Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

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.”‘

Advertisements

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…”


He Met a Harlot

Proverbs 7:10

“And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.”

Simple Observations

I am sure that much could be said about this verse, but I would like to make some simple observations.

First Observation. “And, behold, there met him…” Believe it or not, there are some places a man, much more a Christian man, should never go. This applies to the women, also. There are places such as bars, strip clubs, night clubs, and chicken wing places with servers wearing next to nothing, that invite not only temptation, but leave one open to attack.

Notice, the young man went to a place “near her corner,” next to her house, in the dark, and late at night (7:8-9). Folks, when you walk into a spider’s lair, expect her to come out to meet you. She’s looking for you.

Second Observation. “with the attire of a harlot” Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, there are ways to dress that are decent, and then there are ways to dress that make you look like a hooker. Why is this so hard for some to understand?

The whole idea, here, is that there is a woman on the prowl, and she has dressed herself in such a way to lure a man to his doom. If it didn’t matter how one dressed, then it wouldn’t have meant anything for Solomon to point out the obvious. But Solomon did point out that what this dangerous woman was wearing was typical of her trade.

Men, stay away from any woman who dresses in such a way that intentionally makes your eyes wander. Women, when you dress provocatively, you send a message that is ungodly. Parents, shame on you if you let your little girl leave the house looking like a prostitot!

Third Observation. “subtle of heart” I was curious about the use of the word “subtle.” According to one online dictionary*, “subtle” means “not loud, bright, noticeable or obvious in any way.” This didn’t seem consistent with what I was reading. There’s nothing much “subtle” about a woman who goes out into the dark wearing clothes that look like a harlot. So, I dug deeper.

It seems that the word translated “subtle” is the Hebrew word natsar**, which means “to guard, watch over, keep.” In other words, “subtle of heart” means something like, “you don’t know how hard, cold, and wounded her heart is.” She will never let you know the pain she hides, but she will unleash it on the fool she finds in the dark.

 

*Source: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/subtle

**”Hebrew Lexicon :: H5341 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 7 Nov, 2013. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5341&t=KJV


The Heartless Thief

Proverbs 6:32-33

“But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.”

In verses 30 and 31 Solomon talked about a starving man. He said, “Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry.” But there is a huge difference between a man who will steal food and a man who will steal another’s wife.

Difficult Words

I have lost track of how many times I have written and deleted words, sentences, and whole paragraphs. Finding the right words for today’s “thought” has proven quite difficult. Why is that? Could it be because it’s late as I write this? Could it be that I am in a writer’s slump? Should I have let Jason Sneed write this post, instead?

Maybe the real reason I am having a hard time finding the right words is linked to verse 33. My disgust for the sin of adultery is making it hard for me to remain calm. Thinking about the excuses so many give for this crime makes me sick. Unlike the man who steals food to survive (v. 30), men do despise the adulterer.

No Heart

What kind of man commits adultery? Many do it because they say they couldn’t help themselves. Many blame others for their sin. But if the truth be known, an intriging word in verse 32 may hold a vital clue. That word is “understanding.”

When I asked my wife to describe for me what she thought “lacketh understanding” meant, she said, “An adulterer is a person who doesn’t understand what he is doing – he doesn’t comprehend the consequences – he’s clueless.” Yet, when I went to the original languages I found something else.

The word translated “understanding” in verse 32 is the Hebrew word leb (Strong’s H3820). More often than not, this word is used to describe the “inner part” of man, such as his heart, his soul, or his conscience. As a matter of fact, out of the 593 times this word is found in the Authorized Version, it is translated “understanding” only 10 times. It is translated “heart” 508 times.

What my wife suggested may be true, but it may also be true that an adulterer, a man that takes another man’s wife, is a man that has no “heart.” In other words, he doesn’t care who he hurts. All he cares about is getting what he wants – not what he needs.

Is it any wonder this man is worthy of dishonor and reproach?

Final Thought

Not all crimes deserve the same punishment. And even thought sin is sin, the consequences are not all the same. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Stealing bread and stealing sex are totally different seeds.


Swift to Mischief

Proverbs 6:18b

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,”
Thinking of Nugget

I was sitting and thinking about the above verse, the one about “swift feet” running to mischief, and one thing came to mind – our little dog, Nugget.

Nugget is a little Chorkie (Chihuahua/Yorkie) with a desire to run, and run, and run. Not only does he like to run, but he likes to run away! Any time he can get out of the house without a leash, Katie bar the door (which is ironic, because if Katie had barred the door, he wouldn’t have gotten out).

Normally, when we let Nug out on a long string, even though he has 50 ft., it’s not enough. As a matter of fact, he could run all over our front yard, but he doesn’t. Usually, he just looks sad and depressed. He knows what lies just out of reach – freedom.

“I’m Free!”

When Nugget gets loose, his little feet turn into a blur as he tears up the grass. Like a little streak of furry lightning he takes off for the back yard, to the same place, right where there’s a hole in the neighbor’s fence. Believe me, he knows he’s not supposed to go out of our yard, but the temptation to play with bigger dogs is too much.

When he does get loose, a tiny smile becomes visible, exposing his tiny little underbite, as his feet run swiftly to mischief. Freedom from restraint causes him to bark, “I’m free!” as I begin to chase him through the neighborhood (in our car).

Yard Dogs

My dad used to have a saying. Whenever he talked about people who had no moral restraint, especially in the area of promiscuity, he would say, “They’re no different than a bunch of yard dogs.” In his mind he equated people who run to sin with dogs having no restraint, no morals, and an animalistic desire to fulfill the flesh.

Surely the above verse applies to those who, like Nugget, like a dog, are immediately drawn to cross every boundary. Like “yard dogs,” people with feet that are “swift in running to mischief” do so no matter how much the Master calls. Is it any wonder why He gets disgusted?

“I’m Constrained”

The difference between an unbeliever who runs to evil, and a Christian who doesn’t, can be found in the words of the Apostle Paul: “the love of Christ constrains me” (2 Cor. 5:14).

When a person truly makes Jesus Christ Lord of his life, he no longer needs to be tied down by external restraints. He doesn’t need a leash around his neck – there’s a leash in his heart (Jer. 31:33). The Christian, reflecting upon the manifested love of Christ (1 John 4:9), keeps his feet planted on righteous soil.

When the big dogs call; when there’s a hole in the fence; when we are tempted to run to mischief; the love of God within our hearts cries, “I’m constrained! I’m constrained!” Without a leash, we play with our Master in fields of grace.

He loves that.

UPDATE: Nugget disappeared in August of 2017. He is still greatly missed by all. 


Thoughts On Co-signing

Proverbs 6:1-5

1My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,
2Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
3Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.
4Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
5Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Practical Wisdom

When it comes to the wisdom of Proverbs, some think it’s all spiritual. Much like the person who thinks faith should be kept out of everything secular, such as politics or the workplace, these people assume biblical wisdom is incompatible with everyday life. How wrong they are!

Today’s passage is a lesson in financial wisdom. Here, Solomon is addressing the dangers of unwisely obligating one’s self to a creditor (stranger) on behalf of a friend.

Unsure Surety

There is nothing wrong with helping a friend. As a matter of fact, it was Paul who told Philemon that if Onesimus owed him anything to “put that on my account…I will repay” (Phil. 1:18-19). Helping someone out when they are truly in need, especially when you have the ability, is the right thing to do.

“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.” – Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NIV

However, Solomon is warning that we should be very careful when entering agreements (striking hands) on behalf of others, even our friends. You see, to be a “surety” for someone means guaranteeing the lender your friend will pay his debt. The problem comes when you end up owing what you cannot pay, therefore putting your family and your self at risk.

“Can You Co-Sign for Me?”

How many times have you been asked to co-sign on a loan? How many times have you had a brother-in-law ask for help starting a business that “can’t fail?” How many times have you felt sorry for someone, only to get burned in the end?

Many times we want to help our friends and loved ones, but end up snared by people we don’t even know. “I’ll help you this time,” we say. Then, a few months later, Hunter Loan Company is tracking us like deer.

Spiritual Application

There is a practical, yet spiritual principle to be found in the following verse: “[If] any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). The principle is “if you can barely afford to take care of your own family, don’t make financial commitments you can’t keep.”

Solomon says that even if you have become surety for a friend, prove his friendship – get him to relieve you of your obligation. Otherwise, when the rubber check hits the road, you risk losing not only your money, but your good name, your friend, and even your faith.


Shine the Torch

Proverbs 4:18-19

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.”

Submitted by Rev Ken Welford (Father of David)

Needing a Torch

Wouldn’t it be good if we never went astray? Even SatNav has a reputation for getting it wrong, and sometimes leading people astray. Recently a huge truck got stuck between two houses in a narrow English village street, simply because the driver blindly followed the directions of the SatNav.

I use a torch (flashlight) for the last short walk of the day with our dog. I need to look ahead for possible obstacles, and most recently I have been engaged in a minor ‘rescue mission’ directed towards the common toad. These silly creatures sit in the middle of our driveway/minor road waiting to be squashed by passing traffic. They have to be removed from the danger area and taken to a place of safety.

Three Things

Proverbs 4:18 speaks about “the path of the just” (or righteous) being like the shining sun – that shines brighter unto the perfect day. This is contrasted (v 19) with the way of the wicked, which is totally in the dark.

Three things stand out – the path of the just is an illuminated pathway. Illuminated by the PERFECT RAY for the sunshine of God’s love shines strongly on the pathway of God Seekers. It shows the way ahead in some detail, and reveals the PERFECT WAY. This is the way that leads in the right direction, and will eventually bring us to the right destination. Jesus is the Way to Life, and the only way to get us there intact. That leads to the PERFECT DAY, where God’s love shines so brightly that we are delivered from the possible perils of darkness, into the full sunshine of His presence.

Delivered

Going back to my toads – they seem to have little sense of direction, and sit waiting in the dark for the worst to happen. Paralyzed and unable to move to a place of safety on their own, the light of my torch picks them out, and I lift them up and place them in comparative safety away from the roadway. To them, I am perhaps savior and deliverer (although I guess they don’t know that). When we find ourselves ‘in the dark’, we too need someone to help us discover the right path. To lift us out of danger and darkness, and to set us free to live to our full potential.

Proverbs 14:12 says ‘there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death’. We need, not only the RIGHT WAY, but the BRIGHT WAY, illuminated by God’s love in the Lord Jesus Christ, who says ‘this is the way, walk in it’ (Isaiah 30:21).

Light of the World

My torch offers only pretty feeble illumination on our driveway, and can only shine on one small area at a time. However, it helps me in total darkness to avoid obstacles (and particularly, stepping on toads). The light of the world brings in a mega-beam, which disperses darkness, so that we can walk continually in the light. It means that we need never stumble for we can see the way ahead, and we walk with Him to LIFE.

The old chorus puts it like this: “When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way” – this is the true essence of that light – it’s GLORY, the glory of the risen Lord Jesus.

Ken served as a Baptist Minister from 1956-1978. He was subsequently employed by The Leprosy Mission and The Far Eastern Broadcasting Association (FEBA). Although he retired in 1996 Ken continues to preach in his local Methodist circuit in the coastal town of Teignmouth in the UK.