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, November 17, 2017

Welcome to Life

(Proverbs 17:8 KJV)  A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.

Are you comfortable with the idea of a “gift" (bribe NASB) (7810)?  We have many common extensions of this concept.  While bribing someone is illegal we accept tipping for good service.  One difference is that usually tipping comes after and is voluntary.  A job bonus might be the same, but what about “discounts” and “free samples”? 

This is a simple observation that the person getting the advantage because of a gift is quite pleased with themselves.  Like so many gray areas of life the moral value depends on the intent and attitude of the actor and the results of the action.

So?  Life is not always easy.  Decisions are not always clear.  Sometimes all we can do is focus on the inner values that have been instilled by faithful reading of the word, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and trust God.  Welcome to life. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sons of Belial

(Proverbs 16:27 KJV)  An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.

If you have a background in the KJV you are familiar with this word “worthless” (1100) as a transliteration of the Hebrew.  It is usually accompanied by the words “sons” or “children” and you see “sons of Belial”.  The root meaning of the word is “good for nothing”.  Although there are no numbers or percentages given here the implication throughout Proverbs is that many good-for-nothings are running around loose.

The old “chicken or the egg” question comes up.  Are they worthless because they bring out evil or are they evil because they are worthless.  It really doesn’t make much difference.  We need to be aware that all men are not benevolent or simply mistaken.  We must make sure that we are not falling into this trap.

So?  Evil exists in greater numbers than we want to admit.  We are called to be righteous.  It makes for a world with a lot of tension. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Eavesdrop on Life

(Proverbs 15:23 KJV)  A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

There is a second quality in learning and growing.  We need a "word in due season" (“timely” (6256) “word” (1697) NASB).  When I first read this I saw myself as the one giving the wisdom.  As I read it again I begin to realize that maybe I am the one who is receiving.  We are reminded to listen to those around us worth listening to.

Sometimes we are prodded by something in a sermon.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us through a conversation we are eavesdropping on.  Sometimes we may have asked a good question and actually paid attention to the answer.  If our hearts are hungry, God will supply us with what we need.

So?  Listen.  Expect.  Be alert.  The answers are out there.  Make sure that they don’t need to be repeated or you might miss the high tide. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gallows Humor

(Proverbs 14:13 KJV)  Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.

I think of this as a possible endorsement of “gallows humor”.  I say that because I have rarely seen a situation in which I cannot see something to joke about.  Often I have the common sense to realize my one liner would be in bad taste and only cause more “pain” (3510).  Too frequently my mouth exceeds the speed of thought. 

It is also a reminder that even the love of Christ does not shelter us from the stubbed toes of life.  Look at the life of Paul.  Look at the rejection of the prophets.  For that matter, Jesus knew a bit of suffering Himself.  The good news is that even in the dark times we are walking in the light.  Don’t think of the low spots as being abandoned by God or punishment for some moment of weakness.

So?  We have a hope, an assurance, based on the character of God and made possible by the blood of Christ.  Rejoice in the hard times and laugh if you can.  Just don’t expect everyone to see the lighter side. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sweat Capital

(Proverbs 13:11 KJV)  Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time discussing life with a few millennials.  It is like talking to aliens from outer space.  They have starry eyed dreams of making a big splash in life but they don’t have a job now.  Actually this way of thinking has been around for generations.  I would guess it was fifteen or twenty years ago I had a conversation with a young woman who in desperation had taken a job teaching middle school.   She was constantly frustrated with the daily grind of the classroom and the ridiculous demands of administration.  Part of the problem was that she was teaching science with only a few classes in anthropology under her belt.  The bigger problem was a sense of entitlement.  Her dignity was attacked because she had taken all kinds of classes in public policy and she “was trained to be the one behind the desk giving orders, not the one out in the field.”

Too many people want the rewards of hard work and don’t want to put in the hours required.  I see budding musicians who will never know success because they don’t see the importance of learning their scales.  I see future NBA stars who will never get off the playground because they think they are too good to learn discipline. 

So?  Don’t sneer at hard work.  It is the path to success.  This is true in our careers, our child rearing and our spiritual walks. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

No Smoking

(Proverbs 12:9 KJV)  He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.

Does the phrase “smoke and mirrors” ring any bells?  How about “all smoke and no fire”?  We tend to get distracted by the spectacular and showy.  It is part of human nature.  Stage magicians have perfected the art of illusion and misdirection.  The rabbit does not really come out of the hat.  What they get the masses to do is assume something and believe it based on that assumption. 

The only way we can get around this is to know what is true and reject that which we know is not.  It used to be called common sense but as people have lost contact with the wisdom of the ages it is replaced by mob psychology.  It is better to drive an old car that is paid for than to have a leased one that you can’t really afford.  Sending your child to day care does not get them ahead in life as much as the faithful attention of a mother.  It doesn’t matter that everyone else is doing it.  It doesn’t matter that some children seem to come through it just fine. 

So?  Again I harp on the principle of reading and thinking about what the word says to us.  Only then can we judge truth from fiction.  Only one leads to eternal life. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Two Step

(Proverbs 11:20 KJV)  They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.

This seems to be comparing apples and oranges.  We have “heart” (3820) which refers to the inner man and “way" (walk NASB) (1870) which refers to the outer.  Some people like to ignore that both are necessary. 

We must have an inner transformation.  We see words like “washed”, “cleansed” and “filled”.  These are accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit through the grace of God.  It doesn’t matter how well you follow the rules if you are still in your sins. 

There must be an “upright” (blameless NASB) (8549) aspect.  That has to do with our volitional actions.  We are expected to expend willful energy walking in obedience.  It is still done through the power of the Spirit working in our lives but demands our willing cooperation.  It doesn’t do much good to have a date in your Bible that you can point to on which you were saved if there is no fruit from that moment.

So?  I would rather “delight” (7522) the Lord than be an “abomination” (8441). 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tortoise Time

(Proverbs 10:26 KJV)  As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.

As I looked at the context I noticed that this verse had a different pattern than the two surrounding it.  As I looked a little further I saw that the two forms are mixed through the chapter.  Some of the verses contrast two thoughts.  This continues or elaborates on the first idea. 
The issue being addressed is sloth, one of the seven deadly sins.  The NASB uses the modern term of “lazy” (6102).  I say modern because it does not seem to appear in the KJV, which here uses “sluggard”.   The danger is more than being slow.  It is a slowness that is caused by a lack of focus and application.  Think of the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare.  The hare was very quick but did not apply himself.  The tortoise was slow but always working toward the goal. 

So?  Are you frustrated because you are not the horse with the fancy saddle?  Maybe God needs a sure footed donkey to get the job done. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Well Earned Slap Down

(Proverbs 9:7 KJV)  He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

If you are anxious to see how this works go to a public forum of some sort, stand up and make a defense of Biblical marriage.  The very thought makes me shudder.  I would hope that if the occasion demanded it, I would have the courage to stand and speak the truth as God has established it.  I still shudder.  You know what would happen.  At the very least you would be called names and the polite ones would end in “phobe”.  You would also stand a good chance of physical assault and/or legal action.

If this happens, and it probably will, wear the accusations as a badge of honor.  Understand that it is not you they are rejecting but the God you serve.

So?  Think twice before you make a public statement.  Ask yourself if anyone will listen.  Ask God if it is necessary.  The second thought should outweigh the first.  I don’t think this is telling us not to speak but to not be naive about the reaction. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Promises, Promises

(Proverbs 8:34 KJV)  Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

The Bible is full of promises.  We like to quote them and we should.  What we like to overlook is the conditional nature of those promises.  This chapter in Proverbs is full of promises.  In this verse we have the vision of being “blessed” (835).  I would like to live that.  The rest I am not always so sure about.

Notice the three requirements for the one promise.  We are to pay attention, daily, at our assigned post.  We can’t sleep-in until the celestial alarm clock goes off and expect to get the prize.

So?  It is all very wonderful, and Biblical, to believe in the sovereignty of God.  I believe in it myself.  Salvation is a gift that God chooses to give.  The other side of that is He can also choose not to give.  In His sovereignty He makes the decisions of bestowing blessings.  Are you feeling lucky today or do you think it might help somehow to follow the directions? 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Where’s It Happening?

(Proverbs 7:11 KJV)  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:

How many of our problems come to us because we are not willing to “abide” (remain NASB) (7931) at our “house” (home NASB) (1004).  Here Solomon is specifically targeting a woman on the prowl, but the principle catches all of us in its beam.  This was written before the days of internet porn, what they are calling “cyberbullying”, hackers invading privacy and even the Home Shopping Network.  We have many ways to get in trouble without leaving the house.

But again, the principle applies.  Take something we all have to deal with, more day than money.  I don’t know if you have ever run a test of expenses by writing everything down that you spend.  It is amazing how much goes towards activities outside the home that are not necessary.  One example hits most of us.  We have countless franchises of fast food sirens, all catering to people who say things like, “It is cheaper to eat out” or “I am too tired to cook”.  Really?  Are you too tired to work that extra job to pay for it?

So?  The problem is not working hard or having a second job.  The problem is trading the time we have to prepare for eternity with being out “where it is happening”.  It should be happening in your home.  God is with you everywhere but He can get you to listen better in certain situations. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

In Praise of Nagging

(Proverbs 6:3 KJV)  Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.

I wonder if Jesus had this in mind when He told the story about the widow who kept after the judge until he gave her justice.  Notice the reason he gave.
(Luke 18:5 KJV)  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
It would seem that nagging can have positive results. 

The biggest problem is admitting that we made a mistake.  First we need to admit it to ourselves, then confess it to the neighbor.  Then keep confessing until you get some action.

So?  Honesty and persistence are steps that we need to add to our arsenal of daily living.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Life Basics

(Proverbs 5:18 KJV)  Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Faithful monogamy.  It is such a simple standard.  It is such a clear standard.  It is such an ignored standard in our day.  It reflects the special place that the marriage relationship has in the heart of God.

It is sexual and permissive within the bounds of monogamous marriage. 

It is familial, giving the foundation for the raising of children.

It is collegial, it shares the responsibilities, trials and joys of life.

It is deep.  When the years pass you may lose the shine but you remember the sparkle and keep the spark alive.

So?  Believers should be setting the example of what marriage is. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Leftover Pumpkins Won’t Help

(Proverbs 4:7 KJV)  Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

The translation from NASB starts of with totally different wording.
(Proverbs 4:7 NAS77)  "The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
The difference is not in the Hebrew.  First, look at the words in italics.  Both are inserted to make it flow.  The key word translated differently is “beginning” (7225) or “principle”.  It has the idea of being first in importance.  If I were translating it, which is always dangerous, I would start with,
(Proverbs 4:7 Pumice Pathetic Paraphrase) Wisdom first.  Get Wisdom....
This tells us a couple of things.  First, wisdom is vital.  It is not an option.  It is a requirement.  Second, it ain’t gonna happen unless we make it a priority.  God is not like the Fairy God Mother who waves her wand and turns mice and a pumpkin into a coach and four.  Third, it is available to everyone.

So?  What are you waiting for, Cinderella?  No one is going to be able to acquire wisdom for you.  God will award it but only to those who seek. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Non-Sparkly

(Proverbs 3:15 KJV)  She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

There are times when we need to put on our thinking caps and get beyond the words of scripture.  I am not a big fan of “rubies” (jewels NASB) (6443).  I do not understand why people are fascinated with jewelry.  That does not just apply to the old geezer with a big medallion and gold chains.  It refers to things like engagement rings and all things that go sparkle.  When you look at the Hebrew word you find several possible translations.  One of them is coral. 

Think of this as a term used like we use “Kleenex” or “Coke”.  It is kind of generic for things that show wealth.  We might think in terms of a Rolls Royce or Lamborghini.  To see is to be impressed.  Wisdom is, or should be, of more value to us than any of these sparklies. 

One reason wisdom is not so popular is that it does not draw attention to the person using it.  It is not ostentatious.  It is not loud.  It is not pushy.  It often goes unnoticed.  We should still seek it and value it.

So?  Be really different.  Be wise. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Emergency Reserves

(Proverbs 2:7 KJV)  He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

As I was reading this chapter I again wrestled with the meaning of “wisdom” (8454).  Traditionally most cultures have associated wisdom with advanced age because older people have more experience.  At the same time we are aware that many people just become bigger fools as they move through life. 

So what is wisdom?

We know it is rooted in a fear of the Lord which means a person must know enough about God to fear Him.  This chapter up until now talks about listening and learning from the words and teaching given by God.  We would associate that with the Bible.  My thought for today is that wisdom is based on knowing the right principles and standards.  In some cases wisdom is kind of obvious.  Look at the list of the Ten Commandments.  There is little to argue with unless you are an atheist who rejects God or a rebel who refuses to worship God.  But there are bigger principles, more subtle if you will, that need to be applied in complex situations. 

What do you do when you need to chose between two principles?  The standard example is the people who were hiding Jews from the Nazis.  They lied.  They disobeyed the government.  Most of us understand that.  The situations we face are a little more complex.

So?  No guru is going to give us answers for every little crossroad we come to.  We need to build our own reserve of principles that we can apply to cloudy paths.  We need to walk “uprightly” (in integrity NASB) (8537) so we develop skill in applying the principles.  We need to be listening so that the discernment is available as the Holy Spirit speaks.  Be Wise. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Windows of Enticement

(Proverbs 1:10 KJV)  My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

My daughter and I somehow were talking about smoking and she asked me if I had ever tried tobacco.  When I said, “No”, I explained the different stages I had gone through.  One of the stages was a short period where I would have tried it if someone had offered me one.  After that brief window I was not open to it at all.  If someone had enticed me I would have at least opened a door to a different direction in life.

Or maybe not.  Perhaps one drag would have been enough.  I have enough confidence to the work of the Holy Spirit to believe that if I had been that stupid, Providence would have made me wake up. 

So?  The fact remains that there are temptations around us and they are often active, not passive.  The active are often easier to resist than the ones that just lay in wait.  Remember that line from the Lord’s Prayer, “...and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,...”  Next time you are at church and the congregation recites it, let it jump out and wake you up.