There is a lot of navigation that is required to get through life. This means we have to do a lot of steering to avoid things in life. We need to figure out how to get through the tight situations without hurting ourselves or others! Consider the relationships in your life! Consider the choices in life! Consider the obstacles in life! So can you navigate through it all without any dings or scratches showing up on your life? Can you navigate through it all without leaving wrecks behind you? Can you navigate through it all without breaking everything that shows up on your path? Are you interested in being able to navigate this life? Do you know what it takes? Do you know where to turn to find it?
WISDOM is what it takes and GOD is where you need to go to find it!
Devotional, Proverbs 2:12-22, Matthew 14:1-21, Genesis 40, Genesis 41:1-40
Today’s devotional gives it to us in 3 steps…
1. Avoid wrong turns
2. Choose the good path
3. Navigate through the challenges of life
Avoid wrong turns…Proverbs 2:12-22
Can your character stand the test of time? Can you live to the higher standards?
16Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. –from Proverbs 2
Will you be tempted away from doing what is right? Will you be able to stand the temptations and resist it so that they will flee? Do you realize what is going on? Do you realize it is a battle for your soul?
There are right turns and there are wrong turns. Unfaithfulness is an example of a wrong turn! So to avoid wrong turns seek wisdom! Ask God for help! Listen to the still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit! Allow wisdom to have its way in you so that you won’t take a wrong turn. Allow wisdom to keep you on the straight path that leads to life! Allow wisdom to keep you from getting tempted and tripped up by people who glorify doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil! Allow wisdom to guide your steps and make your path straight so that you won’t be tempted off course and navigate onto the crooked path and get tripped up in devious ways.
12Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,from men whose words are perverse, 13who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. –from Proverbs 2
The devil is a liar who tries to make it all look good. Once he has his handcuffs on you then you start to realize how bad it really is. Once he has his teeth in you then you realize the pain and agony that will come with it. Turn to God and seek wisdom before it is too late!
Consider the word covenant. It’s more than a deal … it’s a binding agreement that shouldn’t be broken. You look at the world today and it would mean that a covenant is even more than a contract as you watch people breaking those. Marriage is a covenant! The relationship with God in the old and the new testaments were also defined as covenants! So we need wisdom to help us stay on the right path! We need wisdom to keep us walking out the good life! So let’s remain with God and not stray from His path! The narrow straight path leads to life and few will find it! The broad road leads to the wide gate that will allow many to enter into destruction!
20Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21For the upright will live in the land,and the blameless will remain in it; 22but the wicked will be cut off from the land,and the unfaithful will be torn from it. –from Proverbs 2
Choose the good path … Matthew 14:1-21
It may not always be easy — actually we know from Jesus that in this world we will have troubles and we also know we can take heart because He has overcome the world–so although it isn’t easy, walking it out with Jesus will help us thru the trials to build up our faith, it will strengthen our perseverance, it will mature us, and through it all it will get us to the point of completeness and lacking nothing!
Life is a journey of making choices. We need to navigate the choices we need to make. We have been given free will which doesn’t mean autonomy, but free to choose whom we will serve! Our decision to that will impact everything in our lives! Based on our choice of whom we will serve, we will live out our lives in different ways because of our motivation and source. We can choose to serve God or we can choose to serve someone or something else. The choice is yours but the impact is deterministic. How you live out your life, the choices you will make, will be impacted by the choice of whom you will serve! Consider how Joshua positioned it to the Israelites…
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” –from Joshua 24
He gave them the choice. He allowed them to make the choice before entering into the promised land and crossing the Jordan river, but he made it very clear what he was going to do, not just his family but he put himself out there first. We need to make the choice for ourselves first! Until we chose and start to live out our lives in alignment to that choice, it doesn’t matter what we say — we need to choose to serve God!
Today’s reading calls us back to getting on track, getting onto the right path!
The book of Proverbs presents us with a choice between the way of wisdom and the way of evil. Here, we read what these two paths look like in practice, in the lives of Jesus and Herod.
The path of evil
Herod the Tetrarch was Herod Antipas (21 BC – AD 39). This was the man who rejected Jesus to his face (when Pilate sent Jesus to Herod), just before Jesus’ death (see Luke 23:8–12).
Herod had done what the writer of Proverbs warned against. He had committed adultery with his brother’s wife, Herodias. When confronted with his actions he had John the Baptist ‘bound… and put… in prison’ (Matthew 14:3) because of his own guilty conscience.
Herod’s life seemed to revolve around personal gratification. He had discarded one wife and acquired another. His focus was on his own personal pleasure, rather than the misery that his actions would have caused others – not least his own brother, Philip. Beware when personal pleasure matters more to you than the needs of others.
The fear of rejection can also lead us into trouble. Herod ‘was afraid of the people’ (v.5) if he were to have John put to death. And yet he was also afraid of rejection from the guests at his dinner party and therefore granted Herodias’ daughter’s request for the head of John the Baptist (vv.8–10). Make sure you do not allow what others think of you to matter more than what is right.
Because John the Baptist courageously spoke out, Herod wanted to kill him (v.4). Evil seems to have run in the family because his niece, Herodias’ daughter, plotted with her mother to have John beheaded (vv.6–10). They were so hardened to evil that they were not even sickened by the sight of John the Baptist’s head brought in on a platter (v.11).
The path of good
John’s disciples told Jesus the terrible news (v.12). Jesus was clearly deeply shocked by his cousin’s death. His response to bad news was to withdraw ‘privately to a solitary place’ (v.13). He needed to be alone with God.
Yet when his plans were interrupted, Jesus did not get irritated (as I often am). It is good to make plans; but allow God to interrupt your plans. Because of his compassion (v.14), Jesus had the wisdom not only to ‘go with the flow’, but also to respond actively – he ‘healed their sick’ (v.14). Even after all that, he did not take the opportunity to get away from the crowds. Instead, he fed them – or rather, he taught his disciples how to feed them miraculously (vv.16,19–20). He mobilised them.
We see the extraordinary wisdom of Jesus as he navigated through this day. It was a day that started very badly. But Jesus managed to heal many sick people and miraculously feed ‘five thousand men, besides women and children’ (v.21). It was a day that would be remembered throughout history and has affected millions of lives.
How will you choose? How will you decide to live out your life? Will you allow guilt to cause you to act out in ways that will hurt others or even yourself? Will you make decisions that will lead you away from God and off His path to life? Will you then act out because of fear or worry or doubt when confronted about this path you are walking down? Is it all about you? Is it about personal indulgence? personal fulfillment? personal pleasure? personal enjoyment? Will you serve something other than God and then find yourself going down the wrong path? What about the needs of others? What about the ability and opportunity of getting to serve others? Some may think of it as a small thing, but consider WWJD – What Would Jesus Do! Live in relationship with God rather than worry, doubt, and fear! Put your trust in Him! Take time to spend with God! Make time to be with God! Get away from it all and allow God to speak to you and provide you the wisdom you will need for this very situation! Let’s go His way rather than allowing bad news to get us irritated because our plans were interrupted. Let’s allow compassion to help us go with the flow, even when it isn’t what we wanted or planned. Let’s get back on track and complete the good work that God has prepared in advance for us to accomplish! Let’s encourage and mobilise the team to get back on task and press forward for the glory of God!
Navigate through the challenges of life … Genesis 40:1-41:40
There are many examples throughout the Bible where people face trials and troubles and challenges. Joseph is an incredible example where he received a vision and dream for his future, yet the path wasn’t easy but his character helped him through it all because he leaned on God’s wisdom.
Today’s devotional pulls it all together like this:
Have you ever been rejected, treated unjustly, let down by a friend or found yourself in some other frustrating situation?
‘Great faith is a product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials,’ said Smith Wigglesworth. We see this exemplified in the life of Joseph.
At the age of thirty (41:46), Joseph was put in charge of the entire country of Egypt. Pharaoh was looking for a wise and experienced person and he recognised that there was no one as qualified as Joseph (vv.33,39).
But first Joseph went through a very tough time. It was all part of his training. He had been rejected by his brothers, treated unjustly and put in prison. Yet his suffering was still not at an end.
God gave him the interpretation of the dreams of his fellow prisoners, the cupbearer and the baker. He was given a clear and accurate interpretation. The baker was executed but the chief cupbearer was released and restored to his position. All Joseph had asked of him was that when he was released, he would remember to mention him to Pharaoh and get him out of prison (40:14).
However, the chief cupbearer forgot all about Joseph (v.23). This must have been so difficult and discouraging for him. It is never easy when friends let you down. In Joseph’s case, it meant two more years languishing in a dungeon (41:1).
Prison must have been an extraordinarily frustrating place for a man of Joseph’s talents. He was in his twenties, in the prime of his life. He did not know whether he would ever be released. I am not a very patient person. I think I would have gone mad with frustration.
Yet, in fact, God was preparing Joseph for something great. It probably did not feel like that at the time. By feeding fellow prisoners in a jail, God prepared Joseph to feed the nations from a palace.
Finally, when Pharaoh had dreams that he was unable to interpret, the chief cupbearer said, ‘Today I am reminded of my shortcomings’ (v.9). Joseph was called in to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.
Joseph said, ‘I cannot do it… but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires’ (v.16). We see how Joseph has grown in wisdom. The self-confidence and swagger of his youth have been replaced by a reliance on God. He acts here with an extraordinary mixture of humility and confidence (two qualities that do not often go together). This is the humility and confidence we need when faced with the challenges of life: ‘I can’t… but God can and will.’
Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams (vv.25–32), and tells him how he should respond to them (vv.33–36). Even Pharaoh recognises the great wisdom that has grown in Joseph. He asks his officials, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’ (v.38). Because he recognised that there was no one as ‘discerning’ and ‘wise’ as Joseph, Pharaoh put him in charge of his whole empire (vv.39–40).
Through all your suffering, trials and tribulations, God is preparing you. Joseph had grown in wisdom. As a result, he came up with a plan that enabled the people to navigate through a period of great economic recession and turmoil. Many of us face all kinds of economic difficulties at the moment. God’s help and wisdom may not always change the situation, but they will help you navigate through the struggles you face.
So today we are put in the position of needing to make a choice. We need to choose whom we will serve. We need to seek wisdom so that through our lives we won’t leave bloodshed and pain, but rather be able to bring joy, hope, love, and life to the people God brings into our lives! We need to serve God so that others may come to the reality of Jesus and be transformed! Our choice will help us to navigate this world we live in! Our choice will help us to master the art of steering through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit!
This is the day that the Lord has made, so let’s rejoice and be glad in it!