Tag Archives: Wisdom

What Are You Listening To?

Proverbs 17:4

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” (KJV).

Be Careful What You Hear:

There is an old Sunday school song that says, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear!” It’s a fun song, but it also promotes a very Biblical principle. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore take heed how you hear.” (Luke 8:18a). To take heed means to be careful. We need to be careful what we choose to listen to! Words are powerful, and words can either bring life or death into people’s lives.

In today’s Scripture, Solomon gives us warnings about two different kinds of people: Wicked people, and liars. He tells us that a wicked person will give heed – or listen – to false lips, and a liar will give ear – or listen – to a naughty (malicious, spiteful, destructive) tongue. We know that as Christians, God doesn’t want us to be a wicked person or a liar. Therefore, we would be wise to not listen to false lips or naughty tongues.

False Lips and Naughty Tongues:

There are many false lips and naughty tongues in the world today. Wicked people and liars will use their lips and tongues to tell lies, slander people, gossip about others, and stir up strife and disunity – in families, churches, and indeed all relationships. Therefore, we must be on our guard against such people! It’s sad to say that you can even find those people… in the church. As a pastor, I can tell you that there is nothing more dangerous or harmful in a church than people who will stir up strife and division through their negative words!

So what do we do when we find ourselves surrounded by people with false lips and naughty tongues? We can’t just go and bury our heads in the sand or move into a monastery, can we? Of course not. However, we must still guard our hearts from such negative words. Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon gives us this warning: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). (Click HERE to read Jason’s devotional about this Scripture). Our ears and eyes are the windows to the heart, so we must be careful what we put into them.

How to Guard the Heart:

How can we keep our heart from being affected by hearing negative words – lying, strife, gossip, slander and more? First of all, make a decision that you will not allow your heart to be a garbage can for other people’s negative words. The next time someone starts gossiping to you, or talking negatively about someone else, refuse to listen to it. (And remember this – if someone will gossip to you, they will gossip about you! This is not the kind of friend you need…). And secondly, make a decision that you will watch your words, and make sure that no negative speech comes out of your mouth. Use your words to bring life to people!

Here’s a link to a youtube video of the old Sunday school song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes:

 


Don’t Cover the Gray

Proverbs 16:31

“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” 

“You’re Worth It”

Do you remember the old hair-coloring commercials that tried to convince us that coloring one’s hair was worth the money and time, because, after all, “you’re worth it”?

Another advertisement for hair color contained a jingle which went, “I’m gonna wash that grey right out of my hair” (Clairol). What we the purpose of all this nonsense? The purpose was to appear younger.

Well, believe it or not, the longer one lives, the more wisdom he or she obtains and grey hair should be the emblem of their success. Where that crown! You’re worth it!

The Right Head

The “hoary head” is another way of saying the head that has white or grey hair. Solomon is saying that he who is blessed with that hair is blessed with a crown of glory, so long as he is in the “way of righteousness.” Without righteousness and godly wisdom, all that grey hair just means you’re old.

My Gray

I never thought I would live long enough for this verse to mean anything to me, but here I am, 48, with a silvery-gray goatee that constantly battles the razor that shaves my head. Some have asked, “Why don’t you color your facial hair?” My response is simple: I don’t want to look immature.

I don’t know about you, but I have battled with looking young all my life. For most that would be a blessing worth millions, but not for a preacher. I don’t want to look like a 25-year-old hipster who goes through a gallon of hair product a month to look good on T.V. I don’t want to look like the wavy-blond PhD who managed to get famous for writing 50 pages in 50 books, and probably still sleeps with a teddy bear.

I have earned my “hoary head”!  I wan’t to look like the 48-year-old pastor who has faced giants, slain dragons, and changed diapers – all while studying for Sunday morning. Gray is my medal of honor.

Respect Them

Modern culture is quick to throw out the elderly with the trash, and that’s a crying shame. Paul told Timothy (1 Timothy 5:1-2) to treat the older men as fathers, and the older women as mothers. Paul even gave instruction to both Timothy and Titus to seek out the elderly and put their wisdom to use training the younger generations.

When I was young, our teacher made us all stand up in our classroom out of respect for a visiting adult. When a parent or visitor came through the door of our classroom we would stand at attention without even thinking. We were constantly reminded of Leviticus 19:32, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

 You keep your brown and black – my crown is staying gray.


It’s a Trap!

Proverbs 16:28.

“A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”

The danger of strife:

In an earlier passage in Proverbs, Solomon describes seven things that the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). It’s interesting to note that three of those seven have to deal with sins of the mouth – a lying tongue, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord. As we are working on building healthy relationships, God warns us about one of the deadliest traps to avoid: strife.

Solomon tells us that strife comes from a froward, or a perverse, person. A godly man on the other hand will not stir up strife. Strife is so deadly that it can even separate the best of friends. It is very dangerous to cause strife, by gossiping about and slandering another person. Proverbs 6:15 warns us about the consequences about being a person who sows discord: “But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken beyond all hope of healing.” We must be ever-vigilant to guard against strife. Proverbs also warns us: “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” (Prov. 17:14). “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” (Prov. 26:20). Want to stop the deadly fire of strife? Stop gossiping!

The importance of unity:

In one of my favourite Psalms, David shows us why strife is so dangerous by talking about its opposite: unity: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious anointing oil… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” (Psalm 133). Here, David teaches us that unity is good, and that when we walk in unity with one another, God’s presence is there (symbolized by the anointing oil), His blessing is there, and eternal life – salvation – is found there. Is unity important? Absolutely.

As a pastor, when I work with a team of leaders, one of the most important principles I try to instill in them is an understanding of the importance of unity. If a leadership team (or a church, or a family – the principle works anywhere) walks in unity, they will experience God’s blessing. But once we allow strife to come in, it can destroy any team, church or family. It is one of Satan’s greatest weapons – it’s a trap! If God blesses unity, then the enemy will do whatever he can to stir up strife.

How to guard the unity:

How do we walk in unity? First of all, realize that offenses are going to happen. People are going to do things to hurt you, but you don’t have to pick up that hurt or offense. Choose to forgive. And if you have a problem with someone, go and talk to them about it, instead of talking to someone else about it. Guard the unity, keep out the strife, and you will walk in God’s blessing!


Non-Verbal Communication

Proverbs 16:15

“In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.”

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION

Depending on which study you go on, somewhere between 60 and 93% of all communication is said to be “non-verbal.”  Along with the actual words heard, the listener is also processing the speaker’s inflection, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and a host of other context clues.  Most of the time, we process this non-verbal communication instinctively to arrive at the speaker’s total meaning.  Communication is complex, but God has gifted man’s intellect to sort through it all in the beautiful art of human conversation.

Today’s proverb is about non-verbal communication between the king and one of his subjects.  Perhaps the subject has been arrested and charged with a crime of a serious nature.  For whatever reason, the poor man is hauled in before the king.  As the charges are read, the subject dares not lift his eyes from the parquet marble floor of the throne room.   But then the defendant’s legal counsel urges him to look up at the king!  Trembling, he lifts his chin, and against all hope, he see the light of acquittal in the king’s eyes!  Overwhelmed with grateful joy, the king’s subject falls to the floor. With tears streaming, he thanks his king for granting him life.

STANDING BEFORE KING JESUS

Dear reader, one day soon you will face King Jesus.  It may be this very day, or it may be years hence. But God’s Word testifies that God the Father has granted to His Son the authority to judge the world with justice.  That this unique honor is given to Jesus is proven by God’s raising Jesus Christ from the dead (Acts 17:31).  What do you expect to see in the eyes of Jesus on that awesome day?  The light of life? Or will his face be full of wrath and the verdict of death (Proverbs 16:14)?

The gospel tells us that in His great love, God did the most amazing thing:  He sent His Son, the King, to earth to receive God’s wrath against the sin of man.  God has a measured, just, hatred of sin.  Sin cannot be ignored.  That’s why King Jesus went to the Cross!  To be the sin-bearer!

Now the gospel commands all men, women, boys and girls, from every nation, tribe, language and people group to repent of their sins and to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38, 17:30).  The result?  That you will one day look into the eyes of your Judge, and there you see the loving eyes of your Savior—even the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father God:  In the countenance of your own dear Son, we see the light of life.  May his face shine in all of its glorious, merciful brilliance upon the reader this day.  Through Christ our Lord we pray: Amen. 


Keep Your Fingers to Yourself

Proverbs 16:14

“The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.”

When I first read this verse I pictured an angry king who sent out soldiers to execute judgment on his enemies. Then, just a few days later, I learned of a more modern example of an angry king – Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat. His kingdom? The Miami-Dade courtroom in Florida.

February 4, 2013

It was all caught on camera. The cheerful, giddy, 18-year old Penelope Soto stood facing a camera, while Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat sat in the courtroom hearing her case. Soto was being sentenced for illegal possession of Xanax.

The judge seemed nice enough, trying to be patient Soto, who evidently didn’t take the whole thing too seriously. Then, when the judge set the girl’s bail at $5,000, she turned around and said in a casual, disrespectful way, “Adios!

Judge Rodriguez-Chomat said, “Come back…come back.” This time, irked at her flippant demeanor, he raised Soto’s bail to $10,000. That got her attention, too, and so this time when she walked away she held up her middle finger to the camera for the judge to see.

Come back! Come back!” said the judge. This time, after few words, he sentenced the once-perky illicit drug user to 30 days in jail. She quit laughing.

Don’t be a Fool

It’s really not that complicated. When one stands before one who has the ability to exercise judgment, it’s not very wise to air out one’s middle finger.

Penelope Soto could have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist. She seemed sweet enough, and the judge seemed patient, to a degree. But it was when she disrespected his authority that she crossed a serious line. That is when she experienced the “wrath of the king.”

Why is it that some people do that? Everything could be going just fine, then they choose to disrespect authority. Don’t they realize the foolishness of their actions? Why don’t they show a little wisdom and keep the “king” in a good mood?

They Don’t Respect God

The real reason most people have a problem with authority and end up ticking off kings is that they have no respect for God. If they did respect Him, they would respect His “minister.”

In Romans thirteen we read that we should “be subject to higher powers” (13:1). Anyone who resists, or rebels against authority is in danger of rebelling against God, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Paul also said that if one does good, he should have no reason to fear authority. However, when we rebel, or show our middle fingers, we must remember if we do wrong, “be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing” (13:4 NIV).

 


Who’s the Boss?

Proverbs 16:3

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (KJV). 

The Secret to Success:

What is the secret to success? The world tells us that we just need to “be positive, focus, be persistent and work hard!” Is that all it takes? Or is there something else that we can do if we want to do well in life? Eugene Peterson paraphrases today’s Scripture with these words: “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” (The Message).

Here are two important keys from the Scriptures that will help your plans to come to pass:

  1. Delight Yourself in the Lord:

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” If we want our thoughts to be established, and see our goals accomplished, the first thing we should do is spend time with God, and ask Him what His plans for our lives are. Too many Christians come up with their own ideas and plans and go to God and say, “Lord, will you bless my plans?” But those plans are not always His will for our lives, and so He may not bless them.

One of my favourite comic strips characters Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes went to his dad and said, “Will you buy me a flame thrower?” His response was, “No.” Does that mean that his dad didn’t love him? Of course not! But he knew his son well enough to know that if he gave into his request, it would have disastrous consequences. So, if we want to see our thoughts established, we must first spend time with the Lord and ask Him what He wants us to do.

This is one of the reasons why the ministry of Jesus was so successful. He only did what the Father told Him to do! Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.” (John 5:19). I was in ministry for several years before I learned this important principle: Instead of going to God with my plans and saying, “Would you bless them?” I now go to God and say, “What’s your plan for today, Father?”

  1. Walk in Obedience:

If we want God to see our plans succeed, we need to walk in obedience to the Lord. The first part of that is obedience to the general will of God as recorded in the Scriptures. James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” The second part is obedience to the specific will of God for our lives, which is revealed to us in prayer. God has blessed us to be a blessing – who does He want you to bless today?

What is God calling you to do? Do it and it will be blessed!

Calvin & Hobbes - flame thrower

(Calvin & Hobbes (c) 2013 Bill Waterson).


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. 


The Cost of Bribes

Proverbs 15:27

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” 

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” – NIV

Same Script

Have you ever noticed how most crime dramas on television are the same, at least in the writing department? When we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is “no new thing under the sun,” it especially applies to television and movie plots.

One reason that it is hard to come up with anything new is because men keep doing the same things over and over again. The stories are all so similar in pattern because the template is ingrained in man’s fallen nature. He keeps falling for the same old tricks every time, like fish that never question a swimming worm.

One common story line involves a man who needs money, takes a bribe, gets caught, then brings his family to ruin. It varies, of course, but whether it’s a politician who takes a bribe in order to keep his career afloat, or a discouraged policeman who deals confiscated drugs in order to take care of his sick children, the end is always the same – trouble.

Doing What’s Right

It is not always easy to turn down easy money. Sometimes the offer can seem pretty tempting. Several years ago my wife and I were asked to hire undocumented workers in order to keep down the costs of a cleaning contract. We were told over and over, “They work hard for little money…everyone does it…no one will find out.” We could have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Doing what is right, however, is more important than money. Greed is the downfall of many. What would have happened my wife’s company had been visited by federal agents? How many lies would she have been responsible for when she filed payroll taxes? What would have happened to our family of one of us had been sent to jail?

Even when times are at their worst, doing wrong, taking a bribe, doing it for the money, is never good for one’s home. Somebody down the line will pay for poor choices made.


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!


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!