16th in a series.
Proverbs, Chapter 16.
v1. Thoughts. “A man may arrange his thoughts, but what he says depends on the Lord.” This proverb reminds us to act on the reality that the Lord is always there in the background. Nehemiah believed this. His boss was the king of the land which had taken Israel captive. When the king noticed Nehemiah’s concerned look, he asked, “What would you request?” Nehemiah quickly “…prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4, NASB) Then he asked a very bold thing: permission to go back to Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Pray for God to direct the decisions of your authorities. Pray boldly, if the Lord lays something on Your heart. Who knows but He may do something amazing through the most unlikely individuals.
v2. Motives. “All the ways of a man seem right to him, but the Lord probes motives.” We often protest that we have honorable motives, even when our behaviors suggest otherwise. The motives of another are often deeply hidden from us. Even my own motives may be a mystery to me; The scripture says I could thoroughly examine my motives and find nothing amiss, “…yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” (I Corinthians 4:4, NASB) There is One, and only One, whose assessment matters. “…all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13) That is why the Cross is the symbol of our faith. Only in Jesus are my sins washed away.
v3. Plans. “Entrust your affairs to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” I need to daily pray my plans before the Lord. To offer them to Him, and invite His correction. Then proceed with confidence.
v5. Pride. “Every haughty person is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not go unpunished.” We take pride too lightly. This was the original sin of the devil. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground…” (Ezekiel 28:17) God will share His glory with no one. (Isaiah 42:8)
v9. Plans, II. “A man may plot out his course, but it is the Lord who directs His steps.” Many plans have gone awry. It is arrogant to assume my plans will be the exception. Pray for the blessing of heaven. George Washington is an example of such humility, praying this at his first inauguration, “…We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained…” (1)
v14. Wisdoms’ Appeal. “The king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but a wise man can appease it.” Refer to Daniel chapter 2 for a real life example this. (2)
v18. Pride, II. ” Pride goes before ruin, arrogance, before failure.” Simple truth. Sometimes the ruin is swift, other times it delays. “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.” (1 Timothy 5:24) Learn from the ruins.
v25. Wrong Way. “A road may seem right to a man, but in the end it is a road to death.” We know this to be true. Still, many do not examine the road, because it seems pleasant for the time being, and the end seems so far away. We can always turn around, we assure ourselves. But many don’t. Pray for someone who is on the wrong road – that they will turn around.
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(1) George Washington’s April 30, 1789 inaugural address to Congress. See link: http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/washington/earnestprayer.html
(2) See Daniel, chapter 2. King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and orders his wise men to tell him the dream AND interpret it for him. They cannot, so in a rage he orders their deaths. As the executioners go to carry out this order, Daniel intervenes. “So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king.” (Daniel 2:16). The King agreed, Daniel called a prayer meeting, and God gave Daniel the details as well as the meaning of the dream.
Unless otherwise noted, Old Testament references are from the Hebrew-English TANAKH, published in 2000 by the Jewish Publication Society. New Testament references are from the Jewish New Testament, translated by David H. Stern, published in 1989 by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc.