Category Archives: Paths of Life

Holy Recalculating

Proverbs 16:9 

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

Planning Trips

Years ago, before Google and smart phones, I loved planning long trips. I would get a big, impossible-to-fold-back-into-its-original-shape map and plot my course, making sure I did not miss any landmark with free admission.

Not long ago there was a tour bus driving through a large city at night. Thinking he was on the right path, the driver took what he thought was a ramp connecting one highway to another. Unfortunately, there was nothing at the end of the ramp. The roads on the map were wrong, and the bus took a dive off a bridge, killing several, including the driver.

Maps were pretty reliable, and they still are, but what was impossible to know was the road conditions since the map was published. Even though a map may show a logical route from point A to point B, pieces of paper have a hard time remaining up-to-date. A well-planned route on paper could wind up being a detour nightmare.

Devising Ways

Courtesy of ShutterElf

Photo by Shutter Elf

Life is trip (in more ways than one), and we all make plans. We make plans for this and that, make reservations, and even daydream about what tomorrow’s activities will include. In our hearts we “devise our ways.”

However, I am thankful for a God who knows the road that lies ahead. He is not only up-to-date on all the current construction and detours, but He even knows what accidents are going to happen. Not even Google knows that.

We make long range plans, but God guides each step we take. He not only looks out for us down the road, but He makes sure each and every step is profitable. Sure, we can stray, but since He has promised to complete what He has begun (Romans 4:21), the Holy Spirit is always there to “recalculate.”


In One Ear and Out the Other

Proverbs 15:31

“The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.”

And then there’s the one about the lawyer, the physician, and the pastor who went deer hunting together.  The three outdoor enthusiasts positioned themselves around the ridge tops looking down into a valley where a large buck deer had been sighted a few times.  Around dusk, the monster buck strolled into the valley and was immediately spotted by all three hunters.  It just wasn’t the deer’s lucky day:  All three took aim and simultaneously fired upon the unfortunate fellow, who promptly fell over dead.

The three hunters ran down the slopes to inspect the kill, only to discover there was but one bullet wound.  Which marksman had bagged the deer, anyway?

The lawyer stuck his chest out and pleaded his case.  He had prosecuted criminals in numerous capital murder trials.  He had experience sifting through evidence.  He had watched coroners at their gruesome work in the morgue.  He knew the face of death.  And this deer was most certainly his kill!

Oh no, said the physician.  He had worked in the ER many shifts when terribly injured people were hauled in on the gurneys.  He had split open the human breastbone and performed heart bypass surgery.  He was an expert in life, and in death.  The deer was his.

Finally the pastor stepped up.   “Friends,” said he, “this fine buck is my kill, and I can prove it conclusively.”    He pointed to the single bullet wound and traced its path with his finger.  “See?” he asked.  “It went in one ear and out the other.  This buck is most definitely mine!”

A PROBLEM FOR MOST OF US

The truth be told, it’s a problem for most of us, and it’s not just a problem on Sunday mornings as we struggle through the pastor’s hastily thrown together message.  So many of the life-giving words we need to hear go in one ear and out the other!  As we have studied the Book of Proverbs in this blog, we have noted that “wisdom cries out in the streets.”  There’s no shortage of wisdom.  There’s a shortage of hearing and heeding the words of wisdom!

Dear reader, I must ask you, have you truly heard the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Not only with your ears, but with your heart, so that you perceive the profound, life-changing excellence of the gospel message so that all human philosophy and wisdom crumble at the foot of the cross?  Have you heard the gospel in such a way that it has broken your heart and brought life to your soul?  So that the beauty of Jesus Christ has shone in your heart, and now nothing delights or satisfies you more than Jesus?  Or are you numbered with those who hear the word, but the hearing is of no eternal value, because your hearing is not combined with faith (Hebrews 4:2)?

The gospel message is the “reproof of life.”  As a reproof, the gospel illuminates the sinfulness of our sin and the awesome holiness and justice of Almighty God.  But as our hearts are convicted of sin, the gospel points us to put our trust in the sin-bearer whom God has provided, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to receive life in his name.

The proverb promises that those who hear the reproof of life will abide among the wise.   No, not among those who claim to be wise by the standards of this bent and broken world, but among those who have embraced the wisdom of God – God’s wisdom which is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Father God, forgive us for our stubborn refusal to listen to You.  Soften our hearts.  Grant us teachable spirits.  We want to know Jesus, and Him only.  As you have promised, grant us life in Jesus’ name.  Through Christ our Lord we pray:  Amen. 


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!


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.


Reasons to be Cheerful

Proverbs 15:13

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (NIV)

Tradition?

The tradition at my last church was for four deacons to sit at the front of the church during communion, two on either side of the pastor. Two deacons would pray before the bread and wine were served by all four. The almost complete lack of happy faces in the congregation always surprised me when I sat at the front of the church at communion time. I don’t think I ever counted more than six happy faces out of up to 100 people taking communion.

Happy about Communion?

You could ask what there is to be happy about during communion? After all shouldn’t we come to the communion meal filled with remorse and seeking forgiveness? I don’t dispute the need for remorse, but Jesus died once to pay the price for all of the sin in every human life. I am truly remorseful when I let Him down, but having surrendered my life to Him I rejoice that I am forgiven. Consequently, I find myself overwhelmed by happiness at communion time. There may well be tears running down my face, but they are tears of joy at the huge relief I know because of my redemption. Because Jesus died I have a happy heart. One that should make my face cheerful not only during communion, but all day every day.

Crushed Spirits

It is not easy to maintain a cheerful face all day long. The circumstances of life conspire to steal our happiness and crush our spirits. We have all been there, sometimes to the point that we even question our faith. It troubles me that so often we are oblivious to some of the crushed spirits around us. Some of the non-smiling faces we encounter may truly be in a place where there is nothing to smile about. How can we stand with family, friends, colleagues, folk at church, etc., at such times?

God Knows

Sometimes only God knows, and sometimes He brings people into our lives at a particular time on a particular day because He knows. I can think of times in my life like this, and there are times I know that He has used me to meet the needs of others. That’s when I really smile. I smile because it reminds me that God cares. God cares about crushed spirits because He just can’t stop loving us. No matter what.

And that is a reason to be cheerful.


Stop Yelling At Me!

Proverbs 15:10

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.”

I’m not listening!

I have been that person.

I know I am right. I know you are wrong. Therefore, I do not want to hear what you have to say.

Something becoming increasingly popular in Western society is the idea that we are basically good and can make our own truth.

When we are each good and can make our own way to heaven (if it even exists), we do not [think] we need to hear any other supposed truth.

Stop yelling at me!

I have been that person.

When I  have felt guilty, I always wonder what others are saying about me. Then, if someone innocently brings up whatever has me feeling guilty, it feels like they are attacking or even yelling at me.

Look at our world today. Whether or not they can admit it, everyone is guilty of sin. If we try to tell them of their guilt and/or the Guiltless One, Jesus of Nazareth, they get defensive. They feel attacked.

Final Destination

Sadly, in their self-righteousness or guilt, they come to hate any correction we can offer.

It really comes down to pride. If this is the way the continue, ultimately they may very well miss out on eternal life. The only other destination is Hell, eternal separation from God.

Ask yourself, do you get defensive when another person points out your faults or sins? Do you feel attacked if you are corrected?

Patient Father, show us Your grace and help us overcome our pride. Let us not be counted with those who spurn Your rebuke. Lead us in all righteousness to humility and truth, that we might heed Your correction and lead others to everlasting Life.


The Thinker

Proverbs 14:16

“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”

Warnings

As has been said many times on Proverbial Thought, the book of Proverbs is a book of warnings. Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, has penned warning after warning to help guide and direct us in the our lives.

The ThinkerThe Thinker

One of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures is The Thinker, a piece originally conceived to be part of another work. The Thinker was part of a commission by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to sculpt a monumental door based on The Divine Comedy of Dante. Each of the statues in the piece represented one of the main characters in the epic poem.

Wikipedia describes the statue of The Thinker as the following:

“It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle.”

Today’s verse reminds me of this statue. Here is why, and please stay with me. The name God is never mentioned in this verse. I thought of this statue because I believe that this verse is saying that a wise man is one who thinks before he encounters evil and is afraid of the consequences of his actions and therefore departs, or gets away from evil.

On the other hand, a person who does not think at all of the consequences just plows ahead no matter what it may cost him. He exemplifies the old saying: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” The ESV says our verse this way, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”

Count the Cost

When faced with evil, do you jump in with both feet before even thinking about what it may cost you? Or are you like the wise man, and ponder what would happen if you gave into the evil.

Solomon is telling us that we would be very wise to “think before we act”!

Next time you are faced with evil, stop and think about that it may cost you! Sin breaks our fellowship with God and when we really stop and think about what the results from that would cost us, I think you would agree with me that we would gladly depart from evil.

Lord, I pray that we would stop and think! In times of temptation and trials, help us to be cautious and turn from evil and back to you. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness for those times when I don’t think and plunder recklessly into evil. Thank you for your loving mercy toward me!