Proverbs 18 – July 18

CC Image courtesy of Andy on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Andy on Flickr.

Proverbs 18
Author: Ralph Beistle

I love to watch children play together. The most immature ones can predictably have a hard time developing the concept that they must be willing to share. You will likely here them shout, “That’s mine!” The other child either yields reluctantly, or whines loudly enough to get Grandma to make his playmate share.

As they get a bit older and into competitive play, listen and soon you will hear, “That isn’t fair!” Same motivation – seeking self-satisfaction – and if he doesn’t get it, it may sound a little different, but it amounts to a youthful way of whining because he didn’t get his way.

Surely we’re not too surprised when they reach adulthood and still insist on getting their own way. What our culture calls “protests” are often just grown-up whining. The most immature among us still shout out, “It isn’t fair!”

Isn’t it radically different when we consider Job? People nowadays who just think they are cheated, abused, unfairly treated, failing to get the respect of others, have no idea how insignificant their problems are compared to what Job suffered. But Job was no whiner! Puzzled, questioning, seeking an understanding of why such things happened, but not shouting out, “It isn’t fair!” His response, ““Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

The wise man in Proverbs 18 said, “An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach. The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.  It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice. The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.”

Life isn’t always “fair.” Events beyond our comprehension will occur in everyone’s experience. Sometimes we don’t get what we hoped for. But there is one constant truth on which we may rely – God is near. God cares. And God is in control and He doesn’t need our input to determine what is fair.

Proverbs 17 – July 17

CC Image courtesy of Alberto Ortiz on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Alberto Ortiz on Flickr.

Proverbs 17
Author: Rob Anderson

You probably have heard the saying: “It is better to be silent and assumed a fool than to open you mouth and remove all doubt.” While it is not a quotation from scripture, it is not far from it:

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Proverbs 17.18, ESV)

I marvel at those individuals who have just the right thing to say. Often times, they say little EXCEPT just the right thing. They are the kind of people who you listen to when they speak, because you know what they say will be wise.

I, on the other hand, tend to be a talker. If I can just have enough time and words, I can convince you of my side through talking. While I hope I am not a fool, it is probably a wise move on my part to speak less.

And so I will.

Proverbs 14 – July 14

CC Image courtesy of Greg Gjerdingen on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Greg Gjerdingen on Flickr.

Proverbs 14
Author: Rob Anderson

My senior year of college, I bought a 1963 Ford Fairlane Sports Coupe. By definition, it was a classic car. It was a two-door hardtop with a 289 V-8 engine in Rangoon Red. At least it was originally Rangoon Red. The man I bought it from painted commercial road equipment and had repainted it to “original colors.” I had my doubts. No worries, however. I paid $800 of borrowed money for it and as far as I was concerned and what I proudly announced to my father was that it was the best purchase I had ever made.

Dad had his doubts.

He might have even pointed out some of the reasons he thought it was not the best financial decision I ever made. Like the fact you had to help the windows roll up. Or that you had to carry around a screwdriver to “unlock” the trunk (because it had no lock). Or the fact that the doors did not lock. Or that the speedometer did not work, nor did the gas gauge. (I had to fill the car up about every 4 days just to be safe.) The muffler fell off somewhere between Brownwood and Austin one time on a trip home. When we fixed the muffler, we discovered the rear suspension had been missing a bolt, probably since I purchased it. His most valid point was that I always had to park someplace I could face outward, since reverse did not work. Eventually, first gear also went out. When second gear went out, I decided there were not enough places you could park facing downhill in Abilene, Texas, so I sold the car for $500.

If my dad asks, I still tell him it was the best purchase I ever made.

But it wasn’t. I just couldn’t bring myself to admitting it.

When I read Proverb 14.9, I cringe and am reminded of the importance of owning up to my mistakes.

Fools mock at making amends for sin,
But goodwill is found among the upright.

Maybe purchasing that car was not a sin, but the principle is still the same. Make amends for the things you need to make right. No one likes a fool.

Proverbs 8 – July 8

0708 - paintingProverbs 8
Author: Rob Anderson

Does not wisdom call out? (Pr. 8.1)

Have you ever watched someone who was incredibly good at his or her craft? Perhaps it is an artist, painting a picture you can barely imagine, much less put down on canvas. Or someone who is computer literate (a geek, we might call them), making the machine perform the tasks it was designed to do.

They make it seem so easy, but when you begin to try and emulate them, you discover the task is much more difficult than you thought. At times, it seems too distant or too hard to ever be able to gain enough knowledge to paint, or program, or any other task.

Wisdom is not that way. You do not have to search long and hard to find it—she calls out from highest place to ensure you hear her plea. She wants to be found; she wants everyone to know her.

Next time you begin to think about following God, do not let the excuse of not being sure how to follow him stand in your way. Wisdom calls out saying otherwise.

Proverbs 7 – July 7

CC Image courtesy of Jim Larrison on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Jim Larrison on Flickr.

Proverbs 7
Author: Trent Roberson

It looks so enticing. It’s out there lurking and never far away. While the context of the Proverb is promiscuity and sexuality, the teaching transcends and provides wisdom on how we approach and avoid moral pitfalls.

Read the words of Proverbs 7.

This proverb has similarities to the foundational wisdom provided in the Shema (Deuteronomy 6), which includes the keeping and binding of commands along with the writing of them. While having an awareness of God’s commands should be enough, it helps to be prepared for the enemy’s game plans.

Imagine for a moment how much different a football game would look if the home team already new their opponent’s game plan.: what plays they would run on 1st down, which receiver they planned to throw to on certain plays, and which defensive sets they were using against the offense. The game would drastically change. Your preparation for the game and your approach during the game would be more focused.

The father’s wisdom is a description of the enemy’s game plan to the son. He carefully describes how the prowling woman works, how she attracts her prey, and how she devours it. What seems so enticing in the moment smells of a trap from a distance.

While the Proverb is in the context of a sexual encounter, we realize that it could just as easy be replaced with any sin that we might struggle with. The enemy is strategic. He has a plan. He uses enticing, attractive, and shiny bait to lure us into his trap. The enemy is always preying upon our weaknesses and searching for ways to devour us. The enemy’s craftiness challenges us to be people who practice self-discipline and self-control in order to thwart his attacks.

How can we prepare ourselves with wisdom to be able to spot the enemy’s traps from a distance?

How do we develop the strength to act upon this wisdom?

How can we coach those younger than us to act upon this wisdom?

Proverbs 6 – July 6

0706 - SevenProverbs 6
Author: Rob Anderson

Growing up, I remember we knew we were not to hate someone, so we would say something to the effect of: “I really, really, really don’t like you.” Never mind Jesus’ teaching on the heart of the matter (We probably just conveniently chose to ignore that), but the point was that hate was not something to be trifled with.

So imagine our reaction when we get to Proverbs 6.16 and read there are six things that the Lord hates…and if that was not enough, seven things that he detests.

Haughty Eyes
A lying tongue
Hands that shed innocent blood
A heart the devises wicked schemes
Feet that are quick to rush into evil
A false witness who puts out lies
A person who stirs up conflict in the community (Proverbs 6.17-19, NIV)

So are you surprised by this list? I mean, if the Lord is going to go on record about those things he hates, an emotion that for most of us in contrary to his nature and what we would expect him to say, we probably ought to pay close attention to those things.

What stands out to me in this list is the number of things that concern our relationship with others around us. By my count, it is seven-for-seven. How we treat other people matters a great deal to God. Please do not fool yourself into thinking that following God is simply about your relationship with him. It is also about how you treat others. And God really, really, really doesn’t like it when you treat them poorly.

Proverbs 4 – July 4

CC Image courtesy of 401(K) 2012 on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of 401(K) 2012 on Flickr.

Proverbs 4
Author: Matthew Killough

What is the most you have ever saved in order to purchase something? Did you save enough to buy the latest electronic gizmo to wear on your wrist? Did you save enough to take your family on a dream vacation? Did you save enough for a new car or even a house? There are literally millions of stories of people who have saved money to purchase what they desire. Some of these stories seem insignificant and many are surprising. The vast majority, however, are about purchases that will soon lose most of their value. That gizmo on your wrist is nice now but it is worth less than half of what you paid a year from now. That dream vacation: over in just a few short days.

The author of Proverbs 4 gives alternate advice: the thing you should pay the most for is simple: wisdom. Make no mistake the cost is high according to Proverbs 4:7, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it costs all you have, get understanding.”

So consider making a prudent investment that benefits all aspects of your life life: consider getting wisdom. Also, remember what your grandmother always told you, “You get what you pay for!”

Proverbs 3 – July 3

CC Image courtesy of Kevin Marsh on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Kevin Marsh on Flickr.

Proverbs 3
Author: Luke Anderson

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3.5 NIV)

I love the books people write.
“How to…”
“Something for Dummies”
“Fixing Your…”

People buy these books because they need something. Something that needs to be done right now. They need to learn how to do something, so they watch a video on YouTube or go to a seminar. They want to get something in their lives fixed.

Verse 5 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Lean not on your understanding, but on the Lord’s. Sometimes we think we can do it. We can be the heroes. We can save the world. We think we can fix our problems. Something is going wrong in our lives and we HAVE to fix what’s wrong with it. We think we know it all, but we don’t. The problems in our lives are not going to be fixed unless we have God. We can read book after book, watch video after video, but this won’t do it.

We are impatient people. We want it done now. We have been this way since the Old Testament. When Moses was on the mountain getting the 10 Commandments, the people didn’t want to wait and built an idol. Moses hits the rock to get water instead of talking to it. Saul sacrifices before Samuel gets to him. God is too “slow” for us so we take a shortcut. We go to the books or YouTube. We might learn some information but this isn’t going to fix it.

In the book Gods at War, Kyle Idleman talks about a man going to the doctor. The man has been coughing a lot and feels sick so the doctor runs some tests and gives him medicine. The man goes home and feels a lot better. The tests come back and the man has lung cancer. But the doctor doesn’t tell the man because he is on medicine and feels fine. On the inside, he is really being eaten alive by the cancer. The medicine fixes the symptoms, but not the disease.

God fixes the disease. We can’t fix it. When we rely on ourselves, things don’t work out. This is why we just have to trust and rely on God to do it. I love this proverb, but a lot of times we just forget to trust him because it’s in our instincts to fix things ourselves. Hopefully this reminds us not to do it ourselves and to let God into our lives and to use his understanding and help.

Proverbs 2 – July 2

CC Image courtesy of Yoel Ben-Avraham on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Yoel Ben-Avraham on Flickr.

Proverbs 2
Author: Rob Anderson

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words. (Proverbs 2.16, ESV)

The Hebrew word translated “forbidden” here in the ESV (The NIV uses the word “adulterous.”) can also be translated “strange.” That seems like an odd choice of word for someone engaged in a relationship with another. We may think of an adulterous relationship as wrong, but to those who are engaged in such a relationship, I doubt they look at one another and think: “You are strange.”

But they are. They are strange in the sense that they do not go together. One of the parties is (or is to be) spoken for by another. It is true also for the second party. Both have someone else to whom they are “normally” bound. When we seek the strange, or forbidden, or adulterous, or wayward woman (or man), we are seeking to bind ourselves to individuals that are strangers and we do not go together. It’s a little like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Seek instead wisdom, which guides you into right relationships with the right people and “save you from the ways of wicked men.” (2.12)

Proverbs 1 – July 1

Adaptation of CC Image courtesy of Swire on Flickr.

Adaptation of CC Image courtesy of Swire on Flickr.

Proverbs 1
Author: Rob Anderson

As we begin out second time through the book of Proverbs, we gain a deeper understanding of some of the instructions we have read.

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

For instance, when the writer of Proverbs writes the verse above, we are reminded of a couple of things.

First, in a book full of wisdom and guidance, it is those who are, well, foolish who ignore what is written. Truthfully, we have heard the advice given in Proverbs before, yet we still find ways to ignore their application. Wise words matter little when they are simply ink on a page. When we begin to live our lives centered on these words, it is then that we take on the characteristics of God.

Wise words matter little when they are simply ink on a page. [Tweet This]

This is the second thing that I am reminded of. God is the one behind all of these words. He is not only the “beginning of knowledge,” but also the one who gives us that very knowledge in the first place. If we seek to live a “good life,” as the writers of wisdom might say, we cannot do so without first looking to God. A good life does not come without first an understanding of the reign of God in this world.

What about you? When you hear that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, what wise words come to mind? How do you ensure these words are not just spilled ink?