Category Archives: Paths of Life

Focus!

Proverbs 3:21-23

“My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”

 

If we trust and obey, God will direct our path (Proverbs 3:6) into the blessings He has planned for us. We have seen over the past several days the different ways that God will bless us if we search and find wisdom and understanding. Today is no exception.

Stay Focused

Have you ever met one of those people who right in the middle of doing something, they remember that they have to do something else?  They drop the first to attend to the second. They then are working on the second when a third items comes to mind and then the second is dropped so the work can begin on item number three. Ever met someone like that? Well, if you have not – let me introduce myself to you! This is so me! I have to purposefully make myself stay focused or I will get side-tracked by other things.

As people born with a sinful nature, we have this same tendency. This is what Solomon is telling us, don’t take your eyes off wisdom and discretion. Stay focused and don’t wander off on things that don’t matter and won’t bring you blessings.

Prone to Wander

In keeping our eyes on wisdom, God has promised us that not only will HE gives us His providential care (walk in thy way safely) but that He will also not cause our feet to stumble.

In 1757, Robert Robinson wrote the song “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and one of the last stanzas in the song says the following:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

A prayer for my life is that I would constantly – and purposefully – keep my eyes focused on God. That I would not wander and take my eyes off of Him. When I do, that is when I will stumble and fall.

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Good to Repeat

Proverbs 3:18

“She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”

I feel like I keep repeating myself, but it seems that that is a good thing. How many times did God tell the Israelites to repent? How many times did John the Baptist and Jesus tell people to repent? How many times did Jesus say “follow me”?

Answer in all cases: A lot.

Humans seem to need a lot of repeating to hear and then retain truth, to retain wisdom. Yet, the question remains …

How do we lay hold of wisdom?

Is it not interesting how God has told us in the Bible?

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Revelation 2:7

“To him that overcometh …”

How do we overcome?

“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Jesus is the one who has overcome troubles, trials, pain, sin, and death. Only in Him can we overcome.

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:5

Get wisdom, the Wisdom of God – Jesus Christ. Daily seek out the Lord, and you will overcome this world. Then will you have the tree of life. Then will you find happiness and joy.

Dear Lord, give us more of You. Help us to seek You and take hold daily that we might have life, that we may have You. Give us a passion for You.


No Shortcuts

Proverbs 3:7-8

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

An advertisement on the side of my web browser promises that if I “click here” I can learn a “weird old trick” to eliminate stubborn belly fat. Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Oz hosts a show advocating the addition of blueberries, seaweed and other “super foods” to fight off cancer and heart disease. A billboard overlooking I-24 in my city displays a lean and tightly-muscled torso, suggesting that a few quick visits to the fitness center are all it takes to achieve such enviable results.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS!

The achievement of health: Everybody’s looking for a shortcut! And yet, we know that it is the slow, plodding discipline of a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the elimination of detrimental bad habits (smoking comes to mind) which yield the healthiest bodies over the long haul.

The achievement of wise living is no different! There are no shortcuts (“Be not wise in your own eyes”). Rather, wise living is the fruit of good old basic faith (“fear the LORD”) and repentance (“turn away from evil”). This, says the wise father to the son (3:1) is the only sure path to spiritual health (3:8).

NEED HEALING?

By the way, these verses suggest that by following the way of wisdom, it is in fact possible to extricate yourself from a situation of moral and spiritual “disease”, and gain spiritual health in Christ. Those who are spiritually sick can find healing and refreshment, or as some translations put it, nourishment. One thinks of Subway’s marketing front man “Jarrod”, who lost a couple of hundred pounds simply by “eating fresh”. Praise the Lord, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).


Trust the Guide

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

My Dad

Unlike me, my dad was brought up in a rough and tough home. At the age of 14, for his birthday, he received his first moonshine still. In high school he was one of the “protectors” who protected for a fee. Up until he met my mother in the middle 1960’s he was still running white lightning through the hills of Tennessee and building drag cars.

As a high school senior my dad benched 300 lbs.; ran track; threw shot put; was the state heavyweight wrestling champion; loved to fight; and could drink away a paycheck. But just a few years later, on the living room floor of my mother’s house, he gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and nothing stayed the same.

My Dad’s Guidance

My father was a wise man, but make no mistake about it, he earned his wisdom the hard way. And I did my best to follow his instruction, because I figured he knew what he was talking about. He had seen and done a lot, and he had the scars to prove it.

One day he told me, “Son, sin is fun. Alcohol tastes good. The devil has a lot to offer. But let me tell you, when you have friends bleed to death in your arms you’ll realize sin ain’t worth the price.” Spoken like the humble preacher he was.

When I got old enough to run wild, I didn’t. When I could drive, I drove safely. When I dated, I saved myself for marriage. Was I perfect? Absolutely not! But every time I came close to messing up I would remember my dad, his words, and his example. That remembrance helped direct my path.

Solomon’s Dad

Solomon had a father, also. His name was King David, and he also knew the cost of sin, the feeling of spilled blood.

God gave Solomon wisdom, but some of it came through the words of David, Solomon’s rough and tough dad. I wonder if the above verses were based on the following advice given years earlier?

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. – 1Chronicals 28:9 NKJV

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. – Psalm 37:3-5 KJV

Solomon surely took his father’s words to heart. Our Father asks us to do the same.

A Prayer

Lord God, I am so tempted to do things my way. I am tempted so often to trust my own feelings, to follow my heart. Help me, Lord, to acknowledge that you have traveled this way before. Help me to listen and pay attention as you guide me through the curves of life, making them as good as straight.

Related Link: “First Post” – A tribute to my father, Rev. Terry L. Baker.


Wicked Uprooted

Proverbs 2:20-22

“That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”

Getting to the Root

Verse 22 offers a picture of trees being pulled out by their roots. Yet roots are notoriously difficult to remove, particularly if a tree is substantial and has been established for a long time. Evil is a tree that has become deeply rooted in society, and in the world in general.

While it is easy to get frustrated about the abundance of evil in our world, it is even more frustrating when we look back because it seems as if nothing has changed with time. Three thousand years ago the writers of the Psalms struggled with the prosperity of the wicked.

In Psalm 73 verse 3 Asaph declares, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” But David in Psalm 37 teaches us not to envy the wicked stating in verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

What Kind of Tree are You?

Make no mistake. Not just the evil, but also all who choose not to surrender their lives to God will be uprooted, extracted, removed. There will be no place for them in the New Heaven and Earth described in the Book of Revelation. But how do we walk in the way of good men and keep the paths of the righteous, so that we will not meet the fate of the wicked? Psalm 37 gives some pointers:

  • Trust in the Lord and do good (verse 3).
  • Delight thyself also in the Lord (verse 4).
  • Commit thy way unto the Lord (verse 5).
  • Rest in the Lord (verse 7).
  • Wait patiently for Him (verse 7).
  • Cease from anger, and forsake wrath (verse 8).

And you will be like a different type of tree, as described in the first three verses of the very first Psalm:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).

Do your roots reach into the Living Water (John 4:10-14)?


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 4

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. -Matthew 3:7-9, KJV

It is not enough to come from a Christian (or Jewish) home.

With Jesus’ first Advent, it was mostly the religious leaders who refused to change, because they “knew it all” about faith.

As we await Jesus’ second Advent, it is not enough to have grown up in church or attend church regularly. It takes repentance and a willingness to actually listen to the teachings and commands of Jesus, to show love and compassion to others and commitment to God’s truth.

Do not trust in your ancestry or upbringing. Do not rely on the faith of your parents, siblings, or friends. Turn to Jesus for yourself, and believe.

Saving God, do not let me rely on my own knowledge, skills, or history. Give me a passion for You, Your Word, and Your Church.


Not About Politics, But There Are Sides

An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked. –Proverbs 29:27 KJV

I was ready to write about politics, and angry partisanship. And this verse certainly can speak to partisan politics.

However, I just want to speak the truth:

There are only two sides in this historical and eternal battle: with God or against Him (Matthew 12:30).

There are no other ways or sides, and this leads to many people seeing Christians, and by extension God, as narrow-minded (which is true, to a point – Matthew 7:14), even evil, for saying not everyone is good or can get to God their own way.

But, if Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then there is no other path to God (John 14:6).

If you do what God calls evil, you are a wicked sinner. But if you repent of your evil ways (change the way you think and act – Romans 12:1-2) and believe Jesus died for your punishment to cover your wickedness and rose again to life, then you are on His side (Acts 2:38-39).

To refuse the leading of the Holy Spirit to believe in Christ is choose to be against God (Matthew 12:31, John 8:44).