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.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

God’s Positioning System

(Proverbs 22:5 KJV)  Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.

As I write we are on a road trip.  It makes a difference what road you choose to take.  I am at an Interstate time of life.  My wife is leaning toward back roads.  Both can get you there, wherever there is.  The difference is in the traffic and speed.  There are many things that you don’t know about when you start out for the day.  You don’t know where the construction is.  You don’t know if traffic will grind to a halt because of an accident.  You don’t know because you don’t investigate.  With modern phones and computers you can find out where the tie ups are and you can plan around them.

This brings us to our verse.  Christians have always had GPS for life available.  If we follow the warnings and conditions laid out in the Bible and the directions given by the Holy Spirit we can avoid a lot of the problems that handicap those without such information.

So?  You don’t know unless you look.  How many traps could I have avoided if I were paying attention?  Don’t get cocky.  Your record isn’t any better. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Problem of Treasure

(Proverbs 21:6 KJV)  The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.

What are my priorities?  I do many of the right things and try to avoid the wrong things.  That is good enough but am I ever ready to take shortcuts in order to get the gold ring?  Am I willing to compromise my standards because I feel total honesty will put me in the loser’s corner?  I am afraid the answer is yes. 

Remember that the problem is not wealth, or “treasures” (214).  The Problem is how you get your treasure and how you use it.  It is amazing how many large and successful businesses were started by Christians.  Years later they are totally detached but at the beginning they offered a good product at a fair price and viewed their work as stewardship.  God blessed them.  Does he still bless the children and grandchildren who now own the company and have turned away from the Lord?  I doubt it.

So?  God demands to be first in our lives.  We can follow many different paths, careers and dreams but if we forget to put Him first it will eventually become a “pursuit of death”. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sense It Makes

(Proverbs 20:12 KJV)  The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

God has given us the ability to see and hear.  Although we have other senses, these are the ones that make a difference in our intelligence and understanding of the world around us.  You can sense that a nail is sharp but unless you see it and learn what it looks like, you can’t avoid it.  While I watch my granddaughter I notice that it is her eyes and ears that are necessary to putting together all of the sensations involved with the waving arms and loud noises.

When we worship we can get a lot of good feelings from touch, smell and balance but it is the eyes and ears that put it together.

So?  God has designed us to learn about Him and His creation.  Use the paths of learning that are available to you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pastry Wisdom

(Proverbs 19:10 KJV)  Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

If “delight” (luxury NASB) (8588) is not appropriate for a fool, is it okay for the wise?  I am not so sure.  As I look at the word I don’t see it being used in a positive way.  The word itself simply means exquisite and dainty but the way it is used always seems to have some context of misuse and poor focus.  It seems to be one of those qualities that can be genuinely enjoyed but has a tendency to be misused. 

Does wisdom and maturity make us immune to the potential seduction?  No.  With the strength and insight that sometimes comes from time it might make us skilled in handling the luxurious safely.  There might be times when it is necessary.  Even with that said, it is important that we not assume.  Can you go to the corner bakery that has a case full of fluffy pastries and fresh brewed coffee, enjoy a treat and move on?  I am not sure I would be successful even though it would be within the path of righteousness.  In some areas I know my limitations.

So?  Can real men wear pink?  Yes.  Should real men wear pink?  That is another question.  We need to answer those kind of questions with thoughtfulness and prayer. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Expressions of Attitude

(Proverbs 18:3 KJV)  When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.

“Contempt” (937) is an attitude that should not be in our repertoire.  This verse is not clear who is extending it or who is receiving it.  I think it is safe to say that looking down on people and working to destroy reputations is a tool of evil.  We have a lot of different ways of expressing this.  It can be open arrogance as expressed by the translation here, contempt.  It can be clothed in “caring” about others and being willing to coerce them into doing what you want them to do.  This is the attitude of our elite politicians and educators who take away our ability to make choices because they think we will make the wrong ones.

Contempt is also expressed by Christians when they surrender to “holier than thou” attitudes so common among people seeking righteousness.  We often look down on non-believers and even on brothers and sisters who are not as far along as we are. 

What is clear is the association with the wicked.

So?  The answer is agape.  When we do what is best for others there is no hidden agenda of advancing our cause.  It is a response to clear standards God has laid down.  We always need to examine our own motives. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Hierarchy of Relationships

(Proverbs 17:17 KJV)  A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Notice that this is a parallel statement.  One of the parallels is the similarities between “friend” (7453) and “brother” (251).  Since this is the Old Testament we can take the term “brother” literally. 

I believe there is a hierarchy in relationships.  At the bottom you have all mankind.  We are expected to love and be courteous to everyone.  Honesty is not for an exclusive group.  At the other extreme the general world would put blood relatives.  Christians would put brethren in Christ above that.  We owe more to fellow believers than we do to non-believing siblings.  That does not let us off the hook but simply tries to remind us of what is expected. 

So?  We are to be different.  We are also to be stewards of our time and treasure.  Use them wisely with special attention to brothers and brethren. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Big Roadblock

(Proverbs 16:4 KJV)  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Does this verse make you feel uncomfortable?  Does it make you look for ways to get out from the implications?  Do you look for exceptions?  If it doesn’t, it should.  This is one of the hardest things for human beings to accept:  He is God.  We are not.  Everything is for His “purpose” (4617).  Everything.  It is not about your happiness.  It is not about your personal goals or sense of fulfillment.  Those things come.  There are promises.  God is faithful.  All that is true but the basic reality that we have a hard time with is He is God.  We are not.  He does not exist for us to call on to fulfill our plans.  We are His servants.

Why do we find people resisting the gospel?  Why do we find people drifting away after they first respond to the love of the cross?  Why do so many continue to go through the motions but never really get on board?  It is this verse.

So?  Remember that one day every knee shall bow.  Now it is a choice.  Now it involves entering the family of God.  At judgment it will be forced.  At judgement it will be too late.  Live in submission.  Live in victory. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Grow in Fear

(Proverbs 15:33 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

One of the spiritual sound bites that I keep hearing is that love of more powerful than _______.  The blank can be filled in with hate or the sword.  I am not sure that we can use it with “fear” (3374).  Fear is a great teacher.  On a low level it can keep you from slamming the door because your mother will yell at you.  At the other extreme it will help you keep your head down in a fox hole.  Fear can stimulate your memory and motivate your lethargy.  It only works in the right forms and amounts.

Fear of the Lord does not cripple the willing heart.  Fear of the Lord motivates because it is based on an awareness of the awesomeness of God as well as the fact that God is love.

So?  Fear and grow.  Fear and learn.  Fear and rejoice. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Foundational

(Proverbs 14:22 KJV)  Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.

One of the confusions we have in evaluating our world is the observation of people who will do the right thing even though they are not a part of the family of God.  History is full of people who do “good” (2896b) but reject God.  What this verse is telling us is that they lack the basic wisdom necessary to build a life of righteousness.  They will eventually “go astray” (8582).  I like that better than the KJV’s “err” because even the righteous will err.  They do not deliberately leave the path of righteousness. 

If you read any of the popular literature on the best seller lists you will be familiar with the kind of protagonists I speak of.  They are often portrayed as patriotic, honorable citizens.  They sacrifice themselves for their country.  They do brave acts.  They are portrayed as role models because of this.  They will help little old ladies across the street and then fornicate with her granddaughter after executing her nephew without a trial.  They are not noble.  They are typical sinners making excuses for gratifying their personal desires.

So?  Be very cautious about the brainwashing that goes on in our world.  It is everywhere.  When you go to the movies be skeptical.  When you go to church, take your Bible and make sure that all the entertaining monologue you are hearing is based on the word of God. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Results

(Proverbs 13:21 KJV)  Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.

How we live makes a difference.  There are times when the righteous will face persecution.  There are times when the evil will win a round.  We have seen enough of that in history and in our own lives.  The promise is still there and still to be believed.

The problem we have with this is that our vision is limited.  We see a chapter in a life and don’t see the later chapters.  Or we see the final chapters and don’t realize how much previous activity has produced what we see. 

So?  Our lives should be different if we want our destiny to be different. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Simple Truth

(Proverbs 12:19 KJV)  The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Honesty is foundational for eternal life.  No, being honest does not get you into heaven but being dishonest can keep you out.  God expects us to speak truth and not modify it to meet the current trends.  Truth and honesty are “established” (3559) by God and are part of the package of regeneration. 

If this does not make you uncomfortable then maybe you are not paying attention.  Truth is the minimum standard.  It is not an option.  God is not amused by us breaking things into “little white lies” and “that’s your interpretation”. 

So?  If you can’t speak truth then don’t speak at all.  That might be good advice for a lot of situations. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Key Ingredient

(Proverbs 11:30 KJV)  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

I wonder if part of the meaning here is that a “righteous” (6662) life will bear fruit in our families and our children’s spiritual condition.  Notice the previous verse talks about our own house.  I have always wondered what it was that caused children to grow up as mature Christians.  Parents cannot be the only factor.  I know some people who are serving the Lord with gladness but came from families that being called “dysfunctional” would have been seen as a complement.  I have seen families where some children serve God and others are disciples of evil. 

But while parents are not the only factor they are an important one.  Fathers and mothers that seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness have a greater potential for being successful with their children.  You can’t do away with free will, grace, and the work of the Holy Spirit but it seems that God also throws in our examples as parents.

So?  Live like it makes a difference.  You know why. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Riches Are Relative

(Proverbs 10:4 KJV)  He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Recently I was discussing what it means to be “rich” (6238).  How much material wealth does God want us to have?  Does He care all that much if we have nice things or not?  I have also been thinking about what it has taken to make me feel rich over the years.

When I was a child there was a guy at church that was always giving kids a quarter.  I can remember how rich I felt when I had that twenty five cents in my hand.  Of course in that day it would buy me two large candy bars and some penny candy.  What more could anyone want.  In high school a five dollar bill could make me feel like life was good.  As I got older it took more to make me feel secure.

By the measure of most of the world, I am rich.  By the measure of America I have enough to make it through without want.  That is financial.  When it comes to the things that Proverbs would include in the formula of wealth I am also blessed.  I forget that sometimes.  God has a way of reminding me.

So?  My sense of well-being is based on more than a bank account.  I have tried to establish a routine that will remind me of that on a regular basis.  Writing this each day is a part of that ritual.  It forces me to engage in the important things of life.  I do it at the beginning of the day.  God rewards. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Needs and Wants

(Proverbs 9:17 KJV)  Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

Context and expectation can influence our perception.  Is the room dark or light?  It depends on weather you have just come in from walking in the summer sun or just opened your eyes from a nap.  Which tastes better, the cookie you sneaked off the cooling sheet or the last one in a package that you are finishing? 

The point here is that Satan and his minion are going to work all the angles.  He is going to make you think that just because everyone else says it is wonderful then you need it too.  He will then take you the next step to where you think it is your right to have it.

So?  Learn the difference between “want” and “need”.  God has not promised to deliver everything you think is shiny.  He will take care of your needs.  If you can’t have it you probably don’t need it.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Straight

(Proverbs 8:8 KJV)  All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

This is wisdom speaking.  Wisdom is presented as a good thing.  Not only good, it is also necessary.  We are to look for it in others and we are to demonstrate it ourselves.  Obviously we are all at different places in our journey but we need to be on the journey.

As we move through life we need to understand that genuine wisdom is linked to high moral caliber.  Although we don’t see the word much any more I like the way the KJV used “froward” (6617).  The NASB here calls it “crooked” which is a literal meaning.  For Christians there is a straight path to follow.  The world can go for twisting and bending truth and reality but we are to walk the Highway of Holiness. 

So?  Right and wrong exist.  Morality is not a matter of conforming to the latest social fads.  Morality is adhering to the standards of right and wrong given to us by God.  Don’t be fooled or distracted. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Yield Signs Have a Purpose

(Proverbs 7:21 KJV)  With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.

What kind of “fair speech” (persuasions NASB) (3948) do we face on a daily basis.  Most of us don’t face a temptation to adultery, but we are tempted to compromise on many other issues.  It is also an obvious point that we are not tempted by things we are not interested in.  Don’t bother trying to tempt me to eat liver.  I can be talked into petting your cat.  Please don’t bring out any Doritos. 

What might be tempting to you doesn’t even get honorable mention in my pantheon of weaknesses.  Thus I can sit in a bar all day without partaking of alcohol but don’t ask me to sit at a poker table and stay uninvolved.  You might be the opposite.  If we are persuaded the consequences can range from gaining a few pounds to losing your life savings.  On some issues it could mean losing your eternal soul.  That is the point here.

So?  Be aware.  Plan your path.  The Holy Spirit will help you but probably not after you open the package and have the chip in your hand. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Watch Your Step

(Proverbs 6:13 KJV)  He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

Every time I read this verse and the one like it, Proverbs 10:10,  I get a vision of a pimp in a zoot suit making a rap video and thinking he is cool.  It is amazing some of the things that are on God’s radar.  Who would think He would care about simple things like body language, but He does.

Where do people learn to move the way they do.  I was walking behind a man the other day and watching the way he carried himself made me feel tired.  I found it hard to believe it was natural.  I think he had to learn it.  Maybe his father walked that way.  Maybe he saw a movie as a kid.  Have you ever tried to walk like John Wayne or sing like Madonna? 

So?  We need to be very careful whom we look to as examples.  We need to be very careful the example we set.  Obviously we can’t be aware of all our quirks but it doesn’t hurt to pay attention. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Hanging On

(Proverbs 5:5 KJV)  Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

I get frustrated with the desire to evangelize.  I don’t want anyone to go to Hell.  God does not want anyone to go to hell.  As I struggle with this I come across verses like this.  Notice the term “take hold” (8551).  This has the idea of reaching out and grabbing something and then holding on like it is necessary for survival.  We recently had the reminder of what it is like trying to give an infant a bath.  They are wiggly and squirmy and slippery.  You don’t want to drop them.  When they hand off to me expecting me to swaddle her in a big towel I need to make sure that I have a good grip.  People are that way with their sin and rebellion.

So?  You cannot talk anyone into salvation.  It is a gift offered by God and their hearts are responding to the Holy Spirit.  What we need to realize is that the response is usually, “No.”  It will become “a thousand times no” before God is finished with them.  By holding on to their sin they reject the God of salvation as well as the salvation of God. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Multipurpose

(Proverbs 4:17 KJV)  For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.

As I read this verse I notice the similar elements to the sacrament of communion.  In both places the elements are bread and wine but the purpose and results are totally different.  I am sure that Solomon was not writing thinking about the Last Supper or even the Passover meal on which it was based.  It might help to remind us though that it is possible to use the same materials and actions for either righteousness or evil.  It depends on what our purpose is.  Here evil is the desire of the heart.  When we go to the table of the Lord our purpose is communion with a holy God.

Another significant difference:  Jesus told us to partake and remember.  Here the goal is to forget.

So?  There will be many common activities today.  It would be renewing to pause and think about them in terms of the blessings that God is bringing and the blessings He expects us to be administering. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Sure Things

(Proverbs 3:25 KJV)  Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.

No, you are not imagining it.  It will come.  There are differences between the KJV and the NASB.  The KJV says “desolation” (4480/7722) which is a compound word meaning “out of ruin”.  The NASB has “onslaught” (7724b) which means “devastation, ruin”.  It looks like the Hebrew has the same root with different endings.  The point is the same.  Both translations say “when” instead of “if”. 

Will we see war?  Yes.  Will we see economic problems?  Of course.  Will we run out of mayonnaise in the middle of a sandwich?  Also very probable.  The point is that we are not to live in terror waiting.

So?  God is in charge.  When Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den I don’t think he was saying, “Oh boy, another adventure!”  I do think he was confident about God’s will being done. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Part Numbers

(Proverbs 2:3 KJV)  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

The KJV is a bit weak here.  It has “knowledge” instead of the “discernment” (998) of the NASB.  The KJV usually does better because its most common translation is “understanding”.  It is not enough to have knowledge, as important as it is.  I was recently looking for a replacement knob on an old air conditioner.  I knew what I wanted.  I understood how to change it and how to order it.  What I didn’t know was the part number.  That took a lot of research.  I ordered the part but until it arrives I still won’t know if I did good.

So?  Read, study and gather knowledge but don’t stop there.  Pray for understanding so that you can put the knobs on correctly. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

No Muggers Need Apply

(Proverbs 1:19 KJV)  So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

There are at least three different Hebrew words translated “greedy of gain" (violence NASB) (1214) in Proverbs.  This one specifically means to use violent force to take the wealth of other people.  This is not the violence of war or of the police chase.  This is the violence of the mugger.  You attack first and rob second.  If  you were preaching to a bunch of bankers you might link it to the techniques unscrupulous loans harks might use, but that would be stretching it a bit.

So?  I would hope this has no application in your life.  There is no place in the walk of a Christian for this kind of behavior.  You might need to understand that when you evaluate what others are doing.