Category Archives: Paths of Life

Do Me a Favour

Proverbs 12:2

“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.”

Obtain or Deserve?

‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favor’ was the title of a 1971 Moody Blues album. The cover shows a young child and a wizened old man, the child apparently in awe of the old man, perhaps receiving instruction. But why should a good person deserve favor? Didn’t the Moody Blues know about grace? In terms of the human relationship with God His favor is not something that is deserved. It is only possible through grace.

Grace Not Works

But if salvation is possible through grace rather than works, why does Solomon state that a good man obtains favor from the Lord? The answer is simple. Because when salvation occurs Jesus Christ moves in and lives inside us. This may sound weird, but when you think about it we cannot become good, or do good works, unless we are equipped. Having Christ in us provides the enabling for us to obtain the favor of the Lord as we move forwards in obedience to His instruction and guided by His knowledge (Proverbs 12:1).

Another Way

As always in life we have a choice. There is another way. A way condemned by the Lord. A broad road that leads to destruction, but which is favored by many because of its apparent pleasures. Take a look around. Are you standing in Broad Street? If you are then perhaps it is time to move on. Time to search for the grace that brings eternal favor, rather than temporary pleasure. You have a choice. You always have a choice.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)


Stupid On Purpose

Proverbs 12:1

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

Instruction

We see over and over again in the book of Proverbs how Solomon is giving us instructions on how we should live our lives. He deals with different topics from money to adultery, from the fear of the Lord to temptation, from pride and humility to the wicked that are in the world. Each time he discusses a topic, he gives us instructions on how we need to handle each situation.

Instructions are very important. Instructions will guide us and help us to complete the task that is set before us. The Bible is our instruction manual and will guide us with ever step we take.

BUT…we must be willing to heed the Word of God and the instructions it gives. If we are to be more and more like Christ, then we must follow the instructions that are given to us in God’s Word.

Reproof

Dictionary.com defines the word reproof as, “An expression of censure or rebuke”. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”. This is what the Bible is here for – to keep us on the right path (Psalm 119:105).

How we accept instructions from God and receive reproof for the things we have done wrong, says a lot about a person. Dr. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way, “How we receive reproof and counsel is a test of our relationship to the Lord and our willingness to live by His Word.” (1)

We can see from past “Proverbial Thoughts”, that wise men love reproof – Proverbs 9:8 | Proverbs 9:9. Reproof by God’s Word helps us to stay focused on Him and to accomplish His will for our lives. Reproof helps the godly to mature in Christ.

Don’t Be Stupid

No one wants to be stupid (or at least not be stupid on purpose). But there are many people today that are living a life that is, well,  stupid. Why? Because they are not willing to take instructions or rebuke from God’s Word. The New Living Translation says our verse this way, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”

When we are not willing to listen to the wisdom of God and apply it to our own lives, we are actually saying that we know better than God on how we need to run our lives. We are pretty much telling Him to not worry about anything – that we have everything under control – and we don’t need Him! How stupid is that?

We must be willing to let God mold us and make us into what He wants us to be. Without His instructions (God’s Word), there is no way we will ever be able to be more like Him.

God, help us to love your instructions and have a willingness to heed Your words. Help us not to hate it when you rebuke us when we have done wrong against You. Help us to be godly men and women who seek your face and want to be more and more like You. 

Reference:

(1) Dr. Warren Wiersbe – (The Wiersbe Bible Commentary – page 539)


The Fruit of Your Tree

Proverbs 11:30

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”

Connected Wisdom

This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.

Finding the Threads

One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.

The Truth

So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.

Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?

Soulsome Fruit

The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.

Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.

Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘


Reaping What You Sow

Proverbs 11:27

“He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.”

Definitions

Before we do anything else, let’s define the words “procureth” and “mischief”. These are not words that most people use in their everyday language. Procureth simply means “to seek”, while the word mischief means “evil”. The ESV says it this way, “Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it”.

A Simple Concept

Both of my grandfathers were farmers. They worked very long and hard hours in their gardens, working the soil and bringing in the crop. One of the concepts they learned from a very young age was that if they wanted a garden full of corn, as strange as this may sound, they would plant corn! When the harvest would come and the ears was ready to be shucked, then they would harvest CORN!

I know this may be a hard concept for some people to understand, but it is very true – if you plant corn, then you will reap corn. If you plant tomatoes, you will get tomatoes. If you plant squash – you guested it – you get squash.

This concept is not a new concept. The Bible talked about it in Galatians 6:7 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

This is not only true with planting physical seeds but also with anything we do in life! The verse we are looking at today says that if we purposefully seek to do good (planting), then we will seek favor (reaping). But we must be aware of one thing – it goes both ways. The last part of the verse says that evil (reaping) comes to him who searches for it (planting).

The Choice

According to this verse, we have a choice – we can either choose to live our lives by intentionally doing good or purposefully doing evil. It is up to you, but don’t forget – YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SOW!

Lord, help us to intentionally live our lives seeking to do good. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you each and every day.


Don’t Be Abominable

Proverbs 11:20

They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the Lord: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.

Froward Abomination

Any person with a froward heart, a heart that is turned away from God, is seen as an abomination, something detestable to God.

These people do their own thing. They avoid responsibility for their sin and/or justify their sin. They assume their rightness, even if the evidence shows otherwise.

The NIV starts this verse “The Lord detests men of perverse heart“. Remember what was said on verse three, that we all have perverse hearts and minds and are in need of a Savior.

Upright and Blameless

The NIV finishes this verse “but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.” Remember what has been said many times in these devotionals as well as in the Bible, that Jesus of Nazareth is the only one who is truly upright and blameless.

Fortunately for us perverse and froward people, Jesus’ death and resurrection provided a way for us to be seen as upright and blameless. All we must do is continue to believe in the Gospel and allow God to change us (Colossians 1:21-23, Hebrews 9:14).

When Christ is the center of our lives, we are seen as blameless and upright in God’s sight.

Gracious Father, thank You for making a way for us. Help us in our faith. Help us overcome our sinfulness and live upright lives in Your sight.


Liked, or Liked Less

Proverbs 11:16

“A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.”

To over-simplify things, there are two kind of people in this world: those whom are liked and those not liked as much. (To be fair, there tends to be a third group: the rest of us, we who seem to get by with little notice from most other people. We have our friends and co-workers, and that is about it.)

Gracious

The first person most people in our world think about when asked to name a person full of grace is Mother Teresa.

Many consider Mother Teresa to be one of the greatest women in history. She confessed hurts, pains, depressions, doubts, and weak faith.

Yet people still loved her … still love her to this day, even though she died in 1997.

Why?

She loved. She showed grace. She was devoted to serving others.

Rich

The first person most people in our world think about when asked to name a person who is rich is someone mentioned a couple of weeks ago: Donald Trump.

Many consider Donald Trump one of the wealthiest and most arrogant men in history. He has built a financial empire, built impressive buildings, hosted his own reality television series, and made a lot of money.

And many people can barely stand the guy.

Why?

He is blunt to a fault. He alienates others for the sake of profit. He is devoted to the bottom line.

Us

As mentioned above, most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

The downside is that we can fall into the trap of chasing something so hard that we alienate others and miss God. We end up with … nothing.

The plus side is that we can be like Mother Teresa. If we pursue God wholeheartedly, if we are desperate for His glory, we, too, can be known as people of grace remembered for our love.

The choice is ours.

The choice is yours.

Great God, give us Your grace. Fill us with Your love. Create in us a passion for Your glory, that we may not finish this race empty-handed and hated.


Counselors

Proverbs 11:14

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Poor Counsel

This is a bit of a strange one. The first part is easy to understand: Without good advice there are going to be problems. This applies on an individual level, but also to churches, companies, local and national government. Newspaper and television reporters from around the world have no shortage of subject matter when it comes to the failure of businesses and governments where there is no counsel or poor counsel.

One or Many?

The second part of the Proverb suggests that having many counselors is good. That doesn’t fit with a more modern proverb: ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’ I can relate to that. As a young second officer in the Merchant Navy my experience was gained mostly on cargo ships. Then in 1978 I joined a tanker. The only cargo equipment on this vessel was a couple of derricks for handling hoses and the gangway. Our Hong Kong deck crew had gained most of their experience on tankers, as had the other deck officers. Nobody had a clue how to use the cargo gear.

The first time I watched the crew trying to position the gangway between the ship and the jetty they came close to demolishing a shore installation. I did not need to speak Cantonese to ascertain the problem. One man, the bosun, should have been giving instructions. The problem was that every man in the deck crew thought he was the bosun, meaning that opinions and advice were flowing from all quarters. At the next port I took charge, issuing one set of instructions and positioning men and ropes where they needed to be. The crew were stunned at the ease with which we positioned the gangway. In this case only one counselor was needed to ensure safety.

One Counselor

I’m sure you can see where this is going. Sometimes we get swamped with opinions and instructions and supposedly good advice. It also comes from all quarters, especially in church. Every person is a bosun. Or so they think. Jesus knew what would happen when He left Earth to sit at the right hand of the Father. He knew that every person would have an opinion and want to give counsel. He knew that everyone would want to be the bosun. So He took action.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 (NIV)

There may be times when it is right to take earthly counsel, but too often we forget that there is another Counselor. Who are you listening to?