Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Teach the Kids

Proverbs 13:13-25

 “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.  The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.  Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.  Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.” (Proverbs 13:13-16)

A person who thinks other people are stupid and refuses to listen will be destroyed but a person who respects the advice of parents, teachers and authorities will receive a reward.  The teachings and rules of wise people help one avoid the traps in life that might kill or destroy, and teach how to enjoy life.  Life is hard for those who refuse to follow the rules and learn from others.  Smart people learn, but foolish people show off their stupidity.

“A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.   Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.” (Proverbs 13:17-18)

Wicked people get caught up in doing things that are wrong and cannot be trusted with responsibility.  Faithful people will do what they were sent to do, relieving one of his burden.  People who do not listen will end up broke and embarrassed while those who listen to warnings will be successful and respected. 

“The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.  He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.  Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.” (Proverbs 13:19-21)

Accomplishment of a goal is a sweet sensation, but fools hate the idea of giving up their sin to accomplish them.  Who a person associates with has a great deal of influence in what he will accomplish.  Association with wise people will tend to result in bing successful, but hanging out with lazy or foolish people will lead to failure and trouble.  As the saying goes, what goes around comes around.  Evil follows sin, and those who do right will be repaid. 

“A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.  Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.” (Proverbs 13:22-23)

A good man will have something worthwhile to leave for his descendants, even if it is just a good reputation.  Whatever a wicked person saves up will ultimately benefit those who have done right instead of his children.  Poor people do not get less than others, they just don’t make good use of it.  Because so much is wasted or lost by carelessness, they don’t have enough to do what is needed.

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.  The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.” (Proverbs 13:24-25)

People who don’t teach and correct their children don’t really care about them.  If they loved them they would teach them what is right to protect them from harm and keep them out of trouble.  It is far better to spank a child to teach him not to run into the street than to go to his funeral because he didn’t learn.  Those who do right will have a happy and satisfying life.  Those who do wrong will have a hard time.  Teach them to do right, even if you have to punish them to do it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Proverbs About Everyday Affairs

Proverbs 13:1-12

“A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.  A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.  He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:1-3)

A wise child listens to their parent’s advice, but one who lacks respect will not listen even when he is in trouble.  A respectful attitude and response will make friends.  A bad attitude and response will make enemies and lead to violent confrontations and  physical injury or death.   It is crucial that children be taught to have respect if they are to have a good life.

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4)

The lazy man wants everything and resents the fact that he has nothing, but he will not put out the effort to get it.  The person who is willing to work for what he wants will be satisfied because he has a goal to work toward and a sense of accomplishment.

“A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.  Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.” (Proverbs 13:5-6)

A righteous or good man hates falsehood but a wicked person is disgusting and dishonest.  Eventually, the truth will come out and he will be shamed.  The righteous attitude will guide and keep the good man doing what is right, but his attitude will defeat a wicked man’s good intentions and end up in him doing wrong.

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” (Proverbs 13:7)

There are greedy people who will do anything to get rich, who end up with nothing but some belongings nobody would want, and sometimes they lose even those.  There are people who give away everything they have and they have friends and family, and often have more belongings than the greedy person.   

“The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:8)

In times of trouble, what a person has saved up may save his life.  Unfortunately many poor people ignore the warnings to save.  As a result they have no protection when trouble comes.

“The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.” (Proverbs 13:9)

It is a joy to know a righteous person and be around them.  Wicked people drive people away and they don’t want to even think about them.  A person’s moral attitude determines how well he is accepted by other people. 

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10)

Every argument or fight is the result of pride.  People who have been properly instructed don’t let their pride cause them to get into a fight.  By doing so they avoid the risk of physical injury or punishment for fighting.

“Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.” (Proverbs 13:11)

Things which were received without being legitimately earned quickly lose their value.  As the old saying goes, “Easy come, easy go.”  They do not encourage a person to do more.  Things that were the result of legitimate work retain their value and tend to result in more accomplishments.  Studies have shown that most people who win a lottery or get an unearned award are worse off a year later than they were when they received it. 
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

Delay in attainment of a goal is really discouraging, but when it is finally attained, it means even more, overriding all the depression and discouragement.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Contrast Of the Attitudes of Righteousness and Evil

Proverbs 12:17-28

“He that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.  There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.  The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. ” (Proverbs 12:17-19)

There is a tendency to not think about what we are saying.  In Matthew 12:36-37 Jesus warned, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.   For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

 We are repeatedly told that our words show what is in our heart.  A person who habitually tells the truth demonstrates an attitude of doing right while one who lies indicates they are trying to deceive and trick people.  Some people use their mouth to emotionally devastate people but wise and good people use it to build up instead.  Lies are only temporary expedients that soon lose their value, whereas the truth produces permanent benefits.

“Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.  There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.  Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. ” (Proverbs 12:20-22)) 

People who dream up evil things deceive themselves into believing hurting others will make them happy, but those who do and encourage others to treat people properly experience the happiness and joy the others miss.  The person who does evil will have more trouble than he can imagine, while the person who does right will escape most of it.  God hates lies and dishonesty, but he is delighted by honesty and truthfulness. 

“A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.” (Proverbs 12:23)

A wise, careful person doesn’t tell everything he thinks he knows, but a foolish person tells more than he knows, making his foolishness apparent to those who those who do know. 

“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. ” (Proverbs 12:4)

The person who has taken care of his business will eventually come to the top, being in charge, but the man who doesn’t take care of his business will constantly go farther into debt and under other people’s power.   

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).

Sorrow, discouragement and fear make a man feel depressed and hopeless.   Just a few words of encouragement can completely reverse that depression and produce a sense of rejoicing instead.

“The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them. ” (Proverbs 12:26)

The man who does right and has an attitude of doing right is better than those around him, but like his neighbors, he can be tempted by the apparent success of the wicked around him.

“The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious. ” (Proverbs 12:27))

The lazy indolent man has to depend on others for his food, and it means little to him, but the man who worked for it can take pleasure in knowing he earned it. 

“In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” (Proverbs 12:28)

A righteous attitude and lifestyle leads to a peaceful and happy life, and eventually to eternal life in heaven.  Even at its worst, there is still a sense that life has meaning and hope.    

Friday, November 21, 2014

Attitudes Influence One’s Actions

Proverbs 12:1-16

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.” (Proverbs 12:1)

A person who loves studying and learning values knowing things highly, but a person who isn’t interested in learning to live his daily life better is like a wild animal that lives solely by instinct.

“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.  A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved. ” (Proverbs 12:2-3)

Once again we are reminded that a good man is blessed by God, but a wicked man will be judged and condemned.   Like a gardener pulling weeds, God will prevent the evil from reaching maturity, but will not interfere with the growth of those who do right.

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)

Virtue is defined as “goodness, morality, or right thinking and action.”  A woman who exhibits these characteristics is a valuable trophy to her husband.  A wife who constantly embarrasses him, whether by reckless spending or outlandish behavior or constantly putting him down is like a bone cancer, slowly eating away at his happiness and self-esteem.

“The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit.  The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.  The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand. ” (Proverbs 12:5-7)

The opinions of a man who has a righteous attitude can be trusted, but a wicked person’s advice is not to be trusted.  Even when he is not trying to trick you himself, his judgment is biased by his attitude.  Wickedness leads people to believe they will profit by destroying others, but ultimately it destroys the doer, while righteousness preserves him.

 “A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised. ” (Proverbs 12:8) 

People will respect a man for his wisdom, but they despise a man who is deliberately contrary or obnoxious. 

“He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread. ” (Proverbs 12:9)

A man who nobody respects or defers but is successful in his business is more valuable than anybody who considers himself important but can’t even feed himself. 
“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. ” (Proverbs 12:10) 

A good person cares about others, including his animals.  Even when they are trying to be nice, wicked people are inconsiderate and hurtful. 

“He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding. ” (Proverbs 12:11)

A person who takes care of his business will have enough to eat, but a person who hangs out with people who don’t do anything but mess around is being dumb.
“The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.  The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.   A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him. ” (Proverbs 12:12-14)

The wicked person wants an easy way to catch things quickly, but the righteous patiently waits for them to grow.  His own mouth gets the wicked into trouble, but the man who does right escapes it.  A person will get exactly what he deserves.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.  A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame. ” (Proverbs 12:15-16)

Wise men seriously consider conflicting advice, before making their decision.  People who don’t even consider other people’s opinions are foolish.  A fool doesn’t hesitate to lose his temper and lets everyone know he is angry.  Smart people don’t embarrass themselves by letting their temper get out of hand.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What Should You Expect?

Proverbs 11:18-31

“The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.  As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.” (Proverbs 11:18-19)

Wicked people constantly try to deceive others to attain their ends.  What they seldom realize is that they are the ones most completely deceived.  In their effort to take advantage of others, they are unknowingly committing suicide, both physically and spiritually, just as surely as the alcoholic or drug addict. 

While not all people who do right live a long time, doing right tends to result in a longer, happier life.  Even those who don’t live long are assured of eternal rewards for having done right.  Scripture is very clear every person will be judged and rewarded or punished according to what they have done in life. 
“They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.  Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” (Proverbs 11:20-21)

Occasionally, in raising animals, there is one who simply refuses to stay where they are supposed to be.  They deliberately tear down fences or whatever else in required to get away.  If left with the herd. Others learn from them and begin to behave the same way, so farmers or breeders hate to have them in the herd and get rid of them to save the hassle.  The forward person is a person is much like that animal who refuses to cooperate with the farmer.  God despises the attitude and actions, and will punish them for their behavior, no matter how many others join their rebellion or decide to support their actions.

Like a good farmer, god enjoys working with the people who are upright and cooperative, and makes sure they and their descendants escape the suffering the wicked experience. 

“As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22)

Pigs instinctively use their nose to root in the dirt.  If a gold ring is placed in their snout, they will not value it, but will use it like a shovel to help them dig, ruining the ring.  In the same way, a beautiful woman who doesn’t make good choices uses her beauty to help her dig in the filth and muck of a ruined life. 

“The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.” (Proverbs 11:23)

A righteous or good person wants good from his life and choses to do good to get it.  The person who does wicked things has no reason to expect anything but anger as a result of his behavior.

“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.  The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.  He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.” (Proverbs 11:24-26)

There are times to save, and times to not save.  When planting, the more seed one plants and the more effort one puts out to make it grow, the larger ones reward.  Saving to much seed at planting time may result in not having enough when winter comes.   The person who is liberal with his seed and waters it well is assured of having a good crop and the person who reaches out to help others will receive help himself.  A person who is stingy and selfish will be hated of his neighbors.

“He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.” (Proverbs 11:27)

People’s attitude determines what they will get out of life.  If they go out looking for a fight or to get into trouble they will surely succeed because their attitude antagonizes other people.  People who want to get along make the effort to get along and do not antagonize people. 

“He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.” (Proverbs 11:28)

Belongings are easily lost and the person who depends on them for security will lose out.  The person who does right will not be destroyed by the loss of his property, because his worth doesn’t rest in his belongings.

“He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.” (Proverbs 11:29)

Imagine trying to catch the wind in a box and save it for a hot day.  When you open the box, the wind won’t be there.  In the same way, a person who causes his family trouble will one day find out his family isn’t there to help him when he needs them.
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

This verse is often used to encourage people to witness, to go “soul winning. ”  Such a use is a distortion of what the verse means.  Solomon has repeatedly stressed that doing what is right results in God’s blessings, and tends to lead to a longer, more satisfactory life.  It is wise to earn the respect and friendship of other people.
“Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.” (Proverbs 11:31)

The righteous will surely be repaid and rewarded for what they have done.  The wicked and sinners are even more sure to be repaid for their actions.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Character Will Affect Relationships

Proverbs 11:1-17

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1)

An abomination is something a person loathes or finds very disgusting, something he hates.  One thing that God loathes is cheating in business dealings, by using an inaccurate scale to weigh things for example.  He loves honest practices.

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

Pride leads to over confidence, carelessness, and a lack of planning.  This results in failure and embarrassment.  People tend to think things through more carefully who know their own limitations.  As a result, they don’t crash as often or as badly.
“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.  Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.   The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.  The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.  When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.  The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.”  (Proverbs 11:3-8)

People who have an established moral standard the practice have no problem deciding what is right or wrong.  People who do not establish limits on what they will do eventually get into things that destroy them because they have no guidelines.  When judgment comes, their wealth will not protect them, but a reputation for doing what is right will.  Those who have done evil will suffer the consequences of their actions, and what they hoped to gain by them will be lost.  They will suffer the hurts they inflicted on others for ever.

“An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.   When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.  By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.” (Proverbs 11:9-11)

People tend to judge others on the basis of what they know about themselves.  A hypocrite accuses his neighbor of what he does himself, and because of his understanding is able to make a case and destroy his neighbor.  Through his knowledge of what is right the honest and good man will be able to defend himself.  When the good and honest are encouraged and the evil are driven out, the community is grows strong and the people are happy.  When the evil speak freely, they destroy the strength and happiness.

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.  A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” (Proverbs 11:12-13)

Stupid people assume other people are dumb or dishonest, but smart ones wait to find out.  Some people can’t wait to tell what they know and reveal things they shouldn’t but people who can be trusted don’t go around telling everything they know. 

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:4)

In situations where nobody knows what to do, people make mistakes, but where there are a lot of people with experience to advise them, they are unlikely to make serious mistakes if they are willing to listen.

“He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.” (Proverbs 11:15)

It is impossible to be sure what other people will do, and if you have taken responsibility for the actions of someone you don’t know, such as co-signing for a loan or posting bail, you are likely to end up paying for it.  A person who hates the idea of other people taking responsibility for a person’s actions can be trusted to take responsibility for his own. 
“A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.” (Proverbs 11:16)

A compassionate and polite woman will earn and keep people’s respect just as a strong man will keep what he has from being taken.
“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” (Proverbs 11:17)

The kind and compassionate man who doesn’t give everybody what he thinks they deserve earns the appreciation of people around him, and has peace and a clear conscience.  One who is cruel and demanding earns his neighbors hatred and has to live with a guilty conscience and fear of what others will do to him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Contrasting Results Of Right And Wrong

Proverbs 10:13-32

“In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.  Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.” (Proverbs 10:13-14)  

People who understand things talk intelligently, and are constantly learning.  Foolish people who don’t care to learn constantly offend people and get themselves into trouble.

“The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.” (Proverbs 10:15)

When trouble comes, the wealthy person has something saved up to enable him to ride out the trouble.  The poor man has nothing saved, and loses everything because he doesn’t.

“The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.   He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.” (Proverbs 10:16-17)

The work a good man does tends to improve his life.  The attitude of the wicked tends to sin, and as Romans 6:23 says, “…the wages of sin is death...” A person who learns to do what is right is in the way that leads to life, but a person who refuses to learn is making a serious mistake.

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” (Proverbs 10:13)

A person who pretends to be friends with people he hates, or one who tells lies about people is stupid.  Sooner or later the truth will come out and he will be caught.  They will be justified in their anger toward him.

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)

When people talk a lot, there are always things they have not thought through carefully, that are not quite what they should be.  It is better not to talk so much so you don’t say things you don’t mean or that are not true.
“The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.   The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.” (Proverbs 10:20-21)

A good and righteous man says things that are encouraging and help a lot of people to have better life.  The wicked person has nothing of value to offer, and those who don’t bother to learn can’t even help themselves.

“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

When God blesses a person, there are lots of benefits and no regrets.  Many times things people have sought are not blessings but curses. 

“It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.” (Proverbs 10:23)

Fools think it is funny to cause other people trouble.   Vandals and looters never stop to think about the people who they hurt and offend by their behavior, who have to pay for the damage.  A thinking person wisely refrains from doing such things.

“The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.  As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.” (Proverbs 10:24-25)

The very thing the wicked person tries to avoid will one day happen to him.  His freedom and pleasure are only momentary, almost as fleeting as a whirlwind.  Those who do right will attain the things they longed for, and their pleasure is founded on eternal principles.

“As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.” (Proverbs 10:26)

Sending a lazy person out to do job is as irritating as a drink of vinegar is to your mouth or a puff of smoke is to your eyes.  It is something to be avoided if at all possible. 

“The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.  The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.  The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.  The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.” (Proverbs 10:27-30)

Respectful obedience to God will result in a long, prosperous, and satisfying life, and result in eternal life.  Those who do not obey will find this life unsatisfactory, and hopeless, and ultimately spend eternity in hell. 

“The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.  The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.” (Provervs 10:31-32)

Good people speak good and useful things, in a polite and acceptable manner, and people value what they have to say.  Wicked people often make no effort to control their tongue and people look for ways to shut them up.  James 1:26 says, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.”  It doesn’t matter how important a position in a religious organization a person may hold, if he cannot or will not control his mouth, he is not a good person.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Actions And Attitudes Define The Person

Proverbs 10:1-12

“The proverbs of Solomon.

A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” (Proverbs 10:1)

Having explained the importance and value of wisdom, Solomon is ready to start sharing what he had learned with his readers.  He does so in the form of proverbs or short, easily remembered sayings.  They can be taught to even very small children, but are applicable to every living person. 

Parents can take pride in intelligent and successful children, but even the most doting mother will ultimately be embarrassed by a child who will not make an effort to learn or do anything.  People’s attitudes and actions affect their relationships with those who love them most.

 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.  The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked. ” (Proverbs 10:2-3)

Things obtained by fraud and wicked means have no lasting value.   Because they have not been earned they have little meaning to the person who has them, but in addition, God will cause them to lose their value or be taken away.  While he may not have as much, the person who got what he has by legitimate means will enjoy it far more, and God will protect it for them. 

“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.  He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” (Proverbs 10:4-5)

A person who applies himself to taking care of business is sure to have more than enough, possibly even becoming rich, but the person who makes no effort becomes progressively poorer.  If he won’t even get out of bed take advantage of easy and readily available opportunities, even his parents will be embarrassed by his lack of initiative. 

“Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.  The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.” (Proverbs 10:6-7)
People appreciate those who do what is right and want to do nice things for the, and they will be remembered with fondness.  A wicked person is hated and people look for an opportunity to hurt him.  They would prefer not to even think of him, but when they do, it is usually with revulsion.

“The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.” (Proverbs 10:8)

A person with a wise attitude will listen to instructions.  A person who doesn’t think he needs to listen will invariably mess up and get into trouble because he was talking instead of listening. 

“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.” (Proverbs 10:9)

A person who does what is right doesn’t have to worry about getting caught for something wrong, but sooner or later the person who tries to get by with doing wrong will get caught. 

“He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.  “(Proverbs 10:10)

A person who is always trying to do things behind peoples backs causes trouble, but a person who only listens to himself gets himself into trouble. 

“The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.” (Proverbs 10:11)

A good or righteous person says things that are helpful and encouraging, but a wicked person says cruel and hateful things.  You can tell what kind of person they are by what comes out of their mouth.  Matthew 12:34 says, ”…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12)

A person who constantly tries to stir up conflict between a certain person or group and other people, constantly reminding them of past wrongs or accusing them of evil intentions hates that person or group.   A person who loves a person tends to overlook or downplay their wrongs.  Once again, the words and actions indicate what a person is really like.

Friday, November 14, 2014

It’s Up To You

Proverbs 9:1-18

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.  She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.  Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs (9:1-6)

As we have seen repeatedly, wisdom is readily learned from the things around us, if we are willing to pay attention and learn.  Anyone who will make the effort to learn can reap the benefits because they are immediately available to everyone.  It is almost like thare was somebody standing out with a sign inviting everyone in to enjoy a free meal.

“He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.   Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:7-9)

The Hebrew word translated “scorn” here means to make fun or mock others, to consider them contemptible or stupid.  Solomon says that trying to correct a person with such and attitude only makes them turn against oneself.  Like other wicked people, they do not like to have attention called to their wickedness, seeing it as an attack on them.

A wise person will consider the reproof, to see how it will benefit him and appreciate that the person cared enough to bring it up.   He will learn from what he has heard and do better in the future,  People who want to do what is right look for ways to improve.   

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.  For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.  If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.” (Proverbs 9:10-12)

Respect for God as an intelligent and orderly creator is the basis for all science and knowledge.  If the universe is not bound by certain logical principles, it would be impossible to predict what results a certain action would produce, and all science would be impossible, and knowledge would be worthless.  If there was no god to set things in motion, everything that happens would be the result of random events with no logical order or purpose. 

The more completely we understand who God is, the easier it is to understand what his plan is and how things work.  As a result, we can take actions that make our lives better and extend our lives, fo example by eating a better diet, or by avoiding certain activities.  The learning benefits the person who has it, even more than others.  A person who considers learning and doing right a waste of time will suffer the consequences all by himself.  He won’t be able to shift the burden to other people, no matter how much he blames them.

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Proverbs 9:13-18)

Foolish people are like a promiscuous girl.  Desperate for attention she throws herself at every guy she sees, never realizing that the guys she dates lose all respect for her or considering the consequences of her actions, the emotional damage that accrues, or the trouble resulting from pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.    Instead she focus on the immediate pleasure and encourages others to do the same.  The pleasure is fleeting but the consequences may last for eternity.   Each person chooses whether they want to be wise or foolish..

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Intelligent Design

Proverbs 8:22-36

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.  When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.  Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.” (Proverbs 8:22-26)

Earlier, in verse 14, wisdom stated, “…I am understanding…”  God possessed wisdom before he began creation, and the basic principles of how things should work were established long before he started designing the universe.  An engineer designing a bridge plans the function of every part and designs them to accomplish their purpose.  To do so, he must understand how forces are applied and the principles of gravity, leverage, tension and compression.  He needs to understand the changes in those forces as traffic moves across the bridge, and the strengths and properties of the materials of which the bridge is constructed.  The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940 because the engineers ignored the effects of wind and the principles of resonance.    

God understood the principles of the atom before he created the matter from which the world is made.  He understood the molecular structure, atomic attraction and gravity before he placed the water on earth and formed the mountains and continents. 

“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:27-31)

God’s understanding of the laws of inertia, momentum and gravitational attraction enabled him to design the orbits of the various stars, and planets so that they would continue to function for thousands of years without colliding or getting too far apart.  Those same principles make the possibility of universe resulting from a “Big Bang” a practical and scientific impossibility.   Every detail of the universe functions according to specific principles that God utilized.    Like the engineer, God was thrilled to see his planning come together in a physical form and function as intended.  In any construction or design, there are certain parts that especially please the builder, and For God, humanity was that special part.

“Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.  Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.  Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.  For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36)

Revelation 4:11 says, “…for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”  Because God created everything to please him, and he has taken a special interest in humanity, he is especially pleased and rewards those who function most closely in accordance with his plan.  Those who take the time to understand his plan are best equipped to follow it, and thus receive the greatest blessings and enjoy their life the most.  Those who have no interest doom themselves to a life of frustration and dissatisfaction and potential death.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where To Find Wisdom

Proverbs 8:1-21

“Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?  She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.  She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.  Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.” (Proverbs 8:1-4)

Highly educated people are often amazed at what “primitive” peoples are able to accomplish.   They don’t understand that the things they learned from their teachers were originally developed as a result of observing the things of nature.  Everything in nature has something to teach us about how things work if we are smart enough to learn from them instead of trying to impose our own ideas.   Because they have not been taught otherwise, primitive peoples tend to observe nature closely. 

“O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.  Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.  For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” (Proverbs 8:5-9)

A completely uneducated person or one with serious learning disabilities can learn from paying attention to what the things around him teach.  Even animals learn to do things that seem beyond their capabilities, as for example a cow or horse learning to unlatch even a fairly complex latch or a mouse learning to follow a maze.  Humans are able to learn far more, and if they learn it completely rather than settling for someone else’s explanation, they will learn the truth.  Misinformation results from jumping to conclusions.

“All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.  They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.” (Proverbs 8:8-9)

There are no truly random events.  Everything follows certain basic unbreakable principles.  Those principles are understandable and will be plain and logical to anyone who takes the trouble to learn them.  When things seem inexplicable, it is because we lack understanding, not because the rules were violated or changed.

“Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” (Proverbs 8:10-11)

Physical things on earth deteriorate over time, losing their value.  Because the basic principle do not change, they can be utilized to replace or improve anything one might obtain and to produce pleasure no physical object could give.   This makes the wisdom more valuable than any earthly riches.
“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Proverbs 8:12-13)

Intelligent decisions are always accompanied by careful consideration and planning, often resulting in doing something in a new or unusual way.  An over inflated idea of one’s intelligence or importance, a disregard for other people’s intelligence or ideas, a refusal to abide by proper standards of right and wrong, and speaking without thought hamper one’s ability to make wise decisions. 

“Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.  By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.  By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” (Proverbs 8:14-16)

Wisdom is the understanding of basic principles, and good decisions and advice are the result of having that understanding of basic principles.  It has the power to make a person successful.  It is through understanding certain principles that a king obtains power and leaders are able to make fair judgments.  It is through wisdom that rulers and leaders retain the respect and loyalty of their people. 

“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.  Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.  My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.” (Proverbs 8:17-19)

People who set out to learn things before they need to know will be prepared when the need arises.  As a result, they will earn the respect of those around them and have what they need.  Though they may have less belongings, they will have the things that matter, and a life without regrets or guilt.  The results of wisdom are worth more than any physical wealth. 

“I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” (Proverbs 8:20-21)

Wisdom always tends toward a high moral standard, and an ability to discern the effects and consequences of a decision.  As a result it enables those who regularly exercise it to receive earthly blessings in abundance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don’t Ignore The Warnings

Proverbs 7:1-27

“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.  Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.  Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.” (Proverbs 7:1-5)

The sexual drive is a powerful urge in most people.  It is easily perverted and, if uncontrolled, can become a serious problem.   Because of the danger, Solomon spends quite a bit of time warning of the dangers and giving proper guidelines.   By learning, and adopting proper standards for oneself, one can avoid the common dangers and perversions.  Unfortunately, modern society seems intent on discrediting those standards as out dated and obstructive, leaving generations susceptible to flattery and impulsive behavior.

“For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.” (Proverbs 7:6-10)

As he watched the crowds in the street below, Solomon observed a young man who had not learned the importance of the basic principles of life.  He was deliberately going to a place where he would be likely to meet compliant members of the opposite sex, looking for a good time.  In such a place he met a person who was dressed provocatively, and was good at manipulating people.

“(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 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.” (Proverbs 7:11-15)

The person is outgoing and uninhibited and very exciting, and seems very sure of themselves, stubbornly trying to push a little farther even after being told no.    Carefully planned and unexpected contacts set the hormones raging, and references to religious beliefs or charitable activities allay suspicion, implying that this ian not something they normally do and that meeting is somehow destiny. 

“I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.  I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.  Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.  For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” (Proverbs 7:16-20)

A definite effort is made to make one feel that they are special, using symbolic actions such as giving flowers or a special meal, to make the sexual involvement seem even more desirable and fitting.  An excuse is presented as to why the sexual behavior is acceptable.  In this case she indicates the husband neglects her, going on long trips and leaving her lonely.  Others use unresponsiveness or infidelity or abuse, always implying that the problems are with their mate or “friend.”

“With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.” (Proverbs 7:21-23)

Overwhelmed by the sweet talk and sense of importance and raging hormones and emotions, the foolish person throws caution to the winds and gets involved.  He ignores all the warnings, like a cow walking into a slaughter house despite the smell of blood and death, or like a fool who ignores the law.  The consequences of their actions take them completely by surprise, like being shot in the back.    They are so focused on their pleasure they don’t realize that getting it may cost them their very life and happiness.

“Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.  For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.  Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:24-27)

While Solomon has used the illustration of a young man, he warns all the children.  Don’t allow yourself even to consider getting involved, much less begin to live such a lifestyle.  Sexual involvements have hurt a lot of people, destroying the careers and reputations and fortunes of very powerful people, sometimes resulting in the deaths by the hands of a jealous lover. 

In any case, sexual sin brings one into direct opposition of God.  I Corinthians 6:9- 10 warns, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”  Galatians 5:19-21 and Revelation 21;8 make similar statements. 

It is important to understand a person does not go to hell because he commits adultery.  He goes to hell because he refuses God’s authority in his life, refusing to obey.  Adultery, like other sins, demonstrates that rebellion against God.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Actions Have Consequences

Proverbs 6:1-35

“My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.  Do 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.  Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.  Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.” (Proverbs 6:1-5)

Many times we feel obligated to help someone else when they are having problems, perhaps co-signing a loan or loaning them one’s rent money to tide them over a bad patch on their promise to repay before the rent is due.  In doing so we make our own future dependent on the person we tried to help.  Unfortunately, once they have what they wanted, many people forget about paying for it.  Many times that is why they are behind on their bills or need a cosigner. 

If you have placed your own future at risk to help someone else, Solomon says you need to go and make sure he will keep his promise to pay.  It may be embarrassing, but until the bill is paid you better keep on their case because it is your future at stake, whether they realize it or not.  You walked into a trap, and it is up to you to get yourself out.

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.  How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:6-11)

We can learn a lot from nature, and ants set a good exam[;e.  Though they don’t have a boss or mate or ruler to tell them what to do, they spend the summer working to store up food for the winter.  Because they do the ant colony survives the winter without much difficulty while many other insects die of starvation.   Just a little being lazy, not taking care of business will lead to poverty and need as surely as someone travelling down the same road will get to the same place or as an armed man will take what he wants.  The only way to avoid poverty and need is to get out and work when you can.

“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.” (Proverbs 6:12-15)

The old meaning of the word naughty was of a person who is deliberately doing what they know is wrong, like a child pushing to see how much they can get by with.  They deliberately distort the truth, trying to deceive by winking, feinting with his feet and slipping his fingers where they don’t belong.  He is deliberately doing wrong and is constantly dreaming up ways of cheating or stirring up trouble.  It is impossible to live such a lifestyle without making enemies and sooner or later he will have to face the consequences. 

“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, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

There are a few things God just cannot stand.  He cannot stand a person who considers themselves better and smarter than other people.  He cannot stand somebody who habitually lies.  He can’t stand people who have no regard for human life and are willing to kill or have others killed to accomplish their goals.
God hates and cannot stand a person who spends their time dreaming up ways to take advantage of or destroy other people.  People who deliberately look for opportunities to do wrong make God sick.  He hates people who spread malicious gossip and make up stories about other people, and he hates those who deliberately stir up conflicts. 
“My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.  When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.” (Proverbs 6:20-22)

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.  Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.  For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.” (Proverbs 6:20-26)

If a person learns what his parents tried to teach him and their rules and standards and tries to apply them consistently, they will influence his activities when he tries to accomplish something, and what he dreams about.  When he is awake it will give him something to think about.  It shed light on different situations making him aware, for example, of the dangers of messing around with somebody he isn’t married to. 

She may be very attractive and exciting and her talk makes him feel so important, but such women often ends up costing a man everything he has, so that he is lucky even to have a piece of bread to eat.  A person who cheats on their mate trying to find happiness will never find it, but they leave a trail of broken hearts and messed up lives behind them.

“Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?  So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.” (Proverbs 6:27-29)

Just as a person cannot wrap up a fire in his clothes and carry it with him or walk barefoot through burning coals without getting burned, a person cannot mess around with somebody else’s wife without it affecting them, and like the person who picked up the fire or walked in the coals, it is their own fault.  They were not forced to go along.

“Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.  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.  For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.  He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.” (Proverbs 6:30-35)

A thief who steals when he is hungry can be excused and forgiven for stealing, but he is still required to pay back everything he took, with interest.  A thief who just steals because he can is inexcusable.  Sex is not essential to life like food is, and stealing it from another person is inexcusable.  It destroys the soul, of the person who commit adultery, leaving him with a burden of guilt.  It also destroys his reputation among those around him and often leads to physical fights or killings. 

Jealousy causes people to hold grudges for very long times, waiting for a chance to get even, and no amount of restitution will completely take away anger and sense of betrayal.  Messing around is pretty dumb.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Avoid Sexual Entanglements

Proverbs 5:1-23

“My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.” (Proverbs 5:1-2)

Solomon had observed and experienced a lot of things.  He advised his readers to learn take advantage of what he had learned so they could make wise decisions, not falling for tricks or making foolish statements they would regret later.  One area of particular concern was sexual relationships.

“For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.  Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.” (Proverbs 5:3-6)

An unfamiliar man or woman can seem like the dream mate.  It is so pleasant to listen to someone who is so impressed by ones appearance or strength that everything they say seems wonderful.  Their reasons for breaking up with their previous boyfriend or girlfriend or mate makes it clear how mistreated they were. 

Unfortunately, there is always more to the story than you were told.  The breakup was probably at least partly his or her fault, and if you get involved you will find out about the real story the hard way, trying to deal with the same thing the previous person dealt with.  The reason they separated is probably because they were unwilling to make any changes in their behavior.  As they get older they become even less willing to change.  

Besides forcing one to live with those things another found so objectionable, getting involved with such a person leads to sexual sin resulting in jealousy by previous lovers, and occasional physical attacks and attempts to kill one.  In addition it brings the judgment of God on the person for his sin. 

To keep one from finding out the truth, this person will change their behavior and stories.  Only after getting involved do they show what they are really like. 

“Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.  Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!  I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.” (Proverbs 5:7-14)

By avoiding entanglement with a person one doesn’t know, it is possible to escape a lot of problems.  To get involved may result in loss of respect by others or a relationship with your family, or in a lifetime of being controlled by someone who doesn’t care about you.  It may result in the loss of everything you have earned trying to keep them happy or to settle after a divorce or breakup.  The constant squabbling and emotional stress can destroy one’s physical and emotional health.

Ultimately you will find yourself wishing you had listened to those who tried to warn you about promiscuous relationships.  You will regret the effect it has had on your life and realize how far it has taken you from where you wanted to be.

“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.  Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.  Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.  Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.  Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” (Proverbs 5:15-19)

Instead of running after somebody new, learn to be satisfied with what you already have.  Let your relationship with the mate you already have so others are less tempted to come onto you.  If a man or woman cheated on their first husband or wife, what makes you think they won’t cheat on you?  Do you really want to share them? 

While your relationship may not be perfect, if you are willing, both can learn to enjoy it and be satisfied.  The best relationships are the result of learning to accept and enjoy each other.  There are no perfect people out there, and looking for a perfect relationship will keep you from ever having a good one.

“And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?  For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.  His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.  He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” (Proverbs 5:20-23)

Knowing there are no perfect relationships, why would a person waste their time looking for one?  Especially since we know that God will judge every person, and he knows exactly what they have done.  Their own actions are the cause of most of people’s problems.  A person who doesn’t learn will die spiritually and emotionally, going into ever worse problems as a result of his refusal to learn.   

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Living a Consistently Good Life

Proverbs 4:1-27

“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.  For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.  For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.

He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.  Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.  Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.” (Proverbs 4:1-6)

Solomon was the only surviving son of David and Bathsheba and was younger than many of David’s other children.  As a result, he had received special treatment and love from both parents, and had been specially groomed to be the next king by David.  As a result, when God offered Solomon anything he wanted, he asked for the wisdom to properly lead Israel in II Chronicles 1:10-11.   It is that teaching by David that Solomon wants to pass along to his son about the importance of making wise decisions. 

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.  Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.  She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” (Proverbs 4:7-9)

Of all the things a person can obtain, wisdom is the most valuable, but its value is limited by the information it has to work with.  If a person will focus on understanding the principles of how things work and how to apply them, his advice will be sought and he will receive the respect of those around him.   

“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.  I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.  When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.  Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” (Proverbs 4:10-13)

The starting place to get wisdom is with one’s parents or other teachers.  By examining the results of their lives and following the things that have worked well, one can confidently approach life without fear of making a mess of things.  He will not have to take a tiny step and wait to see what happens before taking another one. 

I have no idea where it originated, but there is an old saying that when a person stops learning, he is dead, even though it may take a while for him to figure it out.    Solomon says that one’s life depends on the things he learns so he should learn as much as he can. 

“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.  For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.  For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.” (Proverbs 4:14-17)

There is a tendency to adopt the standards of those around us, and once a standard has been broken it is far easier to do it again.  The best way to prevent an unacceptable action from becoming a habit is to never start.  The wicked devote their energies to doing things to cause others difficulties and hurt, basing their own importance on their ability to affect and control other people.  They take pleasure in being able to bully or physically hurt someone and are disliked and avoided by most people. 

“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.” (Proverbs 4:18-19)

People who are fair and treat others well are like bright light that penetrates to the darkest corners, making everything better around them.  Wicked people are like a black hole, sucking all the pleasure from the world around them, to the point where they don’t understand that most of their problems are the result of their actions and attitudes.

“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:20-23)

By remembering and practicing the things Solomon is teaching a person can ensure the most satisfactory and healthy life possible.  Gaining control of one’s attitude is crucial because it will ultimately determine most of the things that one does and how he reacts to things around him.  In Luke 6:45, Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” 

“Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.  Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.  Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:24-27)

One of the first indicators of and evil heart attitude is what a person says, because as the last part of Luke 6:45 says, “…of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”    An uncontrolled mouth causes constant trouble, both for its owner and for those who hear it.  The second thing to cause trouble is the failure to stay focused on what is right.  Just as a driver who isn’t paying attentionto his driving may cause an accident, a person who isn’t paying attention to what he is doing may cause himself a lot of trouble.  He needs to learn to make sure exactly what he is doing, and not be veering back and forth like a drunk driver.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beginning Guidelines

Proverbs 3:13-35

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.  For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.  She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.  Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” (Proverbs 3:13-18)

Wisdom, or good sense produces more than any amount of money can buy, and the person who has it has reason to rejoice.  Not only will it result in good health for the man who has it, but it will enable him to gain earthly belongings and a high level of respect.  It provides a sense of confidence and competence and eliminates feelings of inferiority that cause depression for many people.
“The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.  By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.” (Proverbs 3:19-20)

The world did not evolve through a series of random occurrences, but was the result of an intelligent design by God.   Reproduction of more complex life forms requires the mating of two like creatures.  Evolution would require that not just one but two of each surviving species evolve close enough to the same place that they could mate and produce offspring.   The odds against a single animal evolving as a result of random processes and surviving long enough to reproduce are astronomical, but the odds against two of them occurring in the same vicinity at the same time are beyond the realm of possibility. 

The orbits of the various planets and stars were planned to keep them in their proper places and regulate the amount of heat and light received so that things neither burned up nor froze.   Earthquakes and volcanoes constantly release nutrients into the ocean to be utilized by plankton and other sea plants, or are released into the atmosphere to be used by the land plants.  The clouds carry moisture inland where it condenses and waters the land plants, enabling them to grow and produce food for the animals.  It is a very carefully designed system.  It took a great deal of wisdom to create a functional world.

 “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.  Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.  When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:21-24)

Like muscular development or various skills, wisdom and discretion or discernment fade unless they are used and practiced frequently.  If they are practiced regularly, they will keep us from making missteps or self-destructive behavior.  They will eliminate worries and sleepless nights, leaving one at peace with himself and his surroundings.   With that in mind, Solomon lays out individual proverbs or advice to practice.

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.  For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)

When others suffer the consequences of their actions the wise person has no reason to fear or worry because he has not done the same things.  Instead, he should trust God to protect him from the consequences of other people’s sin. 
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.  Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Proverbs 3:27-28)

Don’t let concerns about what might happen in the future keep you from doing what you should at the present time.  If you owe somebody something, pay what you can without quibbling or stalling for time.  It is rightfully their money.  Give it to them. 

“Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.  Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.” (Proverbs 3:29-30)

Don’t take unfair advantage of your neighbor’s trust, and don’t start fights with people who have not done you wrong. 

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.  For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.  The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.  Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.  The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” (Proverbs 3:31-35)

Don’t even think about copying the guy who takes advantage of other people.  People who refuse to follow the rules are an abomination that makes God sick and he puts a curse on them.  He blesses those who do what is right.  He despises those who are arrogant and think they are better, but encourages those who are not so proud.  Those who are wise and recognize God’s authority but fools who think they are so great will embarrassed when the time comes.