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.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sustainability

(Proverbs 18:14 KJV)  The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

What keeps me going every day?  What keeps you going in the face of horizons of struggle?  We have all seen people with minor issues who fold and live in defeat when others with major handicaps live in victory.  It has to do with the “spirit” (7307) [ruach]. 

I think that this involves more than numb endurance.  The process going on has to do with comprehending the struggle.  As believers we can understand what is at stake.  When we look at an election we realize it isn’t just about tax rates and immigration quotas.  We realize that we are involved in a cosmic struggle and it is the underlying principles that are at stake.  It is the view of life that gave the martyrs their courage and provides us with the inner resources to press on.

So?  Life is not a party but it is a journey overseen by our Creator.  We can face a lot if our inner spirit is in tune with the Eternal Spirit. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Laughing at the Three Stooges

(Proverbs 17:5 KJV)  Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

The second part of this verse reminds me of I Corinthians 13:6 where it says love “rejoices not in unrighteousness,...”  This is a key part of our faith.  We are not allowed to desire damage to our enemies.  I have been doubly aware of this being trapped in a room with perpetual television.  Do you realize how many lawyers advertise on TV?  And they don’t summon those who have been persecuted by the government.  They generally are looking for people who are in a situation where the other side has good insurance and would be glad to settle out of court.  When I hear the lawyer wanting my business on the radio he wants cases where you have been hit by an 18 wheeler, not the guy with no insurance.  I can’t help but believe they are glorying in my “calamity” (343) or at least hoping they can.

So?  As Christians we are to desire the best for others, even when we don’t like them and they can’t stand us.  It is an extension of turning the other cheek. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sweet Talk

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

Usually “honeycomb” (1706/6688) is presented in a positive light.  This is actually a compound word which literally means “comb of the honey”.  Only one other place has this combination.
(Psalms 19:10 KJV)  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Here it talks about “words” (561); in Psalms, the Law.

Our speech is to be pleasant and true.  We are to be that rock in the middle of the stream where a traveler can put their foot and know that it will not turn under them.  We are to be that electrical appliance that is properly grounded so a touch will not kill.  We are the living representatives of Jesus.

So?  I sometimes shudder to think that people would hear some of the things I say in moments of weakness.  We are not like the animals.  We have mouths that can choose truth or falsehood.  We can heal or destroy.  I know which I want.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Respect for Both Parents

(Proverbs 15:20 KJV)  A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.

There are days when a verse catches my attention while reading the chapter and it ends up being the same one that I would have picked next by method.  I enjoy those days.  This is a verse that is designed to show how we should please our parents but something else hit me.  It also is one of the numerous places where the Bible points out the fact that we are not supposed to live in a male-only world.  Both parents are mentioned.  The approach is different but the result is the same.

The Bible sets up order in the family.  In that order there is no loss of importance, just different roles and duties.  In Israel women had much more freedom than they did in surrounding cultures.  It is an attitude that we also find in the New Testament.  Christians were at the front of movements like education for women and giving women the right to vote. 

So?  Read the Bible and take what it says as the final answer.  Don’t rely on the pastor, the politician or the blogger.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Portable

(Proverbs 14:11 KJV)  The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.

What are the lessons in the word pictures of these words?  The “upright” (3477) are given a “tabernacle” (tent NASB) (168).  I am not sure if the KJV gives more clarity or less.  The word is meant to carry emotional meaning.  This refers back to the tent of meeting or the Tabernacle, which was a tent.  The tent moves as God moves and is able to adapt to flexible needs.  Remember that each day the children of Israel would follow the cloud as God led.  Each time they stopped they would set up the Tabernacle and set up the Holy of Holies.  It was part of God’s promise to be where His people were.

So?  Keep in mind that God being with His people meant that they had to follow where He would lead.  It gave flexibility and variety but it also demanded obedience. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Find Your Fences

(Proverbs 13:8 KJV)  The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.

I really can’t figure out what this verse means, at least not enough to make a definitive statement about it.  I notice that you have the two extremes of society mentioned.  Look at this as a continuum or spectrum rather than two choices.  I say that so we can all be included.  Few of us will ever consider ourselves rich and even our welfare classes live in luxury  compared to the poor of the Bible or the rest of the world today.

It would seem we all have a need for something to keep us on the right path.  The rich who want to stay rich live to preserve their wealth.  Spendthrifts often end up in the poor house.  The poor are often ignored but they need correction just as much as the wealthy.

So?  Seek guidance.  Be aware of the fences that are around you to keep out the wolf and to keep you from straying. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Color Samples

(Proverbs 12:6 KJV)  The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

How many “words” (1697) of the “wicked” (7563) are lurking in your home?  By that I mean how many books, videos, albums or games are in your house just waiting for an unsuspecting mind to open itself?  As a mature adult I don’t worry about the books on my shelf.  There are works of literature that I have read to be informed.  That is part of being wise, knowing what the other side thinks.  But there is a caution I would suggest.

Do you have any children around that are susceptible to nonsense?  I have read the Koran.  I have read Atlas Shrugged.  I have read a lot of science fiction.  If I had young children they would be among the titles I would not have in my house.  Be wise.

One reason Christians understand the world better is because we are totally surrounded by the thinking of the other side.  The pagan God haters control just about every source of information we have.  If we are on track we spend time each day in the word so we have a solid foundation to resist and interpret their nonsense but it does not happen automatically.

So?  Be alert when you pick up a book on history or a source of news.  Be like the home owner wondering what color paint to buy.  He takes a sample of what he is trying to work with and uses it as the basis of his decision.  The word is your color sample. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Boomerang Principles

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

A brief look at the Hebrew shows us a difference in the original text used by different translations.  If you have the cool software you can note two Hebrew words with the numbers 2617a and 1580.  The first is “merciful” in both the KJV and NASB but while the second appears in both translations it is associated with different English words.  It seems to be just a matter of the translators having issues because the meaning comes through the same for both. 

The point is that our attitude and intent tend to be boomerangs.  They eventually loop back and hit us in everyday life.  I don’t think this is a short term promise.  I think it is a long term principle.  Jesus put it this way,
(Matthew 5:7 KJV)  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
I like to think about how He had to Old Testament scriptures in mind when He spoke.

So?  If you want the best out of life, give the best. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

(Proverbs 10:24 KJV)  The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

There is a phrase that comes to mind, “self fulfilling prophecy”.  Here it relates to the state of our mind as we face life.  When your focus in life is on evil, and Proverbs has a very wide definition of evil, you are going to reap the harvest of that focus.  Have you noticed how animals seem to sense fear in humans?  I like horses but I am afraid of them.  They know it.  When I ride they pretty much ignore me. 

So?  Life will reward you, good or bad.  It will give you the desire of your heart.  Most people are determined to be lord of their own lives and God will honor that rejection. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Do You Mean

(Proverbs 9:4 KJV)  Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Often you can’t tell right from wrong by the words used.  Think of all the people talking about love.  We hear a lot about peace.  How about justice?  These are the obvious ones.  In education we have terms like “authentic assessment” and “cooperative learning”.  In politics we are told we need more “bipartisan” approaches.  The problem is in what the words mean. 

I remember having a long discussion once with some Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door.  They told me that they believed Jesus was the Son of God.  At least that is what I heard.  The words were fine but what they really meant was that Jesus was a son of god.  You had to know exactly what to ask and when to ask it.  They also believed that you and I are sons of god. 

So?  Be wary.  Always plug in your mind.  Don’t accept what people say at face value unless you know them well enough to trust them and even then be wary.  Wisdom and truth are available but not if we insist on being “simple” (naive NASB) (5493). 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Involving Trees in Worship

(Proverbs 8:31 KJV)  Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

Christians are to have a different attitude toward the natural world around us.  Pagans tend to deify nature.  Some versions have spirits, demons and little gods located in each tree and rock.  You might not cut down certain types of trees because the tree gods would be unhappy and cause the wood in your bow to break when you needed it most.  To Christians this is a superstitious attitude toward nature. 

A Christian might also spare the tree but not because he is worried about the spirit of the tree or feels that the tree is his brother.  The believer spares the tree because he is a good steward and realizes that God enjoys the tree He created.  The tree is for man to use, not to waste.
(Genesis 1:28 KJV)  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Notice that we are to subdue the earth but also replenish it.

So?  Enjoy nature, don’t worship it.  Worship God through your enjoyment.  Glorify God in his creativity if you are a scientist delving into the complexities.  Praise God for his taste if you are an artist using it for inspiration. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Teflon Saints

(Proverbs 7:8 KJV)  Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,

There is a difference in the “through’s” of life and the “to’s” of life.  We must go through life.  It is the only way to get to the other end.  We need to be very wary of what we allow in this life to influence our choices and directions.  We have a goal and certain distractions can exclude us from success. 

But it works both ways.  Some people manage to walk through the garden of grace without being touched by the beauty.  I think back to my youth.  I sat under some of the most solid preaching anyone could hope for.  I had some awesome teachers.  I lived in a town of 100,000 that had seven libraries.  What a place to grow and get established.  Yet at least one in the group committed suicide.  Most rejected Jesus.  Many have been divorced.  They were the Teflon attenders. 

So?  What is God giving me as an opportunity today?  I have already decided to follow Jesus.  He continues to offer me choices that determine the path I will take.  I pray to be listening, learning and alert. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Forgiveness and Scars

(Proverbs 6:35 KJV)  He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

America is the land of second chances and that is glorious.  I met a man last year who had dropped out of high school and been a total failure.  He got his act together, earned his GED and eventually was accepted as a student at Cal Tech.  He was given a second chance, big time. 

God is big on second chances.  We have the promise,
(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
At the same time this passage implies that there are some results of our sin that might never go away.  We may be forgiven but still be forced to live with the consequences of our actions.  If you get high on drugs and have an accident that cripples you, God can forgive you.  What will usually not happen is the restoration of the use of your legs.  You may go to heaven but you can’t go up the stairs.

So?  Don’t assume.  Don’t play games with God.  Get serious.  Forgiveness waits but sometimes the scares won’t go away. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Be a Bucket

(Proverbs 5:15 KJV)  Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

Modern Americans are generally ignorant of “cisterns” (953a).  Before the days of indoor plumbing water was always a problem.  You might get a lot of rain for half the year but nothing the other half.  Streams could dry up.  In some areas wells were impossible to dig but most people could dig a pit, which is the basic meaning of the Hebrew word.  I was listening to a TV program about houses in Central America that had cisterns holding enough water for a family of four for a year.  The modern equivalent might be the water towers that you see above many towns as you drive across the country.

This is a metaphor about being faithful in marriage.  Each person is to have their own sustaining relationship with one other person.  We used to call people butterfly when they went from relationship to relationship.  We are supposed to be buckets connected to one source.

So?  God’s plan is one man and one woman, for life.  This is just another expression of it. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Live the Speech

(Proverbs 4:4 KJV)  He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.

What is sad to me when I read this passage is that it didn’t work.  This is Solomon.  He is the one whom God gave the gift of wisdom.  He ruled Israel when it was at it’s greatest.  He wrote Proverbs and probably Ecclesiastes.  He shared his wisdom with his sons.  They didn’t listen, or if they did, they were like all children when they are told to take out the garbage.  How do I know?  Read how Solomon’s children broke up the kingdom and led Israel away from God.

I am thinking of one of the great preachers I have had the opportunity to hear.  He proclaimed truth and he did not water it down.  He is revered by millions.  He had three children and as far as I can tell, none of them are serving the Lord.  We all know examples of this.  My father had four boys and all of them are Servants of Jesus.  He was a blue collar worker.  He could interact well with clients but I would never think of him as a preacher.  We all know examples of this. 

So?  Might I suggest that it is the daily way in which we apply what we speak that makes a difference in the people around us.  Know the truth.  Speak the truth.  Live the truth. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Solid Foundations

(Proverbs 3:13 KJV)  Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

Knowledge is a good thing.  It is used forty times in Proverbs.  Accurate information and a good reference library or data base are important.  But here it is talking about “understanding” (8394).  What is the difference?  A computer can have knowledge but at this point, no real understanding.  You might have flawless spelling but not know what the words mean. 

Of course the goal is wisdom.  Wisdom is more illusive but requires accurate information and the mental acuity to understand what you know. 

So?  Keep seeking the information you need but never forget that it requires the help of the Holy
Spirit to make the information yield wisdom. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Doctrine Matters

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

There is a doctrinal point here that I think is important.  It has to do with the possibility of leaving the fold of the saved.  Some call it backsliding.  Some call it apostasy.  Others call it impossible.  Many Christians believe that once you have been saved by grace there is no way you can depart from that grace.  Many of those people live upright lives.  It works for them.  I can’t help but believe though that there are people who look on that kind of doctrine as an excuse to live wild and dissipate lives.  Then people say they were never saved in the first place.

I find it hard to understand how you could “leave” (5800a) something without having been there in the first place.  There is a similar verse in Galatians with the same issues. 
(Galatians 5:4 KJV)  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
How do you fall from a tree you have never climbed?  How do you leave a party you never went to?

So?  For sincere believers it won’t make much difference in their eternity.  For those on the border it can have eternal consequences. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

First Fear

(Proverbs 1:7 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I often hear that love is stronger than hate.  Is love stronger than “fear” (3374)?  Is it possible to really love God without fearing Him?  Although the context here is “knowledge” (1847) we are seeing a formula that is repeated several times in Proverbs.  A healthy fear of God is the basis for important spiritual growth.  I emphasize, “healthy”.  This is not the fear that holds a frog motionless while the snake slowly puts its mouth around it.  This is not the fear of the refugee creeping through barbed wire on a border.  This is the fear that is based on a desire not to offend a loving parent, the fear that keeps us from doing something stupid, even when no one is watching.

God is love.  We know that because the Bible tells us so.  He is also holy and His wrath burns toward those who defy Him.  He also wants us to serve Him out of the love of our hearts.  Sometimes it is fear which makes us aware of His love.  My wife still remembers a movie called “Thief in the Night” and reading The Late, Great Planet Earth.  The fear instilled by those tools brought her to love the God of the universe.

So?  Don’t turn into a bowl of quivering jelly but be aware that the God of love is also an awesome being whose wrath is only held in check by His love. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Known for What?

(Proverbs 31:23 KJV)  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

I have a question.  Why is he “known” (3045) [yada]?  It is a simple question, but what is the answer.  The verses around don’t give us a clue.  If you are into macho manhood you might assume that it is because he is such a great fount of wisdom.  If you are into sisterhood, then it is because of the reputation of his wife.  It doesn’t tell us.

Although I doubt if he is a complete fool, I would tend to lean toward the sisters on this.  The majority of this chapter is singing her praises.  He is thrown in for context and color.  The only reference to wisdom in this chapter is in verse 26 and refers to her.  When he sits in the gates, part of his reputation is rooted in being her husband.  At a certain point in my life I was only known as my father’s son.  Later on it began to go both ways.  At times he was recognized as my father.  Even today I am what I am because of who he was.

So?  Treasure the people who make it possible for you to be you.  We are not rocks on top of a hill but trees in a forest nurtured by all that is around us. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Which Is It?

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

Do you believe the Bible is inspired?  Do you believe it is inerrant?  Do you believe it is literal?  The three are not the same.  Inspired means it was created under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Inerrant means that there is nothing, no matter how small, that could be wrong or inconsistent.  Literal means there is no interpretation allowed.  Most people will clarify they mean the original manuscripts that are given by God. 

So what do you do with a verse like this.  Does God change His mind in the same verse?  Wasn’t Solomon listening?  Or, as is probably the case, was the three and four a literary device?  Too often we forget to read and understand the Bible as a document written by talented people who used poetry, law, narrative and parable to get points across.  They don’t take into consideration the different types of humor, onomatopoeia, allegory, metaphor and hyperbole. 

So?  Don’t get uptight over “inconsistencies” that have simple explanations.  Use your brain and engage your faith.  Oh, and keep reading. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Anger Issues

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

Out of control behavior is a two edged sword.  Notice that the first effect is on the group the “angry” (639) “man” (376) is involved with.  Certain individuals have the ability to spread their turmoil to people around them.  “Strife” (4066) is a social condition.  Everyone is against his neighbor. 

The second target of anger is the one who is losing it.  His anger leads to “transgression” (6588).  There is a such a thing as righteous anger but most anger is self-seeking and sinful.  We would all be safer if we would just assume that the anger we feel is sinful rather than trying to rationalize it away. 

So?  Self control is good for society.  It is good for the individual.  It is part of the Spirit controlled life.  That means we may still have a long way to go but are expected to be moving in the right direction. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Right Standards

(Proverbs 28:28 KJV)  When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.

How can you tell if the people on the “rise” (6965) are “wicked” (7563) or “righteous” (6662)?  The public discussion is full of name calling and accusations.  Much of it is just the surge of the moment.  Some of it is deliberate misleading.  This is an important question for believers to consider.

The definition of moral and immoral that our society has adopted is totally different than the morals that are given to us by the Bible.  Keep in mind that the community you live in will label you as immoral if you do not recycle your plastics but be perfectly open to aborting your child.  Do you remember the media furor over Vice President Pence sharing that he would not have dinner alone with a woman who was not his wife?  These same people have no problem with left wing activists burning and looting to keep someone from expressing an opinion they don’t like.

So?  You can call yourself a Christian but if you are not living in righteousness as God defines it, you are whistling in the wind.   
(John 14:21 KJV)  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
That means keeping His commandments, not the opinions of the school board or Supreme Court.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Friends and Family

(Proverbs 27:10 KJV)  Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

We need to come to grips with the truth that the bonds of the faith are to take precedent over the bonds of family.  This is very hard for parents who have children heading down the wrong path.  I recently read an article that informed us that polls showed Christians were becoming more accepting of gay marriage.  The reason was that they had children or family members who had embraced homosexuality and that changed their understanding of the issue.

This is an example of how the church is having Ichabod written over many sanctuaries.  When the sensitivity to family proclivities overrules the clear teaching of scripture we are drifting away from the faith, or maybe even running away.  We see too much of this in the church today.  Our theology is based on our feelings instead of God’s word.

So?  Value your family but don’t let it trump your Lord. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fools Endorse Fools

(Proverbs 26:8 KJV)  As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

You might think this is a bit extreme but I have seen this level of intelligence.  I could tell you about the kid’s uncle who shot himself while cleaning his gun...three different times.  I had repeated conversations with students who tell me they want to improve their grade and yet continue to bring no tools or do any work.  It would be funny if it were not tragic. 

The word to us is that we need to learn not to give credibility to people like this.  If people  demonstrate that they are a fools, they should not have our support.  When we endorse fools, it makes us fools.

So?  Don’t be afraid to be discerning.  If you have the gift of mercy and a little discernment then learn to trust the insight of the one who has that gift. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fake News

(Proverbs 25:8 KJV)  Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.

This is good advice for citizens in a republic.  It is double important in an age of electronic media and irresponsible leaks of confidential material.  On the first point, we are expected to participate in our political process.  The First Amendment gives us not only the freedom to speak but the right to petition the government when they get too big for their britches.  In order to make an intelligent presentation of our case we need to be thoughtful and listening instead of just throwing out our emotional appeals.

On the second, we are all familiar with newspapers publishing all kinds of scandal based on anonymous sources.  We have long been familiar with the scandal sheets at the checkout line.  We understand that they often are pure fantasy designed for entertainment.  Unfortunately it seems like what used to be respected news sources have drunk the same kool aid. 

So?  If we are believers in truth, and if we are believers we know there is truth, we need to be very slow to believe the headlines we read.  We have a responsibility to delve a bit deeper than the first paragraph.  We need to understand that this warning goes both ways.  God expects us to use our minds. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Heart of Folly

(Proverbs 24:9 KJV)  The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.

If you think about it you can see the common root word in “folly NASB” (200) and “foolishness KJV”.  The common idea is being a fool.  As I looked through different commentaries I thought what Adam Clarke had to say was interesting.
    “Fool is here taken for a wicked man, who is not only evil in his actions, but every thought of his heart is evil, and that continually. A simple thought about foolishness, or about sin itself, is not sinful; it is the purpose or device, the harbouring evil thoughts, and devising how to sin, that is criminal”
Adam Clarke was a contemporary of our Founding Fathers. 

So?  Where your heart is, thus goes your planning.  Make sure your heart is right. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Talking Heads

(Proverbs 23:19 KJV)  Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Modern America is full of people who want to talk but don’t want to “hear” (listen NASB) (8085) [shema].  We call people on TV “talking heads”.  We all have people we avoid because we just don’t have time to listen to nothing for a long time.  Thirty times in Proverbs we are told to listen or hear.  It is an important concept.  It is one we continually ignore.

Every once in awhile I become suddenly aware that I am doing the same thing.  Sometimes it is the glazed look in the eyes.  Sometimes it is the Holy Spirit.  I know I am around people who take every comment or concern of another person and turn it back to what they want to talk about.  My prayer is that I will grow beyond that.

So?  Would the world become silent if people started listening or would we just have better communication and less anger?  I think it is worth a try.  I can’t control someone else’s mouth but I can try to control mine.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Do You Cheat at Monopoly?

(Proverbs 22:20 KJV)  Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,

This is a glorious promise.  God is offering us “excellent” (7991c) resources for our life.  It starts with a foundation of principles and standards that are designed by the Maker to make the life of the obedient rich and rewarding.  Of course, if you are not reading the owners’ manual you don’t know what those principles are.  If you don’t know the rules we can never win the game.

Think about giving someone a Monopoly board with all the pieces and no rules.  What you come up with would not do you much good.  We have all played with people who keep trying to change the rules.  It is a hollow victory.

So?  Spend some time reading a part of the Bible you have not read in awhile.  Spend some time thinking about what you can remember.  Act on it. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mouth Guards

(Proverbs 21:23 KJV)  Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

I tend to think that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to protect my “soul” (5315).  It is, but like so many of the principles expressed in the Bible there is a place for our involvement.  We are not saved by works, but works are demanded.  Our hearts are cleansed by faith but we are expected to put effort into living upright lives.  The Holy Spirit lives in us and preserves us, but we are expected to watch our mouths.

Somehow the discipline of shutting our mouths and carefully picking our words helps to keep our inner man strong and growing.

So?  Bite your tongue.  Count to ten.  Breathe deep.  Do whatever it takes but go for the stronger soul.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The First Amendment

(Proverbs 20:28 KJV)  Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.

The marginal reading of the NASB is interesting here because it throws an interesting insight into the Hebrew used for “mercy" (loyalty NASB) (2617a).  It reads “covenant loyalty”.  As I keep saying, my favorite translation is “lovingkindness” and the opinion that this is the OT version of agape.  This speaks to the relationship between political leaders and the people of God.

My first reading speaks to the responsibility of the leaders.  It could be the president or it could be the school board members.  They all have a responsibility, based on a covenant, to their constituents.  Too often they throw up smoke screens and simply lie to keep people from throwing them out of office.  This does not end well.

We the people also owe them a commitment.  Sometimes that means being a cheering section.  Other times it means being the inspector general. 

So?  We are blessed to live in a country where we still have some freedoms.  One of them, in the First Amendment is to petition the government for redress of grievances.  As believers we should not hesitate to exercise that right before we lose it. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Responsiveness

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

How do you respond to adversity?  That is a hard one to answer accurately.  No one is totally consistent in sailing through rough water.  We have a word for that person, Pollyanna.  God’s patience sees us through our weak moments, but we still have a choice in how we respond.  One of the questions I ask myself is, “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” 

I am going through some personal struggles.  I keep asking myself is this the time to turn the other cheek or to pull a Martin Luther.  You know, “Here I stand...”  Everyone has advice to give but in the end we are responsible for our own answers.  God must speak to me on my level, not yours.  I remember when I was first married and going through the adjustments.  Most of the books written to help young husbands are written by men with type A personalities.  What works for them isn’t within my world.  It took me many books to understand that.

So?  At times God will be forced to teach me the hard way because I am so unresponsive.  My prayer is that I will hear what He is teaching me before I get too many bumps on my head. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Let’s Talk

(Proverbs 18:13 KJV)  He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Don’t try to confuse me with the facts.  That is the attitude of the majority of humans who have a comfortable paradigm in their lives and don’t want to upset their comfort.  Even people in misery seem to prefer the pain rather than change.  Thomas Jefferson put it this way in the Declaration of Independence.
“all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves...”
The pagan forces in our culture have come to the point of having no fear because they know we will not speak up.  I would suggest that we have been listening long enough, it is time to speak out on homosexuality, Biblical justice, class warfare and other topics that the left is pushing to de-Christianize our culture. 

So?  Assuming you have been meditating, praying and thinking, look for ways to speak out but keep it kind and courteous. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ear Choices

(Proverbs 17:4 KJV)  A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

I am accustomed to the idea of “loose lips sink ships”.  Evil people speak evil.  They also listen to evil.  I think this implies that they go looking for other evil sources of information.  They consult with other people in rebellion against God.  When someone is not walking in obedience they are actively colluding to spread falsehood.

There is nothing you can do about them, but you can be alert to not listening to them.  You can be careful about whom you chose for advice.  Just because there are a lot of people trumpeting a meme does not mean that it is right.

So?  Make God’s word the structure for the information you gather.  Anyone who rejects that standard should also be rejected as an authority. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Heart Leadership

(Proverbs 16:23 KJV)  The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

I tend to think that my mind should be guiding my “mouth” (6310) rather than my “heart” (3820).  It is interesting that the word has the sense of mind.  It is the inner man. 

I guess it is usually who we are on the inside that determines the choices we make and the priorities we set.  It is important to understand that our heart does not exist in a vacuum but is the part of us that is transformed.  It is the word used in the familiar verse,
(Proverbs 3:5 KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
It takes us beyond sterile facts and puts the moral values on them.

So?  If your heart is right with God, don’t be afraid to follow your heart.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Hedge of Sloth

(Proverbs 15:19 KJV)  The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.

Being “slothful” (sluggard NASB) (6102) is more extreme than we might think.  Notice that it is contrasted with uprightness.  One would expect it to be held up against the industrious.  If that were the case there would be no moral judgement, but this offers a moral judgement. 

But the focus of this verse is the life that is ahead for lazy people.  Couch potatoes face nothing but barriers and pain in their lives.  Nothing will ever go right.  In other verses found in Proverbs you find they tend to blame everyone else and have an encyclopedia of excuses.  Does that sound like anyone you know or see on the news, people who are always blaming and claiming to be victims?

So?  As followers of Almighty God we are not allowed to blame others for our lack of blessings.  We are expected to get off the couch, out of the air conditioning and get moving on building a life.  Sloth is sin.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Body Joy

(Proverbs 14:10 KJV)  The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.

This is a verse that has required me to do some thinking.  The couplet structure doesn’t make sense to me.  The possessive pronouns “his” KJV” and “its” NASB are not numbered so I am guessing they are assumed by the translators.  If you leave them in the nebulous realm you find that a stranger does not invest in joy.

Being alone is not a happy state when it goes on too long.  We do not need to be best friends with the person next to us on the airplane but it helps to have someone caring if the plane crashes.  Having people who care about you is one of the roles of the church, the body of Christ.  We are called brothers and sisters.  We are knit together by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.

So?  It is a bit of a stretch, I know, but we need to be involved in a church.  We need to be giving and receiving in an extended family relationship.  Since I am in transition from state to state I need to preach this to myself.  It isn’t enough to worship under a tree.  We need a church. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Riotous Living

(Proverbs 13:7 KJV)  There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

The word “maketh” (pretends NASB) is not in the Hebrew.  It is an attempt to explain the concept from another language.  In English we do no have a verb to “rich” (6238).  The same applies to “poor” (7326).  The KJV is a little more vague and I think gives us a valuable nuance.  Many people like to live like they are rich.  I see it everywhere I go.  I have seen it in my own family.  It is the secret of the success of many companies.  People shop where the cool people shop.  They wear clothes with logos.  When kids realize I am wearing a Pro Club T-shirt, they are impressed.

How does this work out for them?  They end us with “nothing” (369/3605) which is a compound word meaning without the whole.  What they do is waste the wealth that God provides them with and squander it for the joy of the moment.  Read about the Prodigal Son.  He had it all.  What did he do with it?
(Luke 15:13 KJV)  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
When I see commercials with all the young and beautiful models drinking and laughing I am seeing the picture of riotous living.  It is not the way to prosperity.

So?  Be wary of the lure of the “good life”.  It may satisfy for the moment but it will leave you short at the end.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Common Sense

(Proverbs 12:5 KJV)  The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit.

Notice the contrast in actions.  You have two classes of people, the “righteous” (6662) and the “wicked” (7563).  The righteous would have opinions that are worth sharing.  They are based on wisdom and truth.  They are offered in honesty.  They remain thoughts.

On the other hand the evil are very quick to offer their advice.  Since they are evil their advice will be “deceit” (4820).  They might even be giving good advice but they are not offering it to make your life better, it is to benefit them.

So?  We are encouraged to seek the input of others.  The thing that is important to remember is to keep in mind the character of the person offering the advice.  The man selling you the car is not the best one to ask about the condition of the car if you know him to lie about other things.  Use common, “Christian” sense. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Types of Capitalists

(Proverbs 11:16 KJV)  A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.

The differing translations here make me wonder how “strong” (KJV), “violent” (NASB), “ruthless” (Updated NASB) a Christian can be.  The range of definitions ranges from “awe-inspiring” to “ruthless”.  It has the sense of being very aggressive in trying to reach goals.  The goals are implied to be self-seeking.  The problem is not in being strong.  This is the only place the KJV uses that positive translation of the word.  All other places it is used of people that God is destroying or people that God is using to destroy.

So?  This does not condemn riches but those who use the wrong methods to attain riches.  This condemnation would not apply to the capitalist starting a new company and building it up.  It would apply to the corporate raider who bought out companies, liquidated the assets and fired all the people.  Method and attitude do make a difference. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Work Out

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

Wisdom is sport to the righteous.  Although sports have become an obsession with modern America and soccer fans all around the world, if kept in perspective, sport is an activity that gives relief from the routine of life.  Sport invigorates and improves health.  For many in the world it is the pursuit of “mischief” (wickedness NASB) (2154) that brings joy to their lives.  For us it is seeking wisdom.  That is why we can enjoy worship and find meaning in an old book written by dead white guys.

So?  Do your workouts both physical and spiritual.  Both lead to health. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Seeker Friendly

(Proverbs 9:3 KJV)  She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

Like God Himself, Wisdom is seeking out those who will listen and respond.  There are many areas of life in which it is legitimate to claim, “I didn’t know.”  There are also many areas of life in which that claim is rather empty.  Can we honestly believe that there are very many people who have not heard at least enough about Jesus to begin a journey in His direction.  They may not have heard the four spiritual laws or be able to quote John 3:16 but they hear bits and pieces that they respond to, or not.

Of such decisions are destinies made.

So?  God is still communicating.  Our job is to keep listening and responding. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Creating Wisdom

(Proverbs 8:30 KJV)  Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

We see poetic language, not scientific specifics.  The KJV has “one brought up” (525) and the NASB has “master workman”.  The Hebrew is the same and the word means master workman.  One of the big debates where philosophy, science and theology collide is in the question of how God created and how long it took.  Genesis says, God said and it was so.  Not much detail there.  We read other places where all of creation is held together by Jesus.  Here Solomon is pointing out that Wisdom was a major part of how God put the universe together.

What does that mean?  That would depend on what you think wisdom is all about.  If you are a new age politician you will talk about the wisdom of children.  Since children know how to destroy and not to build that obviously is not the wisdom mentioned here.  If your wisdom involves justice, truth, love and the fruits of the Spirit, then you would have a great master workman.

So?  Wisdom is at the heart of creation.  Count on it. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Relax, You Are Odd

(Proverbs 7:7 KJV)  And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,

The young man in question is just one in the midst of many.  Twice there is reference to the foolishness of youth but what I kept missing was that the entire crowd were “simple” (naive NASB) (6612a).  The boy was just a fish in the school.  This is a reminder that in the world we are surrounded by people who are out of touch with reality.  Some are ignorant by choice.  Some are out of it because they can’t help it.  Most are lacking in wisdom and significant knowledge.

Like the writer, we are observers.  There often isn’t much we can do beyond watching.  When we can, we should.

So?  Relax.  You are odd.  You are unusual.  You are part of the redeemed and the world does not like having that around. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Watch the Response

(Proverbs 6:34 KJV)  For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

Obviously “jealousy” (7068) is not something that should be a part of our lives but this is a different kind of warning.  This is a caution about causing jealousy in other people.  The immediate context is adultery.  The rage it can cause seems to be beyond forgiveness.  Think about other possibilities.  Maybe athletic prowess would cause it.  Maybe success in business could be a problem.  It might even be something you have no control over.

This is why things like patience, turning the other cheek, not being provoked and such are so important to the Christian character.  Of course you might provoke jealousy in the church but that is their spiritual problem.

So?  Don’t be surprised when people turn on you.  Keep on course. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Steady Diets

(Proverbs 5:14 KJV)  I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.

It fascinates and frustrates me when I watch others at worship.  Picture a “congregation” (5712 NASB, 6951 KJV) in worship singing “Great Is They Faithfulness” or “Holy!  Holy!  Holy!” and seeing a young man standing slumped staring into nothingness.  The only time his face shows any animation is when he leans over to whisper to the girl next to him.  Or I see an older man with handicapped lips who seems to be speaking in a dream.  Or it could be during the sermon and the are on a cell phone scrolling through who knows what.

I am forced to believe that they did not wake up that morning suddenly in a total fog.  I think the key is in the verses surrounding this.  People like this have been preparing for this moment by ignoring all the input available.  Have you ever been in the middle of a movie and someone asks, “What happened?”  If they had been paying attention they would not need to ask.

So?  Pay attention to the things God is trying to teach you.  Just as you need food on a regular basis you need wisdom in measured doses.  It will prepare you for the wedding feast of the Lamb.  Spiritual life is not healthy on binges and purges.  (Posted, July 5, 2017, PP)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Gender Neutral

(Proverbs 4:3 KJV)  For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.

Translations matter.  Each modern translation has a philosophy.  Sometimes that involves academic or scholarly choices.  Other times it is a decision to go with the culture of the Bible or adapt to modern sensitivities.  This verse is a good illustration.  First, you see little difference between the NASB and the KJV.
(Proverbs 4:3 NAS77)  When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
Over the rest of the translations on my software you find a similar trend.  The object is the son and the relationships are clearly father and mother.  It is hard to believe who could have a problem with that. 

However, the two translations that I consider paraphrases feel a need to adapt.
(Proverbs 4:3 CEV)  When I was still very young and my mother's favorite child, my father
The Contemporary English Version leaves the entire first reference to the father out and brings the final phrase forward from the next verse.

The Good News Bible goes even further,
(Proverbs 4:3 GNB)  When I was only a little boy, my parents' only son,
Is this the end of the world?  No.  Does it undermine any important doctrine?  No.  Does it make me question the integrity of the translators?  Yes. 

So?  When you are boiling pasta, having more water than the directions say will not make any difference to most applications.  If you are baking a cake it could ruin the entire project.  Read with discernment. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Father Is Not the Same as Parent

(Proverbs 3:12 KJV)  For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

I just finished reading a book called The Shack.  I hear they made a movie from it.  One of the startling aspects of the book is portraying God the Father as a black woman and the Holy Spirit as an Arab woman.  Literary license and shock value can be useful teachers.  There was a point made about having stereotypes about God.  I was good with that.  What I was not good with was the way in which the book feminized the character of God and the way in which He deals with man.

God is referred to as “father” (1) [ab] in the Bible.  Here the word refers to a human father but the behavior is compared to God.  In case you are not aware, there are a few places where God is referred to in the feminine but it does not negate the basic principle.  The world rejects this idea because radical feminists have intimidated and infiltrated education, media and government.  The church is conforming to the world instead of the Bible.  You can see the paraphrases substituting “parent” for “father”.  We need to be open to honest scholarship and hard truths without becoming new age pagans.

So?  God does not march to the drumbeat of the popular culture.  He will not be mocked.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Power of Proverbs

(Proverbs 2:12 KJV)  To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;

One of the promises of wisdom is deliverance.  We are surrounded by reasons to fear and walk with caution.  Blogs I read about preparedness talk about being alert.  I am trying to train myself to keep a roving eye when I walk across a parking lot.  I try to avoid those parking lots late at night.  That is one way wisdom can protect us.

One of the safety features of life is that those looking to commit evil tend to be lazy and risk averse.  They will take the easiest route.  Your dog might not keep out a determined thief but if you neighbor doesn’t have a dog, he is an easier target.  Guess which one gets picked.  When we walk with wisdom certain types will just avoid us.

It also keeps me safer if I am walking with a group.  In our lives that can be the church if the church is being the church.  It can be the fellowship lifting you up in prayer.  We also need to be aware that angels exist and you don’t need to see them to understand that they have your back.  When you walk with confidence you are also avoided by the nefarious, or as the KJV calls them, the froward.

So?  It makes a difference living God’s way.  It really does.  As they say in Spanish, vaya con Dios. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Doomsday Filters

(Proverbs 1:6 KJV)  To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

We live in difficult times.  What we don’t understand is that every generation has felt like they live in dangerous times.  Ever since the writing of Revelation, Christians have been looking around and trying to figure out who the Anti-Christ is.  And then the next generation grows up with a new set of targets.  Jesus still tarries.

Life is full of “dark sayings” (riddles NASB) (2420).  The world is full of conspiracies.  I know it.  You know it.  You probably have a few schemes in the back of your mind also.  The battle between those who would be king and those who refuse to be slaves will always be with us.  The need for us is to “understand” (995) and to live our lives with that understanding.  For Christians it means living in trust because we understand the big issues and the understanding that God controls events. 

So?  No elections are coming up but there are still many things to worry about.  Instead, call on wisdom and filter it all through the view of eternity. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Another Place the Culture Is Wrong

(Proverbs 30:17 KJV)  The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

I don’t think it is a coincidence how often that attitude of children towards their parents is mentioned in Proverbs.  Children are to show respect toward their parents, period.  It doesn’t say, “If they deserve it.”  It says, “Do it!”  To my knowledge the reverse is not true.  Parents are supposed to train and discipline.  They are also told not to provoke their children.  Parenting is a hard and narrow road to walk.  Being a child may be hard but it is pretty obvious.

We need to be reminded that the approach to childhood that is taught in your typical university and public school is not in agreement with the Bible.  In fact, it is directly opposed.  Children are not fountains of wisdom.  They do not deserve respect.  They are not to be obeyed.

So?  I hate to rain on your parade but you are watching generation after generation being destroyed as the church compromises and refuses the wisdom of God.  Don’t be a part of it.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Hard Way

(Proverbs 29:21 KJV)  He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.

When I went to my software I was shocked at the words that came up on the screen for verse 21,
(Proverbs 29:21 GNB)  If you give your servants everything they want from childhood on, some day they will take over everything you own.
If you compare it to the KJV you see a totally different ending.  The NASB echoes the KJV.  GNB stands for Good News Bible.  I put it into the paradigm of paraphrase.  The others that I consider paraphrases match the GNB.  What goes on?

I find an answer as I look at the word used for “son” (4497).  This is not the normal word for son in the Old Testament.  The standard word [ben] (1121) is used almost 5,000 times.  The word used here has an interesting definition, only one, “progeny” comes close to “son”.  The other two give us an insight into the different translations:  grief, thankless one. 

This is not a lesson in treating your servants or slaves well.  This is a caution about spoiling your children.  Solomon watched his father, David, do it.  I can only guess that Solomon did not learn from his fathers example.  He left no son [ben] to rule a united kingdom but only sons (4497) so spoiled that they split it and took it on the road to destruction.

So?  The hard way is just that, the hard way.  Being a parent, employer, pastor or leader of any kind demands high standards if we are going to see others develop into righteousness.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Curse Magnet

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

I should worry about “curses” (3994).  I say that because I have a tendency to rationalize and justify why others are going through hard times.  Because I am aware of it I am dealing with it.  The line between discernment and compassion should be drawn by grace and mercy, not my version of justice.  Or maybe I should say it needs to be erased. 

Are the “curses” (3994) verbal from the “poor” (7326), proclaimed by God or just the natural results of selfishness on our lives?  The paraphrases tend to side with the first. 
(Proverbs 28:27 GNB)  Give to the poor and you will never be in need. If you close your eyes to the poor, many people will curse you.
I think the Hebrew leaves it open.

So?  Any way you want to translate this the result is help for the poor.  It doesn’t promise blessings, just an absence of curses.  I think it is the same thing. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I Like Your Perfume

(Proverbs 27:9 KJV)  Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

This verse gives you permission to have nice things.  “Oil” (8081) was not necessary.  We are not talking cooking oil but something they thought made them look good.  Perfume might have been necessary in the days before hot showers but it was still a luxury for the masses.  They can make you feel better about the day.

Obviously there is a level of excess.  We are told that too much love of such items will make you a member of the poverty class.  Have you noticed how well some people are dressed who have EBT cards?  Most of the kids I work with from “poor” homes spend more on clothes than I do.  But there is nothing wrong with having objects that bring a smile to your face.

So?  Keep your priorities straight.  Don’t use your tithe to make the BMW payment because God wants you to be happy.  Remember that the cloak Jesus had was seamless, which means it was of high quality. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lame Fools

(Proverbs 26:7 KJV)  The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

It occurred to me as I read this today that it does not fit in the self-esteem mantra of our popular culture.  If you look over these verses you will see a lot of terms that point out deficiencies.  We hear about fools, cripples, sluggards and drunks.  Could you see those terms being used in the next State of the Union speech?  I don’t expect it.  The criticism would be overwhelming.  Yet here it is in the Bible.

So many of our popular standards and expectations are antithetical to the Bible.  Child rearing, marriage, justice.  There are so many topics that the anti-God pagans have managed to insert in the slots of our minds.  The only antidote is to start pulling their programing cards as we find them.  And read with discernment.  It is not the “lame” (6455) that is being compared to a fool, but the legs.

So?  It is not a pointy thing, it is a spade.  Call it that.  My wife used to call the clubs puppy feet.  I understood her but others didn’t. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Advice from Introverts

(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.

I tend to be an introvert.  I have grown to like e-mails because I don’t need to talk to people to communicate.  I can function in a social setting.  I can carry on a conversation.  I can stand in front of a group and talk.  I prefer to sit in a corner with a good book.  When I read this verse I cringe inside because this is a situation that hits home.

As an introvert I also have an exaggerated fear of rejection.  I have a friend and we have dinner together on occasion.  I am always amazed that he is willing to be seen in public with me because he has always been part of the in crowd and I have been one of the “oh, him” crowd.  I don’t need to be reminded of this.  Maybe you do.  If so, take it to heart.

So?  Let others lift you up.  Leave your horn at home so you don’t toot it.  If you are an extrovert this rejection might not bother you but think about your children. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Life of Leaks

(Proverbs 24:8 KJV)  He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

How often do we hear our pagan culture praise the “mischievous person” (schemer NASB) (1167/4209).  We are currently being inundated with a series of “leaks” from unnamed sources in the administration.  Are they real or made up?  If they are real then the leaker is the schemer.  If they are false, then the reporter gets the credit.  Notice the marginal reading of the NASB, “deviser of evil”.  It isn’t a leak.  It isn’t a slick business deal.  It isn’t aggressive driving.  It isn’t creative accounting.  It is devising evil.

As believers we need to understand we serve a God of truth and holiness.  Being full of schemes or mischief is not the intent of God.  We need to understand that people like that exist.  We need to reject it for our lives and, as far as possible, for our associations.

So?  Walk in righteousness.  It is not an option but it is a choice. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

End and Future Hope

(Proverbs 23:18 KJV)  For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

What a difference a translation makes.  Note what that NASB says,
(Proverbs 23:18 NAS77)  Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.
One seems to be full of hope.  One focuses on despair. 

I like the way the NASB puts it.  As I write I just went through a retirement moment at school.  They had a cake and said a few words.  It was well done and found the right balance.  My final words could have been out of the NASB because I commented that I was still full of life but it was time to move on.  It wasn’t the end of the book, just a new chapter. 

The KJV is the most accurate.  The idea of “end” (future NASB) (319) is more of the last days.  As believers we need to realize that even if our health is bad and we are running on fumes, there is still “hope” (8615b).  For Christians that is not a vague desire for a happy ending, it is an assurance of an eternity enjoying the presence of God.  As you read this, if all goes according to plan, I will already be in Texas exploring the future and making discoveries on a daily basis.

So?  Rejoice at whatever stage you are in life.  For us the seeming end is just the first page of the next adventure. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Promises, Promises

(Proverbs 22:19 KJV)  That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.

In a better time in our history, congress decided to print “In God We Trust” on our money.  It was all the way back in 1956.  It seems like ancient history now.  Those of us who notice probably think it has always been there but it was a statement the country wanted to make.  Would we do it again?  It is hard to believe it could happen now.

If you look at the context, the reason that Israel was able to trust in God was because they had taken the wisdom of God and internalized it.  It would be impossible to trust God if we don’t know what He has had to say to us.  It would be like buying tires without knowing the size of your rims.  You might get lucky but don’t count on it. 

So?  Know the promises.  Know the Promiser.  They go together. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Go to Grad School

(Proverbs 21:22 KJV)  A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.

It seems like Christians have abandoned the market place and the city square.  I think it was Alistair Begg who said that he could not think of any verbal Christian in the mass media.  Where once the people involved in the cutting edge science and academics of the day were believers, now we seem to avoid involvement.  That is wrong. 

We should be taking the wisdom we have and vigorously applying it to the world around us.  There might be some areas where Christians would be on both sides, such as a cure for cancer or the best way to get to Mars.  That is not a problem.  What is missing from the debate is how the knowledge is applied.  Our technology is advancing double time while our ethical application is in reverse.

So?  We need to change that.  Young people need to assault the halls of learning but they need to do it with their foundations already established.  If we don’t have the fear of the Lord already rooted they will chew us up and spit us out.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

But I Didn’t Know

(Proverbs 20:27 KJV)  The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

One of the phrases I hear all the time at school is “I didn’t know”.  It applies to almost anything that a student is supposed to be doing or have done.  It is a one-size-fits-all excuse.  It also is worthless in my class.  When I have given out papers and reviewed them, repeatedly asked if any one else has the assignment, written it on the board, gone around checking and answer questions that the person making the excuse has asked, it doesn’t wash.  They knew in their “inward (innermost NASB) parts” (2315).  They know they know.  They just don’t want to admit it.

I believe that people know or have known what is right and wrong.  It is possible to be conditioned to think different but there is still a part of us that knows the truth.  Paul put it this way,
(Romans 1:19 KJV)  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
I observe this at school on the issue of homosexuality.  Kids know it is not acceptable but over the years they are conditioned.  They resist the label.  Take that and apply it to any of the sins that we make excuses for whether it be gossip or adultery.  We know because God makes us know.

So?  Don’t seek the solace of excuses.  God does not play games and He will not change the rules just because you claim you did not know. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Take Out the Trash

(Proverbs 19:24 KJV)  A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

This is an interesting picture and a strange observation of sloth.  The KJV gives a picture of Napoleon in the classic picture with his hand in his coat.  The NASB describes someone too lazy to feed himself.  In this case the NASB is more accurate.  The “dish” (6747) of the NASB is a literal translation.  I am not sure where the KJV gets “bosom”.  Either way the picture is someone whom you would not want to take out in public.

How many problems in the world are because of laziness?  It is hard to tell.  Some people are in dire circumstances because of sloth.  Others through no fault of their own.  Some neighborhoods are run down because of sloth.  Even a poor person can pick up trash, not write on the walls, wash windows and sweep a sidewalk.  It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you are lazy.  I remember going to the apartment of a computer geek one time.  If you have ever seen the cartoon depictions of a computer surrounded by piles of pizza boxes and empty cans then you have seen his apartment.  Was it poverty?  No, it was a lack of home training and effort.

So?  Being lazy is not just a personal choice.  It is a statement about destiny and eternity.  I cast no stones but I am dodging a few. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Foresight

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

Have you ever had a great looking piece of fruit and taken a big bite only to find that it was bad on the inside?  Or how about the time you didn’t look close enough and you missed the little hole near the stem only to have a revolting taste.  Sometimes I don’t find the bad part of an apple until I am half way through.  The lesson is that what we see if often not what we get.

We can build castles in the sand and put out some pretty impressive designs but don’t forget the tide is coming in.  When you build your life castle with arrogance it ends up as “destruction” (7667).  We may not even notice it.  We may notice it when it is too late.  Think of the people who think the infant learning the word “no” is so cute.  Eventually they become broken adults. 

So?  We should be building our lives on the blueprints God has provided.  Our priorities or the social expectations we experience tend to be short sighted and counterproductive.  Keep it in mind as you plan your vacation or your next job.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fire Pots

(Proverbs 17:3 KJV)  The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

What difference did Solomon mean when he mentions a “fining pot” (refining pot NASB) (4715) and a “furnace” (3564a)?  If you look at the words there is a different meaning.  The pot seems to refer to a confined space.  The furnace can mean a pot but seems to refer more to the heating process.  Literary device or theologically significant?  Your guess is as good as mine.

Let me speculate anyway.  Some situations that spur our growth are situations we cannot get away from, like a pot.  The mix continues to bubble and causes separation.  I have heard of a process where the silver is heated and the impurities are skimmed off the top.  There are times when God is removing the problem from us.

With the furnace I think of crushed rock containing the pure gold being heated until the gold runs out, leaving the waste behind.  Sometimes God allows a situation to get overheated in order to force us to move.  There may be a situation which we are tempted to stay and battle and instead we should be doing a disappearing act. 

So which is it for you?  I can’t make that call since I am not you.  You can’t really tell me either.  We do have the Holy Spirit and the written word to give us direction.  Pray for the guidance that produces the fruit of wisdom in your life. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pointless Practice

(Proverbs 16:22 KJV)  Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.

“Instruction” (discipline NASB) is not an automatic solution.  Someone, maybe many people, pointed out that it is not true that “practice makes perfect”.  It should be “perfect practice makes perfect”.  If you practice wrong, you reinforce the wrong things.  If you spank wrong, you build resentment and confusion. 

I remember when I first started down the road to dealing with my diabetes.  The doctor told me to count carbohydrates.  I began to count carbohydrates and I noticed a strange thing, many of the foods I really liked didn’t have much in the way of carbohydrates:  Bacon, cheese, butter.  I regulated my carbs.  I pigged out on everything else.  Needless to say things did not get better.  it was the “discipline” (4148) of a “fool” (191). 

So?  We need a solid foundation in the things of God and a heart motivation that is established by grace.  It doesn’t do much good to exercise if it just leads to bigger bowls of popcorn. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don’t Lose It

(Proverbs 15:18 KJV)  A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Sin is often a distortion of a blessing from God.  Thus appetite can become gluttony.  A desire for intimacy can become lust.  Hard work can become greed.  Another form of sin is when we take qualities that are reserved for God and apply them to ourselves.  Here the KJV gives us more clarity in the translation when it talks about “wrath” (2534) instead of the “hot-tempered” of the NASB.  Although Proverbs does not seem to use it this way, the word refers to the wrath of God.  It does have the idea of hot.  God is capable of wrath without sinning.  Men don’t tend to know the line between righteous indignation and sinful anger. 

So?  This kind of strong emotional reaction is out of bounds for us.  Yes, we will experience moments of anger but as followers of Jesus we are not to allow it to get a hold in our hearts.  It is much more satisfying to rage than to turn the other cheek but understand, we are not given that option. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mock Vocabulary

(Proverbs 14:9 KJV)  Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

You can tell a lot about people by the words they use.  It is always a challenge to understand the students I work with.  Not only do they change the meaning of known words but they make up their own.  To “dis” someone has become a mainstream term.  “My bad” is to be interpreted as “my mistake”.  On one level it demonstrates the resilience of the English language.  On another it reflects intellectual sloth.

One of the ways in which I evaluate a church is the vocabulary.  We all like terms like love, grace and forgiveness.  The problem is that we need to hear words like sin, repentance and sacrifice.  In an attempt to be accepted by the pagan culture the church is working hard to “mock” (3917b) without appearing to mock.  One way you do that is to ignore the elephant in the room.

So?  The Bible was written because of sin.  The church is made up of the redeemed.  What were we redeemed from?  Sin.  The Blood has been applied.  We can rejoice in that by not ignoring it. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

On Guard Duty

(Proverbs 13:6 KJV)  Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.

When it comes to “righteousness” (6666) some people teach that it is just a dream meant for heaven.  You hear them quoting,
(Isaiah 64:6 KJV)  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
They seem to think that this verse trumps the other 156 times the word is used in the Old Testament.  If we cannot be righteous, what is the point of this verse?

Righteousness is a gift, given by God through grace and the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is also a way of living in response to that gift.  It is a set of daily choices determined by the free will God has given us by the work of that spirit.  Without Him it can’t happen.  Without our willing cooperation it won’t happen.

So?  Be alert today.  Be alert all day.  You are on sentry duty and have an eternity to protect. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Army Wife

(Proverbs 12:4 KJV)  A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

Notice the difference in translation between the KJV and NASB.  The KJV has “virtuous (2428) woman (802)”.  The NASB has “excellent wife” with a margin note of “virtuous”.  Why the difference?  As I said at another place, the most common translation for “virtuous/excellent” is “army”.  It gets this because the word has the idea of efficiency, strength and wealth.  So I guess the wife we all need is an army wife, with apologies to the navy. 

God is expecting us to be people who have our acts together.  The vapid airhead does not fit into the picture.  In Proverbs the word for such people is simple, naive or fool.  Being a servant of the most high God requires us to have our ducks in a row and our mind engaged.  We will all be at different levels in that.  We can’t all be Einsteins but I am not sure Einstein was an Einstein in every area of his life.

So?  Seek excellence.  We will fall short but we can always be closer to the goal.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Motive Power

(Proverbs 11:15 KJV)  He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.

One of the issues with loaning money is motivation.  I am at a point where I don’t “loan” money.  I might give it to someone and encourage them to pay me back but I don’t loan it because I am sure I am not getting it back.  To some people, like my students, I tell them that I will be glad to loan them a dime when the guy I loaned one to in 7th grade pays me back.

What is destructive as a motivation is speculation.  Often people will “invest” in get-rich-quick schemes.  They think they are clever enough to make a big profit based on being smarter than everyone else.  What often results is a lesson in stupidity.  The Bible has no problem with honest business.  It encourages hard work.  Wealth can be a blessing.  It all depends on how you get it and whether it is done in righteousness or by cutting corners.

So?  Financial success can cost you your soul.  It can destroy your family.  It can drive away your friends.  It can also be the way in which God makes it possible for you to serve Him.  Examine your priorities and methods. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sorry about That

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

Money can’t buy you happiness.  True.  It also can’t buy you love according to the Beatles.  It can’t buy you salvation.  I can make your life less miserable.  It can make you a helper to others.  It can give you the necessities so you can pursue wisdom.  The key is how you use it and whether God blesses it.  Money is not designed to bring “sorrow” (6089a) but God is willing to let that happen if we demand it.

God’s purpose in hard times is to bring us to repentance.  Paul put it this way,
(2 Corinthians 7:9 KJV)  Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
The purpose of life is to groove us into the righteous road.  It is to prepare us for eternity so we can bless God and enjoy Him forever. 

So?  Having a bad day or has it been a bad year?  Look for the lesson, apply it and get on to the upright walk. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Salt on the Wounds

(Proverbs 9:2 KJV)  She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

Wisdom is “prepared” (2873), so says the NASB.  The problem is that the KJV gets much closer to the literal statement Solomon is giving us.  A literal translation puts it this way,
(Proverbs 9:2 LITV)  she has slaughtered her slaughter; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.
“Prepared” is so much more gentile and sanitary.  Give me the undiluted translation, please.  I am a big boy.  I can make my own interpretations.  Wisdom and truth are not always pretty.  They are not always achieved politely or without destroying current comfortable cultural norms.  I was tempted to put “never” for “not always” but I wanted to be reasonable. 

This is a word to the church and to us as individual followers of Jesus.  Walking in righteousness has never been the accepted norm.  It never will be.  Keep in mind that we are called to be salt and salt on an open wound is always painful.

So?  What will I be faced with today?  God will be sufficient.  My prayer for me, and you, is that I will be faithful and a useful tool of Wisdom. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Awesome Point of View

(Proverbs 8:29 KJV)  When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

Creation.  Big Bang.  Expansion of the Universe.  Planets forming.  The Bible is not a science textbook or a peer review journal.  At the same time it is interesting how basic this is.  We don’t read about a world balanced on the back of a turtle.  We don’t hear about the exciting battles of the gods that made mountains or the perverted sexual exploits that made certain animals.  What we do read about are some basic steps in the process of an almighty God forming a universe with wisdom.

If this is just the writings of ignorant semi-barbarians where do you come up with some of this stuff.  It may be written in pre-scientific terms but it is cosmic in scope.

So?  The immutability of God is the basis for the scientific method.  The continued presence of God is the basis for hope in the midst of a seemingly chaotic and hostile universe.  Rejoice in how big God is and how focused He is. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Homebodies

(Proverbs 7:6 KJV)  For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,

I am a homebody.  I don’t need to go out and “do something”.  That is not necessarily a virtue.  If I had been Abraham my family would still be in Ur.  If I had been Lewis, Clarke would have explored by himself.  It is also not a vice.  In this passage it is the homebody, looking through his “window” (2474), who observes for us the fall of the young man who had to “do something”.

Might I suggest, since it is my inclination anyway, that we might be better off if we spent more time at home.  When I read about tragedies in the news it seems that a large number of those killed or injured would have been safe and healthy if they had stayed home and read a good book.  I accept you may be different but give it a thought.

So?  Maybe I need to get out more.  There is a balance in everything. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sin Produces Results

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

We have two different words, “wounds” (5061) and “dishonour” (disgrace NASB) (7036).  In a place like this I find myself wondering if this is a literary device of repetition for emphasis or does it portray two types of damage that sin can deliver.  As I say many times it is a case of both/and, not either/or.

Sin has physical consequences.  The first word here is usually translated “plague” in the KJV.  It can refer to leprosy.  How many times have people found themselves beaten, broken and even killed because they have lied, stolen or fornicated?  How often does drunkenness cause broken bones and fatal accidents?  How often does gluttony lead to gout, heart disease, diabetes and the list goes on.

So?  All physical problems are not the result of our personal sin.  All of nature is corrupted.  But in addition to the attacks our bodies get from its natural enemies is the added dimension of personal sin.  It does matter how we live.  It matters very much.  This is a thought for self examination, not having “Aha” moments about others. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Engage the Brain

(Proverbs 5:13 KJV)  And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!

Every once in awhile when I am deep in thought and driving I will suddenly become aware that I have not been aware.  Others have shared the same experience.  The car is staying in its lane.  If someone stepped out in front of you, you would hit the brakes.  Suddenly you become aware that you have not been paying attention.  You have been on auto-pilot.  I don’t know how dangerous this is.  We can do a lot through habit.  I still find it disturbing.

I have had the same experience in church.  I have had it reading a book.  I become aware that I am going through the motions but my mind is not engaged.  In our Proverbs passage the listener seems to be waking up.  He is aware of the problem.  It doesn’t say what the stimulus is.  It doesn’t say what he did about it.  It is a warning to us.

So?  This is relatively gentle.  Life could deliver a much more serious wake up call.  I need to ask myself, “Am I paying attention?”  God is speaking and He doesn’t like to waste His breath. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

DIY Resource

(Proverbs 4:2 KJV)  For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.

Where can we find “good” (sound NASB) (2896a) instruction today?  Solomon is setting himself up as a source.  He is a father who seems to have a genuine concern for his children.  He has the reputation of being the world’s wisest man.  He wrote the book of Proverbs.  Did you ever wonder why the world’s wisest man, given the gift of wisdom by God and with the power of the government behind him did not leave us a lot more?  Maybe he did but none of it survived.

This is a reminder that we are not to establish any experts as our source of spiritual information.  What survived of Solomon’s wisdom was edited by the Holy Spirit.  It was published in a form we can use.  It is available in numerous translations and languages.  The only thing lacking is for you and me to pick up the book and start consulting it.

So?  Everything we need to know for life and salvation is found in the Bible.  It is readily available.  In spite of that we keep seeking people to tell us what it says.  I have a suggestion.  Ignore me and read the chapter for yourself.  I do.  You can. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Rejection

(Proverbs 3:11 KJV)  My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

At what point do we “despise” (reject NASB) (3988a) a truth or a standard?  Is it immediate or gradual?  I am sure that both apply depending on the situation.  Think of all the people you know who have “come” to the Lord and all is wonderful.  Then they begin to realize that being a follower of Jesus is not just a temporary or part time affair.  Jesus wants all of you.  They begin to understand that they cannot continue living the way they have always lived.  It doesn’t even need to be because someone confronts them.  Usually it is the work of the Holy Spirit in their inner man.

And they begin to slowly reject the things of God.  The word has the idea of contempt or despising.  They find that their love of the world begins to trump their love of God. 

So?  Keep alert to the danger.  Make up your mind which way you are going to go.  If you are going to live in sin you might as well stop wasting your time.  If you are going to go the way of righteousness, don’t risk falling away.  Every day counts. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Treasure Hunt

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

If you look back to the previous verse you see that the foundation is wisdom.  It seems to imply that there are three things which accompany wisdom.  Verse 10 gives knowledge.  Here we have “discretion” (4209) and “Understanding” (8394).  That is quite a combination.  It is a powerful combination.  It starts with wisdom.  Wisdom starts with the fear of the Lord.

Think of the ways in which life tries to subdue us.  When I look at the headlines each day I have come to realize that what I see might have nothing to do with the actual story.  You sometimes have to read to the end to find the key paragraph that makes it come together.  Sometimes it isn’t even there.  How do you pick up on the bias of a reporter?  How do you tell if the story is just another hit piece? 

It all starts with a fear of the Lord and an engaged brain.

So?  Don’t ever stop thinking.  Don’t ever stop checking to see if what the preacher is saying is really consistent with the word.  Don’t believe anything you hear, little of what you read and much of what you see.  Truth exists but sometimes it is hiding. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wise Measure

(Proverbs 1:5 KJV)  A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

If you were to ask me if I am “wise” (2450) I would be very modest.  It would be an act.  In my heart I have this fantasy of wisdom.  I guess it depends on the competition and how you measure. I must admit that it am surrounded by the molehills of wisdom.  I have a Pumicism that I came up with for kids telling me how good their grades are,
Being the deepest puddle on the sidewalk is nothing to brag about.
I often wonder how people can believe the nonsense that they accept without a batted eye.  Part of the difference is that I spend enough time with the eternal truth of the written word that I can see the big picture. 

In reality I have a long way to go.  I am aware of it.  God has a way of humbling us and deflating our egos on a regular basis. 

So?  I will continue trying to listen and gather.  You never know where you will find the missing piece of the puzzle in a messy house. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What Color Is Virtue?

(Proverbs 31:22 KJV)  She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

What is your color?  “Purple” (713) is mentioned here.  It was associated with nobility in ancient culture.  Sumptuary laws in the Roman Empire made it illegal for common people to wear purple.  We associate certain emotions with green, yellow and blue.  What color is a “power tie”?  Why is pink hot?  Colors can say something about your mood or your attitude.  At the same time keep in mind that some of us wear what our wives buy.

Some characteristics have a positive side as well as negative.  Take the idea of being noble.  In medieval times a noble was a social class.  They were the ones that ran everything.  The reason the term came to be used was because they were supposed to be sacrificing themselves to care for those under them.  Feudal loyalties ran both ways.  It was not only the job of the lower levels to serve when called, it was the responsibility of the higher levels to protect. 

Take Christian virtues as an example.  They can be guidelines for service.  They can also be sources of arrogance.

So?  Are you honest?  Don’t use it to beat people over the head.  Virtue is something to be grateful for not a tool of superiority.