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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Passing the Torch

(Proverbs 30:11 KJV)  There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.

There are some fathers who deserve “curses” (7043).  There are mothers who also fit that category.  I don’t think this is about parenting skills.  I think this is about an attitude of rebellion and lack of submission.  This is about us, not them.

How do we best “bless” (1288) our parents?  By living the way they would have us live.  By taking up the torch and carrying it while we wait to pass it on.  When my kids were young they were usually introduced as my children.  I was the reference point.  Now when I go places I am introduced as their father.  They are the reference point and I often get the message, stated or implied, that they are children to be proud of. 

There were times when my son looked me in the eye and made it clear he thought I was totally wrong.  Such is youth and its attitudes.  That is expected.  There are still areas where we disagree or have different priorities, but he is a blessing.

So?  Is your life a blessing or a curse on your parents?  If you did not know your parents or were not blessed with godly parents, transfer that to God the Father.  How do you cause people to respond to Him?  If the answer is not what we would want, maybe today would be a good day to begin to change how we touch others.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Roots of Equal Opportunity

(Proverbs 29:13 KJV)  The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.

The Holy Spirit is an equal opportunity teacher.  This is one of the great principles of the Christian faith.  I was watching a secular video discussing the declining years of the Roman Empire.  In discussing the spread of Christianity in the Empire it said that one of the points of conflict was the teaching that there was spiritual equality before God.  We have our elites.  We have a class that is smothered by inherited wealth.  We also have those who struggle to make it to the end of the month.  In spite of that, the hearts of all Americans are molded by the idea that we are all equally human.  This comes from the Bible and is one of the foundations that are invoked when we talk about American being a Christian nation. 

The point in this verse is that both ends of the social spectrum “meet together” (have in common NASB) (6298) on the “light” (215)  of the Lord.  Neither can claim ignorance of God’s law.  God does not speak louder to the rich or the poor.  The difference isn’t in net worth but in net willingness.  Some will listen, some will not. 

So?  Are you listening to what the Holy Spirit is trying to say?  God deals with you where you are.  He speaks in language you can understand.  Things will go better in life if you accept that instead of claiming ignorance.  You and God both know better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cover Charge

((Proverbs 28:13 KJV)  He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

I like the picture that the KJV gives us here.  It uses the word “covereth” (3680) where the NASB uses “conceals.”  It speaks to me today because it brings to mind a pot on the stove with the fire on high.  If you have done as much as boil and egg you know that if you put a lid on it, it will boil faster.  It has to do with the physics of escaping molecules and air pressure I think.  You have heard it said that “a watched pot never boils.”  In that spirit I will go in the other room and do something to encourage the heating process.

So let’s paraphrase this for cooks and kitchen neophytes:
“A covered pot on high heat will give you a stove top to clean.”  (PPP)
I don’t know if that qualifies for the Pumice Pathetic Paraphrase or not, but give me credit if your quote me.

Apply it to your life.  Do you cover your anger and frustration?  I think the psychological term is repression.  Do you bottle it all up instead of being honest about what you feel?  Do you do this with your friends?  You will never get Spock’s blessing of “live long and prosper” that way.  Do you do this with God?  That is even more serious.  Be honest with God.  He can handle it, even if your friends can’t.  And He knows anyway.

So?  Don’t try to hide what goes on inside from the God with x-ray vision.  It will stifle your growth, let alone your inner peace.  Letting it out is called confession.  Wanting to change your behavior is called repentance.  Actually changing is called obedience.  Do it.  Don’t make me tell you again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pastoral Appreciation Thingy

(Proverbs 27:18 KJV)  Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.

This verse reminds me of the statements about pastors and their care,
    (1 Corinthians 9:9 KJV)  For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
    (1 Timothy 5:17-18 KJV)  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer
is worthy of his reward.
As I write this October is approaching and, if my memory serves me well, October is the month that many churches do a little pastor appreciation thingy.  I could be wrong on that.  If I am, come back and read this at the right time.  If I am right, you might want to get involved in that since we have at least three places in the Bible where it is brought up.  If you are on the church board or have the ear of a board member you might want to take a look at salary and benefits.  In spite of all the talk about offering-skimming pastors, most of them are honorable, underpaid and overworked.  God will smile on you for being faithful to these servants.

This should be reserved for the pastor who “keepeth" (tends NASB) (5341) the church.  This word is usually translated in such a way as to imply guarding and keeping watch.  I pray that your pastor is serious about his duties.  If he is, thank God and pray for him.  If he isn’t, pray for him and implore God to change him or move him.

I think that the “fig tree” (8384) refers to the people of God.  For us today that is the church.  Then it was Israel.  Do a word search and see how often Jesus referred to the fig tree.

So?  Check it out in the church you attend.  If you don’t attend, the problem is probably in you, not in the church.  Remember that if the early church had not been such a mess, Paul would not have written so many letters.  Picture a New Testament with only the gospels and Revelation.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Stoked

(Proverbs 26:20 KJV)  Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Do you have a “fire” (784) burning in your life?  What kind of fire and what feeds it?  The obvious context here is gossip, but what else might this concept touch?

Is your heart on fire for Jesus today?  Maybe it is early in the day and you are on your first cup of coffee.  Think about how the gurus tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I don’t know if that is really true of the body but I think it is true of the soul.  That is why I harp on the concept of daily worship.  Unlike voting it is okay to do it early and often.  Stoke the fire.

Is your heart on fire for vengeance today?  Sometimes we feel the pain or rage of being wronged.  It won’t go away.  It is like a fire that wants to smolder and holds the potential of flaring up.  At night in the mountains as the sleeping bags beckon we sit and watch the fire burn down.  It is amazing how long little embers can glow, waiting to start the conflagration again.  As long as I don’t feed it, death will come.  If I really want to put it out, water will do the job.

So which is it today.  Are you going to pour fuel on the presence of God or your grudge?  I urge you to allow the anger to die and stir up the fire of God.  Your choice.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Refresher’s Course

(Proverbs 25:13 KJV)  As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

There is a note of sadness in this verse of hope.  It would imply that a “faithful” (539) “messenger” (6735) is as rare as an August snow in a Mediterranean climate.  I live in Southern California.  It is much like Israel.  We rarely get snow in the winter, let alone in the “harvest” (7105) season.

It also implies that we are expected to be faithful messengers.  Faithfulness is a wonderful character trait to have, and remember it is expected.  As you look at the definition of this word and its offshoots you come up with words like fidelity, support, confirm, trustworthy and true.  How many people do you know like this.  If you can’t think of anyone, we have a lot of repenting and growing to do.

Notice that the faithfulness is to God.  The messenger “refreshes” (7725) “those who send” (7971), not those who receive.

So?  Will the message your life bears today bring a blessing to God?  How about yesterday?  Are there specific acts or attitudes that you can repent of and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to correct?  Improvement probably won’t happen unless you admit the need to improve.  Think, repent, pray, change. 

Taking Up the Slack

(Proverbs 24:10 KJV)  If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

Here it seems we are told to be alert.  Don’t "faint" (be slack NASB) (7503).  But we need to be aware this is another context word.  It depends on how it is used and what the circumstances are.  Notice in Psalms we are told to relax and let God have His way. 
(Psalms 46:10 KJV)  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
“Be still” is our word “slack.”  In Psalms we are told to relax.  The NASB says to cease striving.

Our day to day attitude is to be relaxed.  God is in control.  We can eat ourselves up with anxiety.  We can be like me when I watch real wrestling.  If I ever watch a match of genuine wrestling I am exhausted at the end.  I grunt and groan and twist and strain along with the guys on the mat.  At the end I feel like I was in the contest.  Sometimes we do that when we should be allowing God to be in charge.

But when a crisis comes we are to move.  We are to apply the energy we have saved.  We are to bring out the wisdom that has been building up.  We become God’s tool of the moment.

So?  Is today a day to relax or to push spiritually?  That will obviously be different for each of us.  Apply yourself whichever way it goes, knowing that God is the ultimate mover of worlds and mountains.

Friday, September 23, 2011

JOY Formula

(Proverbs 23:15 KJV)  My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.

We have here an expression of love.  In this case it is wrapped up in the concern of a father for his son, but it is still love.  It is an expression of agape.  Sooner or later in your Christian walk you will come to realize that it isn’t all about you.  We are called to be salt and life, not the main dish.  We are to season and preserve.  One of the big ways that Christians do this is by being concerned about the well being and growth of others.  I mean real concern, not the lip service paid by people trying to get elected, appointed or promoted. 

This verse and the next reflect the thinking in Corinthians:

    1CO 13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

We are to rejoice when others are aware of the truth and responding to the things of God.  I am finding this idea expressed many ways and places in the Bible.  My prayer is that it would be expressed many ways and places in my life and yours.

So?  Turn your concern outward.  How many people will you pass today who really have no single person in their life who would do what is best for them?  I don’t remember singing it when I was a kid but I remember leading it in Sunday School when my children were small.

Jesus and Others and You.
What a wonderful way to spell JOY.
Jesus and Others and You,
In the heart of each girl and each boy.
J is for Jesus for He takes first place.
O is for Others you meet face to face.
Y is for You and whatever you do.
Put yourself last and spell JOY.

As the commercial said, “Try it, you’ll like it.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Change GIGO to WIWO

(Proverbs 22:18 KJV)  For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.

We are to “keep” (8104) the scripture within us.  Most of us are familiar with the verse,
(Psalms 119:11 KJV)  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
We know that memorizing and meditating on scripture helps us live obediently.  This gives us another vector for the Word.

We are to study the word so that truth and wisdom will be “fitted” (ready NASB) (3559) when we need it.  I think of the promise that the Holy Spirit will bring to mind what we need and verses like this point out the need to put it in so that it can be taken out.  This would be the opposite of GIGO, call it WIWO, wisdom in, wisdom out.

Just as you cannot share your lunch if you don’t have one, you can’t share your wisdom if you didn’t bring any today.

So?  Read and enjoy the word.  Make a deliberate attempt to memorize or remember it well enough that you can find the reference it you need to.  Think of yourself as a solar panel.  You must collect in order to power up.  Be blessed today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nag Happens!

(Proverbs 21:19 KJV)  It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

Who are the nags of your life?  The classics are wives and mother-in-laws.  We could add to the list from experience:  Husbands, children, neighbors, friends, bosses.  We have all experienced it.  You think you have problems, think of Solomon with his 600 wives and 300 concubines.  I may have missed a few in the count but is there really a difference between 900 wives and 901.  It must have been a problem because Solomon came back to this theme many times.  I count at least five times in Proverbs that he refers to a “contentious” (4066) “woman” (802), Twice in this chapter.  See verse 9.

For those of you who are into equal opportunity he refers to men with this adjective at least six times.  The translators use different words, such as “strife” but that is not Solomon’s fault.  The point of Proverbs is that we can be surrounded by all kinds of nagging influences.  I guess it also implies that we can be nags ourselves.  “Who me?” says you.  “Yes, me,” says I.

Solomon says here it is better to live in the “wilderness” (desert NASB) (4058b) that with this kind of person.  In verse 9 he suggests living on the roof.  These are not recommendations of action but comparisons. 

The way we are to deal with this is dealt with in the love chapter and a listing of the gifts of the Spirit:  Patience, kindness, etc.  God’s grace makes us the oil that lubes the wheels of our personal worlds.

So?  To paraphrase a popular bumper sticker, “Nag happens!”  Expect it.  Start right now calling upon the Holy Spirit to prepare you to deal with it as a representative of Almighty God.  Preparation will help when the inevitable happens. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You Are Getting Sleepy....

(Proverbs 20:13 KJV)  Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.

This verse strikes close to home.  I am not a morning person.  I am not sure I am an afternoon person either, but my life has not been based on bouncing out of the bed in the morning with joy in my heart.  The first application of this is obviously about getting up to go to work.  My father used to occasionally get us boys up before school to push a wheelbarrow of concrete.  It makes a great story now but at the time I considered it cruel and unusual punishment.

I “love” (157) “sleep” (8142) but I have changed my pattern of living.  I have begun to get up earlier than I want to.  The first impetus was a desire to find time to meet with the Lord.  I kept telling myself I could meet with him after work.  It didn’t happen.  In order to make sure we were in contact I had to set my alarm earlier and make it a priority.  Since Proverbs does not equate wealth with gold and silver but wisdom and understanding, I must conclude that part of the point here is that if we want to avoid spiritual poverty we need to not take naps.

A second impetus was getting older.  I am finding that I can’t lay in bed as long as I used to do.  Aging bladders and aching backbones go a long way to get us moving at a certain age.  I guess that is a reason to rejoice in advanced years.  Who would have guessed?

So?  Take your Sunday Afternoon nap.  Sleep in on Saturday.  That is not the point.  At the same time, make time for the Lord, even if it means getting your bones out of bed earlier.  It will help you avoid spiritual poverty.

Monday, September 19, 2011

RV’s and Stewardship

(Proverbs 19:14 KJV)  House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.

We have a responsibility to leave an “inheritance” (5159) to our children.  The clear statement here has to do with financial stability.  “House” (1004) and “riches” (wealth NASB) (1952) are the focus.  Building family wealth and passing it on to our children is a Biblical concept.  When we drove across country with the kids instead of flying to the kids we used to see a little slogan on the back of RV’s that we passed.  “We are spending our children’s inheritance.”  As a piece of humor I could laugh.  As a philosophy I can only rage.  Too many adults in our society are not being good stewards.  They have enough to make it to the grave, their children can take care of themselves.

If I were preaching on this I would also point out the spiritual inheritance.  Are you leaving a solid foundation of faith and obedience?  If your kids become like you will they make it to heaven?  If that isn’t a motivation for repentance, one of us has a problem.

So?  Take the long view.  I know that today may already be a mess but God is in the business of spiritual growth and the process of sanctification.  Remember that the only time you can start to change is now because you are always in now. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Translation Woes

(Proverbs 18:24 KJV)  A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

There are times when I wonder what Bible translators had for lunch.  This verse is a good example.  Compare it to the NASB:
(Proverbs 18:24 NAS77)  A man of many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Notice that one has “friendly” (7489) and the other has “ruin” (7489b).  For the life of me I can’t put those too together without a lot of gymnastics.  A simple word study using Strong’s numbering system shows that this is the only place that the KJV translates this Hebrew word in a positive way.  The most common translation is “evil.”

A second difference is not so obvious.  Notice the second use of the concept of “friend” (157).  This is the common Hebrew word meaning “love.”  That is the most frequent translation.  It is much more than a friend.  So let me offer the Pumice Pathetic Paraphrase of this verse:
“Seeking too many friends can make life worse but relationships based on genuine love are stronger than family ties.”  (PPP)
So?  Understand the difference between being friendly and loving.  Everyone deserves the first but the second is where we should really build our lives.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Special Delivery

(Proverbs 17:11 KJV)  An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

It is interesting to compare the KJV and the NASB here. 
(Proverbs 17:11 NASB)  A rebellious man seeks only evil, So a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
Notice in one you have the “evil” (7451b) man seeking “rebellion” (4805) and in the other you have the “rebellious” man seeking “evil.”  In the Hebrew the “man” is assumed.  Which is correct?  Does it make a difference?

Sometimes we nit pick in order to avoid the real issue.  Bible study is not just disagreements on semantics. It is preparing for eternity.  Attitudes of rebellion and a tendency toward evil go hand in hand.  In order to avoid eternal damnation they must be dealt with.

Another reality that we don’t like to hear is that sometimes a “cruel” (394) “messenger” (4397) is necessary.  Is it necessary to allow an AIDS epidemic in order to wake up society to sexual sin?  It would seem so.  Is it necessary to allow massive earthquakes and hurricanes in order to remind people that they are not in control as much as they imagine?  It would seem so.  Is it necessary to have the government start putting Christians in jail for proclaiming the truth?  It would seem so.

So?  How’s it going Bro?  Do you need God to send you a cruel messenger today?  Maybe that angel can be avoided by a few moments of confession and repentance.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

(Proverbs 16:18 KJV)  Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

We used to have a phrase when I was a kid.  I can’t remember if it was a family saying or from my circle of friends.  We said someone was “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.”  That might be offered as a footnote on this verse if I ever publish the Pumice Paraphrase.  There is something about our attitude that lays the tracks for the railroad of our life.

“Pride” (1347b) is linked to “destruction” (7667).  The root meaning of pride is “rise up.”  You might call it uppity.  It involves looking down on others more than thinking well of yourself.  If you are great on the violin, it is not pride to admit you play.  It is pride to tell others they are hopeless in an effort to make yourself look good.

You say you don’t do that?  Would the people around you agree with that?  Can you voice opinions based on the facts, not on verbal attacks.  Can your arguments ever be boiled down to “because you are stupid, that’s why.”  I am going to need to go back over my transcripts.

So?  Opinions and positions should be based on “because God said so.”  One way of doing that is reading the word so you know what God said.  Another is to read other sources of information and look at the facts, not the opinions.  It can be done, it just isn’t.  Make today different. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stop and Smell the Understanding

(Proverbs 15:14 KJV)  The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

Today I see a contrast between the mind and the mouth.  The KJV has “heart” (3820).  The NASB is the only translation on my software that uses “mind.”  The word is that one that we use to mean our inner being, the core of who we are.  The mouth, on the other hand, often seems to belong to someone else. 

Think of the contrast in emphasis.  We have all suffered from what someone called “foot in mouth disease.”  I know I have.  I am forced to kick myself all the way home after I have spoken without thinking.  I must first remove the kicking foot from my mouth.

Notice this is not a contrast between the thinker and the doer.  It is a contrast between the one who thinks first and speaks if necessary and the one who speaks without thinking.

So?  Slow down.  Engage your mind or heart, whichever you want to call it.  Make sure that your inner being has been touched by the Holy Spirit so it is in tune with God.  Then allow your mouth to speak.  That will be scary enough for most of us.  People often prefer juicy gossip to truth.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

“Backslider” Is a Biblical Term

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

Here we have one of the most frightening words in the Bible:  “backslider” (5472).  The root meaning is “to move away.”  In a sense it is the same idea of repentance except it moves in the opposite direction.  Some brothers say that once you are saved this is impossible.  It may tell you that in your theology books, but that is not what my Bible says.

Notice that this motion is rooted in the “heart” (3820), not the actions.  You can be a backslider long before it becomes obvious to others.  Part of the message of Proverbs is that you arrive at this heart position because of decisions you make.  Another part of the message is that you can decide to make the right choices.  It starts by studying and listening to what God has to say.

So?  I don’t care how old you are, it is still early in your life.  If you have not gone to bed yet, the day is not over.  How are your decisions looking?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Knew That

(Proverbs 13:16 KJV)  Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.

We have two contrasts here.  We have the “prudent” (6175) contrasted with the “fool” (3684).  The basis of their actions are also examined.  One acts with “knowledge” (1847), the other with “folly” (200).  These are also recurring words in Proverbs.

With all due respect, are you wise or foolish?  What is the basis of your actions?  You know that God is on the throne.  He is the Creator.  He wrote the Instruction Manual.  You know that the world is deceitful and will someday come to an end.  You know that most people are totally self centered.  You know society will leave you hanging.

So what was the basis of your plan for the day?  Stop and think a moment.  You know what is right.  Do such things as honesty, hard work, and discipline sound familiar?  How about righteousness, love and the fruit of the Spirit?  Now live that way today. 

What about tomorrow?  Read the directions on your shampoo label.  At the end it says “Repeat.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don’t Be a Spiritual Hospice

(Proverbs 12:18 KJV)  There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

This is a lesson I need to learn.  Rebuke and correction are part of our lives, but our attitude and approach are to be tailored to the people we deal with.  We see passages that talk about the rod and force having their place but there is a danger for the one who “speaks” (981).  The NASB has this “speaks rashly” because it means more than just talking.

This brings to mind another passage in Proverbs:

    PRO 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Our ultimate goal is not to win an argument or look good but to “bring healing” (4832).  There is a difference between healing and comforting.  Pain relievers don’t necessarily heal but often it is necessary to deal with the trauma or shock will kill.  The healer deals with both, but never loses the goal of healing. 

If all we are concerned about is comfort we become a spiritual hospice, making death comfortable.

So?  Comfort as you can, but don’t forget it is only one step in a plan to redeem.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Are You a Froward Heart?

 (Proverbs 11:20 KJV)  They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.

Sometimes I like the langauge of the KJV.  I like it because it sounds so mysterious.  Some people are of a “froward” (6141) “heart” (3820).  I would never want to be accused of this even if I don’t know what it means.  Froward is not a misprint.  It is in the dictionary.  My spell-check recognizes it so it must be true.  It is interesting the ways it is translated.  You will see “uncontrolled” (BBE), “sneaky” (CEV), and “crooked” (ESV) in the translations I have on my software.  When you put it that way it doesn’t seem like a nice person.

This is another of those themes that Proverbs keeps reminding us of.  Some people insist on being “perverse” (6141).  It is a condition of the human heart.  It is an indication of the sinful nature. 

Make no mistake about it, these people are an “abomination” (8441) to God.  He may love them.  Jesus certainly died for them.  We know because we were them.  So we can understand them.  We can love them.  We can be involved in their lives.  What we can’t do is sugar coat them and act like it doesn’t matter.

So?  Be salt and light.  If the Holy Spirit opens a door, be a verbal witness.  At all times be a living witness.  Do it today.  A froward heart may be watching you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Confusion Rocks!

(Proverbs 10:18 KJV)  He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

I greet this verse with furled brow and clouded eyes.  It might help to compare the NASB.
(Proverbs 10:18 NAS77)  He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.
I was talking with an English teacher last night and he was expressing his frustration in trying to teach children the parts of speech.  It is hard to understand what God is saying to us if we don’t understand the basics of language.  Notice the differences between the NASB and the KJV.  One uses “has” and the other “with.”  Notice that in each translation they are marked to show that they are not in the original Hebrew.  Which is correct?  Who knows?  Ask yourself which makes more sense.  Notice the commas.  Placing them changes the meaning.

Let me offer my paraphrase:
“A fool lies about his hatred and spreads the hatred of others with slander.” (PPP, Pumice Pathetic Paraphrase)
It is a paraphrase because I don’t know Hebrew well enough to call it a translation.  It is as good as many “translations” because it expresses my opinion.

So what am I trying to say?  Good question.  Don’t ask.  Education is important.  It helps you think your way through things that can be confusing.  In summary:  Lies are bad.  Slander is bad.  Thinking is good.  Now you know.  Apply it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Call of the Wild

(Proverbs 9:15 KJV)  To call passengers who go right on their ways:

When people use terms like “evangelism” and “proselytizing” the target is usually Christians sharing their faith or moral standards.  What we don’t hear is how evil will "call" (calling NASB) (7121) to the righteous.  They seem to get special delight in dragging us down instead of hanging with their soul mates.  If it wasn’t a misuse of the word “evangelism,” which means “good news,” I would say that the secular forces of the world are much more evangelistic than the Christians.

We are surrounded by compelling forces that are trying to draw us away from God.  Some are subtle, some overt.  All have a common goal.  The world is calling to us.  There is a special joy that they have in making the clean dirty.  When students write in a book, they prefer the cleanest book they can find.  The graffiti “artist” who can find a clean wall to write on is overjoyed.

So?  Be aware that there are people who don’t have your best interest at heart.  They are all around you.  They are not reluctant to influence you.  Make sure that you have had your daily dose of Godly influence.  Make sure that you are walking with Jesus moment by moment.  Make them wonder why you are not listening.  Maybe it will make them listen.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

If You’re Happy and You Know It...

(Proverbs 8:34 KJV)  Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

I don’t know what translation you use but this verse reminds me it is an important choice.  The Hebrew talks about being “blessed” (835).  Some translations translate this word “happy” in this verse.  All translations translate the word as “happy” in a few places.  There is a difference between being happy and being blessed.

Happy is an emotion.  Blessedness is a condition.  You can have one without the other.  The ideal situation, of course, is to have both but sometimes that is not possible.  My feeling of happiness can come and go as I drive to work.  Someone cuts me off and I lose it.  Someone gets the last parking place and it is forgotten.  I drop my toast, face down, on the floor.  My coffee gets cold.  We all have our own list.

In the midst of that temporary unhappiness I can still know I am blessed.  I know the Creator.  I know the Son.  I know the Holy Spirit.  I have read the book and I know who wins.  I have seen good come out of apparent tragedy.  The wisdom that God has managed to push into my head and soul gives me a view of today that is based in eternity.

So do you have that view?  Or are you locked into the temperature gauge that says your car is overheating?  Reach for the God’s eye view as you go through your day.  Don’t settle for happy.  Let yourself be blessed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Face of the Heart

(Proverbs 7:13 KJV)  So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,

This is more than a Biblical version of Spin the Bottle or Post Office.  This is not a case of semi-innocent flirting.  The key word here is “brazen” (5810).

“Brazen” (5810) is a trait of rebelliousness .  Adam Clarke says that the Hebrew here means “she strengthened her countenance.” 

The word can be used in a positive way.  God used this attribute in creation,
(Proverbs 8:28 KJV)  When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
Here God “strengthened” His creation.  He made it unchanging.  Of course there are times when being unchanging is a problem,
(Proverbs 21:29 KJV)  A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.
Which is it for us?  Do we know the difference between good and evil and act like we don’t?  Do we have the chance to take a stand and instead decide to sit this one out?  Do we put on a happy face when it should be sackcloth and ashes?

So?  Only you can answer these questions in your life.  Ask them and be honest in your answers.  You can start today.  Don’t make a hard face the sign of a hard heart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Equal Opportunity Sin

(Proverbs 6:24 KJV)  To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Is it just my imagination?  It seems there are frequent warnings for men about sexual sin but few for women.  It seems like the naive men are being warned about the fallen women.  There are many possible explanations.  The sociologists would talk about the limited opportunities for women and how they needed to turn to prostitution.  The feminist would claim it was because men wrote the book and controlled the culture.

I think it is simpler than that.  Men had more freedom.  Men had more power to exploit.  Men are more in need of correction.  We also know that men mature slower than women.  It is not a good package.

But enough of that.  The real message is not gender based.  The point is to avoid evil.  It doesn’t matter if it is a man listening to his hormones or a woman listening to gossip.  Or switch the roles if you want.  The problem is sin and our tendency to either drift into it or plunge in with vigor.  Avoid it.  Don’t take the first step.  Run the other way.

So?  Today you will be faced with many choices.  As Jesus said, one road leads to life and one to death.  Allow the commands of God to give you the guidance you need to life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Come to Yourself

(Proverbs 5:14 KJV)  I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.

Picture this.  Here is someone who has been mocking the teaching of God and is “almost” (4592) in “all” (utter NASB) (3605) “evil” (ruin NASB) (7451b).  He is being optimistic in a sense.  There is no "almost" about it.  He is desperate.

Where is he when he is going through this revelation?  He is in the “midst” (8432) of the “congregation” (assembly NASB) (6951) and “assembly” (congregation NASB) (5712).  The Douay-Rheims translation has “church and congregation.  I think the idea is clear.  He is in a meeting of the people of God.  He is seeing the difference between what he is and what they are.  He is being convicted.

What better place to become aware of your failure.  Think of the prodigal son.  Where did he admit to himself that he was at the bottom?  In a foreign land, surrounded by pigs.  In the midst of some of our attacks of stupid we are surrounded by the people of God.  Or we should be.

So?  Are there people around who could be of help to you?  Have you been ignoring them because you knew what they would say?  Maybe it is time for a little self-searching and honesty.  I like the way it is expressed here,
(Luke 15:17 KJV)  And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
When you come to yourself, go to Jesus.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Who Set the Alarm?

(Proverbs 4:23 KJV)  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Last week an alarm clock started blasting away in the middle of the day.  I have been alone in the house for over a week.  It had not gone off before.  I had not set it.  It was a Twilight Zone moment.  For a while a walked around looking behind doors and checking windows.  I had a sudden burst of “diligence” (4929).  That is the attitude behind the word here.  Diligence is vital.  We get so casual in our approach to the spiritual roots of our life.  God is saying “wake up.” 

There are times when we hear every murmur.  Have you noticed that in the middle of the night, when you can’t sleep, you hear every creak and groan of the house.  Sometimes God can speak to us because we are not distracted but at other times an alarm clock in the middle of the day is needed. 

So?  Seek to be diligent.  Don’t make God set alarm clocks in your life.  What can you see today that you might ordinarily miss.  What can bring “springs of life” because you are looking?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Desire the Best

(Proverbs 3:15 KJV)  She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

What kind of things do we “desire” (2656) in life?  Look at your goals.  Much of my driving force centers around my family.  I get up and go to work to provide.  At times I am channeled into the right choice because I am aware I set an example.  I may put off a purchase because I have the welfare of more than myself in mind.  This is all well and good.

But what is behind all that?  A desire to do the will of God.

Face it.  There are times when no amount of human logic is strong enough to overcome the rational of the moment.  We are capable of talking ourselves into all kinds of foolishness.  At one extreme we have adultery.  At the other end we have taking a nap instead of making a phone call.  At times the only thing that keeps me on the straight and narrow is knowing the mind of God, His wisdom. 

So?  What is the real desire of your heart?  If you are not yet a believer it should be to know God.  If you are a believer it should be to know and practice the Wisdom of God.  Act on that desire.  Today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Assault and Flattery

(Proverbs 2:16 KJV)  To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;

Is there anyone who is not vulnerable to flattery?  I act like I don’t care what I wear, and to a large degree that is true, but there is that still that small area of my ego that responds when someone complements my choice of wardrobe.  Recently I have lost some weight and people who have not seen me for a time comment on it.  It feels good but can easily become a danger.

We can be attacked by flattery.  The problem is believing it.  Some people believe it and it is obvious.  You can just see them standing tall.  Their self-esteem becomes inflated.  Maybe they needed that at the moment and it is helpful, but it may also sidetrack them from needed changes and improvements.

Some people believe it and act like they don’t.  This leads to a false modesty and humility.  On the outside all is well the but swelling is going on inside.  We need to beware of this.

So?  If someone compliments you, accept it graciously.  If it is deserved, well and good.  If it is not then accept it as a social statement on the level of, “Good to see you.  How are you doing?”  Beware of taking flattery seriously.  It is very seductive.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Home Training

(Proverbs 1:9 KJV)  For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Have you ever been around well raised children?  Other than your own of course.  People will say they are a credit to their parents.  That is what Solomon is getting to in this verse.  In the previous verse he told us to listen to our parents.  Here he describes the results. 

Do you belch at the table?  Do you keep your elbows off the table?  Do you eat your peas with a knife?  I have never understood that one.  As we say at school, “Do you have any home training?”  Too often the answer is “No.”

The NASB has “graceful” here instead of “grace” (2580).  The KJV has it better.  This is the favor that Noah found from God.  I think a good paraphrase of this would be “aura of grace.”  When you are taught properly your life has an aura of grace.  You have “home training.”  It may be that your parents were not up to the task or were not around.  That is what the Bible is for.  Use it.

So?  What kind of wreath will you be wearing today?  Will you radiate grace or grouch?  Think about it and act as you will.