Straight Paths

“In all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:6 CSB
https://bible.com/bible/1713/pro.3.6.CSB

Often when praying for others, I ask God to make their paths straight. Other translations read that God will keep you on track or show you which way to go.

This blessing from God is preceded by knowing him in all our ways. Other ways to say that is to seek his will, to submit to him, and to listen to his voice.

How could this play out?

  • Listen for his direction about financial planning (purchases, saving, investing, charity)
  • Submit to his ways in honoring others (family, leaders)
  • Seek his wisdom and place it above anyone else’s (otherwise, you’re letting someone else determine your path)

Praying this for others clears the way for the start of their path. Interestingly, it also challenges me to do the same for myself.

Here’s to straight paths!

Words

I decided a few weeks ago this is a time to read through Proverbs. Many messages from many directions demands wisdom be supreme.

Written and spoken words are crucial. They can help or hurt, confuse or assist, push away or bring forward…

As reminders, here are some lines from Proverbs 15:

  • A gentle answer turns away anger
  • The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive
  • The tongue that heals is a tree of life
  • Pleasant words are pure
  • The mind of the righteous person thinks before answering

Words have power. May we use them well.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Brett Jordan

Leaving The Shield

He is a shield for those who live with integrity. Proverbs 2:7

Solomon says wisdom leads to living with integrity which in turn results in being shielded by God.

We all long to feel safe and protected. Reflecting on this verse recently, I made the connection between making wise choices and maintaining safety from God when the right choice is made. His safety and protection is not guaranteed and is put in jeopardy when I choose to disobey or disregard wisdom. Whatever the results are from an unwise choice is my fault; I chose to leave the protection behind God’s shield.

This isn’t necessarily a popular thought these days. Living life as you want without any fear of repercussions is what culture preaches. Then when life strikes back after someone makes a poor choice, suddenly God is questioned and possibly even denied. It’s his fault, not ours. I bet if we asked some guys from scripture they would testify differently about what happens when you leave the shield of God’s protection.

Ask David. When he left because of his lust, people died, including his infant son.

Ask Jonah. When he left because of his prejudice, he ended up on the beach, covered in fish guts.

Ask Achan. When he left because of his selfishness, he lost everything, and so did his family.

We’re just like these guys. We’ve left the shield at some point. Thankfully, that doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. 

Have you thanked God lately for his protection, for being your shield, for welcoming you back after you’ve left? Maybe the next time you talk with him, not only thank him but also commit to following him with integrity, to staying behind his shield of protection.

31 Proverbs Highlights: #31-Speaking Up for the Voiceless 

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭8-9‬ HCSB)

Many people groups have no voice today. These verses describe them as dispossessed, oppressed, and needy. What groups come to mind when you read those descriptions?

Dispossessed groups certainly include the unfathomable amount of refugees around the globe. To be even more specific, this description includes the staggering number of children dispossessed around the world for a myriad of reasons. Speaking up for such groups can take on various forms. If you’re wondering how to do it, here are a few suggestions:

  • Follow social media to stay informed. Two suggestions include @WorldVision and @Samaritan’sPurse.
  • Share news to raise awareness and to encourage prayer and support. Go beyond following by sharing and creating dialogue.
  • Support efforts financially. You can sponsor a child through monthly gifts or give to trustworthy organizations giving these groups a voice.
  • Consider a short-term missions trip to put hands to your voice. Who says vacation can’t be about speaking up for the voiceless?
  • Consider getting more involved in the future with a second career or during retirement. A full lifer has much to offer to the growing lifer.

31 Proverbs Highlights: #30-Bloody Noses

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

If you have been foolish by exalting yourself or if you’ve been scheming, put your hand over your mouth. For the churning of milk produces butter, and twisting a nose draws blood, and stirring up anger produces strife. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭30‬:‭32-33‬ HCSB)

A bloody nose doesn’t come because you said, “Good Morning. Have a nice day!

It’s usually the result of something like a crazy sports fan who doesn’t know how to enjoy the game and stirs it up with their comments. Their tongue led to bloodletting.

I’ve never literally had a bloody nose. But I have stirred it up with my tongue. Words may not draw literal blood, but they surely can create strife. Apparently Solomon knew this. That’s why the verse reads, “...put your hand over your mouth.”  Maybe another way of saying it is, “Stop the bleeding. Keep your mouth shut.

31 Proverbs Highlights: #29-Hate is about You

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

Bloodthirsty men hate an honest person, but the upright care about him. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭29‬:‭10‬ HCSB)

Other translations term this hated person as blameless. So why the hate?

It has nothing to do with them. It has to do with the heart condition of the hater.

The heart condition of the upright and moral produces care for the blameless.

Here’s a heart test: 

  • Who am I genuinely tempted to hate? 
  • Have I considered the possibility that my heart condition may be the real issue? 
  • This hate isn’t about them at all. It’s about me.

31 Proverbs Highlights: #28-5 Hearts

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion…Happy is the one who is always reverent, but one who hardens his heart falls into trouble. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭28‬:‭1‬,14 HCSB)

The guilty heart breeds loneliness.

The bold heart stands in the right.

The reverent heart knows who’s king. 

The heart open to God finds security and peace.

The humble heart is strong.

31 Proverbs Highlights: #27-Own/Stop/Look

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

A sensible person sees danger and takes cover; the inexperienced keep going and are punished. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭27‬:‭12‬ HCSB)

My first marathon, Virginia Beach, March 2009. I felt ready. All was going well until Mile 16. I had brought enough gels to get me that far. The race guide promised gels would be at that aid station. Promise broken. I had 10 miles to go. Without needed energy, what was I to do? 

I know now what I should have done, but all I knew to do that day was keep running and deal with the eventual wall I was going to hit. Mile 21. BOOM. Nothing left in the tank.

I didn’t “take cover.” I was definitely “punished.”

What can we do with danger or the unknown? 

  • Own your inexperience-Surround yourself with experienced people.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself “keeping going.” Stop. Learn from the punishments for your inexperience. Forgive yourself.
  • Look for other inexperienced people. Bring them some sense. Help them own, stop and look.

31 Proverbs Highlights: #26-Quit the Game

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

Without wood, fire goes out; without a gossip, conflict dies down. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭26‬:‭20‬ HCSB)

This proverb is one of several in chapter 26 that have to do with words, and the results of not using them well.

Ask Californians during fire season what not to do and they’ll certainly include “don’t feed it.”

Ask recipients of damaging gossip what not to do and they’ll say the same thing. “Kill it. Don’t spread it.”

Remember the game “gossip”? What if you simply refused to play? What if the message never got to the last person just because you quit the game?