An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Godly, not Goofy

(Proverbs 31:3 KJV)  Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

Paul teaches us about spiritual gifts.  That his how we should understand this teaching about “strength” (2428).  This does not have a narrow meaning of physical power but those areas in which we do well in life.  It is a question about how you are going to invest your life, to use your God-given talents.

There are two general areas that Proverbs is addressing:  Romance and politics.

How do we “give” (5414) our “strength” (2428) to “women” (802)?  Here is a truth that our culture needs to hear, and remember it comes from a woman.  Here it is also directed at men.  Having said that I think that the principle is applicable both ways in our modern culture.  When a man or woman falls in love they tend to get really goofy.  Is that a real word?  I don’t think it is found in the Bible, but you have all observed it.  Our focus becomes centered on one person and all else falls into the background.  If marriage develops it is possible for a weaker version of this affliction to continue.  This is a warning to guard from using all of our God given talents to use pleasing one person rather than following God’s plan for your life.

I think you could even go a little farther and reverse the warning.  Women, do not demand the kind of attention that keeps your man from being obedient to God.  Men, do not try to stifle your woman and keep her focused on your self-centered needs.  Marriage is a gift of God but like all holy things it can be perverted and become destructive and idolatrous.

We can also get consumed with politics.  As I write we are a few days away from a vital election.  This is not saying, “Don’t vote.  Leave it in Gods hands.”  It is not even saying don’t be involved in politics.  This is more along the lines of Jesus saying, “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God, that which is God’s.”  We are a part of a society that expects us to be involved, but political action is not to be our passion.  Our passion is to be salt and light.  Our passion is to be righteous.  Our passion is to win people to Jesus and train them to be disciples.  Everything else is secondary.  Secondary does not mean ignored, it means kept in perspective.

So?  Vote, campaign, run, debate; but always in the awareness that if you win the election and lose your soul you won’t get to keep your campaign buttons in the lake of fire.  Give your strength to God.  Give your weakness to God.  And follow where that leads.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Voter's Guide 2010

(2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

As usual this week I was listening to Alistair Begg on my I-pod while locked into morning traffic.  He referred to this verse.  As always he gets me thinking.

We are approaching a time of election.  We are in the middle of a political campaign.  We are involved at different levels.  We care at different levels.  We should be thankful for the chance to be involved and discuss issues openly.  But do not forget who we are and what will really bring change.

Look at God’s formula for change:  Self humbling, prayer, seeking, repentance.  This is not a twelve step program or a one step miracle.  Too often we want to boil an egg without heat, water or a pan.  We think having an egg is enough.  God makes promises but usually they are conditional.  Our hope is not in voting or political action.  If that were the case then the Christians in the days of Rome would have been without hope.   Christian martyrs around the world would have died in despair.  But they did have hope.  And they had humility, prayer seeking, and repentance. 

Notice the formula for response:  Hearing, forgiving, healing.  Don’t expect God to touch us or our situation with a magic wand.  Sometimes healing takes time.  It always takes the hand of God. 

So?  Vote.  Once.  Pray.  Without ceasing.  Seek His face constantly.  Serve others and when you become aware of your failures and sin, repent.  God continually pulled Israel’s chestnuts out of the fire.  The Wesley revival kept England from bloody revolution.  The Great Awakening lead to a free republic.  The Second Great Awakening laid the ground work to end slavery.  How many other times has God intervened in history when His people were faithful?   I don’t know, but I intend to ask Jesus when I respond to the trumpet.

The Pause that Refreshes

(Proverbs 30:4 KJV)  Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

This brings to mind many different images.  Here Proverbs is looking both backward and forward.  This is a reference to creation, and a prophecy of Jesus that should have presented the Jews of the day with a real mystery.

My first reaction is an echo of Job.  In His discussion with Job, God points out what He has done.  We are given all these anthropomorphic images.  And in Chapter 38 God begins a discussion of His creative action
(Job 38:4 KJV)  Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Then we have reference to Jesus.  This would only be understood through the eyes of the New Testament.  We picture Jesus telling the wind to be still and walking on the waters.  We have reference to Jesus not only creating but holding all things together.  He “established” (6965) the world.  We see that from our perspective.

But how would a Jew of Old Testament times take the last part of this verse.  What is this “name” (8034) business and given in regard to a “son” (1121)?  You want clear testimony in the Old Testament to the place of Jesus, here it is.

So maybe it would help today to pause and consider the glory of the world around you.  We have had two days of what I call “motorcycle weather.”  It has been glorious.   The forecast for tonight is rain.  I can enjoy that too.  There are times when we should just stop, shove everything else aside, and rejoice in the God of Creation.  And of course the Son, whose name is Jesus.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

America's Idols

(Proverbs 29:3 KJV)  Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.

This would seem to be a rather extreme comparison.  The contrast of wisdom and fornication is jarring.  It would also seem that the two are totally incompatible. 

“Harlots” (2181) is based on the idea of adultery.  If it is used literally this is a clear, simple statement.  We live in a culture saturated by sex.  We hear of studies all the time that tell us things are not different in the church than in the world.  We nod our heads, act shocked and go on about our business.  When the church starts accepting the standards of the world it is a long way toward no longer being the church.  God has standards.  He demands that we have standards.

This term could also be used figuratively.  If it is used figuratively, it means idolatry.  This applies to us today as much as then.  We live in the illusion that because we don’t have idols of Baal in our churches and don’t throw our first born into the furnaces of Moloch that we no longer have idols.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Idols are alive and well.  The gods of those idols may have changed their costumes but they are still there.  Think about the Greek and Roman pantheons that you studied in school.  Each god is associated with a part of life.  Venus represents love and beauty, translated sex and glamor.  Bacchus represents strong drink, translate drunkenness.  I don’t remember them all but every aspect of life had a god in charge.  You gave offerings based on what you wanted.  Today we offer our lives up to Venus by being consumed with looking attractive.  We invest in creams and lotions.  We join health clubs and buy workout equipment.  We dress ourselves up to be attractive to the opposite sex.  We don’t throw our children into the fire any more but we send them off to the public schools with little thought or, even worse, put them in day care.  I understand that there are some situations where that is necessary, but to be honest I believe most of the time the real reason is that second car, the expensive vacation or even a large pledge you made to the building fund at church.

So?  Seek wisdom instead of image.  Please.  Spend more time in the Word than you do in magazines or on line.  Don’t jog until you have run the race.  Work on your priorities.

Posting Problems

I was very careful to check that the previous post was marked as scheduled for this morning at 5:00 A.M.  It was marked as scheduled.  All looked good.  I was out late tonight and when I got back it was not posted and was listed as "draft".  Something fishy.   Until I figure it out I am going to begin posting in the afternoon or evening for the next day.  If you have any ideas on what is happening here I would appreciate comments.

Poor Oppressors

(Proverbs 28:3 KJV)  A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.

We generally think of the rich oppressing the “poor” (7326).  This points out a more realistic situation.  The poor man often “oppresses” (6231) the “poor” (second use) (lowly NASB) (1800b).  The KJV misses the difference here.  We frequently see comparisons and contrasts of different classes of people in Proverbs.  The surface issue is how much money they have.  We tend to see that because we are conditioned to see that.  It makes us feel more spiritual to believe that people who are wealthier than us are evil because of that.  After all, I am more spiritual so they must have gained their wealth through oppression and cheating, right?  Not necessarily.  Usually, if you look, the issue in the Bible will not be how much money they have but how they use it.

Here we have two different words used for those at the bottom of the social scale.  We find that sin rears its ugly head even for the “poor” (7326).  Even though he has no money he “oppresses” (6231) someone else.  What is the difference between the “poor” (7326) and the “lowly” (1800b)?  Both are at the bottom but they are different qualities.  They may even overlap, but they point to different situations.  The poor are those who have no money.  The lowly are those who are physically or emotionally weak.  If sin rules in your heart, you can always find someone to attack.

Historically I think of ex-slaves who went on to own slaves.  You don’t hear much about this but there were freed slaves who went on to own plantations and buy slaves to work them.  It is not politically correct to bring that up, but it happened.  Oppression is ultimately not based on money, race or nationality.  It is based on a sinful heart that refuses to love its neighbor and its enemy.

So?  Don’t fall for the class warfare based mantra about oppression.  Oppression exists.  But it is sin, not social status.  Look at your own attitudes and relationships.  Is there someone in your circle that you take advantage of?  Do you treat the waitress like a child of God?  Do you browbeat the clerk in the store when you are in a bad mood and know you can get away with it?  Do you provoke your own children?  Repent.  Seek forgiveness.  Change.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Appology, Again

I am not sure what is going on with this blogger.  I hit publish, check it on the edit post page and go on.  The next day I find it as a draft.  O well.  The previous post was supposed to be posted this morning at 5:00 A.M.

Don't Be the Problem

(Proverbs 27:3 KJV)  A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.

What is “Wrath" (provocation NASB) (3708a)?   The word means to vex and to make angry.  We all know people who excel at pushing our buttons.  They seem to get great delight in seeing our tilt button light up.  You can see them coming with that gleam in their eye.  They can get to you without breaking out a sweat because we are such easy targets.  Want some examples?  Let me share a few words:  Abortion, guns, global warming, unemployment, health care.  Shall I go on?  In cases like this the problem is more our thin skin than their barbs.  We can deal with this by not taking ourselves so seriously.  In this case we tend to be the “fool” (191).

“Provocation” (3708a) which comes from a “fool” (191) is harder to deal with because we recognize its source.  It is other people.  Often they are people we must live with or work with.  They are fools not because they disagree with us but because they disagree with God.  Look at the many references in Proverbs contrasting the fool and the wise.  These people are very hard to deal with.

We recognize it when it comes from someone else.  Do we recognize it when it comes from us?  That was a rhetorical question.  Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.  The real point of the verse, I think, is to keep us from being provoking fools ourselves.  We don’t need lessons in knowing people are a pain.  We need lessons in not giving pain.  We need to work at not provoking other people.  I have what I consider an active sense of humor.  Some people disagree with my analysis.  Part of the command of love is to stifle my sense of humor when I am around those people.  I should avoid certain topics that I enjoy and focus on what concerns them.  I don’t want to be the stone in their life because when the time comes to make a serious contribution, they may not be willing to listen.

So?  If you recognize it, apologize and work on change.  If you don’t recognize it, hope for the best and saturate yourself in wisdom which is the only real antidote.  The Holy Spirit can make you more sensitive if you really want Him to.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shooting the Sender of the Messenger

(Proverbs 26:6 KJV)  He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

I think the first part of this verse could be paraphrased in modern language as “You are looking for trouble when....”  May father used to have a saying, “You’re breathing scabs on your nose.” This is warning us about the tendency to get other people to do things we should do ourselves.  This might work in taking out the trash but will fail in anything needing discernment, wisdom or understanding.

We sometimes run into this problem because we are trying to disciple someone or train them for leadership.  Remember that when Jesus sent out people to preach and heal He sent a relatively small group of disciples, not the multitudes who followed Him.  We should be selective.  There are many actions the Bible teaches that require discernment and maturity.  Reproof, correction and exhortation come to mind.  They are not casual commands.  They are missions of maturity and wisdom. 

I think of an experience at a church we attended.  My daughter had been talking to a young lady about modesty.  The correction was not being rejected.  The girl was changing her dress and obviously thinking about the issue.  We mistakenly got the pastor involved.  He sent someone else to talk to her.  Even though the lady was older than my daughter she did not have the maturity to handle the situation.  As a result the family left the church.  A classic example of sending a fool to do what the wise should handle.  People looking at it would have said that correction was wrong.  No, it was right.  The wrong ambassador was the problem.

So often the success of our message depends on the way in which it is presented.

So?  For yourself, make sure that your attitude is correct before you talk to someone.  If you are in a position to delegate, be very careful that the person you send it mature enough to handle the situation.  It might be better to say nothing than to say it the wrong way.

Fools, Correction

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hide and Seek

(Proverbs 25:2 KJV)  It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

This is a fascinating statement. In both cases “glory” (3519b)  is involved.  “Glory” and “honour” are the same word in the Hebrew.  We are looking at clues to the difference between the leadership styles and resources available between God and human leaders.  God has infinite resources and knowledge.  Men are limited, even if they are in positions of power. 

God will “conceal” (5641).  Based on my next comments on “search”, I would come to the conclusion that part of the idea here is to be inscrutable. 

Consider, or try to, the amount of raw information that God has available.  First of all He has the capacity of the ultimate computer.  People are in awe of what computers can do but we need to remember that they are basically stupid tools.  They have almost perfect memory and ever greater speed, beyond that they are nothing.  God has those to the max but you also have to add the the flexibility free will and options granted by awareness.  Add the traditional Biblical elements such as love and holiness.  The resulting package is awesome.  It is no wonder that God is a frightening person. 

Would you really want to know all that God knows?  It is almost a stupid question.  You have all seen what happens to an electrical device when it is connected to too much power.  It burns up or blows a circuit.  Imagine if we had unfiltered access to God.  In His love and wisdom, God must filter what we know and when we know it.  That is another reason why we study the scripture on a regular basis and we can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal what we need.  That is why we see something today that we did not see last time we meditated on a verse.  That is why we can reread the same books and be constantly refreshed.  In my general reading I hate reading books a second time.  In the Word I am perpetually reading Proverbs and it speaks to me each time.

Kings “search” (2713).  This word gives me some insight into this passage.  God knows and sees all.  He does not reveal all.  Do we really want to know when we will die?  A king has the responsibility to seek out truth, possibly to pass judgment.  This has both a physical and mental application.  Our leaders should be applying both.  Kings, presidents, prime ministers, governors, mayors, CEO’s....  All have a responsibility to admit their limitations and seek out the information that will make it possible for them to lead.

So?  Don’t expect God to tell you everything.  Keep seeking and asking but don’t feel like a failure when you don’t find the golden egg.  Give leaders the space and support they need to lead.  They do not have all the answers.  Accept that.  Keep their feet the fire if they aren’t looking.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


(Proverbs 24:3 KJV)  Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:

We need to get into a historical frame of mind.  “House” (1004) is figurative here.  This is not talking about a building.  Solomon is talking about a home and a place for the family.  The idea continues in the next verse.  As Americans and a people of the twenty-first century we tend to think in terms of individuals.  The past thought in terms of generations, families, dynasties.  They took the long view.  England’s queen is part of the House of Windsor.  The House of Rothschild was a business empire.  It speaks not only of common blood but of ideals, values and goals.  It is a synonym for family.

We are part of the family of God.  In our case blood is thicker than water and for Christians it is the Blood we talk about.  We are one in the bond of love because of the Cross.  We call each other brother and sister because we are of the House of God.  This house is “built” (1129) by what we believe and how we believe it.

We again see “wisdom” (2451) and “understanding” (8394).  These two words are used together in the same verse 46 times in the NASB.  That must say something about the meaning of wisdom.  It is possible to have knowledge without understanding, but not wisdom.

We are to build with “wisdom” (2451).  Remember that this is a gift of the Spirit.  That means that some will have a special dispensation.  It also means that everyone will have some.  And the message of Proverbs is that we can build our wisdom quotient.  You have heard of IQ.  We have a WQ.  It is only built by studying the word of God, spending time with God and applying what results from that.

What kind of house are you trying to build?  When your grandchildren look back, what kind of heritage do you want them to see?  Will they see bank accounts, property and lots of furniture?  Those things are not automatically evil.  They can be but don’t have to be.  Will they see wisdom, character and righteousness?  What they see in the past will be lived out in their daily lives.  The house you build now will pay dividends in generations.

So build a house that will endure.  One you would want to be a part of if you were your own grandchild.  Build for the future by laying a foundation of wisdom today.  It won’t be found in the psychology, education or self help section of Borders.  It will be found in the Word of God.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


(Proverbs 23:3 KJV)  Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.

What is wrong with “dainties" (delicacies NASB) (4303)?  It is synonymous with deceit to the Hebrews, yet it is different from the word commonly used that way.  We find this idea repeated in verse 6.  Outside of Proverbs it is only used when the goat stew was prepared to taste like wild game.  If you look at Genesis 27 you see references to “savory meat.”  This is the word for delicacies.  It was a dish prepared for the specific purpose of deceiving Isaac into blessing Jacob.

We have built in desires for the delicacies of life.  There is something in us that wants to believe certain things.  We want to believe that politicians really care about us.  We want to believe that because something says “fat free food” it will not make us gain weight.  We want to believe that because we are saved by grace it doesn’t matter how we live.

Satan knows this.  Satan’s servants know this.  And they take advantage of it.  All of this refers back to the "ruler" of verse one.  This means people who are seeking to control our physical lives and some who want to control our spiritual destiny.  Beware.  There is a saying that I think was originated by Robert Heinlein, a science fiction writer (who pushed incest regularly in his writing, so I am not recommending his novels), TANSTAAFL.  You may have seen it and wondered “What?”  It means, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”  Another popular saying is “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.” 

Gifts can be “deceptive” (3577).  “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”  Actually this is not saying that “delicacies” can be “deceptive”, it is saying they are deceptive.  This seems to be the day for quotes.  Remember, “No pain, no gain.”  Or, if I remember it correctly from my junior high German, “Ohne Fleis, kein Preis.”  This is true in spite of grace.  Grace does not mean that there is not effort in the spiritual life, it means that ultimately salvation is a gift since there is nothing we can do to cancel the penalty of sin.

So?  We live in a world that is trying to drag us down.  Don’t let it happen.  Stay awake.  Let the mouse be the one caught by his lust for that good looking cheese on that little piece of wood.  Don’t just think twice.  Pray twice.  It may make the difference between the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and an eternal hot foot.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comments Are Love in Action

(1 Corinthians 12:20-1 KJV)  But now are they many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

Recently I received a comment from Stan at According to the Book.  You can read it HERE.  This is an example of how the internet can be a tool for building our spiritual lives.  One of the gifts of the spirit that I do not have and do not understand is the gift of Mercy.  People with this gift drive me crazy.  I keep wondering what is wrong with them.  The problem is not in them, it is in me.  I need a constant reminder of that and this comment pointed it out, oh so gently.  I don’t know if it was the intent of the writer, but it was the intent of God.  I don’t know that I would change what I said, but when you deal with issues that can discourage the innocent you need to keep such things as mercy on the edge of your mind.  And of course the opposite is true.  When we are feeling compassion for people we need to be honest about their contribution to the problem.  This is part of the meaning of the Body of Christ and the way in which the gifts work together.

So keep using the web as a spiritual tool.  Keep writing.  Keep reading.  Above all keep open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit as we give and take.  I have another post that I read on another blog that is bouncing around in my head.  I may respond on line but the work is being done in my soul.  Preach it brothers!  (and of course sisters)

In Praise of Prudence

(Proverbs 22:3 KJV)  A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

This thought is repeated again word for word at 27:12.  The repetition would say this is important.  Rarely do we see a “prudent” (6175) person today.  I am not sure it is a modern characteristic.  I know that it is the subject of scorn and ridicule both in and out of the church.  People seem to seek out the decadent and corrupt.  A case in point is how people are drawn to rap music or the atmosphere of a seedy bar.  Look at pictures of fans of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Prudence is given two talents here.  It recognizes “evil” (7463a) and “hides” (5641) from it.  Recognizing evil requires not only seeing it but admitting what you are seeing.  One of the gifts of the Spirit is discernment.  There is discussion on what this gift involves but I think one of the definite ingredients is the ability to tell the difference between good and evil.  Like all gifts there are some people who have the gift and excel in this area.  And like all gifts there is at least a reflection on it in all believers.  For instance, some have the gift of giving, all are expected to tithe.  Some have the gift of evangelism, all are expected to witness.  You can follow this on your own.  Not having the gift does not excuse you from obedience to the Spirit. 

One area we do not want to see evil is in the areas that touch us closely.  We don’t want to see it in the church.  We don’t want to see it in our family.  We don’t want to see it in our friends.  We don’t want to see it in our leisure.  Open your eyes.

I am not sure how to deal with this idea of hiding.  It would seem that we would be spending our lives in closets or under the bed.  We are surrounded by evil.  This is not so physical.  It might mean to conceal our thinking and our plans.  We do not need to share everything about our lives with people who are serving Satan.  They will only use what they learn to increase the nastiness of the world.  I will have think about this some more.  There are times when we are to be quiet and submissive.  There are times when we are to be like Peter standing up to Elders who told him to stop preaching. 

So?  Recognize evil.  It is all around you.  When you see it remind yourself that “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Would Jesus Write a Blog?

(John 14:12 KJV)  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

We are all familiar with the phrase WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) which has a line of bracelets and such.  Often it is an interesting concept.  We know that Jesus came at the best time:
(Galatians 4:4 KJV)  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
But what if He came today.  How would He communicate?  Would He have a TV ministry?  Would He use voice mail?  Would He write a blog?  I think the answer is “None of the above.”  The Roman world had ways to communicate.   They were crude by our standards but worked when the fastest mode of transportation was a horse.  Jesus used none of them.  Instead He used the time tested method of teaching and preaching.  He trained a few men, promised them the Holy Spirit and left them to do their job.  I think He works the same way today.

But “all of the above” are being used to proclaim Jesus.  Which makes me wonder if that is part of what Jesus was talking about in this verse.  I have heard that it refers to the Holy Spirit and how spirit filled followers can be in more places than the physical Jesus.  But what if this was prophecy that included the printing press, radio, and the internet.  Sin is often the corrupt and selfish perversion of something God designed for good.  The internet certainly has its share of perversion.  But by using it for His glory, we can sanctify it or allow Him to sanctify it through our righteous use.

Would Jesus write a blog?  I don’t think so, but maybe He wants you to do so.

Lookin' Good

(Proverbs 21:4 KJV)  An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

What is the mark of the “wicked” (7563)?   What people see is the “hight” (haughty NASB) (7312) “look” (eyes NASB).  At times it is easy to see this in others, yet how often are we mistaken?  Is this just an outward sign?  We have all had experiences both ways.  We have met people that seem to be arrogant and egotistical and then we find they just have weird shaped eyebrows.  Other times we have sensed an attitude on our first meeting and it has been born out.  We need to be careful of quick judgments but we also need to admit that some people are evil.  I think we get a picture that is complex here. 

“Hight” (haughty NASB) (7312) comes from a root word meaning exalted or lifted up.  It is used in both positive and negative ways.  A positive use is familiar to all of us:
(Proverbs 14:34 KJV)  Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
In today’s verse it is obviously a negative.  Haughty eyes would talk about how a person views the world.  It is a warning to us as believers.  We will be accused of being arrogant often enough because we believe in truth and a biblical morality.  We need to be careful that we don’t allow it to become an accurate statement of who we are. 

This is why we are called to servanthood.  Because we represent a holy God and walk with His Spirit in us, it is easy to get full of ourselves.  We exist for the blessing of those around us.  The following comes to mind:
(Philippians 2:3 KJV)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Sometimes doing what is best for other people will get us accused of being arrogant.  Accept that but examine your heart to make sure your motives are right.

So examine yourself.  Make that the Greek present tense, which means something that is in continual process.  Never rest on your laurels.  Keep checking yourself, not with doubt but with an honesty that is only possible because you have one end of your measuring stick locked on the Word of God.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Move It!

(Proverbs 20:5 KJV)  Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.

In Proverbs 18:4 the idea of deep waters has a negative feel.  Perhaps that is continued here.

Or maybe this verse reinforces the idea in the previous verse about planning ahead.  The KJV seems a little closer to the mark here.  We are to take "counsel" (plan NASB) (6098).  In Proverbs the NASB usually translates this word “counsel,” but for some reason has "plan" here.   It has the idea of getting or giving advice.  I think most of us have a lot of unexpressed opinions about what we see going on around us.  Just think of all the unwanted and unsolicited advice you have received over the years.  Think how much you have given out.  Think of it as just the tip of the iceberg.

Many of the plans we have in our “heart” (3820) {end} we would call dreams.  Some are just fantasies.  How many silly thoughts have you had that would embarrass you if people could read your mind.  One of the first I had was to be a member of the Mickey Mouse Club.  Right.  Like that was ever going to happen.

This is normal, I think, and it not enough to cripple us.  But it is not enough to have a plan only in your “heart” (3820).  It is useless until it is shared.  Are there ideas and dreams that you have that would benefit by being moved out of your heart and into your life?   Some of them God would like to see you put into action.  How do you pick out the ones you should invest your life in.

This takes “understanding” (8394) {end}.  This is a very common idea in Proverbs.  It is tied with wisdom.  It can be developed by learning from the Word.  It can be guided by the Holy Spirit.  It takes some effort on our part and does not happen overnight.  Wisdom “draws out” (1802a) what others don’t see.  This is the idea of drawing water.  You dig your well.  You let down your bucket.  You crank it up. 

What is God speaking to you about?  What ideas keep coming up.  You press them down, ignore them, consider them silly and they come in the back door and you find them sitting at your mental kitchen table again.  Maybe it is time to draw them out with understanding.

So keep asking yourself where you should invest your life.  Keep seeking the mind of God.  Keep expecting Him to show you how you should be investing the time you have left on this earth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Cause of Poverty

(Proverbs 19:7 KJV)  All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

There is an assumption here that I did not at first see.  Aall I saw was the one who was “poor” (7326).  I thought I was supposed to feel sorry for him.  Everyone was abandoning him.  It seemed like an observation that reflected poorly on others.  But I kept thinking.

We have the “brethren" (brothers NASB) (251) of a “poor” (7326) man.  It is taken for granted that the brothers are not poor.  At first I was assuming he was one of that large helpless class.  But if his brothers were not poor, his family was not poor.  So we are not talking about someone who is locked into poverty by social injustice or oppression.  This is a man who has created his own poverty.  The poor get a lot of good press in Proverbs.  This word is not always condemned, it is the context that brings this nuance. 

And these brothers “hate” (8130) him.  It seems implied because he is poor, but I wonder if it isn’t because of the way he became poor and the attitudes that keep him that way.  It can’t be an accident of birth, class or other social distinction.  It is because of choices he has made.

Is poverty created by our actions, by accident or by oppression?  Obviously it can be any of the three but the one hardest to escape is the poverty we create for ourselves. 

And what about the “friends” (4828).  It does not seem to be based on what we would call friendship today.  Or maybe it is pointing out that some people can wear out their welcome by their lack of good character.  People who were once your friends might remove themselves from contact because you have become a parasite instead of a companion.

So?  What kind of brother are we?  Do we view friends as people to be used or people to be served?  What kind of attitudes do we exhibit to others?  Examine yourself.  Be honest.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Springs in the Fall

(Proverbs 18:4 KJV)  The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

At lunch one day we were talking about “secret knowledge” of the cults and modern gnostics.  This verse could refer to the arrogance of men who think that what they say is so “deep” (6013).  You can contrast that to God’s “wisdom” (2451) being available and rising to the surface through hard rock.  We usually use the idea of being a deep thinker as a compliment.  This would cast some doubt on that.

This might be a verse directed specifically toward bloggers.  I marvel at how bloggers are impressed with their own opinions.  I would certainly include myself in that.  I don’t know how many times in editing I have gone back and removed the most pompous comments.  The less arrogant I don’t even notice.  Have you ever been talking to someone and suddenly realized you sound like you know it all.  We have a tendency to think we are a source of “deep” (6013) “waters” (4325) and we think that is important because the water is murky. 

In our world people combine arrogance and deception in the use of jargon and concocted words.  As a teacher I get a steady diet of this and I am sure parents get tired of it.  You see it in government, medicine, law and food preparation. 

What we see here is a contrast between “words” (1697) and “wisdom” (2451), not a comparison.  Proverbs is trying to get us to see the difference between our thinking and the mind of God.  Are these the same words used other places?  At times God’s wisdom is called the “word”.

Gods words, wisdom, are equated with a “wellspring” (fountain NASB) (4726).  A “fountain” seems more alive.  Water is flexible and alive.  It always adapts to its surroundings.  Volume does not change but shape does.  There are all kinds of applications here.  A fountain has a hidden source, a fountain is water that has been seeking an outlet.  The water may have come from miles away, traveling under impervious rock to find a crack.  The same way God’s wisdom may travel mysteriously past hard hearts until it finds one that will give it expression.

So?  Two things come to mind immediately.  First, look at your own motives for talking.  Keep it honest.  You represent the holy God of the universe.  As someone said years ago, you are the only Bible some people will ever read.  Second, immerse yourself in the wisdom of God.  Let him be the source of your ideas and opinions.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

C.S. Lewis Joins the Chorus

(Proverbs 17:4 KJV)  A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

It is amazing how God sometimes brings our reading together from different sources.  I am rereading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  I came across a sentence that speaks to my earlier post today from Book Three, Chapter 6, "Christian Marriage".
“Our experience is coloured through and through by books and plays and cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves.”
If you make allowance for the British spelling and the archaic reference to “cinema” you get the point.  We are so saturated with the language and thought of our culture that we don’t know if we are coming or going.  That is why it is important to dwell on the words of God and time tested men of God rather than the latest trend on Facebook.

Push 'Em Back, Way Back

(Philippians 4:8 KJV)  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

How do we keep our minds clean?  We are to “think” (let our "mind dwell" NASB) (3049) [logizomai] on these kinds of things.  Someone, sometime pointed out that modern psychology has “discovered” this truth.  Finally.  How do you keep something from dominating your mind?  By focusing on something else.  If I tell you not to think about oranges it does you no good to try to push oranges out of your mind.  All it does is reinforce the idea of oranges.  If, however, you get an apple and start savoring its nuances and unique tastes the idea of whatever it was is pushed aside.

So fill yourself up with the righteousness of God and the evil will not be able to find room.  TV anyone?

Addition and Subtraction

(Proverbs 17:16 KJV)  Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

I am currently reading the Douay Version.  I have been noticing verses where it adds what appears to be a second verse.  This is an example: 
"What doeth it avail a fool to have riches, seeing he cannot buy wisdom? 
 “He that maketh his house high, seeketh a downfall; and he that refuseth to learn shall fall into evils.”  (Douay Version)
In the text you can see it has a similar beginning to the KJV.  It clearly separates the second part so anyone who is observant would notice.  This is not found in any other translation I checked, including the RSV with Apocrypha.  I have checked the general commentaries and find no reference to this.  I have seen nothing in these verses that contradicts scripture.  At this point I would still stand by my position that a serious believer can use almost any translation if he is seriously seeking.  The Holy Spirit will lead to truth.

The Douay would stand in the Roman Catholic tradition like the KJV would rank with Protestants.  Both were translated in the same general time period.  Both have been supplanted by other translations.  I believe the current standard translation for Catholics is the New American Bible, not to be confused with the New American Standard Bible.  Remember that the Douay Version is based on the Latin Vulgate and other texts are consulted.  The KJV translators started with the other texts and gave the Latin Vulgate the minor role of consultant. 

Read, pray, think, grow.

Evil Hear, Evil Be

(Proverbs 17:4 KJV)  A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

Two recurring themes in Proverbs are again addressed here.  We do not like to accept either of them.  First, evil exists.  Second, many people enjoy and seek out evil.

“Evildoer” (7489a) is simply the root word for evil.  It is translated many ways but they seem to have the idea of active evil, thus “evildoer”.   An “evildoer” (7489a) tends to focus on evil.  Surely you have noticed this.  One of the fastest growing parts of the internet is the pornography genre.  If you follow the news you surely heard about the government agency that had employees spending a significant part of their time viewing and storing pornography.  I am sure others wait to be revealed. 

This tendency is one used by the devil to bring people down.  Non-believers are easy targets.  They have no spiritual defenses.  Believers might take a little work, but we open ourselves for repeated attacks.  Think about it.  How do you spend your spare time?  When you watch a TV program, what does it teach you about the family?  I confess.  I don’t watch TV anymore except under duress.  What I remember mocked parents and portrayed children as the fountain of wisdom.  What do you read?  When was the last time you saw an important character state that sex was to be reserved for the marriage bed?  I could go on but I am sure you get the point.

It is easy to look around and wonder about others but are we listening to “wicked” (205) lips? 

So?  What do we do?  First, be honest.  I am not listening to your inner conversation but God is, and He knows truth when He hears it.  Second, don’t panic or freak out.  Take some time to thoughtfully look for alternatives.  It may involve changing how you relax or spend your leisure.  Make the change.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Eternal Editor

(Proverbs 16:3 KJV)  Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

We are to “commit” (1556) all that we do to the Lord.  We should be careful not to make this some kind of ethereal sentiment.  This is not fulfilled by sitting in a circle and singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus,...”  It is not the idea a being at the roulette wheel and putting it all on number 7.  This is a word that seems to have the idea of getting into motion.  This is not just an intellectual commitment but a an active commitment.  It means to roll.  It means to pick a direction and start on it.

Picture being in a news room.  Your copy is due at a certain time.  You write it up.  It is the best you can do.  At some point you must forward it to the editor.  You “commit” your copy.  I like the idea of an editor.  If you are doing your work properly there will be no major revisions but usually there will be at least typographical or grammatical corrections to make.  You might be told to delete a paragraph or asked for more in an area.  Our “works” (4639) are to be placed at His disposal.

Assuming we have been seeking the mind of God and reading our Bibles, we should be close to success when we submit to the Eternal Editor.  He takes our “thoughts” (plans NASB) (4284) when they are made under the authority of His will.  He then modifies them.  He fine tunes them in ways we cannot understand. 

When our future is laid out according to His will, it is “established” (3559) or made firm.  Since I believe in free will the plans must always be open for amendment.  If I am driving from San Diego to Bangor Maine the route given to me on my AAA planner may have to change because of weather or construction, but my destination and purpose remain the same.

So first, do you homework.  Read the Bible regularly.   Don’t read it like it is a Sunday School contest.  Remember those?  The one who read the most chapters got a prize.  So you read Psalm 117 over and over again.  Read slowly and methodically listening to what the Holy Spirit may stir within you.  If you get stuck on one verse that day it is better than reading the whole chapter without a flicker. 

Then take what you learn and apply it that day.  It is not empty knowledge, it is God speaking to you.  Listen, learn, live.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Un-evil Eye

(Proverbs 15:3 KJV)  The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

This is one of the foundations of Christian culture.  America used to be like this.  People were aware that God was watching at all times.  Your parents might not know.  Your spouse might not know.  Your friends might not know.  But God sees all.  Think about how this would effect behavior if we truly believed it.  We would not bother stopping to look around to see if anyone was watching.  We would know God was on the alert.  It would tend to cause us to live at a higher level. 

I don’t know where this started to break down.  Perhaps it was the publishing of the song, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”  Remember how he “sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake...”  If Santa is watching it is better than worrying about God.  After all, we had all those years when we were real stinkers and Santa did not seem to notice.

Whenever it started to change, it is in full flood now.  “Prove it!” is now the cry.  Confessed criminals are set free on technicalities.  Judgments are based on filling out the right papers, not truth.  The law is not based on what the law says but on what a judge feels it should say.  Where are the eyes of God?

If you are a follower of Jesus you must remind yourself that God sees all.  There is no way you can fool Him.  He does not play games.  Was there anything you did yesterday that you would have done differently if you had been thinking about this?  Today is the time to change that kind  of thinking.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pets and Profit

(Proverbs 14:4 KJV)  Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

 I love this.  I want to quote it to my wife when she tells me I need to clean off my desk or clean out the car.

There are trade-offs in life.  Sometimes we have to decide if we want things “clean” (1249) or if we want “increase” (8393).  Work is often messy.  Go look at a construction sight.  Visit an newspaper and observe where the writers work.  Go to a farm and ride a combine.  Crawl under a house with a plumber.  People sweat.  Dirt happens.  The results are what keep life moving forward.

An even better question is what does God want?  I am sure that the answer will be different at different times.  Knowing which to go with is part of the life of holiness.  It requires thinking.  It is unlike the robotic response of legalism.  There will be times when we are to sit back and keep a situation orderly.  There will be other times when we plunge ahead and let the chips fall where they may.

“Increase” (8393) is profit.  This is a dirty word in many mouths, but is approved by the Bible.  The morality of profit is in the adjectives.  Is it illicit or honorable?  Was it based on fair balances or cheating.  Don’t be afraid to make a profit but make sure that your methods and products are to the glory of God.

This also makes a statement to animal rights people.  The purpose of the animal is to benefit the child of God.  The ox or whale is not your brother.  Don’t get too carried away here.  The man has a responsibility to the animal but one is the tool the other.  Remember that tools need to be cared for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Righteous and Upright

(Proverbs 13:6 KJV)  Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.

A constant message of the Bible is to behave properly, with “righteousness” (6666).  If it is impossible to live a righteous life, this verse is empty poetry.  The fact that demands for righteousness occur so often stresses that it is possible and it is vital.  Don’t brush this demand off with quoting about “righteousness being as filthy rags.”  Maybe so, but it is demanded.  God must have known that modern theologians would deny righteousness, so He kept bringing it up.

The proper behavior “keepeth” (guards NASB) (5341) us.  How?  This can be from the actual holiness in us.  It can be like a positive flow that keeps evil from entering.  Again we have an idea that is hard for some to accept because of their theological paradigm.  But think about the OT talking about a new heart and all of the promises of the Spirit.  Think about the change in the disciples after Pentecost. 

This can also be the result of holy habits.  When we pattern our lives a certain way we automatically respond without having to make conscious choices.  These habits can be good or bad.  Good habits protect us in those moments that we do not have time to plan.

We can act “upright” (blameless NASB) (8537).  Isn’t that what it says?  I am not going to try to sell a bridge to you and claim to be perfect, but the word seems to say that we can be without blame.  We know this is through grace and the blood, but sooner or later it involves our obedience.

Jesus said that evil comes from our hearts.  Here it is this inner “wickedness” (7564) that works to “overthrow” (subvert NASB) (5557) one who is already a “sinner” (2403b).  Could this wickedness be another expression of original sin or the carnal nature?

So?  Make sure that you have taken the initial steps of repentance.  Seek the fulness of the Spirit.  Apply the gifts.  Expect to grow and for you life to reflect righteousness.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


(Proverbs 12:10 KJV)  A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Pet lovers should rejoice in this verse.  Here is a clear statement of stewardship in “regard” (3045) [yada] to the animal kingdom.  This is the word meaning to know intimately.  I am not an animal person but my wife and daughter are.  They have a genuine regard for their animals.  They feel incomplete if they do not have a cat.  This is a characteristic of righteousness.  Being cruel to animals is a sin.  Of course some people get so carried away with this that they want to liberate the draft horses and free the cows.  That is obviously another extreme because the Bible commonly refers to animals as servants of mankind.

You may know the name of William Wilberforce.  He was a member of the English Parliament who fought for 40 years to outlaw slavery in the British Empire.  He was a contemporary of George Washington and John Wesley.  Most people don’t know that he was involved in the beginning of the SPCA (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).  This is righteousness at work.

This does not mean that you need a pet to be righteous.  It just means if you have one, treat it right.

“Life” (5315) [nephesh]is something a “beast” (929) can have.  This is also a common word for “soul”.  This might also be a source of hope for people who wonder about where their pets go when they die.  It is not conclusive of anything, just a source of hope.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Profit and Lost

(Proverbs 11:4 KJV)  Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

The simple phrase “day of wrath” is used only a few times in the NASB
PRO 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death.
ZEP 1:15 A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness,
ROM 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
It seems clear that it refers to a time of judgment, most likely the final judgment.

We need to understand that “riches” (1952) will be of no use when that time comes.  This is clear if the judgement is physical.  Think of the ancient city of Pompeii and the volcanic ash that settled over it, smothering rich and poor together.  Think of the modern tsunami that swept out of the Indian Ocean.  Bank accounts and expensive cars don’t stop the forces of nature.  An earthquake does not care how many followers you have on Twitter. 

We live in a world that denies the idea of a final judgment.  Even voices in the church are saying they don’t believe in Hell.  They proclaim that God would never do such a thing.  Obviously they serve a different God than the one of the Bible.  The only hope is “righteousness” (6666) which can only be claimed through Jesus.
“Righteousness” (6666) is introduced and becomes a theme for the following verses.  It becomes very clear that something called righteousness is not only possible, but demanded.  Some people like to quote Isaiah, Paul among them, to state that righteousness is impossible.
 Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. KJV
 Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.  NASB
I think we have issues with that understanding, or we should.  We are in Proverbs.  The clear teaching of Proverbs is that righteousness is not only possible, it is demanded.  In Proverbs the focus is on obedience.  The full witness of scripture brings in grace, the blood and the work of the Holy Spirit.

So understand that a day of wrath is coming.  Understand that there is a way of hope and it is found in Jesus.  Rejoice in the hope that we have.

Interpretation a la Catholic

(John 14:26 KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Because I am currently reading Proverbs in the Douay Version I decided to check this verse as a Catholic would read it.  The translation was good.  In fact it translated “Comforter” (Helper NASB) (3875) as “Paraclete” which is the Greek word.  I like that.  I would like to see that kind of thing more often.  Then I read the comment at the bottom of the page, and here we found the danger point.  The editor said that the Holy Spirit “is promised to the apostles and their successors, particularly in order to teach them all truth and to preserve them from error.”  This reflects the Roman Catholic teaching that the final judge of truth lays in the church and ultimately in the Pope.  This could be read that we, as layman, do not receive the Spirit and have no real knowledge of the truth.  Be careful of others reading their opinions into scripture.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Author of Non-confusion

(John 14:26 KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

I am re-reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  In Book 3, Chapter 3, “Social Morality” you find these words:
When it [the Bible] tells you to read the Scriptures it does not give you lessons in Hebrew and Greek, or even in English grammar.
In light of my comments on the different translations of Proverbs 10:3 I thought some clarification might be in order.  Reading and studying the Bible is something that can be done on all levels.  Anyone can do it.  You do not need a seminary education to read truth.  In fact, some times that can get in your way.  The world is full of “Doctors” and “Professors” and “Reverends” that are so impressed with their own wisdom that they cannot see simple truth. 

If you are not well educated you should not assume your feeling of inadequacy keep will you from eternal truth any more than the ego of the educated must block them from simple truth.  We all have the written word but it is the Holy Spirit that opens it up to you.  If you will not listen to the Holy Spirit you will never know the truth and it will never make you free.  If you will listen then the riches of God are open to you.

It works like this, in my opinion.  (But keep in mind I have been to seminary, so my opinion is questionable.)  You read part of the Bible.  The Holy Spirit tries to apply that to your life.  Because you have different needs every day, you may get a different lesson every day.  It may be a lesson just for you.  The lesson will not go against the totality of scripture.  If you think God is calling you to go shoot your neighbor, trust me, it is not from God.  But the application may make sense to no one else.

When we have problems with translation we can continue to trust the Holy Spirit.  You still should find the best translation available but I am convinced that you could be reading the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and if you are listening to the Holy Spirit you can find truth and recognize error.  Thus we may see some J.W.s in heaven but it won’t be because they are good Witnesses.  It will be because the Holy Spirit taught them in spite of all the indoctrination that went on.

So, relax, learn and grow.

Walk Softly

 (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 KJV)  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Affliction.  We don’t like it.  It happens.  Like C.S. Lewis in his discussion of the devil, we tend to take two unhealthy extremes.  We deny it or we wallow in it (my paraphrase).  Here we see a clear indication that we are to use the grace God gives us in our “tribulation” to help others through their suffering.  To help others we gain credibility with the endorsement of experience.  Having felt the “comfort” of God, we are better placed to share that with others, but what gives us authenticity is not the comfort but the pain.

A bit of caution is in order.  I recently was sharing the pain of a young woman who had lost an infant.  Her pain was real.  Her anger was understandable.  Part of her anger was directed toward people who tried to tell her it was all a part of some mysterious plan.  There may come a time when she will understand that but it is hard to see your dead child as a glorious example of God’s wise planning.  Comfort them, don’t lecture.  Often comfort is wordless.

Feast in Famine

(Proverbs 10:3 KJV)  The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.

Is this a law or a suggestion?  This verse requires some thought and digging.  It seems there are differences in the text.  The NASB translation is a bit different:
PRO 10:3 The \Lord\ will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will thrust {aside} the craving of the wicked.
“Allow” is not in the Hebrew.  The word that the KJV translated “soul” (5315) does not seem to be in the Hebrew text of the NASB.  This is a difference that effects the translation as well as the meaning.  The KJV translation makes sense, the NASB does not.

The Douay version is like the KJV:
“The Lord will not afflict the soul of the just with famine, and he will disappoint ther deceitful practices of the wicked.”
This is a translation that comes straight from the Latin Vulgate and also makes sense.

If you put these three together it seems safe to assume that this is talking in spiritual terms.  God will not abandon His people.  Even in hard times they will feel His presence.  Even if I do not understand all the issues in translation, I can understand that and it fits with my trans-Bible understandings.

So I may have hard times.  God will be with me.  In fact it seems that God is at his closest when things are going hard.  I think that is because we are more willing to listen when we get to the end of our ability to cope.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Unpopular but Necessary

(2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

In the context of Proverbs 9:7 we can look to other passages.  "Reproof" (1649a) is one of the words that some people do not want to see in the NT, especially in the hands of a pastor.  You can see certain guidelines, such as starting off in private (Mt 18:15), but the object is to expose sin enough to bring repentance.  The Holy Spirit is the one who does the convicting, but we are not to use that as an escape, because it seems that the Holy Spirit uses us as one of His instruments of conviction.  We are commanded to do this, specially pastors.

"Correction" (1882) is found only here in the NT.  It comes from a word that means to straighten out.  Notice the reference to the woman in Luke 13:13 who was bent over under a spiritual burden, a sickness caused by a spirit.  And at the touch of Jesus she was "made erect again" (461) or corrected (1882), as we might say.

So be careful.  Don’t gleefully go out with your Pharisee meter.  At the same time be ready to offer loving correction when it is needed, always at the right time and with the right spirit.  Save a soul from Hell.

What if You Are the One Who Is Wrong?

(Proverbs 9:7 KJV)  He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

He who “reproveth” (corrects NASB) (3256) is looking for trouble.

As I look at this I wonder at my attempts to talk to people I work with.  They are fools.  (I say that in a loving way, believe it or not.  I have a term that some do not like that I apply to many of the children I work with.  I call them “Happy Fools.”)  Fools will not listen.  They live in the sensations of the moment.  All correction does is cause trouble for me.  Yet are there not other places in the Bible that recommend correcting others?  I wish I could say that the difference is in the right of correction.  We are to correct other believers, brothers.  We are not to correct the world, neighbors.  Unfortunately, brothers don’t like correction any more than neighbors do.

Being a “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b) seems to be the  real problem.  It is not the one who tries to correct others but the one who refuses to be corrected.  Although I don’t want to be a scoffer, I often find it to be my initial reaction.  I try to get beyond my first response and look at what I am hearing and why I reject it.  Usually this leads me down the road of Biblical memory.  I start reviewing what I know the Bible says, my actions and beliefs, and what the other person is saying.  When someone tells me all alcohol consumption is a sin I remember passages like this.  When someone tells me homosexual marriage is moral, I think of other passages in the Bible that make that a nonsense statement for Christians.  If someone claims that a Robin Hood approach to economics is “social justice,”  I know enough about the Bible to call stealing, stealing.  The list goes on.

So be willing to think about criticism but do it with the Bible as your base, not the front page of the L.A. Times or the latest analysis of Dr. Phil.  If you are wrong, repent.  If they are wrong, ignore.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Want to Know

(Proverbs 8:9 KJV)  They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

God’s teachings are “plain” (straightforward NASB) (5228).  The parallel is that they are “right” (3477).  This says that God is perfectly clear in what He says and expects.  Often we act like we do not understand.  That is usually one of the lies that we push.  We don’t understand because we don’t want to understand, not because it is not clear.

The righteous “understandeth” (understands NASB) (995) mainly because they want to.  I run into this frequently at school.  Kids are always saying they don’t understand.  The reason I don’t believe them is that they say it about things that are obvious, not just about things that might be misunderstood.  They lack the sophistication to lie well.  This is sad because it shows that when they get a little more mature they will be smooth liars.  Either way it is an expression of unrighteousness. 

Why does the way of God seem so “right” (3477) to some?  There is a sense of rightness because we have honestly sought wisdom and knowledge.  We have not rejected it.

 There has been a lot of discussion lately about the suicide deaths of several homosexuals.  Suicide is always sad.  It is even a shame that there is indication they were being harassed because they were homosexual.  I take stories like that with a grain of salt, though.  For me the really depressing part of this is that people who claim to be Christians are acting like homosexuality is acceptable to God.  It is not.  It does not take a lot of wisdom and knowledge to see that.  All it takes is a willingness to accept truth. 

So do you find you reject some of the teaching of God?  I will admit there are things I don’t like.  I don’t like that people who seem to be so gracious are going to hell.  It doesn’t matter if I like it.  Because I believe the Bible is the word of God I accept it.  You should be doing that also.  You make not like a point.  Accept it.  God will be able to explain it to you some day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


For some reason I hit the save button instead of the post button on today's post.  It was one of those days.  I forgot to set my alarm and my car blew up on the way to work.  It's a good thing I read the book and know who wins.

Walls Have Ears, Windows Have Eyes

(Proverbs 7:6 KJV)  For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,

There are two sides to the lesson here.  First, it is possible to observe the foolishness of others.  Having observed, it is possible to learn from the foolishness of others.  In the circumstances explored in the following verses the foolishness is also obvious sin, adultery.  We could extend the lesson in this verse to other areas of life.

Be an observer of life.  Watch the people around you.  It can help you know how to live.  I am sure you have all had the experience of driving down the road and seeing cars ahead of you swerving.  It could be that everyone ahead of you is drunk.  It could be that all the cars in front of you are having mechanical problems.  You might not be looking ahead, but you should be.  If you are watching you will conclude that they are swerving to miss something.  This will put you on the alert and make your driving safer.

You can do the same in the gestalt of life.  Look at how children turn out when they receive no correction or guidance.  How does a marriage develop when there is no real commitment to an eternal God?  What happens to finances when there is no discipline?  Look and learn.

 On the other hand, we should be aware that others observe our foolishness.  We are not invisible.  Think about who is observing you.  Start with your children if you have any.  Move on to other family members.  Think about what your neighbors see.  How about the people you work with?  Do you have a “Christian” bumper sticker?  What does that say to the drivers around you?

One problem is that we worry about what people think about our clothes and cars but not about our morals and priorities. 

So evaluate your behavior.  Don’t try to change everything today.  Don’t become a slave to the opinions of others.  Begin to modify areas of your life that God shows you need to be brought into conformity to His will.  If you are not on the Highway of Holiness, at least look for the on ramp.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cover Charge

(Proverbs 6:13 KJV)  He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

As I read this I thought of one of the kids at school who is always acting like a pimp.  This describes him accurately.  I can just hear the words, “Hey, girl.”  This comes from 3,000 years ago and yet it reminds me of people today.  If you continue to read Proverbs, and the rest of the Bible, you see things like this again and again.

There are common gestures across cultures.  They carry common messages.  Among them are “winks” (7169).  We have all used a wink to portray something.  Sometimes it is just saying, “I see you” without others knowing.  Sometimes it tells we are kidding.  Sometimes it simply says to the person watching that we are lying.  Evidently some things never change.

This reference to a wink is found in the middle of a passage that begins in verse 12 talking about a “worthless person.”  It gives actions and attitudes of this person and ends up in verse 15, predicting destruction.  Can you judge a book by its cover?  Not always.  Not enough to make final decisions.  But it can certainly help you decide whether to buy or read the book.  As I read a book I sometimes go back and look more carefully at the cover to see if the illustrator read the book.  It may not tell me much about the content but it can tell me about the publisher.

So?  What does your cover tell about your publisher.  There are many actions that we can take and we know they are meaningless.  When I was in college and seminary I had hair that was longer than my professors and shorter than a rock star.  I knew that the unkempt, rebellious look did not reflect my heart, but did it reflect my Savior?  What can you do today to change your cover?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Polution Control

(Proverbs 5:3 KJV)  For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:

Now Proverbs switches to the opposite approach.  How do the wisdom-rejecters think and operate? 

Take the term “strange woman" (adulteress NASB) (2114a).  In Proverbs it is usually, if not always, used figuratively.  While there are many lessons that are taught in a literal approach to this verse, don’t limit your understanding to the literal.  If this were just about drifting off into the world of prostitutes and whores I would skip it.  I don’t feel any great temptation to drift in that direction.  My weaknesses run in different directions. 

This is a word that means “stranger”.  We need to understand that we have people around us that are not a part of us.  They may live and worship with us, but they are not of us.  Church members and pastors are too often deceivers, not believers.  They have the best of motives.  They want people to be happy.  They want people to be comfortable.  As a result people are seduced into a false security.

This verse points out how the promises, ideas, methods and priorities of these people drips with sweet promises.  We have a real danger of immersing ourselves in their thinking and world view.  We need to avoid it at all costs, but this is almost impossible.  So much of our lives are spent in their world, listening to their phrases and thought patterns.  If we do not saturate ourselves with the wisdom of God, the ideas of the world will begin to gain a foothold.  If we are not careful the spores of their foolishness will find a comfort zone in our hearts.  When I was in school we had to take showers after our P.E. class.  During that entire time I had trouble with athlete’s foot.  When I got past that stage of life, it cleared up.  Why?  Because I was not longer constantly exposing myself to the fungus that caused the problem.

How can we avoid the world we live in?  You can’t.  But you can create an inner condition that takes care of the problem.  Laboratories that want to avoid contamination from outside air maintain a slightly higher air pressure inside so that if there is a leak it will be out, not in.  We do that by keeping our contact with the living God alive and well.  We seek the active involvement of the Holy Spirit.  He fills and encourages us so that the pressure outside is kept at bay.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hear, Hear

(Proverbs 4:1 KJV)  Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

We often do not really “hear” (8085) the important things.  We don’t want to hear things that make us uncomfortable.  Our minds filter out things that are inconvenient.  If you want an illustration, tell a child in the other room it is time to go to bed.  He will not hear you.  In a softer voice ask if he wants some ice cream.  You already know what will happen.  Often hearing is a matter of the heart, not the ears.

The one key ingredient that people don’t admit is to “attend” (give attention NASB) (7181).  How often do we miss key announcements because our focus has wandered.  This is another reason why we need to cultivate the habit of personal worship and study.  No one can be at the height of attentiveness all the time.  Our minds wander when they should wonder.  We are human.

This is where the “father” (1) comes in.  The obvious intent is to emphasize the teaching that is to go on inside the family.  Fathers have a great responsibility for teaching.  Children have a responsibility to listen.  A father is aware of the wandering nature of a child’s mind.  He is persistent.  Also inferred in this is the fatherhood of God.  God is the role model for human fathers.  He also teaches us.  He does this through the work of the Holy Spirit.

An early indication of this is in the prophets:
(Jeremiah 31:33 KJV)  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jesus told us how this would be done:
(John 14:26 KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
We want to “know” (gain NASB) (3045) [yada] a proper understanding of our world.  This word means intimate knowledge, not just to add to our pool of knowledge.  This reminds us that God is not teaching us how to make cookies but how to walk in holiness. 

So, what do we do different?  When you read, pray, meditate, study or any other form of worship, expect there to be a lesson.  Ask yourself, “What is God trying to say to me today in this hymn I have sung a thousand times?”  You will surprised at how often there is an answer to that question.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lanyards Anyone?

(Proverbs 3:3 KJV)  Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:

The right attitudes do not have to “forsake" (leave NASB) (5800a) us.  We have a say in this.  We are to “bind” (7194) them to us.  They are to be around our necks so that we can never get out of their sight.  We will see them when we tie our shoes and when we comb our hair.  How do we apply this in modern days?

More and more places are requiring employees to wear ID around their necks on a lanyard.  They are trying to do it at school.  I have resisted that trend so far.  I am not a can of fruit that needs a label.  I figure that if people can’t tell I am a teacher then they have a problem.  I am obviously bigger than the kids but I should also exhibit a sense of purpose.  I should display an attitude that visitors on campus do not have.  I don’t stand in the hall trying to figure out where things are.  I try to help people who act that way.  I have access to locked rooms.  I correct behavior.  People should see that kind of thing in us as believers.  Have you ever been invited to an social occasion and the invitation said "black tie optional"?  Clothing was not the ticket to belonging.  We might dress different, but we must act different.  We should apply who we are in the attitude and behavior sense.  We are to wear our hearts on our sleeves, so to speak, so the world will know who we are. 

For us this is to be demonstrated in how our lives are lived out, not in things we can buy such as uniforms and emblems.  Many Jews ignored the demand for an inner change of heart and were content to wear symbols on their clothes.  We cannot allow ourselves to fall into that trap. 

Again we see the we are to “write” (3789) them on our “heart” (3820).  God does not see it as an either/or statement.  He expects our outward actions to reflect His holiness.  That is an absolute requirement.  Because outward actions can be faked, He also requires that our inner attitude be holy.  He can see our hearts clearly.  Other people see or sense them more than we like to admit. 

So?  Seek the knowledge of God by reading His word.  Do you get tired of me saying that?  Did you ever get tired of your mother saying, “Pick up your sox”?  No?  Maybe that is why your sox are still on the floor.  Start doing it instead of fighting it.  Call upon the Holy Spirit for teaching and guidance.  That is His role.  Happy growing.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Be Peculiar

(Proverbs 2:3 KJV)  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

What do we usually cry out for?  Have you ever gone to a prayer meeting and listened to the prayer requests?  Most of the things we seek do not correlate with the needs that God seems to think we have.  We need to seek “knowledge” (discernment NASB) (998).  This word is usually translated “understanding” in the NASB in Proverbs although we do see discernment.  They both mean the ability to look beyond the surface and see what is really at stake.

This is one of the gifts of the Spirit, a gift that is rarely applied.  We have entire denominations that seem to be based on crying out for tongues, miracles and prophecy, yet what does God want us to seek?  Here it is discernment.  We live in an age where we want to avoid the results of discernment.  We prefer the glory of the power gifts and avoid the one that is designed to make a real impact. 

A personal opinion is offered:  People avoid discernment because understanding would force them to make hard decisions.  It would force us to take unpopular stands on moral issues that our culture is against.  It would make us different from those around us.  We don’t like to be different but isn’t that condition of God’s people?  One of the verses I have always liked from the KJV points this out?
(1 Peter 2:9 KJV)  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
“Peculiar” is translated different in the NASB.  There it says “a people for God's own possession,” which is the general idea.  We are to be different.

So?  Start to get used to the idea of being different.  Understand we are the opposite of the rotten apple in the barrel.  Are you one of those people who goes to the grocery store to buy fruit and just starts throwing apples in the bag?  I don’t.  I examine each one for worms, bruising and breaks in the skin.  Those apples may not jump out at me but they are obvious when I start looking.  That should be the way we are.  We are not to be different to be different but because we are different.  Think about that.  Act on it.

For Crying Out Loud

(Proverbs 2:3 KJV)  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

We continue with the “if” (518)statements.  These are conditions for the promise that begins to emerge in verse 5 with “then”.  Remember that God’s promises are conditional.  I don’t know that I can say all are conditional or most are conditional, but I know that as I read my Bible there seem to be those phrases that demand something from us.  In our culture we have what have come to be called “entitlements.”  These are things that people have come to believe they deserve.  In a few years I will qualify for Social Security and Medicare.  Will it still be there?  Opinions vary.  But we think we are entitled, after all, we have been paying in all those years.  It does not bother us that someone else will be paying for it.  God’s economy does not work that way.  He does not have to rely on the latest election or opinion poll.

We are to “cry” (7121).  I think to “cry” (7121) is a bit more of a desire than just wanting.  Is “Let’s Make a Deal” still on TV?  Years ago I was talked into (under threat of divorce) going to one of the tapping sessions.  As you stand in line the producer of the show walks down the file talking to people, observing them and taking names.  In the process he decided who would be picked for the show.  It was obvious that he was looking for the ones who would cry out for attention.  Were you willing to make a fool of yourself in order to raise his show’s ratings?  Some people were desperate to get on TV.  There is a sense in which we need to be desperate to know the things of God.  Very little of importance in life comes to those who don’t cry out in some way.

So?  Develop some passion.  I don’t mean running down the street, waving your arms and shouting, “Praise the Lord!”  I mean make time with the Lord a priority.  If you say you love your children yet spend no time with them, it is a hollow declaration.  Getting serious is a decision reflected in your priorities.  Change them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Righteousness Is Expected

(Proverbs 1:3 KJV)  To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

I wish the Hebrew had punctuation to help us translate it.  I wonder if there should be a colon after “wisdom” (wise behavior NASB) (7919a).  That would make the following three qualities types of “wise behavior”.  That would make this say something like:

    We can teach wise behavior by teaching righteousness, justice and equity.

Either way these three qualities are related to wisdom.  We misuse and abuse these terms because we do not have wisdom and we accept the definitions of the world instead of the word.

We can, and must, be instructed in “justice" (righteousness NASB) (6664).  Unfortunately one of the results of the Protestant Reformation and the “grace alone, faith alone” crowd is rendering this an option instead of a requirement.  This group of words is usually translated "righteousness", over two hundred times in the OT and the only verse that seems to get quoted is denying its importance:
(Isaiah 64:6 KJV)  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Righteousness is not an option.  Time and time again it is assumed that we will walk the strait walk.  No one claims there will not be mistakes and times of weekness, but it can be done.  Wisdom acknowledges the need for righteousness and gives us insights into how to demonstrate it.  Wisdom knows that holy living is not something done in our own power to buy our standing before God.  Wisdom knows that righteousness is a matter of allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us so that we can live in obedience.