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.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Call It As You Saw It

(Pro 29:24 KJV) Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.

The second part of this verse is a head scratcher.  The commentators I looked at have a field day with it.  The consensus seems to focus on a court trial in which you are put on the stand and required to take an oath to tell the truth.  While you don’t lie, you don’t tell the truth either.  It is like pleading the 5th for someone else.

So?  This kind of attitude is condemned.  If we are a witness we are to speak the truth.  That seems basic and yet there are many people who have trouble with it. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Appearances

(Pro 28:4 KJV) They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.

For some clubs you don’t need a membership card to participate in activities.  Your participation in the activities is all the ID you need.  The real requirement is an attitude that produces certain behaviors.  If you are a thug in a parking lot looking for someone to rob, you watch behavior and ask yourself who is acting in such a way as to be an easy victim.  If you are bar hopping and looking for a temporary companion, you know what to look for.  It isn’t the lady crossing the street so she doesn’t have to walk by the entrance.

Can you tell who is a Christian by behavior?  In many cases, no.  You can fake it.  Can you make some clear decisions based on behavior?  Yes.  When someone introduces me to a same sex partner who they call their spouse, I know there is almost no chance they are Christians.  I say “almost” because it is possible that they are new believers and have not dealt with the sin in their lives yet.

So?  Make sure you are on the team you claim.  It is embarrassing to show up at the club house and find out they have re-keyed the locks. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Curses

(Pro 27:14 KJV) He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.

Is this verse eternal truth or just a reflection that Solomon was not a morning person?  Because it is in the Bible we need to assume there is some great principle involved.  It is a reminder that timing is key.  Some people don’t like your cheerful morning face.  Some people should not be told what is in the soup they just ate.  Face it, some people are moody and temperamental.  Don’t assume it is the other guy.

Because the Bible reflects human personality and situations I think it reflects Solomon’s morning grump.  There is a lot of just plain good advice we can find in between mention of creating the universe and the mystery of the trinity.

So?  Go for the exotic or be happy with the common.  I guess it depends on your mood at this time of day. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Could Be

(Pro 26:13 KJV) The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

How did the couch potato know the lion was in the street?  I have a feeling he was too lazy to get up and go look for himself.  He either made it up totally or listened to the gossip that was going around.  This is something we can watch out for in ourselves.  Our creativity can put us into all kinds of panic.

Is the economy going to tank?  Someday.  Will the banks fail?  Eventually.  Will the latest virus get me?  Possible.  Is there a lion in the street?  It has happened.  Do we build our lives on these possibilities?  No.  Is Jesus going to return?  Definitely.  Will we be held accountable for how we responded to the gospel?  Count on it.

So?  It might be a good idea today to invest our energy into dealing what we know will happen rather than what we fear. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Timing

(Pro 25:13 KJV) As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

Timing is important.  If it were January you would not get excited about it being “cold” (6793b).  You would just put on an extra layer or turn the heater a bit higher.  In summer it would be refreshing.  My wife asked me what the thermostat was set at yesterday and, after looking, I told her 75.  She complained about being cold.  At 75 degrees she is cold?  So much is perception and timing.

God allows us to go through many different experiences.  We might not choose them or at least not at the time they come.  Looking back we can often see the benefit and growth from what we did not want.

So?  If it rains on your parade, look for the silver lining or some such mixed metaphor.  God’s sense of timing is better than ours. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Plan Your Trip

(Pro 24:8 KJV) He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

Who is this guy who “deviseth” (plans NASB) (2803) to “do evil” (7489a)?  One of the big mistakes we make is thinking he is a rare commodity.  In reality he is most of the people we meet.   The Hebrew word is used 5 times in Proverbs but 122 in the Old Testament.  Each time it appears in Proverbs it has some kind of negative connotation.  That is not true in the OT as a whole.  I thought it was interesting that it was used in what I consider the spiritual gift of craftsmanship in the building of the tabernacle. 

The confusion comes because we live in a world where the concept of evil is rejected unless it is applied to Godly people living moral lives.  That is considered evil by our society. 

So?  Make note of the multitude of places where the path of the righteous is totally different than the path of the socially accepted in our culture.  Check your roadmap and make sure you are on the right route.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Rein Dance

(Pro 23:16 KJV) Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

The KJV has “reins” for “inmost being” (3629).  Reins.  Really?  The Hebrew word is literally “kidney” as in  “I love you with all of my kidneys”.  If you think about it there is a concept that you can wrap your head around.  Reins are what are used to control the horses that power the chariot.  They are what the cowboy hero was trying to get hold of as he hung under the charging horses in the old westerns.  It is saying we need to rejoice with what controls us.

So?  If you can’t understand this kind of joy find an infant that is old enough to respond but has no sense of embarrassment.  Get it excited and its entire body will wriggle.  We need to get that jazzed when someone does the right thing. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Handle with Care

(Pro 22:24 KJV) Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:

What is the problem with being “hot-tempered” (2534)?  Such people are looking for trouble.  It is interesting that when you follow this word back to its root you find that one of the uses is describing an animal that is “in heat”.  Not only are they ready to rumble but they put out a smell that attracts those who want to participate.  We can sense the anger in people.  We are to avoid it.

So?  Would you want to get into a car driven by someone with a short trigger?  Would you hand a loaded gun to someone who is frothing at the mouth?  God expects us to use our brains.  Don’t disappoint Him. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

To Die For

(Pro 21:25 KJV) The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

What is this “desire” (8378) that has the ability to kill us?  I see it going in at least two directions.  One target is the things desired.  This seems to be a quality shared by people at all levels of wealth.  It is part of the human condition.  As we get older and experience more we desire more.  A newborn does not desire ice cream because he has never tasted ice cream.  There is however a desire for something to fill the void or remove the discomfort.

The second direction is to have without payment.  In the market we call it theft.  In the job market we call it “gold bricking”.  We want to have a better paying job but are not willing to get the training it requires.  We want a fresh salad but are unwilling to pick up a knife and start chopping.  We want our sox picked up but think we are too good.

So?  It may not happen overnight, but wanting without willing to work will kill you. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lessons to Learn

(Pro 20:30 KJV) The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.

Some people only learn the hard way.  Some people refuse to learn until it is too late.  I guess some people never know they have anything to learn, at least in some areas. 

There are two dangers when we have hard times or tragedy.  One is to assume that it is the result of sin.  We are much more ready to see that in others.  The other danger is to refuse to examine ourselves to see if sin could have caused the problem.

So?  Honesty with ourselves is more important than honesty with others.  Having said that, it is not an excuse to deceive others.  Righteousness is a quality that touches all of life. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mocking Justice

(Pro 19:28 KJV) An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.

Get the big picture here.  There are certain attitudes that are common in our world and too common in the church.  The first part of the verse is a reminder of all the social justice warriors that are making a mockery of the word “justice” or “sound judgement,” depending on your translation.  Regardless of the translation the danger is severe.  I can’t speak for past generations but I can observe what is going on now.  God’s standards are under attack. 

Never forget that justice is based on unchanging truth and values.  It is not to be confused with manipulation for political advantage. 

So?  It has to start somewhere and the burden is on God’s people.  We must live by God’s standards and proclaim God’s truth.  It will not be easy. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Consider the Source

(Pro 18:22 KJV)  Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

When you read this verse remember that Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines.  He still wrote this verse.  Although the Bible does not forbid having more than one wife the New Testament does seem to state a preference.
(Tit 1:6 KJV) If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
This admonition is given three times in association with the offices of bishop, deacons and elders.  Solomon might have done better to read what Paul had to say.

So?  Truth is truth even if the speaker isn’t living up to it. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Cover Charge

(Pro 17:9 KJV) He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

Can you “cover” (3680) being wronged without forgiving?  As the meme posters say, “Asking for a friend”.  I am sure I would never be confused by this.  But let’s assume I am.  What is the difference between covering and forgiveness? 

I think that covering may be the first step in forgiveness.  It is an attempt to muffle the emotional wailing that often goes on in our hearts.  We are required to avoid vengeance.  We are told not to keep lists.  The first step is covering the wrong.  It cannot stop there.

The danger is in not going the second step.  Things we cover and do not cleans tend to fester and emerge other places.  You can paint over rust and mold.  It does not end the problem.  They must be removed.

So?  Start with covering but move on to forgiveness. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Skeleton Speech

(Pro 16:24 KJV) Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Do you have sick “bones” (6106)?  There are five times the Hebrew word is used in Proverbs and six times the English word is used.  At one end you can have rotten bones.  At the other end you have healing and refreshment that come to the bones.  Sick bones is not something I want.

I can surround myself with people who offer healing words.  I can use healing words myself.  My first reading was that this would come from others but on reading it again and checking the context I think it can also apply to our speech. 

So?  People should be healthier after they have been around us.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Be a Cooler

(Pro 15:18 KJV) A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Although it does not say it specifically, it is implied in this verse that we are to be peacemakers instead of agitators.  It does not mean that there will not be time for action or even anger.  It means that our general outlook is to be one who “appeaseth” (pacifies NASB) (8252) a “strife” (contention NASB) (7379).  It is interesting that the NASB Update changes these words to “calms a dispute”.  I wondered if there was some textual considerations, but no, it seems that the translators just needed something to justify their salary. 

One reason we don’t calm the waters at times may be that we enjoy watching people fuss with each other.  Notice that this also does not say this is to apply only with our issues.  It means that we are to be a calming influence on others with their contentions.

So?  Be what Jesus called “peacemakers”.  Obviously it starts at home but needs to spread once we get out the door. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Another Major Stumbling Block

(Pro 14:5 KJV) A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.

Notice what we are to be “faithful” (529) to:  Truth.  I remember a song by the Beach Boys that was “Be True to your School”.  We often have family members or friends who think we are to stick by them even when they are wrong.  By that they mean lie for them or get violent for them.  That is not our calling.

One of the basic differences between the world and those who are real followers of Jesus is that we serve a God of objective absolutes.  He is a person.  He makes allowances.  He is patient.  We could go on in that way but a basic truth that goes along with that is He is immutable, unchanging.  Truth does not change and be are to be faithful to the truth.

So?  Our world is subjective.  For most people truth is what fits their agenda.  For us truth is what is. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Happy Endings

(Pro 13:13 KJV) Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

It doesn’t really matter if you buy into what the Bible says.  It is kind of like agreeing with the law of gravity.  It will not be denied. 

We need to come to an understanding about the word of God and the laws of nature.  Both are laid down without our approval.  Both are in the end beyond our total understanding.  The big question is will we try to grasp them and work with them or will we continue to fight against them.

So?  Think of things like the day’s priorities and the plans based on them.  I hope you don’t plan on jumping off the roof or insisting that you are a god.  Neither promises a happy ending. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Happy Kitty

(Pro 12:10 KJV) A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

How can “tender mercies” (compassion NASB) (7356) be “cruel” (394)?  Here the emphasis is on the “wicked” (7563) but the concept can be seen other places.  I am currently watching a toddler and her cat.  It is amazing what the cat will put up with.  The child loves the cat.  They are buddies.  At the same time the little girl will sometimes try to pick up the cat by its head.  This does not create a happy kitty. 

The intent may be to show affection.  The wickedness at this age is ignorance and lack of understanding but there is also an element of self centeredness and willfulness.  Even when she is told “no” in no uncertain terms the child continues in what she wants to do.  Hopefully she will grow out of that.  Often we do not.  In our hearts we are all cruel in the sense that we are self centered and see things through our own senses. 

So?  There are times to do things God’s way simply because He knows what is best.  The ancient Israelites probably did not know the purpose of washing or avoiding certain foods.  The reasons for the actions still had value.  Obey even when you don’t know why. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Don’t Settle for a Jersey

(Pro 11:21 KJV)  Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.

This is a reminder that there are two basic categories of human beings.  On the one hand you have the “wicked” (evil man NASB) (7451a) and on the other you have the “righteous” (6662).  We like to think of people as a spectrum.  Part of that is because we want to make allowances for those we love and part is to make excuses for our own lack of commitment.  There are still only two categories.

You are either on God’s team or not.  When you go to a sporting event like baseball you see people wearing team jerseys complete with numbers and sometimes they even have their names stitched on the back.  Does that make them part of the team or just a wannabe?  The odds are they are just dreamers because if they were really on the team they would not be in the stands but out running around the field. 

So?  Another question that we can only answer for ourselves:  Are you on God’s team or just settling for the jersey? 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Wait for It

(Pro 10:22 KJV) The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

I am wondering today as I look at this verse if the really important things in life, the wealth that endures, are always a result of delayed gratification.  Or at least it might be things that require time to develop.  Think of the difference between American Cheese and an aged cheese that you really enjoy.  Think of the difference between saltines and a nice French bread that was allowed to rise.  Think of the difference between your child as a productive adult and during the terrible two’s. 

I am old enough to look back.  I see decisions I made that I have regretted repeatedly and yet when I look at the long term results, I am blessed.

So?  It is easy to say and hard to do.  Take the long view.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Simply Naive

(Pro 9:16 KJV) Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Is it “naive” (6612a) (NASB) or “simple” (KJV)?  It is interesting how language changes.  Today we think of simple as being a bit retarded in our thought processes.  We are not capable of comprehending the complexities of our day.  Naive is more of a temporary condition.  My granddaughter does not understand gravity.  You could say she is naive.  She does not understand that when you crawl up the back of a kitchen chair is will probably fall over on top of you.  At least she did not understand that she was naive.  She got slammed.  How many times she will have to experience this will be a lesson in her ability to learn.  If she never learns it then she is simple. 

Some of us learn very slowly.  Is it by choice or by ability?  Only God really knows and He isn’t telling.  As far as it is possible we need to learn from our experiences.

So?  I keep making mistakes.  I keep hoping I will learn something from them. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Smoking Equations

(Pro 8:26 KJV) While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

How would you have described the physics of creation to an iron age population?  For that matter how would you describe it to our modern minds?  I think in either case it would be pointless to try to get into an accurate description of sub-atomic physics and probability in quantum calculations.  Keep in mind that most people can’t do fractions and percentages.  That leaves poetic license to get across the basic truth.

So?  The basic truth is that unchanging wisdom has been around longer than you can imagine.  Along with that, God is in control.  Does it mean that we don’t keep up the search for answers?  No.  It means we don’t get stressed out about the search.  Put that in your equation and smoke it.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Cover Art

(Pro 7:10 KJV) And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

We are often told not to judge people by how they dress or by outward appearances.  A popular way of saying it was, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  Of course someone asked, “Then what is the cover for?”  This is a reminder of our need for discernment.  Think of all the things we judge by superficial observation.  Think about how often the initial impression is wrong.  With people we often think someone is intelligent and informed only to find out that they are a really slow person who had someone coach them and dress them.  Have you ever read a headline and found out that the article does not back it up?  One thing I will sometimes do is examine the cover of a book after I have read it and see if the artist had bothered to find out the story line.

That is common wisdom and often experience.  We are told, however, that often what we see is what we get.  If I see a 60 year old man with a lot of chest hair and gold medallions, I know not to take him seriously.  If I see a women with lots of skin showing and clothes that are designed to stimulate male observers, I know a bit about where she is coming from.

So?  We need to make sure that we are good book covers for the hope that is in us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Long Term Effects

(Pro 6:32 KJV)  But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

Why does the Bible warn us about sin?  Why is it said that if you like something it is either fattening or sinful?  Think of yourself as a toddler.  You don’t have a clue about your world.  You are exploring and sampling experiences.  The biggest frustration you have is this big person who keeps telling you, “No.”  So you throw a tantrum.  Then you learn that is a “no” too.

That adult in the room is trying to keep you from destroying yourself.  The idea of destruction is the force that corrupts and decays.  This word does not seem suited to an explosion as much as a gradual crumbling. 

So?  Keep in mind that just because you don’t see any immediate catastrophe does not mean that the long term results of rejecting God’s standards will not be ugly. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Wind Up

(Pro 5:22 KJV) His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

I was trying to bind up some brush so that the trash collectors would take it.  I was also trying to find a use for some very old twine that we had laying around.  The string was well on the way to decomposing into its original elements but my theory was that if I wrapped it around the branches enough times, it would hold.  Each time I wound it around increased the strength of the hold.  I would imagine that if I tied someone up with it, and wrapped it enough, it would hold them. 

Sin is like that.  On God’s side, with the cleansing blood of the Lamb, it is like cutting old string with a sharp knife.  On our side it gets harder to repent as we continue in sin. 

So?  The time to repent is when you realize you are wandering.  God’s grace will always be sufficient but your stubbornness may keep you from the throne. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Durable Reward

(Pro 4:9 KJV) She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

Have you ever had someone ask, “What difference does it make?”  We all know a famous politician who asked something like that.  My son asked it when a family friend was relentlessly pounding out his interpretation of the end times.  I often would like to ask it of people talking about the latest events in the sports world.

Having wisdom makes a difference.  Here the reward is personal.  Here we do not focus on how wisdom can change our world but what it can mean to us.  I like the KJV use of “glory” (8597) rather than the “beauty” of the NASB.  Beauty is about appearances.  Glory goes all the way through.  Beauty always fades.  Glory can endure.

So?  It would be nice if we had something simple to apply like the skin creams women use to achieve beauty but I don’t think it is going to happen.  This is where the “seek and ye shall find” comes in. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Which Way Is North?

(Pro 3:6 KJV) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

God is going to do something with the trail our life follows.  Being a believer makes a difference in our decisions and our directions.  I like both the KJV “direct” (3474) and the NASB “make straight”.  The KJV reminds us of God’s sovereignty and the NASB of His holiness.

Direction is hard for some people to establish.  Have you ever had someone ask what direction they are traveling when the setting sun is shining in their eyes?  Or how about the newer cars that have a compass built in and there is a clear indication of the direction?  Is the lack of knowledge because there is no information?  The same is true in our daily walk with Jesus.

So?  I guess it is necessary to decide we want to walk straight before we can do so.  The willingness to follow direction makes it possible to do so. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Bank on It

(Pro 2:21 KJV) For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.

As I write we are living in the panic of Chinavirus 2020.  There is a lot of fear and uncertainty.  Where is the line between common sense precautions and foolish overreaction?  Are we dealing with an end of the world scenario or is it just a hyped flu season?  Either way this passage has a message for us:  Live “upright” (3477), be “blameless” (8549). 

There is a danger in assuming that every bad break in life is a result of sin.  There is an arrogance in assuming you are more spiritual because you are better off.  At the same time there are repeated promises that those who live God’s way will see better times and less tragedy.

So?  Take it to the bank.  Invest your life in righteousness.  It pays dividends. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

The End of Gentle

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

This is the beginning of a very serious warning that Christians as a whole don’t like to admit exists, even if it does not apply to them.  We have this idea that God is love.  Why?  Because the Bible tells us so.  That problem is that we think this is the insipid love of contemporary culture and forget that it is the love of a holy God.  It isn’t just the tough love that James Dobson used to write about.  It is the sin-grinding love of the Holy One of Israel.  He does not play around.

This reminds us that God communicates with us.  If you read your Bible much it is obvious that He has a long history of second chances.  This points out that people do not listen.  It is the groundwork for tragedy.

So?  It is dangerous not to listen at times.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t hear your wife telling you to take out the garbage.  It does matter if she is screaming that the house is on fire.