Archive for November, 2012

Proverbs 10

Proverbs 10 takes a bit of a different approach to sharing wisdom.  There are 32 verses and almost each one is a contrast between good and bad.  Solomon writes positive and negative, pro and con, for 32 different areas of life.  There are a few verses that don’t have “but” as the connector.  Two use the word and, so they are unique.  And four have no word in the middle to separate thoughts, but they are primarily contrasts as well.

Solomon seems to be reinforcing there are consequences to what we do and how we live.  And there is a choice to be made – will be do the positive or negative action or activity.  There is a resulting outcome of how we choose to live.  Decisions do have a consequence.  And so we need to consider the differences and consider carefully how we want to live.  Rather than try and summarize the truth in some fancy way, I decided just to format it and encourage you to read what God has written to us about the choices we need to ponder carefully.  Our choices matter – not just to us – but to those in our patch.

 

Verse Statement But Contrast
1 A wise son makes a glad father But a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother
2 Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit But righteousness delivers from death
3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry But he thwarts the craving of the wicked
4 A slack hand causes poverty But the hand of the diligent makes rich
5 He who gathers in summer is a prudent son But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame
6 Blessings are on the head of the righteous But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence
7 The memory of the righteous is a blessing But the name of the wicked will rot
8 The wise of heart will receive commandments But a babbling fool will come to ruin
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely But he who makes his ways crooked will be found out
10 Whoever winks the eye causes trouble But a babbling fool will come to ruin
11 On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence
12 Hatred stirs up strife None love covers all offenses
13 On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found But a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense
14 The wise lay-up knowledge But but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near
15 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city None the poverty of the poor is their ruin
16 The wage of the righteous leads to life None the gain of the wicked to sin
17 Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life But he who rejects reproof leads others astray
18 he one who conceals hatred has lying lips And whoever utters slander is a fool
19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking But whoever restrains his lips is prudent
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver None the heart of the wicked is of little worth
21 The lips of the righteous feed many But fools die for lack of sense
22 The blessing of the Lord makes rich And he adds no sorrow with it
23 Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool But wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding
24 What the wicked dreads will come upon him But the desire of the righteous will be granted
25 When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous is established forever
26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes None so is the sluggard to those who send him
27 The fear of the Lord prolongs life But the years of the wicked will be short
28 The hope of the righteous brings joy But the expectation of the wicked will perish
29 The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless But destruction to evildoers
30 The righteous will never be removed But the wicked will not dwell in the land
31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom But the perverse tongue will be cut off
32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable But the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse

Consider well the truth of God’s Word.  Our choices really do matter.

Proverbs 9

Proverbs 9 talks to us about wisdom.  Solomon tells us we need to seek it.  And he tells us who should be seeking: “whoever is simple…..to him to lacks sense”.  Let’s face it, we all can use more wisdom.  It is important.  Scripture is clear that wisdom comes from God.  It is when we seek Him and fear Him that we will find it.  But we have to be able to “leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight”.  We have to be willing to take action and to change.

Wisdom is much more than head knowledge.  It comes from a relationship with God, and is given to help us learn to live God’s way.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight”.  This isn’t about you or me.  Wisdom is about knowing God.  It is about getting connected with the source of wisdom, the only source.  And when we do and we realize just how far away from that wisdom we really are, we begin to fear and understand that it is all about Him, not me.  It is about plugging into the source.

Of course this is all predicated on the fact that we realize that we need wisdom.  Some of us think we are already gifted that way.  It isn’t the case, but we haven’t quite figured that out yet.  But the truth is that we have to come to that understanding.  We can’t be forced to go there.  “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you”.  We won’t seek wisdom until we understand that there is but one source, the God and Creator of the universe.  Apart from Him, we will never have true wisdom.  Apart from knowing Him, we will flail around on our own.

Does wisdom really matter?  And what exactly is it?  The simplest definition for wisdom I have ever heard is that wisdom is seeing things through God’s eyes, having His perspective.  When we get to that point, we see people like God does.  It changes our world view and how we live.  But wisdom is more than getting on God’s page. It is the enabler for God’s blessing.  “For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life”.  Knowing God is not just about the past, but also the present and future.  He is still sitting on the throne and in control of our universe.  Fearing God, the source of wisdom, is very important to our future.  Are you seeking wisdom?  That really means are you seeking and fearing God?  He is the sole source – the lone provider – the only way to find it!

Proverbs 8

Proverbs 8 talks about the impact of God’s Word in our lives.  It is the foundation for blessing. In fact, we learn “blessed are those who keep my ways….Blessed is the one who listens to me….For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord”.  Knowing God’s ways and living that way leads to blessing.  The promise is that simple.  We need to know and do what God has said.  That is where we find favor.  That is where we live in a blessed place.

So is God’s Word worth listening to?  “From my lips will come what is right….my mouth will utter truth”.  There are few things, in fact I can’t think of any other, that you can depend on like you can God’s Word.  It is not only right, but always true.  It is the light to our path.  It is the greatest gift we can ever receive.  “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold”. This is not just good stuff – it is better than silver and gold.  It is the greatest value we can find.

Wonder how to find God’s truth?  We need to see Him.  Scripture says if we seek Him, we will find Him.  And when we do we come into relationship with Him.  Does He care?  “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me”.   Is God playing hide and seek with us?  Nope.  He just wants us to be diligent in our seeking.  He wants us to want Him.  He wants us to pursue Him just like He pursues us.  God is all about the relationship.  And if we enter into that relationship and love Him, He loves us back.  In fact He loves us first.  But we need to be diligent in seeking Him.

God has had us in His plan since before we were born.  He has always loved us.  He has always wanted us to know and love Him.  “When there were no depths, I was brought forth”.  God has had a plan for you and me since the beginning of time.  That is not a trivial fact.  He loves us.  He planned for us.  He did all that “before the mountains had been shaped”.  He has a plan.  Are you walking with Him in that plan?  Is He the center of your life?

Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7 begins with a focus on getting God’s truth into our lives.  Solomon tells us to:

–       “keep my words

–       treasure up my commandments

–       keep my commandments and live

–       keep my teaching as the apple of your eye

–       bind them on your fingers

–       write them on the tablet of your heart

Do you get the message here?  In six different ways he tells us to take in God’s Word and keep it close.  Live it and have it with you at all times.  He doesn’t just mean stick a Bible in your pocket either.  He is telling us to memorize and meditate on His Word.  We have to “have it” inside us.

Why does it matter?  Because the rest of the chapter is about a young man dealing with the temptation of an adulteress luring him.  So what does that have to do with knowing God’s Word?  Three key words….”to keep you”.  God’s Word is how we deal with the temptations that come our way.  This is a long story of how a forbidden woman uses her prowess to lure a young man to her bedroom.  He fell right into the trap and was overwhelmed by her words “Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love”.  As Solomon writes the story, you can see the bad outcome coming from a mile away.  But this young man is in the middle of it all and can’t see it.  He just responds to the lies and “he does not know that it will cost him his life”.

While these verses talk specifically about sexual sin and being tempted by an adulterous, it is about far more. “With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him”.  It describes the way temptations in all areas of life happen.  We are drawn to do things that sound so inviting on the outside, and we slowly move closer and closer to see if there really is a fire there that will burn us, and before you know it we have slipped over the line and moved from temptation to sin.  And sin is a big deal – it will cost us our lives.  Here is the reality:

  • Sin always takes you further than you meant to go
  • keeps you longer than you meant to stay and
  • costs you more than you can afford to pay

The reality is that sin is fatal, and sin is eternal.  It will keep us from eternity with God.  The good news is that God did make a way for us to deal with our sin problem.  Jesus went to the cross to allow that eternal problem to be covered by His blood and our account to be moved from one side of the ledger to God’s side.  He paid the price for our sin.  But it requires that we receive that gift of grace, and we make it our own.  We have to allow Him to become our Savior and Lord which is more than a cursory thought – it requires a relationship with the Son.  We have to invite Him to take residence in our heart and become our own.  We have to put the weight of our life in His hands…..sit on His love and forgiveness as the chair if you will…..and put our entire weight on Him.  Solomon tells us the best outcome for temptation: “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths”.  We can choose not to sin.  It is a choice.  No one makes us sin.  We choose to do it every time it happens.  And when we do, we need a Savior.  We need an answer to that sin problem.  Jesus is the only answer.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  Apart from Him, we will not spend eternity with God.  What have you done with Jesus?

Proverbs 6

Proverbs 6 tackles a few issues that are common to man.  It begins with putting up security for a neighbor, taking on responsibility for another.  The guidance here is to run away – “plead urgently” to be set free from it.  This is definitely one of scriptures teachings – we should not cosign or take on debt for another.  Unless, of course, we are willing to pay the bill.  If we are fine with taking the responsibility then we are taking it on ourselves.

Then comes some teaching on the sluggard.  The ant is our example here.  “Consider her ways….she prepares….gathers her food”.  We don’t get much sympathy here for the behavior of being a sluggard.  We need to be diligent in our work.  “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man”.  The result from lying around and being a sluggard are not pretty.  God expects us to work hard and earn our keep.

Then comes a list of seven things “that are an abomination”.  To say God hates these things is an understatement:

  1. haughty eyes
  2. lying tongue
  3. hands that shed innocent blood
  4. heart that devises wicked plans
  5. feet that make haste to run to evil
  6. false witness who breathes out lies
  7. one who sows discord among brothers

These are all active sins – things we do to others.  God cares about how we live.  He pays attention to our actions and words.

We are told how to learn what we should do – which begins with “keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching”.  As much as we may not like parents, especially growing up, their instruction is so important.  And as parents, our role in teaching our kids is critical.  We are to “Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck…. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you”.  The instruction we receive in God’s truth is the key to living God’s way.  “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life”.  It is the source of light.  It will keep us walking with Him.  But along the journey of life we also need to run from situations that can get us into trouble.  Temptation is not sin, but it certainly can lead there if we don’t make the right choice.  “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned….can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched”?  We are warned to listen to the instruction we have received and flee temptation.  We should not flirt with it, for if we do it is likely we will fall.  God wants us to live His way.  He wants to bless us indeed!

Proverbs 5

Proverbs 5 is a rather direct chapter that focuses on one area – sexual purity.  Solomon begins by reminding us to “be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding”.  Scripture isn’t just another book for us to read.  It is THE Book.  It contains the instruction for LIFE.  It must not just be reviewed as something that is a mere suggestion.  It isn’t.  It is the standard by which we are to live.  And in this chapter, the instruction is strong and clear about how we stay on course sexually.

The warning is clear: “Keep discretion….guard knowledge….the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey… her speech is smoother than oil”.  Temptation will cause us to think about things that are outside God’s plan for marriage, and our sexual purity even before marriage.  God has a plan.  He designed things carefully between man and woman and within the covenant of marriage.  This is not an area open to interpretation, and this chapter makes it clear that when we get outside God’s plan, bad things happen.

Check out what Solomon writes as the outcome of our folly when it comes to chasing the forbidden:

–       “in the end she is bitter

–       sharp as a two-edged sword

–       Her feet go down to death

–       her steps follow the path to Sheol

–       she does not ponder the path of life

–       her ways wander

–       she does not know it

Not a good set of outcomes.  So the instruction is clear: “Keep your way far from her….do not go near the door of her house…. rejoice in the wife of your youth….be intoxicated always in her love”.  Lots of people mess around in this area, believing they are strong enough to deal with the temptation and walk away before it is too late.  That is often not the result.  And people fall and fail around this all the time.

Why?  “I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors”.  Because we think we know better.  We think we can handle things.  The reality is that we did not listen to the warning given here, and in numerous places in scripture.  This is something to be feared.  It is serious business.  “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths”.  God is watching.  This is serious business.  Why would you risk the penalty of sin in this area just to see if you can handle it and walk away before you make a mistake?  Far better to heed the instruction of staying far away than find out you can’t handle the temptation.  Don’t even go near.  Be grateful for what God has given and be intoxicated with your mate.  That is God’s instruction!

Proverbs 4

Proverbs 4 tells us the power of being instructed.  Solomon starts with these words: “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight”.  We need to listen to instruction, and most of all to God’s instruction.  The chapter goes on to tell us how we should respond to teaching and instruction.  Scripture is full of it, and we also get it from our parents and other places.  But we are focused here on how we are to respond to God’s truth.  Check out this long list of how we should receive it:

–       “do not forsake my teaching

–       your heart hold fast my words

–       keep my commandments

–       Get wisdom

–       get insight

–       do not forget

–       do not turn away

–       Do not forsake her

–       love her

–       Prize her highly

–       embrace her

–       accept my words

–       Keep hold of instruction

–       do not let go

–       guard her

–       she is your life

–       be attentive to my words

–       incline your ear to my sayings

–       Let them not escape from your sight

–       keep them within your heart

Receiving God’s truth is something that needs to be a focus and passion, not just something that we allow to happen randomly.  We need to be focused on getting into God’s Word so we can receive His instruction and be trained in how to live.  The Bible is our guidebook for life. It is how we are to live each and every day.  And we need to seek it so it can impact us.  It really does matter.  It can keep us on the right course.  In fact, the proverb tells us exactly that: “I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.  When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble”.  We need to get God’s truth into our hearts and lives.  It is what keeps us on course.

We learn another key lesson here, the power of the heart.  “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”.  We need to realize just how important it is to guard our hearts.  It is the source of life.  It is where our very being flows from.  It is where God resides within us.  The heart is the lifeblood of our being.  And we need to protect it carefully.  We must not allow evil to penetrate.  We must not allow bad to get inside.  Other versions say “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”.  It is critical that we are on guard and keep our heart pure and focused on God.

The chapter ends with a couple verses that drive home the power of planning.  “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left”.  We need to ponder our path, and be sure we are going where we should.  Planning is the way to do that.  If we seek God and put together a plan based on His leading and instruction (remember that a significant portion of the plan for our life is already defined in His Word), then we just have to stay the course.  We need to seek Him, follow Him, create a plan, and then stay on the path.  When we do that our ways are sure and good things result.  If we just take life as it comes without any plan or guidelines, we get tossed around and spend most of our time trying to figure out what to do next, not just continuing to march down the path set by a plan.  Ponder the path – it is so important to get it written down – and then be accountable to live it.

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