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, 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.