The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:4

  You probably remember the ancient puzzle: “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” When I was a kid, and still entrenched in Darwinism, I mulled that over and over. “Let’s see, did the fish evolve into a bird or did that fish lay a hen’s egg?” Hum?????? Now that I have the Bible in my hand, and the Lord has graciously taught me to believe it, I have no problem. God created a full-grown bird and her mate, just as He did a fully mature man and soon thereafter Eve. That hen laid its first clutch of eggs and birds have been producing chicks for over 6,000 years now. Perhaps the more perplexing question is: “Who was the first brave human to eat the egg of a bird?” In our last lesson we looked at Proverbs 17:3 – “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.” I was tempted to skip over the next verse. With 14 more chapters and an average of 25 verses per chapter, there is the potential of 7 more years of these Wednesday evening devotionals. Would that be a problem? While, I don’t think so, others might disagree. But then again, if we only looked at every other verse, we’d still be here for years. The truth is, there are doctrinal and practical lessons in every one of the proverbs. There are exhortations and illustrations found in these verses which the preacher might never address if they weren’t placed before our eyes right here. You may say this or that verse doesn’t relate...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:3

  How much or how often do you think about Heaven? Young people rarely do, because they have so much earthly life before them – but they should. Older people – those saints who are nearing the end of their earthly lives, may consider it more often. But we should all “Set (our) affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Because Christ, who is our life, shall (soon) appear, then shall (we) also appear with him in glory.” Assuming you do, what do you picture when you think about Heaven? Isn’t most of our thinking primarily speculation, because so little is revealed in the Bible? There is a reason why people sometimes call Heaven “Glory,” with a capital G, as if it is a place. There has never been a place on this corrupted earth which has touched the hem of the glory of Heaven. It is, and forever will be, a place of absolute beauty. And contributing to that beauty will be absolute purity. It is sometimes said that there is no perfect church on earth, because you and I are members. Wouldn’t Heaven be less than Heaven – less than perfect – if we walked into it today? There are things necessary prior to our presentation to God in all His glory. And we can summarize those necessities in the word “purification” and by one definition of “refinement.” In eschatology we are told about periods and events of refinement. We have touched on a couple of these recently. As I suggested last Sunday, the purpose of the Tribulation – “Jacob’s Trouble” – will be...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 16:31, 33

  Verse 31: “The hoary head is a crown of glory.” The word “hoary” is so old that it’s hard to trace its origins. But I have read that it originally referred to ice. A hoary head is one with grey or whitening hair. Solomon says that a head full of grey or white hair wears a crown. It means that the person with that head has passed through a few years and many trials. He has earned some respect, just as if he was the man on the throne. But, the verse goes on, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, IF it be found in the way of righteousness.” If that elderly man doesn’t know or worship the Lord, then he doesn’t deserve respect in the area of faith. And yet he should be honored in family matters and perhaps in other areas as well. I hope that this doesn’t come across as crass or totally insensitive: Mrs. Bert Craft had a cousin whose husband was a missionary to the Cameroons. As far as I know, he was a Baptist, trying to start churches in Africa. The picture I saw showed him with his wife and 8 children – and he had a head full of white hair. Sadly, he didn’t get along with the Crafts when it came to the doctrine of salvation by grace. He even apparently said that he didn’t believe in the sovereignty of God. But I would guess he said that under duress and in special circumstances. Anyway, yesterday or the day before he was shot in the head and killed....

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:26-27

  The year is 1842; the place is the Congo. A Christian family is pushing into the jungle to join a pioneer missionary who is working in the interior. We might argue that no Christian family should be doing this work, because Biblical missions were done by single men working in teams, but that was not usually the practice two centuries ago. The trip requires several weeks, passing through very dangerous territory. There will be jungles interspersed with savannas and several rivers requiring dangerous crossings. The family has a capable guide and several Christian natives to help carry their luggage and supplies. The children are enthralled, looking at the beauty and seeing some of the animals, while not realizing the danger. The mother is fearful, because she understands some of those dangers including lions, hippos nad disease. The father is traveling with confidence, because he is heading out to do the work of God. One morning during the family devotions he shares with his family Proverbs 14:26-27 – “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence.” The other day, Judy was telling me about someone she thought had misdefined “the fear of the Lord.” It seemed to that person that this fear was some sort of terror. The implication was that if we are not properly afraid of God we should be even more fearful. The statement was made that respect or reverential...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:21

  There are six simple key words or ideas in this verse. They are “despise,” “neighbor,” “sin,” “mercy,” “poverty” and “happiness.” Probably no one here needs me to explain any of them. While that is true, it doesn’t mean we always personally apply the Word of God when we should. For example, there are dozens of Christian denominations which say they are patterned after the Bible, but if that were true, then why are there dozens of Christian denominations? We need to ask ourselves if we are consistent in the application of the words of Proverbs 14:21 to our lives. Do we have exceptions when it comes to certain people or certain kinds of people? Do we treat certain people differently? Does the Lord approve of our personal preferences and exceptions? One of the key words of this verse is “neighbour.” “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth.” You probably remember the day when a self-righteous lawyer came to Christ trying to entrap Him. “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ replied with a question of His own – “What does the law say?” “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all they strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” And then he asked, “But who is my neighbor?” Christ answered with the story about the good Samaritan. Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is not limited to the families who live on either side of my house; across the fence and across the street. In fact, if...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:17

  I thought that I had dealt with the subject of the first half of this verse already, but I was mistaken. It was a small point in a message from Ecclesiastes, but with another theme in mind I only touched it. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says – “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” Not that it is significant, but the Hebrew word used in Ecclesiastes is different from the one here. And yet anger is anger no matter which word we use. Let’s say you are trying to tell someone what the Bible says about sin and salvation. Immediately that other person blasts you in the face, calling you a “hypocrite.” Fueled by the man’s anger, your own anger is ignited and you explode with an inappropriate reply. You are justified in your anger aren’t you? The man lied; he accused you of sin; he defamed you. But is your anger any less wicked than his? There are many synonyms for anger – “passion,” “irritation,” “resentment,” “annoyance or “wrath” and “rage.” Whatever word we use, it boils down to “anger,” and the Bible has much to say about that subject. But our two Hebrew words approach the subject differently. For example, the word used in Ecclesiastes speaks more of the heart than of outward actions. And this takes us to the words of condemnation from the Lord Jesus. The omniscient God knows EXACTLY what is going on inside that soul of yours. You may try to explain or justify your outburst, but the Lord knows the real source of...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:15

  One of the problems with the proverbs in this book is the obvious simplicity of so many of them. You’d think that would not be a problem, but it is. Because, when we think we know a subject thoroughly, we don’t take the time to refresh ourselves in it. We have sipped so many thousand glasses of water that it doesn’t appeal to us any more. Now the water we drink must contain a lemon, or some bubbly carbon, something else. But the reality is, we need the water whether it has been flavored or not. And our digestive system probably ignores the flavor and feasts on the pure H2O. I can’t tell you anything about Proverbs 14:15 which most of you don’t already know. But that doesn’t mean either of us have stopped lately to sip slowly of the truth which is here. “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” How should we apply the two truths which are here? Here are a few suggestions. “The simple believeth every word.” Consider the word “simple.” and the simple truth it describes. The Hebrew word is used 19 times and we have it translated “simple” on 15 occasions. It is one of those morally neutral words – it doesn’t necessarily describe someone negatively. For example, David says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. “The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me,” indicating that he was simple. “The entrance of thy words giveth...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:14

  As a young Christian, I heard the word “backslider” so often, I assumed it was found in every book of the Bible. It is not. The word “backslider” is found in this one verse only. I will admit however that the related word “backsliding” is a bit more common – It is used 16 times. But it is never used of the Christian who has slipped into sin. It is always in the Old Testament and almost always in connection with Israel. But here it is. Interestingly, this “backslider” is not related to the Hebrew word describing “backsliding Israel.” The original word is used 14 times and is translated “backslider” once, but “turned” 8 times and “go back,” or “turn back” 5 times. Despite the differences, we shouldn’t have any problem understanding the meaning. A “backslider” goes back or turns away – and apparently he turns away from the Lord. So were all those references early in my Christian life appropriate? I think that perhaps they were. Despite its rarity, and since it is a word common in some circles, I’ve decided to explore this verse just a bit. Let’s consider 2 men, 2 ends, and then 2 other ends. There are two kinds of people mentioned in this verse. And for the sake of a lesson lets just assume they are both Christians – but that isn not necessarily the case. We’ll start with that assumption this evening, because before someone can “backslide” he has to be at some elevated point. And before someone can turn his back on God, he has to facing the Lord in...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:13

  For the last month there has been quite a bit of hubbub along Spokane’s Monroe Street bridge. It seems that particular the bridge is one of the favorite suicide sites in the city. But a woman, after hearing about a similar situation in England, began posting notes along the railings of the bridge, trying to discourage people from jumping. The messages have been declaring things like, “You are not alone,” “People care about you,” “Suicide is not the answer” and so on. However, someone has been ripping down those signs, while this woman stubbornly keeps putting them back up. Some people have accused her of littering, while others have praised her. Of course, not every discouraged or depressed person goes so far as to consider suicide. Multitudes just “grin and bear it” so to speak. But the fact is, there are great numbers of Americans who dislike their lives – even hate their lives. It is one of the reasons why this country is filled with bars and brothels, drug dens and rehab centers. Some of the denizens of these places, and millions of others, just keep smiling and laughing at the latest jokes, while their hearts are truly unhappy. Solomon describes much of our society when he says, “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.” Not only is this true of the wicked sinful men, but it is also common among religious people and even Christians. WHY is that? Before I try to answer, please note some background material from here in this verse. In his usual poetic manner...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:12

  As I considered a text for tonight’s devotion I looked at this verse several times. It is one to which we refer very often, and yet I have never preached from it. I considered skipping over it in our current study because its meaning is so obvious. Is there anything about this scripture which you should have not already seen? Is there anything here which most Christians do not already know? I suppose these are not questions I can answer on your behalf – so maybe there IS something here you’ve never considered. For me, I think I’d just feel guilty if I didn’t shine a spot-light down upon it for a few minutes. But how can I make these next few minutes different or special? I wasn’t sure. Then, my mind fell upon an old homiletic trick – alliteration, but I came up with nothing. And then I found five words all ending in with the same two letters – “al.” I used to call that “alliteration,” but when I double checked, I found out that I was wrong. Alliteration only refers to words which begin in the same way – “instruct,” “inspire,” “incite.” Words ending the same way are examples of “homoioteleuton” – (hom-eo-tay-lee-ton). I am going to use the words “individual,” “intellectual,” “migrational,” “eventual” and “terminal” to take apart this scripture and bring to back together again. And now I know there IS at least one thing that you have might learned tonight. Notice that like many scriptures, this speaks to the INDIVIDUAL. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:10

  Ironically, one of the problems with modern social technology is the isolation which it creates. You’ve probably heard or read articles about this, so I will only point to it and move on. People have several hundred “friends” on Facebook and others on Twitter or other social media. Some may spend hours every day tweeting, tagging, messaging and electronically chatting. But with every hour we spend on our phones there is an hour lost in true fellowship with people. With more technological contact with others, we spend less time in their presence, less touching, less listening to their true voices, listening to their hearts and emotions. A smiling emoji is not the same as a smiling face or the warmth created by glancing into some’s eyes. And yet at the same time, when two friends (lovers) live side-by-side in the same house for 25 years, and they know their partner better than any other person in the world, they will never truly and completely know the soul of that other person. The Bible says that we can’t fully know OUR OWN hearts, let alone the heart of anyone else, no matter how close we are to them. There are traumatic events in our lives, which while the details may be shared with our partner, the emotions or the emotional damage cannot be felt by any other living person. Each of us are like quarter inch pebbles in a mountain stream. Along with many others, we are in the same current, and the water around us is the same temperature. The branch of a tree floats down stream and...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:6

  I suppose there could be many qualities by which some people would like to be known. Someone might, for example, want to be remembered as beautiful. Another might want to be known as kind, generous, forgiving, loving or intelligent. Intelligent – what is intelligence? If you could be known as either smart or wise, which would you choose? Do you know the difference between intelligence and wisdom? Which is the better? I hope that you would choose wisdom. I realize that this verse appears to blend the concepts of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. But in his typical poetic fashion I believe Solomon in this case uses either “knowledge” or “understanding” as a synonym of “wisdom.” “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.” What he says is obvious, but for the sake of our devotional for this evening, let’s break it down and apply it. Where is wisdom to be found? That depends on the variety of wisdom being sought. Let’s imagine that some northern Asian country is blustering about destroying the United States. Some people might advise the president to nuke that country back into the stone age. But another more wise man might point out that the fall-out, nuclear and otherwise, might hurt us. So he devises some non-military strategy to silence the threats and cool the animosity of that other country. I know it’s hard to imagine, but there is such a thing as political wisdom. A counselor might have some wise words to bring together a pair of friends who have had a falling away. And...

Why We Will Not be Participating – Ephesians 3:21

  When my wife made a stop at the church one day last week, she found an invitation stuck in the door. It announced the “Franklin Graham, Decision America, Pacific Northwest Tour.” Tomorrow night at one of the larger venues in Spokane, Graham, supported by singer Jeremy Camp, is going to preach his Protestant version of the gospel. Surprisingly, I knew nothing about this meeting. Usually, when this sort of thing comes to town I get information a year in advance. I am invited to planning meetings and prayer meetings, but not this time. Perhaps our reputation has protected us from the earlier invitations. But the last minute, in the hopes that we might relent, we were “personally” summoned. As I said last Sunday, I am not encouraging you to go. There is absolutely no good reason to go. If you want to evangelize your friends bring them here, not to hear Franklin Graham. 40 years ago, a similar meeting took place in Lethbridge, where I was pastoring at the time. Out of curiosity, one night I attended, just to see what it was like – the Holy Spirit made me miserable. I knew that I was not where He wanted me to be, and I feared someone would recognize me. Even if I had donned a fake mustache, dark glasses and strange clothes, I would not have been comfortable. I know that my reasons are not considered reasonable by most Christians these days. These are days of inclusivism and ecumenicity – at least when it comes to evangelism. Anything less than a reasonably ecumenical mind is considered to...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:1

  Here in verse 1 we have another reference to someone who is “foolish.” It surprised me to learn that this is only the fifth time the word “foolish” has been used in Proverbs. I thought it was in every chapter several times – but it was a trick of the eye and mind. We have read the words “fool” and “fools” which have come up nine times each before now. The specific word “foolish” is actually found only slightly more than fifty times throughout the Bible. As I read through them, I noticed they were used in several, slightly different ways. The majority of verses speak of “foolish” sons, daughters and nations. Sometimes they were just descriptions – “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” In addition to these sometimes the word suggests something deeper than a simple description. Sometimes it speaks of the person’s true nature – his character. Sometimes the word “fool” is followed by the word “is.” “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.” “A foolish son is the calamity of his Father.” The first verse in this chapter is different. This time the word “foolish” goes somewhere; it leads us along. Did you notice that when I read this verse last week, I felt obligated to try to explain? When I said, “Every wise woman buildeth her...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:23

  In Matthew 20 the Lord Jesus gives us one of the Kingdom of Heaven parables. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard….” This is a parabolic lesson about various professing Christians and serving God. “When even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.” What if this was NOT a parable and we were asked to take the lesson at face value? Is Luke 10:7 from a parable when it says “The labourer is worthy of his hire”? Again the Lord is talking about His servants, but this verse is in the midst of clear instructions – there is no parable involved. What if Matthew 20 was not a parable at all, but a plain statement about the nature of God’s kingdom? “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard….” The Bible from Genesis to Revelation says much about hard work. And Proverbs includes many thoughts about this subject, two of which are found in this chapter. “In...