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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Working Hands

(Proverbs 31:19 KJV)  She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

An excellent wife is not too good to work.  We are not usually familiar with the tools mentioned here.  The “distaff” (3601) and “spindle” (6418) are used in producing cloth.  (For some reason the NASB uses the same two English and Hebrew words but reverses the translation.)  This was generally done by hand, in the home.  That is one reason why clothing was so expensive in ancient times.

The point is that productive work is part of a virtuous life.  I think it is safe to assume that the principle applies to everyone, male and female, single and married.  My pool of background knowledge tells me that even the Rabbis were expected to have a trade.  Paul was a tent-maker.  Jesus was a carpenter.

So?  God’s kingdom is not just made up of those in the limelight.  It includes each of us that gets up on a daily basis and goes to work.  It includes those who get up and run the home.  Lay your hands on the distaff God has given you. 

Friday, March 30, 2012


(Proverbs 30:16 KJV)  The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

This is one of those verses that doesn't seem to say much as stand alone wisdom.  The context is a list of items that are always taking and never giving.  These things are never satisfied.

As I look at these four things I wonder what they have in common.  It seems that what they have in common is that they are totally different and yet they all demand unceasingly.  At one end you have Sheol.  Everyone will concede that this is a place of evil and desperation.  At the other end you have the earth itself.  Even if you are not into current earth worship you would admit that the earth is a good thing.

There are a wide range of demands put on our lives.  Some are generally beneficial.  Some are damning and destructive.  They all demand.  We must decide how to respond.  It can be confusing.  It demands wisdom.  God grants wisdom.

So?  Remember,
(1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV)  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Listen and respond to His leadership. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Haste Makes Waste

(Proverbs 29:20 KJV)  Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Another recurring theme in Proverbs is the methodical instead of the “hasty” (213).  When I look at the meaning of this word I get a picture of a tsunami.  In a tsunami the water is started moving by something like an earthquake.  At the beginning is doesn’t seem to be a problem.  I am told that a ship in the middle of the ocean will barely notice when the wave of water passes under them.  The problem comes when the bottom rises and land emerges.  This causes the water to be pressed up and the energy is compressed and it becomes “hasty” (213).

The word has the idea of being pressed together and gaining speed because of the pressure.

We need to constantly be aware of our words.

So?  The time to slow down is when we start speaking.  After a time the words take on a life of their own.  The simple things seem to be the hardest at times.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Upright, Not Uptight

(Proverbs 28:18 KJV)  Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.

I have a choice to make.  Today, again.  Tomorrow, again.  Daily for the rest of my life.  I will decide each day how I will “walketh” (1980). 

If you don’t understand what it means to walk “uprightly” (blamelessly NASB) (8549) either through genuine confusion or because of your theological presuppositions then look at the alternative.  Most people can understand what it means to be “crooked” (6140/1870).  You also have a choice to make today.  The question for the day isn’t, “How’s it goin’?” but “How’s it walking?”

You can put off the decision until tomorrow I guess but make sure that you understand the two different results expressed about the results of how you walk.

So?  This morning I decided again to walk with Jesus.  It was a more important question than what to wear.  How’s it walking? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rich Man, Poor Man

(Proverbs 27:24 KJV)  For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?

“Riches” (2633) come and riches go.  I would imagine that the opposite is true:  Poverty comes and poverty goes.  If you have lived long enough to vote you have experienced this.  I love to tell the story of the Christmas that my brother and I received one toy to share between us.  One of the staples of our dinner table was bread and gravy.  I thought it was because it tasted good.  As an adult I realize it was to stretch the budget.

In the midst of this the favor and grace of God is consistent.  Really.  That is what comes to me as I read this verse.  Paul put it a little different,
(Philippians 4:13 KJV)  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
This verse is almost universally abused.  It does not convey the mantra of our modern, self-esteem culture of “if you can dream it, you can do it.”  To get the meaning you need to read the previous verse:
(Philippians 4:12 KJV)  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Paul is saying “riches are not forever” but is reminding us that the grace of God is.

So?  Rough day?  His grace is sufficient.  Really.  Been there.  Done that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Slippery Mouths

(Proverbs 26:28 KJV)  A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

What is the difference between flattery and a lie?

Sometimes not much.  In this verse we have a parallel construction which says that both are evil.  Most of us would accept publicly that lying is wrong.  In the privacy of our own minds and rationalizations we make excuses but we know they are excuses. 

What about flattery?  The root for the word is “smooth.”  The connotation is slippery not bumpless.  Think about waxing a floor and telling no one.

The key is in the verbs.  One is based on hate the other on destruction.

So?  Obviously watch what you say.  Not so obviously, watch your motivation.  Are you really telling your wife she looks good in that dress to make her feel good or do you want people to laugh at her?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Check Your Bite

(Proverbs 25:23 KJV)  The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.

In the last election cycle there was a cute saying that was being passed around and attributed to Einstein.  It went something like this,
“Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.”
I think we can all find ways to apply this politically, often in opposite directions.  Here, in Proverbs, we are being reminded that some patterns are obvious.  You can predict what is going to happen based on what you have observed and experienced.

It is easy for us to see “backbiting” (5643a) in others.  What is needed is the maturity to see it in ourselves.  It might be a different behavior but it still needs to be detected and corrected.  Often we are not seeing how we treat other people because we tend to say, “Oh, that is just the way I am.” 

If you can say that, maybe it is time to change.

So?  I don’t know you.  You do.  Take an honest look at how you treat others.  Are you the north wind of someone’s life?  Ask God to help you see and change. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wrath Deflected

(Proverbs 24:18 KJV)  Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

There is an interesting twist here.  Our rejoicing in unrighteousness can cause God to “turn away” (7725) His “anger” (639) from those He is punishing.  God will spare others to trim down our pride and arrogance. 

Face it.  Isn’t there a little bit of satisfaction in seeing someone get what they have coming?  Have you ever had that little sense of rightness in your heart when the guy who cut you off in traffic gets pulled over.  He did deserve it, granted, but don’t gloat in it.

God is super concerned about our attitudes and the fact that we should love and forgive.  Maybe if we were more loving, God would discipline the rebels more.

So?  Yes, it is time for another attitude check.  Want the best for people even if they have wronged you. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Not Gender Neutral

(Proverbs 23:22 KJV)  Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.

How many times and how many ways does Proverbs tell us to honor our parents?  How many ways, the Bible?

It is interesting to me that the Bible includes respect for both parents.  I get angry at the politically correct “translators” who go out of their way to remove gender references from the Word.  They change “son” to “child” and so forth.  In so doing they conceal some of the glory of being adopted into the family of God.  There is plenty of reference to both men and women, we don’t need to conform to the standards of our pagan culture.

So?  Honor your parents as father and mother.  Both have roles and contributions.  Accept them and thank God for the difference. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pick and Choose

(Proverbs 22:24 KJV)  Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:

How do we pick our friends, those whom we “make friendship” (associate NASB) (7462b) with?  Actually this is stronger than that.  The word is only used six times in the OT, five of them in Proverbs.  Each time in Proverbs is has a negative connection.  To get the feel I might paraphrase it this way:
(Proverbs 22:24, PPP) Don’t chose to go slumming with people who have a short fuse.
Avoid them.  Make excuses when invited to their parties.  Leave early if you can’t stay away.

I guess it goes without saying that you should not be that kind of person either.  Okay, so I went ahead and said it.  Just skip over that part.

So?  When you see trouble coming, go the other way.  If it sneaks up on you, sneak out on it.  We have a lot to say about the company we keep.  Sometimes we need to say it with out feet. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Deadly Desire

(Proverbs 21:25 KJV)  The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

How can “desire” (8378) “killeth” (put to death NASB) (4191) us?  Sometimes we are doomed by a life of shortcuts.  The sluggard” (6102) is a recurring theme in Proverbs.  There are repeated warnings given.  When you always take the easy path you end up slowly destroying yourself.  Think of applications:  Lack of exercise, fast food, drinking because everyone else is drinking, driving too fast because you are late, ignoring danger signs in your children.  One time does not a life of dissipation make.  Sloth is a pattern, not a mistake.

More important, when you always take the easy path you end up going through the wide gate that Jesus talked about, the one that leads to destruction.  Sloth ultimately leads to Hell.

So?  Wake up and stop smelling the roses.  Get out and hoe the corn.  Apply yourself.  The life you save may be your own.  The example you set may get your children to make the right choices.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Meddle Not

(Proverbs 20:19 KJV)  He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

One of the behaviors I have been working on recently is asking permission to share what people tell me.  My intent is to not pass on something that was offered in confidence.  I don’t want to betray a trust.  Sometimes people don’t want me to share, sometimes it is no problem.  I am also finding that much of what is shared with me falls into the category of slander or “flattereth with their lips” (gossip NASB) (6601a/8193).

Recently a teacher was sharing something a colleague had said.   It was kind of funny.  I knew him and wanted to give him a hard time about it.  I checked with the revealer because I would have felt free to tell him who had told me the juicy tid-bit.  I did not consider it a big deal but sometimes we joke with one group in a way we don’t feel another group would understand.  She only paused a minute before she said, “No, probably not.” 

A simple question kept me from getting into the gossip game.

So?  Think before you speak.  When in doubt, ask.  What is humor for me might be totally unfunny to someone else.  I need to remember that, do you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fear Is Healthy

(Proverbs 19:23 KJV)  The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Again we see the phrase “fear of the Lord”.  I noticed something as I was looking into the Hebrew.  Every time that this word for “fear” (3374) is used as a noun in Proverbs it is part of this phrase.  Maybe I saw it before.  Maybe I mentioned it before.  It stands out to me today.

Proverbs, the book of Solomon’s wisdom, always links fear with the Lord.  It is always considered healthy.  It is good to fear things that are worthy of fear.  Think of what it is like to come into the presence of an eternal, holy God.  Think of what Isaiah said,
(Isaiah 6:5 KJV)  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Only the touch of God, through a seraphim, changed this reality. 
(Isaiah 6:7 KJV)  And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
What was done as a special dispensation to Isaiah in a vision is now available through the washing of the blood of the Lamb and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

So?  Fear as you fear not.  And remember, “Greater is He that is in you...”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

How Are Your Walls?

(Proverbs 18:11 KJV)  The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.

This verse is a contrast to verse 10.  Let me give you that again.
(Proverbs 18:10 KJV)  The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
The contrast is in the object of our trust.  Notice that the righteous put their confidence in the name of the Lord.  Here we have rich people staking their destiny on their “wealth” (1952).  One is safe.  One lives in their “conceit” (imagination NASB) (4906).  I like both translations here.

Remember that the issue is not wealth but trust.  Wealthy people can be godly and faithful.  Poor people can be consumed with a lust for riches.  We are to put our trust in the Lord.

So?  Does the economy bring you to a point of panic but the current attack on the beliefs of the Catholic church make you say, “So what, I’m not a Catholic”?  Maybe you are putting your faith in the wrong place. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Getting the Kinks Out

(Proverbs 17:20 KJV)  He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.

What is a “froward” (crooked NASB) (6141) “heart” (mind NASB) (3820) ?  It is still in the dictionary but most of us will need to look at the modern translations.

Do you remember the nursery rhyme and song about the crooked man?  I Googled it and the version I remember was nowhere.  But on Wikipedia there was an interesting note.  It was labeled “Cultural references.”  It had a list of places the concept was used.  Strangely, or not so strange, it had no mention of the book of Proverbs where it is a common concept.

The Bible teaches that people have a “crooked” (6141) “mind” (3820), or “froward heart.”  Our orientation is toward “evil” (7463a).  We all start out that way.  We are sinners.  Some respond to the call of God and His grace straightens us out.

So?  Make sure that you have been straightened out.  You can’t do it.  Education can’t do it.  Therapy can’t do it.  Only the grace of God can unkink us.  Got crooks? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Be Nice. Be Helpful.

(Proverbs 16:24 KJV)  Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

We face a genuine temptation here.  We want to be nice.  We want to be nice so bad that we desert our integrity.  Make sure that your “pleasant” (5278) words are true.  I know it doesn’t say it here.  I know this admonition does not apply when your wife asks you if you like her new dress.

Notice it calls them “sweet” (4966) and “healing” (4832), both, not just one. 

And remember that honeycomb does not a balanced diet make. 

So?  Do your best to show courtesy.  Live a life of love.  Be a healing influence.  Sometimes that will be nice, as here; sometimes surgical.  Only the Holy Spirit can direct you on this. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Consultant Fees

(Proverbs 15:22 KJV)  Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

It is desirable to seek “counsel” (consultation NASB) (5475).  This is hard for me.  I don’t mind discussing and debating but in the end I want to do it my way.  This is a weakness.  It limits our growth.

We see this in history and culture.   Recently in my history class I was reviewing how Commodore Perry forced Japan to open its ports to trade and foreign influence.  Japan had made the decision three hundred years before to isolate itself.  That one decision cut them off from the ideas and cross-pollination of other cultures and a civilization that was on a par began to fossilize and stop developing.  China made a similar decision and went from being possibly the most advanced culture to being one of the most backwards.

The same can be true in our personal and spiritual lives.  This is why corporate worship and fellowship is so important.  Those of us who are loners need to be reminded of this.

So?  Get involved.  Learn to share.  Learn to listen.  Grow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who’s the Snob?

(Proverbs 14:21 KJV)  He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

What kind of snob are you?  As believers it is easy to get into a “holier than thou” mode.  In what ways do you feel superior?  I have lost some weight so I need to be careful about looking down my nose at people who look like I looked last year.  I drive old cars so I tend to label people in new cars as materialistic.  I am good looking..., well, maybe not.

Here the focus is the “poor” (6035).  For you that might hit home or you might have another measuring stick.  The key is that we are to be “gracious” (2603a) to the people around us.  That applies even to sinners.  The ones we are supposed to confront are in the pew next to us but that is not the issue here.

So?  Remember how Jesus answered the question, “Who is my neighbor?”  He picked the most despised group to set out as an example.  Go Ye and do likewise. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Long View

(Proverbs 13:22 KJV)  A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

Why do we work?  Why do we save?  Why do we conserve?  There are a number of statements in the Bible.  First and foremost is to provide for our families.  Paul said,
(1 Timothy 5:8 KJV)  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Then we have a responsibility to those less fortunate than ourselves.
(Ephesians 4:28 KJV)  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
And here we are reminded that our concerns go beyond our children.  We are to think in terms of generations.

So?  Take the long view, in all areas of life.  In your investments.  In your voting.  In your integrity.  Think of your grandchildren. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Desire for Diligence

(Proverbs 12:24 KJV)  The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

This theme comes up again and again in Proverbs.  It goes against so much in our modern philosophy, even in the church.  The message of proverbs is that hard work brings rewards and sloth also brings rewards.  It is just that the rewards are different.

The “diligent” (2742a) will “rule” (4910).  They will be in charge.  Do they rule because they are diligent or are they diligent because they rule?  Does it make any difference?  Making allowance for the occasional genius, the guy who is the son of the company founder and for “luck,” who gets promoted?  Is the road to the top more available for the people who put the effort into an education and continue to work hard or for the ones who always came late, left early and took long breaks?

So?  Diligence is a character trait that has God’s approval.  It is a character trait that can be developed.  It represents the desire of your heart.  Get focused and live in obedience. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Sure Thing

(Proverbs 11:21 KJV)  Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.

We have an assurance here.  I hesitate to call it a promise because promises to me are positive and this is negative.  The “wicked” (evil man NASB) (7451a) will be punished.

What this does not say is that you will be aware of their punishment.  One of the reasons that Halloween is growing in popularity is that it gives people a chance to pretend.  They can put on a mask and become what they are not.  In reality that is what every day focuses on.  It is hard to see through the facades people have.  How do you see what it is like to not be able to trust your spouse?  Most people “put on a happy face,” to use the words of a song from the past.

They may be the last to admit their suffering.  Remember that the popular culture is based on rejecting God and that means there is always a willingness to lie and deceive.  They reject truth so vehemently that they begin to believe the lie.

So?  Don’t rejoice in the suffering of others but be assured that it is here now and coming in the future.  Make sure that you know the truth and that it has set you free.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blessings and Work

(Proverbs 10:22 KJV)  The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

Compare this verse to verse 4. 
(Proverbs 10:4 KJV)  He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
Here it is the “blessing” (1293) of the Lord that makes us “rich” (6238).  There, it is hard work.  Well, which is it?  Might I suggest that it is both?

God gives the blessing because He is a loving God and controls all things.  How many times have we seen people do the same things and get different results.  As far as I can tell, I make coffee the same every time and it is different every time.  I am not suggesting that God is dipping His finger in my coffee grounds.  I am suggesting that there are so many ways that things can be influenced and we cannot tell.  God can and does.

Also, we are expected to work hard because it is good for us.  The Bible teaches that work is both a curse and a blessing.  Work makes us stronger.  Work makes us appreciative.  Work is medicine for sloth.

So?  Accept the blessing of God.  Work hard.  Bless Him through your attitude and actions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Blessing of Go

(Proverbs 9:6 KJV)  Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

As I was studying this verse I noticed that the word “go” (proceed NASB) (833) is sometimes translated with the idea of “to bless,” not in this verse but in other verses in the OT.  How would it read it we try a Pumice Pathetic Paraphrase on it and substitute “bless”?
(Proverbs 9:6 PPP)  Forsake the foolishness, and live; and let understanding bless you.
When we move away from doing things the way the world does them and turn to God’s ways we are blessed. 

So?  You have an invitation to the wedding feast of the lamb.  You have RSVP’d and are ready to go.  Remember that little slip of paper that had a map and directions?  Take it with you.  Follow it.  If you don’t you might miss the party.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

You Can’t Spend One Side of the Coin

(Proverbs 8:12 KJV)  I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

“Wisdom” (2451) is a package.  It must “dwell” (7931) with “prudence” (6195).  Sometimes we want to have part of the deal but not the other.  Won’t happen.  You see, one is part of the other.  If you reject prudence you are also rejecting wisdom.

We see this schizophrenia in other parts of our spiritual walk.  Some people like the idea of Jesus as Savior but really don’t want to meet Jesus as Lord.  Some people rejoice that they are saved by grace but don’t want to hear about the requirement of works.  Some claim to trust but refuse to obey. 

There is a card game called “Rook.”  It has four colors instead of spades and hearts and such.  Like many games, you must follow suit.  If someone leads yellow, and you have a yellow, you must play yellow.  You can’t play your trump and take the hand.  If you play trump anyway, you will win the hand but lose the game when someone finds out.

So?  Don’t try to cheat on God.  He wrote the rules.  He knows them backwards and forwards.  He also knows your heart.  Rejoice.  He loves you anyway. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Surprise! Surprise!

(Proverbs 7:22 KJV)  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

“Straightway” (suddenly NASB) (6597) we find ourselves in a bind.  Have you been there, between a rock and a hard place?  We tend to play the victim and it would seem that is what this guy is feeling.  I am sure that he would have defended his predicament by claiming he was trapped.  And he was.  He was trapped by his habit of making excuses.

Look back over the previous verses.  This adulteress led him step by step toward sin.  It is pretty obvious if you want to look for it.  How did I know to bring an umbrella to work today?  Well, for starters it was raining when I came out of the house.  Then there was the fact if was raining yesterday and the weather report was for continued showers.  I don’t know, maybe I was just lucky.

So?  What are you going to be “suddenly” aware of today that has been in front of you the entire time?  Hopefully nothing.  Turn on your radar.  Light your lamp.  Read your Bible.  Or be an ox. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Holiness Applied with Mercy

(Proverbs 6:30 KJV)  Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

This is a strange verse.  We are not to “despise” (936) a thief if he is desperate?   This seems to open doors that should stay closed.  Is morality relative?  Is it okay to steal if you are really needy?  This is one of the things I love about the being a Christian, it makes me engage my mind instead of falling into legalism.

First of all, this does not say that stealing is acceptable.  Read the next verse.  It does not let him go unpunished.  Sympathy does not rule out justice.

It says men don’t despise.  We cannot assume that God looks on it the same way.

What we have is an unchanging, eternal ethical standard that is interpreted with mercy and applied with grace.  God is not standing on the balcony of heaven with a thunderbolt in His hand just waiting to catch us in a sin.  He is slow to anger and mighty to save.

Just don’t expect Him to play games.

So?  Rejoice in God’s mercy and grace.  Tremble in His holiness.  Appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit to be the servant He wants you to be. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Worm in the Wood

(Proverbs 5:4 KJV)  But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.

What in the world is “wormwood” (3939)?  I am familiar with the term because C.S. Lewis named one of his demons “Wormwood.”  Since I am writing this and don’t like to be totally ignorant I looked it up in my software.  I found that it is a plant that “ has a bitter nauseous taste; but it is stomachic and corroborant.”  That helps a lot.  I kept looking.

Stomachic means “a medicine that excites the action and strengthens the tone of the stomach.”  Corroborant follows along:  “ A medicine that strengthens the human body when weak.”  It would seem that according to Webster, wormwood is bitter but helpful.  That is not the way it is used in the Bible. 

As I look at the different references in the Bible it seems that the bitter wormwood is usually served with poisonous water.  My imagination tells me that the wormwood either makes you want to die or covers up the taste of the poison.

So?  First, don’t accept the world’s definition of words.  Second, a life of sin makes everything bitter.  But you probably already know that.  Take the antidote and allow God to remove the bitterness. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Garland of Grace

(Proverbs 4:9 KJV)  She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

An “ornament” (garland NASB) (3880) of “grace” (2580) is a beautiful picture.  I like the NASB phrase “garland of grace.”  This is the grace that Noah found.  It is a picture that is completed in the New Testament with the coming of the Holy Spirit and believers that are saved and kept by the grace of God.  Here, it is wisdom that bestows this character trait.

I think this reflects a tradition that I know was common in the Greek and Roman world but probably was more wide-spread than that.  A simple crown of greenery was awarded as the prize to someone who was a great hero or won a great victory.  It was like the Medal of Honor given to American soldiers.  My understanding is that if a private receives the medal of honor, and is wearing it, generals must stand at attention and salute him.  Grace can elevate the most common to heights undeserved. 

Wisdom can do that for us, not to fulfill a desire for fame and recognition but to show that we live in obedience.

So?  Seek wisdom.  Let it change your vision and visage.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Eye-sometric Exercise

(Proverbs 3:21 KJV)  My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:

How do we keep “sound wisdom” (8454) and “discretion” (4209) in front of us?  The most obvious requirement is to decide to make it happen.  The Holy Spirit will move.  He will bring to mind what we need in a crisis but the implication here is that we are to organize our lives and direct our thinking in such a way to keep God and His ways in our minds.

One way to see this happen is to keep the written word open in front of you.  Remember that Bibles don’t open themselves and they don’t follow you around the house begging to be read.  You might program your radio to stay on a certain station, but again, that requires your conscious effort.

So?  Put in the effort.  The rewards are eternal. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Living in the Orchard

(Proverbs 2:22 KJV)  But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

Judgement will come.  The “wicked” (7563) will be “cut off” (3772).  Two observations on this.

First, evil exists.  This understanding makes us different from our world and culture.  Our schools teach that sin and evil are just misunderstandings that can be treated by professionals.  God says it requires His grace.

Second, this verse is not a call to rejoicing but to witnessing.  I do rejoice in the God of my salvation.  I praise God that I am one of the redeemed.  I also pray for opportunities to share the hope that is in me and that the Holy Spirit would go before me preparing hearts.  Romans 11 talks about this process of cutting off and grafting in.  Here is a key verse.
(Romans 11:23 KJV)  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Go read the rest for more understanding.

So?  Mourn and rejoice in the right understanding.  Witness and be used of God.  Go in grace today.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hidden Costs

(Proverbs 1:19 KJV)  So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

How have you earned your “gains” (1214)?  It really does make a difference.  The problem is not profit or wealth but the methods and motives.  This is a compound word, really “gains by violence” (1214).  Other places it talks about the importance of fair measures and integrity in business.  Here it talks about using force. 

If you look back a few verses it talks about robbers, shedding blood, living a communist life style.  Here it reminds you that those patterns of behavior “take” (3947) our “life” (5315).

So?  You are not stealing people’s lunch money?  Good.  Are you making false claims on insurance?  Are you demanding more medical procedures than you would if you were paying out of your pocket?  Are you threatening to sue if you don’t get your way?  Think about your motives and methods for gain.  Sometimes the hidden cost means it isn’t worth it.