Tag Archives: Bible

Just Read It For Yourself

Instead of reading one of our comments this morning, how about YOU read the proverb for today – or any passage from Proverbs – and tell us what you read? 

Go ahead, do it! 

May God bless the reading of His Word! 

 

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The Fruit of Your Tree

Proverbs 11:30

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”

Connected Wisdom

This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.

Finding the Threads

One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.

The Truth

So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.

Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?

Soulsome Fruit

The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.

Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.

Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘


Don’t Be Pig Jewelry

Proverbs 11:22

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”

Proverb or Nonverb?

If you want to run a great quiz round, make up a load of proverbs, mix them in with little beauties like this, and then ask which is the genuine article. I guarantee you will catch some people out. But just because a Proverb sounds made up doesn’t mean it lacks wisdom, or indeed a lesson for us to learn.

Pig Jewelry

As we look into this idea of pig adornment, we discover a theme repeated throughout the Bible: the contrast between the image we present and the person we are. Despite this, we spend an inordinate amount of time working on the outside rather than the inside, and yet the outside makes up for so little of who we are and is often easy to see past.

Consider how small the gold ring is compared to the pig. It may catch our eye, initially (after all it is gold), but let’s be honest, no amount of gold is going to hide the fact it is stuck on a pig.

The Eye of the Beholder

Similarly beautiful women may turn a man’s head, but my experience is that if there is no substance beneath the beauty, no discretion, then the attraction is waning. I may tolerate them, but it is clear they are a pig – so to speak.

But what happens when I turn this mirror to my own life? Do I see a gold ring, or a pig? Is my “beauty” being wasted on a muddy snout?

Beauty for Ashes

In truth, it matters little what I see, but how God sees me. Can I believe that Jesus loves me despite myself? It may be hard to believe, but he does! That’s the truth on which I will stand.

Isaiah 61:3 “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…”


Brazen Church Girl

Proverbs 7:13-15

“So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.”

One of the greatest myths is that all church-going girls are “good” girls. These verses are a good example. Not only has this woman been waiting in the dark for her prey, she is openly religious, and uses her surface piety to lure the fool. But let’s break down these verses one at a time.

“So she caught him, and kissed him..”

Look who is the aggressor; it’s not the man. Conventional wisdom (not godly wisdom) has taught us that men are always the aggressor and that women should be wary. However, there are plenty of young women, as young as middle school, who know exactly what they want, and how to get it. Consider the words of this mother…

“I have a very outgoing, charming, attractive 15-year-old son. I have literally been chasing the girls away from the door ever since the seventh grade. … The aggressiveness and promiscuity of young girls nowadays is beyond words. Their dress is so alluring and inviting to a young man, what’s a guy to do? Moreover, what’s a mom to do?” (source, Family Life Today)

“Impudent face…”

It is amazing how people can look you right in the eye and tell a bold-face lie. That is what this woman was doing. The Hebrew word translated here as “impudent” could also be translated as brazen. She just looked this naive boy in the face and told him what he wanted to hear.

“Peace offerings…vows…found thee.” 

It is obvious in verses 14 and 15 that something doesn’t add up. Why is it that a woman of the night would be telling this young man about how she went to church? Oh, it’s pretty simple, really. She was just saying what a good Jewish boy wanted to hear.

Here was the total, irresistible package: a young, gorgeous and religious woman calling out to be rescued from breaking the Law. “I am so glad I found you! You’re the answer to my prayers! This must be God’s will,” she essentially said.

In the Old Testament, when a peace offering was made, the leftover meat was to be eaten that night, and no later (Lev. 7:15). She presented her case in such a way that said, “We have to do this now!” She played to his religious chivalry.

When this woman grabbed the man, kissed him, lied to him, and trapped him, she did it with everything that said: “This must be a good girl – she’s only trying to do the right thing – and she likes me!” I can almost imagine him repeating the words of an old Debbie Boone song, “This can’t be wrong when it feels so right.”

A Prayer

Oh, Lord God, open our eyes to the tricks of the Enemy! Give us the wisdom we need to discern between a treasure far above rubies (Prov. 31:10) and a trap. Help us to teach our sons and daughters to be godly. Help us to be parents who set the example.


The Father In the Window

Proverbs 7:6-9 

“[6] For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, [7] And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, [8] Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, [9] In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”

The Science of Sin    

In the New Testament epistle of James, chapter 1, verses 14 & 15, the author outlines the process of someone falling into sin.  In that passage James the Just tells how it begins with an “evil desire” by which the individual is “dragged away and enticed”.  Once that desire is conceived, says James, “it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”.

In a similar way, the Father (7:1) assumes the viewpoint of an intelligent observer of sin in today’s verses.  The Father watches from his window, not with voyeuristic delight, but as one who wants to see what lessons can be deduced from the sad spectacle in front of him.  Sin can be observed, studied, and understood.  There are definable, universal patterns at work in the fallen human nature leading to sin, and the wise son can and should learn from the costly mistakes of others.  If you skim on through the rest of the chapter, you see that ultimately the foolish youth being observed is “dragged away and enticed” by the adulteress (v. 21).  How did this tragic moral failure occur?  Proverbs 7:6-9 provides a case study in a young man taking three downward steps into the sin of adultery.

Step 1:  “I Know What’s Best for Me.”

            The young man is described as a “simple one” and “void of understanding”.  Here is a youth who feels no need for the blessings of moral instruction.   Were you to ask him if he thinks of himself as “void of understanding,” he would flatly deny it.  “No,” he would say, “I know how life works; I know what’s best for me; and I know how to achieve my goals.”  Were you to offer him counsel, he would scoff at the seriousness of your concerns.

Step 2:  “After All, I Can Come Close to the Sin Without Sinning.” 

Notice how the young man just happens to be walking in the neighborhood of the adulteress.  As he is “passing through the street near her corner” (v. 8).  He tells himself that he’s not walking anywhere in particular; no, he’s just out for an evening stroll.  Oh, how deceptive is the human heart!  Readers, how many times have we wandered into sin’s neighborhood, with one side of our mind rationalizing that we are fully under control and will not fall this time; all the while knowing deep inside exactly where we’re headed, and what we intend to do when we get there.

Step 3:  “I Can Manage This Sin and its Consequences.” 

            By the second half of verse 8, the foolish youth is no longer kidding himself.  Tonight, he’s going to the adulteress’s house.  He’s crossed the line of no return.  Does he recognize sin for what it is?  Of course he does.  He’s bears the Creator’s image, and his conscience screams for him to turn around.  But now, he is no longer merely entertaining the notion of sin; rather, he’s determined that he’s going into the situation full steam ahead, because, he believes, he can manage the sin and its consequences.  The lady’s husband?  He’s out of town (v. 19).  Witnesses to the immorality?  There’s no one watching, thinks the youth.

Ah, but here he’s wrong.  There is one watching – the Father in the window!

The Watcher in the Window

Is there a sense in which the narrator of the passage (the Father in the window) is a type of Jesus Christ?  If we take the narrator to be Solomon (and we have every reason to do so), and Solomon is a son of David, could Solomon here in a particular way be pointing us to David’s Greater Son, Jesus Christ?

I tend to think so.  King Jesus allows us to make our own choices.  It’s difficult for us to get our puny minds around, but the Bible teaches both that Jesus is our Sovereign King with all authority at his disposal (Matthew 28:18), and yet we make our choices and we act freely, without coercion from God.  Dear reader, perhaps you are an adulterer or adulteress; then again, perhaps your sin of choice is of a different variety—gossip, slander, hatred, greed, and the like.  Whatever your sin is, Jesus knows exactly what’s going on.  He doesn’t coerce you into sin (James 1:13); no, you have chosen to walk those downward steps all on your own.  But neither does he typically leap in and interfere with the situation.  For many years Proverbs 7 troubled me:  Why doesn’t the observer in the window stop the foolish youth from rushing to destruction?  It has only been as I’ve come to recognize how many thousands of times Christ has watched me taking those downward steps – 1, 2, 3 – all the while gazing at me with love and sadness, that I’ve begun to understand.

The Good News

The good news is that the Watcher in the Window DID come down, not heroically to stop a foolish youth from his own stupidity, but to bear the guilt and shame of that youth for his sin and stupidity.  On Calvary’s Cross, Jesus died for all of our sin, guilt, and shame.  Yes, even for that sin that has just come to your mind, the one that you think nobody knows about, the one that makes you blush or break out in a cold sweat.  He did not come down to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved (John 3:17).  When you place faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation and turning away from sin, the most curious thing then begins to happen.  You begin to change from the inside out.  You find that you are still free to do what you want, but your “wants” begin to change.  You no longer “want” to sneak down the dark alley and knock on sin’s door.  You no longer “want” to eat another bite of the forbidden fruit.  What you want, is to be in fellowship with Jesus, the one who came down from heaven, and lived and died for you.

In tomorrow’s posting, we return to the sad saga of the foolish young man and the adulteress.  Hope to see you then!

Father God, forgive this writer the many times he has walked those familiar steps outlined above.  Be merciful and gracious to us, Father, for the sake of your dear Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Transform us deep within, that we might truly hate sin and love righteousness.  And may we never forget that it is not our righteousness, but the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, by which we have this relationship with you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


God’s Not Safe

Proverbs 6:16

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:”

He’s Not Safe

So many people have the impression that God is nothing but love, love, love. Thinking all He cares about is their happiness and well-being, they forget that angels surround His throne crying “holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:9).

In the “seeker-friendly” community of churches, many focus on a God who is “for us,” while avoiding any mention of a God who hates sin. They treat Him like a rich grandfather who winks at their indiscretions. They treat Him like a tame pet. But He’s not tame. And He’s not safe.

When I read the above verse I was reminded of a conversation in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. Susan, Lucy, and Peter were talking to Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan:

“Is he – quite safe? I shall be nervous about meeting a lion [said Susan]”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

A “safe” God is one who doesn’t care what you do, as long as you love Him and worship Him, but a Holy God hates sin. And He is nothing to trifle with.

Abominations

In the next few “thoughts” we will be looking at verses 17 through 19 and the seven things God hates – yes, hates. It might be hard for some to contemplate, but even though God is love (1 Jn. 4:8), He is righteous, and He tests the hearts of men (Ps. 7:9).

As we look at these things, remember that we are all guilty of them. If you don’t think so, then you’re deceiving yourself (1 Jn. 1:8). All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and fallen short of God’s righteous standards. He hates our sins, and that will never change (Mal. 3:6).

Salvation Not a License

It might be tempting to leap right to the good part – the Gospel. John 3:16 says that Jesus came to die for our sins and make things right between God and us (Col. 1:20). But hold on! That doesn’t change God’s view of sin. He still hates it.

God is love, but the Bible also says that a man who loves God will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15; 15:10). Christ paid our sin debt on a cruel cross, and those who are truly His will avoid sin. What God hates, the Christian should hate.

“Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” – Hosea 14:9 NIV

A Prayer

Lord God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for the gift of forgiveness. But help me to remember Who you are – King. Help me to hate the things you hate, and love the things you love. 


Are You a Troublemaker?

Proverbs 6:12-15

“A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.”

Troublemakers

The words in these verses appear to combine to build a picture of a professional troublemaker. One who gets pleasure from making mischief, causing trouble, hurting other people. We’ve all met them, they exist in all walks of life, even in church. They thrive in politics, and they are present in almost every workplace, university and school. It is easy judge them because we are not like them. We don’t cause trouble, do we?

Self Examination

Why did Solomon use so many words to define a troublemaker? Why didn’t he just insert the word troublemaker into verse fifteen and omit verses twelve, thirteen and fourteen?

Therefore shall a troublemaker’s calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

Perhaps we should read the description again while examining ourselves to see if even one of the characteristics listed in verses twelve to fourteen could apply to us. These verses are not here to be skipped over with the assumption that they describe something we are not. They are included in Scripture by God’s design to challenge us to examine ourselves, not other people. And they are included in Scripture as a warning.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 2 Corinthians 13:5 KJV

It is useful also to remember that God also examines us (Psalm 139) so complete honesty is essential.

Redemption

The results of our self examination matter because they form a basis for redemption. Jesus didn’t die to save a perfect world. He died to save the troublemaker from calamity. He is the Remedy.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:14-18 NIV