Tag Archives: Wisdom

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


Dream Big!

Proverbs 13:12

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” (KJV).
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.” (NLT).

When Hope is Deferred

Have you ever wanted something really bad or prayed about something for a very long time, but it never happened? Everyone has stories that they could share about disappointment and grief over things that they hoped for that never happened. When hope is deferred – when something you want doesn’t happen, or it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to – your heart gets sick. Hope deferred can cause you to stop hoping, stop dreaming, and even stop praying.

About ten years ago, my step-father lost his battle with cancer and he died. When that happened, my mom stopped praying. For many years, she refused to pray for circumstances to change, because she feared that they would only get worse. I am thankful that things have changed, and that she’s praying again today. Too many Christians allow themselves to get heart sick and then they lose courage, give up, and eventually they die.

“But”

The key to understanding God’s purpose in this Proverb is found in the small but important little word “But.” When I was an adjunct professor at Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC, I always taught my Bible Research students to look for those key connective words. There is an example of this in Ephesians chapter two where the Apostle Paul talks about how we “were by nature children of wrath… But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us (has) made us alive together with Christ.” (v. 3-5).

So, although it is true that hope deferred can make our hearts sick – But God – His desire is that we would dream, and dream big. For when those dreams are finally realized, there is life and joy. Thank God for the big “buts” in the Bible!

When Dreams Come True

Also in Ephesians, Paul tells us that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20). Our God is a good God, and He loves His children very much. He longs to bless us, to care for us, and meet all of our needs. But so often, we never ask. I wish we as Christians would believe the Bible more than we do!

Jesus Christ Himself taught, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Do you believe the promise? If you do, then pray! If you are in trouble, call upon the name of the Lord, for He is mighty to save! And when the Lord answers your prayers, make sure you praise Him. “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:21).


My Pride Says I’m Right

Proverbs 13:10

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.”

I know I’m right

Have you ever listened to a parent talking with a teenager? It can be fun, to say the least.

You see, a teenager has “seen it all” and “knows about everything” now that they have lived on this earth as long as they have. A teenager “understands what the world is all about” and is “always in perfect control” of his or her life.

But you know, a parent has been through “everything” that a teenager is going through, “knows all about everything” going on, and how to solve every situation.

A parent “has to control” the family and everything that affects them; a teen thinks he can handle things himself.

Both sides know and can.

Not Listening

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, teenager, you have not been around as long as your parents, and they have been through a lot more than you may ever know.

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, parent, teens actually do go through different circumstances and know more than you may realize.

In other words, the reason so many fights break out between parents and teens is that both know everything going on and think they can control it. This usually includes not hearing what the other is saying, because each side is so sure that the other does not understand as much as they think.

And usually they are both right.

And usually they are both wrong.

Wisdom

Just like in any relationship – from parents and children to friends to spouses to complete strangers – contention arises because we fail to listen.

The wise choice is … wait for it … TO LISTEN!

Much contention, fights, and hatred could be avoided if we would just listen to each other, hear each side. Then, find your common ground and dialogue.

If you can not do it, get another person to help, but be willing to hear that person tell you that you are wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Pride will tell you to fight it.

If you listen to pride, go back to the beginning of this little devotional.

Lord, teach us humility, even though it may hurt to get to it. Give us a heart to listen and hear and to admit when we are wrong. Give us the wisdom to listen to others and know when it is okay to speak (James 1:19)


Proverbial Pretenders

Proverbs 13:7

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet [hath] nothing: [there is] that maketh himself poor, yet [hath] great riches.”

Pretenders

When you read this verse the first time, what did you think it meant? The first time I read it I thought it was talking about people who were rich, but had nothing of real value. I thought it was praising those who gave away everything to have riches in heaven. But that is not what this proverb is about. The word “maketh” has to do with appearances.

“One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” – Proverbs 13:7 ESV

This proverb warns us about pretenders who appear to be something they are not. Some live extravagantly, yet have nothing. Others try to make everyone think they are penniless, yet they are loaded.

The Sad

Several years ago I had a relative who lived in one of the biggest houses in town, always drove a new car, wore the nicest clothes, and was responsible for the best gifts under the Christmas tree. Yet, when this person died, the truth came out: few things, if any, were not mortgaged, and credit card bills totaled in the hundreds of thousands. Nothing was what it seemed.

Not long ago there was a man named Walter Samaszko Jr. who was found in his Carson City, Nevada home a month after he actually died. Known as a recluse, he was the opposite of my relative. He didn’t try to impress; looking rich was the last thing Mr. Samaszko, 69, wanted to do. Yet, even though he left only $200 in the bank, hidden in his home were $7 million worth of gold bars. He could have used the gold to pay for a doctor.

The Sinister

This proverb is a warning to all of us who would make judgments based solely on outward appearances. It is a warning, not only because it is unwise to judge a person by his looks, but because we need to be wary of scammers and con-artists.

Some people are experts at taking advantage of others. This truth is comically portrayed in the 1988 movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, staring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. In this movie two con-artists, acting like men down on their luck, steal fortunes from compassionate, wealthy women. They “maketh” themselves poor (or rich, depending on the circumstance), yet take everything they want.

But real life is not funny. I have seen gypsies worth millions begging on the streets of eastern Europe. I have helped “needy” families with food and funds from our church’s stores, only to find out that the “needy” were only greedy. I have heard healthy men and women who refuse to work brag about “working the system” in order to obtain assistance meant for the poor and disabled.

Be warned, and don’t be like them.


Navigate Wisely

Proverbs 13:6

“Righteousness keepeth [him that is] upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.”

Choices

On the night of 13 January 2012 the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia chose to deviate from the agreed course for his ship to bring the ship close to the island of Isola del Giglio. He should have known better. The ship hit a reef. The hull was breached and the ship began to take on water, eventually listing to starboard and running completely aground. If the captain had chosen instead to remain on the right course the ship would have remained upright and lives would not have been lost.

Life presents us with many choices. From an early age we learn that some choices are better than others. Some choices make life easier, some make life more difficult. Some choices bring us praise, while other choices bring us trouble. The captain of the Costa Concordia may have thought that giving his passengers a treat by sailing close to shore would bring him praise. Instead it brought him trouble, and continues to do so.

Righteousness or Wickedness?

Righteousness is a word that is commonly associated with religion. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.’ Deliberately seeking to be righteous in the way that we think, speak and live out our lives provides a level of protection against bad choices, defined in Proverbs 13:6 as ‘wickedness.’ The attraction of sin is sometimes overpowering and we need to be able to defend ourselves against the bad choices that mislead us and misdirect us. Make the wrong choice and it will eventually, if not immediately, cause us harm.

Which Way?

The Hebrew word for way used in this verse may be translated as a road, or a course as in the case of a ship. We are all on a journey. We are free to choose which road or course we follow, but to maintain the right course requires effort and commitment. For a ship’s officer it is necessary to make regular course adjustments to counter the effects of currents and wind. Course alterations may be required to avoid dangerous reefs and shallow water. It is essential to make frequent checks on the ship’s position to ensure that it is still on course.

A good navigator is always alert to dangers and will not sail too close to them. A good navigator aims to bring the ship safely home to harbor, not end up aground on some foreign reef.

Photo/news story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/15/costa-concordia-disaster-transport-titanic

 


Get a Job! Or 3 or 4!

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“I’m Gonna…”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I’m gonna (do this or that).” I have heard grand schemes, everything from opening a new business, to joining the military, to inventing a never-before-heard-of product that will revolutionize the world. Yet, nothing ever gets done.

The “sluggard” is a man or woman that is flat-out lazy. The word comes from the idea of calling a person a slug, or a snail. But at least a snail is usually on his way somewhere, albeit slowly. The sluggard does nothing but talk of plans in the works, but work is never seen.

Get a Job!

Just today I was talking with a mother of a grown man out of work. He constantly takes from her, then runs off until the money is gone. He abuses her property, never gives her respect, and tries to play “daddy” with a girl who is not his wife. And when it comes to work, he complains that he can’t find a job. Baloney…Hogwash…Cow feces!

I thank God for allowing my wife and I to hit rock bottom years ago. I went from making a large income to making nothing. Just to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family’s heads, I (and my wife) did everything from deliver news papers, to clean toilets in factories. I delivered pizza, worked on a dangerous assembly line, and even sold insurance. At one point I was working 3-4 jobs at one time!

You see, the lazy sluggard has big desires, but won’t take responsibility and work for it. The diligent will do whatever it takes.

Little Patience

Today’s proverb reminds me of how little patience I have for “sluggards.” In my opinion there is no excuse for someone to sit on his duff and whine about what he doesn’t have. A real man will work, even if it is not the type of work he prefers. It is his responsibility, especially if he has a family.

Some want to use the “system” as an excuse for laziness. Others want to blame the government or the “bourgeoisie.” But in reality, the only one to blame is the one who desires something, but does nothing honest to obtain it. Honest, hard work is the answer to a great deal of society’s woes.

“But, there are no good jobs!” you may say. Sorry, washing dishes is a job. Cleaning floors is a job. And, if you do both at the same time, along with getting tips from waiting tables, you can live without mooching off your mother.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” – Ephesians 4:28

Thus sayeth the Lord: “Get a job.”


Guard Your Mouth

Proverbs 13:3

“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: [but] he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”

Big Mouth

What can be said about this proverb that is not painfully obvious? Would it help if we read it in another translation?

The Holman (HCSB) puts it, “The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.” The ESV says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” I’d say the message is the same, wouldn’t you?

A big mouth will get you into serious trouble. It may even cost your life.

Loose Lips

There used to be a saying back in the 1940’s: “Loose lips sink ships.” During World War II enemy spies were known to make friends with the families of soldiers and sailors. Knowing the tendency for proud parents, spouses, and children to talk about letters from the front, the enemy would listen and take note.

Many times, without even knowing it, something was said that gave details of secret missions. Lives were lost when people said more than they should.

Sometimes people get into serious trouble because they can’t keep secrets. Some people say things they don’t mean to say. Some people open their big mouths without thinking, then destruction comes.

Post a Guard

If you have a tendency to say things you shouldn’t, you may need to erect some barriers, or even post a security guard in front of your mouth. You can never be too safe when you know you possess something so dangerous.

Look back at the proverb; it says, “he that keepeth..” That means “to put a guard around.” A wise man will have in place a guard – a mental guard – that checks his words before they cross his lips.

Guard:  Good evening, Mr. Word. Going out for a stroll, tonight?

Mr. Word:  Actually, Mr. Security Guard, it’s none of your business where I am going.

Guard:  Oh, most certainly it is! If you don’t provide a good reason for leaving the premises, I must ask you to return.

Mr. Word:  All right, then. I was about to tell my wife that dress looks better on the hanger than her.

Guard:  (Speaking into a radio microphone) I need backup, immediately  Get back sir! Get away from the gate! You are a danger to all of us!

A Real Danger

If you don’t think your words are worth guarding, consider what James said about the tongue…

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” – James 1:26 NLT

Now, consider the words of the Apostle Peter…

“For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.'” – 1 Peter 3:10-11 NLT

Be careful what you say.