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, April 26, 2017

A Word to the Not-Wise

(Proverbs 26:5 KJV)  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

“Fools” (3684) need to be kept in their place.  I am sure there are many ways to do it but this verse seems to be telling us not to encourage their foolishness.  This seems to be calling for us to get aggressive about keeping them from running away with the show.

What do you do when the fools outnumber you?  What do you do when they are in charge?  We can’t be aggressive in those circumstances but we are still called to be honest.

So?  Pay careful attention to your situation.  Truth does not change.  When people will listen does. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All Around Righteousness

(Proverbs 25:5 KJV)  Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.

I don’t know how you read this without thinking of politics.  We all have a tendency to evaluate how our leaders are doing based on our personal opinions.  We assume our personal opinions are the best because they are ours.  We interpret the standards of God for our own convenience.  While we do that righteousness still exists.  Right and wrong still exist.

We don’t seem to be able to get leaders who do more than pay lip service to eternal standards.  They go to church and live life as it pleases them.  We should be encouraging them to pick the right people for support.  If we could surround the president with godly people then the advice would keep pushing in the right direction. 

So?  The presidential election is behind us but we have lot of voting at different levels that is still to come.  Keep praying and voting.  Be salt. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Asking for It

(Proverbs 24:6 KJV)  For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Life is full of conflict and challenges.  We have phrases such as “battle of the bands”, “gas war”, “conflict resolution” and many others that point out the competition in a free society between people with different priorities and values.  Some may be just as insignificant as what to have for dinner.  Others may involve surgical procedures.  As Christians we are not above making mistakes or needing the advice of others.

It is not a sign of weakness to seek counsel.  Often it is a sign of wisdom.  We often take input without thinking about it.  We read body language and tones of voice.  Other times we have to make a point of asking serious questions.

So?  In regard to the Lord we are told to ask, seek and knock.  That can sometimes be done when we seek the accumulated wisdom in other believers.  It doesn’t make us less, it makes us more. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rejoicing in Righteousness

(Proverbs 23:16 KJV)  Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

We “rejoice” (5937) about many things.  We rejoice when others share what God is doing in them.  We rejoice when a healthy child is born in our family.  When someone speaks truth and supports what is “right” (4339) we tend to be surprised and shocked.  This is reminding us that we need to be a little more excited when it happens.

I think that one aspect of this rejoicing is thanks.  We need to thank God for bringing forth a brave witness.  Maybe if we get thankful we will see more of it.  Another thing we need to do is let the person who took a public stand know that we are supportive.  Encourage the speaker of righteousness.

So?  This is not pushing for us to make a statement as much as recognizing it when someone else does.  When it is our turn maybe they will step up to have our backs. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hearing Aids

(Proverbs 22:17 KJV)  Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

I have heard people discuss the difference between the words “hear” (8085) and “listen”.  One is considered the physical ability, in other words, your ears work.  The other involves having your mind actively engaged to bring your conscious awareness into the process.  This difference points out you can hear a sound without listening to it.  In looking at this word I find that the NASB translates it frequently either way.  The KJV only uses “listen” once but uses “hearken” frequently. 

The point is that the Bible expects us to do more than acknowledge the existence of wisdom.  We are to engage our minds with it and apply it.  If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there does it make a sound?  If wisdom is spoken and no one listens, is it wisdom? 

So?  God holds us accountable for what is available.  People may claim that they never had a chance to respond to the gospel.  I would say that their hearts were already made up because they would not listen to the words that would draw them in.  We need to make sure that we do not turn off our conscious listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit in our walk of faith.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pencil Economics

(Proverbs 21:20 KJV)  There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

In discussions on economics, often disguised as “poor me”, someone pointed out to me that it isn’t how much you make that is important but how you spend what you have.  It is very easy to fall for the current political mantra that we are poor because someone else is rich.  It is ________’s fault.  Whether you put in Donald Trump, George Soros, Bill Gates, or your landlord depends totally on your political views and honesty.  The real difference is the wisdom or foolishness of the spender.

I see the pattern developing everyday at my school.  I have students who come to class everyday and need to borrow a pencil.  I don’t mean the kid who had a hurried morning.  I mean literally every day.  It doesn’t matter how many times you give him a pencil, he will not have one the next period.  Why?  It is a shortage of pencils?  Is it a plot by rich capitalists to keep him ignorant?  No.  It is because his foolishness “swallows” (1104) it.  Here you can lay it at the feet of irresponsible behavior and a lack of effort.  Any way you want to slice it, if he had a house full of nice things they would be trashed in short order.

So?  Be on the lookout for people who deserve your help.  They will never ask but that does not mean the need is less or your need to help can be ignored.  Do not reinforce foolish behavior. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bearing

(Proverbs 20:25 KJV)  It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.

We come across another place where the Hebrew gets different translations.  The KJV talks about “devoureth” (3216) and the NASB says “say rashly” (3886b).  In the Hebrew, as far as I can tell the word is written exactly the same in both places but often the same word can have different meanings.

Take for instance the English word “bear”.  What does it mean?  It all depends on context.  First, is it a noun or a verb?  That makes a difference but in the Hebrew our word is a verb.  Okay.  So are you bearing a load, bearing left or bearing a child?  Do you see the problem?  In situations like this I like to consider both in order to come to an understanding.

That is part of the point.  It is often necessary to wait for meaning to develop.  Sometimes that is just matter of pondering.  Sometimes it is purely time. 

So?  Don’t make major decisions on the spur of the moment.  Often time and thought will reveal nuances that you had not taken into consideration. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Live in Fear

(Proverbs 19:23 KJV)  The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

“Fear” (3374) and “life” (2425b) are linked.  That may seem strange to us in our modern civilizations.  Our ancestors would understand the link much better.  Start with the hunter-gatherer level or even the nomads of the Bible.  A healthy fear kept you alert for danger.  An awareness of potential tragedy was the impetus to take extra precautions and have emergency plans.  Even today we have earthquake drills and such, just in case.  Caution can lead to less pain and suffering.  I remember the header I took down some stairs and the miracle I was not permanently damaged.

In looking at the transliteration of the Hebrew word is seems to be the word used in Fiddler on the Roof in the song that comes back to the phrase “to life”.  The idea in the movie is that there is a joy and exuberance available.  It revels in the idea that we are not just animals looking for the next meal or amoebas with an urge to divide.

So?  Live in fear.  It adds value to the day. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Name It and Claim It

(Proverbs 18:10 KJV)  The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

The significance of a “name” (8034) has been lost.  I guess maybe I should say that the loss of respect and courtesy are reflected in how the current generation uses names.  I don’t watch TV unless the choice is TV or divorce.  Even then it is a close call.  One of the things I think I have seen on TV is children who call parents by their first name.  Every once in awhile I have a kid who asks me my first name.  I always tell them, “To you, it is ‘Mister’.”  If they ask my middle name it is “and” as in “Lord and Master”.   They don’t like it but there it is.  Names have power and modern culture is about getting power.

It is a step toward the destruction of a stable society.  If we cannot show proper respect for parents and social positions as teachers then we become a barbarian culture where the biggest muscles, sharpest sword and quickest draw become the order of the day.  It eventually moves to the level of rejecting God.

So?  Strive to understand the significance of God.  We are told to not take His name in vain.  Even if you say something like “God bless you” make sure it is a genuine expression of concern, not just a fitting phrase. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Maybe You Are Not the Problem

(Proverbs 17:1 KJV)  Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

I wonder if this is an invitation to divorce or separation?  I hardly think so when you take in the context of Proverbs and the entire Bible but what does one do when you are in a covenant with strife?  A big question is “How much responsibility does a person have for the tenor of a home?”  Is it my fault?  Am I the jarring note in our marital symphony?

Since there is a good chance it is me, I need to ask the question.  I need to be open to correction and improving my attitude.  We need to have 100 cheeks to turn and a thousand extra miles to go. 

There is also a chance it isn’t me.  I also need to be open to that.  This is where grace and the power of the Holy Spirit can help us to have the tranquility of heart that can give us peace in the middle of strife.

So?  Ask the hard questions.  Make the changes.  Ignore the barbs that are not deserved. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Roots of Sunday School

(Proverbs 16:20 KJV)  He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.

One of the contributions of believing Christians to our culture is a goal of universal literacy.  Not only have Protestant churches been on the cutting edge of higher education but they have been working to educate the masses.  Think about the Ivy League colleges.  Harvard and Princeton were started to educate ministers for the church.  Even USC was started as a church sponsored college.  The original purpose of Sunday School was to educate the children of England who were growing up illiterate because of the institution of child labor.  Sunday was the only day they had off so believers started Sunday Schools.

The emphasis was on each believer being able to read the Bible and understand for himself what God was saying.  Each was to be able to “handle wisely" (give attention NASB)” (7919a) the “word” (1697).  The NASB which gives it better than the KJV here.  It is interesting to note that the expectation of being able to read the scripture goes back to Old Testament times.

So?  Rejoice is your ability to read.  Allow that to be a channel in which the wisdom and direction of God can move through your eyes and mind to your heart. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Little and Great

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

As I approach retirement this strikes a bell.  One of the accepted truths is that you have less income when you retire than when you are working.  I expect that will be true in my case.  We are running the numbers and I can see I will not be buying a new Lexus soon.  That doesn’t mean much to me because I would not have bought one anyway.  I am acutely aware that I will be doing better than many people who have worked all their lives.  I didn’t plan it that way but the paths I feel the Lord led me down put me here with a teacher’s retirement instead of the social security that my dad had.

My father was self employed and not a great businessman.  He was a model of integrity and never lacked for work.  His example raised four sons of integrity.  He never had a lot but he had enough.  My mother lived on social security and was able to keep her head above water.  With that example I know that life can be good regardless of the income.

So?  God will provide.  It may not be the way I would have planned it.  It will be enough to live a blessed life.  Thanksgiving in April is always a good thing. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fool Antidote

(Proverbs 14:7 KJV)  Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

How does one follow this advice?  I find that I am surrounded by fools.  Keep in mind that wisdom starts with a fear of the Lord and the vast majority of people you rub elbows with have no fear of the Lord.  That means no wisdom.  That means fools.  They may be afraid of crystals, breaking a mirror, death or zombies but they have no fear of the Lord.

The first step is to accept it.  It is not being judgmental to acknowledge that the majority of people you meet don’t have a clue to the real values of life.  It is a simple fact.  They can still be nice neighbors, compatible co-workers and a great second baseman for the softball team.  While you are cheering the team on remember that it isn’t wisdom you are exhibiting but hospitality. 

So?  Saturate yourself with wisdom.  Tune up your fear.  Make the eternal ooze from your spiritual pores.  If you can’t get away from them you can at least leave the smell of righteousness. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fat Worship

(Proverbs 13:4 KJV)  The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

How does this apply in regard to worship?  I have approached it this way before but it grabs me this way again because I am struggling to find a place to worship.  In my heart I know that I can get something from the most boring worship service.  I know that my attitude has a lot to do with it, but....

It is hard for me to get into the “song of the week” style of contemporary worship.  We have “worship leaders” who think that the words they came up with this week trump Isaac Watts, Fanny J. Crosby, Graham Kendrick and so many others who are genuinely gifted in worship music.  It has been a long time since I have heard a piece of music that is new to me that grips my soul and motivates my heart to sing.  I don’t think the problem is in me.

So?  I am grateful for my I-pod and other devices that allow me to worship at any time.  Sometimes I feel really fat just driving in my car.  I only wish I could have that experience in corporate worship.  I will continue to try. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wicked Is As Wicked Does

(Proverbs 12:2 KJV)  A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.

How do we recognize the difference between the “good” (2896a) and the “wicked” (evil NASB) (4209)?  I will concede that it is sometimes hard, hard enough that we are told not to judge.  At the same time we can recognize actions and whether they are good or evil.  We can tell whether they build up or destroy.  We can tell whether they conform to the clear teaching of scripture or violate it in principle and detail.

In short we can often tell the good from the bad by observing actions.  If someone is living in sexual sin, whether it be adultery, pedophilia or sodomy, we know that they are devising evil.  It really doesn’t matter how much they claim to love Jesus. 

So?  There are times to draw a line and defend it.  Standing up for God’s principles is not judging.  Condemning someone else for what you do in secret is.  We can know the difference. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Glaze Meters

(Proverbs 11:13 KJV)  A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

The obvious application here has to do with gossip.  It occurred to me today that this could also be applied to a person who reveals too much of their own personal information.  Who really wants to hear all the “secrets” (5475) you have to offer about your own personal thoughts? 

The most common offense in this type of behavior would be the organ recital.  As I get older I have more aches and pains.  When I get together with other geezers we find common ground and get into a quid pro quo of ailments.  That may work with some people but since I don’t like to hear about their latest visit to the podiatrist it doesn’t work well with me.  I must learn patience with them but more important must learn restraint for myself.

So?  Develop a glaze meter.  Watch people’s eyes to see when they start to glaze over.  It is not hard to exceed the limit of someone’s TMI index.  I sometimes wonder if God gets tired of our griping. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Silver Standard

(Proverbs 10:20 KJV)  The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.

This is a strange comparison, or should I say contrast:  The “tongue” (3956) and the “heart” (3820).  James talks about the tongue being one of the least parts of the body and yet here we have it being linked with silver.  We need to take note of that as we set the priorities in our lives.

The idea is echoed in Paul’s discussions on the spiritual gifts.  We have a tendency to put people in a hierarchy and treat them based on our judgement.  God, on the other hand, looks deeper and wider.  We don’t have God’s x-ray vision, true.  We do however have the standards that He has given us.  For instance, we know that righteousness is more important than money in the bank.  That means that it is more important to tell the truth than get the account.  It is a matter of uprightness to not be considered “with” it so that we can stay on the straight and narrow.

So?  You may be rejected today.  Make sure it is the smell of righteousness they are rejecting, not just your attempt to save water.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Wake Up Reminder

(Proverbs 9:18 KJV)  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

“Sheol” (7585), or as the KJV calls it “hell”, is a reality.  I don’t like it.  Many reject it.  We use it as a cuss word rather than a place to avoid.  There are people who attend church, preach in pulpits and call themselves Christians who reject the idea.  How you can reject anything just because you don’t like it and still call yourself a Christian is a puzzle to me.

Hell is a place to avoid.  It is enough of a reason to turn to Jesus.

So?  Maybe we should pick a day each year to stop and remind ourselves about what Jesus has saved us from.  Maybe Halloween would be a good day.  Or perhaps April Fools day would do the job.  Don’t ignore the consequences of rejection. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Wise Beginnings

(Proverbs 8:27 KJV)  When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

Wisdom is not eternal but seems to have come into being before what we call creation.  One of the questions that keep coming up as you read Proverbs is the personification of Wisdom.  There are times when it seems to be Jesus and other times when it seems to be the Holy Spirit.  It is neither.  Although this verse makes it sound eternal, previous verses seem to indicate it was created or produced. 

When I listen to William Lane Craig talking philosophy he sometimes gets off on whether numbers are eternal or created.  To a philosophy major it is interesting and challenging.  To the rest of us it is often time to fast forward.  Wisdom is from God.  It is not God.

So?  I guess we should not get into being impressed by college degrees and certificates.  The real question is, has our fear of the Lord caused us to be open to learn His wisdom and given us the courage to life it.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Family Business

(Proverbs 7:4 KJV)  Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:

Are you comfortable with the teaching of the Bible?  I never had a “sister” (269).  My wife tells me that is why I don’t understand women but I am not sure I have met a man who does and many of them have sisters.  Let’s just say that I have a greater deficiency in understanding women.  Having a daughter has helped some. 

I have watched my children though.  My daughter is probably my son’s best “friend” (4129).  They have had their share of fights and knocked heads over the years but it has served to bring them closer, not drive them apart.  The word should be that way with us.  We may not be comfortable with something we read.  I certainly don’t like the concept of Hell and eternal damnation.  I struggle with it.  I try to understand it in a way that would not happen if it were just a casual acquaintance.  In the end it brings me the “understanding” (998) I need.

So?  Wrestle with truth and it will become you friend.  God does not want us on causal terms with Him or His teaching. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Justice Is Not Soft

(Proverbs 6:31 KJV)  But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.

Whatever happened to forgiveness?  Isn’t that supposed to be the standard for God’s people?  That is a good question and one that needs to be answered as we interact with society.  Jesus explains why it is important to forgive.
(Matthew 6:15 KJV)  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
That does not seem like it is optional yet as Paul tells us the role of government is to punish.
(Romans 13:4 KJV)  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
I think it points out what our attitude is to be in spite of the requirements of action.  Payment of debts is a requirement for stable society.  It is not an excuse for a personal vendetta.  We may punish criminals but not for vengeance.  Thus the death penalty is supported by scripture while we are told not to hate or mistreat our enemies.

So?  No one ever said life would be easy.  Our minds must be engaged as much as our souls. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A la Sinatra or Solomon

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

This expression of despair does not take place in a vacuum.  It is not the expected result of a long life.  It is what you can expect from an old person who has lived a long life void of wisdom and righteousness.  It is describing how you will feel when you look back at all the knowledge and guidance that was offered and ignored.  Often the directions given to us don’t make sense at the time but when we look back we can see the value.  By then it is too late.

One of the stereotypes of old people is that they are all organ recitals and woe.  We have heard about people stuck in nursing homes and left to mumble to themselves.  It happens.  I have seen them.  I always wonder if these are the people who dumped their kids in day care and never made it to the baseball game.  I wonder if they invested their life guided by wisdom or did it a la Sinatra, “I did it my way.”  There are others that have family around them and light up the room.

So?  You may have plenty of time and figure you don’t need to worry about it.  Wrong.  Now is the time to start whether you are closer to the end like me or just starting out. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Some Choice

(Proverbs 4:27 KJV)  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

I often laugh when people tell me I have a choice.  You have been there.  Someone in authority asks you which do yo prefer.  Usually the alternatives are both bad.  My answer is, “You are asking me if I want to be shot or hung.”  That is bad enough when a change is forced on you at work but it is the seed of destruction when it chops away at our integrity or moral condition. 

One example might be staying in a motel with some kind of cable access.  You have 30 channels to choose from.  None of them are worth watching.  You tend to forget that you have the additional choice of reading a book.  The book might also keep you from watching something that would damage your sensitivity to spiritual things.

So?  In those cases we need to avoid the choices forced on us.  At work we might have no way that is good but in our culture we need to take the third route, the one that avoids “evil” (7451b).  Remember the promise,
(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.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Got Enough Lip Gloss?

(Proverbs 3:9 KJV)  Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

Why do we give tithes and offerings to God?  It certainly isn’t because He needs the money.  I would imagine the God who said, “Let there be light” could also say, “Let there be twenty dollar bills in sequential numbering and well used” and it would happen.  Yet we are called to “honor” (3513) Him in this way.

What does it mean to “honor” (3513)?  This is the same word used in regard to parents.
(Exodus 20:12 KJV)  Honour (3513) thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
As I looked at the definitions and their different uses a common theme was used in each:  To be heavy.  Make God heavy in your life.  Recognize that He is the great force and mass of your existence.  By giving we acknowledge that He is our first priority.

So?  I am always amazed at students who don’t have a pencil or pen but they have an endless supply of gum, lip gloss and lotion.  Are we doing the same thing as we claim to follow Jesus? 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Then

(Proverbs 2:9 KJV)  Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.

So many of the promises of God are conditional.  We follow the guidelines, “then” (227) we get the results.  One of the traps for Christians is a glorification of grace and the omniscience of God to the point that our response and choices are really nice but not necessary.  Here we are talking about wisdom not salvation, but the principle and perversion of it are the same.

Could God just make us wise?  Yes.  Does He?  Not usually.  I am sure that there are people who have the gift of wisdom and catch on quicker than the rest of us but the gift without the fear is a questionable condition.  I am not sure it is possible.  Keep in mind that asking “Could God do _______,” does not mean that He will.  Possibility does not mean probability.  Probability does not mean predestined.

So?  Lean on grace.  Trust in grace.  While you do it, sharpen your skills through obedience and discipline.  It is an investment that will pay off. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Righteous Justice

(Proverbs 1:3 KJV)  To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

As I compare the NASB and KJV I see one major difference in the translations.  Where the KJV has “justice” (6664) the NASB has “righteousness”.  What is strange to me is that the KJV usually translates this Hebrew word as “righteousness”.  Both translate it “justice”.  Go figure.  To us the two words have different meanings but it would seem that in God’s economy righteousness and justice are tied together. 

That would mean that both are tried to eternal truths.  The reason they are linked to wisdom is because you cannot have moral behavior or a just society without being tied to the values of God.

So?  Don’t cringe and think that Christians are trying to live by medieval, Western ideas that are out of date.  The nonsense that our culture is pushing is not new either.  Satan has been pushing the humanistic approach to personal and social behavior since the Garden of Eden.  Resist.  Learn.  Live in righteousness and justice.