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.

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.