An Idea Borrowed

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

There Is Poor, and Then There Is Poor

(Proverbs 31:20 KJV)  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

Solomon continues to list the qualities of a “virtuous woman” of the KJV or the “excellent wife” of the NASB.  These qualities should be reflected in all of our lives, not be used to club our wives. 

There are several different words used for “poor” (6041) in Proverbs.  This one is for the poor of the poor.  This refers to those who are not only out of funds but have been beaten down by life.  These are the defeated.  To these people the believer “stretcheth” (extends NASB) (6566) the “hand” (3027) of encouragement, counsel and comfort.  These people don’t need money.  They are beyond that.

This kind of help takes more time than giving a few bucks.  It requires us to invest our lives and give up our leisure.  It means taking someone to a job interview and sitting with them in the waiting room and offering a final “‘at-a-boy” as they head through the door.  It costs us in a way that has no dollar signs.

So?  Don’t give in to the temptation to just give someone on the corner a dollar.  Take them through the door, buy them some food, sit down and talk.  If they are not interested in that then maybe you can find someone better to invest in.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Wonder of It All

(Proverbs 30:18 KJV)  There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

In verse 15 Solomon talks about things that do not satisfy.  Here he goes to the other extreme, things that cannot be grasped.  Neither is understood.  One is a blessing.  One is a curse.  One spits in the face of God and says, “Why aren’t you doing more for me?”  One lifts blessings and worship to God and says, “What a glorious world!” 

We can chose which side of the coin lands up.  At least I find I can.  It takes me a wee bit of time on some days.  I can start wallowing in self-pity and begin to really feel sorry for myself before I give the Holy Spirit a chance to break through.  I can make choices which drown out the voice of God.  I can go so far as to turn my back on the expressions of grace offered to me.  Those are all choices. 

God is patient.  If we refuse to see the glorious sunset, He will throw in a full moon.  If we don’t hear the wind in the trees, He might send the pitter-patter of raindrops. 

So?  Stop and listen.  Look around and inside.  Give the “wonderful” (6381) a chance to speak to you. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Management by Anger

(Proverbs 29:22 KJV)  An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

Again Proverbs takes aim at the lack of self control.  Think about the areas in which this is addressed:  Food, alcohol, spending, sex, leisure and here we have anger.  Lack of self control makes it unpleasant for people to be around us.

Here the focus is the “angry” (639) “man” (376).  In English you will notice that the word “man” is used twice in this verse.  In Hebrew it is two different words.  I did not notice this at first.  The first word “man” (376) is the generic word.  It is how we would use the word in everyday talk.  The second is more specific (1167).  It is used to indicate a position of power or authority.  It hints at people who use their position to abuse their authority.

So?  Are you in a position of authority?  This could range from parent to president.  Do you use anger as a tool of control and manipulation?  That is a “transgression” (6588).  That means sin.  Be honest with yourself.  Others may be afraid to. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Maybe You Don’t Deserve No Respect

(Proverbs 28:21 KJV)  To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.

God has no place for “respect (5234) of persons (6440)” (partiality NASB).  We forget that this cuts both ways.  The poor are not noble, but neither are the rich.

Being impartial is not the same thing as being indiscriminate.  It used to be that discrimination was a valuable character trait.  Thus you might have a discriminating palate.  That meant you knew good food from greasy spoon productions.  The word fell out of favor when it began to be modified by adjectives that changed the reasons for making choice, such as “racial discrimination.”  Perhaps a more accurate phrase would have been “racial partiality.” 

“Partiality” (5234/6440) infers that you are using personal standards to judge value.  This is okay in choosing the restaurant you want to visit tonight.  It is not acceptable in deciding who gets to live in your neighborhood.  Discrimination is the legitimate decisions we make based on experience and wisdom.  Thus it is wrong to exclude someone from your apartment because of skin color but right to refuse to rent to a pedophile. 

So?  There are reasons to make decisions.  Make sure that you don’t judge people on grounds that are not Biblical.  Let experience, interpreted by wisdom and led the by the Holy Spirit be your guide. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sorry, PETA

(Proverbs 27:26 KJV)  The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.

God put mankind in charge.  I know that a lot of animal lovers have trouble with that, you know, the whales are our brothers and all that.  That is fine for the pagans but ignores the Biblical hierarchy of creation.  It is clear.
(Genesis 1:26 KJV)  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
I can’t think of any place in the Bible that deals with animals as pets.  They are to be herded, sheared, milked, eaten and sacrificed. 

I also can’t think of any passage that forbids pets.  As in many parts of our lives the point is to not make anything but God into a god.  Keep things in perspective.  Organizations like PETA and the Sierra Club might have some decent concerns hidden in their midst but they tend to become worshipers of the creation and not the Creator.

So?  Beware.  Embrace wisdom.  Follow God’s priorities, not those of the politically correct and politically powerful.  Blessings.  Now go take your dog for a walk, you need the exercise. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Morphing the Picture

(Proverbs 26:11 KJV)  As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

This is not a pretty picture.  It is a realistic picture, because it demonstrates the character of dogs.  It illustrates for us why the dog is not thought of as a noble creature in the Middle East.  It does not explain why the dog has become “man’s best friend” in the West.  Didn’t the shepherds of Israel understand that a dog could be trained to guard and guide?

Why the change?

I don’t know.  Maybe you do.  What I do know is that this reminds us that the despised can become the useful.  The vomit-eating dog can become the guard of the flock.  By extension the “fool” (3684) can become the child of God.  It isn’t a guarantee.  It doesn’t even seem likely.  It is called redemption.  Remember what Jesus said,
(Mark 2:17 KJV)  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
So?  How is your day going?  How is your life going?  Are you still on the level of the rejected dog or have you opened your heart so that the Good Shepherd can turn you into a sheep dog.  I hope the picture is pretty. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Good Splash, Bad Splash

(Proverbs 25:25 KJV)  As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

Timing is everything.  Well, maybe not everything.  We don’t want to get carried away in the moment.  But, timing is important.  You can throw “cold” (7119) “water” (4325) on someone’s idea and destroy their enthusiasm.  You can throw cold water on the face of your sleeping brother and generate a lot of enthusiasm.  You can offer a cup of cold water to a worker on a hot day and be greeted with enthusiasm. 

Are you sensitive to other people?  Do you rub salt in their wounds or give them “good” (2896a) “news” (8052).  I don’t expect to be perfect.  I don’t think you will be perfect.  That is not an excuse to keep from doing better.

So?  Listen with your heart as well as your ears.  You have the ultimate good news to share.  Try to be the cup of cold water that is greeted with joy, not horror.  Listen to the Spirit.  Blessings as you create a splash. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Calamity Is More Than Jane

(Proverbs 24:22 KJV)  For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

Who is Solomon warning?  The answer is in the previous verse.  Keep in mind that Solomon did not put in the verse markers or punctuation.  Those are a later addition. 

So who is it that faces “calamity” (343)?  People who glorify in change.  People who are so enamored with the new that they throw out the old without serious thought.  You have heard how on the TV news is it said, “If it bleeds, it leads.”  These people say, “If it’s new, we do.”

As I wrote last month, the new is not automatically bad.  Computers are a real improvement over typewriters.  That is true today when computers have been refined.  I am not so sure the first ones were much help to the early users.  But lack of discernment can bring all kinds of problems in our lives. 

Perhaps the word “calamity” is not in your vocabulary.  The translations I have on my computer use “disaster,” “destruction,” and “downfall” to translate the idea.  It is bad.

So?  Make the established truth the foundation and the roadmap.  Try new gizmos with caution.  Be ready to backpedal.  Act like you are climbing a mountain and keep three points solid when you are checking out the new grip. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Book Is Not Out

(Proverbs 23:24 KJV)  The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

I am still waiting to write my book.  Years ago I decided that when my children reached the 30 year mark I would write a book about parenting.  My wife has done a good job and I should be able to put it in print.

So far our children walk among the”righteous” (6662).  I see no reason to think that will change.  I “rejoice” (1523) over this on a regular basis.  God is good and faithful.

In the process of our walk I think there are a lot of things I could share about raising children but age has brought a bit of wisdom.  We are all different.  Yes, there are eternal principles that need to be taught but they often have a different pacing and sequence for a different person or parent.  Most people have enough gurus in their lives, they don’t need one more.  I am putting off my book for a few years. 

So?  Watch, listen and read.  The clues to success in parenting and life are available and the Holy Spirit will teach you.  Watch the lives of people who produce fruit.  Listen to the things they say when they are not aware of it.  Above all, read the word and let God provide the lessons in His timing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Striking Example

(Proverbs 22:26 KJV)  Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.

If you start in the KJV you are probably wondering what it means to “strike hands” (give pledges NASB) (8628/3709).  This is a weird compound word.  The KJV is fairly literal but does not give us anything we can understand.  Maybe this was a kind of “high five” that was given to accept an agreement.

The second part of the verse explains Solomon’s point.  Don’t guarantee other people’s debts.  That is what it means to “become sureties” (6148).  This is another recurring theme in Proverbs.  Repetition reminds us of two things:  First, it is important.  Second, we tend to forget how important it is and violate the principle. 

So?  Be careful.  Be reminded that you are not supposed to be the FDIC of your personal world.  Even the Federal Government is finding that it cannot back every mistake made my individuals.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wicked Sacrifice

(Proverbs 21:27 KJV)  The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

A “sacrifice” (2077) can either bring atonement or it can be an “abomination” (8441).  If you doubt that then do a little searching in Leviticus.  You come up with verses like this:
(Leviticus 4:26 KJV)  And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
Some people say that the Old Testament system of sacrifice did not forgive sin.  Really?  Maybe you need to read it again.
(Leviticus 4:26 KJV)  And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
On the other hand, it can work the other way.  Phoney or casual sacrifice can bring the opposite results.  It can get us in deeper water.  It can turn up the heat.  It can make us an abomination.

So?  Does God expect the equivalent of sacrifice from believers?  I think so but it all becomes meaningless if we have not taken care of the business of salvation first.  Salvation is available.  Seek it, then get into the business of giving and doing. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pay Back Timing

(Proverbs 20:22 KJV)  Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

This goes against our nature, we want to “repay” (7999a) those who wrong us.  There is something in us that wants to get back at people.

Why is this a problem?

We piously talk about fairness and repayment.  It sounds really good but what we want in our hearts is to win, not tie.  Sometimes we are totally unaware of this feeling.  Sometimes we are just reluctant to admit it, even to ourselves.  It is in our nature to want to come out on top.

Because of that God has told us, “No.”  Let Him be the one who takes care of our personal sense of insult.  That does not mean that we are not concerned with justice in society but it does mean that justice is not a personal matter that lifts us up while putting others down.

So?  Take it.  Turn it over to Jesus.  It will pay off in the long run.  Come to think of it, it should pay off in the short run too. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

To Smite, or Not to Smite

(Proverbs 19:25 KJV)  Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

Are we really allowed to “smite” (5221) a “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b)?  I tend to think one class of scorners is represented by the “Biblical scholars” that inhabit liberal departments of religion.  They study to discredit God and to build their own egos.  Many of them are also in pulpits.

Maybe you like the NASB word, “strike.”  Perhaps you could go better with the old Douay-Rheims translations “scourge.”  Any way you want to translate it, the meaning is to deal with severely.  It is the word of warfare and punishment. 

Somehow we need to interpret this with the words of Jesus to turn the other cheek.  I tend to look at it as a question of protecting my dignity, where I must turn the other cheek, or dealing with a public menace, where scourging is too good. 

So?  Sometimes life is hard.  Sometimes we must make hard choices.  Sometimes we must do things that are unpopular.  Sometimes we must confront evil.  Pray for guidance. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Now and Later Is More Than a Candy

(Proverbs 18:12 KJV)  Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

One of the key words here is “before” (6440).  We have a choice in the direction of our future.  There is a time when we stand and face a fork in the road of our life.  Actually there are many such times.

God approaches us in many ways.  It starts in creation.
(Romans 1:19-20 KJV)  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
We are approached through the Sunday School class and the pulpit.  We are subjected to bill boards and tracts.  People witness to us.  We observe the lives of others.  We find a Gideon Bible in every motel room we have rented.

So?  That was before, this is now.  Are you haughty or humble.  What difference does it make?  Try on a choice between destruction and honor.  I hope you are on board. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is “Merry Christmas” the Same As “Happy Christmas?”

(Proverbs 17:22 KJV)  A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

This is a repeat of 15:13:
PRO 15:13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
It is common wisdom that attitude can have a “good” (3190) effect.  I guess the question of the day is “What can I do to have a ‘merry’ (joyful NASB) (8056) ‘heart’ (3820)?” 

Sometimes we can’t do much of anything.  We have hormones.  We face fatigue.  Weather happens.  But in that context we can make choices.  We can sense our moods and begin to turn our emotional weather vanes in a different direction.  Sure, the wind will keep blowing, but if we don’t start the process it will never change.

So?  Do what you can.  Change your focus.  Sing a hymn.  Read an uplifting Psalm.  Allow the Holy Spirit to begin to life you.  It will make a difference.  It has for me. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Weird Church

(Proverbs 16:25 KJV)  There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

We have all heard the church criticized because we withdraw into our little communities.  We all know little, ingrown churches.  This verse makes me think about that a little.  Maybe those churches are small and ingrown because they have been rejected by the world, not because they drove the world away.

The church I am currently attending would fit into the category of small, ingrown and full of misfits.  It is mostly old people with strong opinions.  It would be a stereotype of “why the church isn’t growing.”  Yet if you get to know them they are one of the most loving, caring, helping people I have ever been around.  If I were in town and needed help I would call them and someone would respond.  I have heard it from people who have been helped.

I would offer the suggestion that one reason they are not growing is because too many of them have refused to conform to the world and follow the way of the world.

Just a thought.

So?  Things are not always what they seem.  What is the way of Jesus in the choices you must make today?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Phones Need Apps, Believers Need Apt

(Proverbs 15:23 KJV)  A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

I am afraid this is one time I will need to give you the translation from the NASB.
(Proverbs 15:23 NAS77)  A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!
The word “apt” in the NASB is the word “mouth” in the KJV.

I had a professor once who said there are only two ways to get out of financial difficulty:  Earn more or spend less.  It is still true today but people don’t want to hear it.  Too many people think they can borrow their way out of poverty.  Too many people think someone else will pay for what they want.  They find no “joy” (8057) in an “apt” (6310) “answer” (4617).  We want happy endings without paying the piper.  One key to finding good answers is being willing to accept truth.

A man who used to attend our church was offended by the preaching.  His complaint?  It was too negative.  It made him feel like he was not a Christian.  Hmmmm....  I accept it is not my place to judge but if I kept hearing things that made me question my salvation, I would want to do some serious thinking and searching.  I would search my heart and I would search the word.

So?  Have you heard any answers that you didn’t like lately?  Take a second look.  It is possible that the problem isn’t in the answer but the willingness to hear. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Starting a Foundation

(Proverbs 14:24 KJV)  The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.

You probably got this verse right the first time you read it this morning.  I wish I could say the same but I must confess that my first reading was totally off.  At first I thought it was comparing the rich and poor.  I thought it was calling one “wise” (2450) and the other fools” (3684).  Both words are there but that is not the dynamic. 

This is comparing the wise with the foolish.  That is a different equation.  People who are wise may be financially wealthy but there is no correlation.  That is not the “riches” (6239) that are being emphasized.  The wealth that is found here is in a life well lived.  It is worn as a reputation based on a character saturated with the principles of God.  It is an environment that shows the result of not acting like a fool in the daily decisions we make and priorities we follow.

So?  Take your pick.  Will it be wisdom or foolishness?  Will it be gold or pot metal?  The future waits.  The foundation is being built starting now. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Farmer Talk

(Proverbs 13:23 KJV)  Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.

The potential for nourishment is in the “tillage” (fallow ground NASB) (5215b).  This is a term that may pass over the heads of us non-farm people.  One of the issues of farming is the possibility of wearing out the soil.  Think of the soil as a portfolio of all your assets.  It contains all of the resources needed to produce and allow people to thrive.  What happens in your life if you are always withdrawing and never depositing?  What happens if you live on your principle instead of your interest?  There comes a day when you go bankrupt.  The same is true of the soil. 

One way that soil is renewed is by allowing it to rest.  Give it a year to not produce crops.  It will pull nitrogen from the air.  Mysterious processes will take place that renew it.  Sometimes you need to let things take a rest.  Don’t take that route.  There is a better way to renew the soil.

Change what grows.  You can renew the soil by planting something different that restores what has been removed.  I understand that crops like peanuts will restore what the corn or cotton takes out.  Apply that to your spiritual life.  That is one of the reasons why the Bible has so many different books.  It gives us a variety so that when we come back to the book or Romans it is fresh and new to us.

So?  I am focusing on Proverbs in this blog.  If that is all you read, maybe it is time to go to one of the gospels.  Allow the Holy Spirit to make fresh something you thought you had down pat. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Heavy, Heavy, Hangs over Your Heart

(Proverbs 12:25 KJV)  Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

This is such a simple statement.  Lets break it down a little bit.

“Heaviness” (anxiety NASB) (1674) is an issue in our lives.  This word is translated many different ways in different Bibles.  We have “care, worry, and grief” in addition to the KJV and NASB.  We have things to worry about.  How do we keep them from dragging us down?  Jesus said,
(John 14:1 KJV)  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
That seems simplistic but there is a key factor we need to address.  Much of our worry is a matter of choice.  We dwell on the problem and allow it to eat at us.  Jesus is saying, “Change your focus.” 

This takes us to the meaning of belief and faith.  It means to put our trust and confidence in something.  It means to let go of it and get on with life.  Am I concerned about cancer?  Yes, but I don’t let it dwell in my mind.  Am I concerned about my children?  Yes, and I make them objects of prayer, but I don’t sit around wringing my hands in desperation.

So?  Trust is a habit.  Habits don’t develop over night.  Get started on this one.  Think of the glory of God.  Think about the forgiveness of your sins.  Get your mind on trusting.  Live it, starting now. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Scatter Brained

(Proverbs 11:24 KJV)  There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

We are in an extended set of verses that compare what the previous verse calls the righteous and the wicked.  There are many applications that I will try to touch on over the next few months when we come to this chapter. 

First, it would seem that part of righteousness is being generous and willing to share.  The righteous “scatters” (6340).  This is the simple meaning of the word.  The picture that comes to my mind is of the sower that Jesus talked about in the parable of the soils.  The farmer walks across the field taking handfuls of seed and casting it out in a broad pattern.

What this is saying to me is that I am sometimes (all the time) too OCD about my charity.  I am obsessed with making sure that I give to the most deserving.  The problem with this is that I can often end up not sharing at all.  For someone like me, scattering is a practice I need to learn.  You might have the opposite problem and need to target things more.

So?  If you are like me, learn to be more generous with the blessings that God has given you.  If you are already good at sharing, then rejoice. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How about Them Dodgers?

(Proverbs 10:23 KJV)  It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

What is the OT concept of “sport” (7814)?  It is interesting to me that the word is used in the King James Version of 1611.  The idea of sports is not new or modern.  So how did Solomon see it.  First, note that it is not condemned categorically.  Notice it is practiced in this verse by actions of both “wickedness” (2154) and “wisdom” (2451).  The definition I have for this word is “laughter, laughing stock, mocking, derision.”  That seems negative to me but so much of what goes on is based on context. 

Sport is what you enjoy doing.  If you are a “fool” (3684), then you enjoy doing evil.  If you are “understanding” (8394) then you enjoy wisdom. 

So?  Check out your daily itinerary.  What kind of activities do you enjoy.  Maybe it is time to do some adjusting.  Maybe it is time to do some repenting.  Maybe it is time to let the Holy Spirit change your heart. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ignorance or Motivation?

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

One of the great mysteries of teaching is trying to get past the statement of students, “I don’t 'understanding' (998).”  I have explained, put the directions in writing, demonstrated how to do it and answered questions.  People are working and producing.  I notice one student doing her nails or filling in all the “O’s” on his paper.  I tell them to get to work.  They respond, “I don’t know what to do.”

Really?  Really?  Maybe they  don’t want “understanding” (998).

Why don’t we forsake foolishness and walk the Highway of Holiness?  I will grant you sometimes there are real issues and ignorance.  Will you grant me that sometimes we just don’t want to understand?

So?  The ball is in your court.  It is always in your court but remember that you are not in competition with me or anyone else.  God is the line judge.  Carefully examine your heart and mind and honestly ask if the problem is understanding or motivation. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Government Authority

(Proverbs 8:15 KJV)  By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.

One of the Biblical truths I struggle with is hinted in this verse.  It is the idea that government is established and legitimized by God.  Consider the words of Paul:
(Romans 13:1 KJV)  Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
The NASB translates “higher powers” as “governing authorities.”  Governments are ordained by God.  That is hard enough to accept here where we have a say in things.  I can’t imagine how that stuck in the craw of the Christians in the Roman Empire or Nazi Germany.  How would you like to be a Christian in Iran?

There are aspects of God’s sovereignty that I do not understand.  I guess that is why He has the job.  There is a qualifier to this in the next verse, but that is for another day.

So?  It is acceptable to question and struggle for understanding.  The key is to not let the things we don’t understand keep us from living the things that we do.  Plow the field that is yours, not the one you don’t own.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Be a Keeper

(Proverbs 7:1 KJV)  My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

In the first two verses of this chapter we are told to “keep” (8104) two times.  It has the idea of growth and points out our personal involvement in our spiritual maturing.  The word has the idea of being alert and watchful.  In a sense it means that we are to post a part of our mind to guard duty.  The enemy is out there and we need to acknowledge that as a fact.

So?  Are you on cruise control?  That is dangerous in congested traffic and life is congested.  Put both hands on your spiritual wheel and keep checking your mirrors.  He who drives, and lives, defensively arrives at the destination sitting up, not on a stretcher.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Paper Cuts and Death

(Proverbs 6:33 KJV)  A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

Sin has consequences.  The specific sin being dealt with here is adultery.  For Christians adultery is sin at any time.  Even our culture will draw the line at cheating on your wife.  Of course they make exception is you are the hero of the story and your wife if a shrew.  Keep in mind that God does not go “wink, wink,” smile knowingly and say, “I understand.”

Sin causes “wounds” (5061).  Sin brings “dishonor” (disgrace NASB) (7036).  The wound may be small.  A seventh grader can have his life put on hold by a paper cut.  But every wound breaches the body’s defenses and allows disease to penetrate.  Wounds fester and the resulting infection can bring death.

So?  Avoid sin.  It can be done.  When you fail, repent.  God doesn’t play games but He is anxious to restore and empower those who are seeking to live in obedience. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Two-Edged Guru

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

The previous verse tells us the words of the strange woman, or adulteress, are sweet and smooth.  Don’t be deceived.  Those same slick words become cutting and “sharp” (2299) in the end.  We see reference to the two-edged sword.  This is a picture that we don’t experience in our society.  We tend to think of it as a tool that cuts both ways.  The emphasis in Solomon’s time was a tool that was deadly.

Listening to the wrong people can lead to disaster.  It can handicap you in the short term and send you to hell at the other extreme. 

So?  Pick your gurus with great care.  Make sure they are the wisdom of verse 1, not the stranger of verse 3.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Production Quota

(Proverbs 4:11 KJV)  I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.

Age and position bring responsibility.  What father has not “taught" (directed NASB) (3384) his son?  What older sister has not tried to advise her younger sibling?  It is natural.  It is a tendency given by God.

It is not always a matter of more years.  Sometimes it is simply more experience or knowledge but we are expected to share the “wisdom” (2451) we have. 

That wisdom has a direction or result.  It helps the recipient to be “right" (upright NASB) (3476).  Be reminded that there is a right and a wrong.  There is a difference between what is common and what is moral.  Godly advice will lead people toward righteousness not acceptance.

So?  Prepare your contacts by your example.  Speak wisdom.  Produce righteousness. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sleeping It Off

(Proverbs 3:24 KJV)  When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

Today, for me, this verse takes on a special meaning.  Usually it speaks of going to bed and fear of the dark.  As I write I am hours away from the grave side of a family member.  I think of the time before death made a visit.  Figuratively speaking we are looking at when we “lie down” (7901).  We are talking about the final “sleep” (8142).

We shed some tears but we shared more laughs and smiles.  Are we weird?  No more than the normal Christian.  One the memories shared was the way in which the prospect of death was not recognized with fear but with hope.  Jesus conquered death.  It is just a point on our journey.  Yes, there are “Goodby’s”, but there are also “Hello’s.”  There are separations but there are also reunions. 

For all of us death is also “sweet” (6149) because it is encased in hope.

So?  I hope you share that hope.  I changes the way you look at life...and death.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Holy Spirit Radar

(Proverbs 2:13 KJV)  Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;

By itself this verse is not a complete thought.  We are in one of those infrequent places in Proverbs where you have a long, developed thought.  This is a discussion of the kind of people that wisdom will help us avoid.  It starts with these verses,
(Proverbs 2:11-12 KJV)  Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:  To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
This is a warning.  There is a deliberate ingredient in evil.  People “leave” (5800a) the “paths” (734) of morality on purpose.  This is not warning us about the person who is a generic sinner and unrighteous.  That is covered other places.  This is talking about people who seek out the shady deal, who lie on purpose, who make the choice of evil.

Such people exist.  Wisdom will help you recognize them and avoid them.

So?  Keep your eyes open.  Keep your Holy Spirit Radar on at all times.  Think of how the attack on Pearl Harbor would have been different if the radar operators had actually believed what their sensors were telling them. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The End of the NCV

I have read through Proverbs in another translation.  This one calls itself The Everyday Bible.  It is an edition of The New Century Version.  You may know it better as the International Children’s Bible.  That title should tell you where this fits in for serious Bible readers.  It is a children’s Bible masquerading as a serious translation.

Inside the flyleaf of the cover it begins to explain where it is coming from.  It tells you it won’t be using words like “consecration.”  It then says, “Imagine how much clearer God’s message is when a word like ‘covenant’ is replaced with ‘agreement,’...”  Actually, no, I can’t imagine how that makes it clearer.  An agreement is something we make with a friend about where we will meet for dinner.  A covenant is a legally binding contract that has major implications.  For a children’s Bible, okay.  For a Bible for serious reading, no way.

One of the litmus tests I have for translations is the politically correct issue of gender neutrality.  This paraphrase fails the test.  The clear Hebrew word for “son” is usually translated “child” and so forth.  While in application I understand that this is implied, it is not what it says.  The reason this is important is that a son had an elevated status over just a child.  To call someone a son says they were important.

At places it removes beautiful word pictures.  For instance it takes
(Proverbs 4:9 KJV)  She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

(Proverbs 4:9 NAS77)  "She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty."
and changes it to

(Proverbs 4:9 NCV)“Like flowers in your hair, it will beautify your life.”
There are occasional verses that came across very well.  Compare these,
(Proverbs 11:7 KJV)  When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

(Proverbs 11:7 NCV) “When a wicked person dies, his hope is gone.  The hopes he place in his riches will come to nothing.”
If you are looking for a translation for your children this might have a place.  If you are serious about understanding what God is saying to you as a mature believer, go with a word for word translation.

The Everyday Bible, New Century Version.  Dallas:  Word Publishing, 1988.

Prep It Up

(Proverbs 1:21 KJV)  She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

Wisdom is present in all areas of life if we listen from the common, “concourse” (noise NASB) (1993) areas to the “gates” (8179) where the elders sit in dignified conversation.  We see similar statements about wisdom at least two other places in Proverbs at 8:1-3 and 9:3.  Strangely enough the same words are used of the seducing adulteress in 9:14.

How do we tell the “cries” (7121) of wisdom from the “words” (sayings NASB) (561) of seduction? 

First, we need to seek wisdom. 
(Hebrews 11:6 KJV)  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Second, we should be calling on the Holy Spirit to lead and teach.
(John 14:26 KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Third, we should be reading and studying to build a foundation for wisdom. 
(2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
So?  It is time to apply yourself.  Give God some handles to work with in your mind and heart.