Archive for November, 2010

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday! As the Christmas season begins in earnest for everyone, I want to take a short break from Proverbs for the month of December. The last post finished chapter 15, so we are about halfway through Proverbs.

I have felt the inspiration to send some thoughts/observations on the people involved in Chapter 1 of the Greatest Story Ever Told. I called the Nativity Chapter 1, since the greatest story is about Jesus’s life and ministry here on earth. This will be similar to the short study we went through on the armor of God.

There might not be an email everyday as I share about these participants, but the Nativity is a fascinating event, unlike any other in the annals of human history.

We’ll start later this week; in the meantime, have a blessed day!


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Verse 33: “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.”

For those Star Wars fans who read this, you will remember Episode 5: Luke Skywalker sees a vision of Ben Kenobi telling him to go to Dagobah, to learn the ways of the Jedi from the great Jedi Master, Yoda. Upon crash-landing on Dagobah, Luke is greeted by a very short, unimposing, aged creature who claims to know Yoda. Taking Luke back to his home, this small alien seems oblivious to Luke’s impatience and frustration at trying to find Yoda, much to Luke’s consternation. It is not till Luke overhears the alien speak in a more authoritative tone (and speaking with Ben’s ghost), that Luke realizes he is in the presence of the very Jedi Master himself! His attitude immediately changes.

Our pride, ego, and arrogance often times get us in trouble…or at the very least, leave us with foot-in-mouth syndrome and the accompanying embarrassment. Solomon is stating this in no uncertain terms above. Do you wish to learn wisdom from the Source? Then you better fear (respect) the Source! You’d best come humbly, as the Lord does not look favorably on the proud. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Spirit: our triune God, the Three-in-One. He wants to be your friend and teacher, but before you can treat him like that…you have to acknowledge that…He…is…God! He is the LORD! And if you truly cannot think of anything else to thank Him for this Thanksgiving…thank Him that He is the great I AM.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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verse 27: “He who profits illicitly troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live.”

There are many stories about those who cut corners, who try ‘the easy way’ of making a ‘fast’ buck, who break the rules to turn a fast profit. Recent news in politics and in sports smack of illegal money. The plot lines of several recent police dramas on TV scream “torn from today’s headlines”! Sometimes those writers don’t have to create a fictitious story; they can just read the newspaper for their ideas! Those people who do choose to gamble with the odds soon find out that the consequences of their actions don’t just impact them…but their families as well.

Integrity seems to be a rare quality these days. Those who can stand honestly and resist the temptation to even give in a little (funny as it sounds, but bribes are sometimes seen as only “little” things by those who deal in them) will “avoid trouble” (Holman concordance on Proverbs, p. 247). So, why invite trouble in the first place?

Something to think about.

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Proverbs 15:23-26

verse 23: “A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!”

How delightful is a timely word?

When I was in high school, my best friend was a girl that I met when we were 4 years old. One of the few differences between us was our churches; I was Baptist, and she was Catholic. She invited me to meet her at her church one afternoon for a farewell party for one of their priests, who was leaving to go on an extended mission trip.

I showed up at their fellowship hall; not finding my friend immediately, I walked over to the refreshment area to get something to drink. I poured some yellowish liquid from a dispenser into a cup, and was about to take a sip, when my best friend came up behind me, very quickly, and whispered in my ear, “That’s beer!”. 🙂 Did I mention that I don’t drink alcohol (and was also very naive)? I very slyly put the cup down without drawing attention to myself, and whispered back, “ya’ll got anything I can drink?” She smiled and pointed me to where they were serving other non-alcoholic selections!

I took joy in my friend’s answer, because had I taken a gulp from that cup, you would have witnessed the classic spit-take and spewing of said drink…and that probably wouldn’t have gone over well! 🙂

A humorous story. However, the ability to say the right thing at the right time and “to give a wise, timely reply is highly valued in the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament” –Holman concordance on Proverbs, p. 210. Just remember Who the source of wisdom is today; you might have to be the communication device to deliver the message.

Something to think about.

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verse 19: “The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns, But the path of the upright is a highway.”

There are several thoughts that come to mind when I meditated on this verse. I’ve driven down highways and plowed through hedges (not with the car, mind you!). I read in my Holman commentary the reminder about how God blesses the upright. I’ve been a sluggard at times, too. But, I think I’ll share this memory God brought to my mind.

Back in college, I played in the university band. During the football season, we had an open Saturday in which there was no football game scheduled. Our trombone section decided to throw a social party. Our section leader had arranged for us to use an outdoor pavilion for the party, and we decided to meet there several hours before so we could get it ready. The majority of the trombone section arrived before the section leader only to discover that the pavilion was pretty much a covered slab with maybe one or two picnic tables…not exactly the facilities the majority of the section was expecting to throw a party with! So while we waited for the section leader to arrive, most of the group stood around grousing and complaining about the setup. I looked over to one side and found a broom….so I decided to start sweeping. I figured if we were going to have the party there anyway, I might as well start cleaning. It was a pretty long slab, but I kept sweeping at it while the others complained.

Eventually, one of the group noticed me sweeping and asked why I was doing it; that it was too huge a slab to sweep, and it was for naught anyway. I simply replied that if we were going to have the party there, we might as well get the area cleaned up; even if we didn’t have the party there, it was something to do besides stand around and complain. While that didn’t satisfy all the complainers, I like to think that maybe I got the attention of some of them. I had almost finished by the time the section leader arrived. Long story short, we did move to another location, but I was glad I did something constructive while we waited. Actually, what seemed like an insurmountable task to me (sweeping that slab) was more like an open highway than a hedge of thorns.

Something to think about today.

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verses 16-17: “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure and turmoil with it. Better is a dish of vegetables where love is, Than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”

“He sold his soul to the devil for (fill in the blank)”. How many times have you seen that plot device in TV, movies, and literature? The main character trades his soul for unlimited power, riches, fame, etc., for a while….and then realizes in the end that it wasn’t worth it when he has to spend eternity with the devil.

It comes down to a choice, doesn’t it? The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence…but it’s not until you jump over that fence, that you see the mean dog you have to share that yard with! I have seen management in workplaces; and even though it may pay more and have more prestige, I have also seen the hectic politics that go along with it (not too mention the stress!). I think I’d rather be non-management and be happy where I am.

Jesus never said the Christian walk is a bed of roses; He told us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. I’d rather go through this world (which we know is temporary) with Him, because I know I’m going to be in Heaven (which is eternity) with Him. It might not be an easy journey, but the I wouldn’t trade the destination for anything!

Have a blessed day!

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verse 13: “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”

I have a friend of mine who is a mortician. In his experiences in dealing with death and grief, he has told us stories about the human spirit. One interesting fact he has told us concerns elderly people, especially if they’re not in good health. More than often, they do not pass on or before a holiday, like Christmas. But just after the holiday, which usually is a joyous time when you see family…their will to live expires, and they pass on. It’s as if they hang on, the hope of that time together with loved ones keeping them going.

One of the worse things in the world to see is a broken heart, a broken spirit. No amount of acting or masking can hide it. On the opposite side of that coin, a cheerful heart is almost impossible to hide. I know when my wife is experiencing pain, she can smile and try to say that she is okay…but I can see it in her eyes. Likewise, when she is joyful, when she is singing and worshipping in choir at church…her eyes sparkle!

We also have a friend I met on a previous Carpenters trip, who is so full of life that her eyes shine…in fact, her nickname is “Bright Eyes”.

Is your heart cheerful? Give thanks to God! Are you suffering from a broken heart? Turn it over to the Great Physician, for only He can heal it.

Something to think about today.

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verse 3: “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.”

I used to enjoy watching the Droopy cartoons when I was a kid; actually, I still enjoy them as an adult! One of the classic ones had this unassuming, slow-moving, seemingly non-threatening dog (who often had to tell the viewer, “you know what, folks? I’m the hero.”) in pursuit of an escaped criminal (his villainous foil in the cartoons was often Wolfie, the cartoonish bad-guy wolf). No matter where “the killer” ran to, there was Droopy. No matter how many times he tied up, locked up, and imprisoned Droopy, the killer would run, finally stop, and turn around…and there he was again! No matter where the killer ran to….the woods, an apartment, an igloo at the North Pole, halfway around the world, he’d stop, turn around…and there was Droopy! Only finally in the end, when the killer gets tricked back into his prison cell, does he say, “I wonder if there was more than one of them?” He turns, only to sees dozens of Droopys in the hallway, saying “what do you think, brother?”

Now, all humor aside….there is only one God! He exists in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. No matter where you go in life, God is there. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-present. Many times when we get tired of trying to get our lives straight, we finally turn around…and God is there, waiting for us to come back to Him. To the sinner running from God, this might seem scary that you can’t get away from God. To the Christian, it is reassurance that you can’t get away from God. But there will come a day, when God no longer offers the gift of eternal salvation through His Son…and then it will be too late. Don’t let that day creep up on you, if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

Have a blessed day!

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verse 1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

No one likes their head “bitten off” by harsh words. The human response is normally to respond in kind. Today’s proverb is the advice on how to defuse that situation: a gentle word.

In football, there have always been accusations that some “referees are blind”…that they don’t know how to call a game. Yes, there are good officials and bad officials. One thing we, as high school football officials, were taught was to be honest; if you make a mistake, admit it. Many times, coaches feel like an official who blows a call just tries to lie and to cover it up.

Once, in a game, I whistled a play dead, because I thought I saw the ball-carrier dive across the middle of the line for the yardage for a first down. What I didn’t see was that the run up the middle was a beautiful fake play; the real ball-carrier was executing a sweep around the end of the line; it was this play that got the first down, and probably would’ve gotten the touchdown. Even though the home team with the ball was way ahead on the scoreboard, I had made a mistake, so I told my head official (the referee) this. He had wisely marked where the play ended. The coach came out, blowing and snorting mad, during a time-out to ask what happened. I looked him square in the eye and said, “Coach, I bought the fake. I blew the whistle. I screwed up.” His reaction was priceless; he froze in mid-expression, like something out of a cartoon. The last thing he apparently expected to hear was the truth! 🙂 He recovered, stammered a minute, and said, “well…it was a beautiful play!” To which I said, “Coach, it was a gorgeous play! But I messed up.” My referee administered the options resulting from the play; the coach chose to take the results of the play where it was blown dead, giving him a first down. The next play, the team scored a touchdown.

What could’ve been a shouting match was defused with honesty and a gentle reply. As a matter of fact, that coach and I later laughed about it during another time out.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath”.
Something to think about today.

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Proverbs 14:35

verse 35: “The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.”

When I read this verse, I think of:

    Joseph, who while even a slave, acted wisely and trusted in God. Potiphar rewarded him by giving him responsibility and authority in his household.
    The parable of the talents, and how the servants who invested wisely with what the master had entrusted to them, were rewarded even more. The servant who failed to invest wisely, found his talent taken away.
    My service to Him, and how I need to make sure I act wisely in His service, and do not bring shame upon the name of our Lord.

Something to think about today.

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