(Psa 1:4 KJV) The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
(Proverbs 1 also read)
People who are serious about serving the Lord are often identified as conservative or traditional. You hear such terms as fuddy duddy and stick in the mud. I think we should bear those labels with honor and good humor. We should also feel compassion for those who are like the “wicked” (7563) described here.
Stability is a good quality. Stable people are for progress but only if the progress is an improvement. They are not in favor of change for change’s sake. It is such a part of our life. Think of fashion. I think fashion is a great example of planned obsolescence. It is to separate those who can afford to keep wasting money from the frugal. Back in the days when men wore ties as part of their Sunday outfit you could tell who was cool and who was not by the width of their tie.
So? The things that are eternal never change. They may be expressed differently at different times but the underlying pattern does not move. Live by the eternal.
Thursday, June 1, 2023
(Psa 1:4 KJV) The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
You Are Not the Only One
(2Pe 3:15-6 KJV) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
(Proverbs 31 also read)
Have you ever felt like there was something wrong with you because you could not understand what you were reading in the Bible. In this verse Peter is sharing your pain. He is specifically referring to the writing of the apostle Paul.
That being said, just because we don’t understand it does not mean we can’t figure it out. Keep reading and thinking about what you have read. Listen to others. Sometimes they answer questions you have never verbalized. Pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit.
So? Hang in there. If everything came automatically there would be no need for all those commentaries out there. Actually, I am not sure there is any need for them anyway. Most of what they tell you is their opinion.
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Quantity Is Quality
(Deu 6:7 KJV) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
(Proverbs 30 also read)
We see the clear statements.
What we may not notice is that this requires spending time with them, quantity that has quality. This is not sitting watching a movie but discussing what you have watched. This is harder than we think. It means we need to change our schedules. You cannot have a meaningful discussion with your child if you are at a political meeting or taking a class for work. Investing in your children may mean not accepting a promotion.
It may also involve getting the kids away from a lot of the activities we think are necessary. Kids are so busy today with lessons and practice. I wonder how many of those are because the child wants to be involved and how many are because the parents think it is necessary. How many demands are more about our social position than developing a well rounded family?
So? Do some serious thinking. Each of us has to come to our own conclusions. Be honest and prayerful. God will supply the energy we need but not necessarily that we want.
Monday, May 29, 2023
(Pro 29:9 KJV) If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
Why is the choice between anger and humor? Both of them are the response of people who either don’t have the ability to understand or understand and don’t have the desire to admit it. If you have a discussion with a wise man then there is a chance for real dialogue. You listen. He listens. You both communicate and consider what you hear. There is the strong possibility that you might be the one who learns something.
Which makes me wonder about how I respond to people. My emotions tell me that I don’t always respond with the wisdom of listening. I don’t have a bunch of examples in mind but I know the feeling.
So? This is turning into a two edged sword I was not expecting. That is one benefit of this kind of writing. If done correctly it is not a lecture you give but one you attend.
Sunday, May 28, 2023
Good and Plenty
(Pro 28:19 KJV) He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
On a recent drive the topic of money came up and the question is how much does it take to make some people happy. I often remember and quote a statement attributed to various rich people: “How much money does it take to make a man happy? Just a little more.” That comes into play when we look at the word translated “plenty” (7646). There are two elements in this equation. One is absolute and the other is relative.
The absolute has to do with needs. In order to be healthy we need a certain amount of food. It helps to have the right balance of nutrients but one “expert” in the field once pointed out that with all the additives in modern foods, the odds of having a real lack are pretty slim. We know what hunger is. We know that we reach a point where the hunger is satisfied.
Which brings us to the second element. Many of us keep eating when our body is aware it has had enough. This is where the “just a little bit more” philosophy crosses over into our diet. It effects every area of our life. If you allow it to reign you will never reach the finish line because it will be like the carrot on a stick in the cartoon. It will always be just out of reach.
So? One aspect of our thinking and meditation should focus on what we really need and be satisfied when God provides it.
Saturday, May 27, 2023
(Pro 27:15 KJV) A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
This basic thought is repeated several times in Proverbs. As I read it today I noticed that it had been raining and drops were forming on the gutters outside my window. My mind went to ways in which I deal with the experience of irritating sounds. Here the point is a nagging wife but there are other intrusions into our consciousness that can drain us. It could be a neighbor who plays music too loud. It could be a motel room by a noisy street. It might be a squeak on a windy night.
One way to deal with those things is what is called “white noise”. I find that if the TV in another room is distracting I can turn on a fan that lulls me away from the unwelcome sounds. Another thing that helps is to not get irritated in the first place. This must be applied early because the more irritated you get the harder it is to ignore.
So? God knows how distracting our environment can be. He will help us deal with it and will be there when you manage to get focused again. Stay in the struggle. The rewards are worth it.
Friday, May 26, 2023
Words Have Meaning
(Pro 26:4 KJV) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
One of the contemporary terms we are all having to deal with is “woke”. There is a lot of debate about what it specifically means. Understand confusion of definitions is part of the strategy of the post-modern psyche. The school of philosophy is called Deconstructionism and the way to sum it up is to divorce clear meaning from the discussion so you can win with power instead of truth.
We are under a lot of pressure in public to turn off our minds, shut our mouths and walk away from God’s truth. Consider the public claim of 72 genders. My three year old grandson knows that there are only two but most talking heads will repeat the nonsense with a straight face. We cannot do it and keep a straight soul. Do you see the danger pointed out in this verse? If we accept their terms and use there terms we become like them.
So? My response is, “No thank you.” When Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life He was not talking about the truth as it is brought to you this week by confused servants of Satan. He was talking about eternal truth. Walk in wisdom.
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Learn from Mistakes
(Pro 25:19 KJV) Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
“Confidence” (4009) is a key word here. Unreliable people cannot always be avoided. Like a bad tooth, it may be almost impossible to work around. Often you don’t know the pain is there until after you experience it. Keep that in mind when someone takes you to the cleaners. There is an old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
When someone demonstrates they cannot be trusted, stop trusting them. That does not mean you stop being courteous. In other places in this chapter you are told to feed your enemies. There is a certain minimum of behavior demanded of us, but we are not called to be fools.
So? Learn from your mistakes and don’t let some bleeding heart shame you into being stupid a second time.
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
(Psa 11:6 KJV) Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
(Proverbs 24 also read)
I am not a student of eschatology. One reason is that there is nothing I can do to effect it and by the time it takes place my spiritual condition will be established. Or so I hope. At the same time, when I read passages like this I think of all those people I know who think the return of Jesus is just around the corner. Possibly. The prophetic books are full of colorful pictures. One of them is the rain of fire from heaven. This would be consistent with that.
God has used this method before. Can you say, “Sodom”? Is there anything really worse going on today than in Sodom? Put that together with the treat of nuclear weapons and you get a similar picture. Maybe this time it will be an ICBM instead of a meteor.
So? Be prepared at all levels. Have a well stocked pantry and a well placed trust.
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
(Pro 23:17 KJV) Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
Have you ever felt like everything you like to eat makes you fat? How about all the things you think are fun being on the banned list? To be honest, it is a bit of an attitude problem more than actually being honest. Just what is it that you want to do that sinners are involved in? You really want to lie, steal, murder, fornicate and work on the Sabbath? If that is the case then the problem is not “envy” (7065) it is an inner man still in the control of sin.
Maybe you should sit down and make a list of all the things you might want to do. Spare no expense. Ignore your skill level. It doesn’t hurt to write it down. Now, assuming you were following directions, go down the list and ask yourself how many of them God has said you can’t do. I would guess you would check very few. You wife or mother might say no. Your children might lock you up. God, however, is probably good with most of them.
So? Rejoice in the God of liberty and live life to its fullest.
Monday, May 22, 2023
Choose Your Side Carefully
(Psa 143:12 KJV) And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.
(Proverbs 22 also read)
We sometimes get very feeling oriented when we think about the love of God. The "mercy" (lovingkindness NASB) (2617a) being referred to here is chesed which I consider to be the Old Testament version of agape love. The most common translation by far in the NASB is lovingkindness. In the KJV the most common is mercy.
It is a point to be considered that David is calling on God’s mercy to “cut off” (6789) his “enemies” (340). A couple of observations. First, the mercy of God is first directed toward those who serve Him. Second, David is not playing nice or wanting a simple resolution of their differences. Third, these people are not just disagreeing on where to go to dinner but are actively out to destroy him.
So? I would not want to be an enemy of God. I also think that in the long run it is dangerous to be someone attacking God’s people. Rest assured God is watching.
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Hoisted on Their Own Petard
(Psa 9:15 KJV) The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
(Proverbs 21 also read)
I think it is safe to say that the people in positions of power are laughing in God’s face, or they would be if they believed in God. We see definite attacks on the standards and values of the Bible. We also see God’s people targeted everywhere we look. This is from murder in the world of Islam to shutting churches in a town near you.
We need to understand that all of this will come back to bite them. I can’t tell you how or when but I assure you God is watching. He does not think they are cute. When it comes it may not even look like God moving. There is a long history of evil people eating their own.
I offer this word not to tickle your funny bone or giving high fives. We are warned other places not to rejoice in the struggles of our enemies.
So? Trust and prepare. Prepare and trust. Buy extra soup. Make sure you doors are locked. Stay out of the wrong part of town. Make sure you don’t cheat on your taxes. God will not be mocked.
Saturday, May 20, 2023
The Line Is Open
(Psa 145:18 KJV) The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
(Proverbs 20 also read)
Do you need something to praise God about? Do you look around at the condition of the world and the church and feel despair? Do you wonder what is wrong with young people today? I admit there is a lot to discourage us. That is why we need to keep our minds in gear when we read scripture like Psalm 145. This entire Psalm is charged with encouraging insights and truths.
This one should be at the top of your list. This is not Jesus promising the Holy Spirit. This is not Paul sharing how power is perfected through weakness. This is Old Testament stuff. This is from the time when some people say an angry God is on the throne. What does David tell us? He is listening.
So? Talk to Him. Call upon Him. Seek His word for the day. And don’t forget to listen when He tries to answer.
Friday, May 19, 2023
(Pro 19:18 KJV) Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Recently I was in a group discussion and the prevailing attitude was that the children and grandchildren were beyond the pale. They had rejected the values of their parents. It was not a gathering filled with “hope” (8615b). How long can we hold out a positive attitude with our children. I feel we have made it over that hump and the focus is now on our grandchildren. I wish I could offer encouragement to these others.
We need to be careful. It is easy to assume and judge incorrectly. We all know families where one child will follow the Lord and another will reject Him. We cannot get away from free will. There may have been bad examples, hypocrisy and inconsistent lives. It may just be that the sinful nature overcomes every effort to reform.
We do need to maintain the hope that is in us. The ways in which we can “discipline” (3256) may be more limited when they move from childhood to adult but there is always hope. Maybe the mistakes we made when they were younger can be overcome in humility and the change will lead to life.
So? Don’t give up on hope. Keep disciplining but gently, gently. Did I say gently?
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Heads or Tails?
(Pro 18:18 KJV) The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
A recurring thought in this chapter could be summed up at taking the long view. We act in the present, the now. We should be thinking about tomorrow and beyond, eternity. What we do today moves us down the road. In this verse we have what we might call “flipping a coin.” Some people will tell you that you can always know the will of God. I would say usually, not always. On important issues I think we know more often than minor issues but I think we come to places where we don’t know. At least I do.
The reason we don’t know is often because God, who gave us free will, expects us to make a decision ourselves. We are free to do so with a heart that has been transformed. Sometimes the reason is that God really doesn’t care. I don’t think there is any eternal significance in whether I drink Ethiopian or Costa Rican coffee this morning.
So? Do due diligence. We all know the steps: prayer, reading, meditation, counseling. If you can’t find direction then flip a coin. This says God is in charge of that too.
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Turning the Tongue
(Pro 17:20 KJV) He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.
I always have questions about what kind of language is appropriate. The translations here of “perverted” (2015) NASB and “perverse” KJV are minority choices. The most common translation by far is “turned”. It is used when God turned the Nile into blood. It is also used to change your mind or your physical direction.
I am going to suggest today that this would refer to a tendency we have to talk different in front of different people. Perhaps it would be the guy who is cussing up a storm until he realizes one of his listeners is a preacher and he says, “Oh, sorry Reverend.” We might experience it when we get carried away and someone walks into the room who reminds us about that.
So? You might as well talk as if the Lord were listening to everything you say, because He is.
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
(Pro 16:17 KJV) The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
I live in Texas. One of the concerns of people who live here and have values is our state capital, Austin. One man told me he was taking his family to visit San Francisco. I suggested that he acclimatize himself to what he would experience by going to Austin and walking back and forth under the freeway overpasses. He would find the same things that are on every street corner in the City by the Bay: Homelessness, drugs, violence, filth.
I think of my association with Austin as making sure I stay on the Highway of the Upright. It is possible to get through that city without a lot of risk but in order to do so you need to stay on the Interstate. That involves planning for adequate gas, bathroom stops and possible food. You can get through the danger if you stay on the highway.
So? Life has parallels. God has given us a roadmap and a mind. It is possible that God may have some unique experiences in store for us but we can avoid a lot of issues if we simply stay on the path He has laid out. Don’t ask for trouble. Ask for guidance.
Monday, May 15, 2023
(Psa 8:1 KJV) To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
(Proverbs 15 also read)
This word of praise is repeated at the end of this Psalm. Notice that the first “LORD” (3068) [YHVH] is a different word than the second “Lord” (136) [adonay]. This is shown by the first being in all upper case letters. What is on my radar today is that God is so “majestic” (117) that the Jews forgot how to pronounce His name.
In a sense this is a good thing. It puts us a few steps away from making His name a superstitious talisman that we wave around to manipulate and substitute for obedience. It forces us to contemplate on who God is by His actions and words. We ultimately come to know Him in the person of His Son, Jesus.
So? Praise Him and rejoice in Him. He is beyond our comprehension in one way and yet we can know Him in another.
Sunday, May 14, 2023
Duck and Cover
(Psa 7:1 KJV) Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite. O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
(Proverbs 14 also read)
Have you ever felt like they are out to get you? Maybe they are. When people tell you it is just your imagination, it could be them who are confused about the situation.
There will be times when people do not have your best interests at heart. You may not be in David’s situation with armies breathing down your neck but the threat can be real. There is a lot of advice in other places but here the focus is on calling on God and trusting Him.
Of course the deliverance may not be in the form you had in mind. It may not follow your timeline. God will respond.
So? Take refuge and live in trust.
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Hope and Despair
(Pro 13:21 KJV) Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.
This touches on our daily lives. Last night at church one of the people shared a prayer request for a family that had lost a baby. As the concern was fleshed out we found that the baby was one and a half and died suddenly for seemingly no reason. We might call it crib death or SIDS. Then we find out the mother was living with a family that the church knew. There was no mention of a father. I am assuming it was a single mother that had been taken into their home.
So many unanswered questions. So many hearts touched. I always wonder what was going on that we don’t know about and people don’t want to share. In this day and age I wonder if the baby was vaccinated. I wonder where the father was and why he was not involved. I wonder if there was abuse or possibly drugs in the past.
So? Evil happens. Although it can touch the lives of the righteous it is much more common on those who are not living God’s way. This is not an excuse to be harshly judgmental of those suffering but a word of encouragement to those in the family of God.
Friday, May 12, 2023
(Psa 148:9 KJV) Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
(Proberbs 12 also Read)
This chapter of Psalms is a good example of a poetic spirit of worship getting carried away with praise. The author has everything that pops into his head singing praises to God. This verse reminds me of sitting out on my front porch, looking across the ridges of Texas hill country and feeling the same way.
Did you ever participate in the technique of “brains storming”? You say anything that pops into your head and someone writes it down. No evaluation or criticism is allowed during the session. That comes later. I think this was something like that. Don’t try to base any scientific principles in the idea of fruit trees praising the Lord. You will probably never be able to measure it. You may understand why they would want to but I doubt if you could prove it in a lab. I notice it does not have any test tubes praising the Lord. Probably just an oversight.
So? Live in Praise
Thursday, May 11, 2023
(Psa 145:4 KJV) One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
(Proverbs 11 also read)
It occurred to me at a recent Wednesday night service that we don’t hear “testimonies” much any more. Remember the day? Sometimes it could be less than inspiring. I remember one lady who would get up and say positive words but her tone of voice, sighs and projection of feeling persecuted took the meaning out of what she said. Others convey the joy of the Lord.
If you get a chance, share the joy of the Lord. This is doubly true if you are older. You have a lot of victories to share. This brings to mind the song, “The Longer I Serve Him”. We need to live this in front of our children. We need to be an example to our church. We need to speak up when some one asks us, “How’s it going?”
So? “Praise” (7623b) Him and what He does for us.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
(Pro 10:17 KJV) He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.
As I began reading in this verse the phrase “way (734) of life (2425b)” (path of life NASB) stood out to me. It came to me that just because you are on that road today it does not guarantee that you will be on it tomorrow. The road will not go away. The wandering is on your part.
There are various reasons why we get off the path. Sometimes we get distracted. I will confess this has happened to me a time or two. I can’t remember if it is getting worse as I get older, but it happens. You are cruising along, deep in a discussion with yourself, and suddenly you realize you have just passed the turn you wanted to make. The results vary. In Southern California there was usually another off-ramp a quarter of a mile down the road where you could correct your error. In Texas you might need to drive a couple of miles.
Sometimes we find the directions confusing. I will at times use the GPS feature to get somewhere. This is only when I don’t know the route. I find that many times the directions given by the all-knowing AI is either confusing, wrong or comes too late. I am often forced to do what I should have done at the beginning, figure it our myself.
So? Staying on track is part of the life of righteousness. The Holy Spirit will cover a lot of mistakes and wake us up at times but we still need to apply ourselves if we want to arrive at our destination.
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
(Psa 142:3 KJV) When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
(Proverbs 9 also read)
The more I read through Psalms the more convinced I am that David was a moody man. Here he is on the edge of despair, again. Of course he seems to have a reason for despair. According to the title, which I assume is part of the Hebrew text, he is trapped in the cave by Saul. Saul is out to kill him. Saul has an army. That seems like a situation where a little bit of sad face would be in tune with what is happening.
The problem does not go away while he is writing this. All the way to the end it is a testimony of hope and trust, but no obvious deliverance. Yet we know he survived. He at least lived to write this Psalm.
So? We will have our down times. Reach down inside for the hope that is in you and see if it doesn’t make it easier to get through the day.
Monday, May 8, 2023
Careful about “Gotcha”
(Pro 8:29 KJV) When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
I recently came across someone arguing against the claim of the climate change cabal that if we keep driving our cars the level of the oceans will rise and destroy our civilization. I don’t think I exaggerate that summary much. The disputer was quoting this verse as a proof text that God would not allow any such thing to happen. I would like that simple explanation but it does not jive with the rest of the Bible, let alone what we think we know about history.
Remember a guy named Noah? He seemed to deal with the oceans rising. I don’t see any inference of automobiles and anthropomorphic climate change but there certainly was a lot of rain. I also remember reading somewhere that the Mediterranean was 200 feet higher somewhere in the past. Since that is the opinion of historians and scientists it is very questionable.
Read what it actually says. God puts limits on the water but there is nothing that says He cannot make occasional adjustments. I assume this is one of Solomon’s proverbs and I think he was aware of things like tides even if he never heard of tsunamis.
So? Be careful what you quote. Don’t fall into the pattern of the pagans and start throwing out things that just don’t add up. They lie for a living. We stand on truth.
Sunday, May 7, 2023
Go beyond the Letter
(Isa 29:13 NAS77) Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
(Provers 7 also read)
There is a concept here that goes beyond just writing something down or even memorizing it. In Sunday School I was getting a bit bored so I kept reading one of the verses the teacher had thrown in, seemingly at random. Since I can read the cross references in the center of the page I was not overly impressed by his scholarship, but the word caught my eye. It was this verse that got me thinking. First, you need to notice this is the NASB today. The KJV is based on the same Hebrew but comes across differently. Also notice that the “by rote” is in italics which means it is added for understanding.
That being said, it stuck me that what often happens in our lives is that we read and study and memorize but we never let it touch our “hearts” (3820). It is not enough to be able to recite. The idea is to let the word change us as we respond.
So? Keep up the disciplines but I find I need to find ways to wake myself up from the ritual. We each need to find out own way to do it.
Saturday, May 6, 2023
(Psa 139:10 KJV) Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
(Proverbs 6 also read)
This is the chapter of Psalms that talks about God being in Sheol if we descend to be there. I have always heard it quoted to emphasize that we cannot get away from God, that He is aware of everything we do and say. That is certainly true but this verse brings out another aspect of God being everywhere. He will “lead” (5148) us.
That is a good thing. It is to remind us that not only is God everywhere we go but He is still involved in being involved. He will give us the direction we need.
So? Relax. He has this.
Friday, May 5, 2023
The Act of Marriage
(Pro 5:17 KJV) Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.
This verse is about your sex life. In fact a major part of this chapter is about your sex life. That means that it is a clarion call for us to reject the standards and values of our current culture. That was not always the case, but it is today. The standard of the world is summed up in the soap opera line from a TV wedding, “as long as we both shall love.” Since the love they spoke of was glandular, the duration of the marriage was guaranteed to be short.
We are called to be faithful. Here it is specifically talking about faithfulness as opposed to promiscuity. We are called to be faithful. I remember a book I read years ago about marriage and the title was “The Act of Marriage.”
So? Keep it in the family, which means husband and wife. It works best that way and the reason is that God designed it and set the standard. Whom you going to trust, your cousin or Almighty God?
Thursday, May 4, 2023
Zeus Need Not Apply
(Psa 136:1 KJV) O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(Proverbs 4 also read)
And so this chapter starts. It goes through many of the acts of God starting with creation. Common to every verse is that simple ending statement. What is key to this chapter is not the long list of actions of God but the statement about His central character. Two English words are used in most translations I have, “lovingkindness” (2617a) [chesed] and “mercy”.
It struck me as I read in the early morning how different the God of the Bible is from other deities. The difference from the impersonal forces of Eastern religions is obvious but if you go through other cultures it is just as clear. Compare YHVH TO Zeus, or any of the Greek or Roman Gods. Night and day. One is capable of creating the universe and the others are best known for their temper tantrums and self centered tirades. How about Thor? Consider the gods of the Aztec and Maya cultures.
So? Our God is unique. He can be bloody but it is not the senseless destruction that you see in other religions. He is more known for His mercy and lovingkindness. Rejoice and worship.
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
No Jeffersons Please
(1Jn 2:1 KJV) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
(Proverbs 3 also read)
Every once in awhile I hear someone repeating the phrase “sin every day in word, thought and deed.” When I hear this I keep wondering if such pontificaters have ever read the Bible all the way through. Is it possible that all they do is listen to other wise heads who have not read it through either? This verse makes a clear statement that it is possible to live without sinning. In fact, it is expected.
This is not a claim that you never have sinned. That is clear if you keep reading. It is also clear if you read the rest of the Bible.
Be careful of why some people ignore or discount verses like this. I have one friend who says that John was writing to the Jewish believers so it does not apply to us. I love to accuse him of pulling a Jefferson but I try not to say it too often because it makes him angry.
So? Do your own reading and thinking. Keep your mind open to the Holy Spirit as you read so that you continually move toward a more perfect understanding of the word of God. Don’t pull a Jefferson.
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
A Rose by Any Other Name...
(Psa 115:17-8 KJV) The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.
(Proverbs 2 also read)
I come across people who claim the Jews did not believe in what we would call “heaven”. That word is not the best even for the New Testament but I believe that I keep seeing places that indicate they did believe that the afterlife was more than drifting through a place of darkness. This is one of them.
You see a contrast between this verse and the last. In the previous verse it clearly talks about the dead, then the focus switches to the righteous. They will be able to “bless” (1288) the Lord “forever” (5769). This is a frequent word that the NASB translates “forever” 136x, “everlasting” 110x and “perpetual” 29x.
So? Eternity is not just a promise that appears in the New Testament. It is throughout scripture.
Monday, May 1, 2023
Establish a Foundation
(Pro 1:5 KJV) A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
Yes, we will always continue to learn and grow but there is a qualification here. We need to know the difference between nonsense and “wise counsel” (8458). This is a different word that the “wise” (2450) earlier in the verse. It is used mainly in Proverbs with one appearance in Job. It is not always used of good counsel. It is a call to discernment.
This discernment is very important in our digital media age. There is a genuine and growing danger of revising wisdom of the past. Words of hymns are being changed. Dictionary definitions are being edited with wokeness. What used to be foundational is becoming fluid.
So? Always start with the word of God. It might even be good advice to start with old translations such as the KJV. Once that is established we can begin to try to make sense of the verbal stew around us.
Sunday, April 30, 2023
Hope Springs Eternal
(Psa 130:3 KJV) If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
(Proverbs 30 also read)
I am responding to this entire Psalm. I picked this verse to list because it is so important to us. Do you see the parallel with Paul,
(Rom 3:23 KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;What lifted me up about this Psalm is that it covers just about everything we need to know about God’s attitude toward sinners and salvation. Obviously, since it is Psalms, it can’t explain the place of Jesus, the Cross and the Resurrection. But look at what we do have in this chapter: Supplication, iniquity, forgiveness, hope, lovingkindness, redemption.
And not one mention of the burden of the law.
So? God is concerned about us moving toward Him if we need salvation. He is concerned that we fear and listen if we are seeking to live upright lives. God listens and watches. It is a joy to know that He is on our side and provides the means.
Saturday, April 29, 2023
I Can Live with That
(Psa 119:93 KJV) I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
(Proverbs 29 also read)
This section of the 119th Psalm is full of praise for the law. I sometimes wonder if Paul ever read the Old Testament in his studies because he is so down on the law. I like to check the marginal comments in the NASB Reference addition. Today it had what I considered a great insight. For “revived” (2421a) it said “or kept me alive.”
This goes along with my belief that the law was generally written for our benefit, not to stifle us. I believe that there is a reason for every law. It might be physical health or mental health. It could have some scientific principle behind it, but the law is there to “keep me alive.”
So? I will continue to rejoice in the way the law gives guidance and rejoice even more that, as Paul points out, it is grace that saves us and the blood of Jesus that washes away our sin.
Friday, April 28, 2023
(Psa 128:6 KJV) Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.
(Proverbs 28 also read)
I understand this blessing. The joy of seeing my children’s children is overwhelming. It is a gift that keeps on giving. I think that is from an old commercial. As I was reading this today I found my heart going out to those who will never experience this. I am sure we all know people who might have had children but they are not. Sometimes it is a choice, which is sad. Other times it is beyond their control, which is sadder.
Is this God’s judgement? No. Keep in mind some of the Biblical examples. Think of Zacharias and Elizabeth. There is a clear statement that they were blessed and upright before the Lord. They only had a child because God intervened and there is no record of John the Baptist marrying or having children. Or take the words of Paul who recommends staying single.
So? Walk in righteousness. Trust God to provide and lead according to His will. When we get to heaven you can get in line right behind me at the window that says, “‘Why’ questions answered here.” It will be a glorious day even if it doesn’t feel that way now.
Thursday, April 27, 2023
(Pro 27:3 KJV) A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
We are told not to judge. If you do any serious Bible reading you understand that it means to judge unjustly and too quickly. The reason that is important to understand is that we need to be able to recognize “fools” (191) when we meet them. Actually, I guess it isn’t so much as when we meet them as when we get to know them. In some cases you might know right away. Usually it takes time and observation.
In this case it is observing the “provocation” (3708a) that emerges. The KJV has a lot more variety in how this word is translated. I think it can be summarized in the different kind of strong responses that can be observed when life throws curve balls. It would suggest that it is referring to reactions that are way over the top.
So? Fools tend to lack self control. Something to think about when we mediate on our own behavior, isn’t it?
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
(Psa 116:17 KJV) I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
(Proverbs 26, also read)
I am thinking that I tend to put important words in little boxes and always look at them in the context of the six sides. When I do that I miss a lot. Reading, meditating, studying and listening sometimes opens the box, flattens the sides and frees the idea for more contemplation. I find “sacrifice” (2077) going through that process this morning.
When I hear “sacrifice” I tend to think of animals being led to the altar. It is the first picture that comes to mind and I think I stop there too often. All I need to do is think of a chorus we sing that starts, “We bring a sacrifice of praise....” A quick search finds it used once in the NASB and twice in the KJV.
(Jer 33:11 KJV) The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.Then we have this verse that talks about a “sacrifice of thanksgiving (8426)”. How many more objects are connected with sacrifice?
(Heb 13:15 KJV) By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
So? Boxes are great for storing things and sorting things, not so much for understanding the beautiful complexity of God’s mind. Keep unpacking.
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Reasons to Tremble
(Psa 114:7 KJV) Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;
(Proverbs 25 also read)
I am not someone that causes anyone to “tremble” (2342a). I am big but certainly do not have a demeanor that would strike fear into the heart of anyone. Maybe a three year old would be impressed. If I sneak up on my grandson I can get him to jump. The rest of the world just shrugs its collective shoulders and goes about business.
Why should anyone listen to a testimony, sermon or the church as a whole? Why, indeed. We get the reason wrong as much as the rest of the world does. We tend to focus on becoming a more effective witness, which is a good thing to do. We want our pastors to study more. They should. We want the church to stand up and be counted. It should. None of that is what makes the mountains skip or the oceans flee like the previous verses declare.
It wasn’t the reverberating voice of Moses or the threat of his staff that caused the Red Sea to part. It wasn’t his skill of negotiation that caused Pharaoh’s army to drown in a few inches of water if you are one of those who reject the miracle of the water parting. No, it was the Lord.
So? Prepare. Study. Do all the things that go along with obedience. More important, don’t forget that it is actually the power of God that makes it happen. That is one of the reasons why we pray for the president. Let him tremble.
Monday, April 24, 2023
Great Lyrics, Different Focus
(Pro 24:16 KJV) For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
As I read this chapter today I was struck by what it is that keeps Christians moving forward. If our focus is on what goes on around us, on the evil elites that keep pushing their agenda, on the decay of our culture, we would know nothing but doom and gloom.
We don’t wallow in gloom for long. Sure, it hits us. We are human with all of our weaknesses and limitations, but our focus is not on the political leaders or the nonsense of our youth. Our focus is on Almighty God. That means we allow Him to pick us up, dust us off and try all over again. I think there is a song with similar lyrics. The song is based on our efforts. This verse is based on the power and Grace of God.
So? Let Him pick you up, dust you off, pat you on the back and send you back into the fray. The Adventure continues.
Sunday, April 23, 2023
Our World of Fantasy
(Pro 23:35 KJV) They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
Earlier in the chapter we read about drunks and gluttons. Here at the end we get down to the real issue: Living in a world of illusion. This verse could be funny if we did not find ourselves surrounded by people who refuse to look at reality. How can anyone who knows how to put a shirt on believe that there are more than two genders? How can anyone who has ever changed a diaper not know that you have only boys and girls? That kind of explains lot. I would guess that many of these people have never done either.
I can call my sin “righteous” until I might start to believe it on one level. When the payment for my sin comes due I can blame my parents, society or, the current favorite, white skin but the payment is still due. And that is just the damage in this life. Eternity takes it to another level. I wonder how much of the misery of Hell will be sitting around blaming everyone else for our misery and knowing it was our choice.
So? Wake up if you are still asleep. If you are already awake look for opportunities to alert others. The odds are they won’t want to listen but you never know.
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Buddies as Burdens
(Pro 22:26 KJV) Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
I was reading a book recently that recommended moving if we lived in an area that made it impossible to raise our children right and live the way we felt was right. Good advice but I don’t know too many people who can afford to just up and move. This verse brings to mind that there are things we can do short of selling our house that can change our life experience. It comes down to changing our habits and making different choices.
The types of people here are those who are always giving their word and borrowing money. I think the inference is that they are not reliable in either commitment. If you have people like this, that are a bad influence, think about ways you can change your patterns to avoid them. It might mean changing churches. It could be going to different restaurants or dropping out of certain organizations. The need is to get away from people who are dragging you down and find some who will lift you up.
So? Although we need to learn to endure many things there are some we can change. Make it a matter of prayer. Look around and think about it. Follow through. Easy to say, right?
Friday, April 21, 2023
(Pro 21:1 KJV) The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
I wrote on this verse last month. I need to remind myself again. I need to focus like a laser from 10,000 miles on the leaders of the world. You need to join me. I may not understand how prayer works. I may know that God works His way and is not blocked by any man. At the same time we are told to pray for our leaders. Here it mentions the king. For us that would definitely be the president. It would also include anyone in an executive position that can influence us.
We keep wondering what we can do about the problems our country faces. Our weakness is that we come to prayer last instead of first. We don’t need revolution we need revival. Our issues won’t be solved by violence but by virtue.
So? Put the president at the head of your prayer list. Well, maybe after your family and church, but definitely near the top. Let’s make a difference.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Don’t Always Share
(Pro 20:3 KJV) It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
This made me sit up a little straighter today and pay attention. I don’t consider myself one to “quarrel” (1566), or “meddle” as the KJV says, but I have an almost irresistible urge to argue or debate any issue. This comes to me in Sunday School where I find myself being aware that I could argue with almost every sentence the teacher says, certainly every paragraph. Sometimes the point I would make might be valid but usually it is just for discussion. I constantly find I must sit on my hands, so to speak.
So? Discernment is called for. The point being made is that I have too much of a tendency to jump in and disagree. I need to learn to draw the line between recreation and reproof. That is hard because it is so much fun. I need to understand that the recipient of my wisdom might not see it with such joy.
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
The Demand of Growth
(Pro 19:20 KJV) Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
Am I the only one who gets tired of the daily grind and wants to rest on my laurels? I don’t think so, but it may be worse in me than others. I wish I could do things right the first time so that I don’t need to do it again. I wish I could remember all the things I had read then I would not need to read them again. I wish I could retain all the wisdom that has been laid on me over the years. It doesn’t work that way. Wisdom does not become automatic and can be suppressed or decay.
This is why it is so important to keep reading. I keep coming to passages in the Bible that I don’t remember reading before. It is also important to keep discussing what you have read with people who can challenge your thinking. I can grow in solitaire but the awareness that someone may disagree with me forces me into a deeper level of thinking.
So? Keep growing. It may be frustrating to go over the same ground again but if you are lucky you won’t remember and get up tight about it. I sometimes wonder how memory will work in eternity.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
The Chosen Name
(Psa 113:3 KJV) From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.
(Proverbs 18 also read)
At this point in this Psalm we have seen the phrase “name (8034) of the LORD (3068)” three times and the unique name “LORD” [yhwh] five. This name is not just another word for God. It is the name that God Himself revealed to Moses. Out of all the words and names available He chose the Hebrew YHWH or Yahweh or sometimes translated as Jehovah.
It means “I am” and points out that the God of the Bible is the real one. He is not just a name, a wish, a compilation or a fantasy. He is.
So? It gives us a foundation that we need to keep reminding ourselves of. Foundations are much bigger than the parts that are visible and are not thought about much. Foundations are what keep everything else in place. Worship and rejoice.
Monday, April 17, 2023
Form a Square
(Psa 112:7 KJV) He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
(Proverbs 17 also read)
There are mornings where I don’t want to look to see what has happened over the last day. It seems like every time I try to check out news things get worse. At times like that I need to remind myself that I fear the Lord as it says in verse 1, not the morning “tidings” (8052).
That makes it possible to remain “steadfast” (3559) in the midst of any bad news. The two translations I focus on give good nuance to this word. It has the idea of steady. It doesn’t necessarily mean charging ahead. This is the resolve of the Roman legionnaire standing shield to shield before a horde of charging Germans. It is the British square as Napoleon’s cavalry charges. There is a confidence that resists the attacks of the enemy.
So? Focus on whom you trust. Triumph depends on His strength, not ours.
Sunday, April 16, 2023
The Highway Awaits
(Pro 16:17 KJV) The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
A “highway” (4546) is not a decoration. It is a tool. It is a way to travel without having to worry about all of the gullies and bushes that might slow down travel. Three views of the highway come to mind. You can be starting a journey, on a journey or finishing a journey. Here the point being made is that we are to be starting. The purpose of the start is to get away.
There are many things in life that we might want to leave behind: Mistakes, temptations, failures and of course “evil” (7451b). The point here is that God will provide a way.
So? Get moving. Change what needs to be changed. I think that will be totally different for each of us. What might be crippling to one person would be a slight annoyance to another. Get moving.
Saturday, April 15, 2023
Living in Moab
(Psa 108:9 KJV) Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
(Proverbs 15 also read)
One of the differences in viewpoint between the Old Testament and the New is the focus of God’s grace. I don’t know how much is perception and how much is real. In books like Psalms you see God addressing groups of people, nations and tribes, as His primary focus. Individuals are considered but the major concern would be the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people. An example would be in the reference to Moab. I don’t think being a “washbowl” (7366) is a good thing. At the same time Ruth was from Moab and is singled out for God’s blessings.
That is a point of view worth considering. We live in a culture. That culture has attributes. We are forced to deal with them and suffer the consequences of the rottenness as well as the blessings of morality. Ruth was obviously singled out as a woman of virtue. She went through some hard times and through her faithfulness to Naomi she was moved from Moab to Israel.
So? We may live in a culture that is heading for the gutter. We are still called to live in virtue and follow the higher calling of a holy God. Sometimes we will be sheltered. Sometimes we will be persecuted. At all times we must be obedient grains of salt.
Friday, April 14, 2023
(Pro 14:26 KJV) In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
I am very much aware of the blessings in my life. When I am focusing on thanksgiving I start with salvation and the willingness of Jesus to empty Himself to take on manhood. I think of the cross and the written word that tells us about Him. I eventually get to the material blessings. And then there is the ability we still have to live and worship in freedom. I am grateful that I live in the blip of history that allows such without fear of persecution.
I am also aware that forces are moving to take that security away from us. I think of the times in history when society has been a guessing game of whether you would live to see tomorrow or have the food to feed your family. I think of Christians who have come through that and how many of them have done so rejoicing. I hope that when the time comes I can live in this verse.
So? Job made it through. I am praying for that kind of trust and also praying that I will never need to exercise it.
Thursday, April 13, 2023
(Pro 13:15 KJV) Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
This verse adds some enlightenment to the call of Noah,
(Gen 6:8 KJV) But Noah found grace (2580) in the eyes of the LORD.You don’t see it? The key word in Proverbs is “favor” (2580). Now with that in mind consider a favorite verse of all believers which is misunderstood by so many,
(Eph 2:8 KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Why do I say misunderstood? So many Christians are taught that you are saved by grace alone, which is true, but that nothing else matters, which is not true.
Salvation is a gift, a favor, of God. In order to understand what that means you need to keep reading and not ignore the many other teachings in the Bible about what it means to be saved. Can you earn your salvation? Absolutely not. Is it a gift? Indeed. Are there other expectations? It would seem so. Here we have the suggestion of “understanding” (7922). What that involves is a topic for another day.
So? God wants to see us as part of His family. You can receive the gift of eternal life. The challenge is to begin applying it on a daily basis.
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
(Pro 12:18 KJV) There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
This verse does not really compare a sword with a tongue. It is the intent of the wielder that is at issue. Think of the difference between the thug racing out of a dark ally with knife held high as opposed to the surgeon cutting out the cancer in your skin. Both cut. Both may go deep. Only one is concerned with the well being of the one being cut.
Such is to be our conversation. If all we want is to win an argument then we run the danger of being the sword. If we are concerned with the other person then we will be seeking healing. We may be cutting. We may draw blood. The other person may recoil but our purpose is wholeness based on truth.
So? Guard your mouth not with silence but with truth. That carries risk, now more than ever, but it is still the route for the righteous. di
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
(Pro 11:21 KJV) Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
One of the big differences between the “wicked” (evil NASB) (7451a) and the “righteous” (6662) is time frame. Godly people live in peace because they take a long range view. Here the reference is to their “seed” (decedents NASB) (2233) but the implication is the future, which is in God’s hands. God’s people tend to think in terms of eternity not today.
Part of that is a natural based on the work of the Holy Spirit. Part of it is in the discipline of study and learning to trust. We live in troubled times but we need to remember that generations past have also lived in troubled times. Sometimes that ends in persecution and martyrdom. Other times it is the groundwork for miracles and deliverance.
So? We can live with both. We can do that because we believe that the Providence of God is active now and forever. We are blessed with having read the Book and we know who wins.
Monday, April 10, 2023
Avoiding Train Wrecks
(Pro 10:11 KJV) The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
There is a pattern in this chapter and probably in others. We see that “mouth” (6310) is used twice but the effects of the mouths are different. It occurred to me that it is not so much our talents or situations that make the difference but how we use them. How we use them could also be the difference between a talent and a gift.
This can be easily demonstrated with the gift of giving as compared to the talent for investing. In each case wealth is going out. In both cases it is necessary to have the wealth to use. In one the wealth is given with no thought of return and the result is blessing. With the other there is an expectation and often the results do not advance righteousness.
So? It isn’t what you have but how you use it. We all know people born with every advantage that end up a walking disaster. Allowing God to call the shots and following His principles can keep us from being one of those train wrecks.
Sunday, April 9, 2023
Barrier to Evangelism
(Pro 9:7 KJV) He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.
In our desire to win the world we often make a mistake. All people will not be won to the Lord. A sad truth is that the vast majority will not respond to the invitation and love of God. It is not forced on them. It is not a one time missing of an offer. It is the result of a lifelong series of decisions. It is what happens when you repeatedly reinforce the built in sin nature. Most people will not be saved.
That does not mean we stop witnessing. It does not mean we give up and go home. It means that we understand that we are playing against a stacked deck and it is stacked by the person we are talking to. It is God’s desire that all would be saved but when He created man in His image that meant we are able to make decisions. It also means we are responsible for our decisions.
So? Rejoice in knowing the living God. Share that joy when you get a chance. Rejoice even more if someone responds.
Saturday, April 8, 2023
(Pro 8:8 KJV) All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
The Greek word used for wisdom is sophia. It is part of the compound word “philosophy” which means “love of wisdom”. I imagine if we were trying to name the study of wisdom it might be “sophiology”. Don’t wait to see that in Wikipedia. We do not live in an age that loves or studies wisdom.
You can see that in almost every area of academic research. Most research today is guided by political considerations. They want to find something that will back their point of view. Because of that disciplines like science are close to losing all respect. What is sad is to see this in the study of the Bible. It amazes me how many people who are quoted as authorities on the Bible are non-believers or when you listen to a Jew who is a professor of New Testament.
So? We are to seek wisdom but be careful of your sources. We are told that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. A philosopher or a scientist, for that matter an English teacher analyzing a classic piece of literature, cannot have much to say if their foundation is not right. It is always safe to start with the Bible. Often that is a good place to stop also.
Friday, April 7, 2023
(Pro 7:24 KJV) Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.
If you compare translations you will notice that the NASB has “sons” (1121) [ben] and the KJV “children”. The Hebrew is literally the word for “son” with the understanding that if it is plural it can refer to boys and girls. Notice that verse 1 is singular and the KJV translates it “son”. Here it is plural so the KJV gives us a better nuance.
Some people have the idea that because we are sons of God that we are sealed for eternity even if we go on to reject Him and live a life of debauchery and rebellion. I have had people say to me, “You would not disinherit your own son would you?” My answer is, “Yes.” If my son had decided to live a life of evil and sin I would do all I could to make sure he did not benefit from the blessings God had given me.
So? We can be secure in our assurance of eternal life. Make sure it is a genuine security.
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Two Edged Response
(Psa 107:1 KJV) O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(Proverbs 6 also read)
If I had to pick a title for this Psalm I might select something like, “The Responsiveness of God.” What might catch you by surprise is that the response goes both ways.
We see the repeated way in which God responds to the desperation of men. Hard times are described and God brings relief. We also see how God responds to evil living with desolation and despair. The relationship between God and His people is not a static one. It is not a case of handing in your ticket and getting eternal security. It is God responding to your response.
So? He waits. He listens. He watches. He responds. I intend to give Him reason to send showers of blessings.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
(Pro 5:12 KJV) And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;
I have some friends who have withdrawn from the church. They don’t just spurn a specific local church but the church in general. I can’t say that I blame them. I feel that the church has lost its edge, its message. The church has conformed to the age and is a reflection of the world. It is a mirror rather than a beacon on a hill.
And yet the emphasis of this verse and the rest of the chapter is on our responsibility. I suggest that we as believers have balked at instruction when it was too demanding. I think we have been guilty of rationalizing our positions and refusing to listen to the hard words. Where would the church be if we had responded to those pastors who spoke difficult truth and encouraged them to push harder?
So? Find a church that offends you because it is too literal. They are out there but you have to seek them. You will be disappointed that they will be smaller and you might be expected to step up to the plate in serving instead of having great programs provided for you. Strange how that works.
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
(Pro 4:12 KJV) When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
I had the opportunity to comfort my grandson this week. He was joyously sprinting down the driveway when suddenly his feet didn’t seem to keep up with the rest of his body. He went down hard. We kissed hands and knees and cuddled a bit. Eventually he remembered that mommy was in the house and decided I was not good enough.
This verse talks about running and not stumbling. I pointed out to him in the nonsense soothings that go on that if he had been running up hill he probably would not have fallen. I think that applies to us when we look at this. It isn’t stated but I think we might find that when we take the easier path, downhill, we have a harder time staying upright. If I slip going up a hill the worst that usually happens is a few quick steps and a hand or knee on the ground to steady me. If I am rushing downhill it is more of a total body free fall.
So? Run uphill. Strive for the heights. Usually that is the path of obedience and a lack of stumbling.
Monday, April 3, 2023
Guilt by Association
(Jas 4:4 KJV) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
(Proverbs 3 also read)
The church has a significant problem of open “friendship” (5373) [philia] with the world. This is true as individuals and as an organized group.
There may not be much you can do about the organized church but you can be responsible for your own choices and priorities. It isn’t that we are supposed to set out to make people angry at us. No, it is that we are not supposed to be courting the world because we want to be accepted. As a general rule that means rejecting the values and truth of God. The world has a sliding scale when it comes to truth, values and morality. God’s people believe in absolutes.
What we see happening is that we are trying to be like them instead of drawing them to be like Jesus.
So? This is serious. We need to look at how we live and ask who we are trying to be friends with.
Sunday, April 2, 2023
(Psa 106:13 KJV) They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:
(Proverbs 2 also read)
This is an indictment of us today as much as ancient Israel. This statement follows a recounting of the miracles God had performed to get them safely out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. Almost immediately they “forgot” (7911) what He had done.
How often have I drifted into worry and insecurity? It seems to be a regular habit. I think I am getting better at remembering but I still have a long way to go. One of the things that helps is my daily worship where I spend time in thanksgiving. Eventually my mind will wander to the past and the times God has provided, encouraged and strengthened.
So? Walking by faith is sometimes a matter of memory, looking back and not just a matter of looking forward. Just as God is involved in the history of Israel, He is involved with us.
Saturday, April 1, 2023
Don’t You Dare
(Psa 91:5 KJV) Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
(Proverbs 1 also read)
We are in the middle of a list of destructive events and forces. We have people out to get us, disease and war. In the midst of this is the command that we are not to be “afraid” (3372a). Here it is given as a command. I think that this is one of those commands that require time and focus to implement in our lives.
Some peace is a process of growing up. I can remember the fears I had as a child of the dark. Generally they were fears based on nothing. As an adult I no longer worry about what might be under the bed. Many of the noises in the night are automatically ignored. If I am worried in the dark it is because I am convinced there is something to fear, not because it is dark.
Other fears require applied faith. We see the forces of evil running loose in our country and around the world. There are lots of valid reasons to be concerned. This is where we are called on to trust the Lord to manage the big things that are mostly beyond our reach. It is a conscious decision that must be made on a daily basis. I decided this morning not to get all knotted up over inflation and the possibilities of nuclear war. God will see His people through.
So? A daily reminder of Whom we believe in and application of faith are game changers. Rejoice in the midst of uncertainty because there are some things we can be certain of.
Friday, March 31, 2023
(Pro 31:10 KJV) Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Notice the question being asked. It might be considered poetical or rhetorical. When I consider all the qualities he lists I am afraid it is a genuine question and if you look at the advice of his mother in verse 3, you can almost assume the answer is “No one.”
Beware the perfect. Often in life the best is not available. We are forced to do with better. In life it might be that better is best. One lesson we can get from this passage is to make sure that our measuring stick is based on virtue and righteousness. The woman described here is not only great in so many areas, she is pure and clean in the ones involving ethics.
So? Be the best. Live to the highest. Those marks may vary a bit from person to person but for you the goal is the same.
Thursday, March 30, 2023
(Exo 18:21 KJV) Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
(Proverbs 30 also read)
It is never a bad time to think about the qualities of leadership. This is the advice of Jethro to Moses. It would seem here that Jethro is assuming Moses will do the picking. Later we see that Moses passed at least some of that choosing on to the people.
(Deu 1:13 KJV) Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.While we are not looking at pure democracy there is a sense of the people being involved in the picking of their government. There are four character traits that they were to look for. I would suggest that they are good for us to look for in our choices, too.
It is always a good time to consider the kind of qualities we should show in our own lives. We may not be called to leadership politically but all of us will be in positions where leadership is needed. We need to live in such a way that people will at least consider us.
So? I would hope these traits are already a part of your life. If not, I would suggest that you pay attention to the personal priorities and choices you make.
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
(Pro 29:13 KJV) The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.
In a recent discussion the topic of witnessing came up. We were concerned about people coming to Jesus and wondering about the opportunities we miss. We wanted to do a better job of evangelism. We were feeling a lot of guilt and I pointed out that we should not feel it is our fault if people don’t accept Jesus.
The real evangelist is the Holy Spirit. We cannot argue anyone into the kingdom. We forget that. This verse should help remind us. Two classes of people. Both are given access to the truth. I think we can assume that one does not respond, maybe neither, but God is being faithful.
So? People make choices. One of those involves accepting the message God is laying on their hearts. You may not hear the voice speaking to them. They might deny it. The Holy Spirit is still working. Rejoice that you heard and pray that they might but set aside the guilt.
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Slaves to Culture
(1Ti 6:1 KJV) Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
(Proverbs 28 also read)
This is another area where believers are being swayed by a desire to conform to our world instead of being transformed to serve in our world. The issue is slavery. We tend to look at it as a political or social issue. While it may be that it is also something that the Bible has a lot to say about.
Now let me stir the pot. The Bible does not condemn slavery. The Bible assumes slavery and gives us guidelines on how to live as slaves or as masters. There is no call of Spartacus here. The word doulos (1401) is always translated “servant” in the KJV. In the NASB it is only translated simply “servant” once out of 127 times the Greek word is used. There are times when it is united some way with “bond”, as in “bond-servant” but the use of slave occurs 97 times.
The word can be used both ways but the point I would like to make is that the existence of a class of people who are dependent on the whims of others is accepted as being the way life is. In time the Biblical teaching that the slave is still a brother will break the institution down. After all, what is the point of having a slave if you have to treat him like a brother.
So? Be careful accepting the comforting declarations of pastors and teachers when a little reading will tell you that you need to think for yourself.
Monday, March 27, 2023
The Joy of the Law
(Psa 105:45 KJV) That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.
(Proverbs 27 also read)
This verse is a good example of the difference in the view that the writer of this, and other, Psalms had of the law and how the Apostle Paul looked at it. I think the difference is important if for no other reason than balance.
In Psalms the “law” (8451) [torah] is looked at with joy. Notice the final phrase. Paul looked at it as a burden. I think that one of the differences is the Paul was looking at a different body of material that David and others. It has come to my attention recently that there was an oral tradition of the law that was not written down until long after Paul’s day. I get the feeling that most of the nit picking nonsense we hear about was found in this oral law.
We are taught that the Bible is the inspired word of God. For us that does not include any oral traditions passed down. Most of what I am aware of are the opinions of the Rabbis who kept coming up with regulations to expand the coverage of the law. What was given to teach men how to live holy lives became a straight jacket to stifle them.
So? Holiness is a matter of great joy. God is not a killjoy. He is the source of joy. To quote the Psalm. “Praise the Lord.”
Sunday, March 26, 2023
(Psa 104:4 NAS77) He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers.
(Proverbs 26 also read)
The NASB is different from the KJV.
(Psa 104:4 KJV) Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:The difference is a matter of choice. “Winds” (7307) is “spirits” in the KJV and ruach in Hebrew. Both words are common translations in both versions. The same with “messengers” (4397) and “angels”. I like the NASB today because it reminds me of my morning walks and how the wind blowing brings praise to my heart. It is as if God is using the breeze to speak to me.
This entire Psalm is full of poetic language. It is almost totally figurative. It is inspiring, or it could be if we let it.
So? Look around as you move through the world. Look for the beauty. It could be a bit of grass pushing up through a crack in the concrete or it could be a forest of giant redwoods. Look for the hand of God and I am betting you will find it.
Saturday, March 25, 2023
Limitation of Friendship
(Pro 25:18 Brenton) As a club, and a dagger, and a pointed arrow, so also is a man who bears false witness against his friend.
One of the misconceptions we have about friendship is that we are always loyal above all else. It is inferred here that some people think it would be acceptable to go to court and lie if it was to the advantage of a friend. This makes it clear that we are not to do that.
Honesty and truth are bedrock in a culture that wants to survive and be healthy. Even if you are alive during a time when integrity seems to have taken a vacation, you are to maintain upright behavior. That means applying the Commandment against lying.
So? First, it is vital to your spiritual destiny. Second, it is necessary for your personal world. Finally, you may be the salt that stops the wrathful hand of God so that others might be saved.
Friday, March 24, 2023
(Psa 84:11 KJV) For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
(Proverbs 24 also read)
Be careful how you interpret a verse like this. It is full of promise. It is truly a joy to read. It is also a filter. So often we get so excited about the picture of promise that we ignore the filter.
We like the idea that God does not “withhold” (4513) the “good” (2896b) from us. We like the idea of the kiosk of vending machines you find in Japan. I remember on spot in the middle of nowhere. The road had a place to pull off and beside the road, lit up and inviting was an automated market of hot and cold drinks and food. I think you could even use your credit card. It was all for the taking. Some people think of God that way.
We are not so enthused about that little issue of walking “uprightly” (8549). We get really good at ignoring that. And then we wonder why the cosmic candy bar does not appear.
So? It isn’t a matter of earning God’s blessings as much as applying Him to our lives. I don’t know now many times I have tried to use my Discover at Cosco. Eventually I realize that they want to give me all I selected but they want a different card.
Thursday, March 23, 2023
(Psa 83:4 KJV) They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
(Proverbs 23 also read)
This brings to mind a couple of errors we make in understanding the Bible and applying it to ourselves. Today those are “spiritualization” and “Replacement Theology.” There are aspects of both that are useful and legitimate and extremes that are deceptive and misguided.
If you were spiritualizing this passage you would take a legitimate desire to understand what God is saying to use and manipulate it to make yourself look good. If you see parallels with current forces in our culture trying to marginalize and destroy the church then you are on the right track and you can go on to teach hope, being salt and other lessons. If you use it to justify your position on a recent local church dispute on which Bible translation to put in the pews then you might be using the technique a bit out of line.
The term “Replacement Theology” is one of those technical shibboleths like “Fundamentalist” which have a meaning to describe a specific position but is often misused to tar and feather people you don’t like. Technically it means a belief that God has replaced Israel with the Church as His Chosen People. In my mind it brings a picture of a computer technician pulling out the old CPU, throwing it in the trash, and putting in the newest, hottest version. This can lead to anti-Semitism on one hand and a good degree of local church arrogance on the other. Is God now working through the church instead of Israel? I would say so. Does that mean He is finished with Israel? Not if you read about the end times.
So? Read and study. Keep in mind the purpose is to “show yourself approved” not to gain the pole position in the Rapture 500.
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
The Missing Link
(Psa 102:10 KJV) Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
(Proverbs 22 also read)
This is a gloomy and depressing Psalm. The author is in dire straights. All is misery and suffering. It is like he lives in the time when the prophecies of God’s wrath are fulfilled. In the midst of this there is something missing and this verse comes the closest to expressing it. There does not seem to be much confession or repentance in this chapter. He describes his desperation. He praises God. But there is a disconnect between sin and punishment.
I am reading the writings of a dispensationalist who goes out of his way to claim that confession and repentance are not necessary. I think he is wrong. I think that the Bible is full of proclamations of hope and restoration but one of the conditions involves us turning away from our sins. Grace is still the agent but God demands also.
So? If God does not seem to be listening then maybe it is brokenness and humility He is not hearing. There is nothing wrong with His reception.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
(Heb 2:15 KJV) And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
(Proverbs 21 also read)
If I were a teenager reading this verse I would possibly just keep reading. The same could be said as I moved into adulthood. Not so much now that I am in my 70's. Suddenly this is a reminder that I need to internalize and apply daily.
Part of it is an awareness of being old and all that involves. I can choose to live in fear of the cough next to me. I can wonder about each ache and pain I feel. I can be willing to spend the inheritance of my grandchildren on a medical procedure that is iffy at best, all because of a “fear” (5401) of “death” (2288). I might suppress it and deny it but if it stifles my joy of living then I am living in fear. I am “subject” (1777) to “bondage” (slavery NASB) (1397).
It can also effect the way I look at my world. Am I afraid to go out? Do I avoid the mall because of fear? Do I look with suspicion at people around me? Do I dread the evening news? There are so many forms that this can express itself in.
So? Jesus has removed the fear of death, or He should have. Actually, it isn’t a question of whether He removed the reason as much as our reluctance to embrace that deliverance and apply it to our daily lives. They say that the only two things that are certain are death and taxes. Death is not an issue and if we are poor enough taxes have a limited bite also. Rejoice.
Monday, March 20, 2023
Arms and Hands
(Psa 98:1 KJV) A Psalm. O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
(Proverbs 20 also read)
Have you ever met the old sourpuss that wants to criticize everything? When it comes to the Bible they want to be literal all the time, except when being figurative fits their narrative. You know the type. I have a friend who went off on a long tirade about the chorus “Majesty” because it talked about Jesus as King and King of Kings. He claimed that the Bible does not say that. I did not bother trying to refute him.
If people like that are going to be consistent then they are going to have problems with this chapter in Psalms. It starts off talking about God’s “right hand” (3225) and “holy” (6944) “arm” (2220). Since the Bible tells us God is spirit it is hard to see Him having a right hand. Later on in this chapter you have God remembering. Did He forget? You have rivers clapping their hands and mountains singing. What beautiful images. Anyone with an ounce of imagination recognizes the existence of figures of speech and rejoices in the insights they bring.
So? Don’t be a party pooper with demands for literal when the Bible is full of figurative. Did Jesus rise from the dead literally and physically? Yes. That is made clear. Does God have a right hand? Only if He wants to.
Sunday, March 19, 2023
(Psa 97:6 KJV) The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
(Proverbs 19 also read)
I do a lot of rejoicing when I take the time to sit and contemplate the world around me. On a clear day, when the temperature is right, with a breeze keeping things interesting, it is very hard not to lift up my eyes and see the glory of God. It can also happen on a dark night when the stars are coasting across the sky. I can have this sense in the midst of a lightening storm and even in a hard steady rain.
I don’t know that I have ever thought of the sky revealing God’s “righteousness” (6664), but it makes sense. I will try to remember that next time I walk. It seems to be there for all the world to see.
So? We are surrounded by God’s “glory” (3519b). I need to take more time to contemplate it and think about all that it reveals.
Saturday, March 18, 2023
(Psa 96:12 KJV) Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice
(Proverbs 18 also read)
We tend to look at expressions like these as poetic instead of realistic. We are not pagans. We do not believe that plants and rocks have awareness. At the same time I wonder. I think of fields of sunflowers I have seen that turn to follow the sun. Rocks expand and contract with fluctuation in temperature. I am told that fields do grow rocks. In the process of responding to heat they somehow work themselves toward the surface.
But what if there is some kind of awareness in a flower that responds to the holiness of God? It is not hard for me to imagine when I walk on a beautiful morning. I am not talking about a soul but in my crazy moments I imagine a bowl of strawberries, created to be eaten and enjoyed, calling out to me, “Eat me!” It is what brings them joy and I am glad to help.
So? Rejoice. If the trees in the forest can sing for joy then it would be good to join.
Friday, March 17, 2023
(2Ti 3:12 KJV) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
(Proverbs 17 also read)
This is a verse that can be very scary. At best it is disturbing. It seems to be a guarantee that living a serious Christian life will get us “persecuted” (1377). At times I look at the blessings in my life and it makes me wonder.
What is not stated here is the frequency and severity of the persecution. We tend to stereotype it into lion food and the Inquisition. While there is a witness to that I think it is more on the level of being mocked or shunned socially. The purpose of the persecution from the Devil’s point of view is to drive a wedge between us and God. If he can do that subtly without us pushing back then he can move us toward hell and tarnish the image of God in the pagan mind.
So? Don’t go looking for persecution so you can get it out of the way. Be ready to be mocked or pressured to compromise. That is much more common. Spend enough time with the Lord to let it run off like you were a wet duck.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
(Psa 94:15 KJV) But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.
(Proverbs 16 also read)
The context of this verse is the observation that society goes through changes. At times it seems like the forces of evil are in command. Then God moves. In the midst of this we are reminded of our place in things. I am assuming that I am one of the “upright” (3477) in “heart” (3820) [leb]. I am hoping that you are too. We are to always be in “follow” (310) mode.
That involves always being aware of what is going on around us. It means that we are to make choices when given the chance.
Making those choices depends on us knowing the difference between truth and compromise. We can only achieve that by study, prayer and developing habits of obedience.
So? Prepare for the decisions that are to come. If your heart is right with God, then follow your heart. If you heart is not upright then there is a decision that is already here.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Ask Me Later
(Gen 1:4 KJV) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
(Proverbs 15 also read)
How about a philosophical question? “Is it good because God said so?” or “Did God say it was good because it was?” The question is not whether the statement is true but why it is true.
The first position leaves open the possibility that God is capricious. The light could have been neutral, waiting to be labeled. God could have declared it evil under this scenario.
The second question could mean that the quality of goodness existed outside creation. The gurus tell us that means it existed before creation thus making it outside of what God had done.
My solution is to put the philosophy in a can until the resurrection. At that point the answer may be obvious or something that even a philosopher would not care about. My position is that the statement is true. If by some miracle I figure out all the other things I wonder about then I will pull it out of the can and examine it.
So? Keep thinking but it might be helpful to think about things that matter.