Proverbs

The Lord Works

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Are you one who believes in fate or do you believe in coincidence? Do you view the world as a series of random events that chaotically intersect, sometimes producing positive outcomes and sometimes negative? Or do you believe that things happen for a reason; that events, even some that seem small, are part of a master plan? If you are a believer and have witnessed God’s hand at work, I hope you believe that he is in control, that he has a plan, and that he works everything out for his purposes and for his ends. I sometimes view the world as a complex chess board where God moves pieces around for his good. He places the right pieces in the right places at the right times to produce the right results. You may have heard the term, “divine appointments”, referring to the notion that God can arrange for you or I to connect with specific person at a specific time for his purposes. I believe in divine appointments. I believe that God has a master plan. And I believe that we can all play a part. Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 4, says:

“The Lord works out everything for his own ends - even the wicked for a day of disaster.”

This verse implies that God is at work in our lives advancing our destiny for his own ends. He may have had a hand in your career path. He may have played a role in your relationship path. He may have even placed someone in your life at just the right time to lead you to himself. Proverbs says that the Lord works out everything for his own ends. It even offers and example by saying that he even works out the the day of disaster for the wicked. I’ve often prayed for divine appointments in my life, especially when I go on mission trips. I know of several who have prayed for God to bring them their future mate. You may have prayed for God’s hand to arrange a situation in your life. Proverbs reminds us that God is in the background working things out in ways we cannot see. He is moving pieces around and arranging connections that would confound the most masterful of chess players. Our job is to listen to, and obey, the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Who knows, God may use you to help someone in need, change the trajectory of someone’s life, or even lead someone to Christ. Are you ready to be on the same page as the Holy Spirit? I hope the answer is “yes”.

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“The Lord works out everything for his own ends - even the wicked for a day of disaster.” Timing is everything, and with God everything works out at just the right time and in just the right way. If we are not willing to walk in step the Holy Spirit; if we are not willing to follow his plan in his way, God will choose someone who is. I pray that you and I will pray with expectation that God will use us for his ends; that we will play a role in his master plan. After all, the Bible tells us that he made us for his purposes. It would be better for us if we didn’t resist, but would be on the same page as God. I encourage you to make that declaration today. I encourage you to seek God’s plan for your life and to be used for his purposes without resistance.

Drop It

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During my college years I remember listening to a song by a secular group who called themselves the “Spin Doctors”. The song was, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”, which talked about a girl who felt she always had to be right about everything. In the song it was clear that the artist found this trait to be quite annoying, and I have to confess, I’m sure I would have also. Do you know anyone like this? In college, I certainly did. For them, it seemed as though being proven right was of primary importance. I admit that there are times when defending an idea is important, but I would submit to you that believers should choose their battles wisely. Proverbs, the book that provides both practical and godly advice, says this in chapter 17, verse 14:

“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”

I can attest that in my life, pursuing peace in a relationship is more important than being proven right. Arguing a point that doesn’t really matter is like breaching a dam. Proverbs says that we should drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. In doing so, you might save yourself a major headache and you might even save a friendship. If you find yourself arguing with your friends, family or significant other over things that really don’t matter, consider if being right is really more important than maintaining peace. Because if you start a quarrel, before long, you may find yourself in the middle of a heated dispute where words can be said and feelings can be hurt just because you’ve opened the floodgates to needless contention.

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Often times quarreling can be avoided. And more often than not, there is no benefit to starting an argument or pushing someone’s buttons. Needless arguments only lead to anger, pain and sometimes, regret. If you have a problem in this area, it may take an added level of self-control, patience and maybe even a bit of understanding to stop a quarrel before it starts. It is worth praying that the Holy Spirit help you to guard your tongue. Because even though we can say something, it doesn’t mean that we always should. Our words can be a weapon, so you might want to be careful who they are aimed at. So why don’t we take this proverb to heart? “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” I think that is good advice.

Fear Over Beauty

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In my opinion, the most beautiful of all God’s creation is woman. Not only are they beautiful on the outside, but women have the ability to be strong, nurturing, loving, supportive, and the absolute perfect companion for men. But Proverbs would attest that the best attribute a woman can have is a healthy reverent fear of the Lord. In Chapter 31, verse 30, it says.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

This verse is lifted from the very famous chapter often referred to as, “The Wife of Noble Character”. Even though this verse is in reference to the fairer sex, to reverently fear, honor and respect the Lord should be the goal of every believer; male or female. Charm and beauty are wonderful attributes, but they can only serve a woman here on this earth. We can’t take our charm or our beauty with us when we die. And even while on earth they fade over time. Proverbs says they are fleeting. But the fear of the Lord is useful in this life and will set our hearts in the right place when we eventually go to heaven and spend eternity with God. So remember Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

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I often think that beauty and charm are wasted when given to women of poor character; women who might use it as a weapon to manipulate men. But it is a breath of fresh air when found on a woman of noble character; a woman whose heart is set on honoring God. Proverbs says that a woman like that is to be praised. So I encourage you, even if God has blessed you with incredible charm and striking beauty, to remember this verse. Beauty and charm are universally attractive, but it is the fear of the Lord that is eternally attractive - so much so that it should be praised.

Holy Justice

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The Bible tells us that it isn’t for us to judge, because only God has the authority to judge. If we judge others, then we will be judged ourselves. The Bible also tells us that it isn’t for us to avenge. That too, we are to leave up to the Lord because in Romans we’re told, “‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’, says the Lord”. In our flesh we may want to judge as if we know what a person deserves. We may also want to avenge as if we are the ones who have the right to deal out our form of justice. But we should never forget that the Bible tells us to leave these things to the Lord. And when we do, we should take comfort in knowing that these decisions are left in good hands, because we serve a just God. We’re reminded in Proverbs chapter 29, verse 26:

“Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that man gets justice.”

And in chapter 17 verse 15, it says:

“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent - the Lord detests them both.”

Our God is a God of justice. He hates when the guilty are acquitted and when the innocent are condemned. And we are encouraged that it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. Our earthly justice system may be flawed. Jurys may be coerced, judges may be bribed, and people may lie on the stand. And even if our system does what it is designed to do, those who are innocent may still be condemned and those who are guilty may still be acquitted. But when we rely on God, justice will ultimately prevail, even if it is only in God’s timing and only in God’s way. If you are crying out for justice, I encourage you to bring it to the Lord - the only one who can truly give you justice. I encourage you to trust him to do what is right.

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I don’t mind confessing that I hate seeing the guilty go free or the innocent condemned. But I’m happy to know that our God feels the same way. In my strength and with my wisdom, I couldn’t make someone pay for their crimes nor could I righteously sentence someone. For that, we are called to rely on the one who does have the power, wisdom and authority to give us justice when we have been wronged. I encourage you to trust him. It would do us good to leave justice in God’s hands while we focus on forgiveness with the help of the Holy Spirit. If you are in that place today, I hope that you are willing to trust God for justice, as well as emotional healing and forgiveness with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Power of Words

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When someone used to tease you as a child, did you ever respond by saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? I heard that a lot when I was growing up, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know that those words are false. Words can hurt, and sometimes words can hurt worse than sticks and stones because the wounds they cause may take longer to heal. The Bible tells us that what we say to others is important. It tells us that our words can be used to build others up or tear them down. Proverbs, chapter 15 verse 4, reminds us:

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Also in chapter 12, verse 25 it says:

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”

Our words can be a weapon, or they can bring healing to those who hear them. What kind of words are coming out of your mouth? If we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, like the Bible commands us, we should use words that bring healing; words that cheer up the heart, as these parables explain. With our words we have more power than we might think. So I encourage you to use your words wisely. Consider how you can use them in a way that honors God and encourages your neighbor.

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Proverbs isn’t the only place in the Bible that warns us about our tongue and our words. There are several verses warning us about the words we choose to speak both in the Old and New Testament. The Bible encourages us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. But when we do speak, our words should be those that encourage, uplift, and build people up. Who knows, a few kind words could change the course of someone’s day. At the right time, with the right heart, a few loving words can even save a life. So please, consider what you say and when you say it, because your words can have the power to heal as well as the power to destroy.