An Idea Borrowed

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

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pick a Side

(Proverbs 10:6 KJV)  Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

We are seeing an increase of “violence” (2555) in our civil society today.  The most frequent occurrences by far are left wing mobs attacking people and leaving a trail of blood and broken windows.  If you are paying attention you will notice that there are a lot of news people and politicians who are either outright calling for violence or using terminology that “covereth” (conceals NASB) (3680) the point.

A repeated theme in Proverbs is that evil and violence are linked.  Keep in mind that Proverbs and the Bible are not condemning the legitimate use of force when it is necessary.  They are talking about coercion and the use of force to move a “wicked” (7563) agenda forward. 

So?  When you see someone calling for violence to advance their personal agenda recognize it as something the Bible condemns.  It gives you a view of their heart.  Don’t turn your head and say they don’t mean it.  They do.  You should be on the other side of the line. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Dead Are Recruiting

(Proverbs 9:18 KJV)  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

Have you ever had someone say, “God would not expect that of me”?  Or perhaps you have had someone ask, “How could a loving God do that?”  Both are based on a view of God that has been molded by our culture instead of the Bible.  Our idea of love is Hollywood lite.  The older generation’s understanding of the holiness of God is based on Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver.  I am not sure where the youth of today get their understanding, maybe Spongebob Squarepants.

God is holy.  He is in this for keeps and for eternity.  Since He is holy He has an understanding of evil that we cannot grasp.  That means there are consequences for our decisions.  “Hell” (7585) (KJV) or “Sheol” (7585) (NASB) is very real.

So?  God is very patient.  Think of Him as a modern steel radial tire.  There is a lot of redundancy built in and a genuine tolerance but eventually it blows or just goes flat.  The warning is clear.  Don’t ignore it. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

No Shortcuts

(Proverbs 8:11 KJV)  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

We used to sing a chorus that was taken from this passage of scripture.
Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds
And nothing I desire compares with you.

by Lynn DeShazo, ©1982, Integrity’s Hosanna!
As so often happens in the arts, license is taken.  The Bible is talking about Wisdom.  The song writer is talking about the Lord.  I would imagine that the slight change is still an uplifting thought.

God says that His wisdom is to be pursued above all other goals.  This assumes that you have taken the basic steps to salvation and are already a part of the family of God.  Other places it tells us that if you have not done that, wisdom is out of your reach.

So?  Step by step we can move toward the eternity God has for us.  There is no shortcut.  We are so intent on the quickest and the best deal that we forget that.  Build according to the plan.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Slow Down or Saunter

(Proverbs 7:23 KJV)  Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

One of the constant scenic wonders of Texas is road kill.  It always amazes me how many deer, racoons, armadillos and even boars get pasted by cars.  Just a few days ago as I was returning from the airport early in the morning my high beams picked out a large animal walking across the highway.  I was in no danger.  He was in no danger.  The difference is that I saw the possibility and did something about it.  I slowed down.  He sauntered.  I did what I could to avoid tragedy.  He ignored it. 

Birds hurrying to a snare, deer playing chicken and people flirting with adultery have a lot in common.  They ignore the probably outcome.

So?  I have been warned and so have you.  The outcome can be life or death. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Breaks

(Proverbs 6:15 KJV)  Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

Ice is slippery.  I know that.  I knew that.  I went down so fast that I did not have time to remind myself.  I learned something else, or at least had it reinforced:  The ground is hard.  I had a few minor issues and a few days of soreness.  I have completely recovered.  The same would not be true if my moment had ended just a little differently.  What if my temple came in contact with the bumper of the car?  What if I had slid under a moving vehicle? 

Sometimes there will be no opportunity for second chances.  That is what this verse is talking about.  God is gracious.  God is patient.  God give many chances.  Eventually God will offer no “remedy” (healing NASB) (4832).

So?  As I often share with people when danger approaches, “I am ready to go.”  I still watch my step but I am ready. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Little Advice

(Proverbs 5:7 KJV)  Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.

Are you good at taking advice?  I don’t think I am.  Sure, I listen and I may even try to apply it but what I find is that I have a hard time doing things like other people do.  This applies in many ways.  Take teaching.  I first noticed this in Sunday School but it became even more clear as I took a job in pubic schools.  My first full time teaching job worked out great for me.  They were desperate.  The original teacher of the class quit after two weeks.  Six weeks after that they still had no prospects.  They grabbed me before I could change my mind.  They handed me a thick, district guide for the class.  I remember it had a yellow cover and it was one of a set for all subjects the district had put together.  They gave me a text book and a class full of wild children and walked away.

It worked well for me.  All I really needed was a general guideline for what they wanted to cover and a copy of the book the kids would be using and I could take it from there.  Years later they were trying to micro manage what went on each day in each period.  I would have died in that atmosphere because I don’t do things the way others do them.  I did not want them telling me what to do.  At the same time I did listen to the advice of teachers around me who were in the trenches.

So?  God holds us accountable.  He gives us the tools we need to live righteous lives.  He gives us the Holy Spirit.  He also puts people around us that can give us pointers.  Ignoring them may not make it impossible to live right but listening can be a read advantage. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Getting What You Want

(Proverbs 4:19 KJV)  The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Many people who practice evil do so deliberately.  Many do so without thinking.  Many don’t have a clue.  All are doing what they want to do.  The difference is in understanding what is really going on.  If you are old enough to remember the TV program “The Twilight Zone” you may remember the one in which the criminal was shot and thought he had ended up in heaven by mistake.  He was delighted that every wish he had was granted.  After a while he got tired of winning every time he played the roulette wheel.  He begged his escort to send him to the other place because he did not deserve to be in heaven.  The “angel” burst into laughter and said, “This is the ‘other place’.”  The criminal got what he wanted and it wasn’t what he wanted.

So?  Part of living the righteous life involves trusting God to know what is best for us and obeying even when we don’t understand.  We often don’t “know” (3045) what the reasons or long term results will be but we can understand that God does.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Passive Pocket of the Positive

(Proverbs 3:27 KJV)  Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

In this verse we switch from concern about the actions of others to a reminder of the kind of actions we should be taking.  In a sense it is from the passive to the active, from the receiving to the giving.  This is a reminder that I need.  I regularly reach out to the reassurances that God has given.  I trust.  I work on fretting not.  That is all good.

I need to also get active in being an active positive force, not just a passive pocket of the positive.  God called us to be salt, not baking soda or vinegar.  Both have a quality that they can absorb bad odors.  You may have heard about putting an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator to neutralize offensive smells.  You can do the same thing with an open pan of vinegar.  Salt, on the other hand, when left on the shelf does little besides absorb moisture and get hard.

So?  This is difficult for me because I am an introvert.  I prefer alone time to mediate and think.  That is well and good but God wants me to be contributing to the world around me.  I believe there was a book with a title something like Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Time for a Little Fear

(Proverbs 2:5 KJV)  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

“Fear” (3374) of God is natural.  Human beings are not equipped to feel comfortable around the divine or the eternal.  Think of the general reaction to angels appearing:  fear.  Remember Isaiah’s response to being in the presence of God.
(Isaiah 6:5 KJV)  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
I imagine that even a rebellious unbeliever would quail in the presence of God.  Swagger would dissolve into knees of jelly.  There would be an unavoidable awareness of the gulf between a holy Creator and a sinful creature.

That is not true for believers because through the blood of Christ we have been enabled to approach the throne with boldness.  At times we get a little too cocky and familiar.  It is important that we have the fear brought back to its healthy balance.

So?  Fear enough to be in reverence.  Fear enough to be in awe.  It will open the gate to His presence.  Most of us will be like the shepherds in the field more than the wise men coming from afar. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Be a Compass

(Proverbs 1:21 KJV)  She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

We really need to learn to speak out more.  It is getting more risky.  We have all this “hate crime” legislation.  What a silly title, as if there is anything such as a “love crime” or “disinterested crime.”  Most of the people pushing this vocabulary are also striving to deny the voice of the God of the universe.  The real foundation of the hate crime industry is those trying to push homosexual rights.  Somehow we need to learn to speak up.

We need to speak with care.  That is not just because we will be targeted but because we often speak from our own ignorance and thus speak wrong.  We often do not share wisdom but tradition.  We do not always share truth.  Instead we share our opinion.  We need to spend serious time studying, praying and listening before we speak.

So?  In spite of that, speak we must.  If we pay attention, God will give us the opportunity.  We can see the culture heading in the wrong direction.  We need to be part of the compass that sets them straight. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Two Wishes Instead of Three

(Proverbs 30:7 KJV)  Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:

We are all familiar with the stories of genies or some other supernatural creature offering someone three wishes.  Here we would be limited to two.  Assume you have not read ahead or remember from the last time you read Proverbs.  What two things would you ask of God?  Notice from the beginning of the chapter that this is not Solomon writing.  We already know Solomon’s choice. 
(1 Kings 3:5 KJV)  In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

(1 Kings 3:9 KJV)  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
Solomon was looking at it from the point of view of a leader.  Agur is speaking as an individual.  I am guessing that we might ask different things at different times in our life.  

So?  Something to think about for the day.  What two things would you ask for to deal with the day?  How about the year or the rest of life?  It calls for looking at priorities.  (Posted November 30, 2018, PP)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Be Repressed

(Proverbs 29:11 KJV)  A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

In comparing translations I find that the KJV comes close but the English Standard Version gets this one best,
(Proverbs 29:11 ESV)  A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
If we were looking at schools of philosophy we might find this idea in the Stoics.  It should be a common understanding among Christians but because we listen to pagan psychologists we tend to call this kind of person repressed. 

It is not Christian to “let it all out”.  It is not Biblical to “speak your mind”.  It is foolish.  Now I admit that many who call themselves Christians are foolish, but that is not the standard that God has set for us.

So?  Don’t say what you think.  At least wait until the Holy Spirit has a chance to refine your words to express truth through love.  The object is not to defend yourself but to glorify God. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Danger on Defense

(Proverbs 28:14 KJV)  Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

A very real threat to my eternal soul is a tendency to “harden” (7185) my “heart” (3820).  It is the natural result of raising our defenses to attack.  On one level having defenses is good, on another it is destructive.  This is referring to the destructive way in which a healthy defense can morph into a rigid rejection.

We see this demonstrated in our personal relationships.  Someone criticizes us.  It could be a spouse or a co-worker.  The person criticizing may genuinely not think of it as criticism, but we feel it in our gut.  The first level is to grab hold of our emotions.  It is the second step that causes the benefit or harm.  We can take what is said and prayerfully consider it.  That involves setting the emotional soup aside and looking for truth.  That enables us to learn and grow.  Or we can automatically reject what is said, put up unsurmountable walls and go on the attack.

That leads to “calamity” (7463a).

So?  When you feel that inner defense rising it is time to grab hold, step back and look for the nugget of truth that might be hiding in the mud.  Hard but important. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Start a Honey Don’t List

(Proverbs 27:7 KJV)  The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

Three out of the last four chapters have referred to “honey” (5317).  The approach has been varied.  It is good to eat.  You can eat too much.  You can get to where it does not appeal to you.  I have been going figurative and looking at honey as the good things in life.  Here we are warned that we can have so much that we are no longer drawn to the good things.  We already looked at moderation and balance.  Here the idea is focus and priorities. 

What kind of things can bring me to the point where the honey of life no longer appeals?  I have a lot of unread books on my shelf.  I am part way through many of them.  They range from ancient philosophy to modern politics.  It would be good to get to reading them but I find that the science fiction and mysteries call so loud that the others have a muted appeal. 

So?  Maybe the only way I can get back to enjoying the really good things is to deny myself some of the distractions that are so easy to “eat”. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Choice of Fools

(Proverbs 26:1 KJV)  As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

Half of this chapter is about fools.  The “fool” (3684) is a very frequent theme in the book of Proverbs.  It is interesting that Wisdom Literature spends so much time talking about people who are the antithesis of wise.  That is probably because we are surrounded by them.  My hope is that I will not become one of them.

As I look at the comments about fools and the other types of people such as sluggards and gossips in this chapter, I find that the concept of choice keeps coming up.  Obviously the point is made that fools, sluggards, gossips and haters are that way by choice.  What is easy to miss is that fools are given opportunities by those of us who chose to use them.  We listen to them, hire them, trust them.  We become enablers.

So?  Maybe a part of wisdom we need to pay attention to is identifying fools and avoiding them.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sweet Decay

(Proverbs 25:16 KJV)  Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

Yesterday I was noticing that we are told to enjoy the good things.  Now, just a few verses later the word switches from “enjoy” to “moderation”.  Keep in mind the danger of proof-texting and the importance of context. 

Often moderation is a matter of acceptance.  Proverbs warns about being consumed with getting rich or getting an inheritance too quickly.  The Christian life has goals and ambition but the underlying motivation is to bring glory to God.  It is bound by a belief in Providence and walking in faith.  There will be lean times and times of plenty.  We practice moderation by accepting what is while we work for the better.

Often moderation is a matter of following the directions.  Medication is a good example.  Even simple things like over the counter pain killers will tell you to only take so many pills in 24 hours and not to go over a certain number of days.  Just because one is good it does not mean that 10 will be ten times as good.  Too much of a “good” thing can kill you.

So?  Enjoy the good stuff but don’t overdo it.  Don’t lose your sense of priorities.  God has allowed for variety and the appetite that enjoys more when motivated by hunger. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sweet Talk

(Proverbs 24:13 KJV)  My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:

I am a cheapskate, a skinflint, a tightwad.  It is my nature to look for the lowest price.  I want what is on sale.  I eat off the Dollar Menu.  That can be a healthy trait that we could call “thrifty” if we are in a good mood but, in reality, “cheap” is a better description.  As I read this verse it jumps out and stares me in the eye.  It dares me to make something of it. 

This is a wake-up call to enjoy the quality that is available in life.  If I can only afford to shop at the 99 Cent Store, then well and good.  I should feel no guilt.  At the same time I think I can find honey on those shelves.  This is a reminder that there is no glory in eating instant, generic oatmeal if the thick cut that requires 10 minutes to cook is available.  Eating garbage is not a virtue.  Of course the opposite extreme of gluttony is not good either.  Consider the next chapter,
(Proverbs 25:16 KJV)  Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
So?  I will always squirrel away spare change and have a secret stash.  What I need to understand is that if I can afford the good coffee, then I am free to enjoy the good coffee.  If I can afford quality tools, buy quality tools.  God is not the enemy of quality.  Often that is the best stewardship.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Solomon’s Happy Kidneys

(Proverbs 23:16 KJV)  Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

Compare the KJV with the NASB.
(Proverbs 23:16 NAS77)  And my inmost being will rejoice, When your lips speak what is right.
Notice that one has “reins” (3629) and the other has “inmost being”.  What caught my attention was the marginal reading of the NASB which said, “literally kidneys”.  That is the basic meaning of the word and is the most common translation in both.  We get very romantic when we talk about our heart but somehow moderns don’t get excited about their kidneys.  Maybe we should.

Solomon here is telling his son that if he will learn to speak what is “right” (4339) it will make dad’s kidneys happy.  I don’t think this is a literal teaching about medicine.  The Hebrews knew what a kidney was even if they didn’t know all the scientific stuff we know today.  It was the location that was important.  A son who learns to speak what is right is a son that gives his father an inner sense of rightness.

So?  The training is up to the parents.  The results are on the heads of the children.  My kids are adults and I can say that the effects continue. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Batting Averages

(Proverbs 22:6 KJV)  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

My grandfather batted .143 alive but it improved to .714 after he died.  My father batted 1.000.  So far my brothers and I seem to be at 1.000.  When I run down people that I would include in my inner circle of friends although a couple are a bit wobbly, I can only think of one child who grew up to reject the faith, and we still have hopes for her.  That is a pretty good record.

Is there a secret for raising godly children?  This verse would indicate there is.  Notice that it is not a secret formula that guarantees success.  You must “train” (2596) them.  That is the hard part.  It does not mean to turn them over to the Sunday School teachers and youth pastors.  It does not mean making them take Bible study programs.  It means much more than that.  The hardest part is that it means you must live what you are trying to teach.  I think of my grandfather.  So far I have not found any of his children who have much good to say about him.  What is painful is that he was a pastor but one who tended to be extremely rigid and self centered.  He may have taught it but he did not live it very well.

So?  There is hope.  None of us is perfect.  I keep in mind that after the negative parts of my grandfather’s example were removed the Holy Spirit was still able to work with most of his children. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The King Is a Tool

(Proverbs 21:1 KJV)  The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

It really doesn’t matter who is president, some people will love him and some will hate him.  I guess there are a number in between but eventually people become pro or con.  That is natural.  It is also natural to think that it makes a difference.  Since we are created in the Image of God and part of that is free will and decision making, since we are to be stewards of the earth, since we are raising children and helping to form young believers, it does make a difference.

At the same time, it does not make a difference.  Kings and presidents often have strong personalities and eventually get to the point where they think they are special.  In one sense they are special.  They are special because they are in a position where God feels more of a need to “mess” with them.  Here it says that God “turns” (5186) their “heart” (3820) in whatever direction He wants.  If they are on board, well and good, but they will be turned regardless.  I guess in a sense we can assume that people in leadership have less free will than us ordinary folks. 

So?  We have moved from Obama to Trump.  They are clay in God’s hands.  Was Obama a secret Muslim?  Is Trump a believer?  In a sense it doesn’t matter because God still has control of them and their destiny.  Pray for our leaders.  Pray that God’s will is done.  Be willing to do your part. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Getting Our Attention

(Proverbs 20:30 KJV)  The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.

I have a personality that wants to avoid conflict.  I desire peace but it is not always available.  One of the things I have had to learn is that there is a time to speak up and take risks.  That is the active side of learning.  The passive side also is a problem.  I don’t like to be corrected.  I find it very painful and not just because I don’t like being wrong.  I can intellectually accept the fact that I don’t know everything.  What gets me down is the insult involved.

The thing I need to learn is that the insulting part of the correction is often necessary to get me to listen.  If it wasn’t then self-help books would have made the world a perfect place.  I remember what is now an old joke about a farmer saying his mule was really smart.  He would then pick up a board and smack the mule up side the head.  When questioned he said, “That is just to get his attention.” 

So?  It may be a rough day.  If I learn to pay attention maybe tomorrow will go better.  Of course the best solution would be to pay attention to what the word says and the Holy Spirit reinforces, but I don’t have a great record on that. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Entitlements

(Proverbs 19:24 KJV)  A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

I wonder if this is an example of Biblical humor.  It is hard for me to imagine someone too lazy to feed themselves although we have the concept of having slaves peel grapes for Roman aristocracy.  What would be the modern equivalent.  How many actions do we expect others to do for us?  I guess one would be going out to eat so someone else can serve and clean up, but that is something you pay for.  Around the house it might be just leaving your dishes on the counter and expect someone else to wash them.  Some people always expect clean clothes to mysteriously appear in their drawers.  I can think of a lot of illustrations but I can’t think of any that apply to me.  I guess that is a common problem.

So?  Lord, show me where I am too entitled for my own good. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lips and Tongues

(Proverbs 18:6 KJV)  A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

I sometimes wonder if New Testament writers had just read parts of Proverbs when they went to work.  At this point I am thinking of James with his monologue on the tongue starting in Chapter 3.  I think specifically of,
(James 3:6 KJV)  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Here Solomon talks about lips and the mouth, but you get the point.  It is a repeated reference in this chapter.

So?  Guard your mouth.  Be careful what you say.  Words cannot be called back. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Clever after the Fact

 (Proverbs 17:4 KJV)  A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

To whom should I be listening?  A good question and we need to understand that “listening” is more than just our ears.  It would include what we read and watch.  In a sense it should even extend to our imagination.  That leads me to the tendency we have to relive and rehash experiences that have been uncomfortable or embarrassing.  We recently went through a confrontation that left a bad taste in our mouths.  We find ourselves going back and coming up with what we should have said.  You know how it goes.  We are all clever after the fact.  Let it go.

So?  Don’t spend time trying to straighten out what cannot be changed.  Don’t listen to wisdom you wished you had.  Such listening can only cause more pain and will not move you forward.  Forgive.  Learn.  Grow. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Uncross Fear’s Wires

(Proverbs 16:6 KJV)  By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

“Fear” (3374) gets a lot of bad press but has a real value if it “keeps away” (departs KJV) (5493)  “evil” (7451b), or us from evil.  While the phrase “fear not” appears 62 times in the KJV we are also told to “fear the Lord” 30 times.  We need to understand that this fear is not the panic that either makes us freeze or flea.  It is the awareness that makes us cautious and careful.

I use electricity just like everyone else.  I plug and unplug with abandon.  I flip switches up and down.  No problem there with electricity.  At the same time I keep my house from burning down by not trying to rewire it myself.  Why?  Because I have a healthy fear of electricity.  I know it can kill me.  I use it.  I am thankful for it.  I know it can kill me.

So?  God is holy.  He is a consuming fire.  He is wrathful.  Be careful how you touch Him.  At the same time He is the source of eternal life.  He is waiting for your fear to bring you to Him. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Broccoli Love

(Proverbs 15:17 KJV)  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

We are so focused on wealth and financial security.  I guess it is part of the human condition.  Some have given up.  Some have not worked too hard at it.  But everyone likes good things.  The question we need to ask ourselves is, “At what price?”  That is one of my problems with expensive restaurants.  Actually it is a problem I have with all restaurants.  Even fast food joints make my wallet cry out.  What does it cost to get oatmeal at your local joint?  I can make you a nice bowl for about 10% of that price. 

What is more important though is the atmosphere of the meal.  I would rather have a bowl of instant oatmeal with a good friend than a $50 steak with a jerk.  That is the point here. 

So?  No, this is not a call to becoming a vegetarian.  It is a call to being a good friend. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Curse of Prosperity

(Proverbs 14:11 KJV)  The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.

We get so hung up on our financial status and accumulated wealth.  I keep hearing commercials from “financial planners” who want to help me make it through retirement.  They think I am living on my savings and since they are so wise in the ways of the market they can help me invest it in such a way that I will live high the rest of my life.  And of course they will make a nice commission on everything they do.  They don’t get the idea that you don’t need to live in a “house” (1004) to be satisfied.

Proverbs is full of this kind of reminder.  A subsistence level of living with peace of mind trumps all of the wealth in the world.  It is easy for me to say since I am well above subsistence level.  It is still true.

So?  Today I am going to live in grace and trust.  God is big enough to get me through my relative prosperity without stumbling.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Wisest Investment Strategy

(Proverbs 13:21 KJV)  Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.

My wife is watching a lot of videos that say something called a “reset” is coming.  It is a time of doom and gloom that sounds a lot like what we used to call depression and recession.  I wonder how much we should worry even if it happens.  That is double true when I read verses like this, and there are a number of them.  When hard times hit the “righteous” (6662) are supposed to come out still afloat.

I believe that is true because being righteous does not just mean following the Ten Commandments.  It also involves the principles that are set out in Proverbs about staying out of debt, not co-signing, working hard and I guess using a little common sense.  During the last housing bubble boom a lot of people lost their houses.  I am sure there are exceptions but my understanding is that most of the people who lost a house were living in houses that they should not have bought in the first place.  They were speculating and living above their means.  I remember when it hit and we didn’t even feel the air stirring. 

So?  Can hard times effect us?  Yes.  Will hard times destroy us?  Not is we are living in a righteous manner.  That is how I read this. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Conditions

(Proverbs 12:2 KJV)  A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.

I was glad to see this morning that it is possible to be a “good man” (2896a).  Since “man” is assumed and not in the Hebrew I can assume that this applies to women too.  This is important because it relates to our view of salvation.  Christians of a Calvinist persuasion have a deep commitment to the sovereignty of God, as we all should.  In their enthusiasm they really get carried away with how we are so lost in sin that we sin every day in word, thought and deed.  That in itself is not a problem but in their excitement they start trying to limit God’s intelligence and ability to observe. 

Salvation is a gift.  That is part of the meaning of grace.  It is a gift.  All Christians believe that.  We cannot earn our salvation by our works.  Totally true.  But notice that this verse says good men will receive “favor” (7522).  That means that God responds to our actions and attitudes.  One of those attitudes is an awareness of our sin.
(Luke 18:13-14 KJV)  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
There are other requirements but Proverbs as well as the rest of scripture is clear that we can live upright and moral lives.

So?  Soldier on.  We do not deserve salvation.  We cannot earn salvation.  It does matter how we live. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Winning Formula

(Proverbs 11:4 KJV)  Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

As I read through the chapter today I saw a couple of ideas tied together several times.  This verse shows them the first as we find that “righteousness” (6666) “delivers” (5337) us.  Here it is the righteousness doing the delivering.  Other places the deliverance takes place because of our righteousness.  However you want to put it, God keeps an eye on His people and intervenes in their lives.

The intervention takes place on His schedule, not ours.  We may still need to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death”.  We may still see persecution.  We may be martyred.  There are a lot of possibilities but at least one definite.  We will be delivered.

 So?  As the song says, “Trust and obey.”  Trust the Pilot to get the aircraft to the airport.  Live upright lives.  It is a formula that works. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Missing Word

(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 word of encouragement and understanding.  The key is the word “soul” (5315) which you do not find in the NASB or other modern translations.  I assume it is in the Hebrew because the NASB includes it as literal in the margin.  Why is it left out?  I have no idea.  It is almost like the “name it and claim it” group had control of the printing press.

The promise is that even during the down times we can expect the Holy Spirit to refresh our soul.  We can expect our inner man to be nourished.  We can live in victory.

So?  Other places it makes promises that are more physical but here it is the more important point that our soul will be renewed and fed.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Wisdom and Self-love

(Proverbs 9:12 KJV)  If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.

It is clear that Proverbs teaches Wisdom as a good thing.  It is to be sought.  It can be learned.  It is very easy for us to seek it primarily to straighten out others.  Here we are reminded that we need to be our own first target.  There is a sort of parallel that is quoted all through the Bible but begins very early.
(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.
It has been offered that there is a healthy self-love that needs to be the basis of others-love.  Of course our love of self is rooted in the acceptance that we are created in the image of God and redeemed through the blood of Christ.  It is not because we are so awesome.

In the same way we are to listen to wisdom and ask ourselves, “How do I need to change?”

So?  Work on getting your own house in order.  When that becomes clear it is possible that others will ask you for your input instead of you insisting on it. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Start Where You Are

(Proverbs 8:10 KJV)  Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

Two targets are offered here and they are compared to precious metals.  The precious metals are of different value and I wonder if that is significant.  In the days of Solomon even silver would have been out of reach of the average person.  Gold, forget about it.  Most people existed on barter or copper coins.  This could imply that the average person will not even seek the next step up.  Most of us are not open to “instruction” (4148) let alone “knowledge” (1847).

Years ago in my first computer I came across an article that told me I could tweak it in a way that sounded good to me.  I don’t remember what the tweak was at this point but it seemed worth the effort then.  The magazine did not start me down the path of knowledge.  It did not instruct me in programing and the physics involved in making a computer work.  All they did was give me step by step instruction in how to make the change.  I remember going to screens that were nothing but 0's and 1's.  I was careful to only do what I was told.  It worked.  I was capable of being instructed.  I am not sure I was ready for knowledge.

So?  If you are not ready to delve into the mysteries of the trinity or struggle to understand infinity then for now be satisfied that you have the step by step directions that will make you ready someday.  Start with the basic Ten Commandments and Jesus’ teaching about the most important.  Go from there and rejoice in the journey. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Build Your Filters

(Proverbs 7:2 KJV)  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Literal translation has a lot to say for it.  Unfortunately the translators of the Bible like to interpret and expand on the simple Hebrew.  The most common translation of this verse includes the word “apple” (380) when the literal meaning is “pupil”.  The NASB at least has the decency to give that in the margin.  I think the word “apple” is simplistic and condescending.  It is cute but ignores the depth of the meaning.

The “commandments” (4687) of God are not something you make a pie out of or get a little twinkle going about.  It is not a fruit that comes in many varieties and has a sweet flavor.  They are the gateway through which everything we see and read must pass.  The pupil may get larger or smaller depending on the amount of light but it is still the only way for light to get into a healthy eye.

So?  If you hand an orange to someone who has never seen any fruit and say, “Would you like an apple?”  They will thank you and take it.  If you try to pass off deceit as truth to someone who filters everything through the established word of God, at best you get laughed at.  Build your filters, one verse at a time. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Drive the Devil Crazy

(Proverbs 6:22 KJV)  When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

My knowledge of hypnotism is limited to popular myth in fictional literature and media.  That means I am not even sure if it exists.  One of the “rules” of hypnotism I have heard is that even under hypnosis a person will not do things that they normally consider wrong.  Let’s accept that for today’s thinking.  My wife listens to a lot of conspiracy folks and one of their themes is that a lot of these people shooting up public spaces claim to be hearing voices.  Her sources say this is the result of the CIA experimenting with mind control.  Putting these things together it makes you wonder how many of these shooters were already open to mass murder.

Now to today’s verse and its context.  I think that we tend to act and respond based on what we have internalized.  If we have spent time reading and meditating on the wisdom of God then we are told that it will “guide” (5148) us and “talk” (7878) to us.  That means that when a shiny offers itself up to us we may begin to reach but then moral values that we have built up will stop the hand.  Often the temptation will simply slide by unnoticed because it has been bared from our list of possibilities.  I bet that drives the devil crazy.

So?  Drive the devil crazy.  Get busy building an internal source file of all the wonderful things God has to teach you.  Then when you hear voices it will be the voice of Wisdom and the whisper of the Holy Spirit. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Pay Attention

(Proverbs 5:23 KJV)  He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

A question I used to hear when people were more concerned was, “What about the people who have never heard the gospel?”  They are in the same situation as people who have heard the gospel and refused to listen:  They are going to “die” (4191).  This obviously is talking about an eternal, spiritual death.  The sad part of this truth is that there is actually more hope for people who have never been in a location to hear the gospel than there is for the church member who has heard it repeatedly and will not listen.  God is not out looking for ways to send people to hell.  They have already made that choice but,
(Romans 2:14 KJV)  For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
But back to our verse.  If you read through this chapter and the book of Proverbs you find a theme of being careful that you pay attention to what you are being taught.  This chapter is full of warnings about not listening and following what you hear.  It is not a warning that someone else is not listening.  It is meant for you and for me.

So?  Pay attention.  If you find that you are not hearing anything it may be because you are listening to the wrong people and places.  It could be that you are reading too much at your favorite gossip column and not in the Word.  Adjust accordingly. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Follow the Path

(Proverbs 4:18 KJV)  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

There is a “path (734) of “the just” (righteousness NASB) (6662).  I need that reminder this morning.  As I skim through the major news stories today and see what is covered along with what is ignored I see the forces of evil and lethargy running the show.  Or so it seems.  The gurus of subjectivism and the prophets of socialism seem to control the seats of power and communication.  Solomon was not ignorant of such things even in his day.  Evil thrives but the path is still there.

The theme is victory in the face of onslaught.  The key is keeping our eyes and our feet on the path.  There will be distractions.  Those are only dangerous if we pay too much attention.  It is hard to ignore a sudden scream but we don’t need to go chasing or fleeing just because we are startled.  We need to keep focused on the wisdom that is offered.

So?  Yes, the bad guys are out there.  They don’t all wear black hats.  None of them will be on the path to life and that is our goal.  Trust and obey are such important guidelines. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Healthy Blessings

(Proverbs 3:8 KJV)  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

“Health” (healing NASB) (7500) is a great blessing.  I tend to take it for granted.  That is why it is good for me to get out and see more people.  Walking through a store and seeing so many leaning heavy on their shopping carts reminds me that I have little pain.  Seeing people argue over the electric carts reminds me that I am still mobile.  Watching others my age taking handfuls of pills makes me thankful I only have one. 

So I don’t know what to make of a verse like this.  It seems to be saying that by listening and applying the wisdom of God we will be healthier.  It seems to be saying that our physical and financial well being are tied to our seeking wisdom.  I struggle with that, not because I am so blessed so this would make me wise, but because I know I am not as wise as others who have more issues than I do.

So?  This is a good place to “judge not” because it crosses into areas that we are not equipped to go.  I can never know someone else’s heart.  I can know that God is calling each of us to seek Him and listen to what He is trying to say.  I can know that it will make a difference. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Activate Shields

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

I noticed today the different words that are used about God’s protection of His people.  In this verse we have the “buckler” (shield NASB) (4043).  Here it is a noun but it can also be a verb.  As you read through the chapter you find other concepts:  Guard, preserve, deliver.  This is an important reminder.  If you look at the headlines you will find that the world is coming apart around you.  Not only do you have violent crime and corruption in government but also hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes.  And don’t forget wasps and scorpions.

What is a person to do?  At one level use common sense.  Keep some food and water on hand.  Lock your doors.  Vote responsibly.  Count your change.  You can read about those on all the on-line sites about preparing.  Proverbs takes it to a new level.  Be “righteous” (upright NASB) (3477).  Walk “uprightly” (in integrity NASB) (8537).  You see, those are the conditions that activate providence.

So?  It is not a matter of God helping those who help themselves.  It is a matter of God helping those who trust and obey.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Election Preparation

(Proverbs 1:5 KJV)  A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

As I continue to get older I can tell that I am going down hill.  I am doing well for my age.  I am not sure if my mind is still undull, but I am at least aware that I don’t know as much as I used to.  This verse reminds us that we can always learn and add to our pool of wisdom and knowledge.  That applies whether we are young, fresh and in an advanced Ph.D. program or whether we are having trouble remembering where we parked our car.  We can “hear” (8085) and “increase” (3254).

I guess at my age I should rejoice that there is so much more to learn than when I was at my sharpest.  It is like reading an old book that we have read before.  The story can still be fresh and uplifting.

So?  Learn something today.  Practice a new song or relearn an old one.  Keep moving down that road.  I remind myself I am not only preparing myself to vote because there is an election coming but preparing myself for eternity because there is an election coming. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

You, the Prophet

(Proverbs 31:1 KJV)  The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.

How is it possible to teach a “prophecy” (oracle NASB) (4853b)?  We tend to think of this as prophecy which involves predictions about the future.  We also tend to think of it as a gift that is given by the Holy Spirit.  In reality the major part of an oracle or prophecy is what we would consider every day preaching.  It is taking the recorded truth of Almighty God and applying it to the everyday lives of ordinary people.  Just about anyone can be taught to do this.  Some will be better than others but most can learn.

This is a specific job of parents.  Here the mother (517) is mentioned.  It could apply to any relative and to friends.  Obviously it involves preachers and teachers.

So?  You prepare people to understand how to live their lives.  We do it by example at all times but there are also times we can expect to talk about it.  Prepare.  Be ready. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Mouth Control

(Proverbs 30:32 KJV)  If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

I noticed that the NASB has “evil” in italics but the KJV does not.  Both reference the same Hebrew word (2161).  It is another case of a neutral word that depends on its context.  In the next chapter we see the contrast.
(Proverbs 31:16 KJV)  She considereth (2161) a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
That is why the NASB marks “evil” as assumed instead of literal.  The basic idea has to do with planning.  From the context it is clear that the motive has to do with applying conceit and selfishness to your daily life.

Two things strike me about this today.  One is that we can be aware of what we are doing.  The second is that we have the ability to do something about it.

So?  Don’t fool yourself.  Humility and love do not run a public relations campaign to make themselves look good.  It is obviously sinful and needs a strong dose of repentance. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Foolish Contention

(Proverbs 29:9 KJV)  If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

We have a young mesquite tree in our yard.  The previous owner decided that he wanted a tree that would reach for the heavens instead of looking like the crooked little man from the crooked little house.  To reach that goal he attached ropes from various angles to make it stand up straight.  It isn’t working.  There are some things in life that are determined to defy your straight edge and bend to the forces around them.  Fools are like that.

Fools will even fool you.  They will look like they are listening.  They will repeat the great insights that you share with them.  They might even write it down.  In the end they go back to being fools.  It is easier that way and some people take the path of least resistance in everything.

So?  Say what you have to say.  It might be used by the Holy Spirit to wake someone up.  Usually they will just get back to business as usual as soon as you look the other way.  Perhaps it might be an opportunity to listen to your own wisdom and gain from it. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Another Choice Approaches

(Proverbs 28:15 KJV)  As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.

I don’t run into many wild animals in my daily life.  If I do they tend to be deer and vultures.  I have occasional glimpses of road runners and I think I have seen a hedgehog.  None of them have a tendency to attack.  When I walk I go through areas with heavy growth and it is possible there might be coyotes or bobcats watching me.  What worries me most are angry dogs and people under the influence.

The same is true in my rulers.  I know that there are people in power who have the ability to mess with me if they get in the mood.  I know that I get very frustrated when we have a president whom I disagree with and a congress that seems to be out to ruin us.  This is a warning about those kinds of people and I remind you that we live in a culture that allows us to choose our leaders.  We have an election coming up.  We will not always have a chance to pick righteous leaders.  Unless we want to run in fear we need to pick the lesser of two evils.  God will take care of the rest just like He does for people who have no say.

So?  Living by faith involves actions based on being responsible and an attitude that rests in the knowledge that the Creator has our back.  When it rains I trust my roof.  When they reign I trust my God.  The roof has let me down. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Hay Seeds

(Proverbs 27:25 KJV)  The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.

I assume that translators get bored like everyone else.  I wonder if they sometimes try to see how creative they can be and still not cross a line of deception.  Here we have two Hebrew words that are the same for both the KJV and NASB translators.  One has “grass (2682) disappears” (1540) and the other has hay appearing.  This is not a big theological controversy but I wonder which one it really is.

The KJV gets the prize for obscure.  It ignores its common translations of common words and calls the grass “hay” and has it mysteriously appearing instead of being carted away.  Out of 217 times the Hebrew appears it is translated this way only twice.  I guess they have a picture in mind of the green grass disappearing and becoming dry hay.

So?  The point is that life continues to change and there is a natural process to that change.  Those of us who are turning into hay need to rejoice because the next generation is finally getting a chance to get the full rays of the sun. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Slipping Dross

(Proverbs 26:23 KJV)  Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.

I recently was given a small box with a bunch of silver dollars in it.  I did not look at it closely.  I put it aside for examination later.  Because the person giving it to me acted like it had value, I assumed there were at least a few genuine silver coins in the pile.  You may not think about silver dollars much but at one point they were actually made of silver and had intrinsic value in themselves.  Just for fun I checked the spot price of silver and it tells me that the precious metal in a genuine silver dollar is worth about $14.00 today.  Around 1964 they started taking the silver out and debasing the currency.

Many people we run into are like that.  They may come recommended by others or be relatives.  We are often content to accept the surface value.  Often that is the way to go because we are cautioned against getting too excited about judging others.  At the same time we need to be discerning and aware that the dross can slip at any time.  Solomon is going to great effort to make us aware that not only books can have deceptive covers.

So?  Stay alert.  Know the standards of righteousness.  Know the difference between a moment of weakness and a character of deception. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Stamp of Approval

(Proverbs 25:23 KJV)  The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.

Do you think people knew this before Solomon wrote it?  Is this common experience or divine revelation?  If this had been David writing, I could have looked back at his experience as a shepherd and guessed it was observation or camp fire wisdom.  I don’t know that Solomon got out in the real world much.  Since the Holy Spirit caused it to be included we need to go with the Hand of God no matter how common the statement was.  Consider it a stamp of approval.

Many times what you find in the Bible is “common sense”.  That is why you find similar statements to the Golden Rule in other religious and philosophical traditions.  What the Bible does is help us separate the common sense from the cultural flatulence.  We have all heard people say, “Everybody knows...” when we know that they don’t know.

So?  We really need to stop frequently and examine our assumptions.  Make sure you are quoting Jesus and not Benjamin Franklin. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Modern Heroes

(Proverbs 24:24 KJV)  He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:

If this verse does not bring to mind modern American culture then you are not listening.  Think about the basics of Biblical morality that go back to 1,500 B.C. with the writing of the Ten Commandments and to the unknown date of Noah’s Ark.  Now find me a modern “hero” that would be willing to stand up in public and espouse those values.  Remember how Tim Tebow was persecuted for public prayer?  Remember when Mike Pence was laughed at when he shared he did not dine out with women who were not his wife? 

Instead we have celebrities who cheat on their wives when they don’t get a divorce.  We have news reporters who lie deliberately.  We have religious leaders who deny the most basic of Christian beliefs. 

So?  We need to be cautious about aligning ourselves with people who reject the values that God laid out for us.  In time history will judge them.  For now we need to see clearly. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Tool, Not a Toy

(Proverbs 23:33 KJV)  Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything good that Proverbs has to say about alcoholic beverages and it is full of warnings.  It is like the pocket knife I carry.  It has its uses and its times.  I like to keep it with me.  It is a tool, not a toy.

Booze is similar.  It has a sharp edge and can cut.  The cut can be fatal.  It can be misused and is potentially dangerous.  Does that mean we ban them?  Not really.  I remember a day when every little boy had a pocket knife with him at school.   We played games with them during recess.  The potential for problems was there but the risk was worth it.

So?  I accept that alcohol has a use and a place.  I also accept that it is very dangerous if not handled with caution.  Maturity is full of these kinds of issues.  I am glad that God has chosen to entrust us with decision making ability. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Yes, You Can

(Proverbs 22:6 KJV)  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

How long do we need to wait to find out if we did good raising our children?  I will admit that I am looking for some straws to grasp that tell me I have been successful in life.  So far I am satisfied with how my children have turned out, but how long do we need to wait?  Notice that it says “when they get old (2204)”  The NASB sticks with variations of “old” but the KJV goes even farther with some use of “ancient”. 

On the frustrating side it says that I won’t be around to find out the end of the story.  I think of my uncles who did not come to the Lord until after their father had died.  On the encouraging side it tells me that it is possible to do it right.  We can lay the groundwork for the next generation.

So?  Today I am encouraged.  It seems to be working in our lives and the lives of our friends. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Violent Times

(Proverbs 21:7 KJV)  The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.

I am asking myself if we have ever seen a time in history where “robbery” (violence NASB) (7701) as we see it defined here has been so prevalent and accepted in a culture.  We see the fascist thugs of Antifa and the left attacking anyone they disagree with.  We have rap “music” that glorifies brutality and pounding on women.  We have video games that repeatedly destroy everything.  Actually we do have historic examples but we tend to think of them as barbaric and uncivilized.

There is a place for war in the Bible.  The punishment of criminals is a given.  At the same time we are told to treat our enemies well and forgive those who wrong us.

So?  Sometimes it seems that all we can do is keep peace in our corner of the world.  That should be reassuring.  God may call on us to be more active but we can rest assured that the real power plays are in His hands.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Oppressed by Sleep

(Proverbs 20:13 KJV)  Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.

If I had to pick out themes in Proverbs this would speak to one of them:  Causes of Poverty.  As Christians we are constantly bombarded with the idea that people are poor because of the greed of the rich and multinational companies.  Oppression by the powerful is the mind set of the day.  I will readily admit that the Bible speaks about oppression and taking advantage of the poor.  What our culture does not want to admit is that many people are poor because of their own decisions and actions.  That is almost totally true in the United States.  I was talking with some kind hearted Catholic friends.  They were concerned for the hungry in our country and how many children were starving.  Puzzled, I asked them what their church would do if someone came asking for food.  It did not take them long to admit that they would be given food.

Here the personal choice being warned about is refusing to get out of bed and be productive.  I can sympathize with this, or I used to.  When I was working as a teacher I had three months off in the summer.  I eventually made enough that I did not need to chase summer jobs.  It was very hard for me to start setting the alarm when school started again.  I half-seriously thought about going on welfare.

So?  Are you oppressed?  Maybe.  You may also just be sleeping too much. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Timed Anger

(Proverbs 19:11 KJV)  The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

“Discretion” (7922) involves making decisions.  The decisions are based on values, information and character.  Rarely are we required to make blind choices.  The groundwork has already been laid and unlike the cop writing you a ticket when you did not know the speed limit, God can see your heart.

This points out that “anger” (639) is also a choice.  I don’t mean that first response down in our gut.  I mean the expression of that gut reaction.  There are times when it is appropriate.  Notice this verse does not say you never get angry.  It says it will be “slow” (748) in coming.  That speed is determined by our spiritual maturity.

So?  We are charged with growing spiritually.  That means controlling our anger and making sure that the target is deserving.  Sometimes it is sin to express anger.  Sometimes it is sin to not express anger.  We can learn the difference. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wade in the Waters, Carefully

(Proverbs 18:4 KJV)  The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

The contrast here could be offered as a warning.  As I write we have an election approaching.  We have a lot of people trying to influence us with their “words” (1697).  We have the politicians themselves.  We have the people in the MSM.  We have all the bloggers and wannabe MSM.  In order to make informed decisions we must listen to someone but this is telling us to be discerning in our listening.  We cannot just accept the surface meaning of what we hear.

The same goes with our spiritual research.  We need to listen with our ears turned on and an awareness of what the Bible really says.  This can be with the honest presentation of historic theological positions.  If you are a Wesleyan you will hear Calvinists expressing their understanding.  It could also be the prosperity gospel nonsense that can damage your soul.

So?  It never goes away.  What never goes away?  The fact that you are to love the Lord your God with all your mind as well as the other items on the list.  You were made in the image of God and part of that image is having an intelligence that you are expected to use. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sales Resistance

(Proverbs 17:18 KJV)  A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

This concept can be extended to volunteering for just about anything.  Often we speak up when someone presents a need and later we cool down and realize that it wasn’t such a good idea, but we are committed.  I remember years ago I applied this principle to responding to the gospel.  When the evangelist gave the invitation I dug in my heels and said, “No.”  In my heart of hearts I was not resisting the gospel, just the evangelist.  I did not want to make a life changing decision in the emotional manipulation of the moment. 

Looking back I believe the Lord could see my heart.  One of the bits of pressure put on by revival speakers is “what would happen if you were hit by a car on the way home?”  I think the contract has an escape clause in it.  Salvation is not a matter of putting together a mechanical clock and having it fail because you left out one screw.  It is a covenant between God and man.  It is designed to save as many as possible.

So?  Don’t give in to pressure.  At the same time, don’t pass up the real deal.  I believe we can tell the difference.  I know God can.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Proud Club

(Proverbs 16:5 KJV)  Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

“Everyone” (3605) sounds conclusive.  In many situations there is some wiggle room.  Fools are hopeless, but we find some indication that they can learn.  Sinners are lost, but can be redeemed.  The arrogant have no such hope.  This is more along the lines of,
(Romans 3:23 KJV)  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
We tend to think, or at least I do, that arrogance is an attribute of the rich and powerful.  When I stop to consider I find that it also exists in the poor and weak.  It is an attitude of mind that puts the self first and looks down on others.  That is a human trait not just a rich human trait.

So?  This is why we need to keep in daily contact with the Lord.  He needs to keep softening our hearts and molding our minds.  He can’t do that if we fall into the trap of having arrived. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Be a Peacemaker

(Proverbs 15:1 KJV)  A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Again we see free will at work.  We are often confronted with situations that we do not create nor do we desire.  How often have you run into someone who is having a bad day and they are determined to pass it on.  You may have done everything you could be avoid the situation.  It still faces you with no escape.  Now the choice is yours.

Notice that it doesn’t say you will calm the anger.  All you can do is “turn it away” (7725).  There is another verse that this brings to mind. 
(Proverbs 25:21-22 KJV)  If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:  For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
The possibility offered is that your refusing to return the anger will get them to think and maybe get a little embarrassed.

So?  Whether it “works” or not we are still required to follow the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  That involves the other cheek and the extra mile.  Be a peacemaker. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Labour Party Platform

(Proverbs 14:23 KJV)  In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

 How does work “profit” (4195) us?  Our first consideration is that we earn our living by our productive efforts.  We might do this as farmers, miners, plumbers, teachers, pastors, the list goes on.  We find something to do that is of worth to someone else and the transfer enough wealth to make it worth our time.

There is also value in the “labor” (6089a) itself.  There is a dignity and a sense of responsibility that comes from effort.  This is why working for less than we think we are worth is still a good thing to do.  It teaches us that we should value the bread we buy.  It does not come easy.  I find that I would evaluate something’s financial cost in how long it took me to earn the money for it.  People who have never earned a salary or run a business don’t understand that.

So?  Work.  Produce.  Give to society and grow in your character. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Make Them Work

(Proverbs 13:22 KJV)  A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

I think it is interesting that the idea of leaving wealth skips the children.  Based on reading and listening from sources outside the Bible, I have heard people comment on how often children are spoiled by rich parents.  The parents knew how to work hard but too often they think they are going to do their children a kindness by sheltering them from that lesson.  Some learn it in spite of the handicap.  Others are weakened to the point of destruction.  When a child believes he is going to inherit a fortune, why would he put in the effort to train himself for success.  It is guaranteed. 

So?  Instead of making life easy for your children you should be preparing them for the trials and struggles ahead.  Then let them do the same for the grandchildren. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

On Whom Is the Joke

(Proverbs 12:20 KJV)  Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Who are the biggest victims of “deceit” (4810)?  If you are on the short end of a con game you feel like you are the one who suffers.  That is true on today’s radar but if you learn from the experience you come out ahead.  The con artist goes on feeling like he has achieved a victory.

Deceivers think they are winners but what is down the road?  There is a good chance that prison or murder is in their future.  There will be a lot of fear and loneliness.  There lives are like I imagine it must be to have a drug habit with little money.  You have a brief high and then comes the desperate search for the next fix.  Deceit is like that.

So?  A number of things come to mind.  Get the last laugh.  Learn from your mistakes.  Feel sorry for the trickster wallowing in his desperation.  Pray for his foolishness.  Don’t feel like you will be happier if you join him. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

On the Record

(Proverbs 11:31 KJV)  Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.

A recording “artist” comes to mind.  If I remember correctly he had a series of hits and became very successful.  Then at 26 years of age he committed suicide.  I don’t remember his name.  Neither will the world.  He got everything he wanted but it was not enough to keep him alive.  What destroyed him?  Was it the business executives that gave him millions?  Was it a type of music that I would consider ridiculous noise?  Ultimately it was his demand to get what he wanted instead of what he needed.

This picture is repeated with great regularity.

So?  Don’t be fooled by the facade presented by so many people.  Seek ye first the kingdom of God,...  You know the rest. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Victory Snooze

(Proverbs 10:5 KJV)  He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.

This is not a condemnation of sleep.  Proof-texting can cause all kinds of problems.  Usually it is done by someone with an agenda.  Sleep is a necessary part of life when it is done at the right time and in the right amounts.  Here the problem is the right time.  When it is time to work, work.  When it is not time to work, sleep.  Other places in Proverbs sleep in the wrong amounts is one of the causes of poverty.

The victorious Christian life is not always a matter of what as it is when and why. 

So?  Seek balance.  Work on timing.  Live in victory. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fun Choices

(Proverbs 9:17 KJV)  Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

From what I hear, sin is fun.  Of course I have no first hand knowledge...., right.  One of the lines I have heard before is that if it is fun or enjoyable, it is a sin.  That is obviously not the whole story and impossible to be true.  Life is full of fun, fulfilling activities that we can participate in and still be righteous.  In spite of that we tend to focus on the few things that we are not allowed to do.

When I went to watch my daughter ride in a rodeo it was fun and up to God’s standards.  It wasn’t so much fun watching her fly off the horse and hit a fence, but no harm, no foul.  When my son beat the sox off of me playing fussball, it was fun and God probably enjoyed it more than I did.  He didn’t lose.  The list is only limited by your imagination.

So?  Keep the big picture in mind.  Sin may be fun now but the payoff has some serious drawbacks. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Unregenerated Deafness

(Proverbs 8:9 KJV)  They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

If you want to end a conversation then start talking about Jesus.  I have seen it frequently.  If you even sound like you are getting serious about spiritual things or Godly behavior the glaze comes down over the eyes and attention wavers.  Share the same words at a prayer group and people zero in and light up.  One “understands” (995) and the other doesn’t.  Why the difference?

It has to do with the Holy Spirit.  If the Holy Spirit is not involved then it does not register.  One indication of this is given to us by Jesus,
(John 14:26 KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
My opinion is that the Holy Spirit is working on everyone.  Some respond to that leading and are brought to a point of repentance and new birth.  At that moment the Holy Spirit is free to lead to a deeper understanding.  Until you reach that point it remains cloudy.  I remember the difference in my understanding of love changing in the moment my first child was born.  You could tell me and have me write out definitions but when I saw that boy, I understood.

So?  Witness.  Share.  Live.  But don’t understand that everyone, or many, will understand and respond.  It doesn’t work that way.  Remember how many listened to Jesus and walked away.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Ultimate Discipline

(Proverbs 7:22 KJV)  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

The NASB has the phrase “discipline (4148) of a fool (191)”.  I have never noticed it much before but today it sounds disturbing.  If you continue reading you find that his foolishness is not only going to get him into a compromising situation but will send him to hell.  It is the ultimate discipline.  The purpose of discipline is correction.  It is possible for fools to learn and grow.  What is disturbing is that this does not seem to be a high possibility.   It assumes that once you get far down the road to self indulgence and disobedience, the results are fatal.

So?  I guess it seems a no brainer but the word whispered in my ear is, “Do a self check and do what is necessary to get back on track.”  The results will be different for each of us and different each day.  I would hope the results can be the same.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Heart Evil

(Proverbs 6:14 KJV)  Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

If you are reading this verse in isolation it is important to recognize that Solomon is not asking a question, he is making a statement.  It is already established that there are evil people in the world.  This is hard for many to grab hold of.  We see things happening such as children being molested and brutal murders.  Uninvolved bystanders are injured in drive-by shootings.  Politicians are caught with their hand in the til.  We see it and think it is the exception.  It really isn’t.  We see it and wonder how people could do such things.

Grab hold of this truth.  There are large numbers of people who are only happy when they are wreaking havoc or disrupting lives.  Don’t expect to understand it.  Accept.  If it is hard for you then ask yourself how Satan, who has been in the presence of God and has a knowledge of how things work better than you or I could ever hope for, can pretend he can win against God.  I don’t think he plans on winning, just taking as many of us with him as he can.

So?  Make sure you don’t join him.  Be willing to punish his minions.  Recognize the reality. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Stumbling at Both Ends

(Proverbs 5:6 KJV)  Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.

Is it necessary to remain “movable" (unstable NASB) (5128)?  Are we locked into a pattern of perpetual falling and stumbling?  I hope not.  The Hebrew has a variety of applications from waver to quiver.  As I am past my allotted time of three score and ten I am aware that my physical abilities are deteriorating.  As I watch my granddaughter I can see that she has a lot of coordination to gain.  Life is like that.  We go through stages. 

Usually we can improve our condition but it requires an awareness that we need improvement and a belief that it can happen.  Babies learn.  I watch the look of surprise on her face as the infant gets a teething ring in her mouth and between her gums.  Eventually she will catch on.  Will I ever get it into my thick head that I can’t bend over and then straighten up quickly?  The jury is still out on that one.

So?  If you are wavering or quivering understand that you can improve.  It applies in the spiritual and emotional worlds just as much as the physical.  God made the whole package.  He designed it to wind up and wear out.  Enjoy the ride. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Perfect

(Proverbs 4:18 KJV)  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

I noticed a difference in translation between the KJV and the NASB that I thought was interesting.  The KJV uses “perfect” (3559) while the NASB uses “full”.  It caught my eye because I come from a theological persuasion that uses the terms “perfect love” and “perfection” in statements of doctrine.  Often we are criticized for using the word and usually the criticism is because others use their definition of the word rather than the Biblical one.  If you will excuse the slight of tongue, perfect does not mean perfect.

I know that sounds like the often mocked statement, “That depends on what the meaning of “is” is.”  It is not, because we see the same pattern in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  In both cases the word has the impact of things being at the goal.  They do not mean there are no rough edges or a seam out of place.  It means that the total picture presents the image intended.  Notice that it is the “day” (3117) that is perfect.  Somehow I can’t help believe that somewhere in that day there is an unhappy worm or a bit of dust on a counter.

So?  God is real and He deals with real people in real lives.  It is a perfect arrangement. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Asleep At the Wheel

(Proverbs 3:26 KJV)  For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

This is a really hard lesson to learn.  As Americans we used to be taught to stand on our own two feet.  Recently I visited the John Wayne birthplace and was reminded of how much of the traditional American mystic was molded by men like him.  Modern generations have been taught to be victims and to turn to the government for our safety.  As Christians we need to be continually reminded that the president and politics are just junior programs not the final source.  That is God’s place.

It is even harder to apply regularly.  We can read a verse like this and get juiced up and then when we walk out the door we forget it all.  Maybe we don’t even get out the door.  Maybe the TV news or a conflict within the family is enough to distract us and make us fall into our old patterns.

So?  We lose focus if we don’t seek to be reminded on a regular basis.  It is like a steering wheel in the car.  Life requires constant small adjustments.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Bullion Wisdom

(Proverbs 2:4 KJV)  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

I don’t know if you pay any attention to the price of gold and “silver” (3701) but an ounce of gold costs a lot more than an ounce of silver.  For example, at this moment gold is $1,200 an ounce and silver is $14.10.  Silver is much more in the reach of the average citizen than gold.  That is just economics.  This verse reminds me that wisdom is within the reach of the average believer.  Yes the Bible also refers to jewels and gold but it does not ignore the more reachable assets.

So?  Don’t think that the truth of the Bible is just for people with a lot of fancy education.  Often that stands in the way.  Keep in mind that $2,000 worth of silver has the same value as $2,000 of gold. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

For Crying out Loud

(Proverbs 1:20 KJV)  Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

When was the last time you took a public, moral stand?  I would bet it has been a long time.  If you are like me you might behave personally in a moral way but you don’t make a big deal when others stray from the path.  I know that in some cases I have learned that the people who are telling lies or dealing dishonestly don’t want to hear it.  Often they have already convinced themselves that what they said was true because of special circumstances or they actually believe their memory is correct.  In those cases I think we have some excuse.

But there are certain actions that God has clearly condemned.  Sexual sin is one clear example whether it be homosexuality or fornication.  Cheating in business is also a clearly defined sin.  Our problem is that we have been effectively silenced because the culture threatens us. 

So?  Wisdom is meant to be shared.  Sometimes it may be quiet but it must be.  Pray for strength. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Taller ≠ Tall

(Proverbs 30:31 KJV)  A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

This is an interesting list of inflated egos.  All of the bold walkers in these two verses seem to be impressed with themselves.  They walk tall with an attitude that broadcasts self satisfaction.  What is not mentioned is that they all have limited areas of influence and no guarantee of victory.  It reminds me of video clips I have seen where some dude is advancing with arrogance, steps on a rake, gets hit in the face and becomes an internet source of ridicule.  Walking tall does not make you tall, just not as short.

So?  I am more concerned with walking straight than strutting.  I want Jesus to be the one who approves of my progress and I don’t think He is impressed with swagger. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

It Makes a Difference

(Proverbs 29:8 KJV)  Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.

It makes a difference the type of leaders a “city” (7151) picks.  Keep in mind that democracy as we know it was isolated to a few locations if it existed at all.  Power came from the top.  Governors of provinces were appointed by the king.  For the most part cities were also under his control.  In spite of that autocratic understanding of government the leaders would often have councils of civic leaders.  This got more common as you moved toward the grass roots.  Those leaders would have some input into some of the choices for civic leadership.  However they are appointed, it makes a difference.

If you need an example, look at what is going on in San Francisco.  There are constant jokes going on about how drug needles are handed out by the city leaders but you can go to jail for giving someone a plastic straw.  People defecate on the streets with nothing done about it.  It was also one of the early centers of homosexual political power.  Could there be cause and effect here?  Solomon seems to think so.

So?  Christians with morals may not be able to elect godly leaders but we can still make our voice heard.  If no one listens then look for a chance to vote with your feet.  I will admit that is totally personal opinion.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Hardening Choices

(Proverbs 28:14 KJV)  Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

Hardening your heart happens as a result of our decisions and choices.  We may not consciously say, “I am going to harden my heart”.  But deciding to take the culturally popular position on an issue adds callus to our sensitivity to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  When we give into temptation once it usually becomes easier to push things a little further.  When we are accepted by others because we did not stand up for uncomfortable truth it makes us want to be accepted even more.

So?  Understand that each choice we make is a move toward either right or wrong.  The concern is our long term direction.  You do not achieve eternal life by traveling opposite of God. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Passing It On

(Proverbs 27:24 KJV)  For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?

We see two different examples of a principle here, “riches” (2633) and a “crown” (5145).  The two seem to be tied together.  It expresses something that we see often around us.  One generation will achieve great success.  They will leave a legacy to their children.  This can be more than money but that is the easiest example.  The pattern seems to be that the second generation might be able to maintain the wealth but the third begins to fritter it away. 

The same can be said in spiritual terms.  The parents are strong believers and walk with God in a dynamic way.  Their children get the form but not the power.  The grandchildren drift away.

So?  It is possible to defeat this dissipation but it takes focus, discipline, instruction and a living example.  Principles must be lived and taught.  I am still trying to keep my eye on the future. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Give and Take

(Proverbs 26:22 KJV)  The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Is this a word for the speaker or the listener?  The Bible is clear that the one who spreads gossip is involved in sin.  Does the same thing apply to the listener?  I think it might be a type of “age of accountability”.  When someone starts to speak you don’t know what they are going to say.  There comes point when it becomes clear what is going on.  That is the time to disconnect.  Sometimes all you can do is refuse to pass it on.  More often we need to learn to cut them off and walk away.  It isn’t easy.

I find that a simple “no” is often not enough to stop the person who says, “Do you want to know a secret”.  Often the “secret” is a bit of juicy gossip that they obviously want you to pass on.

So?  Obviously we need to not spread gossip.  Maybe we need to be more aggressive in refusing to listen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Guilt Trips

(Proverbs 25:22 KJV)  For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

I am constantly amazed at how people charged with the responsibility of preaching will betray it in order to be politically correct and acceptable to those who resist the gospel.  What does this have to do with this verse?  I heard a preacher one time take this verse and spend a lot of time twisting and warping in order to try to say that this was an expression that really meant you were being humble and contrite.  He rejected that fact that people could be made to feel guilty because that would violate their safe space and make them feel uncomfortable.

The simple fact is that God uses guilt to convict of sin and often it is your righteous behavior that brings to light their lack of God’s blessing.  I would suggest that we often don’t see it.  I would admit that many times the guilt they are feeling brings out even more violent reactions.  The truth is that God has many ways of trying to reach people.  Think of Noah going to Nineveh and preaching repentance.  It was enough.  Other times repeated warnings and pleading only hardened hearts.

So?  God is working.  Don’t feel that He has to embrace the current trend toward trigger warnings and safe spaces.  He is trying to save people from the ultimate, eternal unsafe space.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Partial Truth

(Proverbs 24:23 KJV)  These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

I have recently had several conversations in which the subject of justice came up.  I am afraid that our pagan overlords in education and the media have penetrated the minds of many in the church and substituted their meanings for what God means.  They have done the same thing for “love” so that when Christians talk love they no longer mean agape.  Usually they mean eros or philios.   The world is comfortable with those but rejects the key word from the New Testament.

We most often see the perversion of God’s concept of justice being expressed as “social justice”.  Although it sounds very noble it is very far from the Bible standard.  Social justice is identity politics all tied up in a pretty bow.  Keep in mind that you can label bleu cheese as mild cheddar all you want but when you take of the wrapper it still stinks.  The same is true of “social justice”.  Social justice takes a chosen group and put a value on them based on their group identity not on their behavior.  What Solomon is saying here is that such tactics are evil and of the devil.  The KJV uses “respect of persons”.  It means that you don’t let someone off from a crime because the person is a relative or a member of your lodge.  It means that you judge them based on what they have done, not their connections.

So?  Don’t be partial.  A big part of that is being alert so that your vocabulary and choices are not dictated by the current social trends but by eternal truth. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Viper Warnings

(Proverbs 23:32 KJV)  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Texas has some dangers that I did not need to be alert for in California.  Scorpions and centipedes might have existed somewhere but I never say one.  In Texas they are common enough that I worry about walking through the house at night.  I recently had a centipede about four or five inches long stroll out of my closet.  Snakes were rare in the suburbs and I don’t think I ever saw a rattler in the wild.  Now they tell us to be on the alert.

Instead of going on a snake hunt I have done a little reading.  Several things become obvious.  The first is that snakes will go out of their way to avoid you.  Most of us are too big to make a decent meal.  Snakes generally don’t take bites, they swallow their meals whole.  They also know that you can hurt them.  They may not be intelligent but they are not stupid.  Rattle snakes will also try to give you warning if you are getting too close.  Because of this I don’t worry about snakes much.

I also don’t worry about the dangers of alcohol.  I have heard the warnings.  I am aware of the dangers.  I don’t go there. 

So?  God gives us ample warnings about the dangers to our spiritual lives.  We may make mistakes because of lack of judgment but it is possible to avoid choices that endanger our eternity.