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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The End of the New King James Version

This past month of perpetually reading Proverbs I have been doing my initial devotional reading in the New King James Version.  The one I was reading was copyrighted 1984.

One of the details I have grown to appreciate in the KJV is a willingness to translate word-pictures literally.  That seems to be duplicated in the NKJV.   Look, for instance, at Proverbs 10:2.  Compare these translations:
(Proverbs 10:2 NASB)  Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death.

(Proverbs 10:2 KJV)  Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.
(Proverbs 10:2 NKJV) Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,
    But righteousness delivers from death.

(Proverbs 10:2 CEV)  What you gain by doing evil won't help you at all, but being good can save you from death.
I am glad that the translators of some Bibles feel I need help in understanding the Word, but I really like the literal words that give me the flavor of what God was saying.  The NASB tells me in the margin that the literal meaning is “treasures of wickedness.”  Why not just say it?  There is no way I am going to do an exhaustive investigation, but I noticed it here.

In the Preface they tell their reasoning for removing the “thee” and “thou” style.  I regret the loss in some cases.  There was a time when it was retained for indicating reference to God.  That reflected the original reason for both “thee” and “you” in English.  It was part of the reason that the Quakers used them.  It is common in German, I know, to have a familiar and a formal way of address.  We have lost it in English.  I think they still had a usefulness there.

They also removed the old endings of verbs such as “loveth” for “love.”  I have no problem with that.

In reading through the Preface I found that they have a high view of the original scripture and have not fallen for the nonsense of “dynamic equivalence” which I call paraphrasing. 

They also make an important statement about why we have differences in translations.  It is a point that is often glossed over by modern versions.
“Bible readers may be assured that the most important differences in the English New Testament today are due, not to manuscript divergence, but to the way in which translators view the task of translation:  How literally should the text be rendered?  How does the translator view the matter of biblical inspiration?  Does the translator adopt a paraphrase when a literal rendering would be quite clear and more to the point?”  p. vi
These are really important questions and are usually glossed over by contemporary leaders.  The editors of the NKJV come down on the right side of the fence in my opinion. 

The editors also repeat something that I have known for a long time but needs to be repeated before we get into long discussions of Greek and Hebrew texts.
“Readers may be assured that textual debate does not affect one in a thousand words of the Greek New Testament.  Furthermore, no established doctrine is called in question by an doubts about the correct reading in this or that text.  The Christian can approach his New Testament with confidence.”
Although I have not done a full, scholarly, side by side comparison I feel that the New King James is an acceptable translation.  I don’t personally see any reason to switch from the NASB but if you are getting started in serious study it could be a good choice for you.

We Are All Servants Here

(Proverbs 30:10 KJV)  Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.

There are a couple of issues here.  First, we are not to “accuse” (slander NASB) (3960).  That should be a no-brainer.

The second is taking advantage of people who are socially below you.  In ancient cultures the distinction between a “servant” (NASB) and a “slave” (KJV) (5650) would not be clear to us.  By our standards neither would have any rights even though there were slight differences.

This is a great example of oppression that we might be tempted to practice.  What is fascinating is that it goes both ways.  We went to the airport today.  People behind the counter were obviously enjoying their power over the travelers.  “Your bag is two pounds over.”  Okay, but the other one is fifteen pounds under.  It doesn’t matter.  Of course this generates a lot of hostility from the travelers toward the servant class behind the counter.

This is where turning the other cheek comes in.  I know it is hard and totally unsatisfying, but we need to demonstrate courtesy and patience to those we encounter.  Think of all the cheerful and helpful people you encounter every day.  Be one of them.

So?  Courtesy and politeness are love in action.  We are called to love.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scorn to Lose

(Proverbs 29:8 KJV)  Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.

“Scornful men” (582/3944) respond differently than “wise men” (2450).  It seems clear which of these two types of people is preferred. 

A scorner is someone who exhibits
“Extreme contempt; that disdain which springs from a person's opinion of the meanness of an object, and a consciousness or belief of his own superiority or worth.”
Not a pretty picture. 

I found the word “bring” (set NASB) (6315) to be interesting.  It means to breathe or blow on.  Does the term “blow hard” sound familiar.

Some people are always blowing their own horn by putting down others.  For believers this kind of behavior is the opposite of love and juxtapositioned to the fruit of the spirit.  (Yes, you can be impressed with my vocabulary.)

So?  We can express our opinion.  At times it is demanded.  But we are do to so with the attitude of Christ.
(1 Peter 3:15 NASB)  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Be a Source of Glory

(Proverbs 28:12 KJV)  When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.

Does this refer to the national scene or to our personal lives?  My first reaction is to society as a whole.  I think of times in history when you have had a Hitler or a Ghengis Khan in power.  While their cronies party the general population lives in fear and dread.

Do we act as little Attila the Hun’s?  How do people react when you are around?  Are they free and active or do they shut down?  Often we are the last to know because we are not looking. 

Don’t get sidetracked by people who tell you it is impossible to live a righteous (6662), upright life.  If that were true you would need to throw out numerous sections of the Bible.  We find people like this in the church.  We also find people in and out of the church who claim there are no wicked (7563) people, just those who are misunderstood.  These people also deny scripture.

So?  Decide today which kind of influence you are going to be.  Live that way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Got a Wind Bag?

(Proverbs 27:16 KJV)  Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.

This verse is continuing to refer to the nagging wife of the previous verse and several other places in Proverbs.  For all his wisdom, Solomon does not seem to come up with any real solutions to the problem. 

There are some people and situations in life that we cannot “hide” (6845) or “restrain” (NASB).  It is an interesting word.  It is another one of those words that has a wide range of uses depending on the context.  On the positive side is the idea of treasuring and on the negative is the idea of an ambush.  This seems to be a negative situation.  If you have a shrew for a wife, you cannot hide her. 

It helps me to accept the fact that there are some things in life that the grace of God is going to help me live with.  I think of Paul and his “thorn in the flesh.”  I think of how Jesus must have wanted to turn in the original twelve disciples and try again.  Remember that patience is the first quality of love listed in the Love Chapter and it is close to the head of the list on the fruit of the Spirit.

So?  Deal with it.  Don’t you hate it when someone says that?  Deal with that too.  We live in an imperfect world.  Heaven will be a place that either has no nagging or we will come to enjoy it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SURE There Is...

(Proverbs 26:13 KJV)  The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

Here we have the third target of this chapter, the “slothful" (sluggard NASB) (6102).  I think this is the lazy person.  This seems to be the sluggard chapter.  There are four references to sluggards.  We find a very similar reference in 22:13,
PRO 22:13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside; I shall be slain in the streets!"
The lazy will find any excuse to not move or work.

I think this is OT humor, but like all humor it has some basis in fact.  In California we occasionally see a news clip about a bear that has wandered down out of the mountains and it walking down a street in town.  It could happen, but the odds are it won’t. 

Sluggards are worriers.  They focus on all the possible things that could go wrong.  I must confess that I am guilty of this.  The only solution I know of is to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be aware of the possibilities and get on with the task. 

So what if there is a lion in the street?  If God is telling you to get out there it has probably already eaten and is afraid of people.  Obedience is better than excuses.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trading Heavens of Brass for Apples of Gold

(Proverbs 25:11 KJV)  A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Somewhere in my past I seem to remember a devotional book called Apples of Gold.  If I were not working in Proverbs I might want to steal the title.  What this is saying to me today is a reminder that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through other people.  It is not that they are consciously brimming over with wisdom but that the Spirit of God can use their “word spoken” (1697) to stir something in us.

Whether the words are spoken “fitly” (right circumstances NASB) (655) is more dependent on our receptivity to the voice of God than the intent of the speaker.  At school I am always having kids ask for “help.”  I am perfectly willing to help but not to “help”.  Their definition of help is to show them the answer.  After a few attempts to manipulate me into doing their work for them they will say in frustration, “My other teachers help me.  You are a bad teacher.”  They mean it as an insult.  I take it as a compliment.  My goal is not to give them an answer but to teach them to think so they can find the answers. 

God often works this way.  We want it easy and now.  He wants individuals created in His image to learn to use the qualities He has given us that make us more than the animals. 

So?  Don’t just look for the silver lining, go for the gold.  Listen, think and learn, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fret Not

(Proverbs 24:19 KJV)  Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;

This verse stands out to me because of an annual sermon I used to hear called “The Cycle of Victorious Living” taken from Psalm 37.  One of the key concepts was “fret (2734) not.”  This is the only time this word is used in Proverbs.  I guess Solomon was not as worried about our worry as he was about our sloth and foolishness.

One of the blessings of a mature faith in Christ is a trust about the future.  When the subject of death comes up with the kids at school, somewhere in the discussion I utter the phrase, “I’m ready to go.”  I am.  Life is wonderful.  I am blessed in incredible ways.  In spite of that, I am ready to go.  Death is just another step in an eternal life in Jesus.

All that leaves to worry about it taxes.

So?  Fret not.  When you find yourself getting drained by dread, turn to Jesus for some reassurance and confidently get on with life.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

God-Fathers of the Father God

(Proverbs 23:10 KJV)  Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

Being “fatherless” (3490) is considered a tragedy.  Is there a similar sense about being motherless?  Not in the NASB under that word although “widow” is sometimes juxtaposition against it.  In those days women did not have the freedom and independence of modern Western culture.  If they did not marry or their husband died life could become very hard.  There was no sympathy in society for the widow or the orphan.  Their fate was unpleasant unless someone stepped in as a protector.

This is probably where the concept of god-parents developed.  As I understand it, god-parents are people who pledge to step in if some tragedy should strike the parents.  Here, Proverbs is simply saying don’t take advantage but I think our responsibility as followers of Jesus goes beyond that.  We need to remember how often we are told to care for the widow and the orphan.

This takes on renewed importance in our modern culture.  We are facing an epidemic of absentee fathers.  Men are deserting their God-given responsibilities to be providers and protectors.  Women are being left to do it alone and with all due apologies to Murphy Brown, it is a tough row to hoe. 

So?  Men, spend extra time with fatherless children.  Women, encourage you men to do this and don’t be jealous of the time it takes.  Be salt and light in your corner of the world.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bountiful Eyes

(Proverbs 22:9 KJV)  He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

Why does the book of Proverbs keep reminding us to be generous to the poor?  Two reasons come to mind immediately.  First, because God knows our hearts and we need reminding.  I need to remember that much need is genuine, not sloth.  Second, as Jesus said,
(Matthew 26:11 KJV)  For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
Why will we always have the poor?  Not because of capitalism.  It is because of sin and sloth.  The sin is not always the sin of the poor but remember that sin was the cause of death in the world.  When crops fail it is an indirect result of sin.  Sin has polluted what we call nature.  We can’t change the weather and we can’t change human nature, but we can be generous.

 According to the KJV we are to have a “bountiful” (2896a) “eye” (5869).  We are to be “generous” (2896a/5869). The literal translation of this is a “good eye.”  I think this means to look with favor on someone. 

So?  Keep your eyes open today.  Your generosity will fill a need.  It could be a few dollars.  It could be a kind word.  It could be a listening ear.  Because God works in our lives we have a bounty to share.  Do Him proud.  Let God watch you and bust His buttons.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


(Proverbs 21:16 KJV)  The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

There is a danger for the one who spiritually “wanders” (8582).  When I go to a thrift store, swap meet or big yard sale I just wander around.  I don’t know what I will find.  Often when I go to a mall I just wander around.  It is a form of recreation.  I am looking for nothing but serendipity. 

What works at the swap meet does not work in my spiritual life.  Although I rejoice in the unexpected as the Holy Spirit opens the scripture, I know it doesn’t happen because I am wandering.  The Holy Spirit meets with me because I plan to meet with Him.  “Understanding” (7919a) does not come by accident.

We are human.  We can’t keep our noses to the grind stone like a rumba cleaning the floor.  God understands that, but he expects attempts to focus.

So?  Get in gear.  Get with the program.  Focus.  Understanding is waiting.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chaffing at the Bits

(Proverbs 20:21 KJV)  An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

We live in a drive-through world.  As I started my computer this morning I was chaffing at the bits (that should be a computer term) while it decided to do all the little unseen things it does.  It is lightening compared to my lethargic first computer but I keep getting used to now.  Think about all the things that have speeded up in our lives.  We don’t need to sit and let our cars idle while they warm up.  The microwave does a baked potato in minutes.  Laundry is a matter of moving things from one automatic machine to another.  The list of quickness is endless.

Some things are worth the wait.  I don’t drink, but I am told that fine wine takes time.  The more flavor a cheese has the longer it has been aged.  We are told not to make new believers elders in the church.  Yet when it comes to this we expect our spiritual lives to happen over night.  As I have heard often, “We want patience, and we want it now.”

Jesus is preparing an “inheritance” (5159) for us.  We are getting ready.  We are developing the spiritual patten that only comes through time.  There is a reason for the seasoning that is going on in your life.  I may not like it now, but I will be grateful then.

So?  Get a head start on the gratitude.  You may not understand why but we can be confident in the Who.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

His Roar Is Worse Than His Bite

(Proverbs 19:12 KJV)  The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

Both “roaring” (5099) and “dew” (2919) are temporary things which in moderation do not change anything.

Think about the roaring lion.  It is scary if he is not in a cage.  I would not want to meet one even if it is not roaring.  On the plus side the chances of me meeting a lion face to face are about the same as sitting down to lunch with a king.  So what do I take away from this today?

Think back to your nature lessons.  Lions hunt in packs.  Generally speaking, the lion that roars is not the lion that takes you down.  This could all be my creative imagination but I picture the female lions spread out in a crescent, hiding in the tall grass, out of sight.  I picture the one male lion walking out into the open and giving out with his best Tarzan roar.  The food panics and runs in the opposite direction right into the waiting jaws of death.

So?  Don’t panic when you hear the roar.  You know who it is.
(1 Peter 5:8 KJV)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
But keep in mind the other side of the promise.  Let me switch translations because I like the term “highway of holiness.”
(Isaiah 35:8-9 NASB)  A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.  No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there,
Let them roar.  Stay on the highway.  You don’t want to become lunch.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Truth and Consequences

(Proverbs 18:17 KJV)  He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

Isn’t it amazing how many times we utter those words, “I knew that.”  The reason we say those words is because we also realize that the knowledge was hiding in a place where we never look for answers or direction.

While we are to listen and be kind, we are also to be discerning.  We want to believe our friends.  We want to trust what they tell us.  They may even be telling the truth the way they remember it.  But...  There are usually two sides to everything.  We need to seek them out so that we can make our judgments.  This applies in politics, theology, family matters and relations with our friends.  If the person speaking is a gossip, then double all the values for waiting.

What about ourselves.  Listen to yourself as you explain something you have done.  Then ask yourself how a witness would have described the same event.  We seldom look beyond what we feel about something.  When we do we can see ourselves looking a bit foolish.

So?  Value truth and honesty.  That can be painful and inconvenient but truth also has eternal consequences.  If we don’t accept the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life we are doomed.  But notice who also is in the lake of fire,
(Revelation 21:8 KJV)  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Notice right there with the unbelieving and murderers are the liars.  Don’t join them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tipping 100%

(Proverbs 17:8 KJV)  A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.

The NASB calls this a "bribe" (7810).  What do you think of when you hear the word “bribe” (gift KJV) (7810) ?  I think of corrupt politicians or inspectors being bought off to endorse shoddy construction.  To me the word has a totally negative idea.  This verse is hard to understand.  Is this a negative statement or a positive statement?  Much of your view depends on who translated it.  Some translations say “bribe,” others say “gift.”  This is an example of how the same word and action can have totally different moral implications.  Perhaps this is endorsing bribery.  We get mixed statements about bribery in Proverbs, for instance see verse 23 which is totally negative.

Other cultures don’t seem to have the problem with a “bribe” (7810) that we do.  It is expected that there will be a little something extra.  We might also call it a tip.  We tip for good service, right?  What is that if it is not a bribe?

As believers we should do what is right regardless of reward.  As a follower of Christ you should not need as much as a smile to give good service.  This is one of the ways that we can make a difference as salt and light in our society.  It used to be assumed because our culture accepted this value.  That assumption is disappearing.  Good service and hard work will soon be a way to witness because it will be so unusual.

So?  Don’t serve with your hand held out.  As servants we are called to give, not receive.  It is a hard job, but someone has to do it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

High Noon Only Comes Once a Day

(Proverbs 16:14 KJV)  The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.

This tells us we are to “appease” (3722a) the powerful.  This at times may seem to be wimpy or compromising.  It goes against our nature as Americans.  We are supposed to be living like the marshal in High Noon. 

We need to understand the difference between a principle that applies most of the time and a hard rule that applies every time.  This is reminding us that we are not to go around as avenging angels taking on every whiff of corruption and selfishness.  There are times when I want to contest every word that comes out of an administrator’s mouth.  I want to argue about everything.  This is a slap down.  All I can say is, “Ouch!”

At the same time this is a principle.  There are going to be exceptions.  What we need is a heart listening to the Holy Spirit and wisdom.  I guess if you are “wise” (2450) enough you will recognize when we are to be the fly in the ointment and when to be oil on the water..

Remember Nathan before David.  Remember Peter before the Jewish leaders.  Remember Jesus and the Pharisees.  They spoke out in correction.  In doing so they risked “death” (4194).  We need to realize that there are times when we must be faithful more than “wise” (2450).

So?  Some things never change.  Study to be approved.  Listen to the voice of the Spirit.  Pray without ceasing.  And than, as a friend used to quote, “Either stand up or sit down, but above all, don’t wobble.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rabbit Food

(Proverbs 15:17 KJV)  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

Vegetarians, animal rights advocates and lovers of tofu, this verse is for you.  Or at least that is the impression at first reading.  It seems to be telling us that “herbs” (vegetables NASB) (3419) are better than steak.  Actually that is not the case.  It is saying that “love” (160) is better than “hatred” (8135), but you knew that.  We just tend to forget it in our quest for success.

The veggies dished out here stand for the things we look down on in life as being for those too poor or ignorant to know better.  Things like driving an old Ford instead of a new BMW.  Things like attending a community college instead of Yale.  Things like being satisfied with a Timex instead of a Rolex.  I guess it even covers demanding steak when you have a hamburger budget.

What secondary fool’s gold keeps you from seeking the full blessings that God offers now, the things that you are wanting but can’t be measured when you are out in public?  I am sure it is different for each of us.  One man’s steak could well be another man’s tofu.

So?  What are your priorities?  What is the measure of success you strive to reach?  Remember the words of Paul,
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB)  If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Maybe it is time to recalibrate.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Be a Friend

 (Proverbs 31:12 KJV)  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Somehow the post I had planned for June 14 was posted on the 12.  Since June does not have 31 days I decided to post something from that day to take up the gap.

Who are the significant people in your life?  Here it is talking about a husband and wife.  You might also have children or parents.  Friends or co-workers might be key.  We are do “good” (2896b) to these people.

We are talking about showing the love of Christ.  One of the interesting verses that I think shows an important type of love is,
(Philippians 2:3-4 NASB)  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Remember that doing good does not always mean doing what is expected or what is popular.  Often it means being the bad guy because you love someone enough to do the hard job.

In this case, doing what the person wants would be “evil” (7451b).  Remember another verse from Proverbs,
(Proverbs 27:6 KJV)  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
So?  Be a friend.  Care enough to supply what is needed, not just what is wanted.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Understanding Grace

(Proverbs 13:15 KJV)  Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.

We can achieve a “good” (2896a) “understanding” (7922).  Go back to chapter one.  This is a purpose of Proverbs.  It is a purpose of the written word.  With diligence we can produce results that will increase the working of grace.  This is both a promise and a demand.  That is not controversial.

The results could cause theological issues.  This says that “understanding” (7922) “produces” (5414) “favor” (2580).  That may not sound unusual to you but it flies in the face of some teaching about salvation.  You see, this is the favor that Noah found, “grace” as the KJV translates it.  Grace is a free gift of God.  Grace is what saves us.  Here we see one of the indicators of why God chooses to extend grace.

God is free to do as He chooses.  We can never be good enough to deserve His grace or favor.  In spite of that there are ample places like this in the Bible that remind us that our actions and attitudes are a part of the reason God acts in our lives.

So?  Become an active seeker and disciple.  God doesn’t help those who help themselves, God helps those with whom He is well pleased.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Don't Settle for a Laugh

(Proverbs 14:13 KJV)  Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.

Today this verse is reminding me to be more sensitive to other people, to look beyond the surface.  People are good at covering up their pain.  I know because I have covered up my own at times.  I think of a teacher I work with.  She always had a smile and a gentle word for her students.  One day I found the time to get to know her a little better and found that her personal life was falling apart through no fault of her own that I could see.  She was full of “pain” (3510) but doing an excellent job of covering it up.  She will now share how it is going occasionally.  I have asked her how I should be praying for her.

I do not have the gift of mercy.  I am not really good at this but we are all called to show the love of Christ to a hurting world. 

So?  People around us are hurting.  They are good at covering it up.  You and I cannot solve their problems.  My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would use me as a tool for Him to bring them to the point of real healing and salvation.  We apply band-aids.  He does the surgery.

Firecracker Wrath

(Proverbs 12:16 KJV)  A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

Gripe, gripe, gripe.  As I look at my week I remember coming out of a meeting fuming and fussing at what I had been forced to endure.  Last week I remember coming out of a meeting and making it very obvious that I was unhappy.  I hate to admit it, but according to this I have been demonstrating a “fool’s” (191) response.  I guess Proverbs isn’t always supposed to make us feel better.

A companion verse I notice is in verse 23,
(Proverbs 12:23 KJV)  A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.
“Vexation” (3708a) is easy to show.  It would seem that showing it is bad.  It marks us as a fool.  When people get to us we are to hide it.

But wisdom is more than hiding what we feel.  The NASB translates this “vexation” which misses the nuance of anger.  This is not just being annoyed, it is being annoyed to the point of anger.  I think that wisdom means not only more self control but a prospective that helps us rise above petty irritations.

Were the abuses I had to sit through worth getting angry over?  Maybe, maybe not.  If I don’t want to be a fool I need to show more self control and discipline.

So?  There are times when we need to get upset and be public about it.  Don’t waste your credibility by becoming known as the guy with the short fuse and pathetic bang.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thanksgiving in June

(Proverbs 11:19 KJV)  As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.

Look also at the NASB today,
(Proverbs 11:19 NASB)  He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.
This is a verse that is different in the two translations because they are looking at different words in the Hebrew.  Notice that both translations have implied words, those in italics.  Let’s try to look at it without all the extra implied words.  If you leave out the extra words this says “righteousness is life, evil is suicide.”

I don’t think this is just talking about eternal life.  There are many reasons why I feel Jesus is the only way.  Many of them have to do with salvation, forgiveness, eternity.  In addition to that there is today.  Following Jesus, walking in righteousness leads to life now.  We can live in fullness and completeness without the burdens of guilt and broken personalities. 

I am amused when people look at Christians and talk about how we can’t have any fun.  The list of activities holy living keeps us from is really pretty short.  The list of things we can do and enjoy stretch from sky-diving to knitting.  Not only can we enjoy life, but we can remember what we did and feel no shame about what we remember.

Eternal life begins now.

So?  Stop and consider all the blessings you have.  Don’t wait for Thanksgiving Day.  Just as every Sunday celebrates the resurrection, every weekday should be a day of thanks.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bring Something Else into the Storehouse

(Proverbs 10:14 KJV)  Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

In spite of what many pundits tell us, the economy is currently in the tank.  Unemployment and underemployment is rampant.  Few are untouched.  As a teacher I had my pay cut this year and the cost of health insurance raised.  I feel your pain because it is my own.  In discussing financial issues a professor once said something, not original with him, which stuck with me.  It was something to the effect that there are only two ways to bring a budget into line:  Spend less or make more.  Since I am making less I will know we are really in trouble when my wife decides we can’t eat out so often.

This verse tells me that the principle applies to our intellectual and spiritual condition also.  How do you become “wise” (2450)?  Notice the contrast.  One man will “store” (6845) the other man will run his “mouth” (6310).  Which is wise?  Which is “foolish” (191)?

So?  Which shoe fits you?  I don’t like the answer of that question for myself.  Only one person can do something about that.  The Holy Spirit is waiting to help.  I talk too much.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Remodeling Permits

(Proverbs 9:1 KJV)  Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

“Wisdom” (2451) continues to be personified.  Who is this Wisdom?  Or is it a “who”?  If you look at the first few verses of this chapter you find a house and a home prepared for a banquet and speech.  I see parallels for NT references.

Remember the promise of Jesus,
(John 14:2 KJV)  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
So Jesus is going to prepare a place for us.  Wisdom has already built her house.  The combined promise is that we have some glorious surroundings waiting.  I don’t think this is just talking about gold and jewels.  It is talking about a place where we can belong and be complete.  The NT word that is used comes from the word “abide.”  Abiding is one of the promises that Jesus has given us.  He will abide with us and we will abide with Him.  I like to think of that as a personal application of wisdom and her house.

So?  Take a moment to rejoice.  Look around where you live.  It may be a rented room.  It may be what I would consider part of the lifestyle of the rich and famous.  Either way, you probably have electricity and the power it supplies.  In the same way you can begin to live in the presence of God and look forward to the day your residence has a total remodel.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Maybe You Can Take It With You

(Proverbs 8:27 KJV)  When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

Creation is one of those events that we will never understand this side of the grave.  I am not sure we will understand it in eternity either because God is infinite and even in our glorified bodies I don’t see any promise of that.  Creation is full of mystery.  The passages dealing with creation will be filled with mystery.

Mystery is a grand truth that we can’t understand.  It doesn’t mean we don’t try.  It doesn’t mean that we can’t get a glimmer, but real understanding remains outside our reach.  What does all the language in this passage about creation mean?  Who is Wisdom?  How does it relate to creation in Genesis 1?

How does it relate to John 1?
(John 1:1-3 KJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
How does it relate to Colossians 1.
(Colossians 1:16-17 KJV)  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
One central, unambiguous truth in the middle of all this is that God “established” (3559) all of it.

So?  Look around you.  Try to grasp the complexity of it all.  You probably don’t even begin to grasp all you can see whether you are on a commuter train or a lanai in Hawaii.  God does.  Start a list of questions to ask.  When we see Him face to face you might remember to ask them.  They say you can’t take it with you but maybe there will be an exception for our lists of questions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Does Your Book Cover Proclaim?

(Proverbs 7:10 KJV)  And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

The “woman” (802) was easy to recognize as a “harlot” (2181).  Does that seem strange to you?  We live in a world of freedoms we never think about.  Down through history one of the ways that the ruling elites have controlled the masses is by what were called “sumptuary laws.”  These were laws controlling how people dressed.  Most of us have heard how the Romans reserved purple for the emperor.  It went much further than that.  You could look at someone and know their social class, their occupation and their religion.  There were punishments for violation.

Although it is not the law any more there are still messages sent in how we dress.  I say this as someone who tends to be overly sloppy.  I have usually paid little attention to how I dress.  As I get older I am beginning to wonder if that hasn’t been a matter of pride rather than humility.  Face it, people judge a book by its cover.  As someone once said, if you can’t judge a book by its cover, why does it have a cover. 

I will never become a clothes horse but I am reminded that part of what I say to people about my Jesus is spoken with my appearance.  When we dress for sex appeal we are stating our priorities.  When we are concerned about the “image” we portray, is it to glorify God or broadcast our coolness?  Do I dress grunge or Goth to say I am too above it all to care?

So?  What did Peter say? 
(1 Peter 3:3-4 NASB)  Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
It is given to women but applies to all of us.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Dandelion, By Any Other Name, Be It O So Sweet,...

(Proverbs 6:32 KJV)  But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

I would think that this would be obvious, but in our modern culture and among “Christians” who are Biblically illiterate, I guess it isn’t.  This is a simple reminder of the seventh commandment, if I counted right, which is,
(Exodus 20:14 KJV)  Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Some might make an argument that this is referring to idolatry and is symbolic.  I am sure that you can add that and have a good point but it doesn’t take away from the simple literal truth.  Look at this verse in Proverbs.  You can’t make that argument here.  It says “adultery” (5003) with a “woman” (802).  Tell her she is symbolic.  That is a great pick up line.

So?  How does this apply to you?  You already toe the line.  It is not an issue for you.  I accept that, but you are surrounded by people who have been sold the bill of goods in every area of life that adultery is okay if you are really in love.  Hogwash, or should I say adultery-wash.

And yes, I am aware that my attempt to paraphrase Shakespeare in the title is not accurate.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It Is Not Your Fault

(Proverbs 5:12 KJV)  And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;

At the moment of writing we are coming to the end of a school year.  We have about two weeks left and some students are approaching the moment when they will briefly pretend that they are changed people and want to know, “What can I do to raise my grade?”  That is what their lips say but in their hearts they are repeating this verse and the next. 

On one level this is discouraging.  As believers we want to help and build people up.  We are natural marks for the parasite con men of our world.  They want to live off our efforts and let us carry them while they kick back and relax.  We can be totally defeated in our efforts. 

On another level I think we should be strengthened.  Their failure is not your fault.  The same Holy Spirit that convicted you and brought you to a point of repentance has been working on their heart.  The same God who knew you before you were born molded their beginning.  The same Jesus died for them.  You are not the reason they refuse to listen.

So?  Keep praying.  Keep witnessing.  Keep caring.  Most of all keep trusting that the God of the universe who sent Jesus to become sin on their behalf has not given up.  Don’t despair.  We have read the book and, in case you didn’t notice, we win.  I hope the concerns of your heart decide to listen and become part of the winning team.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spiritual ADD

(Proverbs 4:20 KJV)  My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

As I read Proverbs I begin to feel that there is something called ADD, attention deficit disorder, for believers.  Have you noticed how many times we are reminded of the obvious and how often things are repeated?  You would think we would get the message, but God knows us better than we know ourselves.

I have a kid in my class at school.  He is really a nice kid.  I don’t know if you has ADD.  I do know that he will tell me he can’t find an answer.  I would be more sympathetic if I had not been watching him count the cracks in the ceiling and watching the leave rustle outside the window.  Why do we not know the things God wants us to know?  Maybe we are not paying attention.

I get irritated when my wife constantly reminds me of things or checks up on me.  The problem is I seem to need it.  How many times can you forget to stop and pick up the prescription on the way home before someone runs out of pills?

So pay attention.  Listen by reading the word in more than rote fashion.  Schedule time.  It won’t happen on its own.  God is patient but I feel like He gets tired of watching us count the books on the shelves instead of reading them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seek Not, Have Not

(Proverbs 3:13 KJV)  Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

As these few verses reaffirm, wealth and prosperity are not confined to money.  In fact, I think the point here is to remind us that the blessings of life are not tied to those things at all.  The blessings of life are tied to “wisdom” (2451).

This is a truth that applies to all.  If you are rich, seek wisdom.  If you are poor, seek wisdom.  If you are old, seek wisdom.  If you are young, seek wisdom.  Do you see where this is going?

Remember Jesus saying, “Seek and ye shall find”?  What are you looking for?  The chances are you will find it.

So where is wisdom on your list of things you want in life?  My wife once told me that all great soups have onions, celery and carrots in common.  You might need to look, but they are there.  Start with the building block of wisdom and add to the recipe from there.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Choice Conditioners

(Proverbs 2:12 KJV)  To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;

This seems to be a promise that God’s watchfulness will “deliver” (5337) us.  That is a given but we need to understand this is a continuation of the if/then statements of this section of Proverbs.  God will deliver us but He is giving a condition.  The condition is our free will choices.  We make choices and act on them.  God sees our choices and acts on them. 

If you look back you see that we are to receive His words and seek wisdom.  We are to search out the things God wants to teach us.  When we do this we see that we are given discretion and understanding.  They are gifts that God expects us to use.  If we use them, the promise of deliverance is applied. 

I have a box of “Band-aids” on the shelf in the bathroom.  When I cut myself I don’t celebrate that I have a box of bandaids.  They will do nothing for me locked in their sterile wrappings.  I must break the seal and apply the strip.  Even that doesn’t heal me.  All it does is hold me together and shield me from attacking germs while the God-given healing powers of the body do their work.

So?  Make sure that your decisions help God deliver.  What are you facing today?  I don’t know.  You might know some of it but God know all.  You work on the band-aids and let Him supply the healing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coasting in Neutral

(Proverbs 1:8 KJV)  My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

The current step in the church conforming to culture is in “gender neutral” translations.  The goal is to remove all of the pronouns “he” and replace them with the gender neutral “they.”  Sunday when I was listening to someone read from the New Living Translation I was following in my NASB.  I was struck by the many times that the masculine pronouns were replaced by the neuter pronouns.  Not only did they change the gender but they changed the number from singular to plural.  I guess the idea is that God was confused and we need to straighten Him out.  They would have rewritten that last part as “needs to be straightened out.”

This verse is an example of Biblical “gender neutrality.”  Notice that both parents are mentioned in this verse.  I think this is an indication of the value that the Bible teaches on the place of women.  This puts the mother on a level with the father.  We see this approach expressed in different forms through the book of Proverbs. 

While God is referred to as father and the husband is given the responsibility of head of the family the Bible is clear in both Old and New Testaments that there is an equality in believers that goes beyond our social roles. 
(Genesis 1:27 KJV)  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

(Galatians 3:28 KJV)  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
So?  Resist the contemporary trend to remove real distinctions.  Although we are of equal standing before God, we are not the same.  God knew what He was doing.