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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On the Road Again

For the next few days I will be in a situation that does not guarantee safe access to the internet.  I have posts up and ready to appear.  That should be no problem but I might not be able to respond to comments for a few day.  Maybe, maybe not. 

Grace and Peace.

Mass or Endurance

(Proverbs 31:25 KJV)  Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

“Strength” (5795) and “honour” (dignity NASB) (1926) are two qualities that we can admire.  The bad news is that they are too rare.  The good news is that they are available to everyone.  They come through discipline and daily application of attention.  Neither comes through a short term crash course.

Let’s look at the idea of “strength” (5795).  We generally associate this with muscles and the work they can do.  Modern culture is obsessed with how they look.  If you ever get into working with weights to develop your strength you learn there are two basic approaches to the discipline.  You can go for size or endurance.  If you are a body builder getting ready to strut your stuff on the beach you go for heavy resistance and fewer repetitions.  If you are looking for endurance and toning you go with lighter weights and more repetitions.  They produce different results.

So?  Spiritually speaking we need to go for endurance and toning.  That means a more regular and frequent approach to reading, prayer, meditation and study.  There are no overnight wonders when it comes to spiritual maturity. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Showing Must Go On

(Proverbs 30:32 KJV)  If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

Fools broadcast they are “foolishly” (5034a) “lifting up” (exalting NASB) (5375) themselves.  The figure of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh comes to mind.  Remember how he would say, “That’s what Tiggers do best” at almost any proposal.  He would then demonstrate that he did not have a clue.  We all know people like this.  They claim ability and even great skill.  You give them the chance to do something and they don’t even know where to start. 

The opposite is the desirable personality.  We are to quietly do the tasks assigned us.  We are to learn and train so that we can improve.  We are to produce and deliver.  Let others notice.

So?  Don’t expect them to notice.  They may give others the credit.  Our instructions are clear.  Show don’t say.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Who Is Listening?

(Proverbs 29:9 KJV)  If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

The KJV brings out a question that the NASB tries to answer.  In the KJV it is not clear who is raging, laughing or resting. 
(Proverbs 29:9 NAS77)  When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.
In the NASB it seems to be saying that the fool rages and laughs while there is not rest for any.  I think the vagueness of the KJV is more accurate. 

It would seem that the wise man is just as confounded as the foolish man.  The fool because it is his nature, the wise because he wants to help and is rebuffed.  It brings to mind one of those sayings that is attributed to the Chinese,
“Any fool can ask a question that a wise man cannot answer.” 
One of the requirements for a good answer is having it desired and accepted.

So?  Keep in mind that this applies to us when we are the fools.  How many times has God tried to show us an answer and we reject it because it is not what we want to hear?  I know it happens to me. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Focus Groups

(Proverbs 28:11 KJV)  The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.

Why is it that some poor people have a better grasp of what is important than some rich people?  That is the point of this verse in Proverbs.  What makes the difference?  I would say it is the focus of their lives.  This chapter is full of repeated comparisons between these two groups. 

The rich man has his focus on getting and keeping wealth.  That is considered to be the measure of value in his heart and mind.  It is only when the goal is achieved that the hollowness hits home.

The poor man is better off, not because he is poor, but because he “has understanding” (995).  Some poor people are just as blind as the rich.  They are fixated on wealth and frustrated.  Because they don’t have it, they can still assume it will bring satisfaction.  But poor people who have not been blinded by that grasp the true values of life. 

So?  What is your focus?  Are you still living under the assumption that more money will solve your problems?  My prayer is that you would get a perspective that helps you to understand what is really important. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Wife and Strife

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

The simple message that comes through here is that there is nothing you can do to control, help or reform some people.  Here the reference is to a nagging wife.  I would assume that the principle would apply to other people also.

There is a place in the New Testament where we get some advice about how to respond to this type of person.
(1 Peter 3:8-9 NAS77)  To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
What is interesting, and rarely pointed out, is that this is also in the context of a wife.  The point is that love goes the extra mile, turns the other cheek, etc.  It is the way we are called to live and respond.

So?  When someone goes after you, don’t respond in kind.  This is hard to do but necessary.  It doesn’t seem to “work” but it is obedience.  This is an area where living in faith is a struggle. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Storehouse of Destruction

(Proverbs 26:24 KJV)  He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;

No one can know what is really going on in your heart.  God does, but the person next to you can only deal with what they can see and hear.  So the person you see may not be the person that is really there.  A hater “lays” (7896) up all of the anger, animosity and desire for vengeance.  He is constantly building a foundation of hostility in his heart. 

Sooner or later it will bust out and be destructive.  There is nothing you can do about it when it comes from someone else.

You can do something about it in your own life.  You can review your heart and the feelings that are there.  Look for fears, anxieties, dislikes, hostilities or anything else that might indicate you are not right with an individual or a group of people.  If you are not sure you might want to share with a trusted friend.  Then take it to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and healing.

So?  If you just store it up, it can poison your personality, your daily life and your eternity.  Hatred is destructive and sometimes subtle.  Blessings on your journey.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lexus or Kia?

(Proverbs 25:21 KJV)  If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

Do we give our enemies the Cadillac Treatment or the VW Experience?  For those of you who are younger I might ask Lexus or Kia.  It means the same.  First, note that we are not supposed to let even our enemies starve to death.  This might justify some of the food programs offered as welfare and the poor are not our enemies.  Feed the hungry.  Clothe the naked.  Okay, got that.

But notice what you give them:  Staples.  The “food” (3899) of the NASB is “bread” in the KJV.  “Water” (4325) is water.  Bread and water sounds like the menu in solitary confinement but understand that bread was the basic food of the day.  Where we might talk about meat and potatoes, they spoke of bread. 

So?  We have a responsibility to make sure that people have the basics.  We do not owe them anything fancy, prime cuts of beef and Perrier, but it needs to be nutritious and balanced.  This might be a word we could share with those who are against all welfare and also to those who think it is okay to use their EBT cash cards at high priced markets and liquor stores. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Engage Brain

(Proverbs 24:32 KJV)  Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.

Notice the progression to learning.  First, he “saw” (2372).  This is an important first step to learning.  As I look at the Hebrew definition I notice that one nuance is to see with the intelligence.  We need to have our brain turned on when we try to learn.

I remember as a kid we used to have contests in Sunday School.  One competition was to see how many verses or chapters we could read in a week.  Of course we chose Psalm 117 and John 11:35.  We would read them over and over.  If the rules did not allow that we read as fast as we could.  I can guarantee that we learned nothing in the process. 

So?  Don’t try to see how much of the Word you can read in a day.  Don’t set a certain number of verses or chapters.  It will be a legalistic waste of time.  Read with your intelligence.  Use your brain.  God gave one to everybody. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Fool from Context

(Proverbs 23:9 KJV)  Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

From the context of the previous verses it would seem that a “fool” (3684) is someone who is consumed with getting rich.  It would not matter how wise he seemed in any other area of life, if his overriding ambition is to be rich, he is a fool.

Sooner or later a person who makes money his goal will make money his god.  That means that any chunks of righteous character will start to become servants of the dominant theme.  In that way things like honesty will become victims of expediency.  Justice will fall to circumstance.  Kindness will be set aside for later.  Holiness will become a joke.

So?  Make a good living.  Accept the promotion.  Change jobs.  There is nothing wrong with any of that, but don’t let the pursuit of wealth dwarf the important things of life.  Such priority is a one way ticket to Hell. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beware of Falling Chips

(Proverbs 22:4 KJV)  By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

“Humility” (6038) should be a character trait of believers.  I am talking about genuine humility, not the pride of self-effacement.  Many people put on the mask of unworthiness.  They seek position and praise while acting like it doesn’t matter. 

Humility comes from the heart.  It is an unconscious application of the Golden Rule.  It is a life of genuine love. 
(Philippians 2:3 KJV)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
There may be times when you are accused of arrogance when you are being humble.  Humility does not trump walking straight.  Humility does not stop you from standing up for what is right.  Real humility drives you to be different, not because you want to be different, but because you are.

So?  Follow Jesus and let the chips fall where they may.  Live for Him which means you will live for others. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gift or Bribe?

(Proverbs 21:14 KJV)  A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.

What is the difference between a “gift” (4976) and a “reward” (bribe NASB) (7810)?  They are the same action, giving something of value to another, yet seem to imply totally different things.  We see both words used here.  They are totally different words.  The first seems to be always translated “gift” and the second includes both meanings.

We must look to attitudes.  Why was the thing of value given?  What was your motive?  Did you give because you wanted something in return or did you give because you wanted to share?  One is frowned on in our culture.  The other happens on almost every special occasion. 

So?  What is your motive for giving to God?  This involves time, talent and treasure.  We need to realize that nothing we give has value to God absent the right attitude.  Cultivate the joy of giving. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pure Doings

(Proverbs 20:11 KJV)  Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

Our “doings” (deeds NASB) (4611) are important.  The attitudes need to be right.  The heart needs to be right.  The mind needs to be right.  The “deeds” must also be “pure” (2134).  Obedience is not an option.  Remember the words of Jesus,
(Matthew 7:21 KJV)  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Jesus talked about believing and faith.  Jesus talked about obedience and doing.  Jesus did not talk about grace.  Paul explained the importance and place of grace.  Both are important to understand but only obedience is under our control.

So?  Don’t live in disobedience thinking that grace will make it okay.  God will not be mocked, but He will be obeyed.  Do you need to turn a corner today?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Perseverance of the Old Saints

(Proverbs 19:27 KJV)  Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

As I have recognized, I am now officially and old man.  I get senior discounts and offers to help me take my groceries to the car.  I can live with that.  Sometimes I also get a bit of respect for my experience and knowledge.  Sometimes wisdom is assumed.  There is a danger in that for me, and I would assume others.

We can never stop learning or in the words of this verse, “cease” (2308) “to hear” (listening NASB) (8085) [shama].  There is a real temptation to rest on our laurels and coast.  I think that may be one of the reasons why people go down hill when they retire, they turn their brains off.  They retire intellectually.  The real tragedy is when we retire spiritually.  That can happen at any age.

So?  I wish I could get your attention with a cattle prod or something.  Read the word for yourself and, for eternity’s sake, listen.  Contemplate.  Assume that God has something to say to you.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Useful Trumps Sharp

(Proverbs 18:15 KJV)  The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

We live in a day and age that glorifies the flashy and the obvious.  Celebrities, the rich and the beautiful are looked to for their opinions.  What else could cause millions to hang on the words of a movie star when they talk about politics or world hunger?  They are known for being able to take a script and make it connect with you, not for their intellectual insight.  Perhaps our generation isn’t really different from the past.

To God the “heart” (mind NASB) (3820) is important but it is even more important to be “prudent” (995).  It isn’t your IQ but what you do with that IQ.  It isn’t your grades in school.  Can you tie your shoes?  Do you understand the importance of perseverance?  Do you discipline your food and alcohol intake?  Are you wise?

So?  You don’t need to be the sharpest tack on the block.  What you need to do is learn to use one of those cute little hammers to set the tack instead of a sledge hammer.  It saves fingers.  Figuratively it could save your future. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Household Cleanser

(Proverbs 17:13 KJV)  Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.

How far does your influence reach?  In this verse it talks about your “house” (1004).  A literal reading would picture the building you live in.  The definition of the word includes that but can also mean your body or your extended family.  If a person in your family does you evil you are both in the same house.  It effects everyone. 

Think of how it has been used in the positive.  Remember the Philippian jailer?  Remember what happened when he asked about salvation.
(Acts 16:31 KJV)  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
His act changed everyone.  In the same way evil can effect everyone in a family.

So?  Do it for the children.  Do it for the spouse and cousins and everyone else in you family.  Live a righteous life. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Now Is the Time to Listen

(Proverbs 16:13 KJV)  Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.

This verse continues to mystify me.  It helps to look at the context although in Proverbs that does not always apply.  From the surrounding verses and the feel of this section I think we must assume that Solomon is talking about righteous kings. 

Perhaps we can use this to decide whether a king is righteous or not.  How does he respond to words of righteousness.  Does he mock or embrace?  The same standard could be applied to our political leaders in a free society.  How do they respond to the ideas, words and values that are consistent with the Word of God.  Usually you can figure this out if you watch.  A simple and obvious example in our current culture:  When someone embraces gay marriage, they are not embracing God’s word.  This would apply to the city counsel as well as the presidency. 

So?  We have no elections in progress but we will.  Now might be a good time to start listening to what the people are saying who might run for office.  Don’t wait for the sound bites of the last week.  Who they have been is who they will be. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

How You Phrase Fear

(Proverbs 15:33 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

How can “fear” (3374) provide “instruction” (4148)?  The key here is to understand that it is the phrase and what the fear modifies that is important, not the word itself.  Every time this noun is used in Proverbs it is part of this phrase.

The attitude toward the teacher and the material has a lot to do with learning.  I know I have a hard time paying attention to someone once they demonstrate ignorance or hypocrisy.  I think of one pundit I used to listen to on the radio.  I considered him a reliable source.  Then I got my I-pod and began to download his complete show.  When I heard the whole thing instead of the snippets I got on the radio it became clear that he was a fraud.

God will never let us down.  His word will never leave us hanging.

So?  Make sure you have the right attitude when you read a good book or the Bible or listen to a trustworthy pastor.  You will never learn if you don’t listen to something. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Are the Critics Right?

(Proverbs 14:35 KJV)  The king's favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.

Have you ever asked yourself if they really do understand?  Maybe they are right.  Maybe you were wrong.  Maybe you did deserve the criticism you received.  I ask that because I could easily substitute “I” for “you.”  I must confess, I am not always the one who is a "wise servant" (acts wisely NASB) (7919a). 

Of course we all like “favor” (7522) more than “wrath" (anger NASB) (5678), but there are times when we deserve both.  I tend to reject both criticism and praise, at least on the surface.  Usually they don’t know enough about what they are talking about for me to worry about their negative comments.  On the other hand, I am a bit cynical about people’s motives and taste when they tell me I have done well. 

So?  I know I need to give more attention to positive and negative criticism.  I can learn from both.  Are you in the same boat? 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Heart Burn or a Sick Heart

(Proverbs 13:12 KJV)  Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

In this verse it might help to look at it from the New Testament point of view.  Think of the fact that the hope of the Christian is Jesus.  How often have you met people in misery yet they refuse to acknowledge that sin is the problem and Jesus is the cure.  They have a desire for peace, but they want it on their own terms.  Hope is offered to them but they reject what is offered.

 If we put off coming to Jesus, then we have sick hearts. 

A verse from the KJV that came to mind was,
(Haggai 2:7 KJV)  And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
The Hebrew word for “desire” is different than in Proverbs but has the same general idea.

So?  Is there something in you saying you are without hope?  It could be hormones, I guess, but it also could be the Holy Spirit offering you hope.  Don’t defer.  It might end up worse than a sick heart. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Vain Is Void

(Proverbs 12:11 KJV)  He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.

Too often we spend our time on the “vain” (7386) things of life.  The idea of being vain is translated “empty” and “worthless” other places in the Old Testament.  Notice the italics in both the KJV and NASB.  That signifies the words are not in the Hebrew.  Thus to correctly translate this “vain” becomes a noun instead of an adjective.  Thus you would be following “the vain” or “the empty.” 

There are some things in life that are worthwhile, others are pointless.  Think about all the things we do because we are tired, bored or too lazy to turn off the TV and get out a book. 

Are sports always worthless?  No, you could look at the exercise, fellowship and learning of teamwork.  Is TV always worthless?  My inclination is to say yes but I am honest enough to admit that there might be something worth watching.

So?  The time we waste will not come back to us.  Make it count.  Make it count for you and God, not for me. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Seventh Deadly Sin

(Proverbs 11:2 KJV)  When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

“Pride” (2087) is one of what are called the Seven Deadly Sins.  The early church recognized the problem with pride and thus labeled it as being a cause of much destruction.  Here the consequence is “dishonor” (7036) which seems to be the opposite of what is desired.

How often do we take actions with a goal in mind and end up getting the opposite response?  Have you ever been joking and someone took you seriously?  I have this problem but the problem is not what I think it is.  When I examine my motives I often find that it wasn’t just being funny but masking something else in my attitude.  Have you ever tried to help and had your motives questioned?

The same issues come up with pride.  It is always a good thing to look carefully and honestly into our own hearts and see what our motivations are.

So?  Watch people as they respond.  If they don’t respond the way you expect, seriously ask yourself if the Holy Spirit is speaking through them.  Use it as an opportunity to listen. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Solomon Gift

(Proverbs 10:8 KJV)  The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

Is there a difference between a “wise” (2450) “heart” (3820) and a wise mind?  I did a search for “wise mind” in the NASB and only found it used once.  “Wise heart” was more common.  Two verses stood out.  The first was God explaining to Solomon the gift of wisdom He was giving.
(1 Kings 3:12 NAS77)  behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
The second was in Job and describes God himself.
(Job 9:4 NAS77)  "Wise in heart and mighty in strength, Who has defied Him without harm?
It would seem that the “wise heart” is a gift from God, possibly the spiritual gift of wisdom.  Like all gifts there is an application on a different level for all of us. 

Solomon sought wisdom.  God granted wisdom.

So?  Seek wisdom from God instead of a shiny new toy.  Pray for the gift of wisdom in others instead of self-esteem.  Let’s do this God’s way.  It might work out better. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Low Lifes in High Places

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

This verse is talking about the woman of folly (verse 13) rather than wisdom (verse 1).  It is pointing out that those who would drag you down know how to trap you.  They deliberately try to look like the real thing.  They may even mix with the real thing. 

I don’t know if you ever go into one of the dollar stores around town.  Most of the merchandise is obviously junk.  Brand names are often at or beyond their expiration dates.  Some is totally good stuff.  One of the things I have noticed is that much of the junk goes out of its way to imitate the packaging of the brand name.  They will have similar color schemes and pick names that are similar.  If you don’t know what you are looking for you could be fooled.

How do you tell the difference?  The same principle applies in shopping as in life.  Read the label carefully and pay attention.  Getting a cheap brand of dish washing liquid will not ruin your life.  Getting folly instead of wisdom will.

So?  Read, think, study, pray.  Wisdom is available. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Eyes for Evil

(Proverbs 8:13 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Why do we have such a hard time recognizing and labeling “evil” (7451b)?  I think that part of the problem is that we have absorbed the values and standards of the world and the world does not want to admit that evil exists.  The world will accept that Hitler was evil but for some reason they don’t see Stalin or Mao in the same boat.  Much of this is because the people on the political left identify Stalin and Mao with the political left and Hitler with the political right.  The standard of evil is relative, based on political considerations. 

For us evil is really anything that is outside the will of God and contrary to His plans.  We are surrounded by evil.  Much evil masquerades as good.  Much good is labeled as evil.  There are too many cases of this to start listing and I am not sure that my thinking is unbiased enough to see clearly, but we need to learn to define evil based on what the Bible says.  We cannot accept without careful consideration any guru’s list.  Know the word.

So?  Keep your eyes open.  Make your own evaluations as far as possible.  When you can’t know enough be careful whom you trust for their opinions.  God will supply the input we need. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Choices Have Consequences

(Proverbs 7:10 KJV)  And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

We are surrounded by people who have plans for us.  Some are well meaning and possibly sent by God, others are harlots.  Some might even be a combination of the two.  We need to learn to discern and make decisions based on the leadership of the Holy Spirit and on the foundation of the written word.

We all had someone in our youth trying to talk us into smoking a cigarette or taking a drink.  Some resisted, some caved.  In many cases it was a one time or short term thing.  In other lives it was the first step to destruction and futility.  We can’t know at the time.  God is merciful and forgiving, our friends my not be.

So?  Understand that there are people who want to drag you down so that they are not alone in the gutter.  Try to ask yourself what will be the result if you follow and keep following the advice given. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hey, Bro

(Proverbs 6:23 KJV)  For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

The word for “commandment” (4687) [mitsvah] is a word that has crossed over into our English language.  Most of us have heard of a bar-mitzvah.  It is the coming of age of a Jewish boy, similar to a first communion.  It marks the coming of accountability.  I believe girls go through a similar ceremony called a bat-mitzvah.  A bar-mitzvah literally is becoming a son of the commandments.

As Christians we are born again or adopted.  Pick your favorite picture.  We become children of God.  As Christians we are under grace but keep in mind that Jesus came to fulfill the law not destroy it.  We are still expected to walk in obedience and live holy lives so there is a very real sense in which we become sons and daughters of the commandments.

So?  Rejoice.  You are part of the family.  That has blessing and obligations.  It is a part of a long historical chain of spiritual ancestors.  Hey, Bro. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Mourning After

(Proverbs 5:11 KJV)  And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed,

The context of this verse is a person giving in to the sin of adultery and living a life of dissipation and excess.  It could certainly be simply talking about how a life of sin will emaciate the body and destroy the joy of life.  That could be all that is meant by “at the end" (latter end NASB) (319).

It could also mean the prospects for eternity.  The words and feel are very similar to an event related by Jesus involving an unnamed rich man.
(Luke 16:23 KJV)  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
The end of this life or the beginning of the next?  If you live in rebellion and sin they won’t be that much different.

So?  Get your act together.  God is patient but His patience is not eternal.  If you are reading this there is still time for repentance and the healing of grace.  If you have already become a part of God’s family and are walking in the light, pray for someone else who is still in the dark.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Little Bit Can Hurt

(Proverbs 4:14 KJV)  Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

Sometimes when we are trying to keep kids away from drugs we point out that if you don’t take the first puff you probably will never get addicted.  The same can be said about alcohol and its dangers.  If you never take the first drink, you will never be drunk.  Here the caution is a bit wider but the principle is the same.  Don’t even “enter” (935) a “path” (734) that has any touch of “evil” (7451a). 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can handle it.  We have this tendency to figure “just one look” or “just a little touch” won’t hurt.  Maybe not.  Maybe.  The wise choice is to avoid the first step.  Go another direction.  It is easiest at the beginning.

So?  Many doors will be open to you today.  Most will be value neutral, red or blue?  Some will be sending a message and starting down a path.  Tight and provocative or loose and modest?  Don’t get started. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Son of a Gun

(Proverbs 3:1 KJV)  My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

The first seven chapters of Proverbs have an indication that Solomon is giving instruction to his “son” (1121).  The word is “son,” regardless of what your translations says.  One way I judge a translation and its reliability is in this word.  I understand that our culture has “gone beyond” such sexist language, but God hasn’t.  The word in Hebrew is [ben] which can be translated “children” or “people” when it is in the plural but to do so in the singular is to impose the values of our culture on the words of God.

The Holy Spirit can still teach.  People can still be saved.  Growth can happen using some of the modern abridgements but we need to understand that God has a reason for what He does.  We need to understand that the designation “son” is a title of honor, not a chauvinistic convention.  It means that we, be we male or female, are accepted on the highest level of relationship. 

So?  Base your standards, values and measurements on what God has to say, not what your local guru has chosen as the social statement of the month.  It will save you a lot of erasing and editing.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Roots of Discretion

(Proverbs 2:11 KJV)  Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

Why is “discretion” (4209) important to us?  When I look at the definition of the Hebrew word and the way it is used in Proverbs I see two things.  First, its basic meaning is “purpose” which morphs into how the purpose is applied.  Second, it seems that the word is value neutral.  It can be used for good or evil.  It relies on the inner purpose and inclination of our hearts.

It can be part of the promise to “preserve” (guard NASB) (8104) that God mounts on our lives and ways as it is used here.  It can also be the careful preparation for the doing of evil. 

So?  Which way will you be planing your day?  What, or who, will supply the basic values and standards that you apply.  Let them come from God and His word. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

The End of the English Standard Version

In the past two months a reader asked me about the English Standard Version (ESV).  I could not say much because I had not read it.  On looking at my study software I found that I had a copy so I decided to read through it in the month of June.  I have finished the month.  The comments I am sharing are based only on reading in Proverbs.  I have not done an in depth study of how this translates the rest of the Bible.

One of the litmus tests I use is how a translation approaches the battle over gender neutrality.  Many modern translations show a tendency to mistranslate in order to be gender neutral and thus politically correct.  This means that when the Hebrew says “son” they will translate it “child” and so forth.  The first place I saw a difference was in 1:5
(Proverbs 1:5 ESV)  Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,

(Proverbs 1:5 NAS77)  A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
In actuality the ESV is more accurate here because in both cases the word “man” is absent from the Hebrew.

In 8:4 the ESV uses “children” instead of “sons.”  That is within the range of meanings because it is plural and in the Hebrew the plural form can be understood that way.
(Proverbs 8:4 ESV)  "To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man.

(Proverbs 8:4 NAS77)  "To you, O men, I call, And my voice is to the sons of men.
Later we see in inconsistency in both the ESV and KJV but not in the NASB.  The word for “sons” and “children” is the same in all cases.

(Proverbs 8:31-32 NAS77)  Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.  "Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, For blessed are they who keep my ways.

(Proverbs 8:31-32 KJV)  Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.

(Proverbs 8:31-32 ESV)  rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.  "And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.
Overall I would say that in Proverbs the ESV has not succumbed to the voice of political correctness. 

I compared the ESV mainly to the KJV and the NASB.  I saw a lot of variations but they were all the type of differences that you would find in an honest attempt to translate.  At different places you saw some that were more literal or closer to the original.  You saw more colorful word pictures.  I saw places I liked the ESV more and places I liked it less.

So, overall what I saw was a translation that I felt was trustworthy.  No translation will ever be perfect but I think I could use the ESV.  I will continue to stick with the NASB though because I have so much work already done in it and, like the KJV, it has the best study tools available.

Evil Alert

(Proverbs 1:12 KJV)  Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

This verse needs its context.  It is midway in a speech by some “sinners” who are trying to entice us into joining them for evil attacks on others.  Notice the way in which the speaker is very open about using the techniques of evil.  He wants to “swallow” (1104) people just like the “grave” (Sheol NASB) (7585).  When he talks about going down to the “pit” (953a) he is not talking about sending his victims to hell, but going himself. 

Our culture has come back to that point.  We have people openly worshiping the devil.  We laugh at evil and destruction.  Look at the cover of “music” albums.  Look at the tattoos adorning bodies.  You don’t need to go far.

So?  Be alert to the advice of our culture.  Take the antidote to evil.  Saturate yourself with the word so that the stains of the world run off.  Don’t let them penetrate.