So Many Choices, How Can I Choose?? – PROVERBS 5 [7 out of 7]

The person without the Spirit can’ t understand the truths that come from the Spirit of God. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. – 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Verses 21-23 wrap up Proverbs 5:
21   For the LORD sees clearly what a man does,
       examining every path he takes.
22   An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
       they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23   He will die for lack of self-control;
       he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

What I particularly like about Solomon’s advice is that he is a straight-talker.  You don’t have to read between the lines to understand his message (see bold print).

Solomon points out clearly that it’s the choices we made that define the path we’re on today.  We weren’t randomly teleported to where we are now.

             star-trek-teleporter

If we take the time to reflect on our past choices, using the gift of reasoning God gave only to people, we would be able to see that, “I did _____ in this situation, choosing to do  _______, and ______ , and the result was _______.”  Hind sight is 20/20 after-all. 🙂

Each choice we make takes us down a different path.  Some great, some a learning experience, and some destructive. We’re continually making choices. We’re never stagnant.

              choosing-the-right-strategic-path

For example –  I chose to look down, although quickly, at a text while driving, and don’t see that the car in front of me slowed up to let a family of geese pass, and I hit them.

gesse            fender-bender

These warnings from Solomon in Proverbs Chapter 5, , and others we read about in the Bible, are there because God knows we struggle with all the choices that bombard us. If this was not an issue, God wouldn’t spend so much time emphasizing, and re-emphasizing the potential irreversible emotional, and physical consequences of going our own way.

I mean seriously, isn’t it hard enough trying to pick out the “right” tube of toothpaste at the grocery store?

             toothpaste

Won’t it be nice to be able to KNOW which toothpaste would give me those bright white teeth? Wouldn’t it be nice to KNOW which choice would give me a rich and satisfying life?  – John 10:10  

Thankfully, we can KNOW the “wise” choice.  Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  –  Matthew 7:13

   Enter-in-at-the-narrow-gate-copy-w

Make a choice today to follow God’s ways, and ask God into your heart, see The Cornerstone… tab in the menu.

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Which Way to Turn? Which Way to Turn??? – PROVERBS 3:21-32 [6]

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bear with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2

 

21  My child, DON’T lose sight of common sense (applying experience, knowledge) and                  discernment ( good judgement based on experience and knowledge = wisdom)
Hang on to them,
22    For they will…
        1. Refresh your soul.
            They are like jewels on a necklace.
23    2. They keep you safe on your way,
        3. Your feet will not stumble.
24    4. You can go to bed without fear;
        5. you will lie down and sleep soundly.

25  You DON’T need be afraid of sudden disaster
      or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the
26   1. Lord is your security.
       2. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

27   DON’T withhold good from those who deserve it
       when it’s in your power to help them.

28   If you can help your neighbor now, DON’T say,
       “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

29  DON’T plot harm against your neighbor,
      for those who live nearby trust you.

30  DON’T pick a fight without reason,
      when no one has done you harm.

31  DON’T envy the oppressor (someone who dominates or inflicts stress on someone)
       or copy their ways.
32  Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but
      1. He offers His friendship to the godly.

In the above verses you will see a series of DON’T(s), and the results of heeding those warnings. (See words in bold print for DON’T(s), and underlined numbers for the results).

Remember these principles when faced with making a decision that falls into the “gray” area.  Recalling AND Applying God’s Word will clear the “debris”, and enable you to see the “wise” choice.  (As you may notice, the “wise” choice is in the murky water.  Look closely.   It’s often hard to see until it’s been filtered out with God’s Truth, leaving the “wise” choice clearly visible.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                  glasses1

                                    grayarea                                                              

Now that we know all the positive results that come from following God’s guidance, hopefully the next time we find ourselves at a crossroads, we’ll have a good idea which path to choose.

                                    crossroad                                      be lucky tote good bet idea

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My Life is Sooooo Busy…..

Don’t worry, or be anxious, about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. –  Philippians 4:6

 

Today, I would like to share a poem, written on a beautiful wooden plague, that I bought years ago at a church auction. It sits on the dresser, next to my bed, as a reminder of what happens when I/we try to “do life” on my/our own, apart from God.

Our lives can get so busy, that before we know it, we’re caught up in the rat race.  So much of our day is taken up with “stuff”.  Some necessary, and some, not so much. We forget that God loves us, and has a plan for our day.  He wants to give us a rich and satisfying life –  John 10:10.  rat_race Have you ever felt like you were carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?  Or  wondered if it were possible to lighten the burden you were experiencing?                                                   atlas

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  –  Matthew 11:28-30

I hope this poem is a blessing to you  –  🙂

                                    Slide1

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Keep Your Foot Out of Your Mouth…. – PROVERBS 3:5-6 [2]

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

 

 Proverbs 3

5    (IF you) Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
(IF you) do not depend on your own understanding.
6    (IF you) Seek His will in all you do,
THEN He will show you which path to take.                                                                                             

Verses 5 and 6 have always brought me encouragement and comfort.  In particular, the second “If” statement in verse 5,  warning  –  DO NOT depend on our own understanding.  Even now, as I write this verse down, I pause to consider the practical application of this principle.  Let’s use an example to illustrate.

Have you ever found yourself judging someone?  Sure, you may think that you are justified because you know this or that, or heard so-and-so say _______, and they act this way or that way, therefore, you can conclude _________.  If you are anything like me, I’m sure there has been more than one time you’ve put your foot in your mouth.   foot-in-mouth   Awwwwww….                          I doubt, however, anyone thought you were “cute”.  Perhaps you’ve had this baby’s expression after thinking, “What did I just say?  What did I just do?  What was I thinking?”  I bet you wish you could have a “do-over”.  Unfortunately, once our words, attitudes, judgments, etc. are “out there”, there are no “do-overs”.  What if we were to think of our life and other’s lives like jigsaw puzzles? Maybe then we could better understand and apply this principle.

Maybe you know someone as an acquaintance, as a co-worker, as a student we pass in the hall at school, etc.  We know “surface” information about them.  The color of their hair, the clothes they like to wear, the music they like to listen to, hobbies they enjoy, etc.                                                       Just the border of a puzzle.                                                                                                                                      border puzzle

Then there are the people who we know quite a bit better.  We’d call them our close friends, our family, our kindred spirits, etc.  These people have allowed us into the deeper parts of their lives.  Into places few people will ever be welcomed.  Their hopes and dreams, their frustrations, concerns, their values, their likes and dislikes, etc.                                                                               The border of the puzzle plus many internal pieces.

                                                  puzzle loose pieces

No matter how close we are to another person, they will never completely know us, nor will we ever completely know them.  In fact there are aspects we don’t even know about ourselves.  Things that haven’t yet been revealed to us.  All of our talents, characteristics, gifts, where we’ll be in the next 10 years, etc.

                                                   complete puzzle with X

         
There will always be a missing piece(s) in “the puzzle”.

                                                stock-footage-final-puzzle-piece-falls-into-place-d-animation

People’s lives are complicated.  We see only what we see.  But there is a lot more going on in people’s lives, more than we’ll ever know. We only know what they choose to share with us.  Basically, as the saying goes, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Girl before a door

Therefore, (IF you) Seek His will in all you do, THEN He will show you which path to take. –  v.6

Only God knows every nook and cranny that makes me me.  He has examined my heart and knows everything about me.  –  Psalm 139:1  –  For more info about God’s love for you, check out https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+139%3A1-16&version=NLT

(IF you) Depend on God, seek Him, asking Him for direction, and the words to say.  (THEN) you’ll keep your feet on the ground, and out of your mouth.  🙂

                                                feet in sand

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IF ____ , THEN ______… – PROVERBS 3:1-4 [1]

What you say flows from what is in your heart. – Luke 6:45

 

1   My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
    Store my commands in your heart.
2   IF you do this, (THEN) you will live many years,
    and your life will be satisfying.
(IF you) Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!                                                                                  (IF you) Wear them like a necklace, as a reminder.
(IF you) Write them deep within your heart.
4  THEN you will find favor with both God and people,
and you will earn a good reputation.

In the first few verses of Proverbs Chapter 3, Solomon utilizes cause and effect.  If you do ____, then _____ will be the result.  You’ll notice in bold type, and in (  ), if/then that I’ve added for emphasizing the cause/effect relationships in verse 1-4.

From the opening of chapter 3 we’re reminded – NEVER forget the things I’ve taught you, store them in your heart.

Verse 2  –  IF you follow these principles (throughout the Book of Proverbs and the Bible)
THEN you’ll live long and have a satisfying life (you’ll be content, fulfilled)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. – Matthew 6:33

Verse 3  –  we see two particular character traits mentioned, loyalty and kindness.  A character trait is a distinguishing factor(s) that is specific to an individual.
How do we recognize character traits in people?  Their attitudes and beliefs are reflected in their actions.
A loyal person is someone another person/people can count on. They are faithful.  As in the example of a husband and wife in marriage, or an employee to an employer, or a friend to a friend.
A kind person is someone who looks out for best interests in another. Like a big sister making sure her little brother crosses the street safely, helping a kid who dropped their books in the hall, or holding a door open for someone.

Verse 3 goes on to say that our attitudes/beliefs are demonstrated by the actions we take.       Wear loyalty and kindness like a necklace.  An outward sign. attitudes_custom_monogram_motivational_necklace-r814eece76af544f18b6e6349f3eb5711_fkokr_8byvr_324                          Write them deep within your heart.   woman-holding-the-bible-to-heart    Internalize them.                                        Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think – Romans 12:2

We’ve all heard the saying, actions speak louder than words. Not only do actions speak louder than words, but actions actually speak/reflect our internal attitudes/beliefs.  The words, feelings, and thoughts that no one sees or hears.  Yet, as hard as we may try to suppress our innermost attitudes/beliefs, our actions are acting like a megaphone announcing the “hidden” internal world of our hearts.    megaphone

But, IF we follow Solomon’s principle in verse 3, THEN, v.4, we’ll find favor with God, and favor with people, and earn a good reputation.     A win-win!!    thumbs up

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Should I Follow Any People??? – PROVERBS 2:20-22 [5 of 5]

You are a person of God; so run from all these evil things.  Johnny Depp (center)     Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance (continue doing something even though it may be difficult), and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:11

 

20 Follow the steps of good men instead,  Following your steps-HigRes-004_0
    and stay on the paths of the righteous.
21 For only the godly will live in the land,
    and those with integrity will remain in it.
22 But the wicked will be removed from the land,
    and the treacherous will be uprooted.  – Proverbs 2:20-22

The title for Proverbs Chapter 2, as seen in many Bible translations, is the Benefits of Wisdom.

Wisdom’s purpose is to guide and teach us.  As mentioned in the introduction of Proverbs, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-1j, Proverbs are principles, not promises.

A principle is a statement telling someone of a likely/probable outcome.  Example = “if you play with fire you’re going to get burned.”
fire

A promise is a statement telling someone of a definite outcome.  Example = “if you put your bare hand into the fire, your skin will be burned.”
burned hand

Thankfully, God has given us the ultimate travel guide, The Bible.  And additionally, He has given us godly/wise people to help us along our journey.  Following their steps, verse 20 – Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous, can help us avoid the bumps and “potholes” of life.  car bumps                                                                                             They might offer wise advice saying, “when I was younger, I thought it was ok to tell my friend just what I felt about them.  But then I realized I didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle when I spouted off.  I felt so dumb at that point, and wished I could have taken back the nasty words I said, but it was too late.  I tried speaking my mind, and I should have remember the saying, we have one mouth and two ears, so listen twice as much as you talk.”

Advice given to us by a godly, trusted, life-experienced person   –    priceless                                                            

Let wisdom enter your heart. Let knowledge fill you with joy. Allow wise choices to watch over you, and understanding to keep you safe.  –  Proverbs 2:10-1, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-6P

9

Can I Find Hope, Healing, Restoration??? – ZEPHANIAH – 3h – [16]

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction and confusion, out of the muddy clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure. – Psalm 40:2

           psalms40_2               feet_on_rock_thumb

 

As we begin to wrap up the Book of Zephaniah, let’s look at a common pattern seen throughout the Bible, as well as, our own lives.

  • People follow their own way, believing they are able to navigate life on their own, without God, His principles and guidance.
  • Life becomes messy.  In relationships, at work, at school, in finances, families, morals and values are compromised, addictive behaviors surface, and destruction/unhealthy choices dominate.  We’re LOST!!  We’re not sure where to turn, or even what we’re hoping to find.  All we know for sure is that something is missing from our lives. But WHAT is it?
  • People hear about God.  In the Bible it was through prophets, and through miracles. In present day, people hear about God through preachers on the radio or TV, through various churches offering an array of worship experiences from quite/reflective to foot stomping/interactive, and everything in between.  Miracles may sadly go unnoticed. Thought of as “coincidence”, rather than “providence”.
  • People choose to make a change in their lives.  To repent, acknowledging that the path they have been on is not leading them where they hoped to go. Instead of continuing on their current path, they choose to do a 180 and follow God’s way.                                                                                        my way gods way
  • People experience restoration and healing. – It is like the restoration of this painting –   paintingrestoration                                                                                          The beauty we see in the restoration (right side of the image) was not added or changed, but was cleaned up (refreshed and restored) after years of neglect, sin (an analogy), hurt and pain experienced (an analogy) – (image on the left side).

NOTE:  Complete restoration and healing doesn’t often happen in an instant, a week, a month or even a year.  But, by making a choice today to say, YES, I want restoration and healing in my life, in my relationships, at my job, with my classmates, teachers, etc. the process can begin.  And you will be able to see God’s image restored everyday, while the distorted, marred image that was once so painful to look upon, begins to disappear.

 

 

The Day of Hope WILL Come!!!!! – ZEPHANIAH – 3f – [14]

Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign LORD rescues us from death. – Psalm 68:20

What will it be like when the “day of hope” comes?

Verse 15 tells us that the Lord will remove his hand of judgment
    and will disperse the armies of your enemy.
And the Lord himself, the King of Israel,
    will live among you!
At last your troubles will be over,
    and you will never again fear disaster.

It is interesting to note that on the “day of hope”, God once again reminds and encourages His people saying, Don’t be afraid! – v.16

What will rid us of our fears?  The Lord, of course!!  Why?  Because,

17 )) For the Lord your God is living among you.  (AND)
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

This is all possible because God is love, 1 John 4:8.  Not that God loves, is willing to love, tries to love, …  No, God IS love. And every person innately seeks out love.  Not always in the most healthy ways, but nevertheless, everyone has a desire to be accepted and unconditionally loved.

Can “people” fulfill our desire to be loved the way God promises to love us?  I think we can all speak from personal experience, that the answer is a strong NO!!  So, if you want to be loved in a way that only God can love you, ask Him into your heart, your life.  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. –  Matthew 7:7-8

                      ask seek knock3                         kneeling-before-glory-1120x750

Does God Laugh and Make Fun of Me When I Goof Up??? – PROVERBS – Chapter 1f – 1:23-28 [9]

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1

 

23)) Suppose (IF) you had paid attention to (my) warning.
    THEN I would have poured out (my) heart to you.
    (I) would have told you what (I) was thinking.
24)) But you turned away from me when (I) called out to you.
    None of you paid attention when (I) reached out (my) hand.
25)) You turned away from ALL my advice.
    You wouldn’t accept (my) warning.

26)) So I will laugh at you when you are in danger.
    I will make fun of you when hard times come.
27)) I will laugh when hard times hit you like a storm.
    I will laugh when danger comes your way like a windstorm.
    I will make fun of you when suffering and trouble come.
28))THEN you will call to me. But I won’t answer.
    You will look for me. But you won’t find me.

Wow!!  I don’t know about you, but when I read these verses, they kinda scare me. Does this mean when I goof up and don’t follow God that He will laugh at me and make fun of me? And when I call Him and ask Him for help, He won’t answer me and I won’t find Him?

It is easy to replace the words in (  ) with God because when you read these verses it seems that it is a person who is talking.  However, recalling from verse 20, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-5e, Wisdom is the (my) and the (I).  Remember that Solomon uses personification, and that can sometimes confuse the reader.

God has given us, in fact all people, truth through His Word.  It is a guide-book to help people navigate their earthly life.  It is when the nasty sin of pride infiltrates our mind, our choices, etc., that we have the attitude, “Yeah, right – God stuff, I don’t think so, my way is better…”

In verses 26-27, it is Wisdom, not God that is laughing and making fun, so-to-speak.  Basically, these are the consequences of our choices. It seems harsh, but it is as though you can hear Wisdom saying, “I told you so…”

Verse 28, you call, but don’t get an answer. Meaning the consequences of our choices have been exacted (accurate to circumstance), they can not be changed.  If someone gets pregnant, out-of-wedlock, they can “call” all they want, but the consequence of their choice will not change.

You may have asked yourself these questions at some point in your life,

  • How did I get into this mess?
  • Why does everything seem to go bad for me?
  • Did I do something wrong?

The answerYou turned away from my advice, You wouldn’t accept my warning. –  Proverbs 1:25

If I Follow “Wisdom”, Then What?? – PROVERBS – Chapter 1e – 1:20-22 [8]

Your word, Lord, is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. lightpath  Psalm 119:105

In the last section of Proverbs, Chapter 1, Solomon uses personification (giving human-like characteristics to something non-human).
20)) Out in the open Wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21)) on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
22))How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?”

The reason for using personification when writing is to make a word come alive for the reader.  It is much easier to relate to a person than an inanimate object.

In these verses, Solomon presents a cause/effect relationship. IF people pay attention to the Proverbs, following Wisdom’s direction and guidance, THEN they will become wise (when they apply the knowledge they’ve obtained).

We will also see, throughout the Book of Proverbs, the words simple and fool.  These words do not refer to people who are academically challenged, but rather are deficient in their character.  The simple/fool are challenged to recognize right from wrong.

In verse 22, Solomon questions, “when are you going to learn that your choices are messing you up?”

It is wisdom (applying knowledge) that helps us recognize that the path we’re on is destructive. And wisdom that confirms the path we’re on is healthy and God-honoring.