Category Archives: Paths of Life

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!


Seeing Your Map

Proverbs 14:8

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.”

Asking Directions

One of the most common jokes in the Western Culture (primarily North America and Europe) is that men are not good at asking directions. There is much truth in this.

Men feel sufficient in their ability to find their way around if they have a map … and many time they may even forgo the map! Sometimes, it is because of their pride that they can not admit to not understanding the map.

In other words, they often end up even more lost as they lie about what they do not actually know.

And men are not alone. I have known several women just as guilty of this as many men.

Only after properly consulting the map or asking for directions can someone who is lost find their destination.

Your map

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way …

A wise person would heed the call of the gospel message: we are all guilty of sin; we all think we are on our way to happiness (or at least that it can not get much worse than this life), but we are on our way to eternal sorrow and destruction; and God stepped down in the Person Jesus of Nazareth to save us from our sin by dying on the cross and raising back to life three days later.

A wise person would realize he or she is lost and accept the offer of directions. The map of our lives is entirely in God’s hands, but we choose our path.

The foolish person will never admit to being lost and will settle on the lie that, if there is a map, we are in complete control of our own destiny and make our own map. This person settles on the lie that we can be our own gods, or that there is no God, or that god is whatever we make of it.

We can either understand our way or live in the lie, deceiving ourselves to our doom.

Are you wise or foolish?

Heavenly Father, break through our lies and deceit. Help us to see the truth of who You are and who we are. Help us overcome our folly and our sin and understand our need for You, that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


The Hard Way

Proverbs 13:15

“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” KJV
“A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person is headed for destruction.” NLT

 A Hard Life

Every now and then you may encounter people with a look that older than than their age. You may meet a man who is only in his thirties, but looks like he over sixty. A young woman may cross your path that is wrinkled, bent over, and haggard, only to find out that she is 28 years way too old.

What makes people look like they are much older than their chronological age? Hard lives. Lifestyles bent on destruction.

To be fair, there are others that you may see who have been through a lot of pain and suffering due to circumstances beyond their control. These, too, may look older than they actually are. Life has been hard on them. But for many, what they have endured has been the result of a transgressor’s path, and that’s a hard road.

Good Sense

A person that exhibits good sense (“understanding”) is typically a person who takes better care of himself. Good sense says, “Hey, maybe staying up late every night partying until the sun comes up is a bad idea.” Good sense says, “You know, taking that drug might be harmful, not to mention addictive.

Someone with understanding and good sense is also somebody others respect and trust. For example, this type of man or woman is the one who gets the job or promotion. He or she is the one who gets awards and bonuses. They are also the ones who have lower life insurance premiums and rarely have to pay large down payments to purchase anything on credit.

However, the transgressor is the one who nobody really trusts closing the store at night. He’s the one who always calls in sick on Monday morning. Life insurance companies consider him a “high risk” and deny him coverage. And when it comes to buying a house or new car, all he can do is rent.

Advice for the Road

Let me give you some advice. If you are planning on traveling down the “hard road” of life, plan on things never going your way. But don’t think you can blame all of your woes on those with more than you, because they have “understanding;” they can see through your schemes.

Don’t blame the government. Don’t blame the church people. Don’t blame your boss (if you can keep one). Don’t blame anyone for the path that you have chosen.

Also, if you are planning to live a life that transgresses God’s word (His law), don’t blame Him when things don’t go the way you plan. He warned you.

So, when you find yourself living in a run-down motel, remember, Wisdom has been crying out, “You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding” (Proverbs 8:5 NLT).

When you won’t listen to Wisdom, your way will be hard.


Alluring Snares

Proverbs 13:14

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

Snares

Let’s talk about “snares” for a moment. What is a snare? A snare is a trap meant to catch and hold prey. A snare is something set by a hunter. The following description is posted on the Encyclopedia Brittanica’s animal advocacy page. (Link)

Killing animals with snares and traps is an appallingly cruel way of slaughter. The caught animals do not die instantly… it often takes days for the victims to slowly die of dehydration, starvation or strangulation. Although some animals manage to free themselves of these death traps, they are then crippled and unable to fend for themselves, again left to die slowly.

Any animal can get caught in these snares, including the young, the healthy and the pregnant — snares kill indiscriminately!

A snare is something that is set for a purpose; it is intentional. Snares of old were usually things like nooses made of rope, or pits dug and covered over to look like solid ground. Snares don’t happen on their own, but are set in order to catch a specific animal.

Lures

Snares are not very effective, however, when there are no lures attached. In order for a snare to catch something, that “something” must see a reason to justify stepping into the trap. Therefore, a snare is usually baited with something the prey would really like to have, like food.

But not all snares are baited with food. Some snares are baited with other desirous items like money, fame, sex, and shiny gadgets.

On the other hand, the most dangerous snares are those which are placed in an already determined path. They need no bait. All they need is a traveler not paying attention.

Laws and Teaching

Today’s proverbs says that the teaching of the wise is a regular source of life, helping us avoid inevitable traps meant to take our lives. What are some examples?

The Teaching: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” – Proverbs 5:18 NLT

The Lure: “Life is short. Have an affair.” – Ashley Madison (.com)

The Snare: Betrayal. Broken marriage and home. Guilt and regret.

The Teaching: “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” – James 3:5 NIV

 The Lure: Debates on Facebook; Twitter Rants.

The Snare: Rash words you can never take back. Hurt feelings. Ruined friendships.

 The Teaching: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…[but]store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

The Lure: Early retirement; Investment schemes; Real estate; Travel; etc.

The Snare: A life wasted on material gain. Unfunded ministries. No treasure in heaven.

The Teaching:  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7 KJV

The Lure: “Stealth mode” on your computer.

The Snare: Shame. Addiction. Warped sense of love. Lying. Wanting more.

The Hunter

Make no mistake about it, there is a hunter on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). He is all about setting traps. The lures he uses are getting more sophisticated every day.

And this hunter doesn’t care who he kills, or how much they suffer. For that matter, the more they suffer, the better.

But the “law of the wise” will keep you from falling into those traps. The “snares of death” are easily spotted and avoided when we obey the teaching of God’s Word.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” – Matthew 6:13 KJV