An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Error Message

(Proverbs 14:22 KJV)  Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.

At what point do we recognize that we “err” (gone astray NASB) (8562)?  I think it is an important question.  Think of people in the Bible who went astray.  You would have quite a list if you listed all of David’s failings.  Peter was known for getting carried away down the wrong path.  I John 1:9 is written based on the assumption that people will get off track. 

How do we respond?  The righteous will see their sin and repent.  The evil will continue down the path.  Notice that the straying comes because the person is evil.

So?  Did you mess up already today?  Is it because you are choosing to be evil or because you got off the track you want to be on.  Repent or keep sliding.  Different people will make different choices. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Wise Walking

(Proverbs 13:20 KJV)  He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Life is full of choices.  It can really be important whom you travel with.  I enjoy playing golf once in awhile.  I am over the “gotta play” passion.  I am not really very good.  If you know what it means, if I ever break 100 I have a shouting spell.  I enjoy playing on courses I have never been to before but they have a problem.  What looks like a simple, direct path from tee to hole is often anything but.  In cases like that it helps to have someone playing with you with certain qualities.

It helps to have someone who has played the course enough to know it.  I had one guy who would constantly tell me things like, “Try to stay to the left.  If you hit it right it will roll down a long hill.”  It also helps to know if there is some water just over a rise and hidden in a low spot.  Knowing where to hit the ball doesn’t make me any more accurate but at least gives me a chance to try.

It helps to have someone who has better eyes.  One of the most common questions I ask is, “Did you see where my ball went?”  The problem is that the ball went farther than I could track.  It could be hazy conditions.  It could be I wasn’t looking.  Often there are others who can help out.

What you don’t want is the guy who wants to tell you how to change your grip and stance when it is obvious he isn’t doing so well himself.

So?  As far as possible, choose whom you walk with. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Coup de Gras

(Proverbs 12:18 KJV)  There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

In this spot the NASB does a better job on the Hebrew.  The KJV leaves out the concept of “rashly” (981).  While the term can refer to making solemn statements it has the idea of doing it without thought, even flippantly.  I have a vision of some of the spiritual discussions I have had with people where I deliver the coup de gras only to find that they don’t think it was so profound.  It was, they just didn’t get it.  I am not referring to the times I was totally wrong.  The problem was not my facts but my attitude.

So?  It doesn’t do any good to be right if no one will listen. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Servant Class

(Proverbs 11:29 KJV)  He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

 The second part of this verse does not necessarily have to do with the first although I can see how one relates to the other.  A fool would mess with his own house.  We have the phrase, “foul your own nest”.  I don’t know if you have ever seen pictures portraying the work space of a computer geek who has empty pizza boxes piled by the chair.  I have actually seen that in real life.  It is disgustingly awesome.

The “foolish” (191) have certain qualities.  Proverbs keeps bringing them out.  They have personalities that make them useful only on tasks that do not really matter.  It says they will be “servants” (5650) but it does not say that they will be useful servants.  They will be the kind of housekeepers that might be trusted to change the toilet paper but will need to be checked to see if they get it rolling the right way.

So?  Some people are not worthy of being in responsible positions.  That should never be said of followers of Jesus. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Soul or Not

(Proverbs 10:3 KJV)  The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.

This is a verse that is easier to deal with if you consult different translations and look at some of the study tools available.  The NASB seems to be saying that God will never stand by and let one of His children get hungry.  That is literally nonsense.  We all experience hunger.  It is how we know it is time to eat.  So we need to look a little deeper.

Different translations give us a clue.  Notice that the KJV says “soul” (5315) of the “righteous” (6662).  That brings the meaning into reach.  Also notice the marginal notes in the NASB.  There is says it is literally the “soul of the righteous”.  If that is what it means then why didn’t they translate it that way?  Sometimes I see why a friend of mine is so fed up with the NASB.

Another item of interest is that the verb in the first phrase seems to be an interpretation, not in the Hebrew.  It has the Lord and the righteous but what is the action?

So?  I think the figurative, spiritual understanding is best.  God will not allow our soul to dry up and wither.  He will be with us and hold us up through any trial.  I can live with that. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Choice Ignorance

(Proverbs 9:16 KJV)  Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

It has been a long time since I have seriously used my Bible commentaries.  It isn’t that they don’t have good things to say, they do.  It isn’t even that they contain heresy, unless you are a die hard Arminian who thinks Calvinists are heretics.  I don’t think that.  They may be confused but they are not heretics.  The reason is that in most cases the commentaries are not sharing great insight into the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek but instead are sharing their own opinions. 

Notice in this verse that the appeal of deceit works best for the one who “wanteth" (lacks NASB) (2638) “understanding” (3820).  This type of appeal works best on people who are ignorant.  What we often overlook is that ignorance is usually a choice.  It is not the same as stupid.  You can’t help it if you are stupid.  You can be responsible if you just don’t know or have not taken the time to learn.

So?  Sometimes ignorance is no big deal.  I don’t know who the latest rap star is, nor do I care.  I do know however that the fruit of the Spirit is more important than the date of the rapture.  One is available, one is God’s business. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Utter Utter Truth

(Proverbs 8:7 KJV)  For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

Proverbs spends a fair amount of time talking about evil with all of its attributes and variations.  It also spends time on the character of righteousness.  On that list is “truth” (571).  We are to “utter” (1897) truth.  In English we have at least two different meanings depending on whether it is used as a verb or an adjective.  Both are helpful if we are talking about living upright lives.

Here it is used as a verb.  It is interesting to me the scope of meaning in the word.  Of course it means to speak or say.  In addition it carries the baggage of moan, groan and muse.  It is even translated “mutter”.  I don’t know if you mutter but I do.  Even that must be truth. 

It would help to look at the adjective also.  It is not the meaning here but in English “utter” as an adjective means total and absolute.  To you could say that the believer is to speak total truth at all times.

So?  Just as we need to be aware that there is evil around us we need to acknowledge that God expects us to be different.  Our standard is truth.  We are surrounded by a culture that is making all kinds of excuses for lies and deceit.  We are not part of that. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

It’s His Fault

(Proverbs 7:20 KJV)  He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.

We have here a man who is being betrayed by his wife.  Has he done anything to deserve it?  There is no indication that he has.  Of course that brings up the point that our behavior is not excused by the behavior of others.  As Christians we are called to follow the Highway of Holiness.  We are called to be salt and light.  We are to stand out.
(Philippians 2:15 KJV)  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Flip Wilson used to have a routine about how “the devil made me do it”.  We have our own routines.  We blame parents, children, society and even God.  I know that when I eat too much I usually have some good excuse for my lack of discipline.

So?  We will be judged on our response to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God already knows our excuses, what He wants is our obedience.  Seek and find.

Monday, August 6, 2018

All, or Most, for Naught

(Proverbs 6:12 KJV)  A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

The KJV has “naughty” (1100) and the NASB “worthless”.  The English language has changed because they used to be synonyms.  I found it interesting to look at how my collection of translations handle the Hebrew.  The Basic Bible in English uses “good-for-nothing”.  Douay-Rheims has “apostate”.  The Geneva Bible has “unthrifty”.  The Jewish Publication Society says “base person”.  That is an interesting selection.

A transliteration is used frequently in the KJV as the name “Belial”.  In this chapter there are a lot of characteristics used to describe this type of person from being lazy to telling lies.  It is interesting how often this comes up.  Contrary to the teachings of our schools and media, man is not a benevolent creature.  We are prone to evil and too many have not been touched by the grace of God.

So?  Again, accept that those around you are serving the devil by serving themselves.  Make sure you are the exception but don’t expect to be loved because of it. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Mouth Sword

(Proverbs 5:4 KJV)  But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.

If you look up the uses of “two-edged” (6310) “sword” (2719) you will find it is only used twice in the OT and three times in the NT.  That doesn’t seem like much for such a well known term.  Even more startling is that a literal translation is “mouth sword”.  In context here that seems very appropriate because the woman portrayed here is doing much of her damage with her mouth.  In the end it might be said that her mouth is sending her to hell.

So?  I guess it is simple:  Watch your mouth.  As believers we are readily tempted into gossip and idle chatter.  In a world of declining politeness we are also desensitized to the growing vulgarity and crudeness of speech.  I am not sure that an occasional four letter word will send us to hell but it is an indication of our focus.  So, watch your mouth. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Insomnia

(Proverbs 4:16 KJV)  For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.

Have you ever had nights when you just could not get to sleep?  I know I have.  I can be tired and yawning.  I can’t focus.  I sit in my chair and have a hard time staying awake but when I go to bed, sleep will not come.  Often it is because something is on my mind that keeps me from relaxing.  It might have been a confrontation that took place and continually does a re-run.  I can’t let it go.

There are people like that in regard to “mischief” (evil NASB) (7489a).  This is totally alien to us but it normal for them.  They think of a chance they had to damage someone and how they missed it.  They pine for that lost opportunity and relive the moment.  They are beyond what we would consider the borders of normalcy.  I am not talking about the clinical sociopath.  I am talking about masses of people who know what is right and wrong and rejoice in doing the wrong.

So?  Part of growing up is knowing that the battle we fight is not just apologetics, reason or knowledge.  You cannot convince someone of a truth they admit and reject.  Think of the people who saw Jesus call Lazarus from the grave (John 11:43) and then went away to plot his death.  Think of the crowds who saw Him heal and went back to life as normal.  That is the normal state of mankind.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Salt Dreams

(Proverbs 3:24 KJV)  When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

There are many ways that fear can rob us of rest and peace of mind.  I am long past worrying about monsters under my bed.  Now I worry about the government listening through my computer microphone.  One was childish, the other is very possible.  Both are real at the time.  We are in a season when it is time to nominate a new justice to the Supreme Court.  People on the left are having a melt-down.  They are talking about concentration camps and the end of freedom.  That is probably as much an exaggeration as the fears people on the right had when Obama was elected.  These things make a difference.  They are real.  Don’t let them rob you of your sleep.

Our confidence is not in the government or even the church.  Our hope is in what Romans 16:27 calls The Only Wise God.  If you are having trouble putting that in perspective then read back through this chapter and grab hold.

So?  Will there be hard time ahead?  Of course.  This is a world inhabited by sinful creatures called humans.  Sleep well.  You may be called on to be salt and light tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Right Stance

(Proverbs 2:2 KJV)  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

I hear better out of one ear than I do the other.  If you know me well enough you can tell if I am really trying to listen because I “make attentive” (7181) the ear that hears better.  It is getting so it is automatic.  When I am in a restaurant I try to sit with my good ear toward the conversation.  How much I understand depends on how I situate myself.

Did you take your Bible to church with you?  I won’t bother asking if you went to church.  It should be obvious that you can’t hear the preached word if you are not in attendance.  But do you go with the idea you are going to hear something that could change your life?  I remember one famous church we visited.  I saw things that made me feel it was more of a social club rather than an institution of higher worship.  One indication was the obvious way we stood out as visitors:  We were carrying Bibles.  They had their coffee cups and water bottles but obviously figured they did not need a Bible.

So?  What is your worship stance?  Could a casual observer tell that you were really expecting to deal with eternal truth?  Make yourself attentive. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cause and Effect

(Proverbs 1:18 KJV)  And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.

I have been thinking about my blessings and, as often happens, I ask, “Why me, Lord?”  Why do I have the minor aches of age when people younger than me shovel in pills to keep the pain at bay?  I could go on in that mode but the key questions is, “Why me, Lord?”  I don’t have an answer that I can spread like a blanket.  Actually it might be like a blanket at a picnic.  My facade looks good in some ways but when you try to set your glass down you find that the uneven ground is still there. 

I will tell you what I would like to think.  I would like to think I am blessed because I have not followed the path in the previous verses.  I would like to think that I have been more pure at heart and more faithful.  The problem is that I know my heart and I know my actions.  That does not wash.  Yet I am truly blessed.

So?  I don’t have an easy answer.  I do know that God promises to see us through and we are to be careful about laying sin at the feet of others.  I do know that God makes it clear that rebellion and disobedience will have a price.  I am thankful for grace and the blood of Jesus. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

When Grace Isn’t Enough

(Proverbs 31:30 KJV)  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

“Favour” (charm NASB) (2580) used here kind of slides by us in its meaning.  Yes, we know that it is generally a good trait.  In fact, it is a glorious trait.  This is the word used in Genesis,
(Genesis 6:8 KJV)  But Noah found grace (2580) in the eyes of the LORD.
It is the undeserved favor that God extended towards Noah and extends toward us.  It is good.

Some people have this trait.  It makes them wonderful to be around.  The point here is that being a wonderful, considerate person is not enough in itself.  It is still required that we have the proper attitude toward God.

So?  One of the mysteries of my life is why so many wonderful people do not bend their knee to their creator.  It must have to do with desiring to be the god of their lives.  They may naturally tend toward being great neighbors and conscientious public servants but they still need to “fear” (3372a) the Lord. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Say, “Goat Cheese”

(Proverbs 30:29 KJV)  There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:

In the KJV you miss the point that a Hebrew word is used twice.  In the NASB it is “stately” (3190) both times.  The KJV has “well” and “comely”.  Of the three I think “well” is the best choice.  It is translated dozens of ways but combinations that use “well” in some way are the most common.  The root idea is pleasing, bringing gladness, goodness.

I think we can take away from this the acceptance that life has its good components.  The illustrations in the next verse may not rev your engines, I don’t identify with a goat, but keep in mind this was written in a time when wealth was often measured in how many goats you owned.  Life can be good.  God’s blessings are real.  Part of the promise God gives us is that if we live according to His law we will avoid certain problems and if we live in joyful obedience under grace we will also see that many disasters steer around us.

So?  Life has its up’s and down’s.  Without God’s active grace they would be crashes and explosions instead.  Be thankful.  If you can’t think of anything else be grateful that wealth is no longer measured in goats. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Reason to Sing

(Proverbs 29:6 KJV)  In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.

I find this a verse that meshes well with the belief that the power of the Holy Spirit can keep us from sin.  I will concede that the potential is still there, after all I John 1:9 was written to Christians, but the one who is being trapped and destroyed by sin is the person who is “evil” (7451b). 

We have what some call a plan of salvation that God has laid out for us.  It has the elements of confession, repentance and faith on our part and a lot of big words that God puts into motion:  Propitiation, justification, atonement, adoption, sanctification.  There comes a point were believers are no longer evil but are saints. 

So?  Sometime in the next few days you will have the opportunity to meet with other saints and be part of the singing and rejoicing.  You will have much to celebrate.  You might want to take a break right now and get started.  It will be safe if you are getting in your car to drive to work or driving nails on a ladder, but I would not recommend it if you are in an open office environment.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Exult

(Proverbs 28:12 KJV)  When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.

This is a verse where the KJV comes closer than the modern translations.  They tend to translate “rejoice” (5970) as “triumph”.  A better word for modern times might be “exult”.  This is not the simple process of being thankful in times of stress.  It is not making lemonade from lemons.  This is an attitude that people have, not when they see the righteous triumph, but when they see righteousness triumph.  This is the celebration that comes when you see wrongs being righted and evil being thwarted.

So?  It is okay to celebrate when the good guys win.  I realize that there will be some variation in what your issues may be and what needs to be fixed but there should also be a very large area of agreement. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Fool’s Grind

(Proverbs 27:22 KJV)  Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

Have you ever tried to use a mortar and pestle on something hard to grind?  I tried it on coffee beans once and decided that some things have gotten better with progress.  Coffee can be ground with this method but it takes a long time.  My guess is that the slaves were put on the task in ancient times and were beaten if it did not come out fine enough.  You need that kind of motivation to make it work.  If the guy drinking the coffee was forced to grind it I think that coffee would have never become a popular beverage.

We need to take that lesson to heart when it comes to working with fools.  Can they be helped?  Maybe.  This verse would make it sound impossible.  It seems to say “once a fool, always a fool”.  But just as grain or coffee can be eventually ground down, so might a fool.  It might take longer than they have to live and it certainly will take more energy than you have to give, but it might happen.

So?  Learn to recognize fools.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  They cover the entire spectrum of the IQ scale.  It might be that the only way you can find out for sure is to talk about real wisdom and see how they respond.  Keep in mind that even Jesus was rejected by the multitudes. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Stirring Words

(Proverbs 26:20 KJV)  Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Some “fire” (784) is more stubborn than others.  I don’t know how many times I have struggled to let someone have the last word, hoping that they will drop the mouth and get on with the task.  Usually it does not work right away.  They keep coming up with another comment to generate a response.  Eventually it dies down.

This is more like a camp fire than a match.  When we would spend time in the mountains one of the high points was the evening fire.  There would come a point that we would stop putting on wood.  The flames would eventually shrink until you had a bed of coals.  Even then there would be occasional tongues that would sneak out.  The coals could be all buried but even then I know that all I would need to do to get back the blaze was throw in a faggot and stir. 

So?  It is really hard but we need to let things die if we ever want to get any sleep.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

More than Heavy

(Proverbs 25:20 KJV)  As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.

I am always amazed at how translators work to be creative and insightful.  The meaning of “heavy” (troubled NASB) (7451a) is evil.  The KJV translates it that way 440 times.  Both the KJV and the NASB use these English words once.  I think there is a desire in us to deny the presence of evil all around us.  None of the Bibles on my software uses “evil” here.

We think of evil as child molestation or rape.  Both of those actions are destructive and almost impossible to make right.  Yet how many children have been ruined for life by well meaning teachers who teach them to avoid responsibility for their actions and to look at themselves as victims?  How many “loving” parents have seriously handicapped their children by refusing to discipline them?  How many meaningful actions of congress have been gutted with pork barrel add ons?

So?  You don’t need to walk down the street pointing a finger and yelling, “Evil!”  You do need to be aware that it exists and it won’t go away just because you sing it a nice tune or pay it a compliment.  The only antidote is the grace of God and the blood of the Lamb. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Have Correct Change

(Proverbs 24:21 KJV)  My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

The Hebrew word used in the KJV is different than the one in the NASB in spite of the fact that they are translated the same.  Putting them together gives us a better insight. 

The KJV uses 8138 which means to repeat.  The NASB uses 8132 which means to change.  According to the Pulpit Commentary the difference is in whether the verb is transitive or intransitive.  There seems to be some confusion on that so it becomes a matter of interpretation.  If you go with the idea of repetition then the idea is that you are repeating so that you can get a different outcome.  It is like a gambler rolling the dice and hoping for a winning number this time.  You come up with the idea of people who are never happy with things as they are and the only value is in “New and Improved” as you see on the package of breakfast cereal.  How you can keep improving corn flakes is beyond me but some people go for it.

A quip I have seen repeatedly on line comes to mind.  It is attributed to Albert Einstein but I have seen no reference so I  don’t know if it is true.  I will paraphrase from memory, “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.”  Some people are that way on important issues.

So?  I think we need to be open to new insight and improvements but need to be leery of change for change’s sake. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Don’t Tarry, Don’t Seek

(Proverbs 23:30 KJV)  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

When seen in isolation there is something you might not notice in this verse:  It is the answer to a question.  To summarize the previous verse, the question is, “Who is really messed up?”  Solomon’s editors probably would not let him make it that simple but this would be the Reader’s Digest version or perhaps the Message.

The point is that alcoholic beverages tend to mess you up.  It is not a blanket indictment, just an observation.  If that bothers you think about why.

So?  What do you think the list would say if every bottle of wine came with the same type of printout that your medication is required to provide.  God provided a brain that has more than instinct.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Macho Wisdom

(Proverbs 22:3 KJV)  A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

“Discretion is the better part of valor”.  This is a corruption of Shakespeare and I would guess that he got the idea from Solomon.  If you are a John Wayne fan you find this offensive.  Real men confront evil.  Cowards hide.  Edmund Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  That is the American way, right?  Evidently it is not the Biblical way.

It does not mean that we do nothing.  It means that we respond with wisdom not react with muscles.  Keep in mind that Gideon was eventually sent out with his small band to confront the invaders.  Remember that he went in the timing and under the direction of the Lord.  That is the difference between wise and macho.

So?  Be brave but be discreet. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Plowing with a Lamp

(Proverbs 21:4 KJV)  An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

If you compare the KJV and the NASB you notice that one has “plough” (5215) and the other has “lamp” (5215a).  The Hebrew word that brings out a different translation of “plough” (5215) in the KJV looks exactly the same in transliteration but is slightly different in the Hebrew.  In trying to figure out the difference I came across something called “vowel points” in Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.  This is a reminder of the difficulty of translation. 

Hebrew originally did not have any written vowels.  Us laymen are most familiar with this process when we come to the Hebrew word YHWH which is usually translated “Lord”.  My understanding is that we get the name Jehovah by taking the consonants from the Hebrew YHWH and the vowels from the Greek adonoi and put them together.  The story is that no one knows how to pronounce it because the name of God was too holy to be spoken out loud.

So?  Is it “lamp” or “plough”?  Once again the answer is, “Yes.”  Both or either will work just fine.  It may be that the Holy Spirit will use each to touch your heart on different days.  It would sure be easier if God made everything plain old black and white but it would also be much more boring. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Section 8

(Proverbs 20:10 KJV)  Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.

God is not just concerned about the mysterious qualities of eternity.  He is concerned with the everyday business of the world He created.  I mean business literally. 

The earliest reference to this idea is in the Law.
(Leviticus 19:35-6 KJV)  Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.  Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
We find reference to this concept in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, where Congress is given the power
“To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;”
One of the foundations of society is fair trade.  By that I am talking about the market place even though it might apply between nations.  Have you ever been the beneficiary or the victim of government preferences?  It happens all the time in places you might not think of as an abomination.  When we used to spend time in Hawaii there was a municipal golf course on Maui that had rates that were a little higher than I was used to but cheap for Hawaii.  I think it cost me around $50.00 to play a round.  On a resort it would start around $150 so you can see my point.  I should have been happy but I noticed that if I qualified as a local resident I could play for $15.00.

So?  God has given us a standard of treating people equally whether that is in business or recreation.  The basis of that standard is in the Ten Commandments.  Remember, “Thou shalt not lie.”  Remember, “Thou shalt not steal”.  I guess when I saw the deal the locals got I should have been remembering the commandment about not coveting. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Self Love

(Proverbs 19:8 KJV)  He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.

Most translations have “wisdom” (3820) here.  That seems so wrong to me.  It is a very common word used 595 times in the Old Testament.  In the KJV it is only translated “wisdom” six times and all of those are in the so called Wisdom Literature.  By far the most common translation is “heart”.  It refers to the inner man.  It is not translated “soul” in either the KJV or NASB. 

A certain level of self-esteem has its place.  It begins in the “wisdom”, heart or inner man.  Keep in the front of your mind the qualifiers though.  I said “certain level”.  There is a point where the self-centered carnal nature runs wild.  There is also a point where you must believe in your worth before God.  That is the basis of the verse Jesus quoted,
(Leviticus 19:18 KJV)  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
So?  If you can’t care about yourself then you can’t care about others.  It is part of the new heart that God wants to give you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Isolation

(Proverbs 18:1 KJV)  Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.

When should we isolate ourselves from the input of others?  I think it is why a lot of people pursue hiking or backpacking.  It gives a chance to get away from the constant litany of advertisers and commentary as people try to influence us and effect our thinking.  It often gives us a chance to recharge our batteries.  Isolation can be positive.

Isolation can also be negative.  If we don’t take along our Bible or at least meditate on the wisdom we have heard we flirt with the danger of being consumed with our own wisdom.  It is a good question to ask, “Which is more dangerous, the influence of others or the lack of influence of others?”  The key is the basis of the wisdom.

So?  If you need to get away for a few days, go for it.  Don’t forget your anchors, though.  You don’t need any more drift than you already have. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Know the Difference

(Proverbs 17:15 KJV)  He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

Two observations.  First, there is a difference between what God considers “righteous” (6662) and what our culture is starting to call just.  Keep in mind that when your neighborhood teacher or liberal minister talks about immorality they are referring to your slack in recycling or your intolerant attitude toward homosexuality.  They tut tut your concern about such things as out of wed lock births or the epidemic waiting to spread from the streets of San Francisco.

Second, we can expect the forces of our modern culture to reinforce the “wicked” (7563) as they work to destroy the Christian influence.  Courts and government bureaucrats are more interested in dealing with “white privilege” than drunk drivers. 

So?  We are called to be salt and light but remember that our culture will tell you that salt is bad for your blood pressure and light causes skin cancer.  You need to know better. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Hardest Honesty

(Proverbs 16:2 KJV)  All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

I am getting old.  Actually, I am already old but I am getting older.  I often joke about losing my mind and how I will be the last one to know.  Actually that is just an extension of our normal insight.  I would say that we are usually the last one to know that we are wrong.  Even the person with low self esteem assumes that perception is reality.  In their case it might be a low opinion of themselves instead of arrogance.  It is still limited by being self perception.

We need to do our own thinking and make our own decisions.  We also need to realize that input from others is healthy.

So?  Be willing to listen and then try to evaluate from what you know God has said through His word.  There are many propositions you can reject out of hand. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Eternal Ears

(Proverbs 15:31 KJV)  The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.

The call we receive is composed of a series of responses.  It starts with this one, to “listen” (8085).  From there you have a call to faith, a call to repentance, a call to obedience.  As a result we will “abide” (dwell NASB) (3885a) among the “wise” (2450).  I remind you and I remind myself, that is an eternal dwelling.  This is not just a cool promise that we will sit with a bunch of awesome people.  In Proverbs it talks about sitting at the gates and high places.  That sounds impressive.  I think it also it a reminder that we will be with the wise for eternity.

So?  Keep your listening ears on.  Turn up the microphone.  God is giving directions and you probably have an intersection just ahead. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Neighborly

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

Are you a cranky “neighbor” (7453)?  Am I a cranky neighbor?  You will never know.  Where we live now the neighbors are far enough away that if they are cranky we will never know.  This verse is a reminder that we should be the most pleasant house on the block.  That doesn’t mean that you are taking cookies to everyone or mowing their lawn when they are not looking.  It does mean that you don’t play loud music at night or clog up the street with wild parties.  It might mean bringing in their empty trash cans when they are late getting home.

So?  People should know we are nice to live by before they find out we go to church.  If we are obnoxious it will not matter how good our pastor is our how friendly our congregation. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Core Conceptions

(Proverbs 13:19 KJV)  The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.

Our culture is in direct conflict with the Christian faith.  One of the areas of conflict regards the nature of the human being.  What are we on the inside?  Christians believe that we are contaminated with original sin and thus we tend to be selfish and inclined toward evil.  The world believes that all people are morally neutral or inclined toward the good.  The teachers in your public school have been indoctrinated by psychology and sociology to believe that the reason so many children are messed up and making bad choices is that their environment has blocked their natural goodness. 

Environment has consequences.  Most people will concede that.  The difference is where you start.  This verse reminds us that there are some people who feel very strongly that they need to continue down the path that rejects a holy God and His expectations of righteousness.

So?  Don’t expect to fit in.  It may go well at times.  It may be under the surface.  The standards of the world reject the standards of God.  Decide which side you are on.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Simple Truth

(Proverbs 12:17 KJV)  He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.

The simple statement here is that the believer “speaks” (6315) “truth” (530).  Many people try to fudge on this.  They come up with many excuses and qualifications.  If that is how you swing then it is questionable if you are a believer.  True is the opposite of false.  It makes a difference.

So?  Speak truth.  Is that simple enough for you?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Coupons and Faith

(Proverbs 11:28 KJV)  He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.

Is the stock market going to crash?  Will Social Security go bankrupt?  Will we be forced into a cashless lifestyle?  Stay tuned, it just gets more interesting.  It is interesting to us because our confidence is not in the “riches” (6239) of the economy.  We balance our check book, pay our rent and utilities, use coupons and lock our doors.  We do not panic because the federal deficit is too big.

This is not just a cliche or platitude.  This is a rock that we base our life on.
My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus blood and righteousness.
So?  That is not just an old song that we used to sing.  It does not just apply to eternity.  It is a daily choice that we make. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Above the Law

(Proverbs 10:2 KJV)  Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.

I appreciate the attempts of modern translators to try to make thinking easy for me but I believe in the long run it makes my thinking weaker.  It also can make my faith weaker by not expecting me to think.  The NASB phrase “ill-gotten gains” is literally “treasures (214) of wickedness (7562)” as printed in the KJV.  Once again by trying to help, the translators limit my choices.

“Ill-gotten gains” is one aspect of the phrase.  It focuses on the actions of the wicked.  “Treasures of wickedness” is better because not only includes the actions but the possessions, attitudes and priorities of those who live for themselves.  It is possible to procure something through legal means and have an attitude which makes that object more important than a hungry man next door.  The purchase was not ill-gotten but ignoring your brother in need was wicked.

So?  As followers of Jesus we are called to a higher standard than just following the law.  That is the glory of living under grace.  It does not excuse law breaking, it takes us to levels of obedience fueled by love and guided by a desire to walk straight. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Silent Partners

(Proverbs 9:15 KJV)  To call passengers who go right on their ways:

One of the concerns discussed in the Bible is demon possession.  I upset someone who was making an issue of it by saying that Satan does not push this in the west because he has found that the slow seduction of the faithful provides him with more recruits.  When you throw demonic forces at people they tend to either capitulate or turn to God in desperation.  When you dangle the possibility of winning the lottery you get many more takers. 

Notice that the targets of this evil woman are people who are trying to walk “right” (straight NASB) (3474).  Keep in mind that people who are not serving the Lord are serving Satan even though they don’t think of it that way.  They are silent partners.

So?  If you are being faithful then expect to be harasses by the Evil One.  He already has the guy beside you and he will have you for eternity if you listen to him. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Good Expressions

(Proverbs 8:6 KJV)  Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

As followers of Christ we are expected to be touched by wisdom.  I know when we look around we don’t see much of that commodity.  A question to ask is, “Do they see it when they look at us?”  How does this work out in day to day terms?  A verse that this brings to mind,
(Philippians 4:8 KJV)  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
So?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be known for talking and acting that way?  It might not make you the life of the party or the celebrity at the local bar, but it would certainly make you the kind of person who leaves a positive legacy. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Blame Game

(Proverbs 7:19 KJV)  For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:

This reminds me that there are many situations that I cannot resolve or prevent.  The man being described here has done nothing to deserve being betrayed.  At least we don’t know of anything.  He has gone on a business trip.  It may have been necessary to keep his business going.  It is probably the way in which he earns the wealth to support his wife so that she can spend his money stabbing him in the back.

I would venture to guess that there are things facing many of us today that are not pleasant.  We have played by the rules and done the responsible things.  In spite of that we are on the short end of the stick.  One of the things we need to remember is that our success is not measured in who gets the promotion or who is publically recognized.  It is in being faithful to His calling.

So?  We cannot make others trustworthy, just ourselves.  God sets the standard and we either obey or not.  I promise not to feel guilt for the actions of others. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Self Check

(Proverbs 6:11 KJV)  So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

“One that travelleth” (vagabond NASB) (1980) is what a previous generation would have called a hobo or tramp.  In theory there is a difference but both have the mystic of being free spirits with no roots.  Often there is a concern about them having sticky fingers for things not tied down.  If you are familiar with Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” you get the idea.

This verse is reminding us that one of the biggest causes of poverty is sloth and lack of integrity.  Modern social justice warriors don’t like that.  They need a rich person to blame.  Oppression happens.  Even more common, at least in this country, is lazy.  Most poor people are not lazy.  Many lazy people are not poor.  The intersection is bigger than we want to admit.

So?  Keep in mind this is not an excuse to judge others.  This is intended as a standard by which we can evaluate our own actions and attitudes.  This is for you to apply to you and me to apply to me.  It works best that way. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Wanting to Believe

(Proverbs 5:3 KJV)  For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:

We can be effected by sweet talk and smooth talk.  Admit it.  You like to be told sweet nothings by the right person.  You like to believe what they tell you.  And then there is the guy who has an answer to any question you might ask.  We run into these situations.

Part of the solution is to know what you are a sucker for.  Since I am a bit of a cynic the smooth talk doesn’t work that well with me.  I question just about everything.  I am a sucker though for the person who goes from being ornery to sweetness and light.  I tell myself that I must have been mistaken.  I fall for it every time.

So?  Wisdom can help us in the quest to not look like a fool.  It doesn’t always work because we don’t let it, but it is available.  Our choice.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Quad Safety Valves

(Proverbs 4:15 KJV)  Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

The “it” in this verse is the path of evil and evil men.  If you want to walk that way you are not reading this.  Solomon suggests four strategies to use if your desire is to live a righteous life.  Some can be matters of habit, others are results of focus and discipline.  Habits can be established with repetition.

It could be that the first advice is a summary of the next three.  “Avoid” (6544a) evil.  Then there are three strategies to avoiding.  You avoid something by staying away.  When I go to the grocery store I have learned to never go down the aisle that has the Cheesits.  I am better off if I don’t need to fight the temptation.  If by mistake I find myself approaching those distinctive red and yellow boxes I can “turn” (7847) around and go back the way I came.  If it is too late I can just “pass” (5674a) the threat.  Last time I heard, boxes of snack crackers do not jump off the shelf and attack shoppers.  I could be wrong on that.

So?  I have four steps.  Any one of them will keep me where I want to be.  They will not take themselves.  They require my cooperation.  The box is in our court.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Roller Coasters

(Proverbs 3:23 KJV)  Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.

Some people like excitement more than others.  I have ridden on roller coasters.  I can’t say that I look forward to doing it again.  Intellectually I was feeling safe and secure.  Emotionally and physically, not so much.  There is something unsettling about coming over the top of the rise and heading almost straight down.  There is only one way you could get me on one and that was by being sure that it was safe.

To be honest I never went and checked the documentation to see if the ride had been inspected.  I assumed.  I never doubted that some mysterious person or team had gone over the bolts and the beams making up that skeleton structure and declared it solid.  I never looked at the equations that showed the cars would not fly off into space on a curve.  I just assumed.

So?  When you have confidence in the Celestial Engineer and the Author of All Things you can make certain assumptions about the life you live and the challenges you face.  It makes the roller coaster of life more bearable.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Peeps Behind the Bed

(Proverbs 2:1 KJV)  My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

It is easy to “receive” (3947).  It is a bit more challenging to “hide” (treasure NASB) (6845).  Think about last Christmas.  Assume that you received a nice pile of gifts.  When it was time to get them out of the living room, what did you do?  If you are like most people the general pile was transferred to your bed or some other flat space.  There it awaited its distribution, but there are always exceptions.  If you received one very special item you either put it in a special place or gave it special attention.  It is possible that there was another item, such as a package of Peeps, that fell down behind the bed and were forgotten about.  You know which ones were treasured by the way in which they were treated.

Around the tree where you were receiving you made the appropriate comments.  In your room the real attitude came out.  It is the same with the wisdom of God.  We learn to make the appropriate responses to the sermon.  We say stirring things at the Bible study.  But do we treasure?

So?  Separate the things you hear and give them the fitting amount of attention.  I am not sure we need to fixate on separating linen and wool but we might want to mediate a little on turning the other cheek. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Bird’s Eye

(Proverbs 1:17 KJV)  Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

I am reading a book dealing with the search to understand the qualities that make up human beings.  Most of the book so far deals with debunking all the attempts to establish ways to measure intelligence.  The writer is a liberal who fits in with modern education.  He is afraid to say that there is such a thing as intelligence.  Proverbs has many measures to tell the quality of a person’s mind and thinking.  The overall word is not intelligence but wisdom. 

Here it points out that wisdom includes the ability to learn from your experiences and the experience of others.  The person being described is someone who does not seem to be able to learn from the most obvious.  To people with the benefit of the Holy Spirit it is obvious that some behavior is destructive.  It is clear that the wrong priorities can make success impossible.

So?  God always gives us enough knowledge to make decisions if our heart is open.  Pay attention.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mundane

(Proverbs 30:28 KJV)  The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.

These verses talk about common things.  Life is made up of common things.  If you look over verses 24 through 28 you see two insects, a rodent and a reptile.  What kind of day are you having?  I can think of experiences that would fit each label.

In the midst of the common, everyday experiences we see outcomes we might not expect.  What is “lizard” (8079) doing in the “palace” (1964)?  Eating bugs of course.  Neither the eater nor the eaten are very romantic but they are a part of daily life. 

So?  Face it.  Life is not made up of dramatic moments.  It is made up of the mundane and common.  Through such things God works to His glory.  Enjoy your part in it. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sweet Words Can Cause Decay

(Proverbs 29:5 KJV)  A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

What is the difference between a compliment and flattery?  I think that is an important distinction here.  It might be the honesty factor.  A complement has a genuine quality to it.  Every once in awhile I run into someone who will call me “young man.”  I am old enough that I know it is tongue in cheek but what if I were dressing like I was young and putting on a style that only fit youth.  In that case it would be flattery.  There might even be a bit of mocking in it.

When you praise someone and are not sincere it can come back to haunt you.  I remember one time when I was trying to be sensitive to someone’s feelings and praised a certain bit of cuisine they had prepared.  I locked myself in to eating that dish every time I was around them.  I was trapped.

So?  It is important to make our comments genuine.  I guess the other alternative is to say nothing but that is often impossible. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Business Cycle

(Proverbs 28:11 KJV)  The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.

Let me take a big stretch here.  Let me pull out a principle of economics.  Think of a business like Walmart and the stages it goes through.  Sam Walton started with one store.  If you had gone into his first store you would have received awesome service.  Move forward to what Walmart has become.  Often it is impossible to find and employee and when you do they don’t seem to know too much or desire to be of assistance.  I am painting with a broad brush but that is a natural process.  Why does 7/11 stay open?  They charge more and have limited selection.  They are on every corner because they are quick and helpful.  They are hungry.  That improves their understanding.

You can observe businesses around you at every step of the process.  Now apply it to you and your life.  When I was young and living hand to mouth every penny counted.  Now I don’t pay near as much attention.  When I was a new Christian I saw sparkle in every new revelation.  Now I have to focus and discipline myself to learn new things and grow. 

So?  Be aware of where you are in your walk and make allowance for others as they journey.  It is possible to be in touch with God at all steps.  It just takes a little more focus at certain times. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

From Pig to Pendant

(Proverbs 27:21 KJV)  As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.

The “crucible” (4715) and the “furnace” (3564a) were two different ways of refining precious metals.  They applied heat to separate the valuable from the waste product.  The two metals referred to were silver and gold.  Both of them could be found in a natural form that was pure enough to be shaped by pounding and pressure.  It was possible to make ornaments and decorations without the heat but the metal was not as lustrous and useful as the purified product.

In the same way it is possible for us to be useful to God without being tested but the ability to live in righteousness and be salt is seriously limited without refining.  Imagine yourself a gold nugget.  You are happy as a pig in the mud as you lay in the dirt.  Someone finds you and uses a thong to make you into a pendant.  Everyone is impressed.  In order to become a beautiful setting for a diamond or other jewel you find yourself crushed and heated to the point of purification.  In the process you not only become more beautiful but much more valuable. 

So?  I don’t ever expect to enjoy the growing process but I can accept it knowing that the end results will make me a little straighter and closer to the final product God is designing. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Nonsense of Humor

(Proverbs 26:19 KJV)  So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

What is the dividing line between genuine, acceptable humor and deceit?  We often are the target or the protagonist of practical jokes.  They usually involve some kind of misdirection or deliberate misunderstanding.  We have all heard that sarcasm is the lowest form of humor.  I usually hear that from people who have no sense of humor so it is like someone who can’t carry a tune telling me I need to get into the contemporary worship experience. 

There is a line and I think it is one of those things that is hard to define but we know when we have crossed it.  I was once a part of a teaching team of four teachers.  Three of us were clowns and one had no sense of humor.  We found that we had to regularly say, “Joke, Irene, Joke.”  She would get a puzzled look on her face, think a moment and nod.  We need to be careful that we are not deceiving people.  We need to make sure our motives in humor are right.

So?  Be alert for people with no sense of humor.  They have other qualities and you need to be a better person. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Teeth of Life

(Proverbs 25:19 KJV)  Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

While I was in Japan I had an old filling pop out.  After securing the wayward part and looking at the hole I had to figure out what to do.  I was blessed with no pain so I had no need to panic, but what to do.  I asked around and got different advice.  Finally I called my dentist back home.  When they found I was in no pain they said I could probably wait to get home and we made an appointment.  I was told to not chew on that side and eat soft foods.  It worked and when I got home they were able to glue the old part back in and all was well.

It was a bad tooth.  I was told how to deal with it.  In spite of that I found myself chewing with it several times a day and needing to clean it well.  We are surrounded by people that have let us down.  They need to be treated carefully.  Like I was with a weak spot in my mouth, having the wrong types of friends and acquaintances can mean we are in danger. 

So?  I went to the expert and followed advice.  I made it through with my tooth.  I think we can make it through with the curve balls of life. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Reward Posted

(Proverbs 24:20 KJV)  For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

This verse seems to be the flip side of verse 14.
(Proverbs 24:14 KJV)  So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
The NASB is better here with the use of “future” (319) to the “reward” of the KJV.  In fact these two verses are the only places the KJV translates the Hebrew this way.

I think this is a verse of promise for this world and the next.  I think there is a lot of support in the Bible for teaching that righteous believers enjoy life more than the rebellious.  It is true that we face persecution.  It is true that my main experience is in the brief bubble that we call America.  It is true that at times God allows us to go through suffering for reasons we can’t understand.  It is also true that we have a hope for today and tomorrow.

So?  It is a challenge to live in faith when the children are sick and the government is sicker.  In spite of that we can be like Paul, singing hymns while in chains.  It should drive the world crazy.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Payoff

(Proverbs 23:29 KJV)  Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

It is interesting that this verse is between adultery and drunkenness.  To which is it referring?  My first reaction is that it describes a drunk, but on reflection I can see it also describing the destructive power of sexual sin.  I would be willing to say that in the long run this is a description of the results of most types of sin.

Look at the world around you.  There is a lot of misery and suffering.  How much of it would you say is the result of righteousness and following the commandments of God?  You might see the self righteous fool claiming that the destruction they have caused was according to God’s will, such as the Spanish Inquisition, but when you peel away the layers you find that it is the arrogance of the “servant” that actually causes the pain.

So?  The blessings of obedience start right after your next decision.  They may extend into eternity and have divine blessings attached but it is also very real in this world. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

One Leg at a Time

(Proverbs 22:2 KJV)  The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.

It is as if there is no in between ground.  You have the “rich” (6223) .  You have the “poor” (7326).  Was there no middle class?  It is a question for the historian and the general answer is “Yes, but it was very small.”  That isn’t the point of Solomon. 

Solomon is trying to point out to us that the entire spectrum of humanity has the creator in common.  Ultimately that lead thinkers to the American ideal of putting on pants one leg at a time.  The actual point is that everyone is expected to be in submission to almighty God.  There are no exceptions.  And the big line in the sand that I see is the willingness to accept the fact that we are not the gods of our lives.

I struggle with this in my own way as I keep trying to get God to follow my direction.  He isn’t interested.  I like to think I am doing better than those around me.  He is not impressed.  He keeps bringing Micah 6:8 to my mind.
(Micah 6:8 KJV)  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
So?  Right actions based on the right heart and a right attitude.  Sounds like a formula I better learn to live with. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Possibilities

(Proverbs 21:3 KJV)  To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

It is so easy to get distracted from being salt and light.  It is so easy to fulfill the ritual and ignore the heart of God’s plan for us.  It does not help when so many claim that “justice” (righteousness NASB) (6666) is impossible.  Too many godly people emphasize that we are sinners and continue to sin in our daily lives.  They don’t seem to believe that God’s power and grace are strong enough to do something about our nature. 

Good people who live upright lives can get so isolated by their theological systems that they miss the significance of their obedience.  If we could not live right then God would not spend so much time and ink reminding us to do it.  When I first started playing golf I read a lot of books by big name golfers.  I read magazines.  They were all telling me things about how to play golf like they did.  I could define all the words.  I could not put them into action.  What I could do was keep my head down and line my feet up in the right direction. 

So?  God want’s us to live clean and straight.  He gives us the ability.  He works with us if we are not there yet.  Enjoy the journey. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

No and Yes

(Proverbs 20:9 KJV)  Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

This verse opens a can of theological worms.  If read in isolation you come to one conclusion.  If you consider all of scripture you come to another. 

In isolation this would seem to be saying that it is impossible to have a clean heart.  It would seem to be emphasizing the sinfulness of man and the fallen condition of creation.  It would seem that the only answer is a simple, “No one.”

But that doesn’t fit with the many places where the Bible talks about people who are righteous and upright.  It ignores the promises of God.  It refuses to read simple statements like,
(Acts 15:8-9 KJV)  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Is it possible to be pure from our sin?  Yes.  Is it possible to do it ourselves?  No. 

So?  The balance is that we are totally dependent on grace, but grace can do what seems impossible to us.  Relax and enjoy.  Try not to let your theological system get in the way of the simple promises. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Poor Poor

(Proverbs 19:7 KJV)  All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

Usually the Bible takes up for the “poor” (7326).  This verse seems to denigrate them.  That means we need to look a little deeper.  I submit that the quality being evaluated here and other places is not how much money they have but the kind of attitude they exhibit. 

We have all know people who have little money but a healthy pride.  They do not beg.  They do not complain.  They work hard and do the best they can.  Again I submit the statement, “We aren’t poor, we just don’t have much money.”

Then you have the people who always have their hand out and a chip on their shoulder.  They always blame others and play the victim.  The sad part of our culture is that we seem to be training an entire generation of this type of people.  This is the person who only shows up at church when they need some money or need a ride. 

So?  It is natural to flee such and I don’t sense a condemnation in this verse.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Friends and Neighbors

(Proverbs 18:24 KJV)  A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

This might be a good time to look at an outlier translation, called the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible.
(Proverbs 18:24 LITV)  A man of friends may be broken up, but there is a Lover who sticks closer than a brother.
This gets to the essence of the actual words in Hebrew.  There are different levels in relationships.  We sometimes talk about “friends” (7453) a bit cavalierly.  It irritates me when someone I hardly know calls me “my friend”.  I am not their friend, I am their acquaintance.  There is a difference.  If a friend was in crisis and needed a thousand dollars, I would find the money.  An acquaintance would just get The Look.

So?  It is true that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It starts in the Old Testament and is frequently quoted in the New.  That is okay.  There are certain liberties I would not even grant myself. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Back Off

(Proverbs 17:14 KJV)  The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

I am not a farmer.  I am not even a gardener.  I have never experienced the movement of dirt to allow water into a new row or field.  My “letting out” (6362) is usually confined to opening a faucet.  It is something that I have learned to do with caution.  I have learned to turn slowly and listen carefully.  I have learned to make sure that the hose is already attached and pointed in the right direction.  I might even make sure that the end is in my hand.

We have all experienced what it is like when we ignore these precautions.  At best we might see the end of the hose dancing around the yard.  From there we can proceed to getting doused.  It can even go to the point where real damage is done. 

I think that usually we can sense when things are moving toward “strife” (4066).  That should be the warning to slow down and take a deep breath.  The best way to win a fight is to avoid a fight.

So?  Being a macho dude is not in God’s game plan.  Our charge is to avoid conflict, not be obsessed with winning. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Change of Plans

(Proverbs 16:1 KJV)  The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

This is not a criticism of planning or preparation.  It is a warning about not planning with an understanding that God has the final approval.  We should always start with the basic principles that God has laid down.  Do we need extra money for a project?  Then certain options are not open to us.  You cannot rob a bank.  You cannot cheat your customers.  You cannot dump your parents on the state.  There is clear scripture on those options.  As we plan we are listening to God’s directions and standards.

After the plans are moving along we need to be seeking God’s final approval.  We need to consider that we may not have been hearing clearly or that God has let us head down the wrong path for reasons we don’t understand.  We also need to be open to the fact that God may block our plans at the last minute.

So?  Walking by faith is not being the only guests at Disneyland.  It is having a hope within you even when you don’t understand why a tragedy has knocked on your door. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Double Joy

(Proverbs 15:30 KJV)  The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.

As a grandparent I am watching the new addition develop.  One of the facets that brings a stirring of the heart is when the “eyes” (5869) of the infant begin to respond.  A newborn is glorious but they usually don’t track or focus.  They are learning.  Then there is the magic of seeing they know you and recognize you.  I am not sure it is something that can be explained but it is there.  You know you have contact.  If you think it brings joy to your heart just think about the process going on in the mind of the baby.

When we grow in our awareness of God it supplies joy both ways.  We, of course, are rejuvenated by the awareness of the contact.  In a strange way that reflects the infinite capacity of God, it is a special moment for Him too.

So?  Bless God.  He may be infinite.  We may be finite.  There is still a two way connection that needs to be made. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Poor Judgement

(Proverbs 14:20 KJV)  The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.

This is not a statement of how it should be but an observation of reality.  It would seem that some things never change.  Human instinct is to be drawn to the rich and powerful while we shun the poor and weak.  We are drawn to the successful.  While it may be natural, it isn’t necessarily the gold standard of discernment.

We are called to a greater vision, a vision that looks at the hearts and character around us rather than the labels on clothes and the stores shopped at.  The Bible calls us to be aware of differences but to focus on differences that matter.  Money is not a difference that matters.  Integrity is.  Generosity is.  Humility is. 

So?  Does that mean we reject people of wealth?  No.  We are to reject people of conceit.  Keep in mind that poor people can be just as greedy as wealthy people.  The major difference is that they have not been as successful in their greed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Poverty Simmering

(Proverbs 13:18 KJV)  Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.

I believe that Solomon was thinking literally when he wrote this but often the leading of the Holy
Spirit causes more to be said than is said.  I think there is a kind of mental and spiritual poverty that is included in this formula.  It is not the “deep hidden meaning”, it is just part of the package.  We as a country are deep in poverty of the mental and spiritual type.  We are the richest in physical terms but are losing our edge in the areas that lay the foundation for tomorrow.

It is like the parts of Europe that have adopted socialism and are still seen as prosperous and wealthy.  I think of Sweden.  They are living on the wealth that capitalism brought them and still have bits of it remaining but the effects of socialism are slowing draining their resources.  The same thing is happening to the church in America.  While I think a church can be large and still be the church, it is very hard to avoid the compromises that always seem to creep in.  Look at the cathedrals of Europe is you want to see the possible future of the American church.

So?  I know I can’t reform the church.  I doubt if you can.  I can be a squeaky wheel.  Who knows, if we get enough squeaky wheels maybe it will give new avenues for the Holy Spirit to work. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Archie Meets Spock

(Proverbs 12:16 KJV)  A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

This also would, outwardly, conform to the ideas of the Stoics.  The Stoics were a school of philosophy that is much more complex than I would want to study but the bit of popular lore that is tied to them is keeping a straight face.  They were known for not reacting with passion to the good or bad of life.  A generation ago we would have talked about Mr. Spock, the Vulcan.  Most people thought he had no emotions.  In reality I think he was supposed to have been taught to ignore them and follow logic.

For us there is advice here to hide our reactions and thoughts.  Do not broadcast everything you feel and think the moment you feel and think it.  There may come a time to share but not in the heat of the moment.  It is amazing how often your first reaction looks a bit foolish in the floodlights of time.

So?  As another generation would remember, Archie would tell Edith, “Stifle yourself”.  Not a bad idea on the short term. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Conditioned Insights

(Proverbs 11:27 KJV)  He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.

Is it a complement or an insult to be called a “Pollyana”?  Maybe there is something to having an attitude that always looks for the good in people and situations.  Maybe we should not get into questioning motives or checking out facts.  This verse could be understood that way.

For me this is a needed reminder about attitude.  I have been called a cynic.  I respond by saying I am a realist.  I see them as being different but it is possible that I am just making excuses for the way I am instead of listening to correction.  You might have the opposite problem.  I would imagine that both extremes need to move toward the middle without abandoning their strength.  We need to remember that the gifts of the spirit include both discernment and mercy.  They are there to keep each other in balance and avoid extremes.

So?  If the world looks too dark or too happy it might be time to listen to someone who disagrees with you. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Not Optional Equipment

(Proverbs 10:1 KJV)  The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

This is not a statement of doctrine but it gives us an indication of what family should contain:  A “father” (1) and a “mother” (517).  We have plenty of examples in scripture of widows having children and orphans are given as a concern but the basic structure remains.  We live in a modern culture that is trying to restructure that.  The Bible standard is solid.  In spite of the scattered cases of multiple wives the basic example is still one man and one woman united for life.

We see this in the standards for leaders in the church.
(1 Timothy 3:12 KJV)  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
And God is clear about marriage lasting a life time.
(Malachi 2:16 NAS77)  "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."
So?  Our standards and expectations should be coming from the Bible, not the culture.  This gets harder everyday.  That does not make it optional.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Best Deal in Town

(Proverbs 9:14 KJV)  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

A sad truth about life is that we can never turn our brain off and coast, at least not for long.  We need to always be alert.  Don’t assume.  I know it is a dreadful way to live but it is necessary.  It is easy to get our attention and then move to deception.  Let me give a simple example.  Have you ever seen an advertisement that says something to the effect of “We have the lowest interest”?  The statement may be true but what they don’t tell you is that interest is controlled by some government decree and everybody’s interest charge is the same.  Thus, everyone can claim they have the lowest interest.

We are surrounded by deception.  Some is morally neutral in the sense that selling you shoes is not a concern of eternity.  Any can be used by Satan to start you down a road you don’t want to travel.  It always looks good for the first few steps but what about around the first corner or after dark?

So?  Stay awake.  Stay alert.  The Holy Spirit is prepared to guide and protect but we still have free will, at least in my book. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Second Chance

(Proverbs 8:5 KJV)  O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

I don’t know if we think about it much but one of the underlying principles of American culture is the second chance.  Our entire educational system seems to be based on the idea that for many reasons some people bloom late or have hurdles to overcome.  Thus we have remedial classes, GED, junior colleges and a myriad of tutoring programs.  Although many people don’t want to admit it, people who fail often have no one to blame but themselves.

The same applies to our spiritual lives.  Of course the ultimate is
(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This was written to Christians, not the world.  This verse approaches another level.  Solomon is saying that “wisdom” (6195 KJV, 3820 NASB) is available to anyone who will seek it.

So?  I need to be reminded of this when I am sitting around feeling sorry for myself.  It doesn’t hurt at other times either. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Time, Place, Participants

(Proverbs 7:18 KJV)  Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.

Years ago, as a teenager, I was spending the night in someone else’s home.  I can’t remember how it all worked out but I observed one of the residents open the refrigerator, take out a bottle of milk and take a long drink, then put the bottle back on the shelf.  To be honest, I have done the same thing myself but I have never done it in a house full of people who might be accessing milk from that same bottle.  What might be a simple matter of laziness for a bachelor living alone becomes a health issue when you have a house full of people.

That is the situation here.  If this were a dialogue between a woman and her husband, yeah team.  It would be a wholesome, positive invitation.  It isn’t.  This is an invitation to step outside the bounds of God’s providential blessings and turn a great good into a great evil.  This is an invitation to sin based on time and participants.

So?  Will your day be full of blessings or perversions?  Often the difference is the choices we make. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Half a Loafer

(Proverbs 6:10 KJV)  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Life throws us curve balls.  Some of them are extreme.  Most are subtle and sneak up on us.  Why is it that we have heard more about things like demon possession in third world countries than we have in America or Europe?  Part of it is that Satan knows that it is easier to swell the roster of Hell by slow seduction and sloth than by frontal attacks.  We recently heard about another family man who was doing well on TV and got involved in an affair on the side.  I don’t know how it is going to work out in his life but he has ruined what he had.  I don’t think he left home every morning saying, “I wonder what I can do to ruin my life?”  It snuck up on him one little decision at a time.

So?  Sometimes compromise is necessary.  Half a loaf is better than none unless the cost of the half loaf is your family now and your eternity later. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Wisdom Is Not for Storage

(Proverbs 5:2 KJV)  That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.

Wisdom is meant to be applied, not worshiped.  It is not that bottle of fine wine that is 100 years old and worth a fortune.  It is the daily vitamin that is taken regularly in order to supplement the rest of life.  Wisdom is for living, not for storage.  I think it might be something like vitamin C.  You can’t put it in reserve for a rainy day and call upon it when needed.  It isn’t like fat. 

That is why it is so important to practice the disciplines of worship, prayer, mediation and study.

So?  Miss you vitamin pill for one day and no one notices.  If you are eating properly you could probably miss it every day but that is because your life style provides it along the way.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Choice Cuts

(Proverbs 4:14 KJV)  Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

Following Jesus and coming to eternity is a series of choices.  It is my theory that those choices start long before we are aware of the truth of the gospel.  This is not a doctrinal statement.  It is my way of trying to understand why so many people do not respond to the gospel.  Grace begins working in our lives before we are able to read a Bible or understand a sermon.  There is something in our hearts that responds to the call of God.  When we are children the Holy Spirit nudges and whispers.  We either respond or reject.  The process continues and we either get more calloused or more tender.

When we hear the gospel we are at a place that is the result of many branches in our lives.  I think that is why some are ready and some never will be.

Verses like this say to me that we continue making choices.  It is important that we continue to resist the “path” (734) of the “wicked” (7563).

So?  Yes, it makes a difference how you live your life today.  Whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian, there are consequences for disobedience. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Necklace of Grace

(Proverbs 3:22 KJV)  So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.

I think the NASB really misses it on this one.  Where the KJV has “grace” (2580) the NASB has “adornment”.  This is the only place the NASB translates it this way.  It us usually “favor”.  This is a familiar term.
(Genesis 6:8 KJV)  But Noah found grace (2580) in the eyes of the LORD.
The wisdom of Proverbs is not just a bauble that makes your neck look good.  It is the favor of Almighty God that helps your neck turn your eyes in the right direction.  It is grace that helps you bend a stubborn part of your body in submission to God and in dealing with your fellow man.

So?  Wisdom does not make you the smartest kid on the block.  Okay, maybe it makes you functionally the most smart, but the purpose is to make you the most righteous you can be.  It is not a beauty contest.  It is a preparation for eternity.  The necklace of grace is more than a sparkly.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Transparency

(Proverbs 2:22 KJV)  But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

As I was looking at the first part of this verse I came across a comment by Adam Clarke on the “transgressors” (treacherous NASB) (898).  He likens it to the Greek word “hypocrite” which was a term for actors who put on costumes to represent a character.  With that I am warned about being a hypocrite and also about the presence of hypocrites in the church.

This is a difficult issue.  On one level we are told not to judge.  We are told that we are not supposed to try to remove the tares from the wheat.  We are commanded not to seek revenge.  So the understanding we have is not to go on a witch hunt.  It is also an announcement to those who are acting out their spiritual lives that God is not fooled nor amused.  The insincere will be dealt with.

So?  This is for me and you, not for them.  It is a chance for us to look at our own hearts and commitments.  Rejoice in a God who keeps working with us. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

There Are Two Types of People...

(Proverbs 1:16 KJV)  For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

We have a way of dividing up groups according to our personal preferences.  On theme after theme there are two types of people, those who agree with us and those who don’t.  Our divisions are rather selfish and capricious.  God has also divided the world into two types of people.  Those who serve Him and those who refuse.  Of course each has many sub-groups and this verse reminds us of one we don’t want to recognize.

We are aware that most people do not serve Jesus.  The frustration we have is that so many of them seem to be really wonderful people.  Because they refuse to bow their knee to Jesus they are still passive servants of Satan.  That is not the group being described here.  The people being referred to here are actively seeking to do and be evil.  They may still think they are just out for themselves but they are very focused on advancing the agenda of the anti-Christ.

So?  Remind yourself that they exist.  Yes, there are people who are out to get you simply because you are a follower of Christ.  Be alert.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thanksgiving All Over Again

(Proverbs 31:29 KJV)  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

There is nothing wrong with legitimate praise.  That is what is being offered here.  The preceding verses have given ample evidence and examples.  This is a summary.  Sometimes praise is deserved and should be accepted with humility but not denial.

We have just celebrated Mothers’ Day.  Americans spend millions of dollars on cards and candy.  How much of what was said reflected reality and how much was just nonsense.  Some send expensive gifts out of guilt because they have ignored their mothers all year.  Some go through the motions to avoid criticism.  And then there are those who are simply taking the day to pause and extend their appreciation as a special moment.  It should be like Thanksgiving, just an extension of what is normal daily behavior. 

So?  Look for legitimate reasons to praise people.  Be aware of the multitude of reasons to praise God.  Celebrate daily.  If you can’t find anything else to rejoice in remember the cross, resurrection and the grace of God. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Locusts and Salvation

(Proverbs 30:27 KJV)  The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

This is an ideal verse for a preacher to use to reinforce what he already wants to say.  I experienced this last Sunday.  The text was about the ascension of Jesus and the key point was the promise of the return.  It was the final sermon of a series started at Easter and looking at the resurrection.  There are a lot of important things to be taught from that context but somehow the sermon came out the way I think it always did, “Jesus could come at any moment.  Are you ready?” 

In the same way I would use this verse to talk about the unity of the Spirit and the community of believers.  The church does not need an earthly leader, we have a heavenly king.  We should not need a bunch of rules and drill sergeants giving orders.  Between the ability to read the word ourselves and the inner guidance of the Holy Spirit we should be able to work together and walk together.  We should be able to be as organized as locusts.

So?  I don’t see that happening.  One key difference is that we are created in the image of God and the locusts are not.  We have individual responsibility and the locusts do not.  We are creative and locusts are not.  We sin and locusts do not.  Which would bring the preacher from Sunday back to an altar call and invitation.  Jesus is coming.  Are you ready? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Justice vs Morality

(Proverbs 29:4 KJV)  The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.

I look at these two words, “king” (4428) and “justice” (4941).  In our modern, secular republic we are forced to struggle with how those words apply to us.  We don’t have kings in America.  The closest we come is the president.  With the exception of the Clintons we had a long run of men who seemed above reproach in their personal lives.  Then we get Donald Trump who has a lot of baggage.  Yet when it comes to applying the law he seems to be coming closer to justice than his predecessors. 

It is possible that justice is not the same as morality.  In my mind they are, but my knee jerk definition of morality has to do with things like adultery, dishonest business dealings and deceit.  Justice is much bigger and at times might ignore the basics of morality.  Thus a judge will decide a case based on the facts at hand rather than the personal failures of the litigants.  You may not like the innocent party but he may have justice on his side.

So?  Life isn’t always simple.  We need to keep our brains engaged and our spirits humble.  The Holy Spirit seems to need to work overtime these days.  Good thing He is God. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Unfriendly Persuasion

(Proverbs 28:10 KJV)  Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.

Today my mind is focusing on the phrase “in an evil (7451b) way (1870)".  Does this refer to the method or the direction.  As I look at the various translations available to me they are either vague or say that the believer is being tricked into doing things that are evil.  For us this is always a danger.  Other places in Proverbs it makes it clear that there are people who have no greater joy than to drag us down.  When you are hanging around with your “friends” they will always be encouraging you to cave.  It will seem good natured but underneath there is always the desire to bring you down to their level.

The good news is at the end of the verse.  In spite of the pressure and temptation we can stay on the straight and narrow.  It could also be interpreted that repentance is always possible.  Think of Peter and Judas.  Both sinned against the Lord.  One repented.  One died in his sin. 

So?  Be alert to people trying to drag you down.  If you buckle you still have the choice of the path of life or the path of death.  I find that encouraging. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Playing for Keeps

(Proverbs 27:20 KJV)  Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

What will Hell be like?  We have images of fire and brimstone.  We think of eternal torment.  It will definitely be a place where it is impossible to be aware of the presence of God or the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  How much is literal in the word pictures?  I don’t know.  Just to be safe I am going to assume they are literal.  I hope to never find out personally. 

Here we have a characteristic of Hell that I had not thought of that goes along with the idea of eternal torment.  The KJV version uses two different English words for the same Hebrew term.  Both “full” (7646) and “satisfied” are the same in the original language.  However you want to portray Hell it will never be finished taking the life out of us.  It is a characteristic of evil.  Evil causes pain and suffering because it is its nature.

So?  Be aware.  We are not living in a video game that we can reset every time we start losing.  This is for keeps.