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, April 23, 2018

World Class

(Proverbs 23:27 KJV)  For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.

The “whore” (harlot NASB) (2181) is both literal and figurative.  In looking at the definitions in my Hebrew study tools I noticed that one usage of this word is “temple prostitute.”  The religion of the Bible is one of the few religions of its day, maybe the only one, that did not allow for religious sex.  The Greeks and Romans had prostitutes affiliated with their religions somewhere.  It was common to take and combine the sacred and the profane.

We like that.  God forbids it.  We like to take parts of life that God has established and twist them just enough to make them sin.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much.  Here it talks about sex.  What about our giving?  It is expected for God’s people to tithe and give offerings.  There is some debate about the tithe for Christians but most of that falls into this category of not wanting to follow something that is pretty simple to understand but hard to do.  There are others who take the idea of stewardship and twist it into ways of milking the faithful and foolish.  I remember a man in a parking lot telling me if I would just put some money in an envelope, write “seed faith” on it and mail it to his favorite televangelist, I would get rich. 

That is a deep pit indeed.

So?  Look for the heart of God and the principles He is trying to teach.  Our secular training will tell us things like “God would not expect that” and “Don’t be a legalist”.  God will say, “Do it”. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Please and Thank You

(Proverbs 22:29 KJV)  Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Vocabulary can be interesting.  Words change.  I don’t know if you have noticed but even today the English spell words different than the Americans.  For instance in England you have colour and in the U.S. you have color.  I don’t know what the contemporary definition of “mean” (2823) is across the Atlantic but for us it has changed since 1611.  That is why the NASB has “obscure”.  We tend to think of “mean” as being deliberately cruel and enjoying inflicting pain.  It used to imply being limited as in being a “person of small means” was a phrase for poverty.

The implication is that poor people do not have the cultural foundation to know how to act properly.  That is a cultural understanding more than a Biblical understanding.  While poverty may keep you from having extra sets of dishes and limit you to used clothing stores it doesn’t keep you from saying “please” and “thank you”. 

So?  Practice the courtesy of Christ even if you have the bank account of the prodigal son.  It doesn’t cost anything but it says a lot about whom your master is. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

History Lessons

(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.

We are often reminded to pray for our leaders.  That is good advice.  Too often we criticize and complain and don’t apply the prayer solution.  That applies when we have a president we agree with and equally when we have one that we think is on Satan’s staff.  What we need to keep remembering is that God is capable of guiding their decisions or neutralizing their actions.  We tend to forget that.

Think of history.  Think of the ways in which even leaders that rejected God did things that have no explanation to a sane mind.  Why did Titus pull back the Roman army that surrounded Jerusalem and allow the Christians to scatter?  Why was Yorktown in the American Revolution one of the few times that a French fleet defeated an English task force?  Why did Hitler invade Russia when all he had to do was be patient while he dealt with the British in the east?  How many times have leaders changed course and we don’t even know about it.

So?  You may not be into history but you need to understand that the hand of God “turns” (5186) any leader or follower He wants.  Our main concern is to be obedient in the daily events and let God direct the sweep of history.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Integrity Walk

(Proverbs 20:7 KJV)  The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

“Integrity” (8537) is a concept that our culture has lost.  We use the word, but to quote a now famous line from Princess Bride, “You keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.”  The root meaning of the word is completeness.  I think that infers we are talking about a complete character.  I think it infers we are talking about a person who considers every action in relation to the eternal standards.  I think it infers someone who knows the goal and is always moving in that direction.

That means that when it seems like a little deception, minimal effort, or deliberate misunderstanding is okay, the person with integrity will not take the pill but will walk with uprightness.  In our modern culture it is hard but I think it has always been hard.  We tend to think that we have it harder than our grandparents.  Not really.  We just have different challenges and modified temptations.  The choices are still the same.

So?  Always remember that God does not play games and He will not be mocked.  Keep the goal in mind and your eyes on the road. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ain’t No Stormtroopers Here

(Proverbs 19:5 KJV)  A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.

When we talk about the sin of lying we always want to play jailhouse lawyer and ask about times when it might be necessary to lie to protect a life.  The example often brought up is the people hiding Jews from the Nazis and saying, “No, we don’t know about any Jews in the area.”  Somehow I don’t think God has any problem with that and doesn’t even break stride if He ever goes out for a walk when that happens.  In fact I think He might even say, “Good job.”  And let’s be honest here, after all it is only you and me, when was the last time you had to lie to the Nazis about the Jew hiding in your attic?

We may be really good at rationalizing why we are lying.  We forget that God knows our hearts and our minds and is not amused when we become spin doctors or play politician.

So?  Get it into your head that a lie is a lie.  Don’t lie to yourself on this issue.  Jesus did not say, “I am a way, a little white lie and one of the choices”.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Counter-Culture

(Proverbs 18:22 KJV)  Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

My temptation is to understand and interpret this verse in the atmosphere of how the day has gone.  If being married has been pleasant I am inclined to say “Amen!”  If it has been a bad day I question the wisdom of Solomon.  Neither should be the basis for evaluation of the Biblical principles.

Marriage is an institution established by God.  It is used by Paul in Ephesians to illustrate the church, which was also established by God.  It is another area where Christians are at odds with their world.

So?  Although marriage is not for everyone it is a baseline with God’s blessing. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Happy Hearts

(Proverbs 17:22 KJV)  A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

This morning I was reading in the Amplified Bible and this verse seemed to jump out at me. 
(Proverbs 17:22 AMP) A happy heart is a good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing but a broken spirit dries the bones.
What got me was the “happy” (joyful NASB) 8056) “heart” (3820).  I have been struck by the way in which a good morning of worship can keep me from being depressed and dragged down during the day.  God wants me to have more than avoiding defeat.  He wants me to live a life of victory. 

So?  That does not mean victory in the sense of the treaty that ends a war but victory in the sense of D-Day.  There were many battles to come but there was a belief that the allies would win.  If I am willing to keep my focus on the Lord Jesus, I can live with a happy heart. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Passive Aggressive

(Proverbs 16:32 KJV)  He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

I have been accused of being passive-aggressive because I refuse to let my anger loose.  It seems that following the Biblical mandate here and numerous other places is a psychological disorder.  Of course the people who accuse me of this are usually people who are trying to get me to blow up, yell and scream and maybe throw things.  Some people are able to live that way.  Then they “kiss and make up”.  I guess it works for them.  It doesn’t work for me.  I would rather take the cause of the disruption and examine it to see if I deserve what I am getting.

Is it because I read about turning the other cheek and adopted the principle or is it because I am a repressed person and it fits my personality?  I don’t know.  I do know that anger has its place.  I don’t think it is in winning a few points.  Even when we are angry I don’t see explosive verbiage and physical violence as being acceptable. 

So?  I could be wrong.  I could be passive-aggressive.  I am not so worried about being better than the mighty.  I just want to be upright. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Beyond the Headlines

(Proverbs 15:28 KJV)  The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.

I have found that a time of daily worship is necessary for me and it needs to be in my morning.  How else can I keep from going off half cocked and full of myself.  I like both translations, the “ponders” (1897) of the NASB and the “studieth” of the KJV.  To the world this would simply have the idea of pausing, counting to ten and picking our words before we respond.  What we see is that we are to turn our focus to the word of God and listen with our inner ear for the direction of the Holy Spirit. 

We face a lot of barriers to a victorious life.  I find that I can’t trust the headlines and need to keep looking behind what is being blared for the real facts.  In that process I also need to keep looking to the reminders that God moves in mysterious ways and my days are in His hands

So?  It doesn’t improve the stock market or stop the saber rattling.  It does remind me that God has seen it all before and is still in charge.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sensibly Prudent

(Proverbs 14:18 KJV)  The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

A good question for the day would be “What does it mean to be prudent (6175)?”  The NASB update of 1995 changed the translation to “sensible”.  At first I thought it was an accommodation to the culture of the day that thinks being a prude is negative.  In looking at the Hebrew definition I concluded that they did not go far enough.  It means being sensible in the crafty, sly and shrewd sense. 

We are not to be deer in the headlights.  Part of what that means is we avoid the lifestyle of the world around us but we might need to do it in such a way as to not call attention to ourselves.  I am not what I would consider a hard core survivalist.  I don’t have a garage full of Mountain House or MREs.  I can’t make a fire with sticks, although I will confess I have watched it done.  The thing this verse tells me is that I would not tell you if I was.  The advice I come across from people who prepare is, “Don’t tell anyone.” 

So?  We are to be witnesses and share the love of Christ.  We are not to be foolish in dealing with a world that thinks the redistribution of wealth starts with taking what I have to give to the guy who never saved a penny. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Folly Literature

(Proverbs 13:16 KJV)  Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.

“Folly” (200) is something that no one likes to talk about, or write about.  It was interesting to me that this word is used 25 times in the Hebrew and 23 are in Proverbs.  Its root word {191} shows the same pattern, 20 out of 27 in Proverbs.  We talk about Proverbs being part of the Wisdom Literature.  Maybe we could call it the Folly Literature. 

Folly seems to be a choice.  Some might have more of a tendency but it comes down to our preferences and priorities.  We decide what parties to attend.  We stop to watch when we should move on.  We click the link on the web site.  We ignore the speed limit.  It is a national past time to blame other individuals or institutions for our problems, and there is often some reason for that, but ultimately we are the ones who perpetuate the folly.

So?  If you are reading Proverbs you are aware of the kind of life you should be living.  No one else can live it for you.  I don’t know about you but one of the struggles I have is in accepting responsibility instead of making excuses.  Folly. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Words Have Meaning

(Proverbs 12:14 KJV)  A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him.

Why do some translators refuse to use the great word pictures given in scripture?  Here the NASB has “fruit (6529) of his words (6310)” and then gives us a marginal note that “words” is literally “mouth”.  If that is what is says, why not translate it that way like the KJV?  There is much more to the influence of what we say than the words.  One reason I don’t like the telephone is that I can’t pick up the body language.  There is much that can be added to the meaning of a phrase by the tilt of the head or the raising of the eyebrows.  You can say something and read something and get totally different responses because it isn’t just the words.

That is why a child can say something and the response is “Isn’t that cute?”  If a teenager says it the response is “You are grounded for a week.”  The child might need to be corrected but he does not need to be disciplined.  One of the burdens of adulthood is being responsible for what we say.  That means we need to be careful in what we say.

So?  What I am taking to my mental file drawer is to examine my real motive for making a joke or expressing an opinion.  There are probably many laughs that no one needs to have. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Generating with Generosity

(Proverbs 11:25 KJV)  The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

Which comes first, being “liberal” (generous NASB) (1293) or being “fat” (prosperous NASB)
 (1878)?  My mind turns to the concept of tithing.  It is amazing how many people change the meaning of the tithe, one tenth, to “whatever you can afford”.  The assumption is that poor people cannot afford to tithe.  Since we are no longer under the law they are free to make their case but this verse adds a bit of spice to the argument that people might be poor because they do not tithe.

My concern is not tithing.  That is between you and the Lord but the point being made here is that God wants us to be generous to people in need.  He wants us to be generous in general.  This is not a crass, vending machine promise.  This is a principle of the universe, laid down by God.  I guess it might be a corollary of the golden rule.

So?  Simple.  Be generous.  Share your wealth of money and time.  Be a blessing.  If done with the right attitude it will be rewarded. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Just Mouth

(Proverbs 10:31 KJV)  The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.

I want to live a “just” (righteous NASB) (6662) life.  I want to be pleasing to God.  The Bible seems to indicate that we will have times when we let Him down even though our hearts can be cleansed by faith.  In spite of that we can live upright, blameless lives.  One of the ways in which we can see if we are bringing joy to the heart of God is by examining what comes out of our “mouth” (6310).

Several areas come to mind.  Do we participate in the vulgar, coarse vocabulary of the people around us?  It is true we can throw in a lot of dirt without taking the name of the Lord in vain, but I have a feeling that there is a lot of our everyday language that leaves something to be desired.  There are also the times when we say things that are designed to injure.  It doesn’t really matter what our provocation is, agape is not provoked.  Lies are an abomination to the Lord.  It doesn’t matter if you are spinning or “joking”, a lie is a lie.

So?  I can think of places I need to apply this in my own life. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Laws of Physics vs Wisdom

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

Wisdom is not for the ages.  It is for me.  It is to be applied to my life.  It is to set my priorities and impel my action.  It is personal. 

God is all of the omni's.  He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.  What makes Him unique is that He is also personal.  That does not mean He is just a big version of man.  It means He is aware of Himself and is not just a force of nature.  He set the laws of physics in place to generally run the universe, except when a miracle is needed.  Wisdom is the laws of physics written in small case so that they apply to us as individuals.

So?  Don’t get too caught up in figuring out how the Big Bang happened or how time can slow down as you go faster.  Wisdom is to remind you how to treat your neighbor or run your business.  Use it.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Look for the Gates

(Proverbs 8:3 KJV)  She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

What does a “gate” (opening NASB) (6310) involve?  The Hebrew word literally means “mouth”.  I think we can see how this would apply here.  We run into openings in our life on a regular basis.  Even I, retired and by nature sedentary, regularly speak to people I have never seen before on a regular basis from waitresses to doctors.  I go in stores I have never visited.  I visit web sites that are new to me.  Every one of these is an opportunity to reach out and touch the world.  It could be a new relationship of any kind.  It could be a new job or position, a new acquaintance, a new home or just standing in line with “new” people.

It would be encouraging if we would learn to look at every new restaurant as a chance to spread a little wisdom.  I watched a friend do this the other day.  He is at a stage where he is thinking about the Old Testament dietary laws and their possible benefits.  God did not make them up arbitrarily and although they are not binding on those of us outside the Old Covenant they still had a reason.  Right now he is avoiding bacon and in the ordering at the restaurant the waiter got concerned because he thought there might be a little bacon grease in something and the problem might be an allergy.  It lead to a good discussion and wisdom was dispensed in a polite and civil manner.

So?  Look for the gates and the opening to dispense the truth of God.  It might be love.  It might be morality.  It might be eternal. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Bed Spreads and Bed Bugs

(Proverbs 7:16 KJV)  I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.

Have you ever visited a home that has covers on all the living room furniture.  Maybe your home is like that.  Sometimes you never know about it because they take them off for your visit.  One of the purposes of the coverings is to protect the furniture.  That is a legitimate reason to cover something.  Another legitimate reason is to make old furniture look presentable because you can’t afford anything better.  A beautiful tablecloth can make an old laminated kitchen table look elegant.  Too often the cover is to conceal the truth and deceive.

We can do this in our lives.  We can take the decayed morals we live every day and dress them up for Sunday or for a family dinner.  We can live one way publically and another way when only God knows we are being deceptive.  Jesus gave an example of this kind of behavior.
(Mark 7:11 KJV)  But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
Here a man who is responsible for caring for his aged parents is instead putting it into the building fund at church.  Perhaps it could be a father ignoring the needs of his children.  God is not amused.  Think of a hotel that covers their bedbugs with expensive linens.  It doesn’t help.

So?  You can fool people.  You cannot fool God.  Ultimately you cannot fool your own heart.  I need to think about what I am covering up in my life. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Expiration Dates

(Proverbs 6:8 KJV)  Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

There is a time and a place for everything and it would be good for us to pay attention.  I don’t know if you use coupons or not but some of them have expiration dates on them.  Sometimes the store will ignore it but other times they will not give you the discount.  It is too late.  I am getting ready to go vote.  Many areas have what is called early voting but I don’t know of any that have late voting.  If we miss the day we wait until next time.  Ants know this by instinct.  We need to think about it.

What kind of things must be taken care of before it is too late?  Some things have a specific date such as voting or getting a two for one deal.  Others you don’t know about until it is too late.  It is hard to tell someone you love them after they die. 

So?  Take a few moments to look at priorities.  What must be done today?  Consider the unexpected.  Pray as you plan. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Gaming the System

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

The pagan world we live in asks some of the same questions that Christians ask.  They want to know what is going wrong and how do you fix it.  One of their solutions deals with education.  The lower classes who have no hope just need to get job training and they will begin to do better.  Their problem is lack of opportunity because of lack of education.  Yet we continue to throw billions of dollars at schools and things only keep getting worse. 

The problem is not lack of education but lack of the character to make use of the opportunities offered.  I see it in the church and community in terms of spiritual maturity.  People are always claiming they didn’t know.  Some will still try that when they stand before the judgment seat.  I don’t know if He will bother, but I see Jesus with a big video screen where He plays back the many times that they were offered “instruction” (4148) and they were too busy flirting with the girl beside them to listen.  Do you remember the Bible reading contests that we used to have in Sunday School?  No?  We were to keep track of the number of verses we read during the week and the one who read the most verses got a prize.  The hope was that we would read the book of Romans or work through Isaiah.  The reality was that we turned to John 11:35 and read it a hundred times.

(John 11:35 KJV)  Jesus wept.

And He did weep because He was offering us an opportunity and we made it a game.

So?  God will not be mocked.  He is Holy.  He is just.  Part of that justice is that He will offer us the chance to listen and learn.  Then comes the judgement. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sometimes the Fourth Time Is the Charm

(Proverbs 4:12 KJV)  When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.

Have you ever claimed that you followed the directions and the item still did not go together correctly?  Think of toys assembled at Christmas.  For me this would be true of almost any auto repair that I attempt.  It never seems to come together.  I recently built some shelves in the garage.  I had an idea of what I was trying to do and yet I always seemed to be one board short or have the wrong length of screw.  I don’t know how many trips I made to the material store.  I don’t know how many boards I needed to lengthen.  But I got the job done.

Was my project “straitened” (impeded NASB) (6887a)?  Yes, because I interpret this as slowing me down and making things difficult.  The word has more an idea of stop or prevent.  I was out of my element.  If you want me to write a paragraph, consider it done.  If you want me to cut a board straight, go away and come back in a week and we will see if it is done.  Sometimes wisdom gives us the blueprint to keep going.  Sometimes wisdom gives us a standard that lets us know we are still not square.

So?  Wisdom will keep us going until we arrive.  I would rather take the express but sometimes the local is the only train available. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Big Truths

(Proverbs 3:20 KJV)  By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Keep in mind that the Bible is not a scientific text book.  It is not a “How to” book.  It is not a collection of bedtime stories.  It is not a philosophical tome.  Although it may have aspects of all those things it is basically the written words that God knew we would need to find Him and live as He wants us to live.  It is a book of the big truths and concepts.  Those big ideas are tied to the mundane in a way we can understand but everything is based on eternal principles.

Truth exists.  Untruth must also be possible.  I have heard several places that if I say the beach is to the right and you say it is straight ahead we can’t both be speaking truth.  One of us is in error.  Thus the nature of God cannot be as both the Bible and Koran describe Him if they are different.  He cannot be personal and impersonal as we see in the difference between Christianity and Buddhism. 

God has passed the “knowledge” (1847) we need to us in the Bible.  How He “founded” (3245) the “earth” (776) (verse 19) we do not need to know in order to be faithful husbands and solid parents.  We are welcome to study science and seek for explanations but it isn’t required to walk in righteousness.

So?  Don’t be too impressed by the latest scientific theory.  If science is doing its job the next hypothesis will go in the opposite direction.  It is the nature of science.  God never changes and we can take that knowledge to the final test. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

For Example

(Proverbs 2:20 KJV)  That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.

At times it seems like there are no healthy role models for us to follow.  Lets face it, that is the usual situation.  As I write the headlines are full of corruption and deceit.  The term “fake news” is something that we can all understand and it is more than just having opinions we don’t like being published.  In this chapter if you look back toward verse 14 you will be reminded that there are people who delight in planning and doing evil.  It does not matter what they are doing.

This verse does not demand a role model.  It doesn’t give names or titles of whom to follow.  In fact we may be the only one on the road.  We are still to follow it as it is laid out before us in Scripture.  It might be a good day to review the words of Joshua,
(Joshua 24:15 KJV)  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
So?  Walking in righteousness depends on our decisions, not on our situation.  I pray we will choose wisely.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Lot of Learning

(Proverbs 1:14 KJV)  Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

This is the “lot” (1486) of chance.  There are times in life when you honestly don’t know which way to go.  You have studied, meditated and prayed.  You have no clear sense of direction and yet a decision is necessary.  God gives you permission to flip a coin, which is our modern version of casting lots.  It is not to be done casually or because we are lazy or because we don’t like what God is telling us to do.

This verse is a negative application.  It means when we take the chance by trusting people that clearly don’t have God’s will on their agenda.  Too often we get more involved than we should with people we are thrown together with.

So?  Be cautious of the commitments that come your way.  Trust in the wrong places can lead to disaster.