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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Check It Out

(Proverbs 21:30 KJV)  There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

We live in an age in America when the powers that be are focused on removing God from the equation.  It can be global warming to homosexuality.  The eternal “wisdom” (2451) that is found in the Bible is trumped by the new insights that a mature and sophisticated elite have brought to the table.  That is why we have claims that every type of weather is an indication of global warming.  That is how the media can claim that ten percent of the population is homosexual.  It is where the HIV virus gets civil rights and all whites are racists.  There is a lot of nonsense.

It could be avoided by a little humility and willingness to accept the teaching of the Bible.  When a group of Ph.D.’s make a loud proclamation I should get out my bologna detector.  When God whispers I need to snap to attention. 

So?  The Bible may not give you the answer to the question on the algebra test but the knowledge that He is eternal and unchanging can give you the assurance that the answer can be found and can be correct. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Persevere

(Proverbs 20:5 KJV)  Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.

There are times in life when the next step is clear.  If you need Philosophy 200 to graduate and you need to take Philosophy 100 first there is no question.  The question this verse refers to is the major you chose that requires you to take Philosophy.  Those questions require some thought.  Those are the questions that come up usually in unfamiliar situations.  If I am in a restaurant that I frequent the choices have been narrowed by experience.  If my son is dragging me into a whole new cuisine I need help.

This is a reassurance that we will be able to find the answers we need in life.  It does not say the answer will come automatically, quickly or with no effort.  The implication is that we will put some thought and effort into it.

So?  Life is not easy.  Life is not fair.  Life can be lived in victory.  Persevere and trust. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Wisdom Is Not Just Another Choice

(Proverbs 19:3 KJV)  The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.

It is interesting the different ways the result of “foolishness” (200) is translated.  At one end we have the “perverteth” (5557) of the KJV.  The 1977 NASB moves to “subverts” and the Updated NASB changes it again to “ruins”.  All are in the range of meaning but I think the KJV has the strongest sense.  Perversion is much stronger than ruined.  Ruin can be accidental.  You can be financially ruined and have no moral judgement.  You can have a soufflĂ© fall and still go to heaven.  Perversion, on the other hand, is evil. 

I think that is the point here.  Being foolish is not just an “Oh, well” moment.  It is a twisting and warping of the moral universe.  It has eternal consequences.

So?  Seek wisdom.  It is available.  It is not just another choice. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Fruit of the Mouth

(Proverbs 18:20 KJV)  A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.

I have heard of the fruit of the Spirit.  We have the fruit of righteousness and the obvious fruit of the womb.  What is this “fruit” (6529) of the “mouth” (6310)?  I could only find three places, all in Proverbs, where the Hebrew expression is used. 

Hebrews has a similar idea explained as worship,
(Hebrews 13:15 KJV)  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
We should be conscious about what our mouth puts out.  While the Bible does not specifically forbid some of the crude four letter words that we hear more frequently every day, it does seem to tell us we should speak with courtesy and respectful attitudes. 

So?  Watch your mouth.  What you say may come back to bite you and even worse may cast a cloud over your Lord. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Obedience Street

(Proverbs 17:11 KJV)  An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

Which comes first, rebellion or wickedness?  It might not seem to matter and in the end both go against God, but I think it is a matter of whether we are born with free will or whether we are locked into our destiny.

“Rebellion" (rebellious NASB) (4805) is a choice.  We face it every day in some area of our lives.  People are always trying to tell us what to do.  Some have the authority.  Some have the power.  Others are just pushing their luck.  We have a choice in how we respond.

“Evil” (7451b) is a condition of the heart.  All Christian denominations, whether they believe in free will or not, agree that in our natural state we have a sinful nature.  That is evil.  Without the grace of God it is our natural condition.  If we are saved we have entered into a new relationship with almighty God.  We are not longer evil but if we have free the choice to be rebellious is always with us.  God gives us direction in His word.  He speaks to us through preaching and the experiences of life.  The question is, “How will we respond?”

So?  Every day gives us options.  My prayer is that I will take the ones that go down Obedience Street rather than singing, “I did it my way.” 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sealed Lips Can Sink Ships

(Proverbs 16:30 KJV)  He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.

It is a good possibility that “moving” (compress NASB) (7169) does not mean to purse your lips but to keep quiet when something “evil” (perverse NASB) (8419) is being planned or carried out.  If there is a sin in the modern Christian church it is being quiet in the face of evil.  I am not talking about the quiet of a rabbit hiding in the bush while a wolf walks by.  I am talking about the quiet of the watchman when the enemy sneaks over the wall.  We have had leaders and intellectuals that have told us we should not be involved in the world.  We have been told not to judge.  There are times when that is the right thing to do but we have allowed the forces of evil to take over our schools, the media and many of our government offices by doing nothing.

The KJV has a poor translation here when it says “moving”.  The word means to compress.  Technically when you press you lips together they are moving but that is not what is being conveyed.

So?  Use a bit of discernment to know the difference between judging and proclaiming truth in the face of evil.  It is not comfortable.  It may be dangerous.  It must be done.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Adjectives and Nouns

(Proverbs 15:26 KJV)  The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.

In comparing the KJV and the NASB we see a different emphasis in the translation.  In the NASB it is the “plans” (thoughts KJV) (4284) and “words” (561) that are being evaluated as bad and good.  In the KJV it is the thinker and speaker.  The KJV uses all nouns and the NASB uses adjectives and nouns.  I don’t know enough Hebrew to figure that one out.  I would prefer one over the other in an inconsistent manner.

Perhaps that is one way in which the Holy Spirit helps us to apply scripture to our lives.  The core meaning is not changed but the insight for today might be different.  If I need to be convicted and brought to repentance, focusing on my sin might be best.  If I need a simple reminder in way of discipline, the behavior might be the focus.

So?  Evil words are evil words.  If they come out of my mouth there is a problem whether they are deliberate or accidental.  This does not let me make excuses either way. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fear Conformity

(Proverbs 14:16 KJV)  A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

The KJV is more accurate here.  It has “feareth” instead of the NASB’s “cautious” (3372a).  The word is used hundreds of times and the most common translation is a form of “fear”.  This is the only place the NASB uses “cautious”.  Go figure.

Notice though that fear is not a lack of courage or commitment.  It is a matter of wisdom and moral strength.  Usually the “evil” (7451b) way is the easy way, the common way, the way everyone else is going.  Often evil involves nothing more than conforming to the crowd.  There is a lost of pressure today for us to conform to evil on issues like homosexuality, fornication, drugs, abortion and the list goes on.  We are being silenced in the public square.

So?  Wisdom knows the right and follows it in spite of the consequences and pressures.  I am still not as strong as I would like but I expect to continue to make progress.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Flow of Wisdom

(Proverbs 13:14 NAS77)  The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn aside from the snares of death.

Today my attention was caught by the phrase “fountain (4726) of life (2425b)”.  It occurs five times, four of them are in Proverbs.  The KJV sometimes substitutes “well” or “wellspring” for “fountain”.  The idea is that wisdom is a constantly giving source.  The definition is either fountain or spring.  It has the idea of flowing and constant renewal.

This is why we need to be constantly in the word and attending worship where preaching is going on.  Wisdom has aspects of a reservoir but it is not stagnant and can’t just be stored up.  The problem with storage tanks is they reach capacity.  Often we have seen where large lakes used to store water are forced to let it go because heavy rain is expected and if they don’t get rid of some water the damn will break.  Another thought is that stagnant water is more inclined to pollution than flowing water. 

So?  Keep seeking and watch the needed wisdom being supplied on a day to day basis. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Results Reflect the Heart

(Proverbs 12:12 KJV)  The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.

The “wicked” (7563) takes, the “righteous” (6662) gives.  One dreams, the other produces.  We are again reminded that there are wicked and righteous in the world.  We are being told that their modus operandi is different. 

Both are conditions, and in reality, they are the only two choices.  We are either on the side of God or the side of Satan.  Some people are consumed with the horrors represented in satanic worship and the rituals of the occult.  What they miss is that people who refuse to bow their knee to God are living in the “blessing” of the devil.  He is quite content to keep the masses out of heaven.  If he can get a few to follow his rituals fine, but that is frosting on the cake.

Not only is our condition different but how that is expressed is different.

So?  Start with your heart.  It must be broken before almighty God.  Our knees must be bent.  Or sins must be forgiven.  And then the adventure really begins as we live that out in a world that runs by different rules.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Good Place to Start

(Proverbs 11:23 KJV)  The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

Is your “desire” (8378) “good” (2896b) because you are “righteous” (6662) or are you righteous because you are good?  Which comes first?  Which is the cause and which is the effect?  Is it a goal or a condition?  The clear statement is that they go together.

It is also not a guarantee that everything the righteous do will turn out good.  Even the best of intentions can fail or be misguided.  Good people can be manipulated.  To me welfare programs have been a total failure.  They have ended up damaging millions while they might help a few.  I think we have seen the same thing with civil rights activity like affirmative action.  They start out with the best of intentions and end up becoming tools of poverty and discrimination.

So?  We do need to think, observe and be discerning.  We cannot be naive and simplistically trusting.  At the same time we can take some comfort that if our hearts are right, our intentions will be for the good.  It is a place to start. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

You Don’t Need Their Help

(Proverbs 10:29 KJV)  The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

Who are these “workers (6466) of iniquity (205)”?  I did a search for the exact phrase and came up with five hits.  The one that gave me the most context for insight was in Isaiah,
(Isaiah 31:2 KJV)  Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
The “He” of this verse is God.  The leaders of Israel have appealed to Egypt to bail them out of a crisis instead of trusting and obeying the Lord.  In His wisdom, God is going to “bring evil” and it will be targeted not only toward the deviant leaders of Israel but towards those help.  The helpers, Egypt, are the “workers of iniquity.

We will always be able to find people who will help us rebel against God.  In the church we have had leaders who are concerned about being acceptable to the world.  They claim that their desire is to remove barriers that might keep people away from Jesus.  In reality they are covering up who Jesus is.  Jesus wants disciples, not seekers of the latest cool.

So?  Look inward for the values that shape us.  The latest polls and the opinions of social workers may be of interest but they are more entertainment than health food. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Agape Fear

(Proverbs 9:10 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

I am wondering if the  “fear” (3374) of the Lord shares a characteristic with the Greek agape.  Both are foundational and mentioned often, but what I am talking about is that both are a choice, not an emotion.  Both are concepts that have been polluted by our culture.

When people think of love they tend to be dominated by the romantic, Hollywood meaning of the word.  Think of the poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning which begins “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”  It is a beautiful poem full of beautiful ideas but there is no mention of the things you find in I Corinthians 13. 

We have the same thing happening to our understanding of fear.  We have come to define fear as something we experience at a noise in the night after we have seen a Freddy Krueger movie.  It is a craven, bone rotting chill that crumbles our inner sense of right.  That is totally opposed to the fear of God based on reverence and awe at His majesty.

So?  We chose to love.  We chose to fear.  Emotions are wonderful but don’t let them dominate you. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Take it or Leave It

(Proverbs 8:1 KJV)  Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

“Wisdom” (2451) is active.  It will not wait; it will “call” (7121).  This indicates the way in which the Holy Spirit is active trying to convict people of sin and draw them toward the Savior.  It indicates the way in which the Holy Spirit will bring to mind truth when we are before those who accuse us.  This speaks of the Advocate who comes along side to help, the Paraclete. 

It does not mean that everyone will hear, or, if they do hear, they will respond.  In the words of Jesus,
(Matthew 22:14 KJV)  For many are called, but few are chosen.
God wants all to be saved but in the interests of free will and genuine love He gives us the choice to respond and then makes His choice based on that.  People don’t always follow what they know to be best for them.  Watch the food we eat.  Note what we do for entertainment.  Hear all the excuses we come up with. 

So?  Wisdom speaks.  It is available.  Do we respond? 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ritual vs Righteousness

(Pro 7:14)  I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.

There have been times and places where the tithe and certain offerings were treated like a tax and not a response of gratitude.  In those cases they would come and get it if you did not send it in.  To God those kind of “gifts” are empty.  There is another kind of giving that I think God would consider an abomination and that is spoken of here.  Empty ritual has no relationship to righteousness.  Take this woman as an example.

She is at best a prostitute and even worse, an adulteress.  Notice that adultery is one of the Big Ten and prostitution isn’t.  In spite of that obvious evil in her life she went to worship and went through the expected ritual.  It meant nothing.  That is one reason I don’t automatically assume someone is living an upright life if they are up front in church.  God will not be mocked.  Consider the words of God Himself:
(Malachi 1:10 NAS77)  "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you.
So?  Watch lives not public performance.  In the same way we need to make sure that our lives are consistent with what God wants others to see. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ant Lessons

(Pro 6:6)  Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Where I have moved in Texas we have a scourge called fire “ants” (5244).  They can build hills over night at any location.  I have had some over a foot across and four or five inches high.  One of the things that this type ant does is defend the home nest.  I am told to make sure that I don’t stand on one of their mounds because they will swarm me and, if my information is correct, they will wait until some mysterious signal and start biting at the same time.  The pain of the bite is where they get their name.

I am sure that Solomon does not want us to go out and start biting people like it is a zombie apocalypse.  Here he talks about being industrious and in the next verse he praises how they gather food.  We could also praise their cooperation and defense of their homes.

So?  Lessons in life are all around us if we will but look. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Its All Part of Omniscience

(Pro 5:21)  For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

We don’t hear the word “Providence” much any more.  We have a lot of synonyms but the problem, and blessing, of synonyms is that they bring out nuances, not the real emphasis.  Part of the providence of God is that He is omniscient.  That is the big word we use meaning He knows all that there is to know.  The philosophers get off in the weeds telling us that this also includes knowing all the possible things that cannot be true or possible.  Thus God would know what you would look like if you had three heads.  Such concepts bring joy to philosophers.

For me it is enough to know that God has His eye on me.  That can be an encouragement not to wander.  It can keep me coloring between the lines.  It can also be an assurance.

So?  When you check the weather in the morning remember that the weather man is just making an educated guess.  God could tell you the precise high for the day but that would take the mystery out of life.  Enjoy. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Passing It On

(Proverbs 4:10 KJV)  Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.

Did you have any from the previous generation who would tell tall tales or at least stories that were meant to jerk you chain?  How about the one where they had to walk five miles to school through the blizzard while they sweated under the hot sun.  And it was also up hill both ways.  I find myself starting things with, “When I was a kid...”.  It is a human foible. 

When Solomon is telling his son to listen to what he says, I don’t think he is talking about every word he says.  He mentions his “sayings” (561).  I think it is like when the Pope speaks ex cathedra.  Every word the pope says is not considered infallible.  It is only when he declares he is speaking from the thrown that it falls into that category.

So?  It would be nice to think that people hung on every word we say or that everything we say is worth hanging on to.  It won’t happen.  Listen carefully.  Speak carefully.  Pass it on.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Bi-Verbal

(Proverbs 3:18 KJV)  She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

Notice that there are two verbs that are vital to know wisdom and have it effect your life.  First it says we must “take hold” (2388).  Then it says we are to “hold fast” (8551).  If you come from the Reformed tradition you would tend to think that the second condition is optional.  Since I am Wesleyan I tend to think that both are foundational.  The world is full of people who will acknowledge that the moral law of the Bible is a good place to start.  They tend to go at it cafeteria style.  I believe that the Bible is to be taken in its entirety.  That means we also have a duty to retain wisdom, as the KJV tells us.

So?  Get started if you are still dithering.  Once you start don’t stop until you reach what Paul would call the mature man.  Wisdom is waiting. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Slow Leak

(Proverbs 2:18 KJV)  For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.

The “her” of this verse is the “strange woman” of verse 16.  The obvious is a prostitute, the principle is any priority or action which causes us to leave the way that God has for us.  This verse talks about a gradual movement.  It doesn’t talk about jumping or exploding.  This is a stealth attack.  It works so well because it appeals to our natural inclinations.  We want comfort and security.  We want to be liked.  We want success.  The strange women of our life keep appealing to those natural desires.

Because it is gradual and subtle, we must be on the alert.  This is why it is so important to spend regular time in worship.  This is why it is important to gather together with believers.  The Holy Spirit is committed to helping us wake up and smell the roses or notice that the roses have no smell so they are fake.

So?  It won’t happen unless you plan for it.  Set aside some time on a regular basis to get in touch with the One who does not lead to death. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sheol Is Real

(Proverbs 1:12 KJV)  Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

A theme in horror tales that I find makes me uncomfortable is being buried “alive” (2416a).  My imagination can really take some leaps when it gets in my mind.  I think others are the same, but this is not talking about that.  This is talking about after death.  The KJV “grave” (7585) is sheol, which is transliterated in the NASB.  This is the Hades of the NT.  The Bible assumes that physical death is not the end and that there are two different destinations.

It always amazes me how people are willing to believe in heaven but have a hard time with hell.  The Bible teaches both concepts but too many want to pick and choose what they believe. 

So?  I am not sure how useful scare tactics are in getting people genuinely converted.  After all, people still go down into dark cellars after all the bad ends that leads to in movies.  It doesn’t hurt to be honest.  Maybe it will wake someone up.