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, December 31, 2018

Righteous Resolutions

(Proverbs 31:9 KJV)  Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

The arbitrary date that we call “New Year’s Day” is withing sight.  Here is a bit of advice for us to finish out the old and begin the new, “judge” (8199) “righteously” (6664).  If you look at the context you see that this might be directed toward kings and such but I think the command is extended farther than that. 

Most of us have decisions to make and often those decisions effect other people.  Are you a landlord?  Can you justify raising the rent?  Do you work in a situation where you deal with the general public such as a clerk in a government office or doing sales in a store?  Do you listen and make decisions based on a desire to do well?  We must judge because life calls for choices.  The big question is do we do it in an honest and upright manner.

So?  The new year is simply a good time for us to look and remind ourselves of what we should be doing all the time.  Don’t let the time go to waste. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Yes, It Makes a Difference

(Proverbs 30:33 KJV)  Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

Cause and effect is a principle that has largely disappeared from our educational system at least as it applies to the real world.  You can observe cause and effect in life.  If you drop a china cup, it shatters.  If you step in front of a car, it splatters.  Churning milk, butter.  Punching nose, blood.  We see it all around us and usually learn from the experience.

No so much in areas where we want to ignore the laws of physics and morality.  We are being taught that homosexual marriage is not problem, that the death culture of abortion will have no side effects, that unearned welfare checks are a road to success.  We have watched for years.  We see nothing but failure.  Have you noticed that the advocates of socialism always have a phrase, “That was not real socialism” to apply to any failures.

So?  God has given us principles.  They are pretty easy to understand.  Ignore them at your own peril.  Implement them to blessing.  Seems like an easy choice and it is a good time of year to work on change. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Target Acquisition

(Proverbs 29:10 KJV)  The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

This is an important reminder for people like me.  As I write it is the Christmas season.  As you read it is slightly past for the Western Church but still in Epiphany, the coming of the wise men, when the Eastern Church celebrates the birth.  People like me are the ones who, living in the prosperity that God has blessed them with, look at people who are struggling and assume that they have made the bad choices that put them there.  I will assert that is true in many cases, but not all. 

Some people are “blameless” (8535).  The KJV is probably better here because it conveys the moral judgment being made.  This could be an important key to evaluating how we distribute our giving.  We should be looking at things like integrity and veracity.  The part that makes this hard is it involves knowing the people we are trying to help.  It does not allow just giving.  It should be targeted.

So?  I need to give more.  For you it might involve being more discerning in your giving.  For instance, if you have $100 you can give, ignore the Red Cross and find the Salvation Army.  That way most of it will actually go to help those in need. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Leadership Dynamic

(Proverbs 28:16 KJV)  The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.

As people raised in a country that knows more liberty than any in history we tend to assume that leaders who are not picked by a democratic process are all evil.  Most modern Americans don’t know the key difference between a dictator and a tyrant.  Dictator is a term used by the Romans for a leader appointed through due process and given absolute powers for a specific period of time.  A tyrant usually takes power by force of arms and never gives it up.  A dictator can rule well.  I have heard it said the the most efficient form of government is a benevolent dictatorship.  A tyrant on the other hand used whatever means are necessary to make and keep himself king of the hill. 

It is not uncommon for leaders to start out understanding that they are servants of the people and devolve into self-centered minarets.  They do not understand the dynamics of leadership although they know how to apply power.  They rarely die in their beds.

So?  Leadership takes place at many levels from cleaning homes to ruling countries.  We all have some type of leadership.  Apply the wisdom God has given in yours. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Pets and Profits

(Proverbs 27:26 KJV)  The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.

Animal lovers pay attention.  Animals are not our brothers, they are our resources.  Here we see clothing and profit.  In the next verse we see milk.  Other places we see concepts of “the fatted ox” and of course there were the sacrifices in the temple.  It is true that the peasants of that day my have had the cow sleep in the house but that was more a poverty issue than a desire for companionship.  Many cultures thought dogs were edible and also horses.  Cats didn’t seem to have any use.  It has nothing to do with anything but I can’t find cats mentioned anywhere in the Bible. 

So?  Pets can be companionship.  In another context they might be a coat.  Either way they are still animals.  Sorry about that.  Don’t tell my wife.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Corner of Hatred

(Proverbs 26:24 KJV)  He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;

Lying is a form of hatred.  I wonder if that might be one way to draw the line between what is becoming more socially acceptable in exaggeration and lies.  The person who tells a tall story to entertain is not motivated by hatred.  A person “roasting” or “bagging” is hopefully not motivated by hatred so it would not qualify as a lie. 

In contrast some people say nothing when a good word is appropriate because their hatred makes it impossible to say anything good about a person.  This is obviously not a compete description of lying but it is an element.

So?  We are to love.  I think it okay to hate sin but our basic motivation is in I Corinthians 13. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Hidden Mary

(Proverbs 25:24 KJV)  It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.

It is always interesting to me when a verse like this is put together “by chance” with Christmas.  If you have never spent much time with pregnant women you will know that some of them could have written the book on “brawling” (contentious NASB) (4066).  There is a time period called “transition”, if my memory serves me.  It is a time when you don’t want to allow the expectant mother near any legal contract and definitely don’t want to let her talk to a divorce lawyer. 

Do you suppose Mary might have had a few moments when she was hard to live with?  We generally don’t think about it but she had to walk across the country at 8 ½ months.  Keep in mind the cute little donkey is not mentioned in scripture.  Did she tell Joseph about her swollen ankles and need to go to the bathroom.  Probably.

So?  Everyone is entitled to periods of being hard to live with.  In the same way all of us are expected to go the extra mile for others and try to not join them in attitude.  Merry Christmas, for those nit-pickers, Happy Incarnation Day. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Guy Wires Needed

(Proverbs 24:25 KJV)  But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.

How many times have you heard someone say something that needs to be said and it is obvious they are not being supported by the crowd?  I can remember faculty meetings where I would point out that the king had no clothes and got no support at all.  I could live with that.  What I found frustrating was the number of people who would come up afterward, when no one could hear them, and say they really appreciated what I had said.  Really?  Then why did they leave me hanging in the wind?

When we are around someone who has taken a step based on truth and morality we need to step up and express our agreement.  We don’t need to agree with them on everything and we can clarify that, but we need to bless them with a word of agreement.  Give them a guy wire to keep them from getting blown over. 

So?  Those who support righteousness need our support or next time they may not have enough courage to speak up. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Lie Down with Care

(Proverbs 23:34 KJV)  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

Just in case you are still living in denial, this is not praise for clever behavior or the ability to think outside the box.  This is a reminder of all the really retarded actions you have taken in your life if you are someone who gets drunk.  You may not remember.  That may be a result of the alcohol blocking your memory.  It may be that the alcohol killed the brain cells tasked with remembering that moment.  It may just be a psychological defensive measure because you could not live with the embarrassment when you were sober. 

Alcohol has a place.  I admit that.  Usually its place is in a bottle waiting for a medical emergency or a time in life where things are totally hopeless (see the beginning of chapter 31).  I may be that something else makes you forget the important things.  I guess gluttony or a juicy bit of gossip can also make us embarrass ourselves. 

So?  We all make mistakes.  I guess this is a reminder that we should work to avoid situations which make the mistake a guarantee instead of a possibility.  This is a good reminder during the Christmas/New Year holidays. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Rich Leadership

(Proverbs 22:7 KJV)  The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

As much as we might find this offensive it is more than an observation, it is a principle.  Being rich implies that you have been successful.  Yes, I know that some people are rich because their parents were successful but it is more common for children to squander the wealth of their parents than preserve it.  People who get into debt tend to be the ones who have made bad decisions.  I know that is true today.  I assume it was true then

What kind of bad decisions?  An obvious mistake is to use a credit card for something that you really don’t need and can’t really afford.  We use credit cards but we are careful to pay them off each month.  That in itself is a trap because it puts you a month behind.  If there is a sudden downturn in the economy people like us will also be in trouble.

So?  Do you want leaders who have been failures or those who have been successful.  Let me put it another way, would you want someone who can’t do simple math to be your accountant? 

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Straight Edge

(Proverbs 21:8 KJV)  The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.

In old movies about gangsters one of the labels used is “crooks”.  At some time in my life I came to understand that it was a variation on “crooked”.  When an ex-con would get his act together it was said he was going “straight”.  Those are the root meanings of the two descriptions here. 

Life is full of choices with a wide range of consequences.  In some areas most people are straight and true.  You don’t last long if you drive on the wrong side of the road.  In some areas a lot of people fudge.  What do most people say when asked how much they weigh?  It is in the more significant areas that we find out what kind of people we are.  That is why Proverbs talks a lot about such things as honest weights and measures.  It reminds us constantly about telling the truth. 

So?  It makes a difference.  Those who refuse to be straight are setting their sails for an eternity in Hell.  It is clear.  It is ignored and denied.  It is still true.  Consider. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Mundane

(Proverbs 20:14 KJV)  It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

I have read very little in the writings of Buddhism and Hinduism.  I have read the Koran enough to have a feel but not enough to remember the possible stories.  Somehow I don’t think any of them have little nuggets like this.  The Bible has all kinds of passages that touch life in a very familiar way, that make us say, “I have been there.”  If you have ever been to a yard sale or bought a used car you know what is going on here.  It is the way we function.

I say that to point out that the Bible is a very real connection between the eternal and the temporal, between the divine and the mundane.  Jesus did not say He was the transcendent epitome of the categorical imperative, whatever that is.  He said, “I am the bread of life.” 

So?  God reaches out to us where we are.  Jesus has walked in our shoes.  We have a God who cares about the small things because they are the only things we can really understand.  Rejoice as we move toward the celebration of the incarnation.  God intrudes in our lives when we change diapers and when we hit the garage sales. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Roar and the Reality

(Proverbs 19:12 KJV)  The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

Recently in a conversation I stated that I was not sure democracy could be justified from the Bible.  The Bible seems to assume a king and a noble class.  As Americans we tend to react to that and much of the reaction is based on a lack of understanding about monarchies.  We tend to think of kings as having absolute power.  That is usually not the case.  There is always something to limit their influence and make them a bit cautious.  If they are not sensitive to those forces they will move to the history books instead of staying on the thrones.

Thus kings can roar and they do have a bite but the two are not the same.  If you are the one in sight at the time of the displeasure, you can suffer.  Further away, not so much.  The lesson of Proverbs and the Bible is that we owe some allegiance to the political authority but ultimately we are responsible to God.  So we vote and petition.  It is our responsibility in the style of government that we have.  We need to realize that even in a dictatorship where we do not have those rights we still can live in the freedom of knowing God is in charge.

So?  Whatever your political arrangements, have hope and a confidence in the future.  My hope is not based on a majority in the halls of congress but in a King on the throne of the universe.  Keep that in mind as we begin to watch the campaigns for the elections of 2020. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Expert Advice

(Proverbs 18:5 KJV)  It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.

There are a few areas where I value the expertise of others.  If I am experimenting in the kitchen then I ask questions of people who have demonstrated they know how to produce masterpieces.  I do not ask my son in law.  And depending what my question was, I might even listen because some people know what they are talking about.  Other areas I prefer my own thought processes. 

An example might be looking for insight in my Bible commentaries.  Over the years I have used them less and less, not because the authors are “wicked” (7563) but because I know the Bible well enough to consult it and if the answer isn’t there then the odds are the experts are just giving their opinions.  I have a few study Bibles but I rarely read the comments because I know ahead of time what the slant is going to be.

So?  Be careful whom you listen to.  It is possible that the “expert” is one of those old drips under pressure that you hear so much about and too much from.  Keep checking the manual for directions. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Obvious

(Proverbs 17:19 KJV)  He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.

What is your basic motivation?  It makes a difference.  So often the results differ according to the heart sense that causes the action.  Two people can go through the same situation and come out with totally different results.

Sometimes the difference is because of what people sense in us.  This can be subtle or overt.  The result is the same.  Arrogance can announce itself in the way we walk or in a tone of voice.  We are not as good at acting as we think and often we don’t bother to cover up what our motivation is.  In a yard sale I will let something go cheaper to someone who seems to appreciate it as opposed to an obvious dealer who just plans to make a profit.

Sometimes the difference is because of what God sees in our hearts.  We can fool our friends.  We can fool ourselves.  We cannot fool God.  This is why we will be surprised about who makes it to heaven and who is absent.

So?  Start by being honest with yourself.  That can be a real challenge.  Then be honest with God.  Remember, He knows anyway. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Power Plays

(Proverbs 16:7 KJV)  When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

We really need to be reminded of this in our current toxic political climate.  If you are a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, you are out of sync with your environment.  Really.  There are very few positions you can take that will not be offensive to the servants of Satan.  At the current time they seem to be in control of most popular voices be it fiction or the nightly news.  They have enough power that they can mess your life up if they want.

Or so they think.  What we need to realize is that God can control their actions and even their thoughts.  These are people who have already rejected the God of the universe so why would He respect their privacy?  Think of historic leaders who have done things that were either not in their best interests or were really stupid.  Go back to Pharaoh when he released Israel.  Go forward to Hitler when he gave the order to back off at Dunkirk or to invade the Soviet Union.  You really think He can’t influence your neighbor?

So?  Keep in mind that your destiny, and your day, are in the hands of God.  He may not follow your plan for the day but He will move. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Common Language

(Proverbs 15:2 KJV)  The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Here is a real challenge.  We have a responsibility to make the truth of God “aright” (acceptable NASB) (3190).  I really don’t think that means to water it down with pablum or sweeten it up with processed sweetness.  It does mean presenting it in such a way that it will be listened to.  One of the big keys to communicating is our attitude.  I would say the listener’s attitude but there often is little we can do about that problem which does not involve ours. 

This probably involves listening and paying attention.  If we are talking to someone who is into fast cars then we probably should not dwell on historical issues.  If they are into opera, don’t try to discuss rap.  Jesus was known for his communication and he talked about the things people were familiar with.  He talked of farming and sheep.  He did not spend a lot of time discussing the current fashions in Rome.

So?  Don’t abandon truth but try to put it in words that others can understand.  Seems simple but it isn’t. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Choice Wisdom

(Proverbs 14:24 KJV)  The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.

A characteristic of wisdom is expressed in good judgement.  It isn’t a matter of pure factual knowledge.  Science is full of facts.  The problem we are facing in science is a lack of wisdom.  They still don’t have the answer to “Just because we can, should we?”  They know how to make doomsday weapons but lack the wisdom to know how to use them.  They can take temperature readings and feed them into a computer but they don’t know how to interpret them. 

Wisdom brings a wealth to life that cannot be supplied by simple details.  Wisdom knows when to keep quiet and when to speak.  Wisdom knows when to spend and when to save.  Wisdom knows that “this too shall pass”. 

So?  Don’t be satisfied until you achieve wisdom.  You can get facts.  You can listen to opinions.  Until you saturate yourself with God’s wisdom the real thing is out of reach. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Want Judgment?

(Proverbs 13:23 KJV)  Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.

First notice the difference between the KJV and the NASB.  The KJV has “want” (3808) of “justice” (4941) and the NASB puts the two Hebrew words together into “injustice”.  We need to be careful of using popular, politically motivated definitions to come to an understanding of the Bible.  Biblical justice has nothing to do with what is being billed as “social justice” by the ruling class.  Social justice is like free love.  It is a corruption of a good word into a destructive action.  Social justice is not based on the unchanging truth of God.  It is based on the current political goals of the speaker.

Social justice is a “want of justice”.  It removes the rule of law and the fairness that is necessary to live life to its fullest.  The poor need justice in the sense that they need to be able to play by the rules and depend on the outcomes.  You can’t do that with the caprice of man.

So?  Get in the habit of holding up what you hear in one hand and what you have read in the Bible in the other.  I have an idea they will be different.  Oh, you haven’t been reading your Bible?  I guess you lose before you start. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Crash but Don’t Burn

(Proverbs 12:21 KJV)  There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.

Cancer.  Crashes.  Crutches.  Crosses.  Can we deny that these things happen to the “righteous” (6662)?  I don’t think so.  I have a pacemaker.  I am taking medication to thin my blood because of something called atrial fibrillation.  They tell me the pill is to keep me from having a stroke.  That sounds harmful to me.  Does that mean I am not righteous?  That depends on whether you ask my wife or my dog.

Things can happen to us that we consider harm but this is written by God.  Think of Job.  Satan kept pushing the boundaries but God always put up a fence.  God knew how far Job could be pushed without defeat.  It was not too easy on his children or livestock but that was not the point.

So?  We have to go through life.  Jesus had to go to the cross.  Paul was whipped.  The promise is that it will never be able to touch the part of you that really counts.  Sometimes I find that comforting; sometimes, not so much. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Choosing It

(Proverbs 11:5 KJV)  The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

As I was reading this chapter today the word “righteousness” (6666) kept jumping out at me.  I am around people of the Calvinist/Reformed tradition a lot.  Most churches are part of that theological family, even if they deny it or really don’t know.  One of the claims of these people is that we are all dirty rotten sinners who must sin every day in word, thought and deed.  They like to quote a couple of verses as proof.
(Romans 3:10 KJV)  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

(Isaiah 64:6 KJV)  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
If you read Proverbs that presents a problem because in this chapter “righteousness” (6666) is referred to five times and the “righteous” (6662) eight times.  Add to that “blameless” (8549) being used twice.  The point is that the Bible often refers to the righteous.  If they did not exist, how could this be?

So?  I am not looking for a deep discussion of meaning and context.  All I am trying to get across is that God expects us to live right and gives us the ability through the blood and the Spirit to do it.  It isn’t that “the devil made me do it” as much as “the Spirit empowers me to do it.”  Of course the “it” is different in each case.  Chose your “it”. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pick a Side

(Proverbs 10:6 KJV)  Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

We are seeing an increase of “violence” (2555) in our civil society today.  The most frequent occurrences by far are left wing mobs attacking people and leaving a trail of blood and broken windows.  If you are paying attention you will notice that there are a lot of news people and politicians who are either outright calling for violence or using terminology that “covereth” (conceals NASB) (3680) the point.

A repeated theme in Proverbs is that evil and violence are linked.  Keep in mind that Proverbs and the Bible are not condemning the legitimate use of force when it is necessary.  They are talking about coercion and the use of force to move a “wicked” (7563) agenda forward. 

So?  When you see someone calling for violence to advance their personal agenda recognize it as something the Bible condemns.  It gives you a view of their heart.  Don’t turn your head and say they don’t mean it.  They do.  You should be on the other side of the line. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Dead Are Recruiting

(Proverbs 9:18 KJV)  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

Have you ever had someone say, “God would not expect that of me”?  Or perhaps you have had someone ask, “How could a loving God do that?”  Both are based on a view of God that has been molded by our culture instead of the Bible.  Our idea of love is Hollywood lite.  The older generation’s understanding of the holiness of God is based on Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver.  I am not sure where the youth of today get their understanding, maybe Spongebob Squarepants.

God is holy.  He is in this for keeps and for eternity.  Since He is holy He has an understanding of evil that we cannot grasp.  That means there are consequences for our decisions.  “Hell” (7585) (KJV) or “Sheol” (7585) (NASB) is very real.

So?  God is very patient.  Think of Him as a modern steel radial tire.  There is a lot of redundancy built in and a genuine tolerance but eventually it blows or just goes flat.  The warning is clear.  Don’t ignore it. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

No Shortcuts

(Proverbs 8:11 KJV)  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

We used to sing a chorus that was taken from this passage of scripture.
Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds
And nothing I desire compares with you.

by Lynn DeShazo, ©1982, Integrity’s Hosanna!
As so often happens in the arts, license is taken.  The Bible is talking about Wisdom.  The song writer is talking about the Lord.  I would imagine that the slight change is still an uplifting thought.

God says that His wisdom is to be pursued above all other goals.  This assumes that you have taken the basic steps to salvation and are already a part of the family of God.  Other places it tells us that if you have not done that, wisdom is out of your reach.

So?  Step by step we can move toward the eternity God has for us.  There is no shortcut.  We are so intent on the quickest and the best deal that we forget that.  Build according to the plan.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Slow Down or Saunter

(Proverbs 7:23 KJV)  Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

One of the constant scenic wonders of Texas is road kill.  It always amazes me how many deer, racoons, armadillos and even boars get pasted by cars.  Just a few days ago as I was returning from the airport early in the morning my high beams picked out a large animal walking across the highway.  I was in no danger.  He was in no danger.  The difference is that I saw the possibility and did something about it.  I slowed down.  He sauntered.  I did what I could to avoid tragedy.  He ignored it. 

Birds hurrying to a snare, deer playing chicken and people flirting with adultery have a lot in common.  They ignore the probably outcome.

So?  I have been warned and so have you.  The outcome can be life or death. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Breaks

(Proverbs 6:15 KJV)  Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

Ice is slippery.  I know that.  I knew that.  I went down so fast that I did not have time to remind myself.  I learned something else, or at least had it reinforced:  The ground is hard.  I had a few minor issues and a few days of soreness.  I have completely recovered.  The same would not be true if my moment had ended just a little differently.  What if my temple came in contact with the bumper of the car?  What if I had slid under a moving vehicle? 

Sometimes there will be no opportunity for second chances.  That is what this verse is talking about.  God is gracious.  God is patient.  God give many chances.  Eventually God will offer no “remedy” (healing NASB) (4832).

So?  As I often share with people when danger approaches, “I am ready to go.”  I still watch my step but I am ready. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Little Advice

(Proverbs 5:7 KJV)  Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.

Are you good at taking advice?  I don’t think I am.  Sure, I listen and I may even try to apply it but what I find is that I have a hard time doing things like other people do.  This applies in many ways.  Take teaching.  I first noticed this in Sunday School but it became even more clear as I took a job in pubic schools.  My first full time teaching job worked out great for me.  They were desperate.  The original teacher of the class quit after two weeks.  Six weeks after that they still had no prospects.  They grabbed me before I could change my mind.  They handed me a thick, district guide for the class.  I remember it had a yellow cover and it was one of a set for all subjects the district had put together.  They gave me a text book and a class full of wild children and walked away.

It worked well for me.  All I really needed was a general guideline for what they wanted to cover and a copy of the book the kids would be using and I could take it from there.  Years later they were trying to micro manage what went on each day in each period.  I would have died in that atmosphere because I don’t do things the way others do them.  I did not want them telling me what to do.  At the same time I did listen to the advice of teachers around me who were in the trenches.

So?  God holds us accountable.  He gives us the tools we need to live righteous lives.  He gives us the Holy Spirit.  He also puts people around us that can give us pointers.  Ignoring them may not make it impossible to live right but listening can be a read advantage. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Getting What You Want

(Proverbs 4:19 KJV)  The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Many people who practice evil do so deliberately.  Many do so without thinking.  Many don’t have a clue.  All are doing what they want to do.  The difference is in understanding what is really going on.  If you are old enough to remember the TV program “The Twilight Zone” you may remember the one in which the criminal was shot and thought he had ended up in heaven by mistake.  He was delighted that every wish he had was granted.  After a while he got tired of winning every time he played the roulette wheel.  He begged his escort to send him to the other place because he did not deserve to be in heaven.  The “angel” burst into laughter and said, “This is the ‘other place’.”  The criminal got what he wanted and it wasn’t what he wanted.

So?  Part of living the righteous life involves trusting God to know what is best for us and obeying even when we don’t understand.  We often don’t “know” (3045) what the reasons or long term results will be but we can understand that God does.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Passive Pocket of the Positive

(Proverbs 3:27 KJV)  Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

In this verse we switch from concern about the actions of others to a reminder of the kind of actions we should be taking.  In a sense it is from the passive to the active, from the receiving to the giving.  This is a reminder that I need.  I regularly reach out to the reassurances that God has given.  I trust.  I work on fretting not.  That is all good.

I need to also get active in being an active positive force, not just a passive pocket of the positive.  God called us to be salt, not baking soda or vinegar.  Both have a quality that they can absorb bad odors.  You may have heard about putting an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator to neutralize offensive smells.  You can do the same thing with an open pan of vinegar.  Salt, on the other hand, when left on the shelf does little besides absorb moisture and get hard.

So?  This is difficult for me because I am an introvert.  I prefer alone time to mediate and think.  That is well and good but God wants me to be contributing to the world around me.  I believe there was a book with a title something like Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Time for a Little Fear

(Proverbs 2:5 KJV)  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

“Fear” (3374) of God is natural.  Human beings are not equipped to feel comfortable around the divine or the eternal.  Think of the general reaction to angels appearing:  fear.  Remember Isaiah’s response to being in the presence of God.
(Isaiah 6:5 KJV)  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
I imagine that even a rebellious unbeliever would quail in the presence of God.  Swagger would dissolve into knees of jelly.  There would be an unavoidable awareness of the gulf between a holy Creator and a sinful creature.

That is not true for believers because through the blood of Christ we have been enabled to approach the throne with boldness.  At times we get a little too cocky and familiar.  It is important that we have the fear brought back to its healthy balance.

So?  Fear enough to be in reverence.  Fear enough to be in awe.  It will open the gate to His presence.  Most of us will be like the shepherds in the field more than the wise men coming from afar. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Be a Compass

(Proverbs 1:21 KJV)  She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

We really need to learn to speak out more.  It is getting more risky.  We have all this “hate crime” legislation.  What a silly title, as if there is anything such as a “love crime” or “disinterested crime.”  Most of the people pushing this vocabulary are also striving to deny the voice of the God of the universe.  The real foundation of the hate crime industry is those trying to push homosexual rights.  Somehow we need to learn to speak up.

We need to speak with care.  That is not just because we will be targeted but because we often speak from our own ignorance and thus speak wrong.  We often do not share wisdom but tradition.  We do not always share truth.  Instead we share our opinion.  We need to spend serious time studying, praying and listening before we speak.

So?  In spite of that, speak we must.  If we pay attention, God will give us the opportunity.  We can see the culture heading in the wrong direction.  We need to be part of the compass that sets them straight.