The Proud and the Widow

Proverbs 15:25 

“The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.”

Here we have an example of two opposites: the proud who takes care of everything himself, and the poor, defenseless widow.

What Does God Think?

Well, first of all, God doesn’t think too highly of the proud, nor does He care too much for his mansion on the lake. God hates pride (Prov. 6: 16-17a), and He has holds no respect for what man builds in arrogance. Speaking of a man who built impressive new barns thought to guarantee his retirement, Jesus said, “Thou fool” (Luke 12:20).

“Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the LORD will be exalted…” – Isaiah 2:11 NLT

On the other hand, God cares about the widow. Actually, He cares a whole lot about widows, orphans, the helpless, and especially those who are taken advantage of. Don’t believe me? Read what He told Moses…

“Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” – Exodus 22:22-24

What Makes them Opposites?

What we have here in this verse is a comparison between the one who thinks nobody can touch his stuff and the one who does her best to keep what she has. The proud sits all snug in his castle, while the widow goes to sleep wondering if her property line will be the same in the morning.

The proud is the self-sufficient one who has everything in control and doesn’t need God. His house is secure, along with the inheritance he plans to pass on to his proud, snotty children.

The widow is the helpless woman whose land, left to her by her loving husband, is at risk of being stolen. All she has as proof of her property line are the stone markers set in the ground. Now that her husband is gone, she struggles with those who try to move them when she’s not looking.

What Does the Lord Have to Say?

The Lord has a message for both the widow and the proud. To the widow he says, “Don’t worry, dear. I will take the stones that mark your boundaries and “establish” them (natsab, to set firmly in place).  Not even dynamite will budge them.”

To the proud the Lord says, “I will be exalted, not the idol of a house you have built for yourself. You think you have everything figured out, don’t you? Well, guess what? I am going to pluck your house out of the ground (“destroy” is the Hebrew word nacach, meaning “to pluck out”) like you tried to do to that poor widow’s property line.”

Application?

We should never forget that God is always watching, examining our motives, and able to intervene at any time.

The proud are the most vulnerable, while the humble are protected.

 


Reaching Heaven

Proverbs 15:24

“The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.”

“The path of life leads upward for the prudent,
that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.” (ESV)

“The path of life leads upward for the wise
to keep him from going down to the grave.” (NIV)

If you have been reading since the first chapter of Proverbs, you probably know where this is going to go. Just in case, here we go:

Many passages I use will be used out of their full context, but I assure you that the message does not change!

Down Here

Hebrews 9:27 says “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment . . .

For the average person on our planet, that should induce fear. If it does not, as expressed several times throughout Proverbs, you are a fool. I am sorry to put it so bluntly, but that is the case.

Why?

If this is true, then we will face a perfect Judge. By the standards of the perfect Judge, we all fall short.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

If you have ever been selfish, envious, or lustful of someone; if you have ever lied, cheated, or stolen; if you have ever hated or despised someone; or if you have loved something more than God, among many other things, you have sinned and fall short of the standards of God, the perfect Judge.

Getting To Heaven

The wise know they have faults and “skeletons in the closet” of their past. The wise know they are in need of help.

The wise will heed the words of the Bible, which speak the truth of Life:

(To finish those verses above)

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Hebrews 9:28)

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Gracious Savior, open the eyes of the people and make us wise. Help us to seek out Your Truth, to find the Way of Life. Give us the faith we need to believe!


A Timely Word

Proverbs 15:23

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”

In yesterday’s Proverbial Thought – “Purposes Established!”, it was discussed just how important it is to seek counsel. Today’s verse we flip to the other side of the coin and talk about when someone come to us seeking advice what is our response. Today’s verse focuses on not only giving the right advice but giving it at the appropriate time. I love the way the HCSB says our verse, “A man takes joy in giving an answer; and a timely word — how good that is!”

The book of Proverbs contains many words of advice and wisdom regarding our speech. It also gives us several reasons for our words:

It’s All About the Timing

As it was says earlier, a wise person not only knows the correct response to give but also gives it at the correct time. This wise counsel was given to us in Ecclesiastes 8:5-6:

“Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.”

Proverbs 25:11 also tells us:

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” 

We have all either heard of stories or experienced them ourselves. The story of someone going through a hard time, having a loved one die or receiving some extremely bad news. And then it happens. Someone who is trying to console them with words tells them of their cousin’s best friend’s mother who went through the exact same thing but tells them of the horrific end that took place.

Why do we (yes, I have done this myself) think this is going to make them feel better? The timing was way off and not at all comforting to the receiver.

This reminds me Job. During the time that he was devastated by the news he had just received, three visitors came to him and basically started telling him it was all his fault. How is that for positive reenforcement!

Solomon is telling us in our verse that the proper words spoken at the proper time will be good news to both the giver of those words and the receiver.

So the next time you are going to give advice to someone, not only remember that there are right words to say but that there is also the right time to say them.


Purposes Established!

Proverbs 15:22

“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (KJV). 

I love the Bible, and especially the book of Proverbs! There is so much practical wisdom for daily living in God’s Word. Someone described the Bible once using this acrostic: B.I.B.L.E. = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. If the God who created the universe wrote a book, a detailed instruction manual for living life, then we would be wise to heed its advice.

In the above Scripture, Solomon tells us that there are many people who purpose or plan to do things but they are disappointed because of a lack of counsel. However, he says that there is wisdom in the multitude of counsellors. In other words, if you are trying to do something, don’t be so prideful that you try to do it yourself – get help! Seek wisdom and advice from others.

Towards the end of 2009, I had a dream to write a book. However, I had never written a book before. Sure, I had transcribed sermons and put together short little booklets and devotionals for our church family, but I had never written or published a full length book before. So, the first thing I did was I started talking to people. I got advice from writing buddies – from Wendy Neudorf, who is also a writer and blogger, who helped me edit my manuscript, to Nichole Forbes, my wife’s cousin who is also a writer and blogger. From their advice and that of many others – including words of wisdom I found in books and online blogs on writing – I began the task of writing a book.

In June of 2010, I published my first book – Supernatural: Contending for Signs and Wonders Today. I don’t believe my dream would have ever been fulfilled, nor would it have been as good as it was, without the advice and feedback from many wise and good friends.

As I pastor, I seek God’s wisdom and guidance on a regular basis concerning the mission and vision of our church family. I am so thankful for a great team of leaders that speak into my life and help me to make wise decisions concerning God’s church. I have our elders who pray together with me to discern God’s direction, and a church council who help me make decisions concerning our church finances and building use. It’s so true that there is wisdom in a multitude of counsellors! On our own, we have blind spots, weaknesses, and lack knowledge and experiences, and can greatly benefit from the wisdom and input of others.

The New Living Translation of the above Scripture says: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success.” Do you have a dream for your life, a goal or a plan that you want to accomplish? Talk to people about it. Get wisdom and counsel from people, from books, and of course ultimately from the Bible. Do this and you will see your purposes established!


Red Means STOP

Proverbs 15:21 

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course. (NIV)

Lack of Judgement

Teenage boys are not generally known for their wisdom. This is particularly the case in our home where my thirteen-year old son John derives considerable pleasure and joy from annoying his sixteen-year old sister. Unfortunately for John his sister is not only older, she is also bigger and stronger than him. That may change in the next year or so, but at the moment John is unable to defend himself against the physical response his lack of judgement incurs when he embarks on each mission to see how far he can push his sister.

Heed the Warning

Unfortunately folly is a contagious disease that anyone can catch. I see folly most mornings while negotiating a junction controlled by traffic lights. Inevitably there Description=19th September 2006. Pic: Paul Rogers A traffic signal showing red.are drivers who believe that they can drive through their red light when mine is green. It isn’t rocket science. Red means stop, and needs to be heeded just like any other warning, be it a road sign, a parental instruction, a safety measure linked to mechanical or electrical equipment, or anything else.

Follow the Instructions

Walking uprightly or keeping a straight course means taking note of warnings, being alert to danger, and avoiding risk. To avoid risk we need to understand risk and the consequences of failure. For followers of Jesus that means trying to avoid temptation. Most of us know our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If we don’t, then we should. And then we should follow the instructions for walking uprightly given to us in Scripture.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:1-18 (NIV)


Pleasing Dad, Despising Mom

Proverbs 15:20

A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.”

Following God?

On Sunday, January 9, 2000, I finally knelt my knee to Jesus as Savior, and I started my life with God.

In 2007, many things happened in my life. The biggest was that I started over with God. I asked Him to clean my heart and take me back to that place of innocence and trust, and I needed to start from scratch.

Unfortunately, some of the people with whom I chose to associate during this time led me down some less-than-traditional theological roads. I became convinced that God had revealed much truth to me (which He had), and I had a better understanding of His will than most people (this might be true in some sense, from time to time, from person to person, but …)

It was incredibly prideful of me to assume I had a better connection to God than others. My parents did not understand everything going on, and they panicked. On many points it was unnecessary (technically, it is never good to panic), but on many other points they had good reason. The called the pastor for the four of us to have a meeting.

While I said I loved my parents, my behavior of superiority showed how much I despised my parents and our pastor. I despised them by thinking of them as poor, misguided fools who understood little of God.

I despised my mother in my heart, and I was unaware.

Following God

I eventually came to my senses. God allowed so many things in my life that caused so much confusion and soul-searching. When I came back home months later, I apologized to my parents. Within a year I had straightened many of the things that had caused so much tension (and even introduced them to the woman now their daughter-in-law!).

It was a great joy to truly follow God and see my life straighten out. It has never been “perfect” or pain-free, but opening myself to following God instead “knowing” what God wanted led to great peace.

One of the greatest joys of my life came two years after that intervention. It was standing in the church at my wedding and seeing my dad smile as he said “I am so proud of you.”

Heavenly Father, help us to live a life worthy of You. Help us to love our parents, to treat them with respect and humility. Help us love others and live in a way that, when we finally see You face to face, we can hear You say “I am so proud of you!”


Making Your Disadvantages

Proverbs 15:19

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.”

Schooled

In early high school, I stopped caring. I saw little to no reason to try hard at school. Sometimes I was interested enough to put some effort forth, but mostly I just tried to skate by. By the time I was a Junior, my grades were … less than stellar.

When I went to college the first time, I did well, but I learned just days before the second semester started that two of my loans were denied. Instead of asking around, I listened to the first person I heard from who said it meant I could not go back. So I stayed home. I eventually got another two semesters at a community college, but I could not even finish an associates degree.

In both cases, I got lazy and prideful, assuming I knew better and could handle anything.

Following God

In the middle of my Junior year of high school, Jesus got a hold of me. I went to a youth event that stressed Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men“. I knew I had work hard at school. I managed to get my average up to a solid B!

With college, I was trying to do things for God, but I was not trusting in His guidance. I got good grades, sure, but I was doing everything under my own power. That is why I completed three semesters in four and a half years. At the time I write this, I am seven weeks from graduating from a good university, and I have been through more things during the past few years that have given me invaluable experience. And I have a vision for the future that has been made plain to me.

On our own, things will always get in our way, cause us pain, and lead to trouble. In Christ, all things are possible!

Powerful God, thank You for Your love and patience, and thank You for Your favor and help! Push us through the power of Your Holy Spirit to strive for what You have for us. Do not let us be lazy or prideful, but show us the path You have for us.