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 31, 2018

Righteous Resolutions

(Proverbs 31:9 KJV)  Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

The arbitrary date that we call “New Year’s Day” is withing sight.  Here is a bit of advice for us to finish out the old and begin the new, “judge” (8199) “righteously” (6664).  If you look at the context you see that this might be directed toward kings and such but I think the command is extended farther than that. 

Most of us have decisions to make and often those decisions effect other people.  Are you a landlord?  Can you justify raising the rent?  Do you work in a situation where you deal with the general public such as a clerk in a government office or doing sales in a store?  Do you listen and make decisions based on a desire to do well?  We must judge because life calls for choices.  The big question is do we do it in an honest and upright manner.

So?  The new year is simply a good time for us to look and remind ourselves of what we should be doing all the time.  Don’t let the time go to waste. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Yes, It Makes a Difference

(Proverbs 30:33 KJV)  Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

Cause and effect is a principle that has largely disappeared from our educational system at least as it applies to the real world.  You can observe cause and effect in life.  If you drop a china cup, it shatters.  If you step in front of a car, it splatters.  Churning milk, butter.  Punching nose, blood.  We see it all around us and usually learn from the experience.

No so much in areas where we want to ignore the laws of physics and morality.  We are being taught that homosexual marriage is not problem, that the death culture of abortion will have no side effects, that unearned welfare checks are a road to success.  We have watched for years.  We see nothing but failure.  Have you noticed that the advocates of socialism always have a phrase, “That was not real socialism” to apply to any failures.

So?  God has given us principles.  They are pretty easy to understand.  Ignore them at your own peril.  Implement them to blessing.  Seems like an easy choice and it is a good time of year to work on change. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Target Acquisition

(Proverbs 29:10 KJV)  The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

This is an important reminder for people like me.  As I write it is the Christmas season.  As you read it is slightly past for the Western Church but still in Epiphany, the coming of the wise men, when the Eastern Church celebrates the birth.  People like me are the ones who, living in the prosperity that God has blessed them with, look at people who are struggling and assume that they have made the bad choices that put them there.  I will assert that is true in many cases, but not all. 

Some people are “blameless” (8535).  The KJV is probably better here because it conveys the moral judgment being made.  This could be an important key to evaluating how we distribute our giving.  We should be looking at things like integrity and veracity.  The part that makes this hard is it involves knowing the people we are trying to help.  It does not allow just giving.  It should be targeted.

So?  I need to give more.  For you it might involve being more discerning in your giving.  For instance, if you have $100 you can give, ignore the Red Cross and find the Salvation Army.  That way most of it will actually go to help those in need. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Leadership Dynamic

(Proverbs 28:16 KJV)  The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.

As people raised in a country that knows more liberty than any in history we tend to assume that leaders who are not picked by a democratic process are all evil.  Most modern Americans don’t know the key difference between a dictator and a tyrant.  Dictator is a term used by the Romans for a leader appointed through due process and given absolute powers for a specific period of time.  A tyrant usually takes power by force of arms and never gives it up.  A dictator can rule well.  I have heard it said the the most efficient form of government is a benevolent dictatorship.  A tyrant on the other hand used whatever means are necessary to make and keep himself king of the hill. 

It is not uncommon for leaders to start out understanding that they are servants of the people and devolve into self-centered minarets.  They do not understand the dynamics of leadership although they know how to apply power.  They rarely die in their beds.

So?  Leadership takes place at many levels from cleaning homes to ruling countries.  We all have some type of leadership.  Apply the wisdom God has given in yours. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Pets and Profits

(Proverbs 27:26 KJV)  The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.

Animal lovers pay attention.  Animals are not our brothers, they are our resources.  Here we see clothing and profit.  In the next verse we see milk.  Other places we see concepts of “the fatted ox” and of course there were the sacrifices in the temple.  It is true that the peasants of that day my have had the cow sleep in the house but that was more a poverty issue than a desire for companionship.  Many cultures thought dogs were edible and also horses.  Cats didn’t seem to have any use.  It has nothing to do with anything but I can’t find cats mentioned anywhere in the Bible. 

So?  Pets can be companionship.  In another context they might be a coat.  Either way they are still animals.  Sorry about that.  Don’t tell my wife.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Corner of Hatred

(Proverbs 26:24 KJV)  He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;

Lying is a form of hatred.  I wonder if that might be one way to draw the line between what is becoming more socially acceptable in exaggeration and lies.  The person who tells a tall story to entertain is not motivated by hatred.  A person “roasting” or “bagging” is hopefully not motivated by hatred so it would not qualify as a lie. 

In contrast some people say nothing when a good word is appropriate because their hatred makes it impossible to say anything good about a person.  This is obviously not a compete description of lying but it is an element.

So?  We are to love.  I think it okay to hate sin but our basic motivation is in I Corinthians 13. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Hidden Mary

(Proverbs 25:24 KJV)  It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.

It is always interesting to me when a verse like this is put together “by chance” with Christmas.  If you have never spent much time with pregnant women you will know that some of them could have written the book on “brawling” (contentious NASB) (4066).  There is a time period called “transition”, if my memory serves me.  It is a time when you don’t want to allow the expectant mother near any legal contract and definitely don’t want to let her talk to a divorce lawyer. 

Do you suppose Mary might have had a few moments when she was hard to live with?  We generally don’t think about it but she had to walk across the country at 8 ½ months.  Keep in mind the cute little donkey is not mentioned in scripture.  Did she tell Joseph about her swollen ankles and need to go to the bathroom.  Probably.

So?  Everyone is entitled to periods of being hard to live with.  In the same way all of us are expected to go the extra mile for others and try to not join them in attitude.  Merry Christmas, for those nit-pickers, Happy Incarnation Day. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Guy Wires Needed

(Proverbs 24:25 KJV)  But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.

How many times have you heard someone say something that needs to be said and it is obvious they are not being supported by the crowd?  I can remember faculty meetings where I would point out that the king had no clothes and got no support at all.  I could live with that.  What I found frustrating was the number of people who would come up afterward, when no one could hear them, and say they really appreciated what I had said.  Really?  Then why did they leave me hanging in the wind?

When we are around someone who has taken a step based on truth and morality we need to step up and express our agreement.  We don’t need to agree with them on everything and we can clarify that, but we need to bless them with a word of agreement.  Give them a guy wire to keep them from getting blown over. 

So?  Those who support righteousness need our support or next time they may not have enough courage to speak up. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Lie Down with Care

(Proverbs 23:34 KJV)  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

Just in case you are still living in denial, this is not praise for clever behavior or the ability to think outside the box.  This is a reminder of all the really retarded actions you have taken in your life if you are someone who gets drunk.  You may not remember.  That may be a result of the alcohol blocking your memory.  It may be that the alcohol killed the brain cells tasked with remembering that moment.  It may just be a psychological defensive measure because you could not live with the embarrassment when you were sober. 

Alcohol has a place.  I admit that.  Usually its place is in a bottle waiting for a medical emergency or a time in life where things are totally hopeless (see the beginning of chapter 31).  I may be that something else makes you forget the important things.  I guess gluttony or a juicy bit of gossip can also make us embarrass ourselves. 

So?  We all make mistakes.  I guess this is a reminder that we should work to avoid situations which make the mistake a guarantee instead of a possibility.  This is a good reminder during the Christmas/New Year holidays. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Rich Leadership

(Proverbs 22:7 KJV)  The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

As much as we might find this offensive it is more than an observation, it is a principle.  Being rich implies that you have been successful.  Yes, I know that some people are rich because their parents were successful but it is more common for children to squander the wealth of their parents than preserve it.  People who get into debt tend to be the ones who have made bad decisions.  I know that is true today.  I assume it was true then

What kind of bad decisions?  An obvious mistake is to use a credit card for something that you really don’t need and can’t really afford.  We use credit cards but we are careful to pay them off each month.  That in itself is a trap because it puts you a month behind.  If there is a sudden downturn in the economy people like us will also be in trouble.

So?  Do you want leaders who have been failures or those who have been successful.  Let me put it another way, would you want someone who can’t do simple math to be your accountant? 

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Straight Edge

(Proverbs 21:8 KJV)  The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.

In old movies about gangsters one of the labels used is “crooks”.  At some time in my life I came to understand that it was a variation on “crooked”.  When an ex-con would get his act together it was said he was going “straight”.  Those are the root meanings of the two descriptions here. 

Life is full of choices with a wide range of consequences.  In some areas most people are straight and true.  You don’t last long if you drive on the wrong side of the road.  In some areas a lot of people fudge.  What do most people say when asked how much they weigh?  It is in the more significant areas that we find out what kind of people we are.  That is why Proverbs talks a lot about such things as honest weights and measures.  It reminds us constantly about telling the truth. 

So?  It makes a difference.  Those who refuse to be straight are setting their sails for an eternity in Hell.  It is clear.  It is ignored and denied.  It is still true.  Consider. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Mundane

(Proverbs 20:14 KJV)  It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

I have read very little in the writings of Buddhism and Hinduism.  I have read the Koran enough to have a feel but not enough to remember the possible stories.  Somehow I don’t think any of them have little nuggets like this.  The Bible has all kinds of passages that touch life in a very familiar way, that make us say, “I have been there.”  If you have ever been to a yard sale or bought a used car you know what is going on here.  It is the way we function.

I say that to point out that the Bible is a very real connection between the eternal and the temporal, between the divine and the mundane.  Jesus did not say He was the transcendent epitome of the categorical imperative, whatever that is.  He said, “I am the bread of life.” 

So?  God reaches out to us where we are.  Jesus has walked in our shoes.  We have a God who cares about the small things because they are the only things we can really understand.  Rejoice as we move toward the celebration of the incarnation.  God intrudes in our lives when we change diapers and when we hit the garage sales. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Roar and the Reality

(Proverbs 19:12 KJV)  The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

Recently in a conversation I stated that I was not sure democracy could be justified from the Bible.  The Bible seems to assume a king and a noble class.  As Americans we tend to react to that and much of the reaction is based on a lack of understanding about monarchies.  We tend to think of kings as having absolute power.  That is usually not the case.  There is always something to limit their influence and make them a bit cautious.  If they are not sensitive to those forces they will move to the history books instead of staying on the thrones.

Thus kings can roar and they do have a bite but the two are not the same.  If you are the one in sight at the time of the displeasure, you can suffer.  Further away, not so much.  The lesson of Proverbs and the Bible is that we owe some allegiance to the political authority but ultimately we are responsible to God.  So we vote and petition.  It is our responsibility in the style of government that we have.  We need to realize that even in a dictatorship where we do not have those rights we still can live in the freedom of knowing God is in charge.

So?  Whatever your political arrangements, have hope and a confidence in the future.  My hope is not based on a majority in the halls of congress but in a King on the throne of the universe.  Keep that in mind as we begin to watch the campaigns for the elections of 2020. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Expert Advice

(Proverbs 18:5 KJV)  It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.

There are a few areas where I value the expertise of others.  If I am experimenting in the kitchen then I ask questions of people who have demonstrated they know how to produce masterpieces.  I do not ask my son in law.  And depending what my question was, I might even listen because some people know what they are talking about.  Other areas I prefer my own thought processes. 

An example might be looking for insight in my Bible commentaries.  Over the years I have used them less and less, not because the authors are “wicked” (7563) but because I know the Bible well enough to consult it and if the answer isn’t there then the odds are the experts are just giving their opinions.  I have a few study Bibles but I rarely read the comments because I know ahead of time what the slant is going to be.

So?  Be careful whom you listen to.  It is possible that the “expert” is one of those old drips under pressure that you hear so much about and too much from.  Keep checking the manual for directions. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Obvious

(Proverbs 17:19 KJV)  He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.

What is your basic motivation?  It makes a difference.  So often the results differ according to the heart sense that causes the action.  Two people can go through the same situation and come out with totally different results.

Sometimes the difference is because of what people sense in us.  This can be subtle or overt.  The result is the same.  Arrogance can announce itself in the way we walk or in a tone of voice.  We are not as good at acting as we think and often we don’t bother to cover up what our motivation is.  In a yard sale I will let something go cheaper to someone who seems to appreciate it as opposed to an obvious dealer who just plans to make a profit.

Sometimes the difference is because of what God sees in our hearts.  We can fool our friends.  We can fool ourselves.  We cannot fool God.  This is why we will be surprised about who makes it to heaven and who is absent.

So?  Start by being honest with yourself.  That can be a real challenge.  Then be honest with God.  Remember, He knows anyway. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Power Plays

(Proverbs 16:7 KJV)  When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

We really need to be reminded of this in our current toxic political climate.  If you are a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, you are out of sync with your environment.  Really.  There are very few positions you can take that will not be offensive to the servants of Satan.  At the current time they seem to be in control of most popular voices be it fiction or the nightly news.  They have enough power that they can mess your life up if they want.

Or so they think.  What we need to realize is that God can control their actions and even their thoughts.  These are people who have already rejected the God of the universe so why would He respect their privacy?  Think of historic leaders who have done things that were either not in their best interests or were really stupid.  Go back to Pharaoh when he released Israel.  Go forward to Hitler when he gave the order to back off at Dunkirk or to invade the Soviet Union.  You really think He can’t influence your neighbor?

So?  Keep in mind that your destiny, and your day, are in the hands of God.  He may not follow your plan for the day but He will move. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Common Language

(Proverbs 15:2 KJV)  The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Here is a real challenge.  We have a responsibility to make the truth of God “aright” (acceptable NASB) (3190).  I really don’t think that means to water it down with pablum or sweeten it up with processed sweetness.  It does mean presenting it in such a way that it will be listened to.  One of the big keys to communicating is our attitude.  I would say the listener’s attitude but there often is little we can do about that problem which does not involve ours. 

This probably involves listening and paying attention.  If we are talking to someone who is into fast cars then we probably should not dwell on historical issues.  If they are into opera, don’t try to discuss rap.  Jesus was known for his communication and he talked about the things people were familiar with.  He talked of farming and sheep.  He did not spend a lot of time discussing the current fashions in Rome.

So?  Don’t abandon truth but try to put it in words that others can understand.  Seems simple but it isn’t. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Choice Wisdom

(Proverbs 14:24 KJV)  The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.

A characteristic of wisdom is expressed in good judgement.  It isn’t a matter of pure factual knowledge.  Science is full of facts.  The problem we are facing in science is a lack of wisdom.  They still don’t have the answer to “Just because we can, should we?”  They know how to make doomsday weapons but lack the wisdom to know how to use them.  They can take temperature readings and feed them into a computer but they don’t know how to interpret them. 

Wisdom brings a wealth to life that cannot be supplied by simple details.  Wisdom knows when to keep quiet and when to speak.  Wisdom knows when to spend and when to save.  Wisdom knows that “this too shall pass”. 

So?  Don’t be satisfied until you achieve wisdom.  You can get facts.  You can listen to opinions.  Until you saturate yourself with God’s wisdom the real thing is out of reach. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Want Judgment?

(Proverbs 13:23 KJV)  Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.

First notice the difference between the KJV and the NASB.  The KJV has “want” (3808) of “justice” (4941) and the NASB puts the two Hebrew words together into “injustice”.  We need to be careful of using popular, politically motivated definitions to come to an understanding of the Bible.  Biblical justice has nothing to do with what is being billed as “social justice” by the ruling class.  Social justice is like free love.  It is a corruption of a good word into a destructive action.  Social justice is not based on the unchanging truth of God.  It is based on the current political goals of the speaker.

Social justice is a “want of justice”.  It removes the rule of law and the fairness that is necessary to live life to its fullest.  The poor need justice in the sense that they need to be able to play by the rules and depend on the outcomes.  You can’t do that with the caprice of man.

So?  Get in the habit of holding up what you hear in one hand and what you have read in the Bible in the other.  I have an idea they will be different.  Oh, you haven’t been reading your Bible?  I guess you lose before you start. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Crash but Don’t Burn

(Proverbs 12:21 KJV)  There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.

Cancer.  Crashes.  Crutches.  Crosses.  Can we deny that these things happen to the “righteous” (6662)?  I don’t think so.  I have a pacemaker.  I am taking medication to thin my blood because of something called atrial fibrillation.  They tell me the pill is to keep me from having a stroke.  That sounds harmful to me.  Does that mean I am not righteous?  That depends on whether you ask my wife or my dog.

Things can happen to us that we consider harm but this is written by God.  Think of Job.  Satan kept pushing the boundaries but God always put up a fence.  God knew how far Job could be pushed without defeat.  It was not too easy on his children or livestock but that was not the point.

So?  We have to go through life.  Jesus had to go to the cross.  Paul was whipped.  The promise is that it will never be able to touch the part of you that really counts.  Sometimes I find that comforting; sometimes, not so much. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Choosing It

(Proverbs 11:5 KJV)  The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

As I was reading this chapter today the word “righteousness” (6666) kept jumping out at me.  I am around people of the Calvinist/Reformed tradition a lot.  Most churches are part of that theological family, even if they deny it or really don’t know.  One of the claims of these people is that we are all dirty rotten sinners who must sin every day in word, thought and deed.  They like to quote a couple of verses as proof.
(Romans 3:10 KJV)  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

(Isaiah 64:6 KJV)  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
If you read Proverbs that presents a problem because in this chapter “righteousness” (6666) is referred to five times and the “righteous” (6662) eight times.  Add to that “blameless” (8549) being used twice.  The point is that the Bible often refers to the righteous.  If they did not exist, how could this be?

So?  I am not looking for a deep discussion of meaning and context.  All I am trying to get across is that God expects us to live right and gives us the ability through the blood and the Spirit to do it.  It isn’t that “the devil made me do it” as much as “the Spirit empowers me to do it.”  Of course the “it” is different in each case.  Chose your “it”. 

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


(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


(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.