An Idea Borrowed

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Workers of the World, Delight

(Proverbs 31:13 KJV)  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

She “works” (6213a) with a good attitude.  This is a character trait of the excellent wife.  You aren’t a wife?  It still should apply to each of us.  This is one of those universals.  I am not sure how much a person can do much about this, but we should try.

She has “delight” (2656) in her labor.  We should also delight in our labor.  This is a blessing to her as well as those around her.  When we find pleasure in what we do it helps to change our outlook on life.  When we are pleasant, it is sensed by those around us.  Have you ever noticed when someone is having a bad day?  You want to avoid them.  It causes some rain to fall on your parade.  It goes both ways.

I don’t expect everyone to become a Care Bear.  That isn’t in all of us.  We all have different gifts.  Some have mercy and helps; some don’t.  But we can all seek to find delight in our work.  It is what God has placed us to do.

So?  Remember that even one cog missing can cause a machine to grind to a halt.  Today strive to be a part of the solution, not the cause of the problem.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shake It Up, Baby

(Proverbs 30:33 KJV)  Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

In the process of home schooling our children, one of the things we did was make butter.  It was one of the activities we did at a party.  Home schoolers really know how to have fun.  We did not have a churn, but you don’t need one.  We put cream in little jars and gave each person one and sang, “Shake it up, baby.  Twist and shout.”  Well, maybe not, but they were told to keep shaking the jar.  So we had a bunch of kids, walking around at a party shaking little bottles.  Eventually we heard, “Hey, I’m getting a lump!”  Butter was forming.

What does the “churning” (4330) process do?  It keeps things moving and raises the temperature slowly.  When everything is just right you have the butterfat pull together and form a solid from the liquid.  If you keep agitating you can pull something out of nothing.  You can change the makeup of a situation. 

This is how it relates to “wrath” (anger NASB) (639).  If you keep churning a situation you can provoke anger.  Many times hostility is caused because someone kept churning.  That is why we are told to turn the other cheek.  We are told to forgive.

So?  Today, make a note on your spiritual slate that you are not going to churn.  Watch for the tendency.  Make the world a more peaceful place by not stirring it up.  Sounds simple.  Now do it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Attention Direction Disorder

(Proverbs 29:12 KJV)  If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.

The “ruler” (4910) sets the tone for the government.  I am going to approach this in a general way and not throw political stones.  Feel free to make the applications you see necessary.

When a president or king “harkens" (pays attention NASB) (7181) to “lies" (falsehood NASB) (8267) more than truth, the people are in trouble.  This could apply to almost any level of leadership.  That is really the point of application for us.  We can’t change the hearts of our leaders but we can live right ourselves.

How does a leader know lies from truth?  This is where “pays attention” gets it traction.  It does not mean to just casually look but to lean toward.  Does the president lean toward the truth of God by immersing himself in it or does he spend his time watching CNN?  Which way do you set your cap?  What do you study.  If you don’t know the truth you will not recognize the lie.

Each of us will be in leadership at some point in our lives.  It may be that the only thing you ever head up is a yard sale, but you will set the tone.  Are you going to be like the original Superman and go for “truth, justice and the American way,” or are you going to “grab for all the gusto?” 

So?  It makes a difference which way you lean.  It matters what you watch and read.  Spend your leisure preparing for your leadership.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bliss Is Ignorance

(Proverbs 28:5 KJV)  Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

I didn’t get very far reading today before this jumped out at me.  The world is very limited in what it can understand because it only really touches one side.  I notice this when I talk to people and call them liberals.  They often get hostile and deny it.  They say they are moderates.  They really believe it.  The problem is they are so surrounded and insulated by all of the voices for liberalism that they think it is the only real opinion.  They never hear any opposing voices.  This is why most people working in the news deny they have a liberal slant.  Conservatives must know both sides.  First, because they listen to it every time they turn on a TV or radio.  Second, because they must defend or explain their position every time they communicate.  We know all the rules, the entire game.

Picture trying to play chess and only knowing how to move the king and queen.  What if it never occurred to you that the knight could jump other pieces?  What if you didn’t know how to castle?  Or imagine using the chess pieces to play checkers.  That is the position much of the world is in.  They do not understand the world because they have ignored the instruction manual.

So?  Don’t become one of them by default.  Get into the instruction manual.  Find out the rules of the game.  Get to know the Game Designer.  If you are already a believer, you should be well on the way.  If you are not a believer then confess your sin, trust in Jesus and get turn your checkers into a chess set.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who, me?

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

What if the wind would “hide" (restrain NASB) (6845) itself?  Silly idea?  Probably.  The reason I ask is that strange realization that what irritates me about other people is often a trait I have myself.  My wife is a nag.  Just ask me, I will tell you.  Does that mean I am a nag?  Does it mean I am the one who is the real nag?  These are troubling questions.

We are always the last to see our own weaknesses.  What topics do I always bring up?  What methods do I adopt to “defend” myself?  I need to replay some of the conversations I have had in the last few weeks.  I had a co-worker pour water on my candle this week.  She pointed out that she was not able to do anything about the problem last time I mentioned it.  It struck me that I was becoming like the wind that needs to be restrained.

So?  Do a self check.  See if you are the guilty party.  I think the phrase is “Mea Culpa.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Meddle Class Morality

(Proverbs 26:17 KJV)  He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

There are two key verbs in this verse.  It is the combination that shows us to be a sluggard.  The first is “passes by” (5674a) and the second is “meddles” (5674b).  Notice the two numbers associated with them.  As far as I can tell they are the same word but they had different meanings to the Hebrews.  It would be similar to us asking “Can you can the fruit before it goes bad?”  The word “can” is the same but has different meanings.  In the Hebrew they seem to be written the same and sound the same but come from different roots.

We can’t help passing by “strife” (7379).  It happens all around us.  The advice here is to pass on by.  We get into trouble when we meddle.  This word is defined as “to be arrogant, become angry.”  Meddling means getting involved emotionally.  In this case it means getting involved emotionally in things that really are none of your business.  It means thinking that you have the answers when you don’t even know the questions.

I thought the key here was staying away from conflict that doesn’t belong to you, but the “belonging” is not in the Greek.  It is much more general than that.

So?  Don’t meddle.  Don’t think that you can solve all problems.  If asked answer but don’t allow yourself to get pulled into taking sides and becoming the focus of the problem.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wise Jewelry

(Proverbs 25:12 KJV)  As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

Reproof, rebuke, correct.  These are Biblical concepts that we don’t like to talk about because the Laodiceans are in the drivers seat.  Here is an important qualifier for reproof.  We are to be a “wise” (2450) “reprover” (3198).

Not everyone has the right to give people advice.  It talks about this person being like a beautiful “ornament” (2481).  I have seen some jewelry that is quite garish and brutal.  If you want some examples go to the 99 Cent Store and see what they have for sale.  It is enough to get you to swear off jewelry.  But discreet and tasteful jewelry can enhance and support.  We need to be wise jewelry.

One of the key traits of wise jewelry is reticence.  It is reluctant to speak.  A wise person spends a lot more time seeking the mind of the Spirit than speaking.  Reproof comes almost like a trip to the dentist.

So?  Don’t be in a hurry to set people straight.  Do be in a hurry to understand the mind of God and listen to the voice of the Spirit.  When it is time to speak, you will know.  You will not want to say anything.  You will obey anyway.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hostile Humor

(Proverbs 24:9 KJV)  The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.

I am going to make an assumption.  You want to avoid “sin” (2403b).  At least I know that is one of my goals.  In some areas that requires no effort.  I am not tempted to steal.  I have no plans to build and worship any false images.  We all have things we don’t struggle with. 

I am not so sure when it comes to “thought ” (2154) of “foolishness” (200) (devising of folly NASB).  “Foolishness” (folly NASB) is immature stupidity.  It is horse play.  It is practical jokes.  It covers a lot of ground in the area of humor and goofing off.  Here I plead guilty.

The only wiggle room I can find is in the word “thought” (devising NASB).  This word is a little deeper than our English equivalent.  In the Hebrew it seems to carry the weight of evil intent.  At the core of the action is a desire to create problems.  This gets subtle, or we at least find it easy to ignore.  The place it rears its ugly head in my life is in what I call “humor.”  I joke a lot.  Most of the time that is well and good but there are times when I know that I am really trying to get a dig in.  That is when I cross the line.

So?  I need to look at my motives for my humor.  I need to ask myself why I am being “honest” and “open.”  Could I really not help myself?  I think I will know, if I am honest with myself.  If I move ahead I am crossing into the area of sin.  Is it just me?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Apply Daily

(Proverbs 23:12 KJV)  Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

Is this poetic or profound?  In other words, are “heart” (3820) and “ears” (241) repetition for poetic emphasis or do they teach different nuances of the total truth?

First, though, we have the command to “apply” (935) ourselves.  It is easy to overlook the personal application of our energy and focus that is a necessary ingredient in spiritual growth.  The element of personal effort is always present in the quest for godliness.  I say that as I acknowledge the requirement of grace.  You can’t get away from our responsibility to respond.  This is a very common word.  It means to bring or enter.  Here it means to bring your heart to discipline or to consciously enter into discipline.

It is assumed that God’s grace has touched you.  It is assumed that the Blood has cleansed you.  What now?  Apply yourself.  This jumped out at me because as I was greeting the Lord before I took my head from my pillow He reminded me that I need to use my time more wisely.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Every day.

So?  Apply yourself.  That will have different applications for each of us because we walk different roads and face different challenges.  God will supply the opportunities and tools.  Use them.  I plan to.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Respond, Don’t React

(Proverbs 22:10 KJV)  Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.

This would seem to fly in the face of certain verses that people love to quote.  We have been told to “turn the other cheek,” “go the extra mile,” and “judge not.”  In this verse we have permission to “cast out” (drive away NASB) (1644) the “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b).  In fact it would  seem we are ordered to do so.  What is going on?

The restraint would seem to refer to personal situations, the assertion to group or corporate actions.  My tendency is to defend my own ground and let the rest of the world take care of itself.  You know, look out for number one.  Because of this I tend to lash out when someone pushes into my comfort zone.  Those are the cases where we are told to turn the other cheek, etc.

We are also told to reprove, rebuke and correct.  The Bible is loaded with examples of this and they deal with the eternal principles of God or the preservation of society.  Look at Jesus telling Peter to “get thee behind me, Satan.”  Or Peter telling the Jewish leaders that he must disobey them and do what God sent him to do.  Or Nathan confronting David over his dalliance with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. 

So?  Don’t be touchy for yourself.  Be a forgiver of personal slights.  At the same time defend the widow and orphan.  Confront the king.  Be salt and light.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Having and Eating Cake

(Proverbs 21:11 KJV)  When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.

This seems to be contrary to the traditional wisdom that you can’t have your cake and eat it too.  This proverb tells us that we can learn two ways. 

First we can learn from the mistakes of others.  I am sure you have watched other people self destruct.  We observe procrastination, sloth, waste, vanity, selfishness and such every day.  The really “wise” (7919a) person sees it and decides to do different.  The slightly wise person sees the way the “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b) is “punished” (6064) and still learns enough to decide to do different.

Have you ever been in a car with a drunk driver or experienced a close call?  Did that teach you to control your drinking?  Did it take a tragedy for you to get the message?  That is an easy illustration.  You could find more subtle examples of that every day.  Watch and learn.

The other part of the promise is where we should be.  When we are where we should be spiritually we can learn from the teaching of the Holy Spirit.  That is why I read the Bible daily.  Not just to look at the words, but to let the Word look at me. 

So?  Learn from the mistakes of others, yes.  Learn from your own mistakes, yes.  But the best is when we can learn from the truth that is offered to us and avoid the mistakes.  Take it any way you can get it.  Read, think, pray, listen, grow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Walk Straight

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

What does it mean to be “righteous” (6662)?  That is a question for the ages.  Those who follow Jesus have an inbuilt desire to be holy as He is holy.  Not only has God demanded it,
(1 Peter 1:16 KJV)  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
but the Holy Spirit gives us a thirst for it.
(Matthew 5:6 KJV)  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
We cannot achieve holiness through our own efforts.  It is made possible by grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.  That is the means and ability.

Our contribution does not come with being perfect rule keepers but in the area of “integrity” (8537).  We make choices.  Moment by moment we decide how to answer, how to work, how to follow through.  Our strength of character is one of the jarring difference between the world and the true church.

So?  Walk in integrity.  It may be painful now but it will pay eternal dividends.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Dews and Don’ts of Life

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

Don’t get excited about promises. 

You may not get up early enough to know what “dew” (2919) looks like.  Out in California it is often so light that you don’t know it is there until you walk on the grass in your stocking feet.  It is the light layer of condensation that gathers on the grass or maybe you car windshield.

How do we usually use dew in figurative style?  It usually refers to something that will disappear quickly.  It has not staying power.  What this is reminding me of is that the promises of the unrighteous are not worth the dew they are written on.  It takes all night for the dew to form but only a moment of the sun to make it evaporate.

So?  Place your trust in the promises of God, not the promises of the world.  Advertising is great but it is not known for telling the whole truth.  Study the word and trust what it tells you

Monday, July 18, 2011

Casting Lots

(Proverbs 18:18 KJV)  The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.

The idea of the “lot” (1486) comes close to the idea of gambling, at least to my modern ears.  The first mention of this is in Leviticus,
(Leviticus 16:8 KJV)  And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
Two goats were chosen.  One would be sacrificed, one set free into the wilderness.  To decide which was which, lots were cast.

The last casting of lots was picking a replacement for Judas.
(Acts 1:26 KJV)  And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
It would seem that if a decision could not be reached any other way, you could cast lots.  The primary use was to divide up the land after the conquest.  They trusted that God would bring it to pass the way He wanted.  Maybe this is still something we could use today.  Maybe we do when we flip a coin.

So?  Flip a coin?  Usually we have plenty of Biblical witness to tell us what the will of God is.  In cases where we have not clue I guess we could try the coin.  I am not comfortable with the idea, but it isn’t the only thing I don’t understand.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

(Faithful) Servants Rule

(Proverbs 17:2 KJV)  A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

This verse brings to my mind one of the glorious words in the theology of our salvation.  The word is “adoption.”  It is not used here but it is certainly implied.  Notice that in this verse the “servant” {5650} who is “wise” (acts wisely NASB) (7919a) will not only receive an “inheritance” (5159) but will “rule” (4910) over the “son” (1121) who “causeth shame” (acts shamefully NASB) (954).

The kingdom of God is not based on our human blood lines but on the washing of the blood of Jesus.  It is not who our human father is, but who our Heavenly Father is.  Almighty God stands ready be adopted anyone who comes to Him in faith and make them His child.  Obedience then plays a role in our eternal inheritance.  That is one part of adoption.

The other side of adoption is that I can’t choose who will be my brother.  As I write this I look out the window and see a crew trimming hedges and mowing yards.  If they have been adopted and washed in the blood, they are my brothers.  It does not matter if you earn your bread by literal sweat or mental sweat, you are washed by the same blood.

So?  Treat people with a dignity that they may not seem to deserve but which is bestowed on them by inheritance.  The Biblical way is at the root of the American way.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Little Non-Proverbs Inspiration

If you are looking for a good word for today, try this thought from Clapps Chapel United Methodist Men.  He posted differnt types of thoughts but today I found it uplifting.

Grace and Peace, friends.

Kings and Culture

(Proverbs 16:15 KJV)  In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

We make much of democracy, but the Bible seems to look at kings.  Have you ever noticed that difference between what we think is normal and what the Bible presents?  A question I ask myself is, “How much of what I think is God’s norm is based on my culture and how much is based on the Bible?”

My son handed me his Kindle and got me started expanding my horizons.  One of my experiments was to download a book from Gutenberg, convert it to a text file, have another program convert it to the Kindle’s format and try reading it.  It is a book called Ancient Law by Sir Henry James Sumner Maine.  It was written in the 1800's.  He writes as if democracy is an experiment that will not last.  This was written in England in the 1800's.  Most of us would consider that much of our democratic tradition came from England.

How much of what we do every day is based on the cultural input we received and how much is from the standard God has given us.  I don’t feel very comfortable with the idea.  Maybe it will help me think better.

So?  Think about it.  Use your mind.  Get in the habit of comparing what you think with what the Word says.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spiritual Googling

(Proverbs 15:12 KJV)  A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.

Did you ever play your parents against each other?  Try to remember how it worked and perhaps how your kids make it work on you.  You want something.  It doesn’t matter what for our discussion today.  You just want something.  You know from experience how each parent is going to respond, so you carefully isolate the one who will give you the answer you want and pop the question.  Perhaps your parents worked together.  Then you go to your grandparents. 

Some people live their lives that way.  They know what they want and they find an authority that agrees with them.  Is coffee good for you are does it damage your health?  Google it.  Somewhere out there you will find the answer that justifies your action. 

Some people use their Bible that way.  They google the scripture.  If you ignore the context, you can get the Bible to say just about anything you want.  Remember the joke about the disciples driving a Honda?  They were in one Accord.  Honda dealers quote that scripture often.

So?  Are you a scoffer?  Do you only listen to that which gives you what you want?  If you are serious about your faith it is probably time to change.  Go for wisdom, not gratification.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Backsliding Virus

(Proverbs 14:14 KJV)  The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

Notice that backsliding is a Biblical term.  Often it starts with bad habits going uncorrected.  The first failure is not the problem.  Lack of repentance is.  Sometimes the drift begins in the “heart” (3820).  Others don’t always know when you begin to drift away from the Lord.  You don’t know when others begin to drift. 

Sometimes it is useful to have an “attitude check.”  I don’t know where I first heard that phrase.   I know it isn’t mine, but I use it.  Thank you whoever you are.  There are times when we need to just pause and take an inward look.  I have anti-virus software that checks every day.  It checks for known infections and compares files with what was there before.  On a regular basis it downloads updates to keep current.  It is an interplay between the outside source and an inner examination.

We need to be doing this kind of self examination on a regular basis.  That is the point of daily worship.  That is the focus of my writing.  Each of us should have a goal of heart examination not lesson preparation. 

So?  Let the word speak to you.  Listen for the voice of the Spirit.  Listen to friends.  Check your heart.  Don’t be a backslider.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Power Outage

(Proverbs 13:18 KJV)  Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.

I was recently given a taste of third world poverty while living in the middle of a modern suburb.  A severe lightning storm ripped its way through the area.  I have always enjoyed lightening so I was having a great time as we drove through it.  Then the luxuries began to be eliminated.  First, trees were knocked down across the highway.  No problem, we took a side road.  Trees blocked that route.  Problems beginning.  It took us forever to get home.  Every path we followed seemed to be blocked by fallen branches and trunks.  Picture living in a land with no wide, paved roads.  Travel becomes a burden. 

When we got home, no flood lights came on.  The entire area was dark except for a few people who had back up generators.  I remember when the city planners began pushing for all electric homes.  What a fantasy land that is.  The house had two stories and the water came from a well.  Without electricity we could not even flush a toilet, let alone run the air conditioning.  All of the conveniences were stripped away with one fallen branch.

What happens when the power of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn from your life?  Have you had that experience?  I have.  The results are not pretty.  I don’t like living in spiritual third world poverty. 

So?  The only answer involves getting the power back on.  Repent, read, pray, obey.  God will have the power back on in no time.  Don’t put it off.  Things in your spiritual freezer may start to spoil.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All Calls Are Recorded

(Proverbs 12:17 KJV)  He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.

Part of “truth” (530) involves “righteousness” (right NASB) (6664).  The world uses the word truth but they have deleted the meaning.  For them truth means whatever advances their agenda.  For the believer truth is not negotiable or adjustable.  One truth may be the same for all but does not fit all.  It is what it is even if we don’t like it.  This is righteousness and holiness.  We are to call a club a club, not a “puppy feet”.

It is possible to say something that is a fact but say it in such a way as to be a “false” (8267) “witness” (5707).  My personal definition of a lie is “communication with intent to deceive.”  I don’t know that it is in the dictionary that way.  You can lie by saying nothing when something is required for truth.  You can lie by only telling half of the truth when the whole truth is needed.

We are to speak what is righteous.

So?  Be a righteous communicator.  Remember that your line is tapped by the Holy Spirit.  All calls are recorded for quality control.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On Time Delivery

(Proverbs 11:8 KJV)  The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.

This is a great promise.  I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel like the world is crashing down on me.  It could be a family problem, something at work, a random event of the day.  My tendency is to get consumed with worry.  This tells me I can have a confidence in the outcome.  I will be “delivered” (2502a).  We find a familiar restatement of this in the NT:
(1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Of course there is a condition.  I am to be righteous.  This obviously does not mean that there can be no flaws in my behavior.  If that were what it meant, no one would qualify.  For some insight on why I can say that look at little further in this chapter.
(Proverbs 11:27 NASB)  He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.
This is a theme that is repeated frequently in Proverbs.

So hang in there.  Have confidence in the alertness and promises of God.  If you noticed a problem, the chances are He saw it too.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Matter of Life or Death

(Proverbs 10:16 KJV)  The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.

This verse seems to read the opposite of Romans 6:23:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice there is a different emphasis.  Proverbs talks about the person, Paul about the action.  It makes a difference because we can’t earn our salvation but we are expected to live as if we are saved.  How we live our lives makes a difference. 

Have you believed in Jesus Christ?  Has God extended His grace to you?  Then you are expected to live a righteous life.  Since it is expected, it is possible.  If it is not possible then all of this is a cruel joke and we are the punch line. 

The payment medium is different in the two verses.  The word Paul uses is a word for your paycheck.  It is a word out of a culture that was cash based.  Money was king.  The word that Solomon used is the word used for your actual work.  It is from a culture that knew cash but was more based on barter and feudal relationships. 

As it says, the labor of the righteous is life.  Our work is living.  How we live influences the kind of life we live and the lives of those around us.

So do you want to produce life?  Live righteously.  Walk as Jesus would have you walk.  Obey his commandments.  Jesus paid the price we could not pay, now He expects us to do our part.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Beware of Counterfeits

(Proverbs 9:14 KJV)  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

In the previous verse it began discussing the “foolish woman” (woman of folly NASB) and pointed out some of the differences from Wisdom.  In this verse it begins to point out some of the ways in which folly disguises itself.  If you look back to verse 3 you will find that Wisdom is calling from the “high places of the city.”  Here you find that folly is hanging around at the same location. 

One reason that counterfeits are successful is that they hit you when you don’t expect it.  If someone bought your car for cash and paid you with one hundred dollar bills, you might check them to see if they are real.  When you withdraw money from the bank you don’t.  At least I don’t.  You expect the genuine article.  So what better place to pass counterfeits?

Anything we buy has cheap knock offs.  Pirated software and music are billion dollar businesses.  Clothing logos can be faked.  We all know about the phoney Rolex watch.  Spiritual truth can also be faked.  This is why you should always take your Bible to church.  Any pastor worth his salt wants you to check out what he says. 

So?  You are responsible for your spiritual life.  You will not be able to stand before the judgement seat and say, “The pastor said it was okay.”  Read and study for your own spiritual health.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wisdom Waits

(Proverbs 8:23 KJV)  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

This passage of Proverbs is both uplifting and confusing.  Verses 22-31 are talking about creation and how Wisdom was present and involved.  The glory and grandeur of God and His power can be exciting.  The confusion comes because we seem to see evidence of Jesus mixed with qualities that cannot apply to Him.

As I look at some of the commentaries I have available I see that some state that this is talking about Jesus and His role in creation.  Go carefully on that because there are places in here that seem to say that this “wisdom” is created.  That would rule Jesus out.  Adam Clarke puts it this way:
“This is poetical and highly figurative; and they who think they find the deity of Jesus Christ in these metaphors should be very cautious how they apply such terms as these; so that while they are endeavoring to defend the truth, they may do nothing against the truth, in which most of them unhappily fail.”
What we can be sure of is that true wisdom is a product of the creative power of God.  It is something that is rooted in truth outside ourselves or our experience.  When we acquire wisdom we are partaking of the genius of God, not just showing off our depth.

So?  Enjoy the mystery and the theories but don’t get carried away with theories about wisdom.  Study it.  Apply it.  Live it.  It is bigger than you are.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chill, Dude

(Proverbs 7:11 KJV)  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:

Have you ever been accused of being a prude, puritanical, Victorian or stoic?  These terms are never used as compliments except by people like me.  One thing they all have in common is a lack of “loud” (boisterous NASB) (1993) personalities.  The definition for this Hebrew word is “to murmur, growl, roar, be boisterous.”  We are talking here about the stereotypical college student at a party with free beer.  We are talking about the spirit of our age. 

We are surrounded by superficial emotionalism.  We are encouraged to let go, to show our emotions.  We are to be open and transparent.  Self-control and discipline are marks of people with suppressed problems.  I was in a room with a TV on the other day.  It happens.  Fortunately the sound was muted.  It was some kind of special program and a couple of guys in cream colored suits were jumping around like they were in a sack race and holding microphones touching their lips.  In front of them were a bunch of people with their hands in the air jumping up and down.  It was either a rock concert or a new praise band.  I did not want to know badly enough to turn the volume up. 

This verse would seem to condemn that kind of activity. 

So?  Don’t be afraid to be serious.  Don’t be afraid to sit quietly.  Emotions are a part of being human, but don’t let them rule you.  We are told to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  That is hard to do when we are being boisterous.  Calm down.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Amazing Grace

(Proverbs 6:22 KJV)  When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

Ever since Paul wrote his letters we have been talking about being under grace and not the law.  Grace alone is one of the core teachings of the Lutheran and Calvinistic reformers.  All Christians would agree on the importance of grace.  The problem is in throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  This verse in Proverbs is talking about the commandments like we would talk about grace.  Think about the words to “Amazing Grace.”  The parallels are interesting.

There are also similarities to the works of the Holy Spirit. 

We need to look at the commandments found in both the Old and New Testaments as being our friends, not a tool of the enemy.  They are offered as guides and protectors.  The problem is not in the law but in us.  We are resistant and rebellious.  We are weak and confused.  Our problem is that we have such a hard time living up to them.

The answer is to wallow in the clear direction, to enjoy the assurance that God has given us a game plan.  While we do that we can rejoice in a knowledge of grace, the blood and the Holy Spirit.  It all comes together in a love that wants to obey on our side and wants to forgive on God’s side.

So?  Accept the tension set up by a need to obey and an assurance of forgiveness.  Strive without desperation.  Come short without frustration.  Rest without fear.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Choosing Your Next Card

(Proverbs 5:8 KJV)  Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:

We make choices.  Different choices usually lead to different destinations or at least take us on different routes.  We often are so full of pride that we think we can flirt with evil and evil ways.  Maybe, maybe not.  Guessing wrong can have eternal consequences.  We are to stay away.

Part of this is knowing yourself.  One of my friends is a drinker.  He likes his booze.  I have no problem going to a bar with him and ordering my diet Coke.  He or his drinking buddies joke about it once in awhile, but I have no problem joking back.  I don’t like alcohol. 

I always turn down invitations to play poker.  I have played poker.  I love poker.  I am also a terrible player.  Years ago I sensed myself on the edge of an abyss.  The lure and seduction were hovering, waiting for me to try “one more time.”  By the grace of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit I have sworn off gambling.  I don’t go anywhere near it.  In the words of this verse “I keep my way far from her.”

So?  You may be stronger than I am.  The issue is not how strong you are but how sneaky the devil is.  Eternity is in the balance.  Are you going to make choices today?  Be wise, not clever,  in your choices.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Target Practice

(Proverbs 4:21 KJV)  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

The context of this is the previous verse, talking about the words and sayings of wisdom.  What obvious way can you keep them in your “eyes” (sight NASB) (5869)?  By reading.  You have heard this kind of thing before.  Read your Bible.

Instead we watch our TV or whatever you have to substitute for it.  I don’t watch TV but my wife says I have substituted internet diversions.  There is some truth to that.  I don’t substitute the internet for my Bible reading but it does eat up a lot of time.  For me the thing that would get between my Bible and my eyes would be other books.  I read a lot of fiction. 

Some people read a lot of books about the Bible instead of the book itself.  As noble as it may seem to want to learn, keep in mind that those books are just someone else’s opinion, not the word of God.

So?  What is in your sights?  You usually can’t shoot a snake by firing into the air.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Security of Paying Attention

(Proverbs 3:23 ASV)  Then shalt thou walk in thy way securely, And thy foot shall not stumble.

We have here another promise.  We have here another condition.  Notice the first word “Then” (227).  We have just had a long series of directions we are to follow.  Now we have the payoff, the results of obedience. 

It is possible to “walk” (1870) “securely” (983).  Our Calvinist brothers talk about eternal security.  Not being a Calvinist, I don’t know if that is there term or ours but it is covered in the TULIP point of perseverance of the saints.  The Bible does talk about living securely, not as an automatic “fail-safe,” but because we obey and learn the wisdom of the Lord.  That is the context here.

Part of our security is being able to not “stumble” (5062) .  That is the achievable goal.  Two assumptions are included.  It is possible to stumble or this verse would not offer this teaching.  It is also possible to not stumble.

I rarely stumble when I watch where I am walking.  If I am day-dreaming or walking in the dark I am not so steady.  If my attention is elsewhere I can trip over almost anything.  If someone is out to get me, they might bring me down.  Someday I may be physically a tottering old man.  But if I pay attention I am secure.

So?  Pay attention.  Cultivate a holy life style.  Develop the right habits.  Trust that God will be working with His grace and through the Holy Spirit to help you walk steady.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Frowardness, Anyone?

(Proverbs 2:14 KJV)  Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;

Some people “delight” (8056) to “do” (6213a) “evil” (7451a).  This is not the only place we see this truth.  I would think that this is not a small percentage of the population.  This flies in the face of secular humanism.  This is totally opposed to what is taught in schools.  It is rooted in the concept of original sin.  Since no one believes in the sinful nature they have dismantled the social structures that used to help keep them in check. 

They go beyond doing evil.  They “rejoice” (1523) in it.  If they have a choice they will hurt others.  If given a chance they will lie and cheat.  They will have no sense of regret.  If they get caught they will make some vague statement of sorrow but it is clear that the sorrow is not over the deep but over getting caught.

So?  Know the world you live in.  It hasn’t really changed since the days of Cain and Abel.  Be salt and light in a world that prefers sugar and twilight.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Simply Simple Minded

(Proverbs 1:22 KJV)  How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

Have you ever felt that someone thinks you are ignorant because you are a believer?  I don’t just mean you didn’t read the paper today.  I mean the kind of ignorance that doesn’t know that libraries exist.  They may not say it, but you can see it in their eyes.  It never occurs to them that they could be the ones lacking in knowledge.

This is a place where the latest translation gets to the nuance best.  The KJV has “simple” (6612) and “simplicity” (6612).  Notice they are the same words.  The original NASB has “naive” and “simplicity.”  The updated NASB has “naive” and “simple minded.”  We need to set aside our tolerant vanilla culture and look at what is being said.

The first use of the word does not refer to the naivety of young children or the pure.  The second word does not refer to those who are mentally retarded.  Both words refer to a person who is locked into a world view that refuses to consider honest facts.  It is one of those situations where they call out, “Are you going to believe me or your own lying eyes?”

So?  Never be afraid of honest science and real facts.  God made the universe.  He wrote the Bible.  Be patient with those who have closed their minds in the name of diversity.