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.

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.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Payback

(Proverbs 3:28 KJV)  Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.

I think this applies to our business dealings as well as our tendency to hoard.  Proverbs often warn us about loaning money, borrowing money and cosigning on loans for people.  This could apply to a situation where we have ignored that.  Picture a situation where you have borrowed from a friend or family member with certain terms of payback that could run from $10 a month to whenever you can afford it.  Now they are in need, you are doing well and they come asking to have the balance to get through their crisis.  You have the money available but have it in a nice CD that has a penalty on it.  For your own personal profit you refuse the request.

Bad news for everyone.  You have allowed the desire for profit to override your moral obligation.  They have lost what they though was a friend.  Two hearts are hardened.

So?  Every “deal” we make needs to have the holiness test.  I don’t mean whether you can justify it in a court of law but whether you can still look into the face of God and say, “I have loved my neighbor”. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Conditions and Context

(Proverbs 2:6 KJV)  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

This sounds like a glorious promise.  God will deliver.  We like this idea.  The popular understanding of Christmas reinforces it.  Jesus was a gift.  Grace is undeserved.  God loves us and wants us to have wonderful lives.  That is good as far as it goes.  But remember the three most important values in real estate:  Location, location, location.  Bible understanding is the same only we would say, “Context, context, context.” 

If you read back through all of the glorious promises you find that at the beginning is the provision for personal discipline and study.  If you seek, you will find.  If you knock it will open to you.  Someone said that once.

So?  God has many gifts to give us.  We do not deserve them.  We cannot earn them.  If you had two children, one brilliant and lazy, the other disciplined and focused and you could only send one to college, to which would you give the gift?  What seems obvious to me might not be to you. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Even Arbitrary Has a Beginning

(Proverbs 1:22 KJV)  How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

We start off the new year with three personality traits that are condemned:  Naivety, a critical spirit and ignorance.  Proverbs assumes that these are bad and that we can do something about them in our lives.  The hardest for me is in the area of being overly critical.  Some call me a cynic.  I call myself realistic.  The Bible uses “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b).  It seems to me that being critical is part of avoiding “simplicity” (naive NASB) (6612a).  Obviously by this verse that is not true.  But we can do something about it.

And of course the question is “How long?” (4970/5704)  Isn’t that always the question?  How long can we expect God to be patient with us.  He is much more patient that we would ever be but contrary to some teaching, He will not wait forever.  If you don’t believe me, then read a few verses further and find out the harsh truth.

So?  It is the beginning of a new year.  That is totally arbitrary like the length of an inch, but it is useful for measuring.  Take a deep breath and get on with it.