Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Choose your path wisely

Several painters were asked to illustrate the idea of temptation. The prize-winner depicted a country lane lined with shade trees and flowers. The road divided into two paths. Both looked equally inviting but, in the distance, one turned dark and swampy. Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”


Which is the road less traveled? Jesus spoke of the broad and the narrow ways, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)


It seems that the righteous path is the one less traveled. When the great flood came, only eight were saved, the majority drowned. When Sodom was destroyed, only Lot and his two daughters escaped. Jesus said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24)


The choices we make today affect our future. It’s the simple principle of sowing and reaping. What we will reap in the future will reveal what we have sown today.


The world tells us follow your heart when making life-changing decisions but that’s a risky route. The Bible warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9)


Others will declare, “You only live once.”


The Bible agrees, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)


We need the counsel of the Word God in making decisions. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)


The way of the wicked might look like a shortcut to a desired goal, but an evil path will lead you to an evil end. Stay off that path. “If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” (1 John 1:6)


The path of the wicked is the way of darkness. “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:19)


We tend to make bad choices. Adam and Eve chose the path of disobedience. A path that brought disease, death, and hardship to all their generations. Lot chose the path to Sodom. A fast track to success that ended in disaster. The Bible tells us why, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:19)


Our new life in Christ is like the first light of dawn.But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)


The light becomes brighter because we become more grounded in the things of God. We better understand God's Word. We become spiritually mature.


However, we do not come at once into God's light. We struggle with our own willfulness. “Therefore, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)


Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Friday, March 24, 2023

Wisdom in Relationships

Wise people are helpful. “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27)


It is our responsibility to help those in need and to share what we have with the poor. The Bible teaches, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)


We should certainly give what we can conveniently spare but, sometimes, the need may be beyond the edge of our convenience. "Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." (Matthew 5:42)


Be ready to give what is needed when it is needed. “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” (Proverbs 3:28)


Have you ever been approached by someone who needs help and didn’t want to be bothered. Jesus told us about a judge who had the opportunity to help, but he just kept putting the woman off until she finally wore him down (Luke 18.) Don’t delay. You may be the answer to someone's prayer. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)


Wise people are peaceful. “Do not devise evil against your neighbor, for he dwells by you for safety’s sake.” (Proverbs 3:29)


A wise person does not intentionally plan to do evil. To be neighborly, we must trust one another. Acting malevolently toward our neighbor is violating the trust placed in us. Romans 12:18 admonishes us to do what is right and appropriate to live at peace with all people.


Furthermore, we are advised, “Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.” (Proverbs 3:30)


Peacemakers avoid quarrels and reduce tension, seeking solutions rather than arguments. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)


Wise people are fair. “Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways.” (Proverbs 3:31)


It is unwise to belittle others. Treat people fairly and justly. Instead of belittling others, bless them. Instead of throwing your weight around to get your way, work for the benefit of others. Make others feel important and then you can really be someone special.


Friday, March 10, 2023

Choosing Friends Wisely


 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.

Proverbs 2:12-22

We need friends. We can’t go through this world alone. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”


It’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in you; who support your goals; people who help you along the way to positive goals.


We need friends who will encourage us, help us grow spiritually and who build our character. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 instructs, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”


Our friends influence our character. We call that peer pressure. We don’t need people in our lives that will constantly let us do the wrong things. Our friends ought to hold us accountable to God’s standards and help us up when we’re slipping. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.”


We want good friendships. Friendships with people who are “bad company” do not help us. God wants us to steer clear of people who are constantly bringing us down. Separate yourself from those who are not in your corner. The ones who do not show that they truly believe in you and are unsupportive of the positive changes you want to make. Proverbs 13:20 warns, “The companion of fools will suffer harm.”