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.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Celebrity Sinners

(Proverbs 23:17 KJV)  Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Why would a people raised on the Old Testament need to be reminded of this?  Why do we?  We have all read the Ten Commandments.  God included them twice and we still breeze through them.  Do you know what the last commandment was?
(Exodus 20:17 KJV)  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
I don’t envy my neighbor’s house or even his ox.  What gets me is the “any thing”.  That covers a lot of ground.  At times I envy his grandchildren.  I might envy his manual dexterity.  That is bad enough but there are times when I wonder what it is like to simply lust and guzzle. 

It is a dangerous road.  This morning I read about the death of a celebrity.  She was 56 and still living in the past.  She was famous in her teens and I get the impression nothing had gone right since then.  She died destitute in a trailer park.  We don’t usually hear that chapter of the story.  We look at what we can see and say, “Wow!”  If we saw the entire saga we would say, “Yuck!”

So?  I tell kids at school “because I said so” because they won’t understand my long term view of what they need in their lives.  If you don’t get the why then live with the who of your life. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Heart Songs

(Proverbs 22:18 KJV)  For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.

I know I have read this verse before but somehow that word “pleasant” (5273a) seems new.  Was it there before?  We don’t usually think of the pleasure of having God’s word memorized and stored in our heart/mind.  As I was looking at this word the homonym, 5273b, is said to mean singing.  I guess this would go along with the chorus from years ago,
You can have a song in your heart in the night,
Think of the inspiration, comfort and encouragement that can come from a verse presenting itself from the reservoir you have filled over the years.  This is a call to read and memorize the Word.

So?  It is a discipline.  I can’t say I have done well.  It has a payoff.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Active Faith

(Proverbs 21:21 KJV)  He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Being a follower of the Living God is not a matter of passive involvement.  It isn’t like the old Book of the Month club where you sign up and if you do nothing the next selection comes.  While grace is the free gift of God, we must be active in our holy living.  The believer “followeth after” (pursues NASB) (7291) certain characteristics.  This could be a variation of,
(Philippians 2:12 KJV)  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Relax.  This is not a command that we earn our salvation.  That is impossible.  Don’t presume.  It is a command that we walk upright and seek truth. 

So?  Find the balance between trust and obedience.  It is the way to eternal “life” (2425b). 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Scatter the Evil

(Proverbs 20:26 KJV)  A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.

To the slave every man is a king.  Sounds profound, doesn’t it.  As far as I know I just made it up.  Since we don’t live in the day of slaves or real kings we might paraphrase it, “To a new employee, every co-worker is a boss”.  As American we like to think that our liberty gives us at least a level playing field.  We like to think that no one is better than we are.  We have our rights you know.  I experience this when I have students tell me they can say anything they want. 

Society has a hierarchy.  Rank has its privileges.  What we should be praying for is leaders who exercise that privilege in a righteous way.  There are a number of places where this comes through in  Proverbs.  In this chapter we find,
(Proverbs 20:8 KJV)  A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
So?  I don’t expect the President, governor, mayor, principal to agree with me on what it is to be a Christian.  I usually don’t measure up to my own standards.  I can petition God to mold their hearts so they discard evil and embrace righteousness.  Pray hard. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Matter of Life or Death

(Proverbs 19:18 KJV)  Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

In this verse I need to add the NASB and work from it.
(Proverbs 19:18 NAS77)  Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.
I struggle on a daily basis with children who are out of control.  They talk back, refuse to listen and assume that whatever gratification they want, they get.  As I write, we are coming up to open house.  Open house is a relic of the past that has no useful function.  I will still be there and some parents will show up.  Most of those who come are the ones who don’t need to show up.  They have invested their lives in their children and are seeing their investment pay off.  I always have a few that take time out of their busy schedules to find out what they can do to help their child.

“Discipline” (3256) or “chasten” as the KJV says. 

What is the one thing they are not willing to do?  “Discipline” (3256) or “chasten” as the KJV says.  It would involve a commitment of time and effort they are not willing to do.  In one class I have seven students who are supposed to bring a paper to me each day.  The paper goes home to the parents so they can check the day’s performance.  Yesterday I had one student who bothered to give it to me and he only did it because I asked him.  To be honest, the rest of the parents don’t care enough to look at a paper and sign it.  It would require them to take action.

Why is this so important?  It will keep their children from killing themselves literally or destroying their future if you take it figuratively.  It is a matter of life and “death” (4191).

So?  If you still have children who will listen, start taking discipline seriously.  As they get older the methods change but the investment is still required.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Having the Right Address

(Proverbs 18:11 KJV)  The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.

What is your “strong” (5797) “city” (7151)?  The Hebrew words are straightforward.  It isn’t a sanctuary or a citadel.  It is not a place of narrow focus.  It is a city with all of the activity that a city involves.  You know where the markets are and the best little coffee shops.  You know which direction to go when you want a thrift store and which way to church.  And you know the best routes.

A strong city involves not only safety but comfort and familiarity.  That can be good or bad depending on the city.  If we are comfortable living in pagan splendor and compromise, it is a disaster that is not waiting to happen.  If we are living upright lives, all is good.

So?  Examine your city and either rejoice or repent. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Laurels Are Not Guarantees

(Proverbs 17:2 KJV)  A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

When certain issues, such as homosexuality, come up at school you need to walk carefully.  The students have been brainwashed with the immorality of the world and consider the standards of God strange.  I bring this up because one of the questions I get repeatedly is, “Is your son told you he was homosexual would you disinherit him?”  They are shocked when I say, “Yes.”  We have the same kind of thinking in some branches of theology, God would never reject someone once they are a child of God.  We who are not a part of that thinking call it “eternal security” or a “sinning religion”. 

This verse makes it pretty clear that even a son can expect to be demoted if he does not walk the line.  I can see that it does not say the son is cut off or has no inheritance but it is one of many factors that says you can’t rest on your laurels. 

So?  Jesus did not die to see how many He could reject.  He wants to save as many as will come and believe.  At the same time we are called to righteousness and obedience. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Seek Wisdom

(Proverbs 16:21 KJV)  The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.

How does wisdom find its way into our “heart” (3820)?  Obviously there is the work of grace. 
(Acts 15:9 KJV)  And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
We have the phrase we use about Jesus coming into our hearts.  It is expressed many ways but God must work a miracle for wisdom to have a chance of being planted, let alone growing.

Then we need to actively seek wisdom. 
(Proverbs 4:7 KJV)  Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
It does not just happen.  Wisdom requires a desire to know the God we are to fear.

So?  As Jesus said, “Ask, seek, find”.  You might start in the book of Proverbs. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

What’s for Dinner?

(Proverbs 15:17 KJV)  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

There is a point here that modern Americans miss.  In that day and in much of the world today, most people could not afford meat.  When we hear that “bread is the staff of life” it is not only saying that bread has a lot of nutritional value but it also is affordable.  Most cultures seem to have some kind of product made from grain.  The only food that produces more per acre would be potatoes and they don’t store for years.

When Jesus said,
(John 6:48 KJV)  I am that bread of life.
He was reminding us that He is to be the main staple of our existence.

So there is a sense here that we are being reminded to make sure that we don’t waste our time and energy on luxury and image.  There is a reason simplicity goes with following Jesus. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Choice Labels

(Proverbs 14:8 KJV)  The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.

Before we can decide if we are “prudent” (6175) or “fools” (3684) we need to admit that both options exist.  We live in a culture that wants to deny that some people are fools.  I have frequent conversations with people in education and they tell me how “smart” they think a student is.  My polite response is, “I have seen no indication of that.”  What I want to do is either give a snarky “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” from Princess Bride or scream, “Then you must think you are the definition of smart because they seem to be on your level.” 

The Bible does not deny the existence of fools.  In fact they seem to be very common if the number of references in Proverbs is any indication.  Our responsibility is twofold:  Recognize them and don’t be one.

So?  They way to avoid the label is to know truth. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jargon Watch

(Proverbs 13:5 KJV)  A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.

One bit of jargon I have heard in education is the term “authentic assessment”.  It seems like a no-brainer but keep in mind that jargon is often used to disguise the real meaning.  I see the deception in education.  I have come to expect it in politics and the media.  What disturbs me is that I see it more and more in the church.  In philosophy it is called “deconstruction”.  It means putting whatever meaning you want in words.  Usually it is an ego issue of putting ourselves above the eternal.

For instance the Bible clearly condemns adultery.  At the same time we have people who call themselves Christians claiming that the exception is when you really love someone.  The Bible does not give that safety valve.  We see the same when it comes to honesty in business or in figuring our taxes.  God has standards that will not admit to wiggle room.  God can forgive weakness.  He forgives when we are genuinely repentant.  For those who want to play games with the meaning of words He will have a special surprise.  Believe me, you do not want that surprise.

So?  Live upright lives.  Take the high road.  There is truth.  We are given that truth.  We are not to be editors of that truth. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Editorial Emphasis

(Proverbs 12:3 KJV)  A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.

This is an unusual verse because the KJV and NASB are almost identical.  The only difference is that the NASB says “will” and the KJV says “shall”.  It has to do with the laws of grammar.  Remember when you were young and the English teacher made a big deal about when you would use one or the other?  No?  I guess you were not paying attention.  Did it ruin your life?  Only when you were in class.

The point is that minor differences or misunderstanding don’t usually make any significant difference.  I still have a jar that goes through my body when people say they are doing “good” when the proper word is “well”.  No one else notices and we all understand what they mean.  Solomon here is not giving a grammar lesson.  He is giving a life lesson.  The point is that righteousness will provide us a solid foundation in life.  Evil will destroy us.

So?  Don’t believe what you see in the movies.  When is the last time you saw the hero confessing to genital warts?  When did the car chase with guns blazing end up with a lot of dead bystanders?  God expects us to live upright lives not to be edited by Hollywood. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Our Two Cents

(Proverbs 11:14 KJV)  Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

I notice that this is not a personal warning but a group warning.  It is the “people” (5971a) who are going to “fall” (5307).  There are no secret, hidden meaning to obscure words here.  This is a simple assurance that the wrong advice can ruin a group of people.  Pick your size.  Are we talking about a nation, a city, a church or a family?  This is an “all of the above” answer. 

I think it is implied that the “counsel” (guidance NASB) (8458) is to be grounded in the wisdom of God.  That is the one type of guidance that is missing from our culture.  The media and book stores are awash with the input of multiple gurus who want to sell us their opinions.  The one that is missing is “thus saith the Lord”. 

That is where you and I come in.  There are many times in a day when we have a chance to put in our two cents worth.  That is the moment of truth.  Will we step up and share from the wisdom God has given us or will we toe the party line and go along to get along?  Too often I must plead guilty.

So?  We live in a world that needs guidance.  It may be that it will only come from solitary and solid believers like you and I.  I pray that we will be vocal when the time is right.  Our people are depending on us. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Last Lug Nut

(Proverbs 10:21 KJV)  The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.

How does righteousness “feed” (7462a) people?  I could make a case for the literal, physical sense of the word.  It is the honest farmer and merchant that make it possible for the masses to eat well.  Look at countries that have tyrannical elites.  Think of North Korea.  Every picture you see of the leadership is filled with chubby, well fed people, yet the masses are starving to death.  Look at Venezuela.  I find it hard to believe that the top dogs are standing in line in front of empty stores. 

But the most frequent translation in both the NASB and KJV has to do with shepherding and pasturing the flocks.  It involves nurturing and caring for others.  This is the mark of the Christian in a position of authority or responsibility.  This is the glue that holds our society together.  It is a glue that is beginning to be dissolved by the pagan influences.  We are used to the idea of being salt and light, we are also glue.

So?  You may not feel you are in a position of importance but every nut and bolt has a job to do.  Sometimes it is one last lug bolt that keeps the wheel from coming off.  Be the last one doing your job if necessary. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Seeing the Obvious

(Proverbs 9:1 KJV)  Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

You do not need to reinvent the wheel.  People keep trying but it really won’t happen.  Science Fiction has been writing about hover-craft type transportation for decades.  Although it is possible, it still hasn’t happened.  As a people we keep seeking the new and improved.  Can you really improve on a BLT? 

We see the same problem in the church.  The people who worship still have this craving for the latest fad.  We see it in contemporary worship and hear about things like being “seeker friendly”.  Trends are just that, they are trends.  That means they are temporary and will be replaced by something else.  Wisdom says that there are certain truths and principles that will never go out of style. 

So?  We can spend our lives looking for the hippest place to be seen or we can concentrate on getting in contact with the eternal.  Other places in Proverbs you will find that Wisdom is waiting and calling.  It is up to us to recognize the voice and follow. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Creative Assumptions

(Proverbs 8:28 KJV)  When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

Assumptions.  We all have them but we don’t think about them much.  One of the basic assumptions that we should have is that God created everything.  By everything, we mean everything.  What are the first words that we have in the book organized and guided by the Holy Spirit?
(Genesis 1:1 KJV)  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
We should start our thinking there.  It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves of that.

God also said He made us in His image, I think that includes the ability to be creative. 
(Genesis 1:26 KJV)  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
We cannot bring things into being the way God did.  We don’t have the power.  We can put things together in ways that were not laid out before us.  Art is an example.  The cotton gin is an example.  Humor is an example.  How we view our day is an example.

So?  Today is a fresh start.  We can call on the Helper to give us a different attitude about our situation.  We can see the people around us with new eyes.  We can relate to them from a new heart.  You may not be able to create clouds above but you can pull out the silver linings of the ones around you.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Learn and Live

(Proverbs 7:5 KJV)  That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

Wisdom and knowledge have a purpose in the Bible.  They are not sought so we can pass an examination.  They are not to give us bragging rights.  They are not fill to make us well rounded personalities.  The purpose is to enable us to avoid sin and live righteous lives.

We live under grace, not law.  Everyone likes to point that out yet Jesus said He did not come to abolish the law.  He came to fulfil it.
(Matthew 5:17 KJV)  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
And what was the purpose of the Law?  To make it possible for us to live upright lives before God.  The law pointed out what was moral and what was sinful.  It gave an awareness of what God expected.  When Jesus came He finally made it possible to live upright lives.

So?  New technologies and temptations are always sneaking up on us and jumping out of the closet.  We need to deal with that.  When TV came many called it evil.  Little did they know, but the evil is not in the technology, it is in the hearts that misuse the technology.  Learn and live. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Temptation’s Template

(Proverbs 6:32 KJV)  But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

I think this is one of those sentences where the subject is not in the actual Hebrew.  It starts with the verb and should read,
“Committing adultery with a woman lacks sense.”
What is interesting is the fact that this is directed toward men.  That tells us that men seem to have more trouble with this than women.  Just as all sin is not equal, all sin is not equally tempting to all people.

I am not really tempted to rob a bank.  I have no risk of getting drunk.  I am not sure what it would take to get me into adultery.  Gambling, however, is something that I need to keep on my radar.  You might have no trouble with poker but need to stay away from the liquor aisle in the market.  Know your temptations.  Avoid them.

So?  A boat that is tied up or anchored does not tend to float away.  It is the owner who is too busy or lazy that creates the problem.  People don’t drift away from the Lord on purpose.  Don’t get too busy to check your lines.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Choice Ignorance

(Proverbs 5:12 KJV)  And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;

Ignorance is a choice in our modern age.  It is possible that in the past people had no way of knowing truth.  Think of the peasant classes of many cultures.  Most were bound to the land and could not travel without permission of their lord.  Most could not afford to travel if they were free to do so.  And how would they get home?  I am sure you have known people like that.  Perhaps you are one of them.  They get to driving and suddenly realize that they are totally lost.  Why?  Because they have not been paying attention.

I know that I get lost much easier when someone else is driving.  When I am behind the wheel I can remember the turns because I made them.  I know which are necessary and which are not.  My wife sometimes drives me to work when a car is in the shop.  I know where I am going.  I know where I was but if I close my eyes for awhile and then open them I might not know where I am because she takes a different route every time depending on her moods.

So?  One lesson from this rambling is that we need to do our own spiritual navigation.  It isn’t enough to go to church once a week or less and expect to know where we are.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sons Are Children

(Proverbs 4:1 KJV)  Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

Translations matter.  Each individual translation has a philosophy.  When the Living Bible first came out I was able to read it, use it and enjoy it in spite of its inaccuracy.  Why?  Because we understood it to be a paraphrase.  The NLT and NIV I only use when I have no choice because they are paraphrases in my mind but they won’t admit it, and I can’t trust what they say. 

This verse is a good example of the issue.  Notice how the word “sons” (1121) [ben] is translated.  Chapters 2-7 all have the same Hebrew word.  The NASB always translates it “son” while the KJV translates it “children” in this place only.  The CEV usually uses “children” except in chapters 5 and 7.  Why the differences?  In all the other places it is singular and possessive.  Here it is plural and more generic.  The NASB goes for strict accuracy.  The KJV changes to show the plural, which is acceptable.  There is a good reason because the plural use often is gender neutral.  The CEV prefers the politically correct word, ignores the plural and arbitrarily uses the correct word a few times.  Which approach do you prefer?  Conforming to constantly changing cultural norms does not live up to the level of inspired scripture for me.

So?  Chose your translation carefully.  The Holy Spirit can speak to honest minds and open hearts no matter what translation you have but don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

But I Don’t Have a Barn

(Proverbs 3:10 KJV)  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

One of the problems that Bible believers have is that if we follow the teachings of scripture and live the way God wants us to live, prosperity follows.  It just does.  A convert spends less money on booze.  A believer becomes less of a glutton.  His health improves because he no longer lives in destructive ways.  His business becomes more stable because people find they can trust him.  These are natural benefits of living a godly life.  In addition to that you have all the times that God shields and protects you.  Why is that a problem?  Because it leads us to trust in our prosperity instead of Jesus. 

Are there exceptions?  Of course.  Nothing in the Bible is knee-jerk reaction.  God is not a vending machine that requires the right change and pushing the correct buttons.  We are promised persecution.  If the Perfect Lamb of God could have the police after Him, why would we expect less?

So?  The promise still stands.  Our lives are richer in material and immaterial ways.  Our hope is assurance, not wishful thinking.  Our failures are covered by the adjustments that only God can make.  If you consider the Biblical meaning of prosperity then there is a prosperity gospel. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

When? For? Because.

(Proverbs 2:10 KJV)  When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

You may have noticed that there is a slight difference between the KJV and NASB.  It is in the word beginning this verse.  The KJV has “when” (3588) and the NASB has “for” which the reference does not number.  Either one is acceptable.  The most common translation in the KJV is “because” (460x).  This is part of series of if/then statements.  This one starts in the previous verse.

In the previous verse it talks about righteousness, justice and equity.  All of those would fit into a good political speech.  How can you be against justice and equity?  Actually it is easy when you have not had a heart transformed by “wisdom” (2451), a heart that grapples with a fear of the Lord, a heart regenerated by grace.  If you will pardon a silly comparison, I can never understand what it is like to go through menopause.  I will never have the capricious hormones involved.  Talk about it sure; understand, never.

So?  Rejoice that God has begun the good work in you.  If you can’t rejoice then maybe you need to check to see if you have begun the journey. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Think Young

(Proverbs 1:4 KJV)  To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

Why does Solomon single out the “young man” (youth NASB) (5228) as needing “knowledge” (1847) and “discretion” (4209)?  We need to be careful in assuming that advice given is only for a small demographic.  If you go to the last chapter and read the praise heaped on the perfect wife you will find that much of what is said should apply to everyone.

One reason for youth is he is talking to his son.  He does not want the boy to wait until he is old to get an education.  So he naturally puts it this way.  The Hebrew word is usually translated “young man”.  The young is consistent.  The male part is common but not required.  The KJV is more accurate here. 

One reason is that old people have a hard time listening.  I know because I am one.  I get to the point where I feel like I have heard it all.  Most of the people I listen to are ignorant, naive or evil.  My age gives me the benefit of years of experience in which to judge.  That can also be a curse because I might not listen when I should.  “Curmudgeon” comes to mind. 

Why is it when it comes to fashions and trends everyone wants to be young but when it comes to learning and growing we figure we have arrived.  Of course that could be another trait we are getting from the youth of today.

So?  When it comes to having a mind like a sponge, think young.  When it comes to cutting through the chaff to the wheat, remember that you are a saint.