(Pro 27:4 KJV) Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
I had an attack of “jealousy” (7068) recently. Actually it was at Christmas time. I received two photographs of family members surrounded by their children and grandchildren. As I was enjoying the pictures I realized that this was one area where I was jealous. One of my brothers had six kids and now he has an army of grandchildren. The other had four and three are being very productive. It was a glorious sight.
And I was jealous.
So? There are exceptions to almost every rule. In this case jealousy is really rejoicing with their blessings. I think what this verse is telling us is that we should rejoice with other people’s blessings and not bear ill will.
Friday, May 27, 2022
(Pro 27:4 KJV) Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Thursday, May 26, 2022
(Pro 26:12 KJV) Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
I have just returned from a family gathering and today I will join a different group for sharing and discussion. One of the great difficulties I find in life is knowing when I am full of hot air and when I am waxing eloquent. I would say “at this time of life” except I think it has been a problem since I learned to talk. How do we avoid being verbal fools? At the core is how we can deal with our mental foolishness.
Certain things should be obvious. We should be rooting our opinions in the word of God. That sounds really good until you get with someone who disagrees with you on interpretation and has different favorite scriptures. It isn’t simply that they use the NIV as a source but that they come down on the other side of the county, not just the fence.
Serious introspection is called for. Honest listening is needed. Often we need to change but don’t do it too fast. Haste makes waste in spiritual decisions as well as financial choices.
So? Start with an assumption that you may be wrong. Accept the fact that you may be right. Spend the time necessary to listen to the Holy Spirit as well as the verbal barbarian who is trying to straighten you out.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
(Pro 25:18 KJV) A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
I continue to be impressed by how often lying is mentioned in the Bible. Here it is verbal but keep in mind that deceit is at the root of false weights and adultery. It is the total opposite of the reference to Jesus being the truth. Think of all the ways in which lies are a part of our daily conditioning. Think of advertisements, news, politics and gossip. It is everywhere.
So? Short and simple. Speak truth. Live truth. It is bedrock to righteousness.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
(Pro 24:17 KJV) Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Christians are told to turn the other cheek. At the same time we are told that the government is to use to sword against evil. The key to this paradox is found in this verse. It does not mean we refuse to administer justice. It does not mean we don’t punish crime. It doesn’t even mean we do not kick out pastors caught in flagrant sin. It means that we are to do it with the right attitude.
You have heard parents say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” They are not talking about physical pain. They are talking about the difficult process of disciplining children when they are so cute. The problem is that the cuteness becomes a knife aimed at their own hearts if they are not taught right from wrong.
So? Be strong. Be rejected if necessary. Reprove and correct. Do it without joy but with a sad heart that loves the object of your correction enough to struggle with the emotional struggle involved.
Monday, May 23, 2022
(Pro 23:30 KJV) They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
What do we get if we look for a general principle for righteous living in this verse. The Bible as a whole makes it clear that wine itself is not sinful. I am a teetotaler and feel alcohol is an evil that is best avoided but that is different. At the same time it applies to the principle. We are warned about hanging around certain things, and possibly people. We are warned about looking for trouble. Both give sin an opportunity to get a foothold in our lives.
We are better off if we avoid certain situations and activities. Take skiing. I have never tried it and never intend to try it. Why? I know my limitations. I know my lack of coordination and perspective. For me to get on skis and head down a hill is asking for serious injury. Double that with skateboards and parachutes. In the area of morality we need to take that seriously.
So? Life can be so much better if we keep our brain in gear and our rationalizations under control. God gives us the ability to live in obedience but it is not an autopilot.
Sunday, May 22, 2022
(Pro 22:4 KJV) By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
As I write this I am playing catch up because I have been on the road. The previous comment dealt with the idea of arrogance. Now I come across “humility” (6038). This form of the word is only used a few times and is a positive trait. If you trace it back to its root it becomes very frequent as “affliction”.
It is hard for us to accept that we are expected to endure through hard times. Modern Americans on the whole don’t know much about affliction. We think that having the store run out of our favorite flavor of ice cream is a personal tragedy. We have a lot to learn and learn it we must.
So? Much of our inner conflict comes from being too self centered and assuming that the world revolves around us. As I said to a semi-pagan recently in a philosophical discussion, “I am not sure that you are anything but a figment of my imagination.” Focus on God and go from there.
Saturday, May 21, 2022
(Pro 21:17 KJV) He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.
There is no virtue in poverty. There is no virtue in wealth. Virtue can exist at either end of the economic scale and all points in between. A man’s “loves” (157) determine if his life is one of virtue or sin. Your love establishes priorities and generates enthusiasm. It guides the daily choices and long term objects.
Where do you expect to be in 10 years? What results will bring joy to your life? What are you going to do today? I imagine we put time and effort in what we really care about.
So? Seriously look at what you are willing to do without and what you regard as necessary. It has eternal consequences.
Friday, May 20, 2022
(Pro 20:6 KJV) Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
It is a verse like this that makes the Strong’s Concordance with the numbering system helpful in looking for understanding. The NASB uses “loyalty” (2617a) and the KJV “goodness”. The most common translation in the NASB is “lovingkindness” and in the KJV “mercy”. This is a very important word. It is not to be taken lightly. Usually it refers to action of God. This warning is about people getting too loud in tooting their own horn. It is a warning to not try to usurp God’s position.
So? Be careful about how righteous you think you are. While it is true we can live moral and upright lives we need to keep in mind that it is through the power given by the Holy Spirit, not through out own strength.
Thursday, May 19, 2022
(Pro 19:10 KJV) Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.
The Bible is full of references to Royalty and nobility. The word for “princes” (8269) is often translated that way but also as “leader” or “official”. It seems to be someone higher on the pecking order than you. One of the facts of life is there is a pecking order. The reality also points out that neither you nor I am at the top.
While I am all for achieving the most you can and rising as high as possible the hard truth is that for the Christian it is more important to be submissive than to be top dog. We don’t like it. We have all kinds of ways of explaining why we are as good as the next guy. It may even be true, but that is not the point. Humility is the point.
So? Be the best you can and learn to take orders with dignity. A hard lesson.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
(Pro 18:1 KJV) Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.
My first reading of this has the separation being physical but on reflection I think it also includes the rest of our life. It would be important for us to not isolate ourselves intellectually. That means that we need to be reading and listening. Obviously there are sources that can be nothing but destructive. There is a need for discernment but it isn’t enough just to mediate. We need to give a foundation for our meditation.
So? I would start with the Bible and speakers whom I know respect the word and communicate well. I would also suggest some of the classic materials that have stood the test of time. That needs to be the starting point so we can evaluate what else is of value.
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
(Pro 17:4 KJV) A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.
As I read this a lot of current discussions came to mind about how you can’t believe anything you read or hear in the public square today. Today I came across an article that said Duck Duck Go, an internet search engine that people had been going to in order to avoid the political slant of Google, was now going to start censoring. Again, that was consistent with what people had been telling me who had been researching. I am not sure why this would surprise us or if it should. As the molders of news and information move away from acknowledging God and His standards, it is something we should assume.
Some people think the end is coming and are into being preppers. I might suggest that we also start stocking up on truth and sharpening our discernment for falsehood.
So? Make sure you start with the word. That will make it possible for you to have an unchanging standard to compare to what you hear. It may not work in your favorite sour dough recipe but it will work in how you set your priorities and treat those around you.
Monday, May 16, 2022
(Pro 16:16 KJV) How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
What kind of measure do you use for setting priorities. I know that the gold aspect figures into decisions. What does “wisdom” (2451) add to the list? How about health? What you eat for dinner could be a wise or foolish choice. What about the example you set for your children? What about your reputation? What about eternity? See, there are many areas of life that are influenced by our decisions.
I think this is also one of those areas of life where we get the gold ring when we make the decision that seems to be a sacrifice. Delayed gratification has long term pay-offs. Self denial builds a lot of things starting with character.
So? Don’t ignore the dollars and cents but don’t let that be the priority either.
Sunday, May 15, 2022
(Pro 15:31 KJV) The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
This is much tougher than it should be. I like to think that if Jesus sat down with me and gave me direction I would listen and obey. That probably will not happen until after the rapture. What do I do in between? God has given us other sources of instruction. The information we need is readily available. The problem is in the ears and mind. I am not sure I want to listen.
I have just gone through a tongue lashing. It is easy to react instead of responding. For me it is nature to reject things I don’t like. To be honest, much of the criticism we receive is not deserved or at least is not honestly offered. Our job is to cut through the hatred and coercion and find the truth underneath.
So? I think that is my prayer today. I want to be able to cut away the dross and get to the core that is worthwhile. Help me, Lord.
Saturday, May 14, 2022
(Pro 14:6 KJV) A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.
Have you ever used a word for descriptive purposes and had someone say, “What do you mean by _____?” The reason that is usually a dodge is that if it is sincere, it is an admission of ignorance. Most people are seeking time to think up a go-around or simply don’t want to deal with what you are saying. That leads us to a good definition of “scoffer” (3917b).
That might also be a good way to differentiate between a scoffer and a cynic. For all of his negative vibes a cynic can still be looking for truth and if given enough information might come around. Of course the information would need to be good. For the scoffer it doesn’t matter how good it is. We see this in the difference between a socialist and a believer in the free market. We see it between pagans in the pulpit and genuine seekers of God.
So? Ask questions. Investigate. Test. Do it with a sincere heart and a genuine desire for truth and you will find answers that ring true.
Friday, May 13, 2022
(Pro 13:23 KJV) Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.
One of the big concerns you hear about today is the possibility of famine and millions starving. Here in Texas the main concern will be if you can get the brand you want. I really don’t see widespread starvation in the works for us. I could be wrong and what would make me wrong is the focus of this verse. If we face massive starvation in Texas it will be because of political decisions, not a lack of food.
This thought is not original with me. I have heard it in the past. I heard it again just yesterday when a guru was speaking about the forecasts of world-wide starvation. In modern times hunger has not been really about a lack of food. It has been about governments and politicians playing games with the food available. I remember hearing about starvation in a third world country. We were told to donate and send food. If you kept looking you would find the article that revealed that tons of food was being burned in the port because to give it out would lower the price of grain and make powerful people less money.
So? The problem with the world is not the world that God gave us but the sin in the hearts of the people who live in it. Be aware. Check your heart to make sure that you are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Thursday, May 12, 2022
(Pro 12:8 KJV) A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.
What does it mean to be “perverse” (5753a)? The basic meaning is bent or twisted. One of the words the KJV likes for this is “froward” but that translation does not show up for this word even though it means the same. The KJV gives us a better understanding of what this means by using the word “heart” (3820) instead of the “mind” of the NASB. The NASB tells you it literally means “heart”. So why didn’t they just translate it that way?
We are looking at people who are warped in the core. In one sense that is all of us before the grace of God gets hold of us and the blood of Jesus does its work. That is too easy for us though. Some people who are not part of the family of God are still battling for a moral life on their own. This is talking about a subgroup that is really committed to evil.
So? Remind yourself that evil exists. It may have different levels and concentrations, but it is real. Live with your eyes open and your heart in God’s hands.
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
(Pro 11:27 KJV) He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
Contrary to what you think you see there is no guarantee for the “good” (2896b) guy here. There is a sense of praiseworthiness for that person but it does not say he will definitely find what he seeks. There is, however, a promise for you if you are seeking the dark side.
This is the paradox of morality. If you reject it, you lose. If you embrace it, you might still lose. Keep in mind all the hypocrites that are trying to get the praise of the good people but refuse to bend their knee to Jesus. One of the pictures that comes to my mind regularly in cases like this is the bar owner in the movie Lilies of the Field. He was not a believer but made a big contribution to the building of the new chapel. When asked, “Why?” he answered, “Insurance.”
So? There is no insurance you can buy. It is your faith in the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus which makes the difference. It is also very clear that after that you are expected to live a holy and upright life but that alone is not enough to get you into the Kingdom.
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
(Pro 10:12 KJV) Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
To be honest I don’t think I have a problem with “hatred” (8135). It is interesting that the verb form is used slightly more times in Proverbs than the verb form of love. The nouns are reversed. They are close enough to be of equal emphasis.
I don’t think of myself as a hater but when I think about Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the mount and the way in which he takes what we consider minor and makes it major, it is something I need to consider more seriously. When you realize that the NASB translated “hated” as “unloved” in regard to second wives and concubines you get some of the nuances that might be in the word.
So? As always we need to examine our own minds and hearts. We need to have charity and patience towards others and hold ourselves up to a strict standard. Grow.
Monday, May 9, 2022
(Pro 9:10 KJV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
If you were asked to produce a Top Ten List of Scripture, would this be on your list? I have never tried to do so. I can’t answer that myself because I don’t know if I could narrow the Bible down to ten verses. God did it with the Ten Commandments. Jesus did better when asked about the most important commandment. That being said, there are so many passages that speak to us over time it would be hard to say which is in the top 10.
This verse would be on a list of important verses though. It points out the importance of a proper balance of our priorities and concerns. I know that when I am contemplating the glory of God in my morning worship, it is easy to drift into a mindset of buddies instead of creature/Creator. At the same time a healthy fear draws us closer to God. It does not drive us away.
So? Are you too familiar with God. We sing about friendship with Jesus and other concepts. Maybe we need to work on the awe aspect.
Sunday, May 8, 2022
(Pro 8:2 KJV) She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
Sometimes wisdom is passive. It is just there. We don’t need to dig or research. It is handed to us on a plate.
Yet we still have an awesome ability to ignore it.
It is kind of like the question about the salvation of people living in, say, a jungle who have never heard the gospel. Is it fair that they not have a chance at salvation? I am sure that God has an answer to that. In my totally unbiblical speculations I have surmised that God knows us so well that he places people in that situation whom He knew from conception and knew they would never respond to the good news. We can’t have that level of perception but God can. As I said, this is speculation not doctrine.
I don’t think we have that excuse, either in salvation or in wisdom. Or problem is more that we ignore what we don’t want to limit our options.
So? If you are serious then open your eyes and ears. God has already placed the knowledge and influence that you need to access wisdom. Count on it.
Saturday, May 7, 2022
(Pro 7:23 KJV) Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
When I was very young we temporarily lived in a house with a steep hill just out the front door. I don’t know if we did it any other time but one day we decided for me to get in my red wagon and take a wild ride down the hill. It did not go well. If you asked me to participate in such an adventure today I would either laugh myself silly or walk away in disgust. Why? Experience.
Some people learn from experience. Some don’t. I remember watching a short video of a guy who thought he would do a wheely on his motorcycle while in the fast lane of the freeway. I am not sure when he realized it had not been a good idea. Maybe he passed out before he had a chance to know much of anything. I would like to think that if he lived he would not do it again. I would like to think that but I don’t think so.
So? Study wisdom and learn to apply it. There are many disasters we can avoid with just a little paying attention. Of course the biggest disaster is dying without Jesus. Use you time wisely.
Friday, May 6, 2022
(Pro 6:22 KJV) When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
I have placed pictures around the room. I have not bothered to count them or to tally who appears the most often. The major focus is my grandchildren. Their parents sneak in at times but the ones that bring a smile to my face are the little ones. I never had to do that with my children when they were young because they were always there. As I have shared before, I would often look in their bedrooms as I was getting up to go to work. It reminded me why I was getting up.
Grandchildren are not always with us physically but I can make them a daily experience by putting reminders everywhere. That is kind of what is being talked about in this verse. We need to position reminders everywhere of whom we serve and how we are to live. It doesn’t hurt and it could very well help.
So? I think the reminders will be different for everyone. One persons mental shout may be someone else’s sedative. Look for catalysts of worship. Find places for them that cannot be avoided. Worship when you see them.
Thursday, May 5, 2022
(Pro 5:13 KJV) And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!
I think I heard someone say that when you stop growing you start to die. Maybe I made it up. Either way it comes to mind with this verse. We need to keep growing.
This verse has some insights into growth. The first clue is the cross over between the NASB and KJV. One says “listen” (8085) and the other says “obey”. Both are obviously necessary even if we ignore one or the other. The key is in the next phrase and both use the same word, “incline” (5186). I think it might be safe to say that this includes the idea of stretching out or reaching toward something.
So? God has many ways to teach us. We need to be setting our sails toward those lessons or they are just so much wind in the trees.
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
(Pro 4:18 KJV) But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Today I am thinking that this is a call to optimism. It is not a call to be Pollyana. It is not a call to be an ostrich. It is a call to look to the future with confidence.
The “righteous” (6662) have a roadmap. On the one side that gives us the right “path” (734) to follow. On the other side it warns us of the things that are off the road. Some of those things are neutral. The only danger is that they might keep us from making progress. Some of those things will be evil and by following the route spelled out for us we can avoid them.
So? I would say the obvious road map is the Bible. The book may have been printed years ago but it is like a constantly updated map on your phone only it has a God’s eye perspective. You see, many things never really change. You can paint it with fancy words but a pit is still a pit. Stay alert. Stay informed. Stay on the path.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
(Pro 3:27 KJV) Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
There is a distinction here that we don’t like to acknowledge. It makes us uncomfortable. It forces us to make value judgements and we all know that we should not judge, don’t we? Evidently that caution does not mean what it is usually used to mean. In this verse the benevolence we are expected to administer is to those to whom it is “due” (1167), not just everyone.
The phrase here means literally to the “owner, husband, lord.” These are categories of people to whom we have a commitment. While we can find other passages that probably refer to being concerned for the whole world, this is specifically talking about those that might deserve our concern. The context is people that you owe.
So? We are to be concerned about the poor in a generic sense, true. But this is talking about those you have commitments to. When times get rough it might behoove us as Christians to make a priority to be sharing with those who are a part of the body. Our current affluence means that we share widely but if things start to come apart we need to focus on the family of God for our assistance.
Monday, May 2, 2022
(Pro 2:21 KJV) For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.
This verse and the next refer to the “land” (776). To Israel this brought to mind the promises of God about the geographical location of Israel. As a nation the people of Israel were emotionally and spiritually tied to the land. Often that is the meaning in the Old Testament. In a sense, because the OT has a lot of reference about salvation tied to the Promised Land, salvation was often a corporate event for them.
Not so much Christians who also embrace the New Testament. One of the revelations that we have in those books is the personal nature of salvation. It is in the OT also but the NT does not give corporate salvation much play. So for us we might understand this more as “earth” than “land.” It might call to mind the basic fact about eternal destiny. Our eternity will not be spent floating around on clouds playing harps. We will be centered in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth. We will be in bodies that have been transformed just as Jesus was transformed.
So? After the rapture and all that stuff you love to listen to from prophecy, remember that your final home will still be here in the land.
Sunday, May 1, 2022
(Pro 1:10 KJV) My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
We are constantly faced with temptations. I guess many don’t face us but sneak in when we are not looking, but they are there. If you read through the next few verses you might find the same thing I am seeing: None of those are real temptations to me. I don’t get too drawn in by murder or robbery. My guess is that those will never be offered to us.
What gets us is the compromises that do strike home. As I read through the Old Testament, I am in Jeremiah now, I find constant reference to how Israel and Judah ignored the law of God. It seems to me the most common way that is done is by conforming to the norms and expectations of the pagan culture. It is peer pressure. It is a desire to be included. Often it is sin.
So? Keep in mind the first four commandments. One of the phrases that comes out to me is having other gods before Him. That takes many shapes and we need to be alert to follow the narrow path.
Saturday, April 30, 2022
(Pro 30:5 KJV) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
The NASB does a better job on the first part of this verse. The “pure” (6884) of the KJV is the “tested” of the NASB. The Hebrew word is a verb. Which do you think works better? They should have said “purified”. I found it interesting as I was doing some research that this verse is not an original thought of Agur. Check this out.
(2Sa 22:31 KJV) As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.Although the words are different in English they are the same in Hebrew. Same Hebrew, different English. There is value in different translations. One of the things we need to keep in mind is that we honor the original autographs, not the personalities of the translators. We also need to keep in mind that we can find the truth we need because the Holy Spirit is our teacher.
So? Keep reading, thinking, praying. God will give us the shield we need.
Friday, April 29, 2022
(Pro 29:8 KJV) Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.
It struck me that both of these people might be saying similar things, possibly even identical. If that is the case and they are getting totally different results, what is it that is different? It would have to be the goals, attitudes and values of the person speaking.
What are they seeking by what they say? What are we seeking by what we say? Closer to home, what am I seeking by what I say? That is the real point of reading Proverbs. We are looking for God speaking to us, not something to stir up others with.
So? It isn’t enough to watch what we say. We also need to examine our motives because it often seems that people have motive meters that govern their response.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
(Pro 28:21 KJV) To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.
The KJV “respect” (5234) of “persons” (6440) is better than the NASB “partiality”. Solomon was probably reflecting on the tendency to favor the rich but the principle applies to many other areas of life. It does not mean your grandchildren are not the cutest or smartest. It means that you don’t judge people based on superficial details. Obviously the superiority of my grandchildren is deeper than their skin. It is rooted in their genes.
This is also a Biblical principle that flies in the face of much of the contemporary teaching that is being called CRT or White Privilege. Those ideologies are based on exactly what this is condemning: Skin color. To claim to be Christian and go along with this perversity is to claim that iron pyrite is really gold.
So? It isn’t politics. It is Biblical morality. Know the difference.
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
(Pro 27:3 KJV) A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
The Bible says a lot about blessings. People like that. I like that. It also says a lot about persecution and gives many examples. Just one verse I read this morning,
(Psa 27:5 KJV) For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.What this verse is pointing out is that much of the pressure we feel in life will be personal. It will not just be economic, political or health issues. It will often be people, “fools” (191) if you will. Just because we are cautioned against calling people fools does not mean they do not exist or are even rare.
So? Keep your eyes fixed on the hope that is in us. We may get loaded down but that just makes the Holy Spirit pump up the support.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
(Pro 26:9 KJV) As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
It seems to me that I hear “the Bible says” a lot recently. I have heard it at church. I have heard it on podcasts and videos from people I respect. I have heard it at home. In each of these sources of enlightenment I have had to ask, “Where?”
Like Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, the Bible often has words put in its mouth. Sometimes what we hear may be a true statement but does not come from the scripture referred to. That is the error I hear in preaching. Sometimes it is something we want to be true. Sometimes it is total nonsense.
We can’t know which it is unless we keep our eyes open and our mental radar engaged. I don’t care how much the speaker loves the Bible and revers it. Read the passage for yourself. Have your Bible open. If it is a casual contact, check it out when you get home. It is important.
So? We can’t change fools but we can avoid being fools ourselves.
Monday, April 25, 2022
(Pro 25:17 KJV) Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
When my granddaughter was even younger than now I would tell her not to go into my closet. Since the dividing line was marked by transition from tile to carpet it devolved into “don’t let your toes cross the line.” I am not sure if you would call her a legalist, literalist or smarty pants but she would inch her toes right up to the line and stick her nose beyond it. At my closet it was cute. In my living room it could be a problem.
The issue is not your “foot” (7272). In those days I could see a reluctance to go out in the yard because your neighbor would insist on long gossip sessions over the fence. Today we can “step” into people homes by all kinds of electric devices. I marvel at how long my wife can talk on the phone. I often wonder if the person on the other end wants to hang up. Of course, I am a bit of a loner and an isolationist but still....
So? If you want people to be ready to listen to your love of Jesus you might want to not make your appearance a dreaded event. If it is to gregarious individuals, that is one thing, but keep in mind that everyone is not that way.
Sunday, April 24, 2022
(Pro 24:16 KJV) For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
At a recent zoom meeting the general consensus was that all the news was bad. We are in a “wars and rumors of wars” time. In addition to that we have a ruling government class that thinks the cure for inflation is to print more money. It boggles the mind. It is very easy to be overcome by the bad news and forget the promises of God. It is also a tendency to interpret things as if we were the center of the universe and if we “fall” (5307) it is the end of the world.
Take a deep breath and a step back. Notice the comparison in this verse. The “just” (righteous NASB) (6662) get to fall seven times. The “wicked” (7563) only gets to “fall into” (stumble NASB) (3782) once. The point is that those who are under God’s care will bounce back. It isn’t that they don’t run into a wall but that they keep going. God makes us the long lasting batteries, not the cheap ones that often come with the toy.
So? Have courage. Be optimistic. Take the long view. We are not one time paper napkins but the finest linen which can be wash, folded, ironed and put back on the table. The difference is in what we are made of and who made us.
Saturday, April 23, 2022
(Pro 23:29 KJV) Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
This chapter has a lot of concern for excess. At the beginning there are too different warnings about eating with abandon. Then it follows up with several different approaches to alcohol abuse. It also mentions adultery.
Have you ever noticed that there are no cautions against being to holy or upright. The idea that prudence has a downside is not found in the Bible. We don’t seem to err in that direction. What a pity.
So? Practice the deeds of righteousness. Don’t do it so you can look down on others but so that you can develop a resistance to the constant temptations to excess and thus sin. That reminds me of the el pastor burrito I had yesterday. Surely there was a choice that was more moderate.
Friday, April 22, 2022
(Pro 22:3 KJV) A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
I know how to apply this if I am driving in the “wrong” part of town and see a mob in the street. There is no chance I am going to go Rambo. It is the more subtle things that I am blind to. How many family disputes have erupted simply because people don’t know when to stay in their room? How many churches have split because people don’t know when to shut up and sit down? We will probably never know.
There are times to stand up and face the music. There are times for courage and boldness. The problem is knowing when those times are. My guess is we knock heads a lot more than we need to. Recently we went through a time when the weather services had a gay old time of instilling panic in people. My wife had me carrying chairs off the front porch because of coming high winds. She suggested, not that she was worried, that I might want to hide in my closet because there were tornados thirty miles away.
So? Common sense is a rare commodity. I know people die in tornados. I also know that 320,000,000 survived the last round. I will keep my head down but I am not going to panic.
Thursday, April 21, 2022
(Pro 21:16 KJV) The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
One of the debates going on in the Christian community is whether we have free will or not. Actually the same debate goes on in secular disciplines. Are we programmed at birth or can we make choices that influence our destiny? I believe the concept of the tabula rasa is not in fashion now. Knowledge of the DNA in each cell tells us that there are certain things built in. Parents with more than one child quickly see that they are usually different at birth.
What this verse is pointing out is we have something to say about whether we stay on the narrow way and enter the narrow gate that Jesus spoke of or “wander” (8582) off on our own. It also reminds us that our path determines our eternal destiny.
So? Wake up and after you smell the roses make sure that you are on the right road.
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
(Pro 20:5 KJV) Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.
Which of these two is the target of this verse? Is it the one who has the knowledge or the one who is seeking to access it? It could be that this is recommending that we keep our advice to ourselves until it is sought. That would certainly make sense because we have too many gurus on You Tube offering advice that no one wants, or at least no one who has any sense. There will be a time to speak up. Wait for it.
On the other side we are told that we will need to seek worthwhile input. I would say that the person who is too willing to tell you what to do it possibly not the best source.
So? Whether giving or seeking advice, make sure it is done prayerfully. Consider the source. It may not be your day.
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
(Pro 19:8 KJV) He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.
This is a type of self-love that is not wrong. It must mean a balanced appreciation. He “loves” (157) in the right context and the right spirit.
This idea of loving is not narcissistic or self centered. Consider this in terms of loving your neighbor as yourself. There is a healthy sense of self worth that we need to maintain. The idea of loving your neighbor as yourself assumes that you are not going around having a pity party or becoming a flagellant. This is the idea that you provide clean water and nutritious food for yourself.
It is hard to have healthy attitudes toward your neighbor if you don’t have it toward yourself. It seems to be a condition for gaining wisdom.
So? You do not deserve to look down on others but you do deserve to look them in the eye.
Monday, April 18, 2022
(Pro 18:14 KJV) The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
What can break our “spirit” (7307) [ruach]? The KJV uses “wound” (5218b) and the definition has to do with being stricken. It makes me think of a package my wife got recently. It was full of very breakable ceramics. It was transported across the country and I am willing to bet that it had numerous experiences of being air-borne or dropped. Yet everything arrived in good condition. The box was definitely stricken but the contents emerged whole. The reason was the bubble-wrap that surrounded each piece and filled up all the vacant space.
Our spirit can survive the UPS of life by being cushioned by the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is kept in place by a constant diet of Bible and prayer.
So? Life will have its knocks. Count on it. Make sure that your core is wrapped up with the strength and power of God.
Sunday, April 17, 2022
(Pro 17:3 KJV) The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
What is it that God is testing when He looks at the heart? One thought that came to me was the process of keeping my kitchen knife sharp. I hone it almost every time I use it. I can tell the difference when I don’t. For me the test is when I cut the tomatoes. There is a definite difference between a honed blade and one that needs some work.
I would think that honing would be a kind of testing in the sense it is used here. One knife guru explained that you don’t need to sharpen a knife very often if you keep it honed. Sharpening grinds off metal. I guess you could say it is a major trial for the knife. Honing simply straightens out the little irregularities.
So? Pray that God would keep straightening out the little irregularities. Getting ground down is a lot more difficult. Maybe you could think of it as a quiz instead of a test.
Saturday, April 16, 2022
(Pro 16:20 KJV) He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
What kind of “good” (2896b) can we expect? This is a very common word and covers a wide range of blessings. It is so common that I think we can let our imagination go on how to apply it.
We can apply it to our perception of the world around us. While paying attention to the teachings of God makes us very aware of the evil around us it also makes us alert to the many good things that are going on. It makes us realistic optimists, if you can have such a thing. Realism looks at what is going on in the world and the phrase “to hell in a handbasket” comes to mind. Optimism remembers that God is in charge and that He will insist on working His will. Think of the disciples sitting in the upper room in the days between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Realism told them it was all over. If they had been paying attention they would have been a bit more focused on anticipation than doom.
So? That is where we need to be today. Good Friday was yesterday. We need to realize that, as the preacher said, “But Sunday acomin’”. Good principles based on a good God who has given us good news.
Friday, April 15, 2022
(Pro 15:30 KJV) The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
My first thought was that I could use some of those “fat” (1878) “bones” (6106) about now. My second thought was that I am already blessed with them. I don’t know how figurative the people of Solomon’s day would have taken this. It is possible that it is like “strong as a horse” which ignores that horses get old and tired. Any way you look at it the fat is a blessing.
My life is full of blessings. When I have those moan and groan moments I usually end up thinking about how bad some others have it. That stimulates me to start counting all the blessings I have. Once I get started it is hard to stop. There are so many things that we take for granted. People in history or the third world today would consider us living like kings. That doesn’t even allow for our family and spiritual blessings.
So? It is another one of those trite but true reminders. Count your blessings. That makes me wonder if April 15 is still tax day.
Thursday, April 14, 2022
(Pro 14:4 KJV) Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
This could be a verse for neatnics. It could be a reminder that every crack in the linoleum will not be dust free when you are cutting boards or using flour. Dirt happens. There, I got that off my chest. I am anything but neat. At the same time I could do better.
But this is not about whether you made your bed or washed the dishes. This is about the trade offs that are a part of life. It is a reminder to give other people the space they need to do the work they do.
So? Stop nagging. If you don’t want to clean up after the ox then get out and pull the plow yourself. A few passes across a field and your attitude might change.
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
(Pro 13:2 KJV) A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.
Different lives produce different results. Here we see a contrast in results between “fruit” (6529) and “violence” (2555). I think that we see this in our daily experiences. I think it also sets up a cycle in people’s lives. That cycle is a result of what is in their “soul” (5315) [nephesh]. Why the NASB has “desire” is anyone’s guess. It is deeper than just what you want. It is a reflection of the inner you.
We are like the Peanuts character Pig Pen. He carries a cloud of dust wherever he goes. People notice even if they try to act like they don’t.
So? What kind of cloud do we carry? It is a matter of choice. If you are washed in the blood and filled with the Spirit then you exude one cloud. If your heart is not right things are different. God is not willing that any should perish. The choice is up to us.
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
(Pro 12:7 KJV) The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.
I don’t know about you but I am anxious for this prophetic promise to unfold. It used to be that I was surprised to see someone abuse their position and authority. It was assumed that the courts administered justice, the police enforced the law, the food you ate was wholesome, the medicine you took was helpful and your teacher was giving you an education. Now we live in a day that the opposite is true.
We live in a day where the “wicked” (7563) seem to be running rampant and the “righteous” (6662) are hunkered down in their basements hoping the riot will pass them by. For the short term that seems to be the case but this is a promise that it will not endure. In fact, when I read the promises, it seem that righteousness is a better protection than a locked door and a hiding place.
So? Live for Jesus. He can shield you and make sure that you are in the right place at the right time. He can take our hard times and turn them into gold. Trust and obey.
Monday, April 11, 2022
(Pro 11:26 KJV) He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
As I write I could find all kinds of headlines about the coming shortages because of lack of truck drivers and backed up ships on west coast ports. There are others that are talking about a coming food shortage for various reasons. Famine and hunger are not new phenomenon. They have always been with the human race even if most Americans have never been touched by it.
If food actually becomes scare or so expensive people can’t afford it, what are Christians to do? This verse talks about sharing but notice that the context is selling not giving away. There is a good chance that neighbors or family members may show up at our door and want something. It may because they didn’t bother to prepare. It could be because the shortages have gone on so long that even preparing wasn’t enough.
So? First, I would submit that we be willing to sell some of what we have with the understanding that we don’t get into gouging. As a second step we may need to consider giving to those in need but in either case remember that you are primarily responsible for your own family Let us pray that it never gets to that point.
Sunday, April 10, 2022
(Pro 10:11 KJV) The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
In what ways can our words pour forth “life” (2425b)? An obvious benefit would be the lessons in truth and righteousness. It could also be in offering encouragement or comfort to the person who is in a struggle. It could be the answer that turns away wrath.
We often talk and don’t live. That is dangerous but consider the combination.
So? Speak as a representative of Almighty God and a servant of Jesus. Just because we don’t see the results doesn’t mean it does not make a difference.
Saturday, April 9, 2022
(Pro 9:9 KJV) Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
As I read this today I again had the parable of the talents come to mind. The two talk about rewarding those who already have but the emphasis is a bit different. Jesus was telling people to use their gifts. Proverbs seems to be warning us about how we use them.
We are constantly being told to witness. How is that working out for you? I am not sure that most people are interested. I remember talking to my fellow teachers and the conversation was going well until I tried to make a spiritual application. I watched eyes glaze over and attention wander. They seemed to sense that this was not what they wanted to hear. On a zoom call this week one of the men shared that he had neighbors who would not talk to him because he tried to witness to them.
So? Be alert for opportunities but remember that people are not saved because of your clever approach or brilliant repartee. They are drawn and convicted by the Holy Spirit. Our place is to look for that receptive soul. Skip the guilt and live the joy.
Friday, April 8, 2022
(Pro 8:1 KJV) Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
I hope you experience the reality of this verse. It goes along with the salvation offered to us. Just as the Bible is clear that God seeks us when we are resisting and avoiding, so His wisdom is also on its way to us. It is available. It is abundant. It is ignored.
We are surrounded by sources of wisdom. Often it comes from people who don’t know the source. Part of what we need to do is cut through the chaff and get to the wheat. That is done by reading, listening, thinking and praying. Make sure that you read the right stuff. It might be more important to read the Bible than one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. It might also be helpful to listen to people who actually know the Lord and demonstrate it in their lives.
So? This can be a great day. All we need to do is pay attention and apply what we gain.
Thursday, April 7, 2022
(Pro 7:22 KJV) He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
How often do people claim “I didn’t know”? We hear it all the time when suddenly a news story can’t be denied any more and it appears on the MSM. It has been around for weeks if you were paying attention but if you didn’t want to know then you didn’t. That is what the “straightway” (suddenly NASB) (6597) is all about here. This young man knew what was going on. He had come looking for it. At the same time he would probably say, “How did I get here?”
If I want to learn about car maintenance I don’t read Nature magazine. If I want to know how to plant strawberries I don’t look in Car and Driver. If I want to live I don’t cross a street without looking both ways. Usually we have plenty of warning. I will grant that there are some days when a cold front seems to come out of nowhere but generally it is not unexpected in January. By the same token you should not be surprised if you see wild flowers in April.
So? Pay attention. God is giving you signals. The Holy Spirit is speaking.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
(Pro 6:21 KJV) Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
We have a preference for certain things only needing to be done once. Often we look at salvation through that prism. We have people who prayed a prayer or were baptized as infants and they feel like that moment sealed them for eternity. That is a theological argument for another day. What we see here is that God wants us to take certain spiritual action “continually” (8548). This is for our benefit, not God’s.
If you want to know the fullness of God in your life it means that you recognize you are on a journey. It is a walk. The arrival will come at the resurrection. Then things will be different but now we are supposed to keep working at it.
So? This means daily. It means moment by moment. It means to develop habits that teach you to look at the spiritual implications of actions and decisions. It is never too soon to develop this kind of habit.
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
(Pro 5:11 KJV) And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed,
There are some questions we will not have answered in this life, sometimes because we are afraid to ask them. This verse brings one of them to mind, “How much of our physical health is a product of our moral choices?” See what I mean? No one wants to be considered judgmental or harsh.
So let me ask it another way, “I wonder how much suffering there is in this world because people don’t live obedient, moral lives?” I have sometimes paraphrased Tennyson by saying, “I have the strength of ten because my heart is pure.” I say it tongue in cheek but in my heart I wonder. I am in good health for my age. Is it because I have not participated in serial sex, habitual drinking or recreational drugs? I have to believe that such behavior has not hurt me. At the same time I see people that have lived spiritual lives who are suffering.
So? The promise is still valid. Just as living in debauchery will have an effect, so does being a prude. It may be too late to change your present condition but we can all start working on how we are doing tomorrow.
Monday, April 4, 2022
(Pro 4:17 KJV) For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
Notice that this is the antithesis to communion. The physical elements are the same: Bread and wine. The focus and worship is totally different. What you are looking at is the mantra of our secular culture. “Wickedness” (7562) is evil. It is moral degeneration. It is the everyday sustenance of our pagan culture. “Violence” (2555) is becoming more common from “mostly peaceful” demonstrations to road rage.
When Christians take the bread and wine they are partaking in a different reality. The bread represents the body of Christ. His death and resurrection give us hope for eternity. The wine, or cup for us from the really spiritual denominations, represents the shed blood of Jesus which washes away our sin and makes us eligible for that eternity.
So? Rejoice. Soon we will celebrate the resurrection. During the next few weeks you will probably have the opportunity to take communion. When you do, realize that it is not just a ritual but a reminder of God’s intervention into our wicked and violent world.
Sunday, April 3, 2022
(Pro 3:26 KJV) For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
I sit looking out my window basking in the results of 200 years of an experiment called America. The dream has been if you worked hard and had a little luck you could have a life of security and prosperity. As we have relaxed in that belief we have forgotten what makes that possibility possible. The “confidence” (3689) of the Founding Fathers was not in reason or hard work, although both were important. Their confidence was in Providence. That is the word thy liked to use. It was a confidence in the Lord as this verse reminds us. That has not changed. Our focus may have changed but that is not where it should be.
We are living in a time of much anxiety. The international situation is volatile. Our streets are becoming less safe and the rule of law seems to be ignored in the hallowed halls of government. Keep in mind that Solomon was king of a small country surrounded by empires ready to gobble Israel up. You think you got problems.
So? Focus your confidence. Get your feet down on solid ground. Trust and obey.
Saturday, April 2, 2022
(Pro 2:20 KJV) That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
I enjoy all kinds of fiction. A good, space opera, non-political science fiction novel will keep me up late. I also enjoy westerns, historical fiction, action, and spy novels. I used to say I loved them but the romance is gone. Why? Because as I get older and hopefully a bit wiser I find that the characters are more and more unpalatable. This leads me to put the books down.
On occasion I will try a new author. Usually I don’t get past a couple of chapters. I remember one recently I asked myself, “Is there anyone in here that I can find any virtue or worthiness in?” The answer was, “No. Not even close.” The book went back to the library unread. I find myself going more to non-fiction but even there the attitudes of the authors bleed through.
So? Even at my advanced age it is important to seek people who will model and advocate the way of righteousness. It takes effort but it is important.
Friday, April 1, 2022
(Pro 1:3 KJV) To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
As I was reading this morning the phrase “wise behavior” (7919a) caught my attention. In the KJV it is simply “wisdom” which seems a bit too simple. The actual meaning of the Hebrew is “prudent” but in both translations it has a multitude of different ways it is expressed. In glancing through the translations on my software I thought it interesting the variety of ways it was given here. The idea of “wise dealing” came up.
What hit me was the practical nature of wisdom. It is to be lived. It is not just a series of axioms to memorize and quote. It is a behavior. It is to be demonstrated in every day activities.
So? As we go through the book again, listen and apply. Live wisdom.
Thursday, March 31, 2022
(Pro 31:24 KJV) She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
We run into people who try to force socialism into the Bible. They look at the events of Acts and how the rich were selling what they had and dividing it among the poor. If you read Acts with an open mind you will find that the socialist approach did not work too well. We find the same thing in the Pilgrims and Jamestown. When you expect people to respond to the “from everyone according to his ability” of Marxism you find that no one seems to have any ability.
Here we have what we would call free enterprise. Probably not capitalism because that is a reflection of big investors organizing for greater profits and production. Here you have an individual, using her talents and energy to produce a product and sell it at a profit. Earlier you saw that she was using her resources to invest in property.
So? Really try to run the strange theories you hear by the word to test them out. Some may make you think. That can be good but make sure that your thinking is within the framework of eternal truth not peer pressure.
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
(Pro 30:1 KJV) The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,
This is a good place to remind ourselves about how to study the Bible. Much of what we “know” isn’t true. Most people would tell you categorically that Solomon wrote Proverbs. They say this because either they never read Proverbs or they read it in the I-must-read-five-chapters-a-day mode in which they never bother to engage their brain. The Bible clearly states that this chapter of Proverbs was written by someone named Agur. You see the same thing in the book of Psalms. When you study the Bible, start with the Bible.
I would also say, finish with the Bible. It is amazing how commentators will throw in things like “Agur is another name for Solomon.” My response is, “Says who?” Not the Bible, that is sure.
So? Like much of life we need to learn to do our own thinking instead of listening to experts who are having ego issues. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to lead us into all truth not our local specialist. Happy studying.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
(Pro 29:7 KJV) The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
In our modern, narcissistic times we have perverted the concept of “rights” (1779). Because we have accepted the humanistic view that man is the end of all things and the center of the universe, we interpret this idea to be special consideration for ourselves. This obviously runs into conflict when someone else wants special consideration.
The idea here is that there are universal standards of right and wrong. Everyone should be treated the same in regard to those standards. What is right is the standard, not the individual. As human beings we have the limitations of our senses and the objective nature in which we experience and remember. That is why we have dictionaries and the Bible. That is why we have a Constitution and written laws.
So? Hard as it is, we must get out of ourselves. We must embrace the eternal instead of the temporal. That is impossible without the cleansing power of the blood. Even for the redeemed it is a tall order, but order it is.
Monday, March 28, 2022
(Pro 28:20 KJV) A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
Again we see the contrast of two different lives. I would assume that we would want to be thought of as “faithful” (530). I could assume wrong. At the other end is the person who is so concerned about making a big splash in life that he is willing to make just about any compromise.
Before we get too judgmental we need to examine our own priorities. It may be that financial wealth is not your weak spot. There are other goals we can pursue robustly and with a focus that distorts all around us. We learn to make excuses for what we deem important.
So? We should be leery of saying things like, “God would never expect that of me.” Another one I think is abused is, “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” Not that it isn’t true but I am not sure that he has put them in your care. Faithfulness requires alertness and honesty.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
(Pro 27:2 KJV) Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
A word which is making a comeback is “hubris”. A few years ago I had to look it up. Now I could use it myself with growing frequency. One thinks of politicians. One thinks of social media executives. One thinks of the medical profession. One thinks of our children. Hubris is everywhere.
The cure for hubris is the application of Christian love. I Corinthians 13 is a good place to start but a verse that always hits me in this way is,
(Php 2:3 KJV) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.So? I guess another way to say this is “don’t toot your own horn”. As hubris is thinking too much of yourself so humility is having the right perspective. Even when others praise you be careful about believing it.
Saturday, March 26, 2022
(Pro 26:6 KJV) He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.
I have been looking to compare the righteous with the unrighteous this month. I have had a hard time trying to find that in this chapter. There is a steady list of statements about those who invoke God’s wrath but little about the obedient. So let me look at the two roles provided in this verse. We have the “fool” (3684) and the fool’s enabler.
Fools exist. If you glance down the beginning verses in this chapter, you find repeated reference. It is used 49 times in Proverbs. I would say that Solomon knows his fools and finds them everywhere. If Solomon was surrounded by them I think we can assume that they are still with us.
Don’t join them. I think the point here is that if you trust a fool then you are a fool yourself. I think it is also assumed that we can see the fools if we look. Of course that starts with remembering that fools have no wisdom because they have no fear of the Lord.
So? I don’t want to be either one. I think I will work on fearing the Lord.
Friday, March 25, 2022
(Pro 25:16 KJV) Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
Moderation again. Don’t you get tired of moderation? I have a can of peanuts. I don’t dare open it because if I do I will eat way too much. Now I probably would not eat enough to “vomit” (7006a) but I would certainly eat more than is moderate. This verse assumes that some people will eat too much and others would restrain themselves. It isn’t fair because some people do not have the glutton gene. You have seem people eat half a cookie and leave the rest. I don’t understand it.
I wish I had the moderation gene. It would make life so much easier. The reality is that I don’t when it comes to food. That is where discipline comes in.
So? We are expected to learn moderation if it does not come naturally. It is part of the package just like telling the truth may not come naturally to some. Here the issue is vomiting. Other places it talks about becoming so full that we lose our ability to respond. Either way, moderation is the road we are expected to follow.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
(Pro 24:21 KJV) My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
Think of the two kinds of people represented here. It would seem that one fears the Lord and the other doesn’t. The one who doesn’t is always changing things to suit his purposes. This is one reason I look at new translations of the Bible with a bit of skepticism. I accept that over the centuries language changes. Words fall out of meaning. There might even be some new scholarship that gives us a better understanding. That does not excuse the travesty of paraphrasing the word and words of God.
Beware of people who try to “change” (8132) the message of God by making it more modern or contemporary. A great example of this earlier in this chapter. Notice the difference between two translations,
(Pro 24:5 KJV) A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.
(Pro 24:5 CEV) Wisdom brings strength, and knowledge gives power.
I will accept the general truth of the CEV but in this case both times you see “man” the word is in the Hebrew. In fact there are two different words for “man” (1397 and 376) which use synonyms to reinforce the ideas of wisdom and knowledge. The problem, as I see, is that the paraphrasers made the changes to keep the feminists on the committee happy. They don’t seem to sense the frown on God’s face.
So? God ahead and change froward to twisted or perverted. That is updating. Don’t drop out words that make you uncomfortable or might be controversial. That is sin.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
(Pro 23:21 KJV) For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
We do not have two polarities mentioned here. We have two extremes, at the same end. I think the KJV gets the award for direct language. It mentions “drunkards” (heavy drinkers NASB) (5433a) and “gluttons” (2151b). We are talking about behavior that is clearly sinful. For those of us who pig out at pot lucks and look down our noses at the local bar, there is something here to pay attention to.
Sin is usually involved with two perversions of a blessing God has given. One twist is the wrong time and the wrong place. Think of adultery. The other is a lack of moderation. That is the focus here. If we had to follow this months idea of evil and righteousness then we would be forced to face the principle that a lack of moderation is sin.
So? I don’t drink. I am a glutton. My concern about watching what I eat is three fold: Lose weight, fight diabetes, avoid sin. Three good reasons not to eat the entire box of Cheez-Its.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
(Pro 22:2 KJV) The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
Two kinds of people, the “rich” (6223) and the “poor” (7326). There is much that divides them. I find it amusing and enraging when I hear about the need to tax the rich. What these people mean is to tax everyone that makes a little more than they do but only if they are not part of the inner group that knows how to use tax loopholes. At the other end you see people acting like they care about the poor and everything they do assures that the poor will remain poor. We live in a day of identity politics that is designed to divide us.
The message God has for us is that He made all of us. That means we cannot hate or attack people who are different from us just because they are different from us. Here it is the rich and the poor. Other places the brotherhood is expanded.
(Gal 3:28 KJV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.We are told in both the Old and New Testaments to be kind to our enemies.
So? This is the world God wants us to achieve. Don’t buy into the political attitudes that are designed to lift up one superficial characteristic at the expense of the Body of Christ. In the verses looked at today you see plenty of categories to be aware of. I am sure that your thinking, praying and studying can supply more.
Monday, March 21, 2022
(Pro 21:15 KJV) It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
Recently I reread a book by Massad Ayoob dealing with self defense. In many states it is assumed that you will be charged with a crime no matter how obvious it was that you were simply defending yourself. In addressing the court case he said that he encouraged innocent defendants to take the stand. He said that many lawyers advise against it and he said the reason for that is they are used to dealing with clients that are guilty and if you put them on the stand they will either confess or lie. If they lie he says a good prosecutor can easily trip them up because they can’t keep their lies straight. He maintains that if you are innocent that can’t happen. He obviously has confidence in the judicial system.
Look at the two types of people in this verse. The one who lives a righteous life should have nothing to fear from justice. The evil have everything to fear. It makes a difference in how we live life.
So? Live in such a way that you don’t need to fear justice. Of course there are the places in the New Testament where it says we will be persecuted for being on the side of Jesus, but that is a different issue.
Sunday, March 20, 2022
(Pro 20:4 KJV) The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
Only one type of person is mentioned here but the inverse is obvious. The guy mentioned here is too lazy to go to work or even to do anything that might make him uncomfortable. In this example he has waited until “autumn” (2779) which can mean winter and the KJV calls “cold”. Is this sloth or procrastination or both? Then he seems to expect someone else to donate to his cause.
This is what we see when we pass someone begging outside a door that has a “help wanted” sign. This is the “hungry” living in a town that can’t find enough people willing to work so that they can open for business.
So? First, start with ourselves. Are we willing to stand on our own two feet and do our part? I hope that is a rhetorical question. Second, be honest in evaluating why the other person wants a handout. It could be a genuine need. It also could be the results of sloth.
Saturday, March 19, 2022
(Pro 19:5 KJV) A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.
Proverbs has a number of themes that keep coming up and we need to realize that they come up all through the Bible. Proverbs is not an island of wisdom in a sea of fluff. It is a focus. One point of focus is on telling the truth. It would seem obvious that there are two groups here, liars and truth tellers. That is true but it isn’t always clear.
The reason for confusion is that often the person we lie to the most is ourselves. We have a lot of words for it: Rationalization, subjective, confusion, forgetfulness. We have a way of adjusting our memory so that what we want for ourselves becomes a righteous position. We think we are different that anyone else. How many people have talked themselves into marrying a pagan and how many different excuses have they used? How many times have we searched the scripture, not looking for truth, but looking for a picked cherry that will justify what we want to do?
So? Honesty is better than cleanliness when it comes to being next to godliness. It is not a coincidence that telling the truth is one of the ten most important behaviors in the Bible.
Friday, March 18, 2022
(Pro 18:13 KJV) He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
This chapter makes a lot of approaches to the misuse of our mouths. This verse points out two different types of mouths and that stood out to me when I noticed that it went along with verse 2,
(Pro 18:2 KJV) A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.The righteous mind will listen before it speaks. The carnal mind is focused on itself and consumed with getting in its opinion. These are two types of people.
The difference starts in our hearts. Having the Living God set up housekeeping in our innermost being changes our priorities and our outlooks. Often there is still that residual that we call original sin which keeps popping up and trying to reestablish control. Much of the battle is fought by the Holy Spirit. There is still a place for discipline.
So? Do you find yourself looking back on conversations that were really monologues and feeling a bit of embarrassment about what you said? I think we all have had that experience. The length of the speech will vary but it will be long enough to stand out. We can work on that and God expects us to.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
(Pro 17:6 KJV) Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.
Only one type of person is mentioned in this verse, the one who has descendants. We can make a few divisions here, one has no moral value and the other does.
Some people are not able to have children. That is simply a biological fact. I know people in the prime of life who are doing well in every area who would love to have children but it isn’t happening. We don’t know why but the fertility does not exist. Unless it is the result of past sin, such as abortions that destroyed the lining of the womb, there is nothing to be ashamed of and no one but the childless would know if there is some sin that caused the problem. From those on the outside there should be no condemnation.
Then you have the growing number of people who don’t want children for selfish reasons. They want their toys. They want their careers. They want their freedom. That is a spiritual issue that needs to be dealt with. The Bible is clear that children are a blessing. As a grandparent who had a grandson breeze through just long enough to have a cookie and mess up the living room, I can testify to that.
So? There is little you can do for others except develop an understanding that children are not something to be avoided. If you have grandchildren, celebrate. If you don’t then celebrate with others.
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
(Pro 16:19 KJV) Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Humility is one of those things that we praise but I am not sure we recognize it. Here we have a division between those who are “humble” (8217) and those who are “proud” (1343). I have a hard time understanding humility because it is not humble to claim you are humble. So my mind ran to the love chapter. In I Corinthians 13 it talks about the proud and gives some descriptions of attitudes and behaviors that seem to be set against them. I will use the NASB for this.
(1Co 13:5 NAS77) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Humility would not act unbecomingly, well you can read the verse yourself. These are things that can be measured and acted upon. We can develop humility by working on our love.
So? Never forget the resources we have in grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Add to that a personal commitment to be the person God wants you to be and you are moving toward humility.
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
(Pro 15:29 KJV) The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
We have two types of people and I think we can assume that both are praying. Notice that there is a different response to the two prayers, or should we say people who pray. One God “hears” (8085). One He ignores. We tend to forget this. When a avowed pagan says something to the effect “our prayers are with you” my response is, “So what?”
It is not just here. The Bible makes it clear that God does not pay attention to the prayers of people who are not following Him. I assume that does not apply to a prayer of repentance. It does not do any good for a person living in rebellion to ask for healing. That is one of the reason why they will call the church for prayer. In their hearts they know God is not listening.
So? This is not just an honor but a responsibility. Keep your heart right and pray for others, just make sure that there is always a prayer for their salvation involved.
Monday, March 14, 2022
(Pro 14:2 KJV) He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.
One of the ways to dichotomize people is by how they view the God of the Bible. There actually might be more than two nuances but the extremes are clear and represented here. The polarity is a major dividing line in our culture. As those who understand and fear God become less influential the God haters get bolder.
Stop and think about all of the sources of thought that are trying to move our culture away from an acknowledgment of an omnipotent, holy God. It can be the comedians on late night TV and You Tube. It can be so-called intellectuals giving us lectures to explain away the truth of the Bible as some kind of warp in our personality. It can be fiction that continually portrays real Christians as perverts and psychopaths while offering up shallow substitutes as role models.
They hate God because He gets in the way of their deification.
So? Remind yourself on a regular basis of whom the God of the Bible really is. He is not an old man sitting on a throne. He is not an angry lightening bolt thrower. He is the Infinite Person who is omni enough to create the universe, hold it together and listen to you, all at the same time. That is a God worthy of fear.
Sunday, March 13, 2022
(Pro 13:1 KJV) A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
An important character trait if you want to live a righteous life is to be teachable. Here we have the contrast between the good and the bad. The difference is that they “hear” (listen to NASB) (8085) people trying to give them guidance. Note that the first usage is in italics which means it is not in the Hebrew but is inferred from the context. Also note that the NASB and the KJV use different words.
One of the questions I have is the difference between hear and listen. One speaks of physical ability and the other of metal receptiveness. While I acknowledge the two conditions, I am not sure that the words are not interchangeable. Either way, we need to be aware of the teaching before we can deal with it.
So? Listen. Pay attention. Process what you hear. Make sure that you have the tools to process what people say. I have been listening to podcasts that are interesting but full of nonsense based on the speakers lack of information or refusal to listen. How do I know? Because I have been listening.
Saturday, March 12, 2022
(Pro 12:5 KJV) The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit.
Two types of people; two different measuring sticks. This points out to us why it is important for us to consider the spiritual foundations of people and organizations. I could make quite a list of companies, charities, universities and such that were started by “righteous” (6662) individuals or groups and have since been taken over by the “wicked” (7563). With that change the entire direction of the organization has changed.
The same can be said for churches. Look at the history of the Methodist church. It developed from the tendency of John Wesley to organize his followers into methodical classes for personal development. He remained in the Church of England all his life and encouraged the people he preached to to do the same. Eventually their spiritual stands drew them out and you have a solid, Bible based denomination come together. Then the liberals took over and today the United Methodist Church as an organization has abandoned any claim to be the body of Christ. There are still those in it who are true believers but the struggle is being won by those who are deceitful about what the Bible teaches.
So? We are responsible to be righteous ourselves. We are also responsible to put our resources behind those who are righteous. We don’t like it but we probably don’t like the idea of Hell either.
Friday, March 11, 2022
(Pro 11:25 KJV) The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
This verse and the ones around it contrast two personality types. One is giving and sharing; the other is tight and selfish. It is obvious which is the one we should follow. I would wonder how much of this is natural and how much is discipline. I have read studies that say people who are conservative in politics give a lot more to charities than the liberals. The difference is dramatic. Since in my world view people who are serious about Jesus tend to be conservative politically it would also follow that believers tend to be more generous than pagans.
I would think that some people when they are converted have an automatic change in this area of their lives. The sad facts are though, that many of us need to work at it. We need to make a conscious choice to give and share. I know I am that way. God is working on me.
So? It is probably better to give too much than too little. We do need to be stewards of what we have and find the best targets for our extra giving but at the same time being careful not to use that as an excuse to hold back. I wonder if I am listening.
Thursday, March 10, 2022
(Pro 10:30 KJV) The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.
This chapter is a litany of differences between the “righteous” (6662) and the “wicked” (7563). This verse speaks of stability. I think we can admit that there will be trials and tribulations if we follow Jesus. Those will ultimately be mild compared to what the evil will go through.
I wonder how much of the unstable lives that they live will be because they are so restless. They are looking for something that is right in front of them but instead of embracing the saving message they move on.
So? Be stable. Be strong. Be dependable. It is all a part of the gift of God that comes to us with a clean heart.
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
(Pro 9:4 KJV) Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
I don’t know how many times I read this chapter before I realized that the words of this verse are repeated exactly in verse 16. Exactly. Really. If you don’t believe me go check. I’ll wait.... Before and after the message changes but this is the same. The lesson for my theme this month is that you can’t always take first impressions or opening statements and build on it.
In our initial contacts with people and ideas we need to be gracious and kind. That does not mean we turn our minds off. We keep listening and watching and observe what goes on around. Do they appeal to righteousness and honor like verse 5 or do they invite to dissipation and compromise like 17? It does not always take a long time to catch the drift.
So? Go ahead and give people the benefit of the doubt at the beginning but that doubt should dissipate one way or the other. Stay alert.
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
(Pro 8:36 KJV) But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
I have been reading a book called The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. It is reminding me why I don’t like to read philosophy as a rule. I am in a chapter on Arthur Schopenhauer. I have finished summaries of Voltaire, Kant and Hegel. It reads like much of the science fiction that is being written today. It is simply human beings trying to find a reason not to believe in the God of the Bible.
Here is an example.
“The task of religion is to reach and feel that Absolute in which all opposites are resolved into a unity, that great sum of being in which matter and mind, subject and object, good and evil, are one. God is the system of relationships in which all things move and have their being and their significance. In man the Absolute rises to self-consciousness, and become the Absolute Idea - that is thought realizing itself as part of the Absolute, transcending individual limitations and purposes, and catching, underneath the universal strife, the hidden harmony of all things.” pages 322-3This is Durant’s summary, not the words of Kant but you get the idea.
The world is like this verse. They hate God and love the death.
So? Recognize what you are up against. They can make it sound very deluxe but it is still the path of death.
Durant, Will. The Story of Philosophy. Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1926.
Monday, March 7, 2022
(Pro 7:7 KJV) And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
Two kinds of people are commented on in this chapter. The first, who gets the least attention, is the son who is being told to listen to the commandments and wisdom. The one mentioned here, and by extension the woman he has an affair with, are rejecting that advice.
Two descriptions are given. First, he is “simple” (naive NASB) (6612a) and second he is “lacking” (2638) “sense” (3820) or “void of understanding. If you follow to the end of the chapter you find out that this guy is bound for hell. That is a significant difference but it is caused by the real difference. The reason he is bound for hell is he refuses to engage with the truth that is offered to him. He probably thinks he is smart enough to avoid the pitfalls. He would have to play all kind of mind games to say he didn’t know anything about it, after all, he lived during the time period when Solomon was building the temple. It was not a time of ignorance about the law and God’s expectations.
So? We all have opportunities. We all have the necessary knowledge for how things go for us in eternity. Some people, no matter how much they are talked to, will refuse to listen. They don’t want to hear it so they don’t. I trust we will make better choices.