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, August 31, 2016

Insights into Strengths

(Proverbs 31:17 KJV)  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

One of the questions that we have in trying to understand the Bible is the question of literal vs figurative.  At one extreme, the Pulpit Commentary, you find the authors concerned about how this could apply to “the weaker sex”.  That is from the 1880's.  At the other extreme you have what almost seems like a modern approach involving weights and visits to the gym. 

I think that this is telling us that Christian women are not supposed to be shrinking violets.  As I look at the two words “strength” (5797) and “strong” (553) I see words that can be applied physically or mentally.  In fact the word “strong” is often translated as involving courage.  The Christian woman is to know who she is in the Lord and to face life with courage.  Of course that would go for Christian men also but here it is giving advice for the kind of woman a man might want to marry.

So?  The Christian personality is based on strength even though we are directed to turn the other cheek, not have temper tantrums and to be courteous and polite.  The ideal of a doormat doesn’t really fit. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Profane in Vain

(Proverbs 30:9 KJV)  Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

I am sure you have heard things like, “You are the only Bible some people will ever read” or “You are the only Jesus some people will ever see”.  This verse is reminding us that the actions we take reflect on the God we serve.  Our behavior reflects on God.  Remember that most people, even regular church attenders, rarely read their Bibles.  This is why some wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing that man our pulpits find it so easy to lead God’s people astray.  This is why so many devout believers are so often consumed with minor issues like “KJV only” instead of focusing on the Spirit filled life.  It is why so many who focus on the Spirit filled life get gelded by an infatuation with speaking in tongues and ignore the rest of the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit.

When you give in to sin, here it is stealing, you drag the name of Jesus through the dirt.  I like the phrasing of the KJV where it talks about taking God’s name in vain.  The Hebrew word which the NASB translates “profane” (8610) means to handle like it is common.  It means to treat your grandmother’s 200 year old china like a paper plate.  When we refuse to walk in righteousness it not only imperils our eternity but profanes the eternal.

So?  Even the little sins smudge God’s image to the world around us.  Obviously we cannot really drag God through the mud but we can make Him a mockery to people who need to see Him in His glory.  Live upright. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fall Is Coming

(Proverbs 29:16 KJV)  When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.

I am not sure what to do with the word “when”.  There is no indication that it is a word from the Hebrew so it must be implied somehow.  It is in all but two of the translations I have on my software and in those two the concept is implied.  I am wondering if this implies that the “wicked” (7563) gaining power is not a done deal.  Does it imply that the “righteous” (6662) can hold them off?  Insert your editorial opinion here:  __________.

Of course the real thrust of this verse is that the wicked will not triumph in the long run.  We see that they usually find a way to come to power.  People who start off on the side of righteousness seem to be very vulnerable to corruption and unnecessary compromise.  Admit it.  You have heard the statement that “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The bigger promise is that the upright will still be around after they are gone.

So?  It doesn’t make your day to know that the evil will run things but it will make your future to remember that they will pass and we will still be around. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Hidden Nature of Blessings

(Proverbs 28:20 KJV)  A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

What do you think of when someone mentions “blessings” (1293)?  When we are in motion we tend to think of visible, measurable good things and Americans are usually in motion.  What we don’t think of are the invisible elements that make life great in the long run.  Today we will assume eternal life.  What about this afternoon?  How about next week?

Blessings are the foundation of the Christian life.  We have an election coming up.  I don’t see any candidate that I believe is walking with Jesus.  I am not sure what I am going to do.  Do I panic?  No.  I am blessed.  God has put in motion gears that I cannot see.  When I think of blessings I think of the times that I have been two seconds late to an intersection and the kamikaze driver missed me.  I think of the time I hit a pot hole and lost a tire on the freeway and never lost control of the car.  I think of things like foundations and natural processes that maintain their integrity.  Will I have issues?  Of course.  But the seeds of the blessings are already planted.

So?  Rejoice!  When the sun burns through the storm clouds the inconvenience of the rain will become the blessing of growing food and flowers.  Only believers have that assurance. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Boast Not

(Proverbs 27:1 KJV)  Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Boasting should be passive not active.  By that I mean that it should be done about you, not by you.  The word means to praise and when we praise ourselves we are being a bit self centered.  When it comes to “tomorrow” (4279) what kind of things do we usually boast about?  I would think it is expectations we have for our own performance.  So it is a preemptive patting ourselves on the back.

Boasting is contrasted to faith and trust.  We are to walk quietly in faith, praising God and lifting Him up.  We are not to be loud and assertive. 

So?  We face tomorrow with confidence.  That does not mean we are to try to talk ourselves or others into believing that all will be well.  It means that we are to act like all will be well.  You have heard the saying about how the person who is calm doesn’t understand the situation?  In this case we don’t need to understand the situation because we serve the one who controls the situation. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Honor Code

(Proverbs 26:1 KJV)  As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

I notice that “honor” (3519b) is a noun, not a verb.  It is a quality that has largely disappeared in our modern western culture.  We are much more into “cool” than “honor”.  In fact the concept of honor as a noun has been replaced by honor as a verb. 

Honor is an inner quality which describes a commitment to living a life of high ideals and standards.  It takes qualities which are considered admirable such as courage or honesty and adheres to them at any cost.  One example of this from history would be the code of chivalry in the west or bushido in Japan.  It involves seeking justice and protecting virtue.

The sad thing about this is that today we would call this person a prude or a Victorian.  Even sadder is that many of these virtues are mandated for us as Christians and we have given them up.

So?  We are to be different from the world.  That means we are not to be fools.  Honor should be a part of our lives even if the world thinks we are a little bit weird.  Remember that at one point they thought Jesus was crazy and his family needed to take him away.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Heart Songs

(Proverbs 25:20 KJV)  As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.

Did you have a parent that would wake you up singing something like “Oh, what a beautiful morning”?  As irritating as it was you knew it was all in good fun.  That is not what Solomon means by singing to a “heavy” (troubled NASB) (7452a) “heart” (3820).  He is talking about a heart that is churning because of evil, which is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word.

One place this speaks to me today is in my insensitivity to people going through hard times.  I dismiss my response as exercising discernment, and there is some of that, but often it is just a failure to read the conflict that is going on.  Instead of being dismissive I should be listening.  Instead of saying “Deal with it” I need to let them know I feel their pain.

So?  That is hard for me to do.  Being hard does not mean it is to be avoided.  It means it needs to be practiced.  May the Lord soften my heart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Accurate Activists

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

I seem to be reading a lot about people seeking justice.  We have a lot of  anguish about the police targeting certain groups and prison populations being disproportionate.  At school I hear of teachers being “talked to” about which students are getting low grades.  On one side of the conflict are groups with questionable motives.  We need to be aware of that and resist.  On the other side is a clear Biblical mandate to not “have respect” (show NASB) (5234) “of persons” (partiality NASB) (6440) in our “judgement” (4941).  We need to be champions of that expectation.

For some reason this is a hard balance to find because in truth justice is not the goal.  Power is the goal.  When I listen to the voices of the group Black Lives Matter I don’t hear much different than what I hear from the Ku Klux Klan.  The only difference is the color being blamed.  If you look at the claims of the KKK they talk about “chivalry, honor and patriotism”.  It is hard to find those in cross burnings and lynchings. 

So?  As Christians we are to seek true impartiality in judgment.  We are not to look at the face of the people being judged and make our decisions based on that.  We are to look at the unchanging standards of right and wrong given to us by God and the clear actions of individuals and use the brain that God gave us to be fair.  We are to walk above our current culture. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sweet and Septic

(Proverbs 23:8 KJV)  The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

Most people have experienced food poisoning sometime in their lives.  The reason it gets us is because it is often non-detectable.  Whatever is making the food unacceptable is subtle but septic.  You don’t know you have it until it is too late.

Solomon’s comment is figurative but based on the literal.  There are people who seem to be so right and yet are so wrong.  Often we don’t know it until life starts to go bad.  With food poisoning I don’t know if we could refuse to vomit.  I think that if we fought it the feeling would continue to get worse until we gave it up.  I am not so sure we could resist until death.  There are people who come into our lives that will continue to make us miserable until we get rid of them.

So?  Is there a “friend” that needs to go away?  Is there a relative that needs to be avoided?  Solomon would say so. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Inflation Hedge

(Proverbs 22:1 KJV)  A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

How can an intangible like “favor” (2580) be preferred to “silver” (3701) and “gold” (2091)?  Really.  How naive do you think I am?  As I thought about it I realized that silver and gold are like the American dollar, their value is in what people will give for them.  If my history is accurate, many cultures of the world thought of gold as being a pretty shiny medal but something of very little use.  A well crafted piece of flint might be more desirable. 

When you think in terms of eternity remember that gold will be used to pave streets and that concrete would have been a miracle to the Aztec.  “Favor” (2580), on the other hand, is the Old Testament word for grace.  It is eternal, necessary and ever mysterious.

So?  Be responsible with your gold and silver.  That is also a Biblical standard, but don’t lose perspective of why you got up and whom you serve. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Obvious Secrets

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

Our giving is to be done in “secret” (5643a).  This is a principle that should cut to the heart because it is the antithesis of pride.  Think of Jesus proclaiming the Pharisees hypocrites for the way in which they put money in the box at the temple and stood on street corners and prayed for the masses.  His point was that they got their reward now.  They would not be getting one later.
(Matthew 6:1 KJV) Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
It is more than a matter of reward.  It is a matter of character, a matter of attitude.  One of the repeated lesson we need to learn is that the “why” is as important as the “what”.

So?  Take a break.  Let your mind wander over your day, your week.  See it any attitude issues jump out at you.  That could be the Holy Spirit rewarding you for your desire to grow.  See what He can help you do about it. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Guilt by Association

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

This is actually a bit of simple warning.  If someone is sharing with you about someone else then you need to understand that they are probably telling others about you.  Assume that everything you say in their presence and everything you do is fair game for them to repeat.  Think of them as a two way street.

So?  Obviously we are not to be this way.  Maybe not so obvious is that we should not “meddle” (associate NASB) (6148) with such people.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Listen and Live

(Proverbs 19:16 KJV)  He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.

Once again my eye was caught by the word “commandment” (4687).  As I looked over the different translations available this was the most common word used.  Two used “law” (Bible in Basic English, Good News Bible), one used “teachings” (CEV) and the ones I consider paraphrases made it plural instead of singular.  I wonder if it is significant the word for “commandment” (4687) is “mitsvah” and not “torah” (8451)?

Because I believe the Bible is inspired by God I believe the choice of words is significant.  Here we have a command, not a law.  What is the difference?  As I looked at the definitions of the Hebrew words one difference I saw was the personal touch.  The Law, or Torah, was written down.  It is very precise and was used to regulate temple worship.  The commands of God seem to be personally delivered.

So?  God has given us the manual but He also speaks to us.  Many of the situations we face in life are not spelled out exactly because the Bible was written before modern electronics were around to divert us from the path.  So God still speaks to us individually.  We need to learn to listen is we want to keep our soul.  What He speaks will never violate what is written but it will give us direction when the events we face don’t fit into a niche.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Deep Confusion

(Proverbs 18:4 KJV)  The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

Is this verse meant to be a complement or a contrast?  At this point I am thinking more of a contrast.  I think of some of the “profound” things I have read that only get me to cock my head and say, “Huh?”  I often find this kind of thing in fiction where the author is giving a poem or bit of “deep” (6013) thinking that one of the characters has shared.  I can just see people sitting around with enlightened looks on their faces and minds that are question marks. 

Often we feel compelled to accept what these gurus say as if it were the answer civilization has been looking for because it sounds so complicated.  In reality it is like a knot that is tied to nothing, hard to unravel and serving no purpose.  God’s wisdom is more on the useful level.  Yes, there may be depths that thinking can bring out, but there is also a lesson that can be drawn by anyone who is seriously looking.

So?  If you are reading something that refuses to make sense maybe you are not ready for what it teaches.  It could also be that it doesn’t make sense.  Go to the word for your basics.  There will be wisdom for you because the Holy Spirit will help you understand what you need to know. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Heart Medicine

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

Are there psychosomatic spiritual illnesses?  One of the major struggles people have is depression.  I have had my days.  I have gone for days where I would go to work and just stare at the wall.  I have contemplated suicide.  I got over it.  How and why? 

I assume that I did not have the depth of depression that requires medication and hospitalization, but most people don’t.  I believe I had the same struggle that millions have and it kept me down.  Ultimately it came down to not having a “merry” (joyful NASB) (8056) “heart” (3820).  What is the antonym of joyful?  Google tells me “sad, miserable, distressing, depressing”.  I can identify with all those things, or at least I could.

What helped me break the hold this had on me was to first admit it.  Then I came to the realization that I was feeling this way because my focus was on myself and to be honest, I kind of got a kick out of feeling sorry for myself.  At that point God was able to break through and grab me by the scruff of the neck.  He gave me a loving shake and said, “Look at me, boy!”  When I did that things begin to change.  Now when I find myself slipping into self pity I adjust my focus and Jesus always meets me.

So?  That may not be your problem but it sure was mine.  I am reminded of saints who have gone singing to martyrdom and realize that with the right focus I can have a joyful heart.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Where Are You From?

(Proverbs 16:17 KJV)  The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.

This brings to mind what the NASB calls the Highway of Holiness.
(Isaiah 35:8 NAS77)  And a highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.
I tend to think of this highway in terms of where it goes.  If I follow it I will have eternal life.  It is about goals.  There is another side to that journey.  It isn’t just where you are going but where you come from, where you depart.

As I move toward the Celestial City I leave behind the Sloth of Despond and all the other places mentioned in Pilgrim’s Progress.  I leave behind the attitudes and behaviors which were “evil” (7451b).  There is a promise implied here which is explained by the Apostle Paul.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
So?  We have choices to make.  Right or left?  Participate or abstain?  Good or evil?  The decision we make determines if the road we take is a dead end or an escape route.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fear Alerts

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

We are familiar with the quote that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (9:10).  It is also the beginning of knowledge (1:7).  Here we add the statement that it is also an element of “instruction” (3374) .

The fear of the Lord puts us in a position to listen.  Have you ever noticed that you hear the noises of the house a lot more in the dark than at noon?  If the noise that woke you up raised your heart beat you listen even more carefully.  Concern brings focus.  God has lesson for us and He wants us to learn them.

So?  Often we respond spiritually in bad times better than we do in good times.  Maybe if we sharpen our listening skills the bad times won’t be needed. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cayenne Christianity

(Proverbs 14:34 KJV)  Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

The scandals we see in the headlines are continuous and prolific.  It seems like there is something new every day.  If you don’t like the MSM you can look at the rags posted by the checkout in the grocery store.  Someone is always cheating on someone.  This verse says that such a culture is not good news.  It is not sleaze that “exalts” (7311) a nation.  If we care about our country what are we to do?

Pray.  That should be a constant thread of our life, not the last resort.

Vote with discernment. 

Witness about the truth and advocate moral positions.

Most important, live in “righteousness” (6666).  Prayer is important but if we are not living out the life of the upright our prayers are a bit empty.  None of us will every be president.  It has to be someone but I am betting it won’t be me.  I will never be rich or influential.  I can be faithful.  Notice that it does not say “righteous nation”.  It says righteousness.  Keep in mind that God promised to save Sodom and Gomorrah if Lot could have found just a few moral people. 

So?  It doesn’t take much.  It may not be the best example but when I make chili the recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne powder.  If I put much more than that it ruins the experience for me.  You might like more but you will never expect to eat it straight and still have a mouth when you are done.  We can be the little bit that makes a big difference.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Vapor vs Hands

(Proverbs 13:11 KJV)  Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

The issue here is not having a lot of money, “wealth” (1952), but how you got it.  It is the “by” words that make your net worth righteous or sinful.  The end does not justify the means in the life of the Christian.

On one side you have “vanity” (fraud NASB) (1892).  The word means vapor and can be used of breath.  It is the idea of form without substance.  It is a familiar word to most because it is the “vanity” used by Solomon.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2 KJV)  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
When you hear people criticizing capitalism as a bunch of stock brokers manipulating the market and producing profit on paper, this is the kind of thing that it represents.  Wealth that requires nothing but fancy book work and clever ploys can disappear as quickly as it comes

On the other side you have “labor” (3027).  The word here means, literally, “hands”.  It refers to the production of something.  This is the other side of capitalism.  This is a business established by hard work and producing a measurable product.  This is a manufacturing plant as opposed to a hedge fund.  This is a CEO as opposed to a speculator.  One increases the quantity of actual useful items, the other is based on people’s confidence.

So?  There is nothing wrong with generating wealth as long as it is based on some kind of labor on your part.  In this verse it is how you make it more than how much you make.  Work hard and prosper. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

For Crying Out Loud

(Proverbs 12:23 KJV)  A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

A lot of people talk too much.  Yes, my hand is in the air.  Although I am capable of sitting all day without speaking to anyone I also find myself being embarrassed by my verbosity at times.  Why do we do that?  Part of my problem is my sense of humor.  I always want to throw in a one-liner.  I want to be clever.   Sometimes all I do is “proclaim” (7121) “foolishness” (folly NASB) (200).

To proclaim does not mean to just speak or say.  It means to cry out loudly.  You might be able to substitute repetition for volume because there are times when I repeat myself until everyone knows I am a fool.  I am sure you have heard the comment about having one mouth and two ears means we should listen twice as much as we talk.  To get that right we probably need an ear on each finger instead of the sides of our head.

So?  Give people a chance to express themselves.  Not only is it a matter of courtesy but it seems to mean we will be less embarrassed.  That has to be a good thing. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

No Calculators Allowed

(Proverbs 11:17 KJV)  The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

A recurring theme in this chapter as well as much of Proverbs it the contrast of good and evil.  Different expressions are used.  Verse one contrasts the cheating businessman with the honest.  Here it is “merciful” (2617a) [chesed] and “cruel” (394).  As I skim through the different commentaries I have on my computer there seems to be a misunderstanding of the word “merciful”.  Often they interpret it as someone being merciful to themselves but the Hebrew word is much grander than that.  To me it is the Old Testament equivalent of agape.  It is expressing the love of God in everyday life.

The point being made here is that being First Corinthians loving to other people has a side effect that cannot be achieved if personal benefit is the goal.  Doing good to others has a pay-back, but it can only be received when it is not planned.  Kindness is not calculation.  Consider actor Sidney Poitier in the movie Lilies of the Field.  If my memory serves me correctly, the owner of a bar was donating the money for a beautiful object.  He had previously said he was not a believer.  Poitier asked him why he was giving the money.  “Insurance,” he answered.  God does not sell insurance He offers salvation.

So?  We are to be different.  The difference is to be heartfelt, not crafted to get benefits for ourselves. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

There Goes the Neighborhood

(Proverbs 10:30 KJV)  The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.

Many people want to go to “heaven”.  There is such a place and it is referred to in both the Old and New Testaments but it is questionable that we will spend eternity there.  We have pictures of the multitudes bowing around the throne and having some awesome worship services that would knock your socks off if socks are allowed.  But there is also a clear description of something different,
(Revelation 21:1 KJV)  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Notice that the old heaven is going away.  The next verse is interesting,
(Revelation 21:2 KJV)  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
So we get a new city located on a new earth and the next verse talks about God abiding there.

Who knows how much is figurative and how much is literal.  I am not sure we are capable of grasping what it will be like so I go for figurative on the details.  What is clear is that those who are not walking with Jesus will not be there.  As this verse says, they will not “inhabit” (dwell NASB) (7931) there.

So?  Rejoice!  The neighborhood will be going up hill.  Not only will you finally get your yard landscaped and your house painted but the people who have those wild drunken parties on the next block will probably be gone.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Save Your Thunder

(Proverbs 9:8 KJV)  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

For two verses Solomon has addressed how we respond to the “scorner" (scoffer NASB) (3917b).  In an ideal world this person would be outside the church.  Notice here that the contrast is with the “wise man” (2450) and it is understood that you cannot really be wise if you do not fear God.  In that sense we should rein in our attempts to correct the public.  We are reminded that the average modern man is not interested in us telling him what is right and wrong.

It would also apply in the church.  I would tend to feel that the kind of person being referred to here is one who attends and may even make claims to being a Christian but denies any doctrine or discipline that limits their freedom to do whatever they want.  In this net you have those who claim that sex outside of marriage is fine as long as you “love” each other.  They might deny the resurrection because they are too enlightened to believe myths.  I guess we are limited in what we can do for them.  Notice however it does not say we cannot excommunicate them.

So?  Save your thunder for those who might listen.  To be blunt, Jesus said,
(Matthew 7:6 KJV)  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
That applies even is they are in the same Sunday School class. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Man of Substance

(Proverbs 8:21 KJV)  That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

Here is another verse about “wealth” or as the KJV says “substance” (3426).  If this was in isolation it would follow the prosperity gospel, but the entire context is that wisdom is better than gold.  Our culture tends to be very materialistic.  We tend to look at everything in terms of what kind of physical prosperity it will produce.  Money in its many forms becomes the measure of everything.

Think about it.  Why do we encourage people to get an education?  Why do teachers take classes even after they are finished with those required?  How do companies like Rolex sell any products?  Think of the number of people who don’t have children because children are expensive and those that do, dump them in day care so that they can live at a certain economic level. 

God is trying to tell us that wisdom is more important than our social status or credit rating. 

So?  Resist the pressure to submit to the standards of modern America.  Seek after the wealth that will build character and prepare you to enter into eternity.  Keep in mind that in the New Jerusalem gold will be used to pave streets. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hope Verse

(Proverbs 7:24 KJV)  Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.

This verse is actually a promise.  It doesn’t read that way.  It seems more like a command or an admonition.  It is those things, but it is also a word of hope.  If you consider the context you find this set in the middle of warnings and a story of sin.  In the midst of that is a reminder to stop and listen to what God is trying to say to you.

God has to be pushed a long way before He stops reaching out to bring us back.  If we give him the slightest opening He will try to get the word to us.  One reason it is important to read the Bible daily is to give Him that crack.  The hope is that each day of considering the word there will be a message for the day.  We all know that there are days when all we have are black marks on a page that our eyes pass over.  The benefit of the habit is that when you are at that one verse of life in the midst of a chapter of defeat, God can speak to you.

So?  I hope today has no desperate moments for you.  I hope things are going well.  Rest assured that if they are not, God has a word of hope for you. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Look Deep

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

Often when you see a word like “evil” (7451b) it is followed by another word such as “man” or “thing” and that second word will be in italics.  That is because the second word is not in the Hebrew.  In situations like that you could assume that the evil being warned against was generic rather than specific.  That is not the case here.  “Woman” (802) is a specific word in the Hebrew. 

This is not a blanket condemnation or warning against women.  In Proverbs the word is used in both positive and negative ways and the value is in the context.  Here it is a warning against women who are guided by evil.  It goes on to remind us not to be swayed by clever words or a beautiful face.  Instead we are to be guided by the wisdom that comes from knowing the word.

So?  Someone once told me that beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes all the way through.  Look deep.  Read deep.  Pray deep.  That will give us the tools for wisdom. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Strangers and Brothers

(Proverbs 5:3 KJV)  For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:

The woman referred to here is guilty of one main characteristic.  She is an outsider.  The description is different in different translations.  The “adulteress” (2114a) of the NASB is literally the feminine form of “stranger”.  It is often translated “foreigner”.  The context here obviously refers to someone with adultery on their mind but the label is saying that this person is not a neighbor.

In our current day we are struggling with how to treat people from other countries.  We see floods of people fleeing from poverty and violence.  Mixed in are those who are not fleeing but are coming to destroy us.  How are we as Christians to respond to these people.  As usual the Bible takes a balanced and reasoned approach.  Here you see the warning against those who are different.  It is in the choice of words.  On the other hand we are commanded to treat these people fairly.  This is a frequent.  Here is one example.
(Exodus 22:21 KJV)  Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
So?  Be wary of people outside the faith but treat them with kindness.  The concern is not that they have different customs but that they are aliens from the promise of God.  Christian brotherhood transcends nationality but has consistent morality.  Know the difference. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Heart Spots

(Proverbs 4:21 KJV)  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

How important is your faith?  Maybe that is too easy to answer.  Let me put it another way, how much does it take to keep you from being in church on Sunday morning?  How about Sunday evening and Wednesday?  You say your church doesn’t have evening or midweek services?  You might ask yourself what that says about their priorities.

When I ask people why their church does not have an evening service they talk about how busy life is.  They mention how many woman are working now and there just isn’t enough time to come to church on Sunday evening.  After all, the Bible doesn’t say anything about an evening service.  We live in a world of illusion if we think we have less time than they did 100 years ago.  When is the last time you had to spend the time getting the horse hitched up for the drive to church or had to rub it down and feed it on return?  Think about how long it took to make meals from scratch on a wood burning stove.  Yet in the midst of all that they found the time.  I would suggest that it was more a matter of worship being in the “midst” (8432) rather than an add-on.

So?  If you treated your job the way you treat your church how long would you have a job?  We do what is important to us. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Who Covets Your Ox?

(Proverbs 3:33 KJV)  The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.

This chapter in Proverbs is loaded with promises related to wisdom.  You find an array ranging from financial to emotional.  This is a chapter where “never is heard a discouraging word....”  Yet other places in the Bible, as well as Proverbs, you have the assurance of persecution and the promise of the sustaining hand of God through rough times.  If wisdom produces promises, how do you have rough times?

Look at this verse.  God is promising that he will deliver different rewards to different responses.  He promises a “curse” (3994) for the “wicked” (7563).  He also “blesses” (1288) the “just” (righteous NASB) (6662).  What this does is generate envy in the hearts of those around us.  Have you ever seen two siblings going through this?  One does his chores and gets a reward.  The other refuses and is grounded.  Is the grounded child happy with the one rewarded?  Often the villain will ruin the good time of the rewarded out of envy. 

You might think this is no big deal but keep in mind that it was important enough to make the Big Ten.
(Exodus 20:17 KJV)  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
So?  There will always be people who will be jealous of the blessings that God has given you.  This is just a reminder to not be surprised when others covet your ox.  Keep plowing because there is nothing you can do for them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Michael Jordan on Grace and Works

(Proverbs 2:1-4 KJV)  My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

I have never been a fan of professional basketball.  I used to enjoy playing and got into the high school and college competition but the professionals always seemed like a bunch of hot dogs looking for some relish.  I knew the name of Michael Jordan but had never seen him play until for some reason I saw him in a documentary about his career.  Suddenly I understood “hang time”.

But it was Michael the Philosopher that got to me the most.  At one point he told the interviewer that there were many guys playing basketball on the streets that were better than he was but they could never make it in the NBA because they did not have the discipline.  That is what these four verses are talking about in spiritual terms. 

If you read over these verses you can see the conditions leading up to the promise that begins in verse five.  The question being asked is, “How hungry are you?”  Are you satisfied with instant oats or do you seek out and prepare the steel cut variety.  Yes, you can get oatmeal in 60 seconds but it just isn’t the same.

So?  Do you cry out for the knowledge that God wants you to have?  Do you seek?  God had promised to meet us and inform us.  Grace responding to obedience. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Better Than a Box of Twinkies (reposted)

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

(I messed up and posted this earlier but it was intended for this day so I am putting it up again)
Here the NASB has it better than the KJV, using “satiated” (7646) {end} instead of “filled”.  The word has the concept of excess.  I was wishing we could be “satiated” (7646) on God’s counsel but when I thought about it I changed my mind.  Satiation means that you have lost not only the hunger but the enjoyment.  I don’t want to come to that point with the things of God.  The good news is that they can’t. 

I am in glory over the reality that God’s grace and potential are never ending.  I think of the song “The Steadfast Love of the Lord” which reminds us that God’s love and grace are “new every morning.”  The words come from scripture.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NAS77)  The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.
It is only our own “devices” (4156) that get boring.  We get bored with worship when it is self directed and not open to inviting the Lord to the festival.  We get bored with reading when it only serves as a crutch or distraction.  We get bored with each other when our focus is on ourselves.

So?  Move from your own autobiography to God’s documentary.  It will keep you from the boredom of having eaten an entire box of Twinkies.