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.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Harvest Honor

(Pro 26:1 KJV) As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

Some types of honor are natural and should be automatic.  For instance,
(Exo 20:12 KJV) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
This does not have any qualifying tests to receive the honor.  It is deserved by the position and we are to reward it the same way.

Some types of honor are dependent on deserving it.  Too often we get the two types confused.  The confusion often comes because we don’t want to make the call.  We don’t want to make the decision about whether the honor is appropriate or just convenient.

Sometimes honor at the wrong time is not an issue.  A dusting of unexpected snow does not ruin a crop.  A light sprinkle does not flatten the wheat.  Other times it is disaster.

So?  Think before you honor someone.  Isn’t it frustrating how often God expects us to think?

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Resist the Tide

(Pro 25:1 KJV) These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.

How easy it is to forget the things that should be remembered.  How could Israel forget the wisdom of Solomon?  I guess you could ask the same thing about the history of your country.  Just as we are watching the intellectuals of our country rewrite our history and ignoring it, I am sure the same could have happened in ancient times.  In America how many people are there who have no idea what is in the Declaration of Independence?  I would guess the percentages would be similar to those who could not list the Ten Commandments.

I think one of the steps to ignorance is when we allow the professionals to take charge of the truth.  Next Sunday let’s assume that you go to church.  Look around and see how many people brought their Bible.  Watch and see if they look up the passage under consideration.  Listen and see if the preacher is actually using the verses he refers to.  Does he refer to any verses?

So?  Just because the wave has crashed and the water is flowing down hill does not mean that we can’t stand up and keep moving inland.  Pay attention and apply what you know.  It may keep you away from the sharks. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Other Side of the Scale

(Pro 24:30 KJV) I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

Yesterday we saw Proverbs warning against too much stressing after wealth.  Today we see the other side of the problem coming up, too little stressing.  The NASB uses “sluggard” (6102) for the KJV’s “slothful”.  I like both words.  There are some people who are given all the tools to provide for their needs.  I don’t know how many kids I used to see in school like this.  They had good looks and physical ability.  Socially they got along well.  Their parents had enough money to buy them decent clothes and piles of supplies.  With all that, they would never bring their book and always borrow paper and pencil.  Even then they would do little or nothing and still expect to pass and participate in sports. 

God is not a public school teacher.  For many of us that is a tragedy.  It means that the holiness of God will be expressed in wrath.  For those who respond it means His holiness comes out in the sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb and our salvation through trusting in Him.

So?  Don’t sloth out on Him.  He gave it all for you. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

One Side of the Scale

(Pro 23:4 KJV) Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

This is a verse about balance.  Actually it is an unbalanced view of balance because it only warns against one extreme.  If you proof text and try to build positions on one verse you see here a condemnation of the wealthy.  That is cultish, not Biblical.  The Bible does not condemn wealth, it condemns immoral ways of earning it and unethical ways of using it.  One of the unacceptable ways of relating to wealth is being consumed with gaining it. 

Keep in mind that at the other end we have sloth and the welfare mentality.  Those are also condemned.

So?  Work hard and be a good steward.  To some that will lead to wealth.  To the rest it will provide what we need. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Grow

(Pro 22:12 KJV) The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.

Some Christians have a fear of new translations of the Bible.  They like the KJV and don’t see the need for anything else.  The more I use it in writing this blog, the more respect I have for it.  That does not mean there is no place for bringing the language up to date.  The reason I believe it can be done is that the Holy Spirit did not go on vacation in 1612 after the Authorized Version was finished.  He worked with the committees of scholars that King James had gathered together.  I think He still works with devout scholars today.

The biggest danger to me in new translations is the danger of what we see happening in our schools.  A better translation is not necessarily easier, it is more accurate.  If the reader does not need to go to the dictionary once in awhile, then they are not paying attention.  You cannot describe the truths of eternity in kindergarten language.  You can’t really get there with a Ph.D. either but it gives you more insight when you have a better understanding.

So?  Keep studying and expect the Holy Spirit to push your boundaries no matter what your level of knowledge.  Grow can be eternal. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Negative Approach

(Pro 21:13 KJV) Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

If you stop to think about it this is a variation of the Golden Rule.
(Mat 7:12 KJV) Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
The concept of the Golden Rule is not limited to the Bible.  Some present it in a proactive way, like Jesus did in the verse quoted.  Others put it in a restrictive way, don’t do something that you don’t want done to you.  Here Proverbs takes that approach. 

So?  If you don’t listen to others, don’t expect them to listen to you.  It may not be the way you want it, but it is fair. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Another Day, Another Reminder

(Pro 20:19 KJV) He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

Yesterday I was reading and writing about having compassion on the poor.  Today it is about “gossip” (6601a/8193).  Let me guess, tomorrow with be about sloth.  Sometimes it seems like God is out to get me.  My belief is that He already has me so I guess I should say that He is out to mold me.

Molding me can be very uncomfortable.  Think of the ways that a cook makes little balls of food.  If it is melon balls then you cut out what is wanted.  It it is meatballs, you take a portion and roll and squeeze.  If chocolate, heat and pour into a mold.  None of these are enjoyable.

So?  I guess the quicker we learn the quicker God can go on to other lessons.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Poor Thinking

(Pro 19:17 KJV) He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

It seems like this verse is brought to my attention more often than it should.  Maybe I should say, “More often than I want”.  This is an area of my life that I need to continually take to the sharpening stone.  I tend to feel like I am doing well because I deserve it or earned it.  In the morning when I am getting my hat on for the day the Lord keeps reminding me of the blessings He has poured out on me.  It comes during the time I am being thankful.  I often think about all the hands that have gone into the simple thing like a cup of coffee.  I am now reading a book about World War II and it keeps hitting me how blessed I am not to have lived in eastern Europe or Asia during those years.

So?  We need to be thankful and show our gratitude by being more gracious to those who are “poor” (1800b).  One of the truths of life is there is usually someone worse off than we are. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Name It

(Pro 18:10 KJV) The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

It might be a good moment to stop and think about all the songs we sing in worship that mention the name of Jesus.  It doesn’t matter if it is a hymn or a contemporary bit of repetition, there is a lot about the name.  Historically names have significance.  A family name can open doors.  A first name can identify your ethnic background.  A lot of modern names reflect something about the disturbed nature of the parents. 

Here the reference is to the name of the “Lord” (3068) [yahweh].  The key thing that we need to understand is that the name means “I am”.  It is God reminding us that He actually exists.  He is not the formulation of a bunch of theologians or a frustrated author.  He is not one of the gods of fantasy novels that can die or grow senile or lose its power.  He is God, now and forever.

So?  Think about that and have a nice day. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Window and the Chair

(Pro 17:24 KJV) Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

Wisdom is often a matter of focus.  Picture the nature lover who is busy with the glory of a far off mountain peak and doesn’t see the ravine in front of him.  You laugh but have you seen the statistics involving people dying while they take selfies of themselves?  They will take one step back to get a better angle.  The problem is they are already on the edge of disaster. 

So?  It is great to admire the sunrise and sunset.  I have been doing that today.  Before I admire what is outside the window I need to make sure that the chair is under me before I sit down and that the coffee cup goes onto the coaster. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Righteous Excuse

(Pro 16:12 KJV)  It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

The authority of leadership is “established” (3559) in “righteousness” (6666).  Down through history there has been a constant tendency for kings and people with other titles to assume that righteousness is defined by their choice of behaviors.  Thus we have believers in the divine right of kings who felt like any perversion was righteous because they were doing it and they were the king.  In us common folk it shows itself in what the psychologists call rationalization.  We have an awesome ability to make excuses for whatever we want and call it good.

We need to remember and remind others that righteousness is not defined by the actions of celebrities and trend setters but by God Himself.  If you violate those standards then you have stepped out of the bounds of being good.  People keep saying that it is impossible to keep the law.  Actually the basics are within our grasp.  Look over the Ten Commandments and you will find that, except for putting no gods before Him, the rest are quite doable. 

So?  Take this righteousness things seriously.  God does. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Fool Choice

(Pro 15:7 KJV) The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.

How do you determine good preaching?  Often we go with the popular approach, was it entertaining?  Did the time pass quickly?  Did I like the jokes?  You can have all that and be listening to a fool in robes.  Don’t get me wrong, I like all those things but when it comes down to it, has anything significant been said?  I have heard it attributed to John Wesley that the purpose of preaching is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  You do that by passing on the content of the scripture.

So?  Next time you hear someone preaching ask yourself if the Bible is being shared.  Check the source material to see if what is being said is from God or from the psychology department.  You didn’t bring your Bible?  Then I guess the question is who is the bigger fool, you or the preacher? 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ten Count

(Pro 14:29 KJV) He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

Have you ever observed someone who is doused, turns around seething with indignation, sees who dumped it on him and immediately calms down?  Not only have I seen it, I have experienced it.  What changes the reaction?  “Understanding” (8394).  If you are a teenage boy and you see that the attacker is a young lady you like, the attack becomes an enjoyable moment of flirting.  If it was your grandmother trying to get your attention, respect kicks in.

Understanding involves allowing the mind that moment to think before your mouth, or other parts of your body, responds.  It comes automatically for some.  Others must develop it.  It is part of the popular mythology of counting to ten.

So?  Don’t waste your anger quota on trivial irritations. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Freedom of Unspeech

(Pro 13:3 KJV) He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

Americans who have read the Constitution are aware that we have what is called the “freedom of speech”.  I don’t know about you but when I listen or read what is called news or free speech I sometimes wonder if that is such a good idea.  This verse reminds us that just because we have the political freedom to speak our mind, it is not always the right thing to do.

The focus here is on our personal safety.  There are times to keep our mouth shut because to say anything would incite a violent reaction.  There are times, as we have seen in the case of General Mike Flynn, where speaking boldly puts you in jail.  And of course there are times when it is just wisdom in inaction to be silent.

So?  It is much more frequent for most of us to say too much than it is to say too little.  Isn’t that a reminder we need? 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Call a Friend

(Pro 12:26 KJV)The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.

Recently I bought a piece of equipment that I really did not know how to use.  My wife urged me to call a friend who had one and listen to his wisdom.  Being a man I wanted to figure it out for myself.  Bad choice.  What is the point of having friends who know things if you don’t take advantage of their expertise?  Actually I am quite open to learning from others as long as I am not forced to ask.  It is amazing what you can pick up if you pay attention.  I was stuck in the mountains with a copper pipe that had burst.  I had never done copper pipes but I had watched my brother do it.  That, and a few trips down the mountain to buy things, was enough to do the job.

We need to understand that other people are watching us.  As I watch my daughter and her mothering skills I realize that much of what I am seeing she learned from her mother. 

So?  What do people learn about marriage, parenting, citizenship and a plethora of other qualities when they watch us?  Have a exemplary day.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Higher Standard

(Pro 11:10 KJV) When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.

Is this verse a judgement or a prophecy?  In other words, is this describing how society should be, and isn’t, or is it trying to tell us how our neighbors will react.  In my present thinking I am thinking it is a yardstick and we are coming in at one inch.  Take a look at approval rating for presidents.  It doesn’t really matter who is in office.  You can count on a certain percentage of the population that will always back their party no matter what they here. 

We would do well to look beyond the surface reports and deeper into what makes things right and wrong.  Keep in mind that when God talks about righteousness He is talking about the topics covered in the Ten Commandments not in the Kyoto Accord.  Of course, if you have read Genesis in regard to being stewards of the environment, you don’t trash nature.  If you have read Proverbs about taking care of your ox then you don’t abuse animals.

So?  Again I remind you, and me, that we live by a different standard than those who are in power today.  You may never be a city and never live on a hill but you can still be a shining example. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

A Mouth of Justice

(Pro 10:11 KJV) The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

The key word here is not “mouth” (6310), but “righteous” (6662).  Our understanding of what it means to be righteous can get us off on the wrong foot.  Too often we equate righteousness with following a set of rules.  There is nothing wrong with the rules.  After all, God is the one who gave us the Ten Commandments.  Jesus said He did not come to do away with the law.  Righteousness does not begin or end with a moral code.  But it certainly includes it.

The meaning of “righteous” (6662) that we often miss is the idea of justice.  As our culture does with so many good ideas, this one has been corrupted.  Justice does not have adjectives like “social”.  Those concepts are political tools to manipulate people and make the law a gimmick that has a different meaning for the in group than it does for the out group.  Biblical justice is based on the unchanging nature of God.  Justice is rooted in the standards He laid down, not in the position that will gain the most power for the group running things.

So?  When we speak we must speak in accord with God.  That is why we cannot lie.  That is why we cannot cheat.  We are to be different, as painful as that can be. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Watering the Potato Chips

(Pro 9:5 KJV) Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

Keep in mind I am not speaking from experience when I deal with “wine (3196).  It seems to me that there are two ways in which wine is “mixed” (4537).  The way I think it refers to here is to mix it with water.  From my reading of fiction I get the impression that wine was diluted with water to varying degrees.  For dinner with the family you would put in a lot of water.  If you had someone you were trying to get drunk you might put in very little.  Different wines would bear different amounts of thinning. 

One of the issues of wisdom is that it knows how to practice moderation and abstinence.  It knows when to limit and when to deny.  I know that moderation is the hard level to achieve.  I can do without junk food but I have a real hard time eating just a little.  That is one reason why I try to never by a box of Cheese-its.  The box is generally empty when I am stop.

So?  Wisdom calls us to know when to stop.  If we can’t figure where that is I guess you should join me in avoiding potato chips. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Divine Right of Kings

(Proverbs 8:16 KJV)  By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

This is a difficult passage for modern Americans.  The Bible teaches that governments are instituted by God.  We look at the historical boogie men, Hitler and Attila, and claim that we are free and can pick our own leaders.  We react to things like the divine right of kings.  Unfortunately the Bible seems to endorse them.  It forces us toward accepting the concept of providence and the truth that God knows more than we do.  We don’t like that.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that people of faith did not riot in the streets when Bill Clinton or Barak Obama were elected just because they did not agree with their stands on issues.  Going back further, many considered FDR to be the anti-Christ.  It did not start a revolution.  Compare that with the response of our pagan culture to the election of Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump.

So?  It is dangerous living in the land of liberty.  Just like materialism sucks us into depending on our wealth, so liberty makes us think that we deserve.  We need to be thankful and walk with care in our culture. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Weep or Obey

(Proverbs 7:1 KJV)  My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

In our enlightened times we tend to regard the “commandments” (4687) of God as if they are suggestions.  Our culture likes to think that they are sophisticated that they can play with fire and, because of their wise fingers, they will not get burnt.  Old fashioned morals are for cave men, not us as an advanced species.  It is tragic that we are wrong.  We are fooling noone, even ourselves.

Generally God does not make recommendations or suggestions.  He either speaks without confusion or He remains silent.  Often we claim he is remaining silent when it is just that we are not listening.  We see our churches redefining marriage and rationalizing abortion because that is what they want God to say.  Church attenders toy with the occult and embrace materialism.

So?  Don’t let the world fool you.  Quit trying to fool yourself.  Either read and weep, or read and obey. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Loopholes

(Proverbs 6:20 KJV)  My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

I may be looking for loopholes here but I think there is something that is understood but not stated.  I believe it is assumed that the parents described here are people who are following the laws of God and are teaching what is found in the word. 

There is a danger in loopholes.  Too often we are looking for excuses to not do what we know is right.  To often we are trying to make ourselves special cases.  Our motives for obedience or rebellion can turn everything topsy turvy.   The world is full of people who reject the God of the Bible but they still teach that murder is wrong. 

So?  Pay attention to the teaching of your parents but pay even more attention to the written word of God as a verification of what they have to say.  That is a principle that applies to what you hear in school and from the pulpit also.  You can never turn your thinking off. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Beyond the Fun

(Proverbs 5:12 KJV)  And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;

It is a challenge to remain a learner and be open to ideas and standards that we may not find easy.  One of the simple truths that does not apply to all cases is that we learn better when we are having fun.  Like all simple truths that does not apply beyond the basic things that give immediate gratification.  While it may be fun to learn cuss words in Spanish it won’t help you when you need to discuss how to repair a broken air conditioner.  Children learn to speak as their parents speak.  That comes naturally.  If they are from a poor family then they will probably need to exert a bit more effort into speaking at a higher level.  Eventually learning discovers resistance and that is where the real learning takes place. 

So?  The Ten Commandments are basic and black and white.  How to apply them in a world of grey’s is a bit more problematic.  Throw in color and you are in a different world.  It can be done but requires focus. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Froward Again

(Proverbs 4:24 KJV)  Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

As I wrote yesterday I focused on the KJV choice of the English “froward” (3868) and how it seemed to imply bending away from the path.  Here we have a different word, translated the same by the KJV, that the NASB has as “deceitful” (6143).  Here the idea is crookedness rather than just bending away.  At the heart you have the same idea of not being straight. 

One of the great, recurring themes of the Bible is that lies condemn a person.  Many words are used but the idea is the same.  Here are the words of Jesus,
(Revelation 21:8 KJV)  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
So?  One of the reasons I pay more attention to people who embrace traditional values is that these people understand lying is wrong.  Those who also embrace the Christian faith know that lies can send you to hell.  Christians cannot embrace the values and standards of our modern culture.  It is a dangerous road. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Watch Out for the Curve

(Proverbs 3:32 KJV)  For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.

Sometimes the vocabulary of the KJV catches my attention.  Here we see the word “froward” which the NASB translates “crooked” (3868).  There are a number of Hebrew words that are translated “froward” and they all are negative.  The nuance in this word is the idea of curving away from the target.  One source of the English word contrasted “froward” with “toward”.  Thus is would be a kind of counter-repentance. 

When we repent we turn away from sin.  That is part of the deal.  Coming to Jesus is not just a matter of confession and faith.  It also involves turning away from the evil in our lives.  The froward does just the opposite, turning away from God. Thus we don’t drift into sin.  We don’t backslide.  We deliberately change course and begin to turn.

So?  If you want to walk with Jesus then keep on target.  God can be patient with our constant course corrections but not when they are directed toward our old life.  Forward, not froward. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Catechism Time

(Proverbs 2:10 KJV)  When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

When our hearts are right with God, His “knowledge” (1847) is “pleasant” (5276) to us.  There are consequences to how we stand before Him.  We read about His wrath and vengeance.  We joke about lightning striking us.  Some people practice the Christian equivalent of knocking on wood when they say something they shouldn’t.  But when we are honestly seeking Him we are met in wonderful ways.

So?  The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  Even if you don’t come from the Reform tradition you can understand that. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

God Is a Negative Square Root

(Proverbs 1:26 KJV)  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;

It is very hard for us as humans to come close to understanding God.  Just making a list of the “omni’s” should give us a clue:  Omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent....  We can say the words and on a good day I can even spell them but they simply point out how far beyond our comprehension God is. 

That’s okay.  You don’t need to understand something for it to have meaning.  All you need to do is get into high school mathematics.  I recently talked about infinity as being incomprehensible to the human mind.  How about the square root of a negative number?  Such a thing cannot exist but it is routine in some math computations. 

Here we have the God that we like to keep in our little box tell us that He will laugh at us when we try to play games with our sin.  What happened to “gentle Jesus, meek and mild”?  To paraphrase from Princess Bride, “I am not sure you know the meaning of those words.”

So?  Don’t let go of the words we can understand:  Repent, forgive, confess, trust, obey....  They will help us deal with things that are beyond our ken:  Grace, regeneration and God Himself.