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.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Be the He

(Proverbs 25:10 KJV)  Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.

There will be times when you and I are expected to be the “he” in this verse.  The issue is gossip.  On some level most of us have been guilty of this at times.  You might think not but then you either need to improve your memory or expand your definition of gossip.  I would hope that you would have repented and changed, either because the Holy Spirit simply brought conviction or you were publicly exposed and didn’t want to experience that again.

In between those two are the times when you and I are expected to step up to the plate for the benefit of the guilty party.  We have this responsibility to each other as part of the family of God.  We are to hold each other accountable.  In the New Testament the words are reprove, rebuke and correct, but we find the concept in the Old Testament also.
(Ezekiel 33:6 KJV)  But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
This does not mean running down the street yelling, “Turn or burn!”  It does mean being honest with brothers and sisters in Christ.  Usually this will be people that you have earned the right to speak to.

So?  Be the “he”.  There might be someone who will repent in time because you loved them enough to speak out. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Rejected Rescue

(Proverbs 24:11 KJV)  If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;

This verse is one that can be taken both literally and figuratively.  It can be for contemporary application and be reserved for prophetic fulfillment.  Its context of the previous verse talks about a “day of distress”.  It can be applied to any experience in which we are wavering and those around us are moving toward destruction.  In fact this applies to situations where people are not just moving toward a bad end but are actually judged and being led away.

We have much to offer people.  The moral structure that the Jews brought to the Roman Empire attracted many.  The righteous nature of God attracted more.  We have those same strengths to offer if we would just live and believe them ourselves.  We also need to be aware that most people will not be willing to take the step of commitment.  People admired the Jews but wanted to keep the Law they followed far from them.  Today people like the idea of the loving Jesus but really don’t want Him as Lord.

So?  I have settled the Lord question.  I have a refuge to offer.  I hope you do too.  It is up to each person whether they are happy on the road to destruction or seek release. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Use As Directed

(Proverbs 23:20 KJV)  Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:

Sin is generally the result of taking something God has given to us for the good and using it in a way void of righteousness.  A good example would be the drug morphine.  When my mother was at the end of her life, morphine kept the pain at bay.  When my wife was in recovery from surgery, morphine was used to keep her from screaming in agony.  It has made life better for millions of people.  It has also ruined millions of lives when used in excess.  It is addictive and deadly.  The same substance that saves lives, kills.

Our context mentions alcohol and food.  Other verses talk about sex, profit, sleep, and almost every other activity that God has given us or made possible.  The principle continues to apply.  Used as intended these are gifts from God for a good life.  Used other ways they destroy.

So?  Drive you car as intended.  Eat you food as intended.  Love your family as intended.  Let the blessings God intended be set loose in your life. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Relative Sin

(Proverbs 22:22 KJV)  Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:

Sin is absolute and yet it is relative.  Stealing is a sin.  It is important enough that the ban is posted in the Ten Commandments.
(Exodus 20:15 KJV)  Thou shalt not steal.
It seems pretty simple and straightforward and yet we have so many ways to disguise robbery and put a cloak of virtue on it.  We have Robin Hood taxes that take from the rich and give to the poor.  We justify it because the government has the right to tax and the rich have plenty and the poor are needy.  In the process we rob the church of its role of charity and give individuals an excuse to not be generous. 

At the same time there is a pecking order for sin.  If you don’t believe that then look at the different penalties that are allocated in the Old Testament.  You have everything from a grain offering to death.  I am not sure where robbing the “poor” (1800b) fits on the scale but it is clear that our motivation is a factor.

So?  We should not be taking advantage of people.  Just because the government gives them a check we cannot claim to be excused from our need to be generous and show the love of Jesus. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Finger Control

(Proverbs 21:25 KJV)  The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

How do “hands” (3027) “refuse” (3985) to “labour” (work NASB) (6213a)?  Have you ever seen someone arguing with their fingers to pick up a pencil?  I will admit there have been times when I have told my hands they need to wake up.  When I am playing my guitar there are times when my hands seem to have a mind of their own and will not pluck the right string or hold down a string in the right way.  It is my way of reminding myself that I need to practice more. 

Why don’t my hands practice more?  I have more guitars than I know what to do with.  I have extra strings and a workable tuner.  I have even thought about putting in a little time but often it is hard to get my hands to pick up the instrument and get to work.  Overcoming my inertia of doing nothing is often beyond me and thus beyond my hands.  I want to practice and play but not enough to do it. 

So?  Apply that to our walk with Jesus.  On Sunday I was visiting a church and the pastor pointed out that many of us say we love Jesus but don’t want to serve Him and that it does not work that way.  Jesus said,

(John 14:15 KJV)  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

So tell your hands what to do.  And your eyes.  And your mind.  And... 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Seeker Unfriendly

(Proverbs 20:30 NAS77)  Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts.

We live in what is being called a Post Christian world.  As I look around I am not sure that I disagree with that.  As a teacher I watched anything having to do with Christian values being expunged from the curriculum and the discussions.  I worked with people who claimed to serve Jesus who were afraid to say His name.  Morality has to do with going green not staying pure.

Unfortunately that applies even in the church.  I have been visiting a lot during our move and in almost every church I see expressions of the lies of the world.  One of the big current trends that has polluted the church is the idea of being “seeker friendly”.  We have tried to shove under the rug anything that might offend a non-believer.  We have tried to live like them so they would think we are regular guys and gals.

This verse points out another truth that the world does not want to accept.  It is in isolation but has plenty of support in other parts of the Bible.  People learn best through suffering.  I don’t think God wants it that way, but that seems to be the way we are.

So?  Rejoice in infirmity.  Learn from the hard times and failures.  The lessons will need to be learned because persecution is coming.  In America we live in a bubble that may be weakening us for the battle ahead.  I guess I need to be reminded of that today. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Different Emphasis, Same Goal

(Proverbs 19:27 KJV)  Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

As I compare the KJV and the NASB my simple Hebrew tools tell me the original text uses the same words for both translations, yet there seems to be a different emphasis.
(Proverbs 19:27 NAS77)  Cease listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.
The NASB seems to be saying we will stray if we stop listening to the truth.  The KJV seems to say that we will stray if we keep listening to lies.  Notice the phrases in each translation that are not in the actual Hebrew, that are assumed.  The point is that what we listen to will effect where we end up.  It would be wonderful if we could make this another type of twofer.  How strong would we be spiritually if we developed the discipline to avoid the destructive and focus on the truth.

So?  One of the glories of inspired scripture is that you can often arrive at the same key points even with a different emphasis in the translation.  God speaks to our hearts, if we are listening.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hearts and Minds

(Proverbs 18:15 KJV)  The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

What determines how a word is translated?  Take “heart” (mind NASB) (3820) for instance.  The Hebrew word is used almost 600 times in the Old Testament.  The term refers to that center of a man’s being that is the location of our personality and how it interprets the world.  It has at least 10 different general understandings but they all point to some kind of focal point.  If I had to pick a generic word I would say “middle”.  The most common translation is “heart”.

We have a lot of terminology that uses this idea.  We talk about Jesus coming into our hearts.  The Bible refers to our hearts being cleansed.  Understand that this is not the soul.  That is a different word in both the Old and New Testaments.  Our hearts are cleansed; our souls, saved.  Maybe we could say that we have some input into our hearts staying cleansed but our souls are totally beyond our reach.  Heresy?

So?  Feed your heart of mind, whichever you prefer.  Think of it as a sponge that will pick up whatever it is surrounded by. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Waiting for a Crown

(Proverbs 17:6 KJV)  Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

I currently have no grandchildren.  I have done my part and am waiting for my children to do theirs.  In a sense I don’t have a “crown” (5850).  There is something missing in my life and I am forced to rejoice with my friends and brothers who have that gap filled.  I am tempted to be jealous of their joy but have so far resisted.

Isn’t that a problem in life.  We see others with blessings that we don’t have and we get jealous.  We work hard and someone else gets the reward.  We are thrifty and still can’t make ends meet.  Am I the only one who has been tempted to give up and compromise?  We see it all the time.  Maybe you know someone who has walked away after 40 years of marriage.  We read about people who go out and start shooting.  Some become enraged and use their car as a missile.

That is why our ultimate “crown” is found in Jesus.  I may not have grandchildren, and I am not giving up yet, but I do have a Lord who makes life complete.

So?  Enjoy the perks of life.  That is why they are there.  At the same time make sure that your focus is right.  It does wonders for your attitude and makes the wait full of joy. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Life Is Not an Activity Book

(Proverbs 16:25 KJV)  There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

In children’s activity books you come across two pictures and you are told to find the differences.  Sometimes it is obvious.  In one picture a dog will have five legs.  You don’t need to compare, but be aware.  In another you need to really study, perhaps the eyes are looking right instead of left.  So it is in life.  Some things are obvious, others obtuse.  At times it doesn’t matter if you are looking for truth or looking for excuses.

Let’s assume that your heart is right and you want to do the same.  You know you should not rob a bank but do you understand you should be honest about the car you are selling?  After all, let the buyer beware.  Sometimes we need to be alert to seeking the right because we are surrounded by so many forces that are trying to lead us to hell.  After all, didn’t the star of your favorite TV show just say that _________?  Or to be more meddling, didn’t your wife just tell you that eating out was cheaper than eating at home?  How can they be wrong?

So?  We can never afford to turn off our minds and just go with what seems right.  Sometimes it is just an inconvenience to be wrong.  Sometimes errors are eternal.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Lean Righteous

(Proverbs 15:21 KJV)  Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.

“Folly” (200) is not just a mistake.  It is an attitude.  There might be a tendency to see the problem here as the general ineptitude that so many of us experience.  This is not tripping over a crack or putting too much salt in the stew.  To be sure, it includes these moments but that is not the point here.

Some of us embrace folly.  Some live in it, for others it is a moment of wandering.  Either way it is not to be mistaken with a simple bad decision.  This is a wallowing in the bad decisions.  How often have I had a second bit of calorie embraced food when I know I have had enough.  When I am by myself I have a quiet gilt.  When I am with others I celebrate my decision.  That is the issue here.

So?  Start with general attitude.  Only God can really change that.  Then, when fortified, move on to the forks in the road of life.  Walking upright is a matter of leaning in the right direction. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Poor Excuse

(Proverbs 14:21 KJV)  He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

Today as I read I noticed that this verse is a follow up of verse 20. 
(Proverbs 14:20 KJV)  The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.
Notice that the same actors are on stage in both verses.  This is a statement of Christian attitude and character.  It is a matter of the heart as much as the actions.  We cannot be looking down on anyone, specially those we consider below us.

Here it mentions the “poor” (6035).  I have a problem with this when I see people on government assistance.  Something in me rebels.  My mind starts to close and I make a lot of assumptions.  It might even be that some of those assumptions are true.  All of them might be true.  When we make decisions we need to act on them if they are true but the glory of our faith is that we can do what is best for people, even when it is painful, and still not “despise” (936) them.

So?  It does not say we need to like everybody.  It does say that we are to treat them with an attitude of courtesy.  Love means doing for people what is best for them, not what we want or what they want.  There is a difference. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hey Buddy, Got a Light?

(Proverbs 13:9 KJV)  The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

As Solomon keeps reminding us, evil exists.  Evil people exist.  They are all around us.  One of the big lies that we are influenced by is that they have good lives.  This verse reminds us that they do have lamps.  There are bright spots in their existence.  There is often a lot to be admired in who they are and what they do.  We especially admire what they have.  We need to learn that what we see is usually not what we get.  A poem comes to mind.  I do not like poetry.  I am not a poet.  I avoid reading it when possible but this one has been with me since high school.  You may have studied it.  It is called Richard Cory.  If you have never read it the Poetry Foundation has it for you.

The thing to remember is that Richard Cory had it all and was admired by all, but his lamp had gone out.  He had no inner light to show him the way.

So?  There is a reason that Jesus said He was the light.  Our lamps are not enough without the inner radiance.  Don’t be deceived by bells and whistles.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Persistence of Evil

(Proverbs 12:7 KJV)  The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.

Again we are reminded that evil exists.  It is almost as if Solomon knew that the day would come when the intellectuals of society would deny it.  I tend to think that the masses of the past were very much aware of the hovering nature of evil.  In most of history people have lived with the knowledge that they could be overwhelmed by invading armies, clouds of locusts or floods.  They could also be brought to their knees by lack of rain or a failed harvest.

Or perhaps the modern idea of self-esteem and innate goodness are not so modern after all.  Take this nursery rhyme: 
Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner,
Eating his Christmas pie.
He put in his thumb,
And he pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"
And that comes from the 1700's.

So?  Live with your eyes open.  Jesus came to redeem individuals but a fallen humanity creates a fallen society.  Be salt today. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Motive, Means, Opportunity

(Proverbs 11:18 KJV)  The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.

What is it that is “deceitful” (deceptive NASB) (8267)?  The obvious answer would be the “work” (wages NASB) (7938) sought but I think it is deeper than that.  One clue would be found in the Hebrew but does not come through in translation.  “Work” (7938) is the same Hebrew word as “reward”.  The result of our actions is the same noun.  The difference is the motivation and the moral character of the actor. 

So?  As is often the case, the difference is in the adjectives and adverbs, not the nouns and verbs.  Our motivation is key.  The same action can be sin for one and obedience for another.  Picture the widow's mite compared to the gifts of the rich.  From another perspective, based on the detective shows I have watched, one of the ways you catch a criminal is motive.  What is yours today? 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cultural Conflict

(Proverbs 10:17 KJV)  He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.

This could be considered a commentary on the form of our schools today and points out a basic difference between our contemporary culture and the understanding that the Bible tries to give us.  I say “tries” because too often the church has abandoned the clear teaching of scripture and embraced the polluted world view of our leaders. 

When the Bible talks about teaching and learning there is a word that keeps coming up when we read about learning the things of God and raising children.  Here it is the word “instruction” (4148).  This is the most frequent translation and relatively safe.  The second most frequent is “discipline” and the definition carries the idea of correction and chastening.  The Bible understands that while most people are eager to learn the things that are fun and rewarding in our careers and finances, we resist anything that has to do with righteousness and morality.  Modern education believes that you only have to lay out the tidbit in front of a student and if the environment is right, they will gobble it up.  Picture putting a seed down in front of a hungry chicken.  The Bible understands that sometimes you need to force people to accept truth.  That is multiplied in its importance when the lesson involves self restraint or delay of gratification.

So?  Seek the way of life by embracing instruction, even when it says you can’t act the fool.  We love to act the fool.  Or maybe it is just me.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

An Early Supper

(Proverbs 9:5 KJV)  Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

You don’t see it in the NASB but I wonder if this is some sort of Old Testament reference to the Last Supper.   We have “bread” (3899) (food NASB) and “wine” (3196).  Jesus spoke of the bread and the cup.  There is nothing strong enough to be doctrinal here but it could point to the tie of wisdom to salvation.

As we see in verse 10, wisdom begins with fear.  Here it is fed by the nourishment that wisdom provides.  It is another side of our journey of faith.

So?  Fear the Lord and partake of the wisdom that He offers. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Challenge of Now

(Proverbs 8:32 KJV)  Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.

Why is “now” (6258) such a difficult word?  I am a procrastinator.  I find that actions I do not like will often go away if I ignore them long enough.  If I wait someone else may scrub the toilet.  If I put it off someone else will take out the trash.  If I don’t do it now, it may be too late. 

Procrastination is dangerous.  Sure, it is sometimes a simple way to avoid the unpleasant, but often it negates an opportunity.  Other times it reduces the return on investment.  In spiritual terms it may have eternal consequences.

We are blessed with a God who is patient and merciful.  He has provided us with a book that gives us all the truth we need for life.  He has provided it in many editions and translations.  It is inexpensive.  Too often it is unread.

So?  Now.  There are things no one else can do for you.  There are things that are dangerous to put off.  What might that be?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Looking Both Ways

(Proverbs 7:9 KJV)  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

This is a reminder that God is aware of all we do.  We can’t hide.  We can’t run.  He knows. 

So?  Your mother may have times when she isn’t looking.  You may be able to get away with what is on your mind in regard to her.  God, on the other hand, is always aware.  File that away next time you look both ways. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Live Like a Weak Link

(Proverbs 6:1 KJV)  My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,

Recently I was reading a poster that started off talking about free men and ended up talking about slaves.  The quality that designated a slave was being in debt.  That bit of truth comes straight from the Bible.
(Proverbs 22:7 KJV)  The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
This verse is adding support and context to the idea from chapter 22.  One of the entanglements we are to avoid is debt.  Another is helping others get into debt.

You may have heard the expression “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”  One reason we are to live an exemplary life style is so that we can help others avoid the mistakes that we know to avoid.

So?  Do it for the children, and the neighbors and the friends and the enemies, for that matter.  Live like you are the weak link. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Questions and Comments

(Proverbs 5:16 KJV)  Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

Sometimes the translation is important to understanding.  When I read this verse in the KJV it does not seem to make any sense.  When I go to the NASB it brings it together by making it a question rather than a comment. 
(Proverbs 5:16 NAS77)  Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets?
That makes me wonder if there are times in life when we should be questioning rather than accepting.  This is the case in much of our daily lives.  We are in a culture that is veering away from the historic ideas of right and wrong.  Our entertainment, education and news sources have rejected any common sense morality for assumptions of anything goes.  We should dance to a different tune. 

So?  Be constantly aware of the road that you are being directed down.  Life is not easy or safe and demands constant vigilance if we are going to bring joy to the heart of our Savior.  It might also have eternal consequences for us. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Acquisitive Behavior

(Proverbs 4:5 KJV)  Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.

How many of us really want be guided by “wisdom” (2451)?  That may seem a silly question but think about all the things we do on a daily basis that are counterproductive.  Think of purchases made for things that only have the appeal of being seen on TV.  Think of the books read and the ones ignored.  Think of all the excuses we have for not spending time in prayer and reading the word. 

I speak from experience.  Hind sight and wishful thinking will not get the horse back in the barn.

So?  Go for the gold standard.  The quest starts with the next decision. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Balancing the Books

(Proverbs 3:14 KJV)  For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.

Proverbs has a place for making money and being wealthy but it also tries to remind us that there is a higher priority.  The “it” of this verse is referring back to wisdom, discipline and so forth.  Being human beings who seem to be impressed by fast cars and good steaks, we need to reminded on a regular basis.

Being immersed in God’s word brings “merchandise” or “profit” in the NASB (5504).  It is “better” (2896a) than silver but understand that does not infer that silver is evil, just not as desirable as wisdom.  We are not called to be hermits alone in caves reciting the 23 Psalm.  We are intended to take time to gather the wisdom to make a difference in our world.

So?  It doesn’t hurt to make a regular review of our priorities.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Baby Evil

(Proverbs 2:14 KJV)  Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;

This bit of truth is very hard for most Christians to accept.  Even though we see it on a daily basis we don’t want to admit that the world is full of a lot of very bad people.  In that we have again been conditioned by our culture rather than the Bible.  When a politician stands up and lies then fills their pocket with bribes as a reward, it is not because they had a rough childhood or they don’t understand.  It is because they are “wicked” (evil NASB) (7451a).

At the root of their personality is evil.  It should not be understood as starting with a desire to hurt and destroy.  It starts with a totally self-centered heart and mind.  In a Christian controlled culture they are taught it is wrong to lie, murder, steal and rape.  Even in a Christian culture those lessons are of limited value because evil starts in the heart and we are born with evil hearts. 

So?  Babies are being born.  They are wonderful.  They are evil.  The only hope they have for escaping that inner bias is by an encounter with the living Christ and having their hearts cleansed by faith.  Truth.  You may not like it but still truth. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Examples Set, Examples Followed

(Proverbs 1:8 KJV)  My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

There is a commercial I have seen on TV and the theme is acting like your parents without being aware of it.  I cannot remember what the product was but it was an entertaining 30 seconds.  We tend to act like our parents.  It comes through more clearly when we get older.  That should be a good thing.  This verse encourages us to listen to what our parents are trying to teach us.  I think that has two extensions.

Listen to what they do.  I am sure that my father gave me verbal lessons but the important distinction is that he lived what he spoke.  As I search to find why so many children stray from their parents teaching I wonder if the elders in question were not the same in private that they were in public.  I hesitate to judge them but I hasten to judge myself so that I can avoid their heartache.

Walk in the path they outline.  It doesn’t do much good knowing how to wash clothes if you just leave them on the floor for someone else to take care of.  My parents are both gone but I hope I still walk in the light they gave me.

Of course many people have parents that do not set a good example.  That is where the church should be serving its purpose.  This is where spiritual parents step in and try to fill the gap.

So?  Follow your righteous teachers.  Be a righteous teacher.  People watch you.  Some are your children and some are pretty much strangers but you have an influence on all.