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, March 25, 2019

Honey Is Just a Fringe Benefit

(Proverbs 25:27 KJV)  It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.

This is about balance and self control, or self control and balance.  Take your pick.  Choose your priority.  The choice is not an elimination.  It is a matter of order that includes both.  Do you eat your vegetables first or your meat?  We always confused people because my family would save the salad for the last course of the meal.

As Americans we do not like either virtue.  As Christians we need to be less American.  Yes, I know that much of traditional American values are rooted in the Bible but keep in mind that a lot of cultural developments and outright carnal desires have been grafted into the root. 

So?  How do we get oranges from the tree of our life instead of lemons or grapefruit?  It starts in knowing what the root is and that comes from keeping in contact with Jesus through reading the word, meditating on its meaning and applying it.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Not a Debate

(Proverbs 24:28 KJV)  Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.

The key point here is be honest.  If we are looking to make excuses for ourselves we can focus on the meaning of “witness” (5707) or whom our “neighbor” (7453) is, but that should be saved for the college debate teams who are looking to win on points.  We, as believers, are not winning on points but on righteousness.

So?  Our goal is not a matter of getting away with something.  The issue is not will we get caught.  We are to be upright, straight, righteous.  God gives the standard and the Holy Spirit to empower.  Don’t settle for less. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Good Habit

(Proverbs 23:2 KJV)  And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

I have wanted to develop this habit.  There are certain people that are always trying to con me into something.  One way involves food.  That works for me because I am at best a borderline glutton.  I keep thinking that because someone has baked a cake or ordered something lavish at a restaurant I am on their good side.  It is not to be.

My goal is to identify those people and find some symbolic way to remind myself that I am not to be at ease.  At a meal it might be to literally pick up a knife and casually tap myself on the throat.  At a party maybe I could find a door and tap it with my head. 

So?  Just as all that glitters is not gold, neither is all that smiles a friend. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Gift of Scoffing

(Proverbs 22:10 KJV)  Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.

What is the difference between a “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b) and a person who is exercising the gift of discernment?  I believe there is a genuine conflict between the two even if the words might be identical at times.  They might even be impossible to tell apart because they often point out real problems that need to be dealt with.

I can think of two differences right out of the box.  First is attitude.  There is an arrogance in a scoffer that is based on a sense of superiority.  There is a joy in putting other people down.  You can see this in the use of humor.  Good friends can make what sound like insulting remarks and everyone thinks it is funny.  If a person on the street said the same thing there would be angry response.  The exhorter who is reproving or rebuking has a whole different attitude.  They are not speaking from superiority but from an awareness of their own failure. 

Second is the goal.  Scoffers tend to glory in division and attention to themselves.  Exhorters don’t want any glory and seek to improve the individual and the body of Christ.  Neither is satisfied with no response but want different outcomes. 

So?  Learn the difference.  One of the clues to wisdom is an ability to accept correction and a reluctance to give it. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Manual or Automatic

(Proverbs 21:11 KJV)  When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.

How much does a good education cost?  That depends on what you are measuring in learning and payment.  In reality you get what you pay for in time and effort.  Some people are blessed with the ability to learn from observing others.  Some can read a book and get the point.  I tend to be someone who often needs to be knocked on the head in order for the point to be made.

I am not sure I would really be happy with the short method of learning.  I read in fiction about sleep learning or downloading knowledge.  It sounds so good.  Wouldn’t it be great to learn fencing by attaching some electrodes and after a short period of time know all the moves.  The problem is that certain things need the discipline of practice so that the responses come without thinking.

So?  Rejoice.  We can all learn.  Morn.  It will never come automatically. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Then What?

(Proverbs 20:17 KJV)  Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

We need to think more about the “afterward” (310).  Obviously this has an eternal concern but I think Solomon is more focused on the next few moments, days or years.  This is not just a spiritual concern but a principle that seeps into every area of life.  We are so affluent as a culture that we forget that debts must be paid.  We live on credit in our finances.  We live on the principle built up by previous generations.  Our decisions have consequences even if we don’t see them.

As Christians we should always be asking ourselves what the long term results will be to our decisions and actions.  When you have a genuine emergency it is sometimes necessary to charge things you don’t have the money for.  The problem is in those two words “genuine emergency”.  That does not mean a lack of planning.

So?  God is concerned about today and what we face.  He is concerned because He has the big picture.  He wants us to end up at the right conclusion.  We can’t do it if we refuse to consider what comes after.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Politics of Sloth

(Proverbs 19:15 KJV)  Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

How do political positions relate to our faith?  There are many issues which are personal opinion or preference.  I think of taxes on imports and infrastructure renewal.  Others, such as abortion and homosexual marriage are obvious places to combine the two.  Some are more subtle.  Recently a politician suggested that everyone should have a guaranteed income and suggested two groups of people to consider.  One was those who could not work.  That is worth discussing.  The other group was those who do not want to work.  That is being addressed here.

The apostle Paul put it another way.
(2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV)  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
That is a Biblical and Christian position.

So?  Don’t assume that we should not vote and campaign because it is beneath us.  There are certain positions, such as not encouraging sloth, that are based in our faith.  Apply them. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Gossip by Any Other Name...

(Proverbs 18:8 KJV)  The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

It is interesting the different ways the Hebrew is translated.  Here the NASB has “whisperer” (7279) and the KJV has “talebearer”.  If you look at the other translations on my software I come up with one who says evil, gossip, double tongued and slanderer.  That is quite a selection.  The benefit of looking at all these translations is that we need to be reminded of all the ways we can rationalize our talking about other people.  You can pick one of these or one that you like better.  It is still an activity that God frowns on.  We know it is serious because of how often it is brought up. 

So?  Watch your mouth.  Nothing new here except when we are successful.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Divine Perspective

(Proverbs 17:22 KJV)  A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

One of the goals of my morning routine is a “merry” (joyful NASB) (8056) “heart” (3820).  That is one reason I start by focusing on what I have to be thankful for.  It is so easy to get consumed with the pin pricks that distract us.  When you stub your toe it is easy to forget that you live in America and have a wealth of material goods surrounded by more liberty than history could ever imagine.  All you can think about is your sore toe.  In the morning I grab for the divine perspective and remind myself of all my blessings.  I always try to remember my salvation as the ultimate blessing.

So?  Having a good day is usually more a matter of discipline and attitude than perception based on distractions.  I find that if I don’t start in focus I wander in a haze all day. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Christian Nation

(Proverbs 16:10 KJV)  A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.

Is America a Christian nation?  In one sense we have been and still kind of are.  We are Christian because we are not Muslim or Hindu.  That does not mean a lot.  Of greater importance are two other key elements.  The one we are not looking at today is the character and belief of the people.  In order to be a Christian nation America would need to have enough spiritual salt to deserve that label.  If we look at the way the general culture is going and how the so-called church has been discarding basic Biblical truth, the label is getting questionable.

The other element is the leadership.  That is what this verse addresses.  Does America have leaders who acknowledge and live by the word of God?  That is even more doubtful.  I believe there are a fair number of mayors, city counsel members, state officers and federal officials who are genuine in their faith and practice.  The problem is that they are few and far between.  It is a blessing of God to have leaders who walk the path of righteousness.  In a republic it is the job of the rank and file to elect those who can serve well.

So?  We have no elections on the near horizon but we do have the process of politics and living going on daily.  We need to stay awake, observe and when the next election comes, be ready to vote as if we wanted a Christian nation. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

A Fool’s Choice

(Proverbs 15:5 KJV)  A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.

A “fool” (191) is not “prudent” (6191).  I guess the corollary of that is that a wise man is.  Have you ever prayed for prudence?  I don’t think I have.  It may be like praying for patience.  You don’t want situations where you have to exercise that gift. 

But it should be on our list, maybe close to the top.  Prudence has to do with balance and restraint.  Those are not popular in our personal choices or our cultural priorities.  Prudence makes it impossible to pray, “I want patience, and I want it now.”  Prudence says, “What is the right response (amount, priority, direction)?”  Prudence gets into all the little cracks of life.

So?  We all have many decisions daily.  Use some common sense.  God has given us the guidelines we need but we have to apply them. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Eternal Trigger Warning

(Proverbs 14:27 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

“Fear” (3374) is one of those words or concepts that reminds us of the vast schism between the Bible and the world.  We tend to get comfortable because we still have a lot of Christian values in our culture.  They are fading but most of us are still immune from the depravity of paganism.  Fear, or awe and reverence, is shunned by the world around us.  We have schools establishing safe spaces and demanding trigger warnings to keep the sheltered souls in their care from feeling any mental or psychological discomfort.  We think the government and its programs can make life rainbows and cotton candy. 

The Bible teaches that a healthy fear is healthy.  The fear that we have of God is balanced.  On one side you have the consuming fire of a holy God.  That can get us to trembling if we are honest.  The God of the Bible should be an eternal trigger warning.  There is no safe space.  On the other side is the God who is love, who sent Jesus to die for our sins and make us part of the family of God.  But in that comfort is the fact that it is an Old Testament, patriarchal family, not a modern open family.

So?  Your comfort is hollow if it is not grounded in both the holiness of God and the love of God.  You are not on an arcade roller coaster.  You are on the Highway of Holiness. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Word of Hope

(Proverbs 13:1 KJV)  A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.

How about a word of hope for those with young men in their lives.  Don’t give up on a teen ager or a slightly older kid.  Children are not known for their wisdom.  The key is at some magical point in their lives when their mind matures enough to begin to understand the big picture.  When they are 16 you as a parent know nothing.  Ten years later they can be amazed at how much you understood the world.  It happens.  Of course, some times it doesn’t.

Remember that your job is to train and demonstrate the “wise” (2450) lifestyle.  The one who will need to make the decision to embrace it is the child.  You can’t do it for him.

So?  Be an example of the life you want others to live.  You may not have children.  Your children may be out of the home.  Young eyes are still watching. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Sleeping with Your Shoes On

(Proverbs 12:24 KJV)  The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

From the context we assume that being “diligent” (2742a) means showing up on time for work and putting in good time.  That is true as far as it goes but it doesn’t go far enough.  It also means paying attention.  If you are on guard duty you may never move from your guard post but you are expected to remain awake and alert during your duty hours.  Guard duty goes beyond that.  If I remember my days in the army correctly there was a group of men selected each night who had guard detail.  We had shifts.  When we were not on active alert we still were expected to sleep in the guard barracks and be ready to go at any time.  That meant sleeping with your shoes on.

It is impossible for us to remain on edge every moment of our life but we can find ways to stay prepared and ready to go.  It is based on an inner commitment to righteousness and the Holy God.  There may be times when the Holy Spirit is the only one awake and watching for the enemy but we are expected to be ready to respond.

So?  We are never off duty.  We are never released from the straight life.  We are never allowed to substitute sin for salvation.  Sleep well.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Scotch-Guarded

(Proverbs 11:8 KJV)  The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.

Deliverance can take many forms.  It is my belief that God shields us from a bag full of tragedy and we are not even aware of it.  I notice it sometimes when I hesitate briefly at a green light and some clown comes plowing through, running the red.  If I had been quick off the dime I would have been road kill.  Guardian angels don’t get enough credit.  How many times have I been on an airplane of coughing and come off unscathed?  How many times did I have students cough in my face and the germs all died? 

Sometimes we are delivered because it never occurs to us to do evil.  I have never drifted, or charged, into infidelity.  If I think about it I can think of a few times where the offer was there but I didn’t even notice it.  If I wanted to really think about it I might find a lot of situations that would have gone completely different if I had been willing to be “wicked” (7563).

So?  Think of it as built in Scotchguard or some such chemical.  “Trouble” (6869a) beads up instead of soaking in.  Praise God. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

An Honest Man

(Proverbs 10:9 KJV)  He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.

This brings to mind the saying, “You can’t cheat an honest man.”  That does not mean what it literally says.  What it is reminding us of is that we end up being the loser when we think we are the one pulling the fast one.  I have stopped going to pawn shops looking for a great deal.  I have bought two guitars in pawn shops.  I thought I was getting a great deal, not cheating, but a great deal.  It turns out I was paying market.  I didn’t get cheated but the person doing the selling knew exactly what he was doing.

When I hear offers that I can’t refuse, I refuse them.  You hear this stuff on the radio all the time.  Sign up for their free course and you will find out how to get rich in your spare time with no investment.  Right.  My first question is, “If it is so easy and so profitable, why are you wasting your time giving away your secret to the competition?”  The answer of course is that they make their money from people who want to get rich in their spare time with no investment.

So?  Sure, grace is free.  Salvation is a gift.  Living a holy life means living by certain standards.  Consider God an “honest man” who can’t be cheated. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Eye Opener

(Proverbs 9:3 KJV)  She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

History is replete with what are called “mystery religions”.  These are belief systems with hidden knowledge that is only revealed to initiates as they work their way up the ladder of spiritual status.  In the days of Rome you had the gnostics.  Their influence is all through the New Testament as the apostles fought their influence.  The understanding of Christianity in the Koran shows the influence of the gnostic gospels and their influence in the Arabian world. 

Wisdom is not like that.  There may be a lot of things you don’t know but it isn’t because it is hidden from you.  The main reason is because you have not looked or listened.  God has laid it out for you.  I will admit as the secular, anti-Christian culture gains ground that things like Christmas carols are being driven from the public square but the word is still there.

So?  Rejoice that wisdom is available.  Seek it.  Pray that those around you would have their eyes opened.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Asking for Directions

(Proverbs 8:14 KJV)  Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.

In the battle of the sexes women often comment on how men are too macho to ask for directions.  We will do anything rather than admit we are lost.  I am not sure that is just a masculine trait but I know it is true in my life.  I would rather read the directions myself than ask someone how to do something.  I would rather get my own map than rely on someone else for directions.  I don’t base my clothes on the weather report as much as looking out the window or sticking my head out the door.  That is not bad.

The point here is that we need to be very careful where we go for help.  We will often have decisions to make and would like some input.  The problem is that we get many different opinions and often each is based more in the prejudices and goals of the advice giver rather than what is objectively right.

So?  It is fine to ask for advice but keep in mind that God has given us the basics in His word.  He has given His Holy Spirit to help us understand what it means.  He has worked a miracle of grace so that we want to know.  Seek Him first.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Who’s Counting

(Proverbs 7:26 KJV)  For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.

What do you keep a record of?  Do you have anything you count?  Do you have goals?  Realize that you are on someone’s wish list.  They want to see you “cast down” (5307) and they want to be the one doing the casting.  They want you to be one of the “many” (7227a) on their list.

I am keeping track of the golf courses in my area.  I have a vague goal to play on all of them but it is not a compulsion.  For some people bringing you down is a compulsion.  It is how they get their jollies.  It is how they feel their worth. 

That is the bad news.  The good news is that we have God on our side.  He knows their poison and has the antidote. 

So?  There is a reason the old song said “Trust and obey” and not just “trust”.  There is a reason why the Bible reminds us of the glory and power of grace but also that we are expected to obey.  If you don’t take your medication it doesn’t really matter how miraculous the drug is. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Not Feet First

(Proverbs 6:18 KJV)  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

It is sad how often our physical responses reflect what is really going on inside.  We live in a culture that tries to blame all of our troubles on our environment.  Thus we have a society of victims instead of people refusing to accept responsibility for their actions.  It is true that our surroundings have an effect on us.  Look at food.  How many are looking forward to a few honeyed locusts for dessert?  For some in the world that is a rare delicacy.  Americans like their milk.  For many that is disgusting.  Other tastes are built in.  We kept sugar from our first born for a long time.  He did not need to be conditioned to like it.  It was built in.

The condition of our “heart” (3820) has a lot to say which way our “feet” (7272) will “run” (7323).  The condition of our heart does depend on something outside, the grace of God.  The thing is we have a say in whether God’s grace does its work.

So?  Make sure your garden is weeded before you start giving lectures in horticulture. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Cosmic Preppers

(Proverbs 5:10 KJV)  Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;

While it is true that we are to be storing up treasures for heaven where rust and moths do not destroy there is a simultaneous command to be stewards of our earthly resource.  God is rooted in history and the physical world because He is the molder of one and the creator of the other.  There is a religious spur that is called Deism.  One of the aspects of Deism is that while it admits to a god, he is not involved.  You may have heard of the illustration of making a watch, winding it and leaving it to wind down.  That is the god of Deism.  It is not the God of the Bible.

As I speculate on why God gives us responsibility to manage our physical resources I come up with an idea that we are preparing for eternity.  In a sense we are cosmic preppers.  Somehow balancing our check books and living within our means will have a connection to eternal life.

So?  Manage your resources.  Make sure that the fruit of your labor goes into preserves and not the garbage bin.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Health Advice

(Proverbs 4:22 KJV)  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

We have here a verse for the health and wealth gospel people.  We have a promise of “health” (4832).  How simple can it be.  It may be obvious but it isn’t simple.  Like most of the promises of the Bible there are conditions and expectations.  Here the expectation is that you will seek and find wisdom.  That requires focus, study and discipline.  It isn’t like the book of the month club where the latest is sent if you do nothing.

A book that I have reread is None of These Diseases by S.I. McMillen.  He goes into the results of following the kosher laws of the Old Testament.  It seems God had reasons for the outline He gave the Jews.  The revised edition even goes into things like HIV.

So?  Living a righteous life may bring persecution from the world but it also delivers better health and mental stability.

McMillen, S.I. and Stern, David E.  None of These Diseases.  Grand
    Rapids:  Fleming H. Revell, Third Edition, 2000. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

‘Cause

(Proverbs 3:30 KJV)  Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.

I think everyone has a “cause” (2600).  It may be trivial.  It may be universal.  I guess maybe I should say everyone needs a motivating factor in their life.  Some people go out and do battle every day over the silliest things.  To me one of the silliest is the organic community.  I can see that there is a place to avoid things that are contaminated and go for cleaner food.  The real problem we face though is that if all food was grown the way the extreme organic people want then the world would soon starve to death.  If you are wealthy enough to live that way then more power to you.

There is a saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  The same thing goes for our causes.  What may be earthshaking for you may be a non-issue for me. 

So?  Make sure that your bully pulpit is founded on the Rock.  Jesus gives us enough big issues to worry about.  We should not get excited about the latest craze. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Paradox of Balance

(Proverbs 2:8 KJV)  He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.

It is important to make a note about whom the “He” is in this verse.  The NASB may be more artistic in its style but the KJV is more helpful by putting the word at the beginning of the passage.  He is God.  If you look back and read from verse 6 you can see that there are a number of things that God is going to be doing for His people.  If you read the further context it is clear that the recipients are not just those who are raised in a godly culture but those who follow the God of that culture.

So?  We keep running into reminders of the balanced paradox of life.  We are to put our shoulder to the wheel and work hard because it makes a difference.  While we do that we are to always keep in mind that God is in charge.  He is the source of salvation and the dispenser of judgement.  So relax and get to work. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Salvation Is Not Mush and Rainbows

(Proverbs 1:24 KJV)  Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;

This verse talks about a God who reaches out to man.  Even in the days of the Old Testament He was offering salvation to those who would listen.  It also brings up the issue of free will.  In the TULIP view of salvation the “I” stands for irresistible grace.  That means that if God “called” (7121) you did not have the option of “refused” (3985).  How can a mere human refuse God?

Simple.  By saying “No.”

That is where the vast majority of people are.  That is why hell will be so full.  That is why the road is narrow leading to salvation.  It isn’t that God can’t make it wider but that it won’t need to be.  People say, “No.”  Can God force the issue?  Yes, He is God.  He can reach down, turn your will to mush and your disposition to rainbows and have you saying, “Yes, Sir!”  There have been times in history when He has done that, but the pattern is to speak, to call, to offer and let us respond.

So?  I think of it as a daily response of obedience.  I trust in grace and the blood of Christ.  At the same time I know my decision is vital. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Second, Act

(Proverbs 28:18 KJV)  Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.

It makes a difference how we live our lives.  Again, I accept we are saved by grace and our debt is so vast that we cannot pay the price for our sin by any effort of our own.  At the same time there is a demand for us to live righteous lives.  Yes Abraham was righteous because of his faith but his faith was only noticed because of his actions.  If he had remained in Ur and talked about how much he believed in God I don’t think it would have been accounted to his as righteousness.

God demands our faith but He also demands our obedience.  Like the love and marriage of the old song, you “can’t have one without the other”.

So?  Trust in God.  Act like it.  It will make a difference. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Jalapenos

(Proverbs 27:1 KJV)  Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

What should our attitude be toward the future?  Sometimes “tomorrow” (4279) holds the concerns of surgery or a court appearance.  These are planned and dreaded.  Sometimes we look to a wedding or a graduation with mixed emotions.  Then there are the times when life just blind sides us. 

Anticipation can be a spice of life.  Even that can go either way.  Some people like jalapeno and some people don’t.  My wife is a big party person.  I am a quiet dinner with two friends person.  It makes a difference. 

Attitude also makes a difference and I think that is what this is about.  Ultimately we need to always keep in mind that tomorrow is in God’s hands, not ours, the doctor’s or the judge’s.  Keep in mind that if God could make Pharaoh let His people go, He can deal with your tyrants.

So?  Anticipate the adventure.  Develop an attitude of trust and confidence.  Do your best to confuse those who are out to get you. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fairy Tales

(Proverbs 26:26 KJV)  Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.

Americans have lived in a fairy tale.  We have had a culture that was molded by Christian values and a government that was formed on Biblical ideals.  While everyone did not believe or practice the Christian religion, its principles were accepted as right and wrong.  That has made us struggle with the reality that the rest of the world has faced on a regular basis. 

People will look you in the eye, smile and lie.  When you turn your back they will stab you.  Literally or metaphorically it is the way things are in normal human behavior.  It doesn’t matter if you agree with the assessment.  Here it is.

So?  We are called to righteousness.  We are not allowed to compromise on morality.  At the same time we need to realize that those expectations are rejected by many, if not most, people around us.  Walk straight but be aware of the corruption. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Water Problems

(Proverbs 25:26 KJV)  A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.

I am not a country boy or one who treks in the great outdoors so I don’t have any idea how long it will take a “troubled” (trampled NASB) (7511) “fountain” (spring NASB) (4599) to clear itself out.  I assume it will happen because the water pressure will keep moving the dirt and silt.

What is more troubling to me is the “corrupt” (polluted NASB) (7843) “spring” (well NASB) (4726).  One of the techniques of a retreating army is to poison the water so the attackers will be handicapped.  It would seem like cleaning that up would be a major task.  I used to live in California where the government forced the oil companies to put an additive in the gas that was seeping into the ground water.  I am not sure that it can ever be cleaned up.

So?  Don’t be too cavalier about ignoring evil around you.  It might be necessary.  It might be destructive.  Pray for strength and discernment. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Scripture Trance

(Proverbs 24:27 KJV)  Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

Today when I read this verse I had a bit of a shock.  My general pattern is to look at a verse in the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month.  Thus, chapter 24 on the 24th.  Since I would tend to focus on the same verses if I just picked my favorites, I force myself to work through a verse at a time with the freedom to diverge if something really jumps out at me.  Before that I read the entire chapter in what I assume is an attitude of attention and worship.   Which brings me to today.

I did not remember reading this verse.  I should have noticed it because it is one that has stood out to me before.  I fell into what might be called “scripture trance”.  It is like the times when you are driving and suddenly realize you have been driving in a trance instead of really paying attention.  I don’t like that when driving.  I don’t like that when reading the Bible. 

So?  I guess I need to find a way to follow the advice of this verse.  I need to better prepare the ground before I get down to business.  It is so easy to fall into the trance. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I Don’t Buy It

(Proverbs 23:1 KJV)  When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

This chapter has a lot to say about our social relationships and how our sensual natures can lead us into trouble.  Here it involves the pride that can develop when we are invited to the best parties.  There is a tendency to think that someone really cares.  Another theme in the chapter has to do with being consumed by the food and later it deals with alcohol. 

Pick your poison or select your warning.  For me it would be the gluttony aspect.  I don’t really like big parties and I don’t drink but keep me away from the store when potato chips are on sale.  I try to avoid that aisle even when they are not on sale.

So?  When you realize what your weaknesses are it is always best to avoid contact.  Such a simple step but effective.  I can’t eat what I leave in the store. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

More Than a Check

(Proverbs 22:9 KJV)  He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

Being generous is not covered by giving to the United Way or some large charity.  Much of what you give goes to big salaries or is wasted in administration.  We are to be generous to the “poor” (1800b) not the executives of large charities.  When it came to an organization like the Red Cross I would not even donate blood to them.  As a general rule the only money I hand over to organized groups goes to the Salvation Army.  I am still confident that most of my gift will go to actually help someone in need. 

We are still expected to help the needy.  One of the elements that we overlook is that in order to really help someone we need to be involved in their lives.  Before the church was expelled by the welfare system of the government we were involved in the lives of the poor.  We would visit them in their homes and if we were giving them financial aid we would also teach them about budgeting.  We would pray with them.  In the process we would not only meet their physical needs but we would also work on their deeper needs.  In the process we were also made better persons.

So?  Don’t write a check and feel like you have done your part.  God wants us involved in people’s lives not just being an EBT card.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

And Like a Good Neighbor...

(Proverbs 21:10 KJV)  The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.

Do you have anyone in your neighborhood that makes the entire area a social ghetto?  Or maybe they just rub you the wrong way.  When I was a kid we had an old lady that lived next door.  She would call the cops when we were playing in our front yard because a ball might go in her yard.  It isn’t as if she had a Descanso Gardens type of yard.  It was kind of crab grass and bare earth.  It fit in the block well.  I can still remember her name.  To be honest, there isn’t much you can do about some of these people.

The real question is are you, or am I, one of those kinds of “neighbors” (7453)?  It is possible to be one and not know it but I think there are times when we know we are getting on someone’s nerves.  One of the lessons I take from this verse is to try not to be that guy.  If I decide I can live with it then I need to make sure I never invite them to church.

So?  If their problem with you is your righteousness then God is good with that.  If it is your self righteousness, God feels a bit differently.  I guess we witness by how loud we turn our music and how often we mow our lawn. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Advice that is Not New

(Proverbs 20:16 KJV)  Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.

I like the way that sage advice in our uncertain times is often just a repetition of Biblical wisdom.  My wife likes the conspiracy folks.  One of them was giving advice on how we should be positioning ourselves in the coming crisis.

The three basic recommendations were own land, get out of debt and stock up on supplies.  What always amazes me about these gurus is that we have always had those items as our goals.  What is new?  One that is easy to overlook it the repeated warnings in the Bible about borrowing money.  We should not loan or borrow.  I never actually loan money.  If someone wants a loan and I can afford to lose it I will consider it a gift, even if I don’t tell them. 

So?  Money and how we handle it is a big issue in the Bible.  Ignore what God has said and you will be more regretful than if you don’t pay attention to the latest guru. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Life Choices

(Proverbs 19:14 KJV)  House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Marriage is always risky.  It amazes me how many people we run into are divorced and remarried with all the challenges of blended families.  From what we can see it looks like they are coping.  I can’t picture what it is like being raised in a family where I have “brothers and sisters” that share no DNA with me.  But it is necessary for many.

One aspect of marriage is how you end up with the spouse you have.  In this verse it points out that material possessions are things we can figure out.  When we bought our new home we had it inspected by someone who is supposed to find the flaws.  When you buy stock you have a prospectus to consult.  When it comes to a wife there is little you can be sure of.  I read somewhere that women marry with the understanding they will be able to mold the man into what they want.  Men marry expecting her to stay the way she is.  Both are headed for disappointment.  There is a divine element in choosing the right spouse. 

So?  There may be a reason here for Paul urging singles to stay single.  At the same time, marriage is instituted by God. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Mouth as a Trap

(Proverbs 18:7 KJV)  A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

We read about the two edged sword in different contexts.  Here we see that talking too much can cause a double disaster.  The first is “destruction” (ruin NASB) (4288) in this life.  We can get in fights, lose friends, damage our reputation and who knows what else by a careless word at the wrong time.  That is bad enough.

But it seems to get worse.  It can also damage your “soul” (5315).  I don’t know how far to take this but it gives me the impression that an undisciplined mouth can eventually destroy my status before God.  That has eternal consequences. 

So?  How much encouragement do we need to stop talking and be polite?  Some need more than others. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Making God Bald

(Proverbs 17:21 KJV)  He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

When I was teaching in middle school I would often look at kids who were bright and good looking and a total mess.  It was heartbreaking if I let myself dwell on it.  I often wondered how they would be different if I had been able to take them home and change their environment.  We will never know.  When I think of how awesome my children are I jokingly say it is one of two things:  Heredity or environment.  In reality I would add free will and the grace of God.

Are children born fools or do parents make them that way?  I would imagine there are so many factors that the question is pointless.  Everyone is unique in such a way that it takes an infinite God to be able to deal with us.  I am sure that if God had hair He would be pulling it out.

So?  Foolishness can be cured but the fool must want it.  That makes it very hard.  Each of us needs to concentrate on growing ourselves and pray that God can reach others. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Travel Agent

(Proverbs 16:9 KJV)  A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Some “plans” (2803) are easier to make than others.  If I was making arrangements to drive to Los Angeles I could almost do it with my eyes closed.  Of course the first thing I would do was have my head examined for going to California, but I still have a few friends there so bear with me.  I could drive it without even consulting a map.  I have driven it that many times.  I am also starting to work on a trip to Japan to see the grandchild.  That requires a lot of research. 

Life has both types of preparation.  In some areas God has so imprinted what is right and wrong that it can almost be automatic.  Other decisions require a lot of prayer and study.  As long as our hearts are listening we can count on our Travel Agent.

So?  The longer we walk with Jesus the more comes automatically but we never get over the need to consult with the Lord for our day.  Have a blessed one. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

More Than Lip Service

(Proverbs 15:4 KJV)  A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

We need to beware of smooth talking that is pretending to be “wholesome” (soothing NASB) (4832).  We all know how politicians work, and this applies no matter which side you are on.  They pay what we call “lip service” to a certain issue.  Right now immigration is a hot button.  At another time it might be changing clocks for Daylight Savings Time.  Public figures have a way of saying things to pull the wool over the ears of listeners.  It is very hard to get them to commit themselves in honesty.  They want to calm the waters while they are passing through.

We need to beware of this.  We need to avoid it ourselves.  We are to be honest and not deceptive.  We also need to watch for it in others.  Does the guy running for city council tell you one thing and your neighbor another.  We can never check with everyone but we can engage our memories and put a little effort into it. 

So?  Life requires participation.  We need to engage our memories and our minds when we make decisions and when we deal with other people.  Let the Holy Spirit work in your heart so your motives are pure and in your mind so your actions are positive.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Weather Reports

(Proverbs 14:26 KJV)  In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

I am a bit confused.  If we have “strong” (5797) “confidence” (4009), why do we need to take “refuge” (4268)?  It would seem to me that if I am confident, I will march out with boldness and face everything that comes my way.  Spend some time in Proverbs.  There are times when wisdom says to keep your mouth shut and your head down.  We can still be confident in the midst of that.

We had just moved to Texas when a hurricane hit.  Houston had a lot of damage and other cities were decimated.  We were far enough north that all we got was a lot of rain and some very intense winds.  At the time we did not know that was all that was coming.  When it came we wondered if we would lose some roof or have a tree come down on us.  There were a lot of things to worry about.  We would have worried a lot more if we were living in a tent instead of a brick house.  I would have had more concern is we had an old roof.  Because I trusted my shelter, I was able to open the blinds and enjoy the weather.

So?  Trust doesn’t mean no storms.  Trust means a sense of peace when the rain in pelting and the branches are swinging.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Weathering Speed Bumps

(Proverbs 13:25 KJV)  The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.

Do you notice the difference in priorities here?  It is a bit covered up by the NASB because it uses “appetite” instead of “soul”.  Both are the Hebrew nephesh (5315), which is most frequently translated “soul”.  With that in mind you see that the “righteous” (6662) focuses on the inner man and the “wicked” (7563) on the outer. 

There is a lot of confusion by the “name it and claim it” crowd.  There are blessings for those who walk the straight road.  No one can question that but the greatest blessings are those that touch our heart and soul and give us the stability to face whatever come.

So?  Quote Proverbs 3:4-5 to yourself and spend some time applying it to the bumps in today’s road.  You say you don’t know those verses?  Then look them up.  It will do you good. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Relax and Shut Up

(Proverbs 12:23 KJV)  A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

Most of us talk too much or talk at the wrong times.  Often we are trying to share the love of Christ with people and we forget that many of them don’t care.  We think that because something is true and offers hope everyone will be interested.  It doesn’t work that way.  That is why Jesus said,
(Matthew 7:6 KJV)  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
I am sure you have had the experience of mentioning the name of Jesus and watching people’s eyes glaze over as they change the subject.  Proverbs makes it clear that at one extreme there are people who think the wisdom of God is an abomination.  There are also many people who know on a subconscious level that living a righteous life will limit their sinful activities.  They don’t want to hear about it.

So?  Realize that it is the Holy Spirit who does the real convicting and teaching.  We are to be ready and willing to speak and share but sometimes we make it worse by jumping in and trying to take charge.  Relax and let God do His part. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Are You Expecting?

(Proverbs 11:7 KJV)  When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

I am not getting old, I am old.  It has always amused me that people will change their hair color or spend lots of money on products that are supposed to make them look younger.  It does not change reality.  I am okay with that.  Of course in my mind I am a lot younger than my body knows.  I sometimes wonder who the old man is reflected in the store window, then I realize it’s me.

Since I believe that the death and shed blood of Jesus paid the price for my sins, I have a hope of eternal life.  Death is not a scary thing.  The possibly uncomfortable process of dying is a concern.  Dementia is a possibility.  Death itself is no big deal.  The wicked don’t have that assurance.

So?  One thing to be thankful for is not having to live in fear and desperation.  We don’t have to make our mark.  The success of the universe does not depend on us.  We are preparing for eternity, not preparing eternity. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The In Box

(Proverbs 10:8 KJV)  The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

A characteristic of wisdom is the ability to take direction.  This is often a matter of pride.  If you read through Proverbs you will see pride and arrogance brought up repeatedly.  One of the visible demonstrations of those qualities is a refusal to listen to others.

Of course the purpose of wisdom is to help us know how to process the information we are receiving.  Just because words are coming out of someone’s mouth does not mean that they are true or, even if true, of any value.  We need to be able to think and evaluate.  That is why Jesus commands that we love with our minds as well as body, soul and heart.

So?  Seek wisdom and use the wisdom you have to put together what you are receiving. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Table Setting

(Proverbs 9:2 KJV)  She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

As I read this today it seemed familiar.  After thinking about it awhile I came up with this,
(Psalms 23:5 KJV)  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
God is ready for us and is setting up what is to come.  He is preparing so we can be prepared.  We sometimes, or should I say usually, assume that this will be done in a peaceful venue where we can lean back and bask in the moment.  That is not the case.

If you read through the chapter you see that the foolish woman is using a very similar invitation.  This points out that we will see competing voices in the marketplace of ideas.  Satan will do everything he can to drown out the voice of God.  We need to listen carefully and remember such verses as the one that points out we will know people by their fruits.

So?  Knowing truth and finding wisdom is possible but will not just drop in our laps. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

A Genuinely Inconvenient Truth

(Proverbs 8:13 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Christians need to do some serious thinking about love and “hate” (8130).  God is love.  We are to love.  As the song says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”  Everyone seems to be on board for that.

We are also to hate.  That seems harsh but it is what this verse is telling us.  We are to “hate” (8130) “evil” (7451b) and especially the evil “way” (1870).  Too often we embrace evil in the name of love.  What would those evil actions be?  Here we could specifically see “pride” (1344), “arrogance” (1344), and foul mouths.  Other places you can find more kinky behaviors and attitudes.  The word used for “perverted” (8419) or “froward” means perversion. 

So?  Perversion exists.  It is defined and examples are given in the Bible.  We need to accept that as true not just go along with the pressure of our culture that is embracing it. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Drift Warning

(Proverbs 7:25 KJV)  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.

I could never be a Calvinist and, although I consider them brothers in Christ, I usually cannot attend a church for long if the pastor believes in P.  What is “P”, you say?  It is the last letter in TULIP and represents the “perseverance of the saints”.  Even there it is not the phrase but the way it is understood.  I understand it to mean that those who persevere to the end will see eternal life.  The Calvinist sees it as an ironclad guarantee of salvation even if you drift into apostasy. 

This verse is a reminder and a warning to stay on the path of righteousness.  Obviously we have times when our attention may wonder or we get careless.  This is not about a momentary drift.  This is about making decisions that turn us aside.  It is serious because whatever your theological persuasion, look down a few verses and you see that the danger of this drift is hell, Sheol, and death.

So?  Stay focused.  It makes a difference.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Innocent by Definition

(Proverbs 6:17 KJV)  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

What are the requirements for “blood” (1818) to be “innocent” (5355a)?  We often hear about innocent bystanders.  We think of the people that were murdered in the Twin Towers on 9/11.  There are a lot of people who have not earned what comes their way.

Innocence has at least two levels.  In one sense none of us are really innocent. 
(Romans 3:23 KJV)  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
I have heard people talking about convicted criminals who claim they did not do it.  They will sometimes comment that maybe they didn’t do this but there are a lot of other things they have done. 

Biblically speaking there are a few groups that would be considered innocent by classification.  Among those would be widows and orphans.  God has special concern for widows and orphans.  In the ancient culture they had a very dark future.  God is also concerned about the poor.  All that being said I think the most innocent group of people that are being killed without mercy are the unborn children being aborted for convenience.  Millions of children every year, many of whom would live if removed whole from the womb, are butchered in the name of convenience.

So?  Few modern issues are so cut and dried.  Abortion is one of them.  If an unborn child does not fit the definition of innocent, I don’t know what does.  God hates it. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Next

(Proverbs 5:9 KJV)  Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel:

We have many demands on our lives and that is natural.  The big ones are family, job and country.  All of these have a Biblical place and are given honor in the Bible.  This verse is in the context of marital fidelity.  It is a reminder that we are to invest ourselves in our spouse not in casual relationships.  It is also a call to stewardship.

We only have so much energy and time.  The results of how we use that will show up in other things that we value.  Solomon is reminding us that there will always be a hierarchy of demands.  If the choice is your son’s softball game or weeding the garden most of us don’t have much trouble with priorities.  It gets more difficult when it is a matter of keeping your job by showing up on time or giving someone a ride because their car broke down.

God makes demands on our time and energy too. 

So?  Make sure that your order of operations is in sync with what God is expecting.  In the long run He can make things work out.  Don’t make yourself a challenge. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Focal Point

(Proverbs 4:21 KJV)  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

Let’s face it.  We have different concerns at different times of the day and the year.  As my wife’s birthday approaches I try to move the idea of appropriate gifts to the focal point.  When the needle on my gas gauge gets to a certain point my focus becomes a cheap gas station.  In the morning I am trying to explain to myself again why I want to get up.  We need to understand that those can never really be our focus.

Our focus needs to be what the previous verse calls the words and sayings of wisdom.  Being followers of Jesus Christ needs to be the actual focal point of every moment of our lives.  I don’t think we are capable of singular vision but even when we are not staring at it, it needs to be at the center.  When I am driving to Austin I may not keep muttering “Austin.  Austin.  Austin.” to myself, but I keep my goal at the center or I end up in Los Angeles.  I know I don’t want that.

So?  Again I urge you to spend the key part of your day ratcheting in the scope of your life.  Put Jesus dead center each day.  Ask God to be your guide.  Do a little input from Scripture.  It is a discipline that will pay dividends. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Those Pesky Neighbors

(Proverbs 3:29 KJV)  Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.

How is Christianity different from other religions?  This is one piece of the answer.  Most cultures will have you getting along with the guy next door as long as he is part of your sub-group.  Thus if you are a Left Handed Baptist and your neighbor is a Left Handed Baptist then you are expected to live in peace.  If he is a Right Handed Baptist, all bets are off.  That is not the way of God.

Jesus defies the morals of the world.
(Matthew 5:43-4 KJV)  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Like so many other teachings of Jesus we find that it is rooted in the Old Testament.  Much of what He is teaching is a matter of bringing out the truth that has been ignored.

So?  What truth have you been ignoring?  What have I conveniently forgotten?  That is one reason why we need to keep reading the Bible with a time for reflection.  God wants to remind us of something today.  It might be how we treat our neighbor.  It might be our gluttony.  It might be our use of leisure. 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Larder of Wisdom

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

I was struck by the KJV using “layeth up” (6845) where the NASB uses “stores up”.  The older language made me think about the way in which you might put away supplies for a rainy day.  I picture bags of rice or beans being stacked in such a way to keep them from falling.  I think of the stories from Little House on the Prairie where they would fill the root cellar with vegetables and canning.  It is there to be used when needed.  In a good year you might not even need everything that was put aside.

I visit some web sites that focus on being prepared for the unexpected.  It could be as simple as losing power for a day in a snow storm or notched up to a flood that cuts you off for a week.  The idea is to have what you need for the unexpected.  One of the elements of wisdom is that you never know what is coming so your supply must be varied and easy to access.

The point here is that God will make sure that we have what we need when the time comes.

So?  Trust and keep laying up the wisdom.  It is a tough world out there.  We don’t know what God will allow to happen or send our way.  We can know that our larder of wisdom is ready.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Listen

(Proverbs 1:23 KJV)  Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

As I read this today another verse was brought to mind.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
The common theme that I saw was that God will try to speak to us and if we listen He will bring forgiveness and renewal.  This is a perpetual promise but it requires a couple of things.

First we need to listen and acknowledge what God is saying.  This is hard when the issue is “reproof” (8433b).  We don’t like correction.  When people speak to me critically my first reaction is denial and anger.  I might later reflect and grow but not initially.  I am working on that.  I am trying to listen and cut through what their agenda might be and find what I need to hear.

The second is just as hard.  We need to change.  Notice in Chronicles we are to turn from our wicked ways.  We can’t go on doing the same and expect the forgiveness to keep flowing.

So?  God is speaking.  Sometimes through His written word.  It might have been through the sermon on Sunday.  It might have been from your wife five minutes ago.  Listen and respond.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A January Mothers’ Day

(Proverbs 31:2 KJV)  What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

This is a verse that might be appropriate for Mothers’ Day if Mothers’s Day were a Christian event.  Mothers’ Day as we celebrate it is a time to feel guilt over not calling Mom on a regular basis and stimulate the economy as a result.  Is that cynical enough for you?  Why is this a verse for Mothers’ Day?  If you look at the previous verse you see that this is quoting a mother.  What we ought to be doing on Mothers’ Day is remind mothers of their duty as godly women. 

Most women will admit that someone is their child, in this case a son.  Too often they don’t want to admit that the child is like them.  Usually they forget that this child is a result of their “vows” (5088).  Part of this is to remind us that being a mother should only take place in the shelter of marriage vows.  Our culture is denying that.  What started as compassion for unwed mothers has morphed into a glorification of their valiant struggle.  Godly mothers are within the vows of marriage. 

Even more it is within a vow to God.

So?  Stop glorifying unwed mothers.  If there is repentance then forgive and be supportive but only if there is a genuine vow to God.  He has His standards and we should not be watering them down. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

You Name It

(Proverbs 30:1 KJV)  The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

Historically names have been important.  They say something about you or about the hopes your parents have for you.  In pagan cultures it is common to have a name that you received when you came to adulthood and had a spirit quest.  In that experience something would happen that would give you a name.  Other times you received an adult name that said something about you.  Thus I might be called Big Foot, son of Limp.  The reason I bring this up is that as I was looking at different translations I was amused by the Douay-Rheims Translation.
(Proverbs 30:1 DRB)  The words of Gatherer the son of Vomiter. The vision which the man spoke, with whom God is, and who being strengthened by God, abiding with him, said:
Gatherer is from the Hebrew but I can’t find where the “Vomiter” comes from.  It makes me wonder what happened in this man’s life to generate such a name.

So?  If your intimate circle had to pick a name for you, what would it be?  I shudder to think what I would be called.  Maybe it is time to live up to the name I want. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Too Much, Too Often

(Proverbs 29:11 KJV)  A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

A key word here is the “always” of the NASB which I assume is the same as the “all” (3605) of the KJV.  There are probably times to let it all hang out.  Strong expression has its place.  The problem we have is that some people feel like they always have the right to verbal excess.  The other problem is that some of us don’t have a very good gauge of when is the right time.

So?  A general rule that seems to come out in Proverbs is, “Don’t”.  Control your temper.  Say less.  Take the hit without retaliation.  We don’t like it but there it is.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Evil Targets

(Proverbs 28:17 KJV)  A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.

Is this verse aimed at the great killers of all time or at the educator that goes through life dumbing down young minds in the name of political correctness?  Is it Stalin or your kindergarten teacher?  I think the answer is both.  I don’t know which Solomon had in mind.  He certainly had his share of bloody kings and emperors to deal with but he also had people who went through life just getting a rush from being evil.

As I have said before, evil exists.  Admit it and learn to recognize it.  This also tells us that we are not to support it.  That calls for us to develop a Biblical view of what is evil.  It does not mean to accept what your local social justice warrior tells you.

So?  Life will never get easy.  We need to engage our minds and be alert.  We need to recognize that standards of God and embrace them.  It will never be automatic.  It will never be easy.  It can be done. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Good Help Is Hard to Find

(Proverbs 27:27 KJV)  And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

I will have enough goats milk to provide for my “maidens” (5291).  I am not sure if that gives me a great deal of comfort on first read.  I don’t have any maidens.  One source suggests that these are the servants who care for the goats as in “eight maids a milking” of the Christmas song.  I guess we could extend it to servants, but I don’t have any of those either.  Maybe in modern life it could be your auto mechanic or plumber.

So?  I think the point is that God is aware of our needs and will make sure they are provided for.  This does not rule out the necessity of our responsible behavior.  It gives us a foundation for our daily trust. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Beware Fair Speech

(Proverbs 26:25 KJV)  When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.

Discernment is a very hard quality to develop.  This is double true in our current culture that talks about tolerance and safe spaces and trigger warnings.  We have seen the problem in the church when we misquote the “judge not” passage to mean spiritual blindness.  We are told “don’t speak ill of the dead” and “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.  Those are all important points but they become destructive if applied without discernment.

There are some people who are living “abominations” (8441).  This is a word that is used at least 25 time in Proverbs.  God is serious about getting across to us how serious this is.  Some people are evil, not by accident but by intent.  They are sometimes smart and clever at the same time.  It is a deadly combination.

So?  We can of course trust in the Providence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.  We do not need to walk in fear but in discernment.  If something seems off, approach it with spiritual eyes. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Good News

(Proverbs 25:25 KJV)  As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

It has been a long time since I have been working all day in a hot, Southern California summer.  If you have never had that kind of experience then you don’t understand how good water can taste.  It doesn’t even need to be cold.  Just the water out of a hose can be an elixir of regeneration.  That is what good news can do for us.

It can be such basic information as the plane carrying family members landed safely.  It can be a lab report saying the biopsy was benign.  It can be a reminder that Jesus died for your sins and that you are trusting in that shed blood for your salvation.  God has many ways of reminding us of His blessings.  I had another, “Why me?” moment this morning.  My thoughts went around the world to parents in other lands who wondered where the food for their children would come from today.  I thought of people in war zones and children separated from their parents.  There are people who have children that won’t talk to them.

So?  Good news is all around us.  May God open your eyes and help you see it. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Lips of Memory

(Proverbs 24:26 KJV)  Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.

This verse comes at the end of several dealing with honest talk as opposed to deceit.  The summary is that people are drawn to those who give honest answers.  On the short term we do not seem to be seeing that in our society.  Liars and vulgarity seem to be the order of the day.  When we have political campaign we hear all kinds of promises that even a little bit of thought would realize can’t happen.  Yet people keep voting for the same liars.

I have to believe that we should be living to a different standard.  We need to work on our memory and when it comes to votes or contributions review what we know before we act.  There is a saying that would apply here, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.” 

So?  We are to forgive wrongs done to us but we are also supposed to be wise enough to not put a thief in charge of counting the offering, or as one church I know put a child abuser in charge of the nursery. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Side Effects

(Proverbs 23:35 KJV)  They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

In the days of Solomon you had fewer mild altering substances than you do today, but you did have them.  If Solomon were writing today I can’t help but think that he would mention marijuana and the palate of drugs people are taking on a regular basis.  For most people alcohol would have been the drug of choice. 

One of the problems with drugs, be they prescription, over the counter or back alley, is that they often cause more damage than they remedy.  Take almost any medication and you will find a list of side effects.  I will grant you that much of the print is legal jargon to keep from getting sued but there are some serious possibilities.  I am taking a blood thinner.  The most serious warning is that you bleed easier and clot slower.  It can happen internally so you don’t even know it.  That is a problem.

So?  Sin usually does not come with a list of side effects.  You may need to do your own research.  Drive down to where the homeless encampments are in your neighborhood and ask yourself, “How many of these people has access to drugs?”  Be aware of the rewards of unrighteousness. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Iniquity Is Not Isolated

(Proverbs 22:8 KJV)  He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.

I am not happy with the translation of “iniquity” (5767b).  That meaning is included but there is a deeper meaning.  Iniquity seems to emphasize the personal act of sin or unrighteousness.  The Hebrew word adds to that the element of violating justice.  The way it is translated brings out that the actor is bringing condemnation on himself for his actions.  This could be a lie or stealing something from a department store.  It is a sin for you but it does not necessarily cause major havoc in the person violated.  The Hebrew here tries to point out that your action is a violation of the justice of the universe. 

What we do effects us.  That is bad enough.  The point is that sin also effects others.  When someone lives well and when their credit cards catch up with them they can declare bankruptcy.  This is an admission of financial failure.  What is often overlooked are the little people who have their security threatened by the irresponsibility.  I remember going to a meeting called by well paid lawyers to share what had happened to a limited partnership we invested in.  We lost a lot of money.  At least it seemed like a lot to us at the time since we were young and almost hand to mouth.  What put it in perspective were the elderly people at the meeting who had lost most of their retirement savings and were facing serious deprivation.  It was all because some guys wanted to live well on other people’s money. 

So?  Sin can send you to hell.  It can also make the lives of others very difficult.  We do not live in isolation. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Short List

(Proverbs 21:9 KJV)  It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

The Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year/Epiphany medley is over.  How did it go?  Was their any contention?  It is amazing how much tension can be generated by the simple process of decorating a tree.  And then we have the people who keep forgetting the family traditions.  This verse is a good reminder to look back and ask a question, “Was I the voice of harmony or dissonance?” 

Often the only way we can know is to be honest in our evaluation of how people respond.  The thing we should be asking ourselves is not, “What is wrong with them?”  That assumes that we are purer than the snow you wanted for Christmas.  No, the first place to look when someone else is having a reaction is in your own behavior.  My guess is that we are the culprit.

So?  Apologize if it doesn’t make it worse.  Make a note to work on your behavior or sensitivity.  Most important, be like Santa Claus who not only made a list but checked it twice.  It should be a short list because you are the only one on your list. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Emergency Plan

(Proverbs 20:15 KJV)  There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

We are advised to have in mind what is most important to save if our house should be on fire and we only had a few minutes to get out.  When we hear about floods and some of the huge fires that have engulfed the West in the last few years we hear about people loading up their valuables in their cars and fleeing.  What would be on the top of your list?

Might I suggest that your children should get priorities.  Then you start asking yourself what you can’t replace and then what is hard to replace.  That is hard.  The good news is that what you have stored away in your heart and mind is already loaded and does not take much space.  We should be spending our time building up the treasure that cannot be wiped out by a sudden disaster and realize how important those things are.

So?  It is good to have an emergency plan.  It is even more important to have your body, soul, mind and spirit in order. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

At Least the Rain Stops

(Proverbs 19:13 KJV)  A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.

What can you do about a “continual” (constant NASB) (2956) “dropping” (dripping NASB) (1812)?  Think of the possible sources:  A leak in the roof, a runny nose, the Japanese water torture.  Some can be fixed, like the roof.  Torture might just be something you must endure.  Here the source of the irritation is a nagging wife.  How do you deal with her?  If you have a nagging husband, how does she deal with you?

There are certain solutions that I assume are not acceptable such as a club.  While there are times when violence is necessary, nagging is not one of them.  Withdrawal is suggested in other places but how do you do that when you live in the same house?  I guess the final word is again the love chapter and the gifts of the Spirit.  We are given patience and we are to avoid keeping a list of offenses.  We are not to be provoked.

So?  It is not as easy as it might sound, and I know that.  This is an area where practice and mediating on the meaning of love are so important.  Either way, nagging is nagging.  We may not be able to stop the nagger, but we can work on not being one. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Have a Slow Day

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

I like to bask in the foolishness of others.  It is frequent and clear.  The problem is that by my measure, I am just as big a fool.  Probably bigger.  How many times has my mouth seemed to take charge and say things that I can’t call back?  It is a good thing that I am not counting.  It is a bad thing that God is.

The good news is that fools have hope.  They can change.  Sometimes it happens overnight.  Other times it takes years.  The point is, it can happen.

So?  Every time my mouth reveals what is going on inside me I need to have a moment of repentance and recommitment.  I may slow down my day.  It will slow down my mouth.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Growing Heart

(Proverbs 17:20 KJV)  He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.

Do you have friends who like to tell dirty jokes?  Maybe you like to pass them on.  We are in the middle of a passage dealing with the difference between people who want to walk in righteousness and those who simply like to be thought of as cool.  There is a difference in how they think and how they talk.  There is a difference in their goals and dreams.  We don’t like it but there it is.

One of the problems we face is trying to find the ground between seeing and recognizing evil and seeing nothing good in anybody.  When we don’t like someone’s politics it is easy to assume that everything they touch is evil.  We can dislike someone simply because of their favorite baseball team.  The key to this is making sure that our heart is straight.  That can only come about by the work of the Spirit in our lives and a desire to make Jesus Lord.

So?  Often living an upright life is as obvious and inhaling coming after exhaling.  At other times it takes an examination of ourselves as much as those around us.  Growing in the Lord involves our mind as well as our heart.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Choice Combinations

(Proverbs 16:8 KJV)  Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

There are certain Biblical teachings that I have a hard time with but I accept because they are Biblical.  One is the concept of eternal damnation, hell.  I would prefer to think that people just end rather than suffer for eternity, but there it is.  The teaching of this verse is one that I think has been rejected by most American Christians.  It has been rejected by the rest of the world, too but they often don’t have any choice in the matter. 

“Righteousness” (6666) is more important than wealth.  In an ideal world you would have both but we don’t live in an ideal world.  Living a moral life often forces us to make choices that are not beneficial to our immediate bottom line.  Wealth tends to cloud our thinking so that we compromise on right and wrong.  They can go together but only the vigilant can deal with it.

So?  You have choices today.  Some you can do without thinking.  Others require more thought.  Many are just a matter of choosing God’s way or the world’s way.  Stay alert. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Sneaky

(Proverbs 15:3 KJV)  The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

Have you ever seen someone look around carefully, think they are unobserved and sneak something into their pocket?  They think they got away with it.  Such a person is not a Christian because we are aware that God is always watching.  It is hard for us to understand because we are locked into our bodies and our need for sleep.  We can only follow so many things at a time.  I know that some people are capable of multi-tasking but there are still things they miss.  Not God. He is on top of it.

I would hope that most of the time we do the right thing because it is the right thing.  At the same time I think all of us have those moments when we toy with the idea of cutting a few corners.  If you understand this verse then you do the right thing.  I used to get kids at school to think I had eyes in the back of my head when all that was involved was knowing them and what they would do when I turned my back.  God has eyes in the back of His head, figuratively speaking.

I had an aunt who was losing the battle with some form of dementia.  I remember one time when we took her to a Mexican restaurant and she kept sneaking chips into a napkin in her lap.  It was sad as well as funny.  She had an excuse.  We don’t.

So?  Act like God is watching everything you do.  He is. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

OT Evangelism

(Proverbs 14:25 KJV)  A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.

This could be viewed as another Old Testament statement about evangelism.  The most common translation of “lives” (5315) is “souls” in both the KJV and NASB.  We should be concerned about evangelism.  We seem to have forgotten that people are going to hell if they do not come to Jesus.  There are two applications of being a “true” (truthful NASB) (571) “witness” (5707) . 

First, we must proclaim the gospel.  We are told to be ready to explain what we believe.  We must know enough to give an honest statement.  We must believe it ourselves.  Beyond that it is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convict and the sinner to respond.

Second, we are to live lives that are above reproach in the area of honesty.  People should know that your word is your bond and if you say something is so, it is.  I remember the librarian who let me take some materials when the computer system was down.  She said, “I know you will bring it back.”  Either she was buttering me up or my witness had been truthful.

So?  We touch our world.  Make it a genuine touch whether you are quoting John 3:16 or borrowing a cup of sugar. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

For the Children

(Proverbs 13:24 KJV)  He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Our culture likes to talk about how they are doing things for the children.  In reality they are usually using the children as an excuse to advance their own agenda.  Children are just an accident or another tool that is to be exploited.  Few people think about what it means to raise a child.  I know that I didn’t.  I just took it for granted that there would be children and that they would somehow come to adulthood.  I had no understanding of what my parents had put into me and my brothers.

Most of the parents I worked with would tell you they loved their children.  They might even believe it.  That does not make it true.  Love is not a warm feeling.  It is not what people instinctively feel towards babies.  Anyone can smile at a baby and try to get it to smile back.  It is love that repeatedly gets up in the middle of the night to sooth it back to sleep.  It is love that changes diapers with gentleness.  It is love that cleans up the strained spinach that has ended up on the walls.  It isn’t much fun but it is love.  That is where discipline comes in.  It isn’t easy, but it is love.

So?  Love does what is best for the other person.  Hate takes the easy road. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Little White Abominations

(Proverbs 12:22 KJV)  Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

“Lying” (8267) is an “abomination” (8441).  If there is one line of demarcation in our society, this is it.  In the church, instead of standing tall for truth we look for ways to redefine what a lie is.  While I will concede that there is a time for diplomacy and tact we have gone overboard to excuse our deceit and exaggerations for personal gain.  You may not want to answer if a dress makes your wife look fat but you do need to let her know that it does not look good on her.

In God’s eyes there is no such thing as “little white lies”.  Try calling them “little white abominations” instead and see how that plays. 

Why do we talk about lies so much?  The main reason is that Solomon felt a need to bring it up so often and the basis for that is the tendency to lie in 800 B.C. as well as the tendency to lie in 2019.

So?  Simple.  Tell the truth.  If you can’t, don’t say anything. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Payoff

(Proverbs 11:6 KJV)  The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.

This chapter has a theme of the rewards and results of “righteousness” (6666).  It is a strong statement but I don’t see much about the upright being aware of the payoff.  Even here where we are promised deliverance there is no time frame.  It doesn’t say “before lunch” or “today”.  It just says it will happen.  That is what Christian hope is all about.  It is not a matter of hanging on until the cavalry arrives.  It isn’t counting the gold in our bag.  It is an assurance about the future.

So?  Are you worried about what you see in the world around you?  Then lock your doors, stay out of the wrong neighborhoods and watch your mouth.  Those are always marks of wisdom.  At the same time don’t stay awake night worrying about whether we will see our liberty taken away.  Of course we will.  It is just a matter of time.  We will live in victory no matter what the circumstances. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Precious Memories

(Proverbs 10:7 KJV)  The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.

One thing I notice is that there is no timing on this “memory” (2143).  One of the comments I was used to hearing from students was, “I hate this class!”  I didn’t keep a record but I would guess that some of the loudest were the ones who would come back to see me a few years later.  Memory is different than reaction.  Have you ever had an experience that you totally hated but on reflection you realize it was a teaching moment for you.  I think of my time in the army.  I would not want to do it again, but I am glad I experienced it. 

You can’t know how many lives you touch and how you touch them.  What you can take to the bank is that if you are living in righteousness the touch will be for the good.

So?  Live like someone is watching.  Talk like someone is listening.  Long term reality is different than current awareness.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Roots of Wisdom

(Proverbs 9:1 KJV)  Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

God does not operate on the spur of the moment.  Our behavior does not surprise Him.  In a paradox that I cannot begin to understand, He knows the future yet we have free will.  Part of that knowledge must be in the form of wisdom.  We might even think of it as universal laws of physics.  Even that isn’t deep enough because the laws of physics either keep changing or keep being discovered.  We have the physics of Newton.  We have the physics of Einstein.  We have the physics of people I can’t name.  Each previous name did not even imagine the math involved in the next level.

God is different.  He actually knows the laws of physics because He created them.  He created them in a logical and methodical way that makes life possible and planning useful.  This dependable quality of God is part of the reason why the science of the West developed and eclipsed the science of the East.

So?  Wisdom is ready.  It is ready for the temporal and the eternal.  That means God has prepared it for today.  Step out boldly because gravity will continue to function, people will continue to drive like sunspots and gas prices will change. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Super Hero?

(Proverbs 8:12 KJV)  I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

“Wisdom” (2451) is a package deal made up of bundled litmus tests.  Wisdom is not some isolated superpower that you could build a comic book on.  I doubt if we will ever see a hero called Wisdom Person.  Here you see it linked with “prudence” (6195) and “inventions” (discretion NASB) (4209) which are two unpopular qualities today.  We might put up with “knowledge” (1847) as long as it doesn’t make us uncomfortable but the other two are, well, prudish.

In the Bible, Christian character is built on the person of Christ.  He is infinite and complex.  We can try short cuts like saying, “God is love” but then you need to go to I Corinthians 13 and study the multitude of qualities that are involved in love.  It has nothing to do with warm fuzzies.

So?  We are to seek wisdom.  We are to attain wisdom.  We will not be able to do that without a little bit of other qualities that demand we change, grow and conform to the image of God.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Bong, Bong, Bong

(Proverbs 7:24 KJV)  Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.

The KJV uses a term that is not really archaic if you are paying attention.  Instead of the “listen” (8085) of the NASB it says “harken”.  Why do I say it is not archaic?  If you go to a church that realizes there is anything besides songs written last week you would be familiar with the Christmas carol that begins,
“Hark,” the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.”
Now I know that some of you grew up thinking the angel’s name was Hark but it really means, “Wake up and pay attention.”  If you go to public school you would recognize it as the “bong” that comes over the PA before the principal shares some vital bit of information.

So?  One of the messages of the Christmas season just past and the new year that is upon us is, “Wake up and pay attention”.  If you are not paying attention you will never know when it is time to play trump or turn in your library books.  Life has consequences.  Be aware. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Frown of God

(Proverbs 6:16 KJV)  These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

We need to work at forming a Biblical view of God.  Yes, God is love. 
(1 John 4:8 KJV)  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
The sinful, wicked part of us responds to that because we have had our minds warped by a romantic hijacking of the word “love”.  We think Hallmark movies or Fabio.  We think Romeo and Juliet.  We think wrong.

Love is not the only word used to describe God and the definition we use for it is not the one used in the Bible.  God is also holy,
(Leviticus 19:2 KJV)  Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
We could go on with a lot of verses that give a picture of a very complex God, not one who is defined by “Love is never having to say are sorry”.

So?  When you get flippant about who God is think about the word “abomination” (8441) and how a holy God will respond to our corruption of His character. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Careful of the Cookies

(Proverbs 5:8 KJV)  Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:

It has been a long time since I have seen the invitation to meet beautiful Russian women looking for a serious relationship.  I don’t think about the lack, but this brings it to mind.  Why am I not being invited any more?  Have they run out of beautiful Russian women?  Did they find out about my bank balance and lose interest?  What I think has happened is that I have not responded so the algorithms have looked for other things to try to sell me. 

I am told that certain adds are called “click bait”.  It doesn’t have to be something as full of danger as a Russian scam.  It could be anything that the cookies in your computer say you are interested in.  Keep in mind that Satan has those cookies planted all around you.  He knows what will catch your eye.  On the positive side you know what you should avoid and the Holy Spirit has alarms ready to go off if you have signed up for that service.

So?  Avoid danger spots.  There might, notice I said “might”, be a bit of a thrill but is it really worth your eternal soul? 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Pick a Door

(Proverbs 4:20 KJV)  My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I ‘incline’ (5186) toward believing him”.  Often in life there is an intangible something that makes us lean one way or the other.  Sometimes it is just an unknown quantity because we have to make a decision.  I don’t know how many times my wife has announced that she wants to go out to get something to eat and then when we get in the car she says, “Where do you want to go?”  The short answer is, “Nowhere.  I have plenty of food in the house.”  If you are married you know that is not acceptable.  Your inclination in that situation may simply be the first thing that pops into your mind.

In other situations it is more important to make the right decision.  Is it time to change jobs?  Is it time to look for a new church?  Should I ban some of my children’s friends from the house?  Should I worry about too much salt in my food?  You may not have any clear indication but still have to make a decision.  The point here is that if you have been listening and studying there will be some indication of which way you should go.

So?  Invest the time now for the decisions that will come later.  Trust me, they will come.