Archive for January, 2011

January 17.11 ethot

Proverbs 25:8 (8-20) “Do not go hastily to argue your case;

The situation or case this verse presents is that of being to quick to threaten a neighbor with a lawsuit. Some people believe the only way to get anything is to be intimidating, because everyone is out to get you or their own. Like it’s a dog-eat-dog world we live in.

The writer advises that before we open our mouths and stick our foot in it, we should find out what the real situation is, v. 8. Once we know what really is happening then we can approach our neighbor with the idea of being helpful, because if we attack without knowing the truth of the matter we’ll only draw attention to our own foolishness, v. 10.

Although the following verses talk a lot about how to talk to each other, depending on whom you’re talking to, the point remains that how we handle conflict with our neighbors is a reflection of the kind of person we are. That perception sticks to peoples’ minds and is hard to get rid of. Since, as believers, we represent the Lord in this life we should be very careful how we open our mouths.

Deference involves putting a hold on my freedom in order not to hurt God and those He has called me to serve.

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January 14.11 ethot

Proverbs 25:2 (1-7) “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Apparently king Hezekiah was more of a bookworm than a warrior, v. 6. As a young man in the palace he apparently discovered much of the old scriptures that were the basis of the kingdom he lived in, but which no one was following. In those books he found some of the writings of king Solomon. Chapters 25 through 29 are those writings he found.

I wondered if v. 2 was just stating that as God had gone ahead and hidden those books from the previous kings who weren’t interested in them any way, it was for him to find them. If it is a glorious thing when a person discovers the truth of the words of God, then it was to God’s glory for Him to hide them from others for the person discovering.

The question would then be why did God hide His word from those men? He hid it because they would have destroyed it given the chance. Whether by burning copies of it or questioning its trustworthiness many have tried to destroy the word of God in one way or another.

Hezekiah was one of the few honored kings of either Judah or Israel because he dedicated himself to following God’s word. If you’re looking to be honored being in the right place at the right time is not it, it’s following the word of God as best you can when and where you can.

Decisiveness involves maintaining our commitments in spite of the distractions of life.

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January 13.11 ethot

Proverbs 24:17 (1-34) “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,

Despite the great temptation, it is better not to rejoice, v. 18.

What this verse is showing us is this perspective of life as a game. Life is not a game! Life is an opportunity to recognize the God of this universe and what He has done for us. It is an opportunity to accept His offer of salvation from a sure death.

Once we accept that offer we remain on this earth to help others find what we have. If they refuse, it is on them and it is a shame. Some of those who will reject God’s offer will stand against us to make our lives hard, if not next to impossible.

Yet, we are not competing for souls against each other. There is no score being kept as to who will win the most and who will loose the least. There are only those whom the Lord has called out. In a sense our job is to discover who they are and who knows if one of them might not be one who thought he was our enemy, Acts 9.

Compassion involves seeing the hand of God in the life of others and becoming part of that solution.

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January 12.11 ethot

Proverbs 23:31 (20-35) “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly;

One thing we can say about the writer of this verse is that he had personal knowledge of what the wine can do.

Verse 29 describes a person full of sorrow, depressed by their own life’s circumstances, and looking for a distraction, something that can get their minds to stop thinking about their trouble for a while. Of course the only problem with drinking to forget your troubles is that it does nothing to solve you troubles. When you sober up, your situation may have only been made worse, v. 21.

So, it is likely that the writer tried drowning his sorrows or at least tried to see if getting drunk actually helped in any way to ease or solve a person’s dilemma and discovered that drinking not only didn’t help but actually hurt. This is another argument for why the wise don’t get mixed up with alcoholic beverages.

Besides, a distraction is not what you should look for when you’re conflicted. What you should look for is solutions, implement them and move on.

Decisiveness involves maintaining our commitments in spite of the distractions of life.

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January 11.11 ethot

Proverbs 23:1 (1-19) “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you,

I think that we can all agree that the injunction here is to make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you close a deal.

Even today politicians use the scenario of a meal to make deals with their political opponents. There is nothing wrong with getting everyone relaxed in such a setting so as to be able to make your presentation. But the overriding sense of the verse is that to agree to eat with that person is to agree with their terms of an accord.

I know that this verse can be read negatively, meaning never sit down with a politician and eat because you’re agreeing to something you may not want (because all politicians are bad). But what is being brought to the table that is negative is not from the politician so much as it is from you. Verses 3 & 17 indicate that if we go looking for something that is against the way of God, we’re the problem.

So, in making any decision with another we need to carefully consider their motives and our own motives. We need to be honest with ourselves about our real motives.

Cautiousness involves seeing the consequences of speaking or acting without thinking.

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January 10.11 ethot

Proverbs 22:29 (22-3:14) “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Those obscure men are described in chapters 22 & 23 as: robbers of the poor (v. 22), men given to anger (v. 24), those who give pledges (v. 26), those who move the boundary line (vs. 28 & 23:10), those who weary themselves to gain wealth (v. 23:4), those who swindle (v. 6), those who are fools (v. 9), the undisciplined (v. 13).

Each one of these thinks they’re doing what is necessary to achieve recognition before men. But the wise teacher tells us the opposite, that to achieve any proper recognition at all we must learn to do what we’re supposed to do well.

Stealing recognition is wrong and so is throwing a tantrum for it. Cheating for it is stealing, like swindling (offering what you don’t have to offer or don’t intend to give). There is nothing wrong with adjusting your skill to meet the market demand, but that demands self-discipline. Skill is not something that happens to you, it’s not an, either you have it or you don’t. Skill is something you need to work on for years, it needs to be developed; it requires discipline.

Decisiveness involves making a commitment now to insure success later.

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January 7.11 ethot

Proverbs 22:18 (17-22) “For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.

In this short passage are given the best reasons for memorizing scripture. Any one of us who has decided to live out our faith will be called on to explain why and the best answers come from God’s word. Besides, it pleases Him to hear us using His word, Proverbs 25:13!

But it’s not any scripture we should remember, it’s those portions that have actually helped us to become more like Christ that have the most meaning to us, it makes them easier to remember. Those verses that we spend time on trying to make sure of the changes they are requiring of us are the ones that seem to stick.

So, when Peter tells us that we’re always to be “ready to make a defense”, it’s not so much of a doctrine as it is of our practice in life, 1 Peter 3:15. As we apply the truths of God’s word to our lives there will be changes and others will see and desire them for themselves. It’s at that time we need to be able to quote a simple verse and explain how it changed your life.

Courage involves learning that my words and actions when based on the authority of Scripture please God.

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January 6.11 ethot

Proverbs 22:6 (1-16) “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, children are like sponges, well, it’s true. We plop them in front of the TV unattended and then wonder where they learned this or that.

That part of the verse that says “in the way he should go” can be understood in two ways. First it can mean that there is a way he shouldn’t go and so shouldn’t be taught that. The second way to understand it is to evaluate what the temperament of the child is and use it to train the child.

I think that most of us who have already done some parenting know that both these views are right. First and second born are very different and can’t be taught in the same way. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have to follow the same rules, just that your approach to each must be sensitive to their personalities.

Verse 15 reminds us that no matter what the temperament of the child there are things they need to learn to set aside, and sometimes the only way to get them to understand is to suffer the consequences of poor behavior. Letting them suffer when they’re young will help them avoid more serious foolishness later.

What we don’t realize is that our children are going to learn from us one way or another, so we need to take the initiative and become the person we want them to be first.

Decisiveness involves making a commitment now to insure success later.

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Proverbs 21:19 (1-31) “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.”

The second question yesterdays and today’s verse bring up is what do you do if you find yourself in a marriage with a “contentious and vexing” spouse?

Although I’m not a trained marriage counselor it would seem to me that the focus of the relationship is off. Marrying because you feel good about each other and want to raise each other’s children is not the only reason for that relationship.

Paul talks a lot about this relationship in Ephesians 5:22-33 where he explains how as we study what Christ has done for the church the husband and wife must do for each other in the marriage relationship. So, as Christ loved the church so should we also love each other!

Once the relationship has been established love means doing everything we can, sacrificially, to improve the spiritual condition of each other. For the two this means letting go of certain expectations of each other so as not to damage your witness in the world and in the church. It doesn’t matter how reasonable some of your expectations maybe.

Humility involves understanding how easy it is to deceive ourselves into thinking that there are things we do and don’t deserve.

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Proverbs 21:9 (1-31) “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house with a contentious woman.”

When I read this verse what popped into my mind was the movie “Taming of the Shrew”.

The first question, this statement bring up especially in our day, is what can I do to avoid marrying a contentious woman? I think one of the reasons for the statement, which is repeated in v. 19 (for emphasis?), is so something can be done about it.

What dating services have done for us today is help couples to think through compatibility issues more carefully. Not compatibility in the worldly sense, but in the spiritual sense. I mean that young men should be working on discovering what their spiritual mission is form God, while young women should be learning how to be helpers, Genesis 1:26, 2:18, 1:27&28. Both need to be spiritually mature enough before marriage can seriously be considered.

Of course if you’re active in a church social group you may be growing up with you future spouse, this is how it all worked out for many of the couples in our church. In this case parents have the advantage of keeping an eye on their kids through the eyes of the Youth Workers.

Faith involves resting all my hopes for tomorrow on God’s proven promises rather than on man’s faltering word.

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