Category Archives: Wisdom

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!”


Feeding Habits

Proverbs 15:14

“The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.”

Food Choices

I am not the best example of physical fitness. My body may be the temple of the Holy Ghost, but it needs a little renovation and a serious yard sale. Too much “stuff” has accumulated along the outer areas of the temple grounds. Can you say XXL?

me with potatoOne of the reasons I am not in the best shape is my desire for certain kinds of foods – the kinds with flavor. It’s not that I eat a whole lot, but the types of food I do eat might be considered unhealthy.

However, now that I’ve witnessed my little girls turn into young ladies, healthier foods are becoming more important to me. I want to be around for their weddings; to see my grandchildren; and to play all those games only a grandfather can play. Only a fool would continue to eat bad things, never considering the future.

Contrasting Appetites

In this proverb Solomon contrasts a man that has a desire for knowledge with a man who wants to keep shoveling in foolishness. It reminds me of the difference between someone who understands the need for healthy foods and the one who devours pizza, cup cakes, and sugary drinks every day. One understands what is needful, the other only cares about pleasure.

A man of understanding knows what he needs – knowledge and wisdom. A foolish man feeds on what continues to make him a fool.

A wise man will seek those things which will make him wiser. A fool will satisfy his appetite with worthless information and stimulation.

A wise man will read and study. A fool will watch movies and play video games.

What are you feeding on? 


Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.