Tag Archives: advice

Playing Safe or Understanding

Proverbs 19:25

25 Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

The Line

I have worked with many people in my relatively short thirty years on this earth.

Some of these people did the bare minimum of the required work to get by while complaining about the work, the environment, or other employees and/or supervisors.

When another employee, one who does the bare minimum and complains about everything, gets reprimanded or fired, they get quiet for a few days or weeks. They might even learn how to cover their tracks a little better or when to complain.

The consider themselves smart for avoiding trouble. The know where the line of disobedience is, and they toe it carefully to avoid crossing it.

I and others preferred to go the other route. We have tried to do the best work we can with as little complaining as possible. If we did our job in such a way that required reprimanding (a talking-to, a write-up, a pay cut, etcetera), we would attempt to be better and do better.

We were given more knowledge to help us understand our job better and be better at it.

Walking It Out

When Jesus died on the cross, there were two men on either side of him. Both were guilty and deserving of punishment. One looked to Jesus and, while dying for his crime, mocked Jesus. The other criminal talked with Jesus and gained the knowledge that He is the Son of God.

Jesus’ death and resurrection was God telling us we cannot live up to His standards, and we need His help.

Most of us take that warning as simply a call to live a better and more moral life, or we simply just mock Him and call His standard backward, archaic, or illogical.

Some of us look to the cross and gain the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our only way to measure up before God.

Gracious God, give us the wisdom to accept correction, the strength to change, and the power to grow. Draw us closer to You that as our knowledge and understanding grow, we may help lead others to the saving knowledge of Your Son.


It’s Black and White

Proverbs 19:16

“He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.”

Black

When we boil some things down to the basics we find that there are, in the bottom of every pot, little things called “black and whites.” Believe it or not, even though we live in a world of fifty shades of gray, blacks and whites are always among us.

It is not easy to label all the “blacks.” Nevertheless, some of the blacks have horrible consequences. When a man chooses not to keep the commandments of God he runs the real risk losing everything, including his life.

When will men and women ever learn that choosing to “despise” God’s way is not only selfish, but shows how messed up our priorities and preferences must be. How crazy is it that men will purchase destruction with their own rebellion?

Black and White

A wise man understands that there is a great price to pay when he breaks God’s commandments. The wise man keeps the Word of God because he knows his soul is more valuable than any temporary pleasures.

IMG_4120It is not always easy to tell between black and white, but God gave us his Word – in black and white. On those pages we can read what leads to life. We are warned of the things that lead to death. Yet, the fools of the world often choose to blur the letters on the page, smudging the ink until the page is gray and anything goes.

Dear God, we may not always keep your commandments, but we repent and ask for help to do what is right and holy. Even though we may fail at times, give us a heart with a desire to keep your Word, not despise it.


Just Whip It?

Proverbs 17:10

A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” (KJV)
A rebuke impresses a discerning person, more than a hundred lashes a fool.” (NIV)

Have you ever been at work an been told you had been doing something wrong?

How did you take the news?

Did you seek advice? Did you make the necessary change? Did you examine possible ways to not let it happen again?

That would be the wise thing to do.

Or did you keep doing the same thing until you had to be reprimanded or even fired? Was the only thing that could make you listen the threat of losing pay or your job?

In Life

If you have heard a word from God (a friend telling you something is not good for you or bad, hearing a special sermon that spoke to you, reading your Bible, etcetera), how did you take the news?

Did you seek advice from others? Did you make the necessary change? Did you examine your life to find ways to not let it happen again?

That is the wise thing to do.

Or did you decide to keep doing your own thing and wait for the consequences?

Are you looking for peace in your life, or are you living within the violence of sin?

Did you whip your life into shape, or are you allowing the devil’s whip to continue weakening your soul?

Merciful God, grant us the wisdom to heed the warnings we receive in life or from You. Help us to change from a love of violence to a love of peace and understanding.


Common Sense

Proverbs 16:7

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Common Sense

Some things make perfect sense. Some things are so sensible that everyone agrees, hence the term “common sense.” However, there are some things that people find hard to understand, even though anyone with common sense would think it makes perfect sense.

Today’s proverb should be a no-brainer.

Pleasing Ways

Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments? I’m not talking about the movie with Charleton Heston, just the Commandments themselves.

If you haven’t read them in a while, why don’t we refresh ourselves with a few of them?

  • Don’t steal
  • Don’t murder
  • Don’t commit adultery
  • Don’t lie about your neighbor
  • Honor your father and mother
  • Don’t sit around desiring what’s not yours

If you want to live in such a way (ethically speaking) that will please the Lord, the above list is a good place to start, wouldn’t you think? What is more pleasing than not stealing, not murdering, not lying, not envying, etc.?

Peaceful Enemies

Believe it or not, doing what pleases the Lord (like not committing murder, not stealing from your employer, or not sleeping with your boss’s wife) is actually a good way to get ahead in the world. Common sense, wouldn’t you think?

I have worked with many atheists and agnostics, some of which hated what I believed, but none of them ever fired me for being a bad employee. Most gave high recommendations to my next employer. In one sense they were my “enemies,” but all in all they were peaceful. Why? Because my ways pleased the Lord.

Nonsense

What I found totally nonsensical was a story relating to the Ten Commandments being posted in a public school. I can’t remember where this exactly took place, but I do remember the reason the lawyers gave for removing the list from view…

“If the Ten Commandments are allowed to remain, then children will be tempted to do what they say.”

So my question is this: which is more pleasing, NOT committing murder, or gunning down kindergartners and teachers? Seems pretty simple, but I guess there is a shortage of common sense these days.

 


Hating Yourself

Proverbs 15:32

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.”

Abused

People who have a history of abuse tend to have something else in common: they hate themselves thinking they caused the abuse they received.

It indeed is a sad way to go through life, but it is the reality many people face every day.

What is interesting and also sad is that there are people who have little to no reason to hate their lives, yet they abuse themselves. They abuse themselves with drugs, alcohol, food, lack of food, pain, and any number of other things.

The saddest of all are those who abuse themselves intellectually and spiritually, often intentionally.

Not Listening

There are some who refuse to give in to intellectual honesty. This is most often found in the realm of politics, but it can be seen everywhere. These are the people who are approached with facts, but they believe something else so strongly that they refuse to believe the evidence in front of them.

The others see the evidence of the spiritual and refuse to acknowledge it or to see its importance. It is often combined with intellectual dishonesty, but in any event it is the most dangerous.

Whether they follow a religion or are irreligious in any fashion (including within a faith-system … including Christianity and all of its facets), people will refuse to listen to the One True God.

Rebuked and Loving It

Those who listen to the God of the Universe come to understand that there is only One God (Deuteronomy 6:4), we are all messed up and in need of His saving us (Romans 3), and that Jesus is the only Way to salvation (John 14:6).

We realize that God has rebuked our sin and atoned for it through the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only because of His great love for us that He does rebuke our sin, that He came to personally pay the price to restore the relationship.

Do not hate your soul. Hear God speaking to you, and follow Him!

Gracious God, thank You for loving us enough to call out our sin and then saving us from our sin! Help us to see Your love for us, and help us to love You more for it.


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!


Wise Love Scorned

Proverbs 15:12

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.”

Needing Correction

There is something that needs to be understood about a scorner. A scorner is one who scorns things, meaning they do not like someone or something or find something unnecessary, perhaps even evil in their sight.

It is fair to say that God scorns evil. However, God does not qualify as a scorner.

You see, a scorner is one who is rarely happy. They usually complain. It might be fair to say that a scorner usually is only happy when they are complaining about something.

Scorners also tend to be those people who demand their own way. (Perhaps you remember my discussing working in customer service on Proverbs 8:20-21, 10:17, and 14:17?)

This, then, means that scorners often need to have an attitude adjustment. In other words, they need correction on their behavior. But how does a scorner respond?

I’m with stupid

The scorner looks at a person who offers a more proper way to interact with others and thinks how stupid that person is. Think about it: when a scorner throws a big enough fit, they tend to get what they want. They have learned the ways of this world, so how dare anyone tell them how to live!

The scorner even learns, eventually, that anyone who “knows better” is simply out to ruin their life. (See? Complaining.) If this is the case, they would never seek out a person who tries to show them the right way to live.

It should mean that they avoid Christians.

Wise Christian

If you call yourself a Christian yet often find yourself agreeing with those who complain the most, are you truly living correctly yourself?

The wise person knows that complaining and scorning others is not God’s will.

If we are quick to dismiss someone else’s correction, it means we think we are smarter than them.

If we are quick to demand our own way, it means we think we are better than others.

If we only ever seek to be friends with those who complain or dismiss others, it means we are not with the wise.

Pride causes us to dismiss other people and their advice. Pride tells us to surround ourselves with like-minded people who will always agree with us.

Pride leads us to scorn others.

Pride leads us to scorn God.

The wise Christian will heed the advice of others. The wise Christian will seek out wise counsel.

The wise Christian will know this is the will of God.

Heavenly Father, guide us in all wisdom, and help us to accept Your correction however and through whomever it comes. Do not let us live in our own pride; instead may we seek You!


Don’t Speak Too Soon

Proverbs 14:33 

“Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.”

Keep Quiet

One thing I learned from my father was to keep my mouth shut. No, not in the way that you may think…he didn’t tell me to be quiet…he just told me to watch my number of words.

My dad used to say, “You always appear smarter when you don’t tell all you know.” In other words, as long as your mouth is shut, people will never know how much or how little you actually know. They may just assume you are the wisest in the room. The one who runs off at the mouth is the one who exposes his ignorance.

Exposing One’s Ignorance

This proverb is about being quiet and letting things settle. It’s about knowing you have an answer, but waiting for others to share their mind. It’s about patience.

The man with understanding knows that the longer he listens to an argument, the better the response he can make when the moment is right. The fool jumps into the fray before he knows all the facts, exposing his ignorance too soon.

Watching Words

Did your parents ever tell you to “watch your mouth?” Mine did. They would also tell me to “think before you speak.” I can’t tell you how many times I have stood in the middle of a group of people without saying a word. When it did come time to say something, what I said stood out as something worth hearing, as opposed to more of the same.

Lord, help us to be prudent with our words, and may they always be a reflection of godly wisdom.


Two Roads

Proverbs 14:2

“He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.” (KJV).
“Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.” (NLT).

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

  • I shall be telling this with a sigh,
  • Somewhere ages and ages hence:
  • Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
  • I took the one less traveled by
  • And that has made all the difference 

Often, the references to roads in poetry are metaphors to make us think of our lives and how we live them. Even Jesus used this metaphorical sense in talking about roads when He said, “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14).

Everyone wonders: how do we find the road to the blessed life?  Jesus said that this road is the road less traveled by – that there are few who find it – and that it will make all the difference, for this is the road that leads to life. I believe this is what Solomon was talking about in the above Proverb:

The First Road – The Wrong Path:

The first road that Jesus talks about is the wide road that leads to destruction. He says there are many people who walk on that road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who are perverse in their ways – those who take the wrong path – show that they despise God by walking on this road. It’s like God put up a big sign that said, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” and yet foolish people still choose that road. The road of sin, rebellion, and ultimately death. But there is another road…

The Second Road – The Right Path:

The second road that Jesus talks about is the narrow and difficult way that leads to life. He says that – sadly – there are few who find this road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who walk in their uprightness – those who follow the right path – fear the Lord. And here is the key to walking on the right path. It starts with a fear of the Lord.

To fear the Lord doesn’t mean that we are afraid of Him. However, it does mean that we respect Him, and when He says, “This is the way, walk in it,” we obey. Because we trust Him. And we know that the commands that He gives to us are for our own good.

Today, you are standing at a crossroads. Two roads diverge in a wood. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for those who choose the easy way. But the road to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few find it. Take the narrow road – the road less traveled by. It will make all the difference in your life!