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, November 19, 2018

Entitlements

(Proverbs 19:24 KJV)  A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

I wonder if this is an example of Biblical humor.  It is hard for me to imagine someone too lazy to feed themselves although we have the concept of having slaves peel grapes for Roman aristocracy.  What would be the modern equivalent.  How many actions do we expect others to do for us?  I guess one would be going out to eat so someone else can serve and clean up, but that is something you pay for.  Around the house it might be just leaving your dishes on the counter and expect someone else to wash them.  Some people always expect clean clothes to mysteriously appear in their drawers.  I can think of a lot of illustrations but I can’t think of any that apply to me.  I guess that is a common problem.

So?  Lord, show me where I am too entitled for my own good. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lips and Tongues

(Proverbs 18:6 KJV)  A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

I sometimes wonder if New Testament writers had just read parts of Proverbs when they went to work.  At this point I am thinking of James with his monologue on the tongue starting in Chapter 3.  I think specifically of,
(James 3:6 KJV)  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Here Solomon talks about lips and the mouth, but you get the point.  It is a repeated reference in this chapter.

So?  Guard your mouth.  Be careful what you say.  Words cannot be called back. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Clever after the Fact

 (Proverbs 17:4 KJV)  A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

To whom should I be listening?  A good question and we need to understand that “listening” is more than just our ears.  It would include what we read and watch.  In a sense it should even extend to our imagination.  That leads me to the tendency we have to relive and rehash experiences that have been uncomfortable or embarrassing.  We recently went through a confrontation that left a bad taste in our mouths.  We find ourselves going back and coming up with what we should have said.  You know how it goes.  We are all clever after the fact.  Let it go.

So?  Don’t spend time trying to straighten out what cannot be changed.  Don’t listen to wisdom you wished you had.  Such listening can only cause more pain and will not move you forward.  Forgive.  Learn.  Grow. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Uncross Fear’s Wires

(Proverbs 16:6 KJV)  By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

“Fear” (3374) gets a lot of bad press but has a real value if it “keeps away” (departs KJV) (5493)  “evil” (7451b), or us from evil.  While the phrase “fear not” appears 62 times in the KJV we are also told to “fear the Lord” 30 times.  We need to understand that this fear is not the panic that either makes us freeze or flea.  It is the awareness that makes us cautious and careful.

I use electricity just like everyone else.  I plug and unplug with abandon.  I flip switches up and down.  No problem there with electricity.  At the same time I keep my house from burning down by not trying to rewire it myself.  Why?  Because I have a healthy fear of electricity.  I know it can kill me.  I use it.  I am thankful for it.  I know it can kill me.

So?  God is holy.  He is a consuming fire.  He is wrathful.  Be careful how you touch Him.  At the same time He is the source of eternal life.  He is waiting for your fear to bring you to Him. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Broccoli Love

(Proverbs 15:17 KJV)  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

We are so focused on wealth and financial security.  I guess it is part of the human condition.  Some have given up.  Some have not worked too hard at it.  But everyone likes good things.  The question we need to ask ourselves is, “At what price?”  That is one of my problems with expensive restaurants.  Actually it is a problem I have with all restaurants.  Even fast food joints make my wallet cry out.  What does it cost to get oatmeal at your local joint?  I can make you a nice bowl for about 10% of that price. 

What is more important though is the atmosphere of the meal.  I would rather have a bowl of instant oatmeal with a good friend than a $50 steak with a jerk.  That is the point here. 

So?  No, this is not a call to becoming a vegetarian.  It is a call to being a good friend. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Curse of Prosperity

(Proverbs 14:11 KJV)  The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.

We get so hung up on our financial status and accumulated wealth.  I keep hearing commercials from “financial planners” who want to help me make it through retirement.  They think I am living on my savings and since they are so wise in the ways of the market they can help me invest it in such a way that I will live high the rest of my life.  And of course they will make a nice commission on everything they do.  They don’t get the idea that you don’t need to live in a “house” (1004) to be satisfied.

Proverbs is full of this kind of reminder.  A subsistence level of living with peace of mind trumps all of the wealth in the world.  It is easy for me to say since I am well above subsistence level.  It is still true.

So?  Today I am going to live in grace and trust.  God is big enough to get me through my relative prosperity without stumbling.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Wisest Investment Strategy

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

My wife is watching a lot of videos that say something called a “reset” is coming.  It is a time of doom and gloom that sounds a lot like what we used to call depression and recession.  I wonder how much we should worry even if it happens.  That is double true when I read verses like this, and there are a number of them.  When hard times hit the “righteous” (6662) are supposed to come out still afloat.

I believe that is true because being righteous does not just mean following the Ten Commandments.  It also involves the principles that are set out in Proverbs about staying out of debt, not co-signing, working hard and I guess using a little common sense.  During the last housing bubble boom a lot of people lost their houses.  I am sure there are exceptions but my understanding is that most of the people who lost a house were living in houses that they should not have bought in the first place.  They were speculating and living above their means.  I remember when it hit and we didn’t even feel the air stirring. 

So?  Can hard times effect us?  Yes.  Will hard times destroy us?  Not is we are living in a righteous manner.  That is how I read this. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Conditions

(Proverbs 12:2 KJV)  A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.

I was glad to see this morning that it is possible to be a “good man” (2896a).  Since “man” is assumed and not in the Hebrew I can assume that this applies to women too.  This is important because it relates to our view of salvation.  Christians of a Calvinist persuasion have a deep commitment to the sovereignty of God, as we all should.  In their enthusiasm they really get carried away with how we are so lost in sin that we sin every day in word, thought and deed.  That in itself is not a problem but in their excitement they start trying to limit God’s intelligence and ability to observe. 

Salvation is a gift.  That is part of the meaning of grace.  It is a gift.  All Christians believe that.  We cannot earn our salvation by our works.  Totally true.  But notice that this verse says good men will receive “favor” (7522).  That means that God responds to our actions and attitudes.  One of those attitudes is an awareness of our sin.
(Luke 18:13-14 KJV)  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
There are other requirements but Proverbs as well as the rest of scripture is clear that we can live upright and moral lives.

So?  Soldier on.  We do not deserve salvation.  We cannot earn salvation.  It does matter how we live. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Winning Formula

(Proverbs 11:4 KJV)  Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

As I read through the chapter today I saw a couple of ideas tied together several times.  This verse shows them the first as we find that “righteousness” (6666) “delivers” (5337) us.  Here it is the righteousness doing the delivering.  Other places the deliverance takes place because of our righteousness.  However you want to put it, God keeps an eye on His people and intervenes in their lives.

The intervention takes place on His schedule, not ours.  We may still need to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death”.  We may still see persecution.  We may be martyred.  There are a lot of possibilities but at least one definite.  We will be delivered.

 So?  As the song says, “Trust and obey.”  Trust the Pilot to get the aircraft to the airport.  Live upright lives.  It is a formula that works. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Missing Word

(Proverbs 10:3 KJV)  The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.

This is a word of encouragement and understanding.  The key is the word “soul” (5315) which you do not find in the NASB or other modern translations.  I assume it is in the Hebrew because the NASB includes it as literal in the margin.  Why is it left out?  I have no idea.  It is almost like the “name it and claim it” group had control of the printing press.

The promise is that even during the down times we can expect the Holy Spirit to refresh our soul.  We can expect our inner man to be nourished.  We can live in victory.

So?  Other places it makes promises that are more physical but here it is the more important point that our soul will be renewed and fed.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Wisdom and Self-love

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

It is clear that Proverbs teaches Wisdom as a good thing.  It is to be sought.  It can be learned.  It is very easy for us to seek it primarily to straighten out others.  Here we are reminded that we need to be our own first target.  There is a sort of parallel that is quoted all through the Bible but begins very early.
(Leviticus 19:18 KJV)  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
It has been offered that there is a healthy self-love that needs to be the basis of others-love.  Of course our love of self is rooted in the acceptance that we are created in the image of God and redeemed through the blood of Christ.  It is not because we are so awesome.

In the same way we are to listen to wisdom and ask ourselves, “How do I need to change?”

So?  Work on getting your own house in order.  When that becomes clear it is possible that others will ask you for your input instead of you insisting on it. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Start Where You Are

(Proverbs 8:10 KJV)  Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

Two targets are offered here and they are compared to precious metals.  The precious metals are of different value and I wonder if that is significant.  In the days of Solomon even silver would have been out of reach of the average person.  Gold, forget about it.  Most people existed on barter or copper coins.  This could imply that the average person will not even seek the next step up.  Most of us are not open to “instruction” (4148) let alone “knowledge” (1847).

Years ago in my first computer I came across an article that told me I could tweak it in a way that sounded good to me.  I don’t remember what the tweak was at this point but it seemed worth the effort then.  The magazine did not start me down the path of knowledge.  It did not instruct me in programing and the physics involved in making a computer work.  All they did was give me step by step instruction in how to make the change.  I remember going to screens that were nothing but 0's and 1's.  I was careful to only do what I was told.  It worked.  I was capable of being instructed.  I am not sure I was ready for knowledge.

So?  If you are not ready to delve into the mysteries of the trinity or struggle to understand infinity then for now be satisfied that you have the step by step directions that will make you ready someday.  Start with the basic Ten Commandments and Jesus’ teaching about the most important.  Go from there and rejoice in the journey. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Build Your Filters

(Proverbs 7:2 KJV)  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Literal translation has a lot to say for it.  Unfortunately the translators of the Bible like to interpret and expand on the simple Hebrew.  The most common translation of this verse includes the word “apple” (380) when the literal meaning is “pupil”.  The NASB at least has the decency to give that in the margin.  I think the word “apple” is simplistic and condescending.  It is cute but ignores the depth of the meaning.

The “commandments” (4687) of God are not something you make a pie out of or get a little twinkle going about.  It is not a fruit that comes in many varieties and has a sweet flavor.  They are the gateway through which everything we see and read must pass.  The pupil may get larger or smaller depending on the amount of light but it is still the only way for light to get into a healthy eye.

So?  If you hand an orange to someone who has never seen any fruit and say, “Would you like an apple?”  They will thank you and take it.  If you try to pass off deceit as truth to someone who filters everything through the established word of God, at best you get laughed at.  Build your filters, one verse at a time. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Drive the Devil Crazy

(Proverbs 6:22 KJV)  When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

My knowledge of hypnotism is limited to popular myth in fictional literature and media.  That means I am not even sure if it exists.  One of the “rules” of hypnotism I have heard is that even under hypnosis a person will not do things that they normally consider wrong.  Let’s accept that for today’s thinking.  My wife listens to a lot of conspiracy folks and one of their themes is that a lot of these people shooting up public spaces claim to be hearing voices.  Her sources say this is the result of the CIA experimenting with mind control.  Putting these things together it makes you wonder how many of these shooters were already open to mass murder.

Now to today’s verse and its context.  I think that we tend to act and respond based on what we have internalized.  If we have spent time reading and meditating on the wisdom of God then we are told that it will “guide” (5148) us and “talk” (7878) to us.  That means that when a shiny offers itself up to us we may begin to reach but then moral values that we have built up will stop the hand.  Often the temptation will simply slide by unnoticed because it has been bared from our list of possibilities.  I bet that drives the devil crazy.

So?  Drive the devil crazy.  Get busy building an internal source file of all the wonderful things God has to teach you.  Then when you hear voices it will be the voice of Wisdom and the whisper of the Holy Spirit. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Pay Attention

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

A question I used to hear when people were more concerned was, “What about the people who have never heard the gospel?”  They are in the same situation as people who have heard the gospel and refused to listen:  They are going to “die” (4191).  This obviously is talking about an eternal, spiritual death.  The sad part of this truth is that there is actually more hope for people who have never been in a location to hear the gospel than there is for the church member who has heard it repeatedly and will not listen.  God is not out looking for ways to send people to hell.  They have already made that choice but,
(Romans 2:14 KJV)  For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
But back to our verse.  If you read through this chapter and the book of Proverbs you find a theme of being careful that you pay attention to what you are being taught.  This chapter is full of warnings about not listening and following what you hear.  It is not a warning that someone else is not listening.  It is meant for you and for me.

So?  Pay attention.  If you find that you are not hearing anything it may be because you are listening to the wrong people and places.  It could be that you are reading too much at your favorite gossip column and not in the Word.  Adjust accordingly. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Follow the Path

(Proverbs 4:18 KJV)  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

There is a “path (734) of “the just” (righteousness NASB) (6662).  I need that reminder this morning.  As I skim through the major news stories today and see what is covered along with what is ignored I see the forces of evil and lethargy running the show.  Or so it seems.  The gurus of subjectivism and the prophets of socialism seem to control the seats of power and communication.  Solomon was not ignorant of such things even in his day.  Evil thrives but the path is still there.

The theme is victory in the face of onslaught.  The key is keeping our eyes and our feet on the path.  There will be distractions.  Those are only dangerous if we pay too much attention.  It is hard to ignore a sudden scream but we don’t need to go chasing or fleeing just because we are startled.  We need to keep focused on the wisdom that is offered.

So?  Yes, the bad guys are out there.  They don’t all wear black hats.  None of them will be on the path to life and that is our goal.  Trust and obey are such important guidelines. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Healthy Blessings

(Proverbs 3:8 KJV)  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

“Health” (healing NASB) (7500) is a great blessing.  I tend to take it for granted.  That is why it is good for me to get out and see more people.  Walking through a store and seeing so many leaning heavy on their shopping carts reminds me that I have little pain.  Seeing people argue over the electric carts reminds me that I am still mobile.  Watching others my age taking handfuls of pills makes me thankful I only have one. 

So I don’t know what to make of a verse like this.  It seems to be saying that by listening and applying the wisdom of God we will be healthier.  It seems to be saying that our physical and financial well being are tied to our seeking wisdom.  I struggle with that, not because I am so blessed so this would make me wise, but because I know I am not as wise as others who have more issues than I do.

So?  This is a good place to “judge not” because it crosses into areas that we are not equipped to go.  I can never know someone else’s heart.  I can know that God is calling each of us to seek Him and listen to what He is trying to say.  I can know that it will make a difference. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Activate Shields

(Proverbs 2:7 KJV)  He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

I noticed today the different words that are used about God’s protection of His people.  In this verse we have the “buckler” (shield NASB) (4043).  Here it is a noun but it can also be a verb.  As you read through the chapter you find other concepts:  Guard, preserve, deliver.  This is an important reminder.  If you look at the headlines you will find that the world is coming apart around you.  Not only do you have violent crime and corruption in government but also hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes.  And don’t forget wasps and scorpions.

What is a person to do?  At one level use common sense.  Keep some food and water on hand.  Lock your doors.  Vote responsibly.  Count your change.  You can read about those on all the on-line sites about preparing.  Proverbs takes it to a new level.  Be “righteous” (upright NASB) (3477).  Walk “uprightly” (in integrity NASB) (8537).  You see, those are the conditions that activate providence.

So?  It is not a matter of God helping those who help themselves.  It is a matter of God helping those who trust and obey.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Election Preparation

(Proverbs 1:5 KJV)  A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

As I continue to get older I can tell that I am going down hill.  I am doing well for my age.  I am not sure if my mind is still undull, but I am at least aware that I don’t know as much as I used to.  This verse reminds us that we can always learn and add to our pool of wisdom and knowledge.  That applies whether we are young, fresh and in an advanced Ph.D. program or whether we are having trouble remembering where we parked our car.  We can “hear” (8085) and “increase” (3254).

I guess at my age I should rejoice that there is so much more to learn than when I was at my sharpest.  It is like reading an old book that we have read before.  The story can still be fresh and uplifting.

So?  Learn something today.  Practice a new song or relearn an old one.  Keep moving down that road.  I remind myself I am not only preparing myself to vote because there is an election coming but preparing myself for eternity because there is an election coming.