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, June 22, 2018

One Leg at a Time

(Proverbs 22:2 KJV)  The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.

It is as if there is no in between ground.  You have the “rich” (6223) .  You have the “poor” (7326).  Was there no middle class?  It is a question for the historian and the general answer is “Yes, but it was very small.”  That isn’t the point of Solomon. 

Solomon is trying to point out to us that the entire spectrum of humanity has the creator in common.  Ultimately that lead thinkers to the American ideal of putting on pants one leg at a time.  The actual point is that everyone is expected to be in submission to almighty God.  There are no exceptions.  And the big line in the sand that I see is the willingness to accept the fact that we are not the gods of our lives.

I struggle with this in my own way as I keep trying to get God to follow my direction.  He isn’t interested.  I like to think I am doing better than those around me.  He is not impressed.  He keeps bringing Micah 6:8 to my mind.
(Micah 6:8 KJV)  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
So?  Right actions based on the right heart and a right attitude.  Sounds like a formula I better learn to live with. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Possibilities

(Proverbs 21:3 KJV)  To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

It is so easy to get distracted from being salt and light.  It is so easy to fulfill the ritual and ignore the heart of God’s plan for us.  It does not help when so many claim that “justice” (righteousness NASB) (6666) is impossible.  Too many godly people emphasize that we are sinners and continue to sin in our daily lives.  They don’t seem to believe that God’s power and grace are strong enough to do something about our nature. 

Good people who live upright lives can get so isolated by their theological systems that they miss the significance of their obedience.  If we could not live right then God would not spend so much time and ink reminding us to do it.  When I first started playing golf I read a lot of books by big name golfers.  I read magazines.  They were all telling me things about how to play golf like they did.  I could define all the words.  I could not put them into action.  What I could do was keep my head down and line my feet up in the right direction. 

So?  God want’s us to live clean and straight.  He gives us the ability.  He works with us if we are not there yet.  Enjoy the journey. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

No and Yes

(Proverbs 20:9 KJV)  Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

This verse opens a can of theological worms.  If read in isolation you come to one conclusion.  If you consider all of scripture you come to another. 

In isolation this would seem to be saying that it is impossible to have a clean heart.  It would seem to be emphasizing the sinfulness of man and the fallen condition of creation.  It would seem that the only answer is a simple, “No one.”

But that doesn’t fit with the many places where the Bible talks about people who are righteous and upright.  It ignores the promises of God.  It refuses to read simple statements like,
(Acts 15:8-9 KJV)  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Is it possible to be pure from our sin?  Yes.  Is it possible to do it ourselves?  No. 

So?  The balance is that we are totally dependent on grace, but grace can do what seems impossible to us.  Relax and enjoy.  Try not to let your theological system get in the way of the simple promises. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Poor Poor

(Proverbs 19:7 KJV)  All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

Usually the Bible takes up for the “poor” (7326).  This verse seems to denigrate them.  That means we need to look a little deeper.  I submit that the quality being evaluated here and other places is not how much money they have but the kind of attitude they exhibit. 

We have all know people who have little money but a healthy pride.  They do not beg.  They do not complain.  They work hard and do the best they can.  Again I submit the statement, “We aren’t poor, we just don’t have much money.”

Then you have the people who always have their hand out and a chip on their shoulder.  They always blame others and play the victim.  The sad part of our culture is that we seem to be training an entire generation of this type of people.  This is the person who only shows up at church when they need some money or need a ride. 

So?  It is natural to flee such and I don’t sense a condemnation in this verse.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Friends and Neighbors

(Proverbs 18:24 KJV)  A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

This might be a good time to look at an outlier translation, called the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible.
(Proverbs 18:24 LITV)  A man of friends may be broken up, but there is a Lover who sticks closer than a brother.
This gets to the essence of the actual words in Hebrew.  There are different levels in relationships.  We sometimes talk about “friends” (7453) a bit cavalierly.  It irritates me when someone I hardly know calls me “my friend”.  I am not their friend, I am their acquaintance.  There is a difference.  If a friend was in crisis and needed a thousand dollars, I would find the money.  An acquaintance would just get The Look.

So?  It is true that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It starts in the Old Testament and is frequently quoted in the New.  That is okay.  There are certain liberties I would not even grant myself. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Back Off

(Proverbs 17:14 KJV)  The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

I am not a farmer.  I am not even a gardener.  I have never experienced the movement of dirt to allow water into a new row or field.  My “letting out” (6362) is usually confined to opening a faucet.  It is something that I have learned to do with caution.  I have learned to turn slowly and listen carefully.  I have learned to make sure that the hose is already attached and pointed in the right direction.  I might even make sure that the end is in my hand.

We have all experienced what it is like when we ignore these precautions.  At best we might see the end of the hose dancing around the yard.  From there we can proceed to getting doused.  It can even go to the point where real damage is done. 

I think that usually we can sense when things are moving toward “strife” (4066).  That should be the warning to slow down and take a deep breath.  The best way to win a fight is to avoid a fight.

So?  Being a macho dude is not in God’s game plan.  Our charge is to avoid conflict, not be obsessed with winning. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Change of Plans

(Proverbs 16:1 KJV)  The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

This is not a criticism of planning or preparation.  It is a warning about not planning with an understanding that God has the final approval.  We should always start with the basic principles that God has laid down.  Do we need extra money for a project?  Then certain options are not open to us.  You cannot rob a bank.  You cannot cheat your customers.  You cannot dump your parents on the state.  There is clear scripture on those options.  As we plan we are listening to God’s directions and standards.

After the plans are moving along we need to be seeking God’s final approval.  We need to consider that we may not have been hearing clearly or that God has let us head down the wrong path for reasons we don’t understand.  We also need to be open to the fact that God may block our plans at the last minute.

So?  Walking by faith is not being the only guests at Disneyland.  It is having a hope within you even when you don’t understand why a tragedy has knocked on your door. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Double Joy

(Proverbs 15:30 KJV)  The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.

As a grandparent I am watching the new addition develop.  One of the facets that brings a stirring of the heart is when the “eyes” (5869) of the infant begin to respond.  A newborn is glorious but they usually don’t track or focus.  They are learning.  Then there is the magic of seeing they know you and recognize you.  I am not sure it is something that can be explained but it is there.  You know you have contact.  If you think it brings joy to your heart just think about the process going on in the mind of the baby.

When we grow in our awareness of God it supplies joy both ways.  We, of course, are rejuvenated by the awareness of the contact.  In a strange way that reflects the infinite capacity of God, it is a special moment for Him too.

So?  Bless God.  He may be infinite.  We may be finite.  There is still a two way connection that needs to be made. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Poor Judgement

(Proverbs 14:20 KJV)  The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.

This is not a statement of how it should be but an observation of reality.  It would seem that some things never change.  Human instinct is to be drawn to the rich and powerful while we shun the poor and weak.  We are drawn to the successful.  While it may be natural, it isn’t necessarily the gold standard of discernment.

We are called to a greater vision, a vision that looks at the hearts and character around us rather than the labels on clothes and the stores shopped at.  The Bible calls us to be aware of differences but to focus on differences that matter.  Money is not a difference that matters.  Integrity is.  Generosity is.  Humility is. 

So?  Does that mean we reject people of wealth?  No.  We are to reject people of conceit.  Keep in mind that poor people can be just as greedy as wealthy people.  The major difference is that they have not been as successful in their greed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Poverty Simmering

(Proverbs 13:18 KJV)  Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.

I believe that Solomon was thinking literally when he wrote this but often the leading of the Holy
Spirit causes more to be said than is said.  I think there is a kind of mental and spiritual poverty that is included in this formula.  It is not the “deep hidden meaning”, it is just part of the package.  We as a country are deep in poverty of the mental and spiritual type.  We are the richest in physical terms but are losing our edge in the areas that lay the foundation for tomorrow.

It is like the parts of Europe that have adopted socialism and are still seen as prosperous and wealthy.  I think of Sweden.  They are living on the wealth that capitalism brought them and still have bits of it remaining but the effects of socialism are slowing draining their resources.  The same thing is happening to the church in America.  While I think a church can be large and still be the church, it is very hard to avoid the compromises that always seem to creep in.  Look at the cathedrals of Europe is you want to see the possible future of the American church.

So?  I know I can’t reform the church.  I doubt if you can.  I can be a squeaky wheel.  Who knows, if we get enough squeaky wheels maybe it will give new avenues for the Holy Spirit to work. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Archie Meets Spock

(Proverbs 12:16 KJV)  A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

This also would, outwardly, conform to the ideas of the Stoics.  The Stoics were a school of philosophy that is much more complex than I would want to study but the bit of popular lore that is tied to them is keeping a straight face.  They were known for not reacting with passion to the good or bad of life.  A generation ago we would have talked about Mr. Spock, the Vulcan.  Most people thought he had no emotions.  In reality I think he was supposed to have been taught to ignore them and follow logic.

For us there is advice here to hide our reactions and thoughts.  Do not broadcast everything you feel and think the moment you feel and think it.  There may come a time to share but not in the heat of the moment.  It is amazing how often your first reaction looks a bit foolish in the floodlights of time.

So?  As another generation would remember, Archie would tell Edith, “Stifle yourself”.  Not a bad idea on the short term. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Conditioned Insights

(Proverbs 11:27 KJV)  He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.

Is it a complement or an insult to be called a “Pollyana”?  Maybe there is something to having an attitude that always looks for the good in people and situations.  Maybe we should not get into questioning motives or checking out facts.  This verse could be understood that way.

For me this is a needed reminder about attitude.  I have been called a cynic.  I respond by saying I am a realist.  I see them as being different but it is possible that I am just making excuses for the way I am instead of listening to correction.  You might have the opposite problem.  I would imagine that both extremes need to move toward the middle without abandoning their strength.  We need to remember that the gifts of the spirit include both discernment and mercy.  They are there to keep each other in balance and avoid extremes.

So?  If the world looks too dark or too happy it might be time to listen to someone who disagrees with you. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Not Optional Equipment

(Proverbs 10:1 KJV)  The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

This is not a statement of doctrine but it gives us an indication of what family should contain:  A “father” (1) and a “mother” (517).  We have plenty of examples in scripture of widows having children and orphans are given as a concern but the basic structure remains.  We live in a modern culture that is trying to restructure that.  The Bible standard is solid.  In spite of the scattered cases of multiple wives the basic example is still one man and one woman united for life.

We see this in the standards for leaders in the church.
(1 Timothy 3:12 KJV)  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
And God is clear about marriage lasting a life time.
(Malachi 2:16 NAS77)  "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."
So?  Our standards and expectations should be coming from the Bible, not the culture.  This gets harder everyday.  That does not make it optional.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Best Deal in Town

(Proverbs 9:14 KJV)  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

A sad truth about life is that we can never turn our brain off and coast, at least not for long.  We need to always be alert.  Don’t assume.  I know it is a dreadful way to live but it is necessary.  It is easy to get our attention and then move to deception.  Let me give a simple example.  Have you ever seen an advertisement that says something to the effect of “We have the lowest interest”?  The statement may be true but what they don’t tell you is that interest is controlled by some government decree and everybody’s interest charge is the same.  Thus, everyone can claim they have the lowest interest.

We are surrounded by deception.  Some is morally neutral in the sense that selling you shoes is not a concern of eternity.  Any can be used by Satan to start you down a road you don’t want to travel.  It always looks good for the first few steps but what about around the first corner or after dark?

So?  Stay awake.  Stay alert.  The Holy Spirit is prepared to guide and protect but we still have free will, at least in my book. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Second Chance

(Proverbs 8:5 KJV)  O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

I don’t know if we think about it much but one of the underlying principles of American culture is the second chance.  Our entire educational system seems to be based on the idea that for many reasons some people bloom late or have hurdles to overcome.  Thus we have remedial classes, GED, junior colleges and a myriad of tutoring programs.  Although many people don’t want to admit it, people who fail often have no one to blame but themselves.

The same applies to our spiritual lives.  Of course the ultimate is
(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This was written to Christians, not the world.  This verse approaches another level.  Solomon is saying that “wisdom” (6195 KJV, 3820 NASB) is available to anyone who will seek it.

So?  I need to be reminded of this when I am sitting around feeling sorry for myself.  It doesn’t hurt at other times either. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Time, Place, Participants

(Proverbs 7:18 KJV)  Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.

Years ago, as a teenager, I was spending the night in someone else’s home.  I can’t remember how it all worked out but I observed one of the residents open the refrigerator, take out a bottle of milk and take a long drink, then put the bottle back on the shelf.  To be honest, I have done the same thing myself but I have never done it in a house full of people who might be accessing milk from that same bottle.  What might be a simple matter of laziness for a bachelor living alone becomes a health issue when you have a house full of people.

That is the situation here.  If this were a dialogue between a woman and her husband, yeah team.  It would be a wholesome, positive invitation.  It isn’t.  This is an invitation to step outside the bounds of God’s providential blessings and turn a great good into a great evil.  This is an invitation to sin based on time and participants.

So?  Will your day be full of blessings or perversions?  Often the difference is the choices we make. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Half a Loafer

(Proverbs 6:10 KJV)  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Life throws us curve balls.  Some of them are extreme.  Most are subtle and sneak up on us.  Why is it that we have heard more about things like demon possession in third world countries than we have in America or Europe?  Part of it is that Satan knows that it is easier to swell the roster of Hell by slow seduction and sloth than by frontal attacks.  We recently heard about another family man who was doing well on TV and got involved in an affair on the side.  I don’t know how it is going to work out in his life but he has ruined what he had.  I don’t think he left home every morning saying, “I wonder what I can do to ruin my life?”  It snuck up on him one little decision at a time.

So?  Sometimes compromise is necessary.  Half a loaf is better than none unless the cost of the half loaf is your family now and your eternity later. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Wisdom Is Not for Storage

(Proverbs 5:2 KJV)  That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.

Wisdom is meant to be applied, not worshiped.  It is not that bottle of fine wine that is 100 years old and worth a fortune.  It is the daily vitamin that is taken regularly in order to supplement the rest of life.  Wisdom is for living, not for storage.  I think it might be something like vitamin C.  You can’t put it in reserve for a rainy day and call upon it when needed.  It isn’t like fat. 

That is why it is so important to practice the disciplines of worship, prayer, mediation and study.

So?  Miss you vitamin pill for one day and no one notices.  If you are eating properly you could probably miss it every day but that is because your life style provides it along the way.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Choice Cuts

(Proverbs 4:14 KJV)  Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

Following Jesus and coming to eternity is a series of choices.  It is my theory that those choices start long before we are aware of the truth of the gospel.  This is not a doctrinal statement.  It is my way of trying to understand why so many people do not respond to the gospel.  Grace begins working in our lives before we are able to read a Bible or understand a sermon.  There is something in our hearts that responds to the call of God.  When we are children the Holy Spirit nudges and whispers.  We either respond or reject.  The process continues and we either get more calloused or more tender.

When we hear the gospel we are at a place that is the result of many branches in our lives.  I think that is why some are ready and some never will be.

Verses like this say to me that we continue making choices.  It is important that we continue to resist the “path” (734) of the “wicked” (7563).

So?  Yes, it makes a difference how you live your life today.  Whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian, there are consequences for disobedience. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Necklace of Grace

(Proverbs 3:22 KJV)  So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.

I think the NASB really misses it on this one.  Where the KJV has “grace” (2580) the NASB has “adornment”.  This is the only place the NASB translates it this way.  It us usually “favor”.  This is a familiar term.
(Genesis 6:8 KJV)  But Noah found grace (2580) in the eyes of the LORD.
The wisdom of Proverbs is not just a bauble that makes your neck look good.  It is the favor of Almighty God that helps your neck turn your eyes in the right direction.  It is grace that helps you bend a stubborn part of your body in submission to God and in dealing with your fellow man.

So?  Wisdom does not make you the smartest kid on the block.  Okay, maybe it makes you functionally the most smart, but the purpose is to make you the most righteous you can be.  It is not a beauty contest.  It is a preparation for eternity.  The necklace of grace is more than a sparkly.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Transparency

(Proverbs 2:22 KJV)  But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

As I was looking at the first part of this verse I came across a comment by Adam Clarke on the “transgressors” (treacherous NASB) (898).  He likens it to the Greek word “hypocrite” which was a term for actors who put on costumes to represent a character.  With that I am warned about being a hypocrite and also about the presence of hypocrites in the church.

This is a difficult issue.  On one level we are told not to judge.  We are told that we are not supposed to try to remove the tares from the wheat.  We are commanded not to seek revenge.  So the understanding we have is not to go on a witch hunt.  It is also an announcement to those who are acting out their spiritual lives that God is not fooled nor amused.  The insincere will be dealt with.

So?  This is for me and you, not for them.  It is a chance for us to look at our own hearts and commitments.  Rejoice in a God who keeps working with us. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

There Are Two Types of People...

(Proverbs 1:16 KJV)  For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

We have a way of dividing up groups according to our personal preferences.  On theme after theme there are two types of people, those who agree with us and those who don’t.  Our divisions are rather selfish and capricious.  God has also divided the world into two types of people.  Those who serve Him and those who refuse.  Of course each has many sub-groups and this verse reminds us of one we don’t want to recognize.

We are aware that most people do not serve Jesus.  The frustration we have is that so many of them seem to be really wonderful people.  Because they refuse to bow their knee to Jesus they are still passive servants of Satan.  That is not the group being described here.  The people being referred to here are actively seeking to do and be evil.  They may still think they are just out for themselves but they are very focused on advancing the agenda of the anti-Christ.

So?  Remind yourself that they exist.  Yes, there are people who are out to get you simply because you are a follower of Christ.  Be alert.