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.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Do You Solemnly Swear...

(Proverbs 25:18 KJV)  A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.

I read this as a general condemnation of lying.  I still think that is true but as I looked into the meaning and uses of “false” (8267) “witness” (5707) I found that there are at least two approaches to this problem.  The other word I found for this was usually translated “lie” or “liar” (3576).  It is a more basic, straightforward word and is wrong.  The term in this verse has more of an idea of lying in court or under oath.

Either way it is deception and violates the holiness that we are to live.  We cannot hide behind the legal backdoor and say we were not under oath or we had our fingers crossed.  That may be okay for a child of Hell but it is not acceptable for a follower of the Most High God.

So?  Basic honesty is to be a part of our character.  Don’t accept the excuses of our culture or make up your own. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Bag Full of Worries

(Proverbs 24:19 KJV)  Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;

I think we have a tendency to “fret” (2734) over a lot more than “evil men” (evildoers NASB) (7489).  As I look back over the past month I see concerns about our new grandchild, the unknown of flying to a foreign country, car problems, the labyrinth of renewing medications, taxes, centipedes in the driveway and wasps in the kitchen and the list goes on.  We always seem to find a bag full of worries.

We are told to fret not.  Fretting is grounded in a lack of trust in God’s providence.  Maybe you don’t have this problem.  It seems to me I have met a few people who are so in tune with Jesus that they never worry.  My conviction is that they either have short memories or are so naive they never understand the situations facing them.  I could be wrong.

So?  Start your day with some thanksgiving.  Remind yourself of all the things you have worried about for no reason.  Fret not.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Small Deposits

(Proverbs 23:28 KJV)  She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.

Sin “surely” (637) waits for us.  The KJV approaches it with the word “also” which is also the most common translation in the NASB.  It is almost a casual, “Oh, by the way...”  Have you ever had that happen in your life?  Have you ever purchased something based on the price you see and be rudely awakened by the final real price.  It happened to me recently.  I was looking at some bookshelves on line and comparing features and prices.  The materials in the cheap ones were questionable.  The price on the solid oak was national debt style.  At one site I saw a price that sounded really great.  The more I saw, the better I liked it.  Eventually the cold water arrived.  The number I was getting excited about had some small print I had missed.  It was one word, “deposit”.  They wanted what I considered a high price just to start talking to me.

So?  Sin is like that.  We usually miss the fine print.  The cost is more than we can afford. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dispensations

(Proverbs 22:1 KJV)  A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

My mind is on grace this morning.  I have a friend who is opening a discussion with me about dispensationalism.  It is at the beginning stages but if I am hearing him correctly he is saying that the Old Testament is all about works while the New Testament is about grace.  I am aware of the general statement that we are under grace not works.  My conflict is that I believe that even the Old Testament covenant was dependent on grace.

This verse brings this up from the word “favor” (2580).  The KJV translates it “grace” 38 times and “favor” 26 times.  The NASB goes with “favor” 51 times and “grace” 8.  The point of the concept is that it is a gift given by God not a payoff we have earned.  In reality that applies under the Law as much as the Gospel.

So?  I will continue to be aware of my unworthiness and the free gift of salvation.  I will continue to consider this idea of dispensations but I see it as more a straining after gnats than a deep pool of wisdom.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Right Eyes

(Proverbs 21:2 KJV)  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

Does this mean that we are never “right” (3477)?  No, it doesn’t say that.  What it is saying is that we have a tendency to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.  It isn’t even conscious.  It is automatic.  If your “heart” (3820) is “right” (3477) then the chances are that your instincts are good.  Your conscience is engaged and effective.  Your priorities are in line.  God is pleased because you have allowed Him to do the overhaul that was needed.

Of course part of that right heart is being willing to listen to the counsel of others and question your own rightness.  With listening comes a willingness to change. 

So?  Has God recalibrated your heart?  We have theological terms such as regeneration but you need to understand those are Biblical terms too.  Regeneration is to re-generate or re-create.  In everyday terms that means born again.  If you have not been there maybe it is time. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nose Holders

(Proverbs 20:8 KJV)  A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.

Although the words don’t appear here this is really an if/then statement.  We usually look at the total statement and come to the conclusion that the job of political leaders is to fight evil and reinforce good.  That is fine as far as it goes but there are some conditions in this that we should be thinking about as we approach the elections that are coming.  Keep in mind that there are always elections coming.  They may only be for school  board but there are elections on an almost constant basis.

If we do not figure the moral condition of candidates we are not doing our job.  I understand the problems.  We are not to judge.  Okay, so do you pick a blind person to drive your car home?  Do you ask someone who has problems with coordination to do your surgery?  We judge all the time.  The problem is not making judgments it is in making them in a self-righteous way.  Look at the requirements for elders if you don’t believe me.

When we get past that hurdle we come up with the reality that we usually only have the choices of degree of unrighteousness.  We live in a representative democracy.  God has put us here and given us not only the liberty but the responsibility.  That may change some day and we will adjust just as people have done through the ages but until that day we are called to pick leaders who embrace the least evil.  When kids would ask me how I could vote for Bob Dole I would tell them I didn’t need anything more than Bill Clinton to make me choose Dole.

So?  Grow up and realize that sometimes our choice is not between organic tofu and Twinkies.  Usually it is from what is on the shelf.  Pray for guidance, if necessary hold your nose, and make a choice. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Long Live the King

(Proverbs 19:6 KJV)  Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

Unlike the Constitution the Bible is not a political document.  Both are covenants but have different parameters and purposes.  The Bible does not teach us about democracy.  It does not give clear responsibilities to specific political offices.  Yet it is full of principles and statements that give us important guidelines.  Some we have embraced.  Our idea of “all men are created equal” is a direct application of the ground being level at the foot of the cross and “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  That principle was what eventually led to the end of slavery.

Other assumptions of the Bible we reject as cultural or historical.  I am not sure that is correct, but that is the way it is.  One of those you find in this verse.  The NASB hides it here but the phrase “generous man” (5081) has the marginal reading of “noble”.  That is the most common translation followed by “princes”.  The KJV gets it spot on.  The Bible seems to assume a class system that we have rejected.  In fact the Constitution specifically says we shall not give “titles of nobility”.

So?  It isn’t a major issue for us now but we need to be aware that democracy and republics are not matters of doctrine and rejecting them is not heresy.  Keep that in mind if we ever lose the glorious liberty we have had for two hundred years. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Poor Example

(Proverbs 18:23 KJV)  The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.

Is this good or bad?  Is one being praised?  The Bible is full of concern for the “poor” (7326) and warnings for the “rich” (6223).  At the same time it tells us
(Acts 10:34 KJV)  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
God is not going to judge us on our bank balance or lack of bank balance.  He will judge us on how we treat each other.  The reason rich and poor are brought up as examples so often is that we tend to respond to our bank balances and judge each other that way.  How often have you seen people sought out for their opinions because they drive fancy cars or never seem to shop the sales.  This is not just a hangup of the wealthy.  I can remember my classes full of students receiving free lunches and living in subsidized housing who would laugh at me when I said I shopped at thrift stores.

So?  Humility and righteousness are usually expressed through the polite answer and turned cheek. Even if we are not financially poor we should be poor in spirit. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Go Forth and Do Good

(Proverbs 17:13 KJV)  Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.

This verse is a variation on a theme that God keeps trying to get across to us.  Are you old enough to remember the song “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love”?  Christians are supposed to be different.  Actually, since this is in the Old Testament, Jews are also expected to be different.  Our guiding principle in relationships is love.  In the Old Testament that is chesed, loving kindness.  In the New it is agape love. 

While there is a bit of assurance in this that when people do us wrong there will be payback, in this location it can serve as a reminder that we need to be careful not to take advantage of people who do us “good” (2899b).  We have looked at other verses that remind us that we are to love our enemies and not rejoice in their tragedy.  This reminds us to reward good with good.  There is no qualification on whom is doing the good.

So?  Go forth and do good, to everybody.  Do double good to those who are good to you. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Destiny of Marinara

(Proverbs 16:33 KJV)  The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

Is there such a thing as chance or luck?  I did a quick search for the two words and found only a few for chance and none for luck.  The few that I did find seemed to have the idea of an unplanned meeting.  The only verse that I could find that reinforced our idea was,
(Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV)  I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
The pagan world had the idea of fate and the Fates, three harpies that wove the destiny of all men and women.  You could not escape your fate. 

This verse reminds us that what may look like an accident still has the hand of God in it.  That of course must be entwined with the concept of free will and our abilities to make decisions because we are created in the image of God.

So?  God may not be directly guiding every drop of marinara sauce when you eat pasta.  He will let you get it on your shirt.  The point is that if it is absolutely vital to your eternal destiny and ultimate happiness to come away from the Italian restaurant spot free, it will happen. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Who?

(Proverbs 15:29 KJV)  The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

This verse implies and other verses clearly state that, except for the prayer of repentance, God does not hear the prayers of those who reject Him.  Now I have a question.  When rejecters pray and seem to get answers, where do those answers come from?  An extension of that is the question that arises in our observations of society and the lack of justice:  Why are so many rich people evil?  Why do cheaters seem to prosper in spite of the childhood pronouncement that they don’t? 

If God is not the source of their prosperity and wealth, who is?

So?  Be careful what you wish for.  If you have drifted away from listening to what Proverbs calls the Law or we would talk about as the word, if God is not listening, if you are living in rebellion, who wants you to be satisfied? 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Smug Does Not Attract

(Proverbs 14:19 KJV)  The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

I don’t know about you but I like this.  The problem is that if I like it too much I am confessing that I am neither “good” (2896a) nor “righteous” (6662).  One of the basic understandings of the Bible is that we are to want the best for others.  We should not want them to come crawling to us.  We are not to be smug when it turns out that we are the only one who filled our gas tank before the station ran out.  This is more along the lines of making it through a rocky time in your marriage and having people turn to you in their crisis.

I think of some friends who lost a baby.  Everything was great up until the day of delivery then suddenly the baby strangled on it’s chord.  It was a tragedy.  They handled it in righteousness and faith.  As a result another couple came to the Lord and are still serving 30 years later. 

So?  Humility is not smug but it is attractive.  We need to be careful not to be self-righteous.  It isn’t pretty nor attractive. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Agents of Change

(Proverbs 13:17 KJV)  A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.

I noticed another difference in the two agents represented here.  The results are obviously different but there is also the implication of whom is effected by their witness.  Notice that the “wicked” (7563) causes unhappy results for himself and the “faithful” (529) brings blessings to others. 

Some of this is focus.  Selfishness is one of the attributes of the world and Satan’s minions.  This was illustrated in the chapter I read yesterday,
(Proverbs 12:10 KJV)  A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
It is the reason that so many ideas that start out as glorious dreams, like the welfare system, end up destroying more lives than they help.  It is why the government cannot pass a budget without all kinds of pork and waste. 

Some of this is the domino theory in action.  It is what I call the “Problem of Good”.  This is my response to the philosophical issue of “The Problem of Evil”.  If you don’t remember that from Philosophy 101, don’t worry about it.  In spite of all that the evil of history, at this point we tend to point out Hitler, good continues to exist.  When we allow ourselves to be faithful to God’s calling He makes it work.

So?  Be an ambassador of faithfulness.  Change your world whether you plan it or not. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Straight Is Right

(Proverbs 12:15 KJV)  The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

I don’t like to admit it but I think there is a bit of the “fool” (191) in all of us.  I am guessing about you.  I am sure about myself.  I recoil at the thought but I am acutely aware of how I think I am “right” (3477) most of the time.  It might help to understand this Hebrew word a little bit.  The basic meaning is straight and upright.  At heart it is a moral quality.  It is the “right” in “righteousness”.  It is not like the right answer in math.  It is more the right reasons for how you vote. 

The Christian life is a constant journey, one step at a time.  In one sense we arrive when we are saved.  In another sense we never arrive until we reach the end of the journey.  It calls for a constant humility and correction of course.

So?  Trust in Jesus for paying the price for your sin.  Be aware that you don’t coast from here but that you work out your salvation with fear and trembling. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Corny Synonyms

(Proverbs 11:26 KJV)  He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.

If you have a sense of history and are reading from the King James you will might think of this “corn” (1250) as being one of those places where the Bible has an error.  Corn to us is a grain that is usually white or yellow and grows on ears in Iowa.  We are now using it to make ethanol which we add to gasoline.  You will know that corn was a plant developed by the American Indians and although it might have been known in 1611 it was not being grown in Judea during the time of Solomon.

The simple explanation is that what we call corn is more correctly called maize which is an Indian word.  Corn was a word used to refer to grain generically in the world of King James.  Of course this choice of vocabulary does nothing to water down the truth of the verse.  We are not to hoard the necessities of life. 

So?  Don’t be distracted by choice of words.  Don’t seek excuses for avoiding what is obvious and understood.  You don’t need to hear that?  Maybe I do. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Lip Service

(Proverbs 10:32 KJV)  The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.

Becoming a Christian brings changes in how we relate to our world.  The pace and order of that change varies from person to person.  We all come to Jesus as we are but do not stay that way.  One of the changes involves this word “righteous” (6662).  It is moral component of our life that goes deeper than any specific action.  Some people change immediately in dramatic ways.  Others go through a steady process of reform.  All depart from a life of wickedness and sin.  ‘

This verse focuses on our mouths.  It involves vocabulary, tone of voice, timing and any other aspect of oral communication.  We change when we come to Jesus.  I was raised in an environment where “darn” was as bad as “damn”.  Others don’t have that ingrained in them but eventually they begin to want the words of David to be our testimony,
(Psalms 19:14 KJV)  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
So?  Does your mouth reflect Jesus?  Change what you can and pray that He would teach you a new way of speaking.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Party Animals

(Proverbs 9:13 KJV)  A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

I taught middle school for years.  Twice a year we would have elections for the Associated Student Body.  I would say that 90% of the time this verse describes the person who would win the election as president.  We even had one candidate promising trips to Hawaii.  For one stretch I was able to predict who would win.  It would be the persons who was the life of the party with not an ounce of sense.  If they had a long list of trips to the deans office they were a shoe in.

Unfortunately this is the kind of leader we tend to elect.  We are drawn to the life of the party.  How often have you looked around for someone quietly sitting in the corner eating their lunch.  We are attracted by the noise.  While it may be natural we need to work against it. 

So?  This is important in elections.  It is important in picking friends.  It is important in asking what kind of person we want to be. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Adamson

(Proverbs 8:4 KJV)  Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.

Modern sensitivity has trouble with the phrase “sons (1121) of men (120)”  The modern attempts to communicate the word of God finds ways to avoid the masculine noun.  It could have been translated Ben-Adam.  You have seen the first part in the name of the hero Ben Hur, meaning son of Hur.  And of course Adam is the Hebrew word for “man”.  I guess if you were doing a Scandinavian translation you could say Adamson. 

The point being made is that the words of wisdom from the Bible are for all people, everywhere.  The contrast that we should be bringing away from this is not that the women have been left out but that the Gentiles have been included. 

So?  The Bible applies to you, and you, and you and, yes, even you.  It applies even if you reject it so if you have not looked seriously at it, give it a read. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

More Than Nouns and Verbs

(Proverbs 7:17 KJV)  I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

Taken in isolation there is nothing in this verse that should set off any alarms.  You have a group of nouns that speak of everyday items.  Well, maybe you don’t have any myrrh around but the rest is common.  You have a verb that would not startle anyone.  Yet if you read the entire passage we see that it ends in death and hell.  It is a reminder about so much of what we do in life. 

The key to living upright lives is so often in the context and the intent.  What went on before the meeting today and what is the result?  Why did you decide the way you did?  Some people say that God does not care if you wear a red coat or a green coat.  True.  He does care if you pick the color to attract attention or because you know it will irritate someone.  You may not have any myrrh but you do have motivation. 

So?  Examine your motives and your goals.  Are they to glorify Christ or to satisfy a craving?  The reason will effect the result, sometimes more than the action itself. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Creeping Sloth

(Proverbs 6:9 KJV)  How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

I never thought I would be quoting the Urban Dictionary but it gets to the meaning I think is being conveyed in this verse.
“Slug is the ultimate epitome of laziness. A state of idleness and inactivity, primary caused by excessive weed or alcohol consumption.”
We tend to think that being lazy is a little thing.  The Bible and the thinking of the church do not agree.  Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins.  It is at the core of the wasted lives we see in our inner cities.  I think one of the dangers is that we can grow into it.  As children we were quite willing to let someone else pick up after us.  If we are not taught to be responsible that can lead to a life expecting servants and for most of us it isn’t going to happen.

So?  Be alert to losing your alertness.  Don’t let sloth creep up on you. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Not a Board Game

(Proverbs 5:1 KJV)  My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:

Solomon is reminding us that we have a part to play in our lives of righteousness.  Following Jesus is not a matter of a prayer we prayed ten years ago.  That prayer does not give us a card we show on judgment day after ignoring it all our lives.  We are to focus.  We are to “attend” (give attention NASB) (7181). 

Of course it won’t do any good to pay attention if you have not been washed in the blood.  If you do not trust in Christ as the perfect Lamb of God it won’t do you any good to admit that there is something to this Christianity thing.  While we were visiting family we were introduced to a new board game.  One of the group kept trying to do things that were against the rules.  She was really excited as she went to put down her pieces but she was quickly reminded that it doesn’t work that way.

So?  Following Jesus is much more than a board game.  Pay attention to how you are expected to move. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Guard Duty

(Proverbs 4:13 KJV)  Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

Again we see the reminder to “keep” (guard NASB) (5341) what God has given us.  Guard duty is important in any army.  We are currently staying on a military base in a foreign country.  At the gate is an armed guard who stops every car and checks every ID.  My wife wonders what one young woman with a pistol can do if the barbarian hordes decide to charge the gate.  Not much but if she is doing her job she will have backup before the base is overwhelmed.  Guard duty is not about stopping an enemy army.  It is about alerting your support that there is a danger.  It is about making it hard for the enemy to execute nefarious plans. 

When we are alert and watching it does not mean that we are equipped to deal with evil on our own.  It means we recognize evil for what it is.  If a Roman legion began to approach the front gate of a Marine base they could do some serious damage if the guard is asleep.  If he is alert and on task they will be helpless.

So?  Be alert.  Make the forces of evil work for every step they take.  Ask them for the password, “He is Risen”.  He is risen indeed. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Good Through...

(Proverbs 3:21 KJV)  My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:

This reminds me that I need to “keep” (5341) my driver’s license active.  It reminds me to check when it expires.  Pardon me a moment...still good.  As I look at my everyday carry I pause to consider all the items that have expirations on them.  I have a passport that has a few years to run and a visa that is only good for 90 days.  I have credit cards with “good through” dates.  I have coupons.  I left my library cards at home when I headed for the airport.  My daily life is run on little cards that I need to keep active. 

Why should my spiritual life be any different.  It isn’t a matter of our effort saving us.  All I need to do to get a new credit card is ask.  For my driver’s license I need to fill out a few forms.  I also need to keep in practice driving.  A little bit of responsibility will keep things in force.  Why is it that we think the gifts and fruit of the Spirit will stay sharp if we ignore them?

So?  Keep your accounts active by using them and applying them.  Sharpen them daily and they will be ready when called on. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tense Time

(Proverbs 2:21 KJV)  For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.

We see two verbs with two different senses of time.  On the one hand we have the now.  The “upright” (3477) will “dwell” (live NASB) (7931).  The NASB has a marginal reading of “dwell.”  This brings to mind the NT idea of abiding.  That is a promise for today.  God is with us.

We will also “remain” (3498).  To get the context you need to look at the next verse where you find that the evil have been pulled up by the roots and cut off.  This tells me that there may be some rough sledding ahead but when the bouncing and sliding stops we will still be on board.  That is a promise for tomorrow.  God will be with us.

So?  This is the promise that if it is raining you will be on the high ground and the sun will come out tomorrow.  Rejoice and be glad. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Fun and Games

(Proverbs 1:15 KJV)  My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

Have you ever run into one of those people who claim that you can’t have any fun if you are a Christians?  I have.  They talk about all the things we can’t do.  I concede the facts of their tunnel vision.  It is true that if I am to serve the living God I am not allowed to lie, murder, fornicate, get drunk or eat rare steak.  That last one is my interpretation of the admonition not to eat blood.  The question is, why would that mean I can’t have any fun?

It is a similar approach that Satan used in the Garden of Eden.  All the fruit in the garden was available for Adam and Eve.  They were only told to avoid one.  Did that mean they were going to starve to death or even go hungry?  If the answer to that is obvious so is the picture of God as a killjoy.  Start thinking about all the “fun” things that are open to you.  You can sky dive, bull fight, drag race, snow board, moto-cross, cross Niagara Falls on a highwire and the list goes on. 

So?  Don’t choose to “walk” (1980) in the way of fools.  Sometimes we decide which way to go, sometimes which way to avoid.  We have awesome choices.