(Pro 28:13 KJV) He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
There are some beautiful promises here. Ultimately we are excited about receiving God’s “mercy” (compassion NASB) (7355). In our excitement we tend to overlook the second part of the formula. The first is “confesses” (3034). That seems to be necessary. The second part is also vital, the contrite “forsakes” (5800a) his sin. He repents. He changes.
This is the part of the program that we don’t like. I know some people who are so hard core about grace and eternal security that they deny that change is even required. I wish I could limit my reading to such passages. Actually, no I don’t. As I have often said, “God does not play games.” He knows when we are looking for loopholes.
So? Read the whole verse. Embrace the glory of forgiveness. Live the life it demands.
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
(Pro 28:13 KJV) He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
Monday, February 27, 2023
(Pro 27:6 KJV) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
How do you tell the difference between a “friend” (157) and an “enemy” (8130)? You evidently can’t tell by their obvious actions. We are usually very easily deceived by outward demonstrations of love or loyalty. I think that is a mistake. I have had other married couples held up as an example because of the words and non-verbal actions they displayed. In time I was vindicated in my reluctance because often those couples have ended up in divorce. All the cute, romantic behaviors didn’t go very deep.
So? We need to look deeper. That can’t be rushed. It takes effort. It will not be popular. It still needs to be done. Pay special attention when people don’t think they are being observed.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Defining a Fool
(Pro 26:1 KJV) As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
How do we know a “fool” (3684) when we see them? One way might be to shut our eyes and listen to them. We find this twice in Psalms. Here is the first,
(Psa 14:1 KJV) To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.It might be hard to hear if he only says it in his heart but his actions will reflect what his heart is saying. He acts as if there is no God because he does not believe there is.
It is even more clear when they admit it openly. The world is full of people who deny the existence of God. They run our schools and government agencies. The church is full of people who say there is a God but in their hearts they don’t mean the God of the Bible. Him they reject.
So? They may be nice people in a sense. In reality they are tools of evil and will be used to advance the goals of evil. Be alert about whom you chose to listen to.
Saturday, February 25, 2023
(Pro 25:24 NAS77) It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
I don’t know when I first noticed that this thought was expressed several times in Proverbs. Once I saw it, I kept seeing it. I am using the NASB here because the Greek link is more clear. In my software the “brawling woman” of the KJV is a combination of three words. Be that as it may, the thing that hit me today was how certain themes get repeated in Proverbs. I find myself wondering why once is not enough.
Probably for the same reasons that kids need to be continually reminded to pick up their sox. We are slow and reluctant learners. The idea expressed here in “contentious” (4066) tends to be more common than it appears if that is the word that stands out. It is used 20 times in the Old Testament and 17 of them are in Proverbs. I would say it is a topic that needs to be repeated.
So? Pay attention and keep in mind that a verse like this is not here just to advise you on marriage but to help you to avoid being the contentious one.
Friday, February 24, 2023
A Retreat That Charges
(Psa 55:7 KJV) Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
(Proverbs 24 also read)
Have you ever felt like you need a vacation? Sometimes it is enough to get a quiet evening at home. I have had several spots that I felt like I could reconnect. David is expressing that desire in these verses. It also seems to imply that he did not get what he wished.
We need to find ways to be renewed without leaving the zip code. If we concentrate on worship we can find Sunday morning a time of refreshing. I find that getting up early helps to renew my mind and spirit.
So? There are ways to “wander far away” without leaving the house. It takes focus and a bit of practice but it can be done. Start by pondering the holiness of God. Try to comprehend what it means to be eternal. Look for evidence of the image of God in your life. Be refreshed.
Thursday, February 23, 2023
(Pro 23:14 KJV) Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
Some people question whether the Jews of the Old Testament believed in an afterlife. Some say yes and quote certain scriptures. Others say no and quote other scriptures. Some explain the “Sheol” (7585) (hell KJV) as a shadowy place where souls drift around in a kind of limbo. They claim it is the only choice. This verse seems to indicate there is an option.
This says that your “soul” (5315) [nephesh] can be “delivered" (rescued NASB) (5337).
So? It would seem that David believed that we did not have to go to hell. Sounds like a message of hope.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Be Careful Where You Tap
(Pro 22:26 KJV) Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
In verses like this I can see why our pastor likes the KJV. He gets irritated at people clapping in church. He is an old fashioned “amen” type of guy. While I am not someone who shouts “Hallelujah” or such I also don’t applaud in worship. It just seems out of place and so secular. But that is not really what this is saying. It is great that the KJV is so literal but for us today we can miss the point totally. That is double true for this age where your word is no longer your bond. You require a contract with the proper wording.
The NASB comes closer to the actual meaning with “giving pledges”. It might be more accurate to say “shake on it”. It is another way of reminding us not to be too quick with our financial commitments. Know your limits. Be a good steward.
So? Now that we can tap and swipe with out credit cards this might be even more true. Think twice before you even enter a store that has anything other than necessities.
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Leading the Leaders
(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 believe in free will. I believe it is part of the image of God that we were created with. I also believe in the sovereignty of God. In my opinion He is free to force things when He wants to. This verse points out that He can force kings to do what He wants. The Bible is full of examples. We tend to get a bit excited in our system of government thinking it is up to us to reform the government. We write letters and all the other variations of influencing our leaders, and so we should. What we forget to do is bath those letters with prayer.
It occurred to me that people in leadership might have less free will than those of us in the trenches. Imagine what it must be like to take four dogs for a walk in the hill country of Texas. I used to see it and it was very amusing. Can you say, “Squirrel”? Yet God would have no problem.
So? Pray for our leaders. If you are angry at them you can focus on the holiness and justice of God. If you have the gift of mercy you can focus on that. God is in charge even when we don’t see it and the powerful refuse to acknowledge it.
Monday, February 20, 2023
The Weight of Abomination
(Pro 20:10 KJV) Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.
This verse reminds us of the character of God and His concept of justice and fairness. The specific reference is to shady business practices. It is not condemning open choices of generosity. You might be running a produce stand and selling peanuts of $1.00 a pound. If someone asks for a pound of peanuts you give them a pound of peanuts. After that, if you say, “Since you are my mother I am going to throw in a few more” then you are good. If you put your finger under the scale to give a dishonest weight, you are bad.
The justice comes in from God, not the person you cheated. They may never know. God will. The principle applies in all areas of life. It applies to the produce man, the builder, the judge and any other area of life.
So? Give fair value. I know you don’t want a badge saying, “I am an abomination.”
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Pick a Path
(Psa 43:5 KJV) Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
(Proverbs 19 also read)
The Psalms continually show that emotions can drag us down. David demonstrates it on a regular basis. Why should we feel that we are any better? It is how we respond that makes the difference.
It is amazing how much of our response to life is based on our decisions. We think our emotions are like free agents. Often we claim there is nothing we can do about depression. I guess that may be true. There are causes based on our physical condition, but for most of us, most of the time our emotions are sculpted by our decisions.
So? We can chose to hope. We can chose to trust. We can chose to allow God to help us dig out of the sloth of despair that we have allowed ourselves to sink into. Many of the “emotions” we think of, such as love, are really decisions. Choose wisely.
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Courtesy in Listening
(Pro 18:13 KJV) He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
This is an easy trap to fall into because sometimes it is necessary to “answer” (1697) before you listen. With discernment you will know the basics that most people ask about and give your answer in a short speech or a list of directions. You may even be right but keep in mind that this is a two way street that can be wrong both ways. It could also be that the person talking to you was not listening. It could be that you already answered their question.
At other times, and here is where discernment comes in, you need to be careful not to spend your time answering questions that are not being asked. Don’t assume that the second part of their sentence will be what you think it will be.
So? I guess much of this is what we would call common courtesy.
Friday, February 17, 2023
Broader than You Think
(Pro 17:15 KJV) He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
When we see a word like “abomination” (8441) we tend to set it over on the shelf reserved for things that we don’t need to worry about. Sunday the pastor came across the term in another chapter in Proverbs and went off on a vector that focused on homosexuality and other sexual sins. I will concede that those are abominations but when we limit the basket contents to that you really miss the point.
God is holy. An abomination is just about anything that violates that holiness. In addition to the obvious sexual perversion He adds things like having dishonest scales in business and insincere prayer. I take this as a warning or reminder that God expects His people to do more than avoid sexual sin. God is concerned about all of life.
So? Don’t confine God and His concern to the areas that you probably won’t get involved in anyway. He wants to be worshiped in all that we do.
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Prep and Delivery
(Pro 16:1 NAS77) The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
I am posting today’s verse in the NASB because it speaks better to me today. I recently had the chance to preach. It had been about eight years. This verse reflects what I tried to tell people before and after.
I always start with my reading and studying. I am looking for the word from the Lord that might be in the passage under consideration. I put a lot of thought and effort into the search. The writing often has many false starts and I end up with more being discarded than is used. I end up with an outline that is shaped to fit into the time allotted. I feel I have done my preparation. I think I know what I am going to say.
Then comes the moment I step behind the pulpit. I usually know where I am going to start and because I have prepared I have a plan. I also realize that there are things I have written down that will never be said and that I will say things I don’t have written down. That is the second part of the verse. If I have done due diligence and prepared prayerfully then I feel I can trust the Lord to guide my tongue, and my sense of humor, to bring the ink alive.
So? I think it is a good principle to keep in mind as we go through out days and have our conversations. We may not be preparing a speech for the clerk at the dry cleaners but if we have been diligent in our daily worship and study we can trust the Lord to guide the conversation.
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
(Pro 15:13 KJV) A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
The KJV talks about a “merry” (8056) as opposed to the “joyful” of the NASB. I think the idea is to celebrate. The bigger question is, how to you get such a happy heart? It is amazing how many Christians don’t seem to have this. You know the kind of people I am talking about. You don’t have to spend much time with them before the “woe is me” stories start. We have organ recitals, family failures and a general view of the world in a handbasket.
Since I am older I am around older people a lot and it is amazing the difference ways people respond to life. It isn’t necessarily the circumstances as it is the heart. I remember the pastor sharing about an elderly friend who was dying. He was going down hill fast. He knew the end was near. At the same time he was a source of joy to all around him.
I think it begins with a daily encounter with the living God. I know that each day as I begin with worship I am reminded of the big picture and that God is the artist.
So? Meet with the source of merry hearts. Get yours while it is still available. Let it shine forth in such a way that others can see it. They may be so gloomy they are able to ignore your joy but that is on them, not you.
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
What Is Under the Bed?
(Pro 14:27 KJV) The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
“Fear” (3374) can be a good thing. Fear can cripple you. Often the fear that cripples is based on illusion or some inner insecurity you have rather than reality. I think of the fear I had of the dark as a child. Was there a reason to be afraid of the dark? Kind of but not the way I worked it. I worried about what might be under my bed. I never had this concern when the lights were on, just in the dark. I never thought of it at the time but if my father had come in, settled down and taken a nap in the room I would not have worried about what was under the bed.
Why? I guess because whatever might be under the bed would be the one consumed with fear. It would be afraid to let its presence be known when my dad was their to confront it. The same would be true of many other moments in life.
So? Maybe it would be good if we thought about how all our enemies have real reason to fear Almighty God. Dwell on the reasons why they might have good reason to fear Him. And emerge into the light of a healthy fear of God which allows us to trust in Him. Until that time you might want to check under the bed before you retire or leave a light on.
Monday, February 13, 2023
(Psa 46:2 KJV) Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
(Proverbs 13 also read)
One of the complaints that I have heard about video games is that they teach a false sense of reality when it comes to the nature of life. The idea that you use up your lives and then start the game over again is not realistic, or so the line goes. I have embraced that thought up until I read this today. Look at what is going on here. Is there reason to “fear” (3372a)? I would say so. It isn’t nap time when you see mountains sliding into the sea. Yet there is a sense of security during those times.
A good video game can give the same contrast. You can get tense and alert. The adrenaline can start flowing. You focus. At the same time, in the back of your mind, is the security that you are still in your room and if all fails you can start again. As Christians our starting again will not be back at the same game. It will be in eternity. But we have a sense of security in the midst of chaos because we know there will be a restart.
So? A little fear sharpens our senses. Too much will immobilize us. Our faith in God can give us the balance for the live worth living.
Sunday, February 12, 2023
The Strong, Silent Type
(Pro 12:23 KJV) A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.
This is reminding us that we should be the strong, silent type. It is one of those recurring themes in Proverbs. It is recurring because it is needed. I participate in a Zoom meeting twice a week where a bunch of old guys get together and share what is left of our minds. Some weeks it is inspiring and invigorating. Other weeks it is a bit dull.
I often view the sign out screen with many unspoken thoughts in my head. It isn’t because I am so humble I conceal my brilliance. It is usually because some of the guys have learned to talk while they inhale so there is no civilized way to offer my insights. Sometimes that does not bother me; sometimes it does. In the end it benefits not only the group but me as well.
So? Didn’t get a chance to speak? Rejoice. You can join me in the knowledge that we have improved the lives of everyone.
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Focus Your Pittance
(Psa 41:1 KJV) To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
(Proverbs 11 also read)
As I breezed through this the first time I thought that “considers” (7919a) had a picture of someone sitting, looking wise and stroking their beard. It turns out that the word is essentially to be prudent, not just thoughtful. We are surrounded by people who love to tug our heartstrings for the poor and needy. We should be doing what we can to help them but the buzzword here is prudence, not sympathy.
If you are one of those independently wealthy people who don’t need to worry about budgeting or priorities then rejoice as you give $1,000 to a needy cause and don’t bother asking yourself if $999 will go to pay a six figure executive. Give away. I am not in that boat. I need to be a steward, which means prudence. I need to ask myself, “Should I give my pittance to a drug addict begging in front of the 7-11 or would it be better to pass it on to the family at church that is having a hard time providing Christmas for their children. The answer is obvious to me.
So? Stewardship is more than giving. It involves giving wisely. Give. Wisely.
Friday, February 10, 2023
(Psa 40:6 KJV) Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
(Proverbs 10 also read)
Read that again. It points out that God is after more from us than empty ritual. Notice the location of the text: Right in the middle of the Old Testament. Before the temple was built God is telling His people that it is not all about the Law.
Some things never change. Does God want us to live holy lives? Yes. Does He expect us to avoid sin? Yes. Are we expected to do that by following a list of rules and going through a set ritual every Sunday? No.
So? God is a person, not a machine. Salvation is not only to save us but to bring us into a relationship with the living God. He is so powerful, holy and omnipresent that we cannot comprehend Him. That is why He had Jesus come to show us what we need to know. Embrace the living God, or rather, let Him embrace you.
Thursday, February 9, 2023
(Psa 103:1 KJV) A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
(Proverbs 9 also read)
As I was worshiping this morning the phrase “bless the Lord” came to mind and with it the question of how could we possibly “bless” (1288) almighty God? The mere mention of such a thing almost seems like blasphemy. Yet here in Psalms we see that David is doing it.
So it must be possible, even desirable.
Somewhere I got the idea that blessing means to speak good about something. I think it comes from looking at the Greek word translated “bless” ( g2127) [eulogeo] which is a compound word meaning good speak.
So? Speak good of the Lord. It is like a combination of praise and thanksgiving.
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Start a File
(Pro 8:13 KJV) The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
The first time through this today had it saying to me “God hates evil.” That is not even a paraphrase. This is a clear declaration that we are to “hate” (8130) “evil” (7451b). I think that sometimes we tend to water down the meaning of evil so we don’t have to experience the disturbing influence of hatred.
We should be able to recognize evil when we see it. In today’s world we don’t need to look far. We don’t need to try to analyze the motives of our neighbors for putting a Santa Claus on their lawn or celebrating Halloween. As someone said, “don’t major on minors.” We live in a world full of evil activities from the scourge of abortion to the mutilation of young children. We have schools infiltrated with satanic philosophy and it is almost impossible to find a book that does not include perversion.
So? Maybe we need to stoke up a little hate for the evil around us. Recognize it. Put it in a category. Do what you can within the limits God has put on us to destroy it and take away its influence. Speak out. Boycott. There are many ways to act after you bath all in prayer.
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
(Pro 7:5 KJV) That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
What I want to think about today is the concept of foreigner/stranger as opposed to one who is part of your world. I noticed a difference as I read through this chapter. The different words used to translate this woman’s relationship to the community have the idea of someone who does not belong. For our understanding that would be someone who was non-Jewish or a non-believer. Okay. Avoid those kinds of people.
If you keep reading you find that she says she had just offered her peace offerings, which is a Jewish thing. It is keeping the law. It is living in obedience. Make whatever parallels you want for today. That means that she was not actually a foreigner or stranger. She was part of the official religious community of the day.
And we are warned to be alert.
So? It would be nice if we could assume anyone who is in church on a regular basis could be trusted. It would seem that is not the case. Again we see that our judgements and decisions need to be rooted in the unchanging word of God, not the personalities and gurus around us.
Monday, February 6, 2023
(Pro 6:15 KJV) Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
We need to get over the idea that there will always be “healing” (4832) from God. There will be a time when it is too late to seek forgiveness. Why? One reason is that God does not play games. He can read your heart like I can read the books written to be read to my grandchildren. Don’t mistake His patience for ignorance.
The person being described here is a game player. His biggest fallacy is that he thinks he is the dealer. I had a brief brush with the game of poker. I loved it but it did not love me. One of the rules of the game is that the dealer gets to chose what type of poker is happening on that hand. He can modify it to his pleasure. In life the person described here has become so indoctrinated into being the dealer that he has lost his ability to repent.
So? Make sure that you want healing while it is still possible. I find that the best way for me to resist the temptation of certain foods is to not buy them in the first place. It is much easier to say “no” that way.
Sunday, February 5, 2023
One of Those Days
(Psa 35:11 KJV) False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
(Psa 35:12 KJV) They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
(Proverbs 5 also read)
Have you ever had a day like this? You are in good company. The man who is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” seems to be in the midst of one. If you have time read the whole chapter. David has his ups and downs and manages to end with an up. It is a good lesson for us.
If David the giant killer, king of Israel, God’s anointed could feel this way then don’t be surprised if you want to join him. At the same time notice that he keeps calling on the Lord and being answered.
So? I hope this is not you today but the odds are it will be you eventually. Keep trusting, praying and listening. It will make a difference.
Saturday, February 4, 2023
One Way >
(Pro 4:14 KJV) Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
Have you noticed that the warning about a street being one way is much more muted when you enter correctly than if you are trying to go the wrong way? It can be even more vague if you are coming in from a side street. I have been at intersections where the only indication of being one way was that all the “no parking” signs were facing the same direction.
We make choices in life. Often there is flexibility in the sense of morality. There is no clear right or wrong. This verse is more focused on the choices we have where there is really only one way it will take you. The signs may be clear. They may not. That doesn’t change the direction.
So? I trust you want the right path. Pay attention to the signs, the indicators, the kind of people who are already heading that way. I think the promise is that God will give us a way of knowing and then the choice is up to us.
Friday, February 3, 2023
My Favorite Cop-Out
(Pro 3:30 KJV) Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
We like some things in black and white. Others we want in shades of gray. Which list they go on depends on our mood, personality and situation. This verse is gray. Notice it lays down a law and then has a condition. It is at least the second time in this chapter. It is common in the Bible. People who have their theological system down tight don’t want to give anyone wiggle room but God often takes a different approach. Remember that for many of us free will is a thing.
Perhaps the most controversial example of wiggle room was demonstrated by Jesus in the Garden just before His arrest.
(Luk 22:42 KJV) Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.In Matthew Jesus even repeats this prayer.
So? Be aware that some people will tell you that “Thy will be done” is a cop-out. Let them know that you just want to be like Jesus.
Thursday, February 2, 2023
A Hard Question
(Pro 2:7 KJV) He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
Have you ever had someone ask you to pray for them? Or maybe you have been in a Bible study where they asked for prayer needs. Either one works. The thought I had here was along the lines of praying for the unsaved and what should be our focus. I don’t know if you have noticed, but when someone brings up a prayer need from someone not known to the group the question that is rarely asked is, “What is their spiritual condition?”
Notice that this verse is offering protection. Notice that the protection is being offered to the righteous, not the general world. I sometimes wonder if we are wasting our time praying for their cancer if we are not praying for their souls.
So? Witnessing should be a priority. That is not because we don’t care but because we do. It also is a thought for how we put together our prayer lists.
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
(Pro 1:33 KJV) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
This first chapter of Proverbs has some real extremes. It opens with some glorious language about wisdom. It then has a strong warning about being seduced by evil temptations. Then you have a call to wisdom followed by some dire consequences for refusing. Then at the very end it brings us back with a reminder of the hope that is available.
We are told that by paying attention to the lessons of wisdom we can be “at ease” (7599) NASB or live “quiet” KJV. I think a combination of the two gets us to the meat of the promise. It has the idea of secure rest, of being able to relax without crippling fear.
So? The promise is offered. It is up to us to pick it up and apply it.