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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Start the NRSV

For the month of March I am going to be reading the New Revised Standard Version for my daily inspirational reading.  I will still use the KJV and NASB as the basis for my study time. 

Let the Ears Lead

(Proverbs 28:9 KJV)  He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

As I was reading through this chapter I came to verse 7 which talked about keeping the law.  My mind began to wrestle again with this tension in the Bible between the demand for obedience and the primacy of grace.  As I continued reading I came to this verse which gave a different angle and added fuel to my fire.  By the time I finished the chapter this was still on my mind.

On the surface keeping the law and turning away seem to simply be opposites but not only are they different in polarity they are also different in heart desire.  What is the place of the law in the life of the believer?  Unlike modern Protestants, Jesus had a high regard for the law.  In the Sermon on the Mount, right after the Beatitudes Jesus began to talk about the law this way,
(Matthew 5:17 KJV)  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
I think maybe this verse in Proverbs makes a contribution to the debate, at least it does in my life.  The problem is the heart that “turns away” (5493).  It is a mind that thinks without “listening” (8085).  This is telling us that the law has value in our moral development.  It is important to our understanding of right and wrong.  In his discussion of the law, Paul points out that until the law came, people did not know what it was that God expected.  This is at the root of our believe in the rule of law and due process.  We would do well to study and understand the law.  This is not an expectation that we will keep it flawlessly.  It doesn’t say that here.  It says don’t turn away, listen.

I also think that at least for us Gentile believers we are talking about the moral law not the ceremonial or dietary laws.

So?  Make it a part of your worship pattern to at least read through the law.  This means all of the Old Testament, not just the Gospels.  I know that I read the book of Numbers a few years ago and don’t plan on reading it again soon, but I read it.  I even found a few gems.  God wants us to know what He expects of man.  Then we trust the Blood to cleanse, the Holy Spirit to guide and grace to work in us.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Defensive Driving

(Proverbs 27:12 KJV)  A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

I don’t usually get excited about what commentaries have to say but Matthew Henry had an interesting insight I think is worth considering today. 
    “Evil may be foreseen. Where there is temptation, it is easy to foresee that if we thrust ourselves into it there will be sin, and as easy to foresee that if we venture upon the evil of sin there will follow the evil of punishment; and, commonly, God warns before he wounds,...”
His point is that if we are thinking people we can often see problems that are coming and avoid them.  I was thinking of this as physical danger, Henry points out that it also applies to moral and ethical temptation.

When I think about my life I see multiplied times that I allowed myself to get into situations that lead to compromise and sin.  At first I do a little resisting and eventually say, “Oh, well” and give in to temptation.  In my heart I know I could have totally avoided the situation but I manage to press that thought way down and feel like a victim.

The Holy Spirit will not allow me to continually play the helpless victim card.  He knows the games I play and keeps reading me the rules.  If I love Jesus, and I do, I must respond.

So?  Life is not a game.  I will listen to the Holy Spirit.  I will plan to obey instead of avoid.  I expect there will be times I will fail but the Spirit will help me grow.  Read, think, listen, pray, be changed.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Monologue Starts in Verse 8

(Proverbs 26:8 KJV)  As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

This has to be the OT version of a comic strip or a monologue one-liner. 

For those of you who have been spending all your time worrying about politics, the “sling” (4773) mentioned here is not the kind you put your arm in when it is broken.  This was a type of sling-shot used by hunters and soldiers.  It was the kind used by David to kill Goliath.  You have a pocket at the end of long chords.  You put you missile in the pocket and swing the weight, letting go of a chord at the right time to speed the bullet on its way.  They can be accurate and deadly.

But not if you “bind” (6887) the “stone” (68) in the pocket. 

I find myself wondering how I bind my stones in my sling.  One thought comes to me about sharing my gifts.  Think of Jesus and the parable of the talents.  The point Jesus was making was that we were to use the abilities and situations God has given us.  I find that I am much more ready to share the things God is doing with believers than non-believers.  It doesn’t do a lot of good to keep the good news tied up and close. 

How do I overcome this?  One thing I am doing is looking at the cliches I use every day.  When people ask me, “How are you?”  I try to never respond with, “Fine.”  One of my current favorite responses is, “Just short of marvelous, but I am working on it.”  My hope is that it will lead to conversations on why things are marvelous.  Any time I am asked a question using the word “believe” I look for a way to bring in the name of Jesus.  Any time a death is mentioned I want to share the hope of the resurrection.

So?  I have a long way to go.  I find great comfort in the teaching that it is the Holy Spirit that does the actual convicting.  My job is to be faithful.  I can’t convert anyone.  All I can do is be a faithful witness and try to get my stone out of the sling.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Protestant Rosary

(Proverbs 25:8 KJV)  Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.

Often, in private conversation, people will tell you what they think.  Yet in a public forum they take the opposite stand.  Do not “hastily” (4118b) assume that they have been honest with you or that they have the courage to state their position publically. 

I had a discussion on this with a principal one time.  I expressed frustration that people would tell me one thing in private but in open meetings they would take the opposite stand.  They would speak up even when it was not necessary.  My thought was that they were afraid to be honest in from of the authority figures.  She responded with, “Maybe they are afraid to tell you what they really think.”  That was a good point.  Just because you think someone agrees with you doesn’t mean that is really what is on their mind.

We have this expressed in many ways through the wisdom literature but probably the NT sums it up best.
(James 1:19 KJV)  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
We need to be careful what we say.  Make sure that we have listened to what is being said.  How often have you finished speaking and realized that you did not answer the question that was asked?  Don’t react in anger.  Some have pointed out that we should respond, not react.  Let the love of Christ control you. 

So speak when necessary.  You have heard people tell you to count to ten.  Maybe it would help to borrow a tool of our Catholic brothers and get a rosary.  They use them to focus their prayers.  We could find a way to use it in a Protestant focus.  The point would be to pause to allow the Holy Spirit to bring things to mind and help us think.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tune Up, Not Out

(Proverbs 24:7 KJV)  Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

This makes it sound like “wisdom” (2451) is out of reach for some people.  Is wisdom always too “high” (7311) or can it be brought within reach?  From reading in other places I think there is the aspect of volition involved.  We are what we are based on choices. 

There is a reason why wisdom is associated with age but it not an automatic correlation.  Wisdom takes time to develop, that is why it is more common with time.  Experience teaches some people and they learn to recognize patterns and cause and effect.  The reason that it is based in a fear of the Lord is that the person who places God in the right place is positioned to see things as they are, not as they want them to be.  That is a characteristic of wisdom.

Wisdom does not always come with age.  In fact, real wisdom is a rare thing.  People stop learning.  Christians stop reading their Bible.  They begin to listen to gurus instead of the Word and the Spirit.  Paul talked about believers who lived on the milk instead of the meat and had to constantly be retaught the elementary things.

You choose to be a “fool” (191).  These fools seem to be a little different than the ones I know.  They listen instead of speak.  It is possible that some people recognize their limitations and act on them.  Perhaps you can be a fool for a time as you learn and then move to another level.

So?  Learn to listen.  Learn what is true.  That can only come from knowing the truth.  I play a little bit of guitar.  You can tune a guitar to itself if you are going totally solo but to be a part of the symphony of life, it needs to be tuned to an absolute scale.  When all are in tune to the absolute scale the masterpiece can be played.  Tune up, don’t tune out.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don’t Eat the Bread

(Proverbs 23:6 KJV)  Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:

“Eating the bread” was a loaded thought.  It meant that hospitality had been extended.  Sometimes is was expressed as eating a mans salt or sharing his table.  It meant acceptance and being a part of something.  It says something about who we are because of whom we are with. 

This is a popular theme of certain writers who want to extol the virtues of barbarians.  When I find a fantasy author I can enjoy, this is something that comes up in the stories often.  If you can get someone to offer you hospitality then you are safe in their camp and as you leave.  I don’t know if it is truly historical or just a meme. 

Whose bread are you eating?  Whom do you want to accept you?  What social circles or cliques do you really want to accept you?  Think about the times that you have adjusted your vocabulary because you want to impress people.  Think about how mature adults wear the fashions of teen idols thinking it will make them cool.

Beware of conformity to the world’s standards.  Remember the words of Paul,
(Romans 12:2 KJV)  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
I always think of J.B. Philips when I read this verse.  He starts it, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold....”  Don’t eat their bread.

So?  Jesus is the bread of life.  What is your staple?  What is the center of your intellectual and spiritual diet?  Jesus wants to be the main course, not a condiment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Foolishness in Children

(Proverbs 22:15 KJV)  Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

This is a verse that will drive modern educators ballistic.  They would wonder how you can use “foolishness” (200) and “child” (5288) in the same sentence.  It goes against everything they believe.  This is another of the many differences between God and the world.  The world sees a child as being the source of wisdom.  God sees them as a source of foolishness. 

What is this foolishness?  We are talking about the condition of all human beings at birth.  We are born with the print of sin.  The world tries to tell us that children are wonderful and it is only society that messes them up.  The Bible teaches that it is in our hearts when we are born.

This bit of character is “bound” (7194) in a child’s heart.  It is not a passing fancy.  It is clear that it remains even when they get older because getting older does not mean that a person grows up.

So?  Learn to think in Biblical terms, not pagan.  Mankind is in the bonds of sin and needs a savior.  Pray for someone this morning that you know who needs to deal with the sin in their lives and get right with God.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Don't Be a Tapeworm

(Proverbs 21:8 KJV)  The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.

The OT word pictures are good for us to see.  “Froward” (guilty NASB) (2054) is equated with “strange” (crooked NASB) (2019).  Think of the twisted paths that our minds follow when we are trying to get out of something.  In the words of Sir Walter Scott,
Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive
“Pure” (2134) is equated with “right” (upright NASB) (3477).  This is one of the word pictures that the Bible presents.  Crooked is compared to upright.  Bent to straight.  On one side you have the twisting tapeworm hiding in the darkness of the bowel and bringing death.  On the other side you have a beam of light lancing through the air to bring life.

So what does your life demonstrate.  You have a lot to say about the way you approach life.  I hope that when people read you it comes out Jesus and not Satan.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Walk Tall

(Proverbs 20:7 KJV)  The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

This verse makes me think of my father.  One memory that stands out is his “integrity” (8537).  He only had a high school education.  Of course, that was in the day when a high school education meant something.  He worked with his hands.  He wasn’t the best manager of money.  He was never even close to being rich.  But he was as good as his word.  It was hard for him to adjust to a culture that began to demand written contracts between people.  He was used to bidding on a job and if the client said “yes,” it was a done deal.  If the plans called for two pieces of steel, we might put in three.  If the concrete was supposed to be 3 ½ inches thick, that was a minimum, not a maximum. 

I believe he felt truly “blessed” (835) by his sons.  He had four boys.  None of us had any run-ins with the law or did drugs.  All of us have come to serve the Lord.  None of us have divorced. 

I also feel truly blessed by my children.  I hope that is one indication that I have walked in integrity.

So?  Some things are long range investments.  It is part of living by faith.  We don’t see tomorrow what our investment in integrity pays, it may take generations.  Start today.  If you have not joined the Jesus Team, repent and turn to Him.  If you have been lax, get off the dime and start practicing what He preached.  Blessings on your future.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On the Road Again, Again

A family concern has come up and I am going to be on the road a few day.  I will be leaving posts scheduled to show up each day, but it has been hit or miss whether blogger gets them done.  I may not be able to check to see.  So if nothing shows up, it is a technical issue.

See you soon.

Grace and Peace.


(Proverbs 19:16 KJV)  He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.

We see another example of the imagined tension between faith and works.  The same word is used for “keeps” (8104) both times.  As to the “commandments” (4687), so to the “soul” (5315).

I say “imagined tension” because it is an artificial separation of two Biblical truths.  As Protestants we tend to emphasize Ephesians 2:8
(Ephesians 2:8 KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
This is one of the great comforts in my life.  There are times when all I can see is my failure.  I look at my life and wonder how God could ever care about me.  Then I am reminded about grace.  I am reminded that,
(Romans 5:8 KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Those are awesome moments.

Yet while I realize that I can never earn my salvation and my entrance into eternal life is not based on my strength or effort there is still this resounding truth all through scripture.  “Keep the commandments.”  As much as I believe that it is God’s grace that makes salvation possible, I believe that His grace continues to operate in my life so that I can exhibit the fruit of the spirit and demonstrate the love of God. 

So?  Rejoice.  Jesus saves.  It doesn’t depend on your SPA (Spiritual Point Average).  God also expects us to live like we are saved.  That may be different in some areas for each of us.  We are at different interchanges on the freeway of life, but we need to be on the way.  Join me on the exciting journey.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Contention Is Not a Pendent Race

(Proverbs 18:6 KJV)  A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

Why does Wisdom Literature talk so much about “fools” (3684)?  Remember that much of the Bible is written in response to current conditions.  The letters of Paul are all targeted on specific problems that those local churches were having.  That is another reason, beyond divine inspiration, that they speak to us today.  Man has not changed.  The same with Proverbs.  It is written from the intersection of life and God that Solomon was experiencing.  So the frequency of the reference to fools means that there was, and is, a lot of contact with fools.  I am surrounded by them.  I may be one.

Foolish talk causes “contention” (strife NASB) (7379).  This is conflict.  It is sometimes used in a legal sense.  Often we can determine if our words are going to divide or unite.  There are times when we must take a stand and there is no way to legitimately water it down.  So be it.  Often, however, with a little bit of thought we can find a way to put things that will get people to listen.  Some times our tone of voice turns off people’s ears.  Sometimes our body language discounts our input.  Timing is also important.  Choice of words can also make a difference.

To a certain degree we can control our foolishness.  Life will be much smoother if we work at it.

So?  Start in prayer.  We always need to seek God’s guidance and strength.  Allow Him to lead your thinking about yesterday.  Look at places you could have been wise instead of foolish.  No one is listening so be honest with yourself.  Think about ways to be different.  Think about your day to come and see if there are any red flags.  Remember that once a fool does not have to be always a fool.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Be Cool

(Proverbs 17:27 KJV)  He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

My title doesn’t make much sense in the KJV so read this in the NASB,
(Proverbs 17:27 NASB)  He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
When I listen to my Pentecostal brothers and sisters I don’t know whether to be amused or insulted.  We have all been there.  Years ago we were having a service sponsored by the Ministerial Association.  We were meeting in our church and the main speaker was from a local congregation that was definitely Pentecostal in their worship style.  It didn’t take long for her to get across the point that if I was not raising my hands and shouting “Hallelujah!” then I not only didn’t have the Spirit but it was questionable if I was even saved.  As I kept my hands in my pockets I asked myself, “Where was she at 5:00 A.M. when the Lord and I were having a beautiful time listening to what the Word was saying to me and glorying in His presence?  Where was she when I pulled out my guitar and worshiped with vigor in my living room?” 

I like the NASB here, it tells me that having a “cool” (7119) “spirit” (7307) is a good thing.  As I compare the different translations in my software, many use the word “cool.”  Another idea is “calm.”  There is a place for enthusiasm and raising hands.  The Bible talks about shouting to the Lord.  But it also values the quiet, calm, “cool” spirit also. 

Someone once asked why people will go to a baseball game and yell like a fool about a sport but come to church and sit quietly.  Obviously this person never saw me at a baseball game.  I can sit calmly through the entire game and only stand up when the guy in front of me was blocking my vision.  Just because people get drunk, get in fights and make fools of themselves at a baseball game doesn’t mean I should do it in church.  When I go to a baseball game one of the big attractions is the hot dog and another the guy throwing bags of peanuts.  I don’t think we are advocating that in church, although it might be a winning strategy.  We could write a book, Hot Dog Evangelism.

So?  God gives us different personalities.  Some people cry and hug a lot.  Some people wonder what they are crying about.  God gives different situations.  Some demand fire, some demand cool.  Be what God wants you to be.  Respond the way God wants you respond.  Don’t condemn others who are different and don’t get offended when they try to remake you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just a Little Bit More

(Proverbs 16:8 KJV)  Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

We need to understand that often we only have a choice of the “better” (2896a), not the best.  Often the better will be the best, but they also may be different.  This also seems to point out that we really have two choices, not many:  God’s way or our way. 

How much is a “little” (4592)?  We Americans are so consumed with consumption.  We think we are at the poverty level if our car doesn’t have electric windows.  It always irritates me when people from a poor country are characterized as poverty stricken because then live on $3.00 a day.  They don’t live in Manhattan.  They live somewhere that makes it possible to live on $3.00 a day or we would be saying they die on $3.00 a day.  They may not have electricity, but neither did your great grandparents.  They may not have television, but neither did your grand parents.  They may not have a computer, but neither did their parents.  They may not have the latest I-pad, but neither do you.  If you live in a farm community, grow your own food, barter for many of your necessities and have no income tax it is possible to have $3.00 a day and feel like you are doing well.

The issue is your attitude toward what you have.  A quote attributed to many different people is, “How much money does it take to live well?  Just a little more.”  The issue here is not so much how much money we have but how we use it.  If you are reading this, you are among the financially blessed of the earth.  Do you act righteously or with injustice.  Are you a steward of God’s gifts to you.

So?  Be satisfied with what you have.  Don’t stop working.  Don’t stop saving.  Don’t stop planning for the future but do it all with your eye on righteousness and bringing a smile to the face of our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Be a Treasure Island

(Proverbs 15:6 KJV)  In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.

There are different teachings about “treasure” (wealth NASB) (2633) and riches in the Bible.  It seems that the rich are often condemned, but verses like this make it more complicated than that.  Is this wealth figurative or literal?  Is it spiritual or financial?  I think the answer can be “both”.  I like the KJV translation of “treasure”.

The “righteous” (6662) have the wealth of blessings.  Some would consider this figurative but it isn’t.  Money cannot buy a good name or a noble reputation yet they are very real.  Money cannot give you spiritual children but they are a gift that keeps on giving.  You can’t put a dollar sign on a peaceful and harmonious home, but people can feel it.  These are the wealth or treasure of the righteous.  People covet this kind of wealth.

Financial wealth can also be a blessing.  Some wag once said they would rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable.  That is rather short sighted.  The poor are more willing to do things to remedy their misery.  The rich sometimes just throw money.  But some people are blessed with the best of both worlds.  God has seen that they are able to handle wealth.  They use it as stewards and pass the blessing on.  They supply jobs for others and engage the businesses of others.  They serve as volunteers and are involved in their local church.

So?  How has God blessed you.  Be grateful and share your blessings whether it be financial plenty or the patience of Job.  Be a treasure.

Monday, February 14, 2011


(Proverbs 14:15 KJV)  The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

How often have I been called negative or pessimistic because of my questions?  I may have my faults, but I don’t think I am “simple” (naive NASB) (6612a).  Idealistic maybe, but not naive.  What most people call being optimistic is usually based on being naive. 

The average person “believes” (539) “every word” (everything NASB) (3605/1697).  I don’t think they are naive in the dictionary sense.  That means someone like Pollyanna who walks around in starry eyed wonder seeing no evil and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Most people are naive in the ostrich sense, they bury their head in the sand and don’t want to know.

I teach history.  I continually tell the kids that history is the most important subject.  It sets my teeth on edge when people say, “Let’s forget about the past.  Let’s start over and look only to the future.”  I don’t care if it is the principal of my school pushing something that has been tried many times and acting like it is a new idea, the President of the United States talking to the nation or someone pushing a heresy that was around in the days of John the Apostle.  God gave us a memory so we could learn from our mistakes and our successes.  I would rather take my car to an old mechanic who has experience than a kid straight out of tech school who has a computer hook up.

So?  We can all be fooled.  It happens.  None of us needs to be simple or naive.  God gave us a Bible and believers with gifts of wisdom, knowledge and discernment.  He promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us.  Use the tools.  Don’t believe everything, just what is true.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adjectives for Attitude

(Proverbs 13:10 KJV)  Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

The most common translation for this first term is “pride” (2087).  The NASB moves from “presumption” to “insolence” in its update.  If you trace the word back to its root the underlying concept is “seething.”  The proud radiate their sense of being better than anyone else.  We have a word for it at school.  It is called “attitude.”  If you have an attitude it will multiply the “strife” (4683) in your life.

In a sense we all have an attitude but like so many things in our lives it is the adjective that gives the word its meaning.  Think of some of the adjectives that could go before this word:  haughty, arrogant, pushy, demanding, narcissistic, self-centered.  Do any of these apply to you?  Most of us would say, “No.”  We can’t usually see ourselves.

The attitude we should be exhibiting are found in the fruit of the Spirit,
(Galatians 5:22 KJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
How many of these could be adjectives in front of your attitude?

So?  Watch how people respond to your words and actions.  Pray that God would allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow in your life.  Understand that He cannot plant the seed if you have not allowed Him to save you in the first place.  “Saved” is kind of an old fashioned concept but like home made ice cream it is always better than the alternative.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Till Then

(Proverbs 12:11 KJV)  He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.

Yes this applies to you.  I know you probably are not a farmer.  If you want to read what a real farmer has to say about plowing check out this post by The Lazy Farmer.  Here in Proverbs we have a figurative illustration from a world when most people plowed.  A non-farmer “tills” (5647) by going about the business that is his.  He works.  We have a concrete example that has many figurative applications.  We all till in different ways.  It is our work that supplies our needs.

And don’t start asking about the farmer in dust bowl America.  This is a principle, not a law.  There is a contrast set up.  When you are tilling it is important to keep focused (see above link).   If God has given you a task and you follow it faithfully then you will “be satisfied” (have plenty NASB) (7646).  I think the KJV is much better here.  The second part of the verse points out how easy it is to get off track.  This is where the figurative nature of this Proverbs becomes clear.  If you just look at the first half you miss the real point of the verse.

The contrast to working is “followeth" (pursues NASB) (7291).  On the one side we have the steady drive toward a goal that is productive, tilling.  On the other we have the idea of chasing after whatever pops into our minds.  I have the picture of a puppy in a field of butterflies.  He chases one, then another, and never catches anything.

This brings to mind the great statement about straight plowing,
(Matthew 6:33 KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
So?  Am I losing my focus?  Am I wandering all over the field?  Has the crisis of the day made me abandon my Christian principles?  Have I fallen into the trap of thinking I can sin in this little area and repent later?  It is time to get back to the plow.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Upright, not Uptight

(Proverbs 11:11 KJV)  By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Are you old enough to remember the song “Make Me a Blessing?”  I think the author of that song might have been reading this verse.  I have thought of being a blessing, I never thought of being able to give a “blessing”(1293).  This is a wild concept.  If you have a Roman Catholic background you might be scratching your head and wondering what all the noise is about, you are used to the priest giving you a blessing.  But this is saying that I can do it if I am “upright” (3477).  Sometimes as school I will jokingly say, “Bless you, my child.”  This is real.

This blessing can take many forms.  We can call down blessings.  We should more often.  Have you ever called for a blessing on the town you live in? 

Our actions are a blessing.  Our simple presence can be a blessing.  If a few of us had lived in Sodom, it would have been saved.  Remember the conversation?  Abraham argued God down to ten righteous people in Genesis 18:32.  Picture that.  If Sodom had contained just ten people like you it would have been spared.  Of course that assumes you are upright.  I guess all the churches in Sodom had relocated to the suburbs.

So?  Be a blessing.  Does your driving bless people?  Do your work habits bless people?  Give a blessing.  Pray that God would move in your city, neighborhood, family.  Let us change the world one blessing at a time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Make Me a Blessing

(Proverbs 10:7 KJV)  The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.

Peter and Judas.  George Washington and Benedict Arnold.  The contrasting names dredge up contrasting emotions.  The “just" (righteous NASB) (6662) had their flaws.  The “wicked” (7563) probably had their good points. 

What kind of “memory” (2143) do you live with?  I was incredibly blessed with my choice of parents.  As if I had anything to do with it.  I don’t know if you are happy with your heritage.  There is nothing you can do about that.  Notice it does not say the “memories of the righteous.”  It isn’t what you remember.  It isn’t your past.  It is what you do with your present. 

You are establishing how you will be remembered.  It does not depend on who your parents were.  It depends on who you are.  That is part of the glory of grace.  We all know the verse,
(Romans 8:28 KJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Does that mean that everything is wonderful?  No.  Does it mean that everything you will do will generate pride?  No.  It means that God can take anything that happens to you and sanctify it through the miracle of grace and produce good.  That is His contribution.  We work on obedience and holy living.  He can take us and transform us into His likeness.

So?  What kind of memories are you going to leave today?  That you have some control over.  Will the day be spent in repentance and love or in self-seeking and pride.  Ask God to help you see how your are walking and if you need to change, get to it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beast or Food?

(Proverbs 9:2 KJV)  She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

(Proverbs 9:2 NASB)  She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; She has also set her table;

Today I read through the entire chapter and nothing jumped out at me.  So I went back and began looking at each verse.  As I was looking at another point I noticed a difference between the KJV and NASB in this verse.  It would be good to check the KJV here.  The NASB seems to be inaccurate.  It seems the translators are trying to spare our sensitive natures.  “Prepared” (2873) means to “slaughter.”  “Food” (2874) means “slaughtered.” 

At this point something did jump out at me:  a slaughtered body, wine and a table.  As you read further you see that people are invited to come and partake.  At first I thought I was stretching at a gnat so I actually checked the commentaries in my software (e-sword, Described on the page above) and found that a couple mentioned what I was seeing.  This has all the elements of the communion meal.  We are looking at a prediction of the Last Supper.  In Proverbs we are being invited to the table of the Lord.

Maybe you saw this the first time.  Maybe the commentators were stretching.  I find it awesome the way the different parts of the Bible work together.  I like to think that different parts of my life can work together too.  Why does God put certain difficulties in my path?  Why does He sometimes wait so long to answer prayer?  Why is the answer sometimes, “No.”  Someday I will be sitting in the New Jerusalem Starbuck’s and will have an insight that will answer one of my “Big Questions.”

So?  Someday it will all fit together.  That is not just happy talk.  I recently finished a biography of Albert Eintstein.  In it the author went to great lengths to explain Einstein’s theories.  He seemed to have a grasp of them.  Okay.  I’ll have to wait for the resurrection on that.  Someday the pain and the joy will make sense.  Until then let Wisdom continue to teach us, day by day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Unhealth Food

(Proverbs 8:36 KJV)  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Do you picture God as a curmudgeon?  Have you ever?  In your mind, is He just a killjoy sitting around trying to keep people from having fun?  Think about how He made everything that tastes good fattening or full of cholesterol.  Actually, that may not have been true before the fall, but I digress. 

This first phrase points out to us one of the real reasons for the law, the rules of life.  They are established so that we can live life to the fullest.  When we “sin” (2398) we don’t damage God, we “injure” (2554) ourselves.  God gave us the law to protect us. 

I think that there are reasons behind the different laws that we still may not be aware of.  One that has become more clear to me are some of the kosher laws.  Why was shrimp forbidden?  It is really good.  Did you ever consider the slot shrimp have in creation.  They are part of God’s garbage detail.  They clean up dead things and pollution.  Because of that they are full of all the poisons and toxins of life.  There is real danger in eating them.

Why does God tell us sex is for marriage?  That should be a no brainer in a time of spreading HIV.  Next time you go to a library, look up a list of all the Sexually Transmitted Diseases that are out there.  And then you have the emotional trauma that is ignored by the popular media.  And then you have children created without fathers.  I would say there are really good reasons for such a standard.

I could go on.

So?  Accept that God wants what is best for you.  He is not a party pooper, He is the One who realizes that you might enjoy your steak more if you don’t eat too much candy before dinner.  Remember that avoiding sin if for your own benefit.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Here Come da Judge

(Proverbs 7:19 KJV)  For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:

I was tempted to slide over this section.  After all, I am not guilty of adultery.  What could the opening line of this verse have to do with me?  I am the “man” (376).  In my case it is the wife that is out of town for a few weeks.  Then I looked at the pile of boxes in the middle of the room and asked myself, “Would I have left those boxes there if my wife was home?”  I think you know the answer.

What kind of person am I when “the man is not at home?”  Someone once said that personality is what others see, character is what you are when no one is watching.  Jesus is not interested in cosmetic changes but in cosmic changes.  He wants to change what we are, not what we want to look like.

My wife is slowly changing me.  I think I have made the bed every day she has been gone.  I have not let dishes pile up in the sink.  But I am still putting off getting a haircut.  I will go into overdrive just before she gets back.

Jesus is also changing me.  The difference is He is with me all the time.  It is just that there are so many areas that need to be sanded and molded.  The point of Proverbs is not to make us feel like we are better than others are but to make us better than we were.

So?  Rejoice in the process.  When He points out something you had not noticed before, you know the routine:  Repent, obey, rejoice, grow.  He will not be leaving town.  Trust me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Knew That

(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:

As I read through the Journals of John Wesley I keep coming across his sermon texts.  It is amazing how often he will quote some passage I had not heard for awhile and it seems so fresh.  As I listen I realize that I knew that verse but I had not thought about it for a long time. 

Why does Proverbs repeat themes so often?  Why is it good to re-read passages of scripture.  It would seem that the constant references to wisdom sometimes get boring.  Maybe so, but that does not mean that we don’t need to be reminded.  God puts words and topics where they are for a reason.

Think about the letters of Paul.  He did not sit around like he was writing a blog and ask, “What shall I write about today?”  I don’t think he ever had writers block.  Why?  Because everything you read in one of his letters is a response to a very real issue in the early church.  The early church had problems with adultery, gossip, heresy, greed, pride,...the list goes on. 

So?  When you read realize that the words are there for a reason.  It is part of the mystery of inspiration that the words were written for someone centuries ago and are also fresh and needed for you today.  Read, think, obey, rejoice.

Innocent Blood

(Proverbs 6:17 KJV)  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

Let me meddle a little bit.  The final phrase in this verse stood out to me today as I read through the chapter.  Most people, especially those with the gifts of mercy and helps, would read this as a call to passivism and non-violence.  They think they see that God hates people who “shed” (8210) “blood” (1818).

Actually, that is not what it says.  The problem is killing the “innocent” (5355a).  Keep in mind that the Bible allows for the death penalty.  Read through the law.  There is a difference between the killer who “lies in wait” and the one who kills someone accidentally or in self defense.  For manslaughter or self defense there were cities of refuge a man could flee to for protection from revenge.  If it was premeditated murder the city would turn him out.  We may not be under the law but it does give us a standard for right and wrong.

It does not allow for abortion or infanticide.  There is nothing more innocent than the unborn or the new born.  Israel was surrounded by cultures that thought nothing of killing or leaving their children to die.  God’s people were to be different.  We are surrounded by a culture that approves abortion and is on the verge of killing the deformed and unwanted. 

Most of us will never have to worry about this.  We will never be in the position where we have a need to kill.  But keep in mind that we live in a republic where the citizens have a hand in forming the kind of laws and judges we have.  We should support people and laws that support what the Bible actually teaches, not just what our emotions want to see.

So?  Be salt and light.  Read, think, pray, meditate and vote.  Speak up in meetings.  Don’t be embarrassed by being different.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Matter of Muttering

(2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV)  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Today as I was reading in Bonhoeffer’s  Letters and Papers from Prison, I came across this quote,
“I do want you to realize that I believe my attitude towards my case ought to be one of faith, whereas I am letting it become too much a matter of calculation and foresight.” p. 118
He had been locked in prison for a long time and kept trying to figure out when he would be getting out.  From his letters he at least acted like he would be released.  As you may know, he was executed just before being liberated by the allies at the end of World War II.

I got to thinking about how I try to figure things out.  Sometimes that is legitimate counting the cost and planning but too often it becomes a matter of muttering.  I keep going over the same stuff again and again.  I get in a stew and agitated.  There is a difference between responsible planning and trying to count the hairs on my head.

Walking by faith is for today, not just eternity.

Grace and peace.

Hell, No. We Won’t Go

(Proverbs 5:5 KJV)  Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

Here is a subject that we don’t like but needs to be acknowledged.  Actions have consequences.  This is a passage that is talking about adultery and fornication as compared to sex within marriage.  If all you watch is TV and all you read are popular fiction you get the idea the free sex has nothing but pleasure as it’s reward.  Beware!  The sweet promises of the strangers lead to “death” (4194), both now and eternally; physical and spiritual.

“Sheol” (7585) is a real place.  This is a direct transliteration of the Hebrew word.  Much has been made of the difference between Sheol, hades, gehenna and hell.  There is also one Peter uses that seems to be the source of the name Tartars.  I will leave the debate on the nuances of these for people who are covertly trying to prove they don’t exist or openly trying to figure out the order of events after death. 

The different terms have some things in common.  First, they are real, not figments of the imagination or figurative expressions.  Second, they are after physical death.  Third, they are very unpleasant places, all of them.  Fourth, they are the destination of those who are not covered by the blood of Christ.

So?  Don’t get depressed.  You can rejoice if you have already repented and are living in repentance and are covered by the Blood.  You can repent, confess your sin, trust in Jesus, have His blood was your sins away and join the first group.  Sounds like a plan.

Friday, February 4, 2011


(Proverbs 4:13 KJV)  Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

If you go for a walk in any residential neighborhood in large towns you will see many houses with signs claiming some form of private security.  All alarms and armed response are proclaimed.  People are concerned about keeping their valuables safe.  We don’t often think of the need to “keep” (guard NASB) (5341) what we have learned.  How do we do that?  Modern technology makes it easier to take notes and preserve them.  I have a feeling that makes us weaker in actually retaining things in our mind.  We get used to not having the discipline of memorizing so we don’t.  We also tend to save much more information because we can and the clutter makes it harder to remember what is there.  This would call us to thinking about what we hear and not accepting or rejecting it too quickly.  We might be more careful about what we file away.

If we want to keep our “instruction” (4148) readily available it should also involve review.  That is studying what we know and reinforcing our past learning.

As I get older I find that there are more and more things that I cannot remember or remember completely.  I am not talking about all the things I have totally forgotten.  I am talking about the things I know I knew but can’t bring back any more.  I had I Corinthians 13 memorized.  I had great experiences on tour with a teen choir.  I had fingerstyle songs down on my guitar.  Much of it slips away.  Some is because of age.  Some is because I don’t use it enough to keep it sharp. 

So?  Visit and guard the things that are important to you.  Spend time reading, reviewing, memorizing and meditating on the things of God.  It will pay dividends.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Attitude Check: Giving

(Proverbs 3:9 KJV)  Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

Talk is cheap.  We “honor” (3513) God by our actions.  One of those actions is giving.  Why do we give?  Not our of fear or empty habit but with a sincere desire to honor God.  God has said He does not want our gifts or sacrifices if they are not given with the right attitude.  Attitude is so important.  We all have felt the difference.  One person performs with gritted teeth.  The next person does it with a smile.  It changes the value of the action or service.

This would seem to be a call to giving beyond the tithe.  We are to respond to the “substance" (wealth NASB) (1952) God has given us.  The poor did not have wealth but were expected to tithe. 

The second phrase seems to refer to first fruits.  It is significant that the word “and” is here.  There seems to be an assumption that much of the economy is based on farming.  For a farmer the first fruits meant that he would give to God out the first part of the crop, before he knew how the harvest would turn out.  It is a principle that should apply to every area of our lives.  For instance, we should give God the first fruits of our time.  If you wait to worship, pray or study until you have the time, it will be an insignificant part of your life. 

So?  If I want to experience the blessings that God has to offer, it requires the right attitude.  If your birthday brings you a plastic chess set when you had your heart set on crystal, your attitude will determine whether you will enjoy the gift or not.  Honor God in all areas with the right attitude.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eternal FDIC

(Proverbs 2:7 KJV)  He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

I wonder where God “stores” (6845) the “wisdom” (8454).  And He continues to store it up.  It is not a goal that keeps receding, but a resource that gets ever deeper.  Eternity gets more eternal, in all directions.  Infinity gets more infinite.  Only God can expand infinity.  The wood pile gets higher.  The menu gets longer. 

Perhaps modern technology gives us a better image of storage.  In Bible times you stored food and other consumables.  You had a season of accumulation and then you had a season of usage.  You always hoped you had enough harvest stored up to make it until the next harvest.  It was an in and out cycle with an eye constantly kept on the balance.  If you had accumulated wealth it was hard to keep it secure.  Insurance for the common man was not a common option.

In our modern digital age we are concerned with storage.  This involves back ups of our files and information.  If you are old enough to remember the old 64k floppy disks and how wonderful we thought they were at the time.  Now we don’t even think twice about files that have 64k.  But we are always worried about corruption of what we have stored.  In Bible times the corruption was from spoilage, insects and rats.  Today the cause is different but the damage is the same.  God has unlimited storage and total security.  He never crashes nor is He down for maintenance.  He does not have to worry about curious geeks.  All of this is available only to the “upright” (3477).  We would call them subscribers.

So?  Are you one of the upright?  Put aside arguments about “none are righteous, no not one.”  Look at the text.  Whatever upright means it is possible.  Have you come to Jesus and had the blood wash away your sins?  Have you received the Holy Spirit and begun to walk in the way?  Are you trusting each day and living in repentance.  Then claim the promise of stored up wisdom.  Read, meditate, pray, live in uprightness.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Repentance du Jour

(Proverbs 1:23 KJV)  Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

In these verses we have Wisdom speaking.  Wisdom is personified and I am sure there are many different opinions about who is represented.  We can rule out a god of wisdom.  There is only one God.  Some places make me think Wisdom represents the Holy Spirit but here it seems that Wisdom is looking forward to Pentecost and repeating the promise of the Holy Spirit.

We see the promise of the Holy Spirit in many places.  Here we see a key to knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It seems to be an indication of repentance.  We are to “turn” (7725) to “reproof” (8433b).  One of the recurring themes in Proverbs is how we respond to discipline and correction.  Our natural tendency is to reject it or turn away.  Here we are told that if we want the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives we need to seek out reproof.

We are to live in an attitude of repentance.  Many Christians believe that we sin every day in word, thought and deed.  For them this idea should already be a way of life.  For those who believe that the Holy Spirit can give us victory over daily sin as stated in I John,
(1 John 2:1 KJV)  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
we need to read the entire verse.  It is a possibility, not a guarantee.  The root truth is that we all need to have a daily attitude of repentance.  We need to be open to the correction and guidance of the Holy Spirit no matter how we parse it.

So?  Listen for the correction and reproof that God offers in so many ways.  When I read posts I don’t like I need to ask myself if I am listening.  Sometimes the answer will be “Yes” and sometimes it will be “No.”  Always ask the question.  Always listen to the answer.