Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 25

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Verse 24 says:

Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

I thank God for blessing me with a wife who never makes me feel I'd be better off living on a corner of the roof !

Please leave your comments on Proverbs 25.

Pastor David

Proverbs Chapter 24

House Blueprints

We just passed the two-year anniversary of our house fire. Over those past 24 months we've had to do a LOT of things to get the house back into shape. Verses three and four reminder us that the most important construction material is wisdom. And, as we've learned throughout the Proverbs, wisdom is synonymous with "Knowing - and doing - what God designed us to do." The book of Proverbs serves as a great blueprint.

By wisdom a house is built,

    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Please leave your comments on this chapter.

Pastor David

Proverbs Chapter 23

This is the chapter we read through together in church as part of the Sunday sermon.

In this chapter God - as He does throughout the Proverbs - warns us of the consequences of caving in to a bunch of different temptations. It strikes me that the vast majority of things that tempt us to sin are not bad in and of themselves. Food, money, other people, sex, wine are all listed in this chapter. Each of those are things God has given us to enjoy and benefit from (when used the way He designed). Satan, on the other hand, tempts us to "live for" these things instead of simply enjoying and using them according to God's plan.

God has designed us to "run" best when He is the thing we live for - when He is the fuel that powers our lives. Satan loves to mess up our lives by deceiving us into thinking that God's good gifts of money or other people or wine or sex or food or _________ (you fill in the blank) must to be what we live for - our fuel - instead of God. Trying to "run" your life on any of these other things is like pouring water in your gas tank and thinking your car will run better on that than on gas. Silly us!

Reading the Proverbs every day is one great way to be reminded of what really works - and what doesn't.

God will bless your reading!

Pastor David

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 22

Today would be a good day to point out the difference between "principles" and "promises."

A principle is "a rule of thumb."  In general, if you do X you will get Y. If X is something good, Y will be something good. If X is something bad, Y will also be something bad. But there are also what we call "exceptions to the rule." Once in a great while there will come along a situation when X may be good, but a "bad" Y will result.

For example, in general, as a 'rule of thumb' if you take your car to a trusted mechanic and he checks it all over and makes any necessary repairs you will have no car problems on your trip. That's the rule or principle. But once in a great while it will happen that you still find yourself stalled on the side of the road 400 miles from home. That's the exception to the rule.

A promise - when it comes from God - is something you can "take to the bank." In other words, you can trust it completely. It will happen the way He says it will happen. Period. End of sentence. Done deal. When God says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" you can count on it. 100% There will be no exceptions to the rule.

It is extremely important to not view one of God's "principles" as though it were a "promise" from Him. When that "exception to the rule" happens, you will blame God for breaking a promise. Then you will wonder if He can be trusted about anything, and it goes downhill from there. The only problem is, the principle you trust in was never a promise.

Although there are some promises in the book of Proverbs, the majority of the statements are principles. Rules of thumb. We get into big trouble when we put them in God's mouth as promises. A great example is verse six.

Train a child in the way he should go,
    and when he is old he will not turn from it.

That is great instruction for parents. Teach your child from as early as possible (day one?) about the way God has designed him or her to live. As a rule of thumb, that's what he or she will be following when they get to be parenting age. But there will be exceptions to the rule. Not all kids who were taught by Christian parents will indeed follow God's ways when they get old. If that happens in your situation, and you viewed that verse as a promise from God, well, you now the result.

Live by God's principles, but know when they are not meant to be promises.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 21

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
   that can succeed against the Lord.

No, it didn't take me until the end of the chapter to find a verse for today, I just decided to 'switch it up' and start reading from the end of the chapter this time.

This proverb struck me as one we need to remember as Christians in a society that is increasingly becoming antagonistic to our beliefs. In fact, it really seems that those who oppose God (and what He says in the Bible) are gaining the upper hand.

Appearances can be deceiving !

Our men's group is studying the book of Revelation right now. The message of Revelation is the message of Proverbs 21:30. It doesn't matter what anyone can to do God or His people. In the end, God wins!

This proverb also has an application on a personal level:  It tells us that when we try to 'force' something that isn't God's will... we will not like the outcome.

God's blessings,
Pastor David

Proverbs Chapter 20

There were quite a few verses in this chapter that caught my eye, but I'll settle on verse seven to comment on today.

The righteous man leads a blameless life;
   Blessed are his children after him.

To avoid any possible confusion I should first make mention that "blameless" is not the same as "sinless." The Bible is very clear that only Jesus, the Son of God, fits that description. "Blameless" describes someone who makes a conscious effort to 'walk the talk' - to have their actions match up with what they say they believe.

This verse jumped out at me, because it seems our society puts great value  on leaving a legacy of money/property/possessions for our children. This verse suggests that "The legacy we live is much better than the legacy we give." (Sounds like that could be a proverb itself, doesn't it?)

Which verse struck a cord with you today? Leave a note in the comments.

God's blessings,
Pastor David

Btw... the car in the pic is a model named Legacy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 19

It didn't take long to get to a verse that jumped out at me today - verse three:

A man's own folly ruins his life,
    yet his heart rages against the Lord.

Have you ever noticed how God tends to get the blame when things go wrong and we take credit when things go right? I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise.

Remember Adam's first response when God gently gave him a chance to 'fess up'? 

"The woman YOU gave me..." 

Instead of taking responsibility for his own actions, he put the blame on both God and his wife. Eve also played the blame game - but at least she left God out of it, blaming the devil (ala Flip Wilson in pic).

Lent is a time to "give something up." The "blame game" may be a good thing to start with.

God will continue to bless your reading,
Pastor David

Monday, February 18, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 18

Yesterday was Friendship Sunday at our church. There are a handful of verses in Proverbs that deal with friends and friendship. One of those is in chapter 18:

A man of many companions may come to ruin
  but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

This verse reminds me of something Violet taught our kids when they were young:  "Make sure you know the difference between 'playmates' and 'friends.'

Friends are not the same as 'companions' or 'playmates.'  Friends are people you can trust, people who will 'have your back,' people who will lead you closer to God.

Take a moment to thank God for those friends - especially the One you have in Jesus.
Pastor David

Proverbs Chapter 17

Verse 18 wouldn't normally have been the proverb that jumped out at me - EXCEPT it was one of the main points in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class tonight.

Here's how it reads in the translation I've been using as I read Proverbs (NIV 1984):

A man lacking in judgement strikes hands in pledge
   and puts up security for his neighbor.

The translation used in the Dave Ramsey class (CEV) brings it a little closer (too close?) to home:

It's stupid to guarantee someone else's loan.

... you mean like what parents do for their kids college loans???

I pray that my kids have a deep-seated fear of ever making their father look stupid.

God will bless your reading,
Pastor David

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Proverbs 16

There are so many verses this chapter that are variations on this theme:

Us:    "Hey, we know what we're doing!"
God:  "You haven't got a clue!"  (putting it nicely)

Verse three gives us the advice we need:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.

In other words, get out of the driver's seat and let God take you where He wants instead of asking Him to just ride along while you set the itinerary.

Please leave a comment on the verses that struck you today.

God will bless your reading,
Pastor David

Friday, February 15, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 15

Verse 30 is a simple reminder that all of us need - a reminder of how the way we treat others makes all the difference in the world.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.

Keep this proverb in mind with the people you interact with today - starting with your family.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 14

Last night in the Ash Wednesday sermon on Jonah chapter 3, I commented that the Ninevites who repented in sackcloth and ashes (in true Ash Wednesday fashion) demonstrated something that seems to be lacking in our day and age: The fear of the Lord. Several times in Proverbs we have heard, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." This absence of "the fear of God" in our society may explain why there also seems to be a definite lack of wisdom. The following verse from chapter 14 reminded me of another reason why "common sense" seems to be so uncommon in our culture:

A simple man believes anything,

    but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

One of the things I've noticed is that most of us have a tendency to believe what we hear. Especially if it was spoken by someone who is well known - or just well-known to us. We don't check out the message for logic or accuracy or against what God has told us. We simply think something like "They should know what they are talking about." But if we would simply take the next step and put an ounce of thought into what we heard, we'd quite frequently come to the conclusion that "They really have no clue what they are talking about."

I guess the choice is ours. Would you rather be known as "simple" or "prudent," "gullible" or "discerning,"  "foolish" or "wise"?     Think about it!

God will continue to bless your reading,
Pastor David

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 13

There are many ideas that get repeated 'airplay' in the Proverbs. The admonition to listen to your parent's instruction is one of those.

Here it is again in verse one:

A wise son heeds his father's instruction,
    but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

Maybe it has to be repeated so often, because we have a natural tendency to do just the opposite. It's that rebellious nature thing - the desire to want to do it our own way. It's so common-place that God saw fit to make "Honor your father and your mother" the first commandment in the "relationships with others" section of the Ten Commandments.

It's also important, because our attitude toward our earthly fathers often mirrors the way we view our Heavenly Father.

Please leave your thoughts on this chapter,
Pastor David

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 12

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

    but he who hates correction is stupid.

The first verse of Chapter 12 kind of hits you right between the eyes. Talk about putting it bluntly. Maybe it needed to be that way, I mean who of us really likes to be disciplined? But God reminds us over and over that discipline and correction are actually good things and, in fact, are evidence that He loves us.

God bless your reading,
Pastor David

Monday, February 11, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 11

I've said before that Proverbs is "God's book of wisdom for everyday life." Money - our earning of it, spending of it, desire for more of it and attitudes towards it - is one of the things that seems to take up a huge part of our everyday lives. Quite a few of the verses of chapter 11 are devoted to giving us wisdom for dealing with money.

The Lord abhors dishonest scales,
    but accurate weights are his delight.

     In other words, don't covet money so much that you are willing to cheat in order to get more of it. (appropriate for tax time)

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,

    but righteousness delivers from death.

The reference is to Judgement Day.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
    another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

    Again we see God's ways are "upside down" from the ways of the world. Proverbs 3:5 comes into play in a big way here: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

A generous man will prosper;
    he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

   In God's world you reap what you sow.

People curse the man who hoards grain,
    but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.

    If you need a biblical reason to give up hoarding, here it is.

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
    but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

    The bottom line on money. It is not evil until it replaces God as the object of our trust.

Please leave your comments on this chapter - and enjoy the snow!
Pastor David

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 10

Since we endured another snowstorm today it may be natural that the verse that caught my eye was this one:

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
    but the righteous stand firm forever.

I don't think God had blizzards in mind, but rather troubled times of whatever nature. The point is that those who seek refuge in God will weather the storms of life. Those who seek refuge in anything else will be blown away by those storms.

God will bless your reading,
Pastor David

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 9

Chapter 9 presents us with a choice. A choice that each person who has ever lived faces on a daily basis. The choice between Wisdom and Foolishness. In reality this is a choice between the ways of God and the ways of the world (which are Satan's ways in disguise). It is no less than a choice between life (v6) and death (v18). It is a choice between lasting pleasure that truly satisfies and fleeting pleasure that never delivers on the promised satisfaction.

Please leave your comments on this chapter.

God will continue to bless your reading,
Pastor David

Friday, February 8, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 8

Personification is a literary device whereby writers attempt to help readers understand a concept (like wisdom) by portraying it as a person. Wisdom is "personified" from beginning to end of chapter 8.

As I read this chapter I found myself thinking that "wisdom" in vv1-21 could easily be God the Father (except, of course, that 'wisdom'  is referred to in the feminine sense). And in vv22-36 "wisdom" sounds a lot like Jesus. I guess that makes sense, because the Father and the Son (along with the Spirit) are the source of perfect wisdom. If you want to know what wisdom "looks like" look no further than God.

The last two verses are a great summary of the result of finding both wisdom and Jesus.

For whoever finds me finds life
   and receives favor from the Lord.
But whoever fails to find me harms himself;
   all who hate me love death.

God will bless your search for wisdom when you seek it in Jesus,
Pastor David

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 7

It's not too tough to come away with the idea that God is REALLY serious about this adultery stuff. Here we have a whole chapter devoted to warning about adultery just two chapters after a similar warning. Faithfulness to our promises is foundational for all relationships, but none more so than the marriage relationship where "two become one."

The key section for me was once again a comparison to a similar situations in the animal world:

With persuasive words she led him astray;
    she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
    like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
    little knowing it will cost him his life.

Satan loves to deceive us by "Photoshopping" things until what is bad for us looks enticingly good. Thank God He has given us the Proverbs to show us the true, unre-touched picture of adultery.

God will bless your reading His Proverbs,
Pastor David

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 6

In the middle of warnings to about the bad results of taking responsibility for someone else's debt and of committing adultery is a warning against just plain being a "low-down, no good, dirty rotten, yellow-bellied varmint." (That would be from the old FFG translation - "Festus From Gunsmoke" translation. Talk to someone who's over 50 if you are confused by this.)

But what really stuck out for me is the list of seven things the Lord hates at the end of that section.

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
         haughty eyes, 
(pride & arrogance)
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

The surprising thing is that three of those seven things come from our mouths - and lying is in there TWICE !

In a day and age when lying is commonplace - and seemingly expected both from those in public office and private business - it is good to be reminded that God is really not 'ok' with 'putting your own spin on' something. Maybe it's because one of His most basic characteristics is truthfulness and it was Satan's lies that led to Adam and Eve's downfall (which, of course, led to every problem in the world today).

Please leave your comments about the passage that stood out for you.

Pastor David

Monday, February 4, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 5

Most of the chapters of the book of Proverbs are filled with short, wise sayings that normally only a couple of verses long. Many times there will not be a central theme, just a collection of wise sayings. Chapters four and five, however, have a different format. Both are focused on a central theme from start to finish. Chapter four highlighted the supreme value of attaining wisdom - finding out what God would have you do in everyday situations. Chapter five's focus is on one of those situations: Marriage.

Drink water from your own cistern,

    running water from your own well.

For me, verse fifteen above (from the NIV 1984 translation) sums up the message of the chapter with a catchy metaphor.  That message is simple: Remain 100% faithful to your spouse. Great blessings will result from such faithfulness. Anything less will bring big trouble for everyone involved.

God will bless your reading,
Pastor David

Proverbs Chapter 4

When I began this exercise of reading a chapter of Proverbs each day, I said that the book of Proverbs is God's 'book of everyday wisdom.' And I defined "wisdom" as having two parts: 1) Knowing what God wants you to do and 2) Doing it!  All of Chapter 4 highlights the supreme value of wisdom, but verse seven sums it up:

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Good motivation to keep on reading a chapter a day from God's book of everyday wisdom.

God will bless your reading,
Pastor David

Proverbs Chapter 3

God                                        Your own understanding

There are a lot of great proverbs (brief words of wisdom) in this chapter. Please leave a comment below about with one stuck out for you. Here's a summary of what I said about my favorite in the sermon message from yesterday...

If the government made it illegal to have a Bible, and someone came in here right now to confiscate all of them... and I had only time to memorize proverb from Chapter 3 before they scooped up my Bible it would be this one:

Trust in the Lord with all you heart - and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

It seems to me that we have two basic choices of what to lean on -
       1) God or
       2) something else.

To lean on God is to lean on a solid stone wall. To lean on your own understanding is to lean on, for example, a banner pole. It's good for holding up some stuff - like banners - but not your life.

God gave us the ability to reason, and it is good for lots of things. But when our reason conflicts with what God says (and it seems to quite often), our own understanding will topple like a banner pole when you or I lean on it.

Here's just one example of when we need to "Trust God with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding":

"Our own understanding" tells us that being disciplined means God doesn't love you - or that disciplining your child is not being loving. But God He did in our chapter today, discipline means Love. Trust God when He says that.

This proverb is so important that I think we need to tatoo it onto our brains. Memorize it. We already have a memory verse for February, but I think now we have one for March.

Where do you need to trust God this week?  Don't forget what happens when you lean on your own understanding (the banner pole) and what happens when you lean on God (the rock-solid wall).   Amen.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Proverbs Chapter 2

If there was any doubt about the source of wisdom after reading Chapter 1, Chapter 2 puts that doubt to rest:

For the Lord gives wisdom,
    and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Thankfully, God doesn't keep His wisdom to Himself. He has made it available for us all in His Word -
especially here in His "Book of Everyday Wisdom," the Proverbs.

God will bless your reading,
Pastor David

Proverbs Chapter 1

 Living Wisdom

The opening verses of the book of Proverbs give a great summary of their purpose:

For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;
for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.

If it sounds like a pretty important book, it is! That's why I suggested that we get into the
habit of reading a chapter each day.

The first actual proverb ("wise saying") tells us the foundation of real wisdom:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

In other words, there can be no true wisdom apart from trust in God.

God bless your reading,

Pastor David