory to you. Amen.
Written by Nancy Kocurek, Elder at WHPC
Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back these loans in full. Proverbs 19:17 (The Message)
Mercy is the very heart of God. Jesus’s life and ministry revealed the merciful heart of the Father. It is on that mercy that our hope rests, and we are also to carry that mercy to a needy world. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” said our Lord (Matt. 25:40).
If we are to become like Christ, our heart will grow to become like his heart. We will share his compassion, his desire to draw all people to himself. We will extend his mercy to the needy in this world—the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the prisoner, the marginalized. In doing so, we participate in the Kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world. This is a loan paid back “in full”!
Prayer - O Holy God, create in me your heart of mercy. Open my eyes to see the needy of the world with your heart—each day, each moment, each place I walk. Break my heart at the poverty and injustice around me. Make me your hands of mercy, to all your people. Amen.
Written by Drew Beckley, Elder at WHPC