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, January 31, 2013

Cottage Industry

(Proverbs 31:24 KJV)  She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

This gives us a little picture window into life as it should be.  Remember that this lady is described as a “virtuous woman” (KJV) or an “excellent wife” (NASB).  Again we see her generating income.  This is cottage industry and it is praised.  This is small business and it is given as an example.

It is assumed that she is doing this work herself.  There is no mention of sweat shops or employees.  Earlier it talked about her household and her maidens but there is no mention of that here.

Small business is given good press in the scripture.  This is free enterprise.  This is buying and selling in a free market.  It does not rule out large business.  This is a positive, not a negative.  The Bible does talk about economics and we do not find socialism and government control. 

So?  Be a faithful hard working citizen of earth and heaven.  Find a way to be productive whether you are an employee or the boss. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Feeble Excuses

(Proverbs 30:26 KJV)  The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

This is another one of those verses that make me scratch my head and go, “What?”  It is part of four verses with contrasts.  So what is the contrast here?

It can’t be that the “conies” (badgers NASB) (8227a) are hiding.  That would not contrast with being un-mighty.  Making the rocks a home would signify taking a strong defensive position.  This would not be hiding but planning ahead in an area that is not your expertise.

Am I stretching?  Sure, I am not Agur, the author of this Proverb.  But go with it.  We all have weak areas.  We have skills or situations that do not play to our strengths.  Get into the rocks.  Find a way to compensate for you weakness by planning ahead.  Position yourself so that you are as strong as possible.

So?  We will all find areas that we feel helpless.  Plan.  Act.  Trust.  Maybe God will find a way to praise us for our organizational skills. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“How Do You Like My New Dress?”

(Proverbs 29:5 KJV)  A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

Whom does flattery trap?  Who is the “he” of this verse?  Who is being warned?

I think this is a warning for both sides.  Today consider the one who “flatters” (2505b).  It would seem that flattery is wrong in this context.  I can’t be totally sure.  Maybe your neighbor needs to be trapped.  But this is not a glowing testimony.

The word has a root meaning of “smooth, slippery.”  I get a picture in my mind of the snake oil salesman who has the glib tongue.  He will say anything to make the sale.  There is an obvious inference of a lack of honesty. 

So?  Be restrained when it comes to flattery.  Our calling is to righteousness and this type of compliment is based on deception.  Simple straight speech is our way.  Of course that brings up the question of how you like your wife’s new dress. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Second Nature Sharing

(Proverbs 28:27 KJV)  He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

We have just come through the Salvation Army Bell Ringer Season.  A few Grinch Stores banned them but I still saw them around.  I have a hard time walking by one of their kettles without putting something in.  That is because I believe they are a worthy cause.

The believer “gives” (5414) to the “poor” (7326).  This is an assumption.  Being generous is one of the traits of a Christian.  Sharing should be second nature.

My only qualification would be to try to discern who is really poor.  Look for what used to be called the “worthy” poor.  They are usually hard to find because they are not standing on street corners with their hand out.  I don’t qualify giving to excuse us from helping.  There are plenty of genuinely needy around.  I am just saying that unless your resources are unlimited try to put what you have to the best use.

So?  Give.  Share.  Help.  And not just at Christmas time.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Open a Can of Rebuke

(Proverbs 27:5 KJV)  Open rebuke is better than secret love.

Two unfortunate realities are expressed here.  It would seem that both are common to the nature of man, not just modern culture.  The first is that we are afraid to express honest correction to those who are in error.

Too often we are afraid to express “open” (1540) “rebuke” (8433b).  Think about it.  What has become the most frequently quoted scripture of the 21st century?  “Judge not...”  Actually it is a fragment of a scripture and just as we cannot build a Bible from a fragment of Dead Sea Scroll, we cannot build a life of righteousness on an isolated scrap of the Sermon on thee Mount. 

One of the responsibilities we have as members of the body of Christ is correction of the brethren.  It is often ignored, frequently misused and subject to abuse.  It is also commanded.

So?  Don’t go around looking for people to correct but be aware that there are times when one believer must help another stay on track. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Biblical Affirmative Action

(Proverbs 26:21 KJV)  As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

In this verse we have a Biblical example of affirmative action.  Notice that Solomon speaks here of a “contentious” (4066) “man” (376).  This is the same word that is used repeatedly of the nagging wife.  When it comes to sin and righteousness, gender knows no bounds.

I have experienced my share of being nagged.  We all have.  I respond different ways on different days.  I find it very easy to succumb to the temptation to strike back.  I feel an overwhelming need to defend myself.  I call this a temptation advisedly.   That kind of response is sin.  This is the situation that Jesus is talking about when He said,
(Matthew 5:39 KJV)  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
This is for our everyday relationships.  It is an attitude we are to have with people around us, not with the robber coming through the window.

So?  Resist evil by turning the other cheek and not sinning.  An added benefit is that it will drive them crazy, but that is an unworthy motive. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Servants of the Narrow Gate

(Proverbs 25:7 KJV)  For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.

Jesus described the way to salvation as narrow, both the gate and the road.  That means we need to be careful where we walk.  This verse gets into another area where we need to toe the line.  It is a hard balance to find.

On one side we are earning recognition.  We are to be good scouts, you have probably heard the Scout Law, even if you didn’t know what it was.
A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,
Friendly, Courteous, Kind,
Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,
Brave, Clean, Reverent
It is like a listing of the fruit of the Spirit.  You can’t act this way without making a splash.  Millions of young men are working at this.

Yet we are to be willing to take second place.  That is the hard part.  Genuine humility is hard to maintain.  I think that is why we are reminded so often by our Calvinist brothers that we are dirty rotten, no-good sinners.  It helps us keep our perspective.

So?  Be willing to serve.  If you are moved into leadership or prominence, continue to serve.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep the balance and stay on the narrow road.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dis ‘Em

(Proverbs 24:23 KJV)  These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

We have an ideal in our American traditions that “all men are created equal.”  The point is that we are to be equal before the law, not that we have the same abilities or potential.  This is based on such truths as taught in this verse when we say we are not to “respect persons” (show partiality NASB) (5234/6440) in “judgement” (4941).

That is a good point to start but we cannot finish there.  It does not stop in the “justice is blind” mode.  If you look at the next verse you see that the teaching extends to the axis of wicked/righteous.  You will notice that the lack of bias only runs one way. 

The concern is the tendency of people, in and out of power, to give special privileges to those who can bribe or coerce.  It is a tendency to allow corruption and not judge evil.

So?  Evil exists.  Don’t ignore that by the plea of “judge not.”  That is a direction to correct our own actions not to stand up to the wicked.  We are to support the righteous.  We have choices to make. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Power of False Thinking

(Proverbs 23:7 KJV)  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

This verse reminds me of one of the banners on the wall at school.  It has been a long time since I bothered to read it but it goes something like, “If you can dream it, you can be it.”  Yesterday my daughter was sharing about some motivational speakers her company had brought in that talked about imagining the future to bring it into being. 

At first read this verse might seem to teach that.  Again I remind you of the three most important elements of Bible interpretation:  Context, context and context.  The context here is a person of undesirable character.  The vision is not a dream but a personality.  It is a revelation of the shortcomings of your heart.  It is an indictment.

The Bible teaches that our hearts are inclined to evil.  We need the touch of God.  We need the working of grace.  We need the power of the Holy Spirit.

We can be changed.

So?  Have you been changed?  Praise God.  Do you want to be changed?  Again, praise God.  Call on Him for continued support or a new touch.  He is listening. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

“I Owe, I Owe So Off to Work I Go...”

(Proverbs 22:7 KJV)  The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

I always liked that saying when I saw it on bumper stickers.

We live in a time and culture that condemns slavery but that attitude is merely a gloss.  Slavery has been a fact of life in every culture I am aware of.  Only in modern times has it been condemned and that condemnation is more an aversion to the word than the relationship.

You see, slavery is still alive and well.  I don’t mean the “peculiar institution,” although it is on the rise again in Africa.  I mean the condition defined in the Constitution as “involuntary servitude.”  There are many types and levels of “involuntary servitude.” 

How many of us fear an IRS audit, even if we have done nothing wrong?  How many worry about a police car that follows them for a distance?  How many of the government regulations that we live under did you have a say in?  Much bondage we can do nothing to avoid.

The advice here is to avoid the bondage that comes from debt.  The money lenders no longer sell our children or throw us into jail until our debts are paid, but they do put limitations on what we can do and how we can do it.  How many are not free to follow God’s leading because they must stay at a well paying but pointless job to pay the debts they have run up?

So?  Get out of debt.  Millions do it.  For most it is within reach.  Serve the Holy One not the collection agency. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Desiring Desire

(Proverbs 21:26 KJV)  He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.

If you compare translations you will find the the KJV seems to be much stronger than the NASB.  To get a clue, look at the marginal reading of the NASB.  It says that its word “craving” (183) literally means “desires desire” which gets us closer to the KJV saying “coveteth greedily.”  There are actually two words in the Hebrew but they are the same root so “desires desire” is a good approximation.  This is not the word that is used in the Ten Commandments when we are told to not covet, but by doubling it up it carries that idea.   

The problem here is not what we would normally consider “craving” (183).   I have a picture here of someone who is so “craving” (183) a personal satisfaction that he cannot listen or be productive.  He is totally into himself.  This is referring to the sluggard of the previous verse.

So?  We can desire some things too much.  This is not the desire for a candy bar in the middle of the day.  This is the willingness to set aside time with our children to watch a football game.  Measure you foot and see if the shoe fits. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Youth vs Wisdom

(Proverbs 20:29 KJV)  The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.

What is the difference between “glory” (8597) and “beauty" (honor NASB) (1926)?  In this case it seems to be the difference between what is given and what is earned. 

Young people tend to be stronger and faster than old people.  As an old person I know.  I was never particularly fast or strong, but I was more of each when I was young. 

On the other hand, there is a reason why we say we wish we could go back and do things over again.  It is only through experience that we gain the insight of wisdom. 

So?  We are what we are.  Take advantage of the strengths that you have now.  I tell the eighth graders I work with that I would never want to go back to their age, and I mean it.  I enjoy the senior discounts too much. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Price of Friendship

(Proverbs 19:4 KJV)  Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

This is a sad truth.  We all cannot have “wealth” (1952).  There is a simple reality that we all can see.  There isn’t much most of us can do to become wealthy.  We can increase our income a little and save a little but we are common working people for the most part. 

What kind of wealth is within our reach?  When I ask that I am not taking away from the fact that it is better to have enough than have a deficiency.  But how can this apply to each of us today?

In looking at this word I see part of the definition is “high value.”  That would seem obvious but get beyond your literal thinking and look for something to grab hold of.  Who do you value as friends?  Are you attracted to money?  I hope that is not your only standard.  I think your friends tend to be people who have “high value” to you.  That can come in many ways, unique to each relationship.

So?  Seek friends based on their value as persons, not their bank accounts.  That should be obvious but a little reminder never hurts.

Friday, January 18, 2013

On Guard

(Proverbs 18:9 KJV)  He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

It is so easy to become “slothful” (slack NASB) (7503).  In looking at the definition of this word I see that one of the translations is “relax.”  We live in a culture where leisure and relaxation have almost become rights listed up there with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We think we are owed time off.  We guard our weekends from just about everything except the “honey-do” list.

We need to be very selective of when we let down our guard.  On the freeway on a rainy morning is not a time to relax.  When your wife comes in with that look in her eye it is time to wonder what you did or did not do instead of turning on the football game.  When your culture is in a handbasket on a one way trip is not the time to sing about peace and love.

We cannot afford to get morally or culturally lax.  We have a calling.  Read the verse again.  If we go along to get along we will be destroying the people around us.

So?  Wake up and read the Word.  Live by it.  Apply it.  Be a world changer, not a destroyer. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bosom Gifts

(Proverbs 17:23 KJV)  A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.
As I was reading this month I was struck by the phrase “out of the bosom (2436).”  Adam Clarke says this refers to the way in which people of the area carry their wallet or purse tucked up close to their stomach area.  I like a little more figurative understanding here. 

As I look at the definition of the word, one of the nuances is “hollow.”  I think this is reflecting literally on the chest cavity but theologically it is a picture of the inner nature of human beings.  We are born in sin and inclined to evil.  This is what motivates us when we do things like accepting bribes or allow ourselves to be seduced by flattery.

When we listen to the sinful core, we produce wickedness.  As believers we can be freed from this body of sin.
(Romans 6:6 KJV)  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Jesus has promised us deliverance from this wickedness in our bosom. 

So?  Look to your heart, your “bosom.”  Is it in submission to the Holy God?  If not, seek a cure given by the Holy Spirit. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Lot of Blessing

(Proverbs 16:33 KJV)  The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

This seems to be a comment about gambling.  A “lot” (1486) is a way to let “chance” decide.  But this is not about winning the lottery or filling an inside straight.  This is about recognizing that God is in charge. 

You see, believers don’t believe in “chance.”  We believe in Providence.  We aren’t into being lucky, we are into being blessed.  We can talk about probability.  It is useful in science, math and insurance rates but every time you throw the dice, God is in charge of the results.

This can give us a real sense of security.  How many things in life are beyond our control?  I am a teacher in a godless, secular humanist institution.  I am a conservative living in California.  I am a father with children living on their own, in another state.  I drive on freeways with crazies and drunks.  I could go on.  We can all develop a list.  It doesn’t change the reality that we are in God’s hands.

So?  Don’t be foolish but trust that obedience will bring about the results God wants. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grip or Gripe

(Proverbs 15:16 KJV)  Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

As we begin 2013 it seems that we are moving into a time of fragile or disastrous economics.  Businesses are cutting back.  Jobs are disappearing.  Taxes are scheduled to rise dramatically.  The cost of health insurance is already being pushed up even faster than before. 

Don’t become a Pollyanna.  Plan and economize.  Do what is necessary but grab hold of a truth that comes from a nation scheduled to be divided, deported and persecuted:  Our hope is not in how much we have but in Whom we have.

Proverbs is not down on prosperity but it is big on priorities.

So?  Tighten your belt and lift up your eyes.  People have known joy and peace in the midst of hard times.  People have committed suicide in the midst of plenty.  Get a grip.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sinful Microprocessors

(Proverbs 14:29 KJV)  He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

Self control is important.  We are commended for being “slow” (750) to “wrath” (anger NASB) (639).  This speaks to me about how I react to the slamming I receive in some personal relationships.  It condemns me for my attitude as I drive. 

Self control extends to every area of life.  As I am writing I feel like throwing my computer across the room.  My internet connection is not perfect.  I am having trouble.  How can a mindless machine do this to me, its lord and master.  Easy.  My computer is also part of fallen nature.  Sin has infected its microprocessors. 

Why should I expect less. 

So?  Look around.  Everything you see is under the curse of sin.  Look in a mirror.  You should have been set free.  Have you?  Then allow the grace of God to help you control how you respond to the sinful world around you. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Before the Fall

(Proverbs 13:10 KJV)  Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

“Pride” (presumption NASB) (2087) used to be the arena of the wealthy and highborn.  It has now taken over the underclass.  We see more and more welfare people with the “attitude” of self.  In fact it would seem that this sinful view of life is taking over all classes. 

We are to be salt and light.  That means that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, cannot be seduced by the self-centered view of human nature that is being perpetuated by our culture.  Schools teach that we are fine, it is society that is corrupt.  There is a total denial of the fact that we are fallen creatures.  Our young are being taught to presume they are worthy.

So?  Consciously reject the values and standards of the world around you.  We are to be different.  We are called.  We are redeemed.  We are sanctified.  We are supposed to influence, not be influenced. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Finale Awaits

(Proverbs 12:7 KJV)  The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.

In isolation this verse could be used to teach that there is no Hell, but that those who die without Jesus will be “no more” (369).  That is the problem with quoting verses in isolation.  We know that eternity exists for both the “wicked” (7563) and the “righteous” (6662). 

But what does it mean to be “overthrown” (2015)?  This is a common word and the most frequent translation by far in both the KJV and NASB is “turned.”  This is a word of hope for those of us who are upright.  A Hitler or a Stalin comes along and does their damage.  To use an old saying, “This, too, shall pass.”  It will pass on this earth.  It will pass in eternity. 

It may not look like it today but evil loses. 

So?  Be patient.  Endure.  Grow.  The Book has been written.  The grand finale is already finished.  All that is left is the waiting. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Something Wicked, That Way Went

(Proverbs 11:7 KJV)  When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

After death there is no “hope” (8431).  I wish people would understand that.  As the commercial used to say, “You only go around once in life, grab for all the gusto you can.”  The only problem with that statement is that it ignores the real type of “gusto” we need to “grab.”

People go for what they can use now and ignore the long term effects.  Why else would we sit down and consume some of the foods that we eat?  One day of eating an entire meat lovers pizza would not make any difference but look at the menu for the next day.

What is “wicked” (7563)?  It is not defined by Adolf Hitler or the guy who votes different than you do.  Wickedness is a life lived to your own “expectation” (8615b).  It is doing it your way.  It is ignoring the counsel of God.

So?  Take the long range view.  Invest in eternity not ego.  Consider the dividends. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Pipe Wrench Is Not a Hammer

(Proverbs 10:29 KJV)  The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

We have the “way” (1870) of the Lord and the fear of the Lord.  They must go together.  Notice the implied threat here.  If you do not follow in God’s way you face “destruction" (ruin NASB) (4288).

Any project you have is easier and safer if you use the correct tools.  Using a pipe wrench for a hammer might get the job done, it also might ruin the wrench or injure you.  I used a circular saw to cut the end off my Christmas tree last month.  It worked but I was always wondering if I would slip and cut my foot off or something.

Using tools correctly means using them the right way.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the right way, it still exists.  It still is safer.  It still is more productive.

So?  Doesn’t it make sense to learn the right way to use your new tool, or your old tool?  It does to me, but I am one of those people who actually read instruction manuals.  It is not a bad technique for living life. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Teachable Spirit

(Proverbs 9:9 KJV)  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Being “just" (righteous NASB) (6662) makes you teachable.  I never thought of that in those terms.

First, the righteous have the humility to know they are ignorant.  You might call this a teachable spirit.  Believers are always seeking to know more whether it be the science of God’s creation or the intricacies of the government He has given us.  Because we know the Eternal we see how small our knowledge really is.

Second, the righteous have the courtesy to listen.  That is so simple.  We don’t insist on doing all the talking.  We accept that others have something to say.

Third, the righteous has the Holy Spirit.  One of His roles is to bring to mind the things we need to know in persecution.  You can’t bring to mind what isn’t there.  I guess He could, but that isn’t the point Jesus was making.

So?  You have much to learn today.  Every corner you go around will have new knowledge or refresher courses in past lessons.  Glory. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Geriatric Theology

(Proverbs 8:25 KJV)  Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

One of the attributes of wisdom is that it is eternal.  It is rooted in a fear of God.  It is nurtured by the knowledge of God.  From there it can grow in our lives.

Get a sense of perspective.  I don’t know if you are excited about our political situation or depressed.  It doesn’t matter in regard to this.

God is God.  Think about that.  You think the mountains are old?  Compared to you, yes.  Compared to God, well, there is no comparison.

But this is about wisdom.  Even it is older than the mountains.

So?  Some antiques are treasures; some, junk.  Which do you consider God’s wisdom?  Will your life demonstrate that today? 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Are You Trippin’?

(Proverbs 7:9 KJV)  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

This verse is describing a young man on the way to a meeting that will ruin his life.  This takes place at the end of the day, in the “dark” (darkness NASB) (653).  There is something about the dark that changes things.

If you are taking your wife out to dinner, she might like candle lit restaurants.  It is romantic.  True.  It also hides wrinkles and flaws.  It adds to the mystery.

When it comes to moral decisions, we don’t need mystery, we need clarity.  That means staying away from the darkness.  The most careful person will run into things in the dark.  Have you been their?  You were too lazy to turn on a light, or maybe you were just saving energy for the environment.  That didn’t save your toe when it rammed into something you did not see.  It doesn’t take away the bruises from a fall.

Some falls are embarrassing.  Some are fatal.  Most are in between. 

So?  In life walk in the light.  Jesus is the light.  The Word gives us light.  There is plenty of energy for this light so keep it turned on. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Don’t Sleep on It

(Proverbs 6:4 KJV)  Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

Context.  Context.  Context.

Isolated by itself this would seem to be a condemnation of sleep.  Not so.  This is a command to not use sleep as an excuse to avoid an unpleasant task.  Solomon is saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you should do today.”  You have heard that somewhere before.

If you have done a wrong, correct it.  Now.

So?  Don’t read about it.  Do it. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Steer Clear

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

How do we “remove” (keep far NASB) (7368) ourselves from evil?  How do we avoid situations and people that want to drag us down.  Two ways occur to me.  We often ignore one of them.

The first way to avoid something is based on direction.  This is something we can provide for by planning ahead and making choices.  If I live on the west coast, and I do, and I want to avoid the Pacific Ocean I can drive east or north.  If I must drive west or south I can limit how far I go.  Plan ahead. 

But what about the times you can’t plan ahead or the planning is out of your hands.  The second way to avoid something is pacing.  When I am on the highway and I see a drunk driver I can slow down or speed up.  I can avoid evil by pacing myself. 

So?  Assume you will be around evil today.  It is a safe assumption.  Do what you can to avoid it or distance yourself from it.  If neither of these ideas work then put on the armor of God and live in trust.  Victory to you. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Crown of Glory

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

What motivates you?  Don’t fall into the trap of superficial reading of scripture.  The Bible promises persecution and victory.  Usually we ignore the down and memorize the up.  Most of us are more motivated by a “crown” (5850) than servanthood.

What is the promise here?  Is God saying He is going to make us all beautiful?  Is He going to make us all royalty?  If all you read are the modern translations you might get that idea.  Even the KJV could make you think in those directions.  Here is where the old Good News Bible says it well.  I include verse 8 to give the vital context.
(Proverbs 4:8-9 GNB)  Love wisdom, and she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will bring you honor.  She will be your crowning glory."
The crown is wisdom.  The glory is hers. 

So?  Live today to bring glory to God, not to magnify yourself.  To lift yourself up makes you a tin-pot dictator of a banana republic.  To lift Him makes you an ambassador of eternity.  Seems simple.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What’s the Harm?

(Proverbs 3:30 KJV)  Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.

The first reason to avoid contention is there may be no legitimate reason.  The second gets more specific.  Has this person really “done” (1580) you “harm” (7463).  Remember when we were kids we used to chant,
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”
As we get older we realize that is not strictly true.  Words can hurt us emotionally.  Words can ruin our reputation.  Words can poison our opportunities.  The question is not, was it just words?  The question is, “Did it do any real damage?”

Even then remember that the standard for believers is forgiveness and turning the other cheek. 

So?  Can we contend with people?  Yes.  But I would suggest you run this double check.  And I would recommend that you forgive and move on, but I am not in your situation.  Pray and listen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Understanding Fear

(Proverbs 2:5 KJV)  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

One of the joys of paying attention to what God is trying to tell us is that we begin to “understand” (995).  We understand the love of God.  It is no longer just a word we hear, it is a gut level understanding.  We understand the grace of God, maybe not in all of its depth, but at a level that makes life livable and faith doable.  And this leads us to understand the “fear” (3374) of the Lord.  Fear is not just something we feel, it involves the mind and discernment.

Do you understand how wonderful this fear is?  Do you still find that a mystery?  Keep listening.  A healthy, well placed fear can give us a sense of security and rightness.  It can open up to us the glory of God in such a way that we realize that there is reason to fear but the reason is tempered by the reality of God’s love.  Remember,
(Romans 5:8 KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
So?  Fear and rejoice.  He is worthy of fear.  He is worthy of trust.  He is worthy of obedience. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Time to Change the Sheets?

(Proverbs 1:31 KJV)  Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

This is a sad picture.  It is the same as “You made your bed, now lie in it.”  If you have your Bible, look back a few verses.  We have verse after verse of God attempting to reach and help people.  We have verse after verse of people ignoring and disobeying.  Now it is time to pay the piper.

We are thinking of new beginnings.  New Years Day is totally arbitrary.  It is chosen for convenience by a culture.  Different cultures have different start days.  It is useful, though, because it reminds us to pause and reflect. 

Has it been a year of doing things your “way” (1870)?  Are you happy with the results?  Think seriously about it.  You probably don’t have work today.  Spend part of your leisure in serious thought and prayer.

So?  Do you want another year like the last?  Today you begin to lay the seeds for the “fruit” (6529) of next December.  Happy harvests start with careful preparation.