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...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13:24

  Often on these Wednesday nights I feel like I’m preaching to the choir. Rarely do we have a visitor, and some of you have been hearing me preach since the week you were born and even before. Many, many times I feel like I’m facing the wrong audience. The message should be preached more to lost people, to more young people or to newer Christians. And this is one of the blessings of our presence on the internet – our web page and Facebook page. At the very least, I can imagine a wider audience than the few of us who are here tonight. And I really need that reassurance tonight. I would be remiss not to address this verse, while going through the Book of Proverbs. But most of us no longer have small children over whom we are responsible. Or we are parents in homes where the principles of this verse are already working well. Ah, but there might be someone who will run into our website tomorrow, and profit from Solomon’s wisdom even if no one here hears anything new. With this in mind, I ask you to pray for our internet ministry. There really are people on the other side of the world, who read and respond to our web pages. Having said that, don’t assume that you won’t hear anything new or that you can’t learn from this verse. There has never been a child born – or born again – who has not been sinful – a sinner. Our natural selves are unrighteous and self destructive – it comes with the human...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13:10

  In chapter 6, the Spirit told us – “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.” First on this list of things which God hates is pride. As I have asked before, isn’t it a shame that it isn’t homosexuality or abortion – sins in which you and I have never participated? Why isn’t it a sin confined to the person whom we might be most quick to despise? Why does God hate something which rises so near to the top of our own depraved hearts? I wonder how many times I have been guilty of pride since the last time we met. I spent only a quick minute asking myself that question, because I didn’t really want to know the answer. I was guilty, or perhaps nearly so, when I was able to up load some sermons to our Facebook page. I don’t think I was as much proud of the messages as I was of my success at uploading them. And I was slightly proud of the fact I lost two pounds recently. But about how many other things have I been proud recently? Does God hate all my pride equally? And what about yours? Tonight, I have very little more for you than an incomplete Bible survey. My thoughts began last week when I read in verse 10 – “only...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13:7

  This theme is found all over Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Like many others, it is so common that it is easy to overlook. We need to teach ourselves to slowly and with meditation read the Word of God. The Holy Spirit may point out something new with a blessing hiding in it. I’ll let the Lord determine if this will be a blessing, but I was hit with something new in this verse. As I say, the Bible often speaks of “poor rich men” and “rich poor men.” I could pull examples and scriptures from throughout the Bible, but here are two from Revelation. Chapter 2, verse 9 – “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou are rich)….” Chapter 3, verse 17 – “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” There are obvious and subtle lessons in scriptures like these. One of which is that “richness” and “poverty” are relative terms. Many people of are wealthy by our standards, think to themselves that they aren’t rich enough. And many people with little of this world’s goods, realize that they could be a lot poorer. And yet, the world looks at both these people and says, “He is poor, and he is rich.” There are many scriptures dealing with the CONDITION of wealth and poverty. But it occurred to me yesterday that Proverbs 13:7 does not speak of the condition of one’s finances. This clearly speaks of the road towards wealth or poverty. “There is...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13:12

  There are many great and provocative statements among these proverbs. We could build a message around so many of them – some being stronger than others. Many are as obvious as the sun in our eyes, or the blast of a blizzard in our face. Yesterday, I jotted town five verses in this chapter which deserve our consideration. But I think I’ll just point to a few of them and move on. Verse 6 – “Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way.” Is “righteousness” in this verse personified – does it speak of the Lord with His arm around us, leading down the right path? Or assuming this person is a Christian, do this talk of Christian character? His heart won’t permit him to walk down the broad road. The “way” is not defined for us, but we have no trouble understanding what the word means. Verse 13 – “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.” Isn’t it interesting that Solomon didn’t explain what he meant by “the word”? I think that it is precisely how we use that word when speaking of the Word of God. The man who ignores or despises what God has revealed about Himself and about sin, shall be destroyed – he may or may not die young but eventually he will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Verse 20 is an oft quoted scripture – “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” We could think about the many different ways...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13:5

  It is the temptation of every preacher, including this one, to make his messages cute in some fashion. Particularly after 25 years or more in one place, there is a felt need to make the next sermon unique and attention-grabbing. But not only is that unrealistic and impractical, it is a dereliction of the minister’s duty. Sometimes the message should be excruciatingly simple, and at other times the text is so obvious that it becomes almost unnecessary to expound upon it. And such is the verse I’ve chosen for this evening. Do I need to remind any of us that we should hate, despise, abhor lying? Solomon makes a simple statement – “A righteous man hateth lying.” And the heart of every righteous person concurs. But that doesn’t mean we are always absolutely truthful, does it? Honesty demands that we admit – sometimes even the righteous are less than honest. In an attempt to drive an obvious truth even deeper into our souls, let’s ask a simple question: WHY does the righteous man hate lying? We don’t have to turn to the seminary professor for an answer. And we certainly don’t need or want the opinion of the psycho-analyst. All we need is a concordance and a little Spirit-guided meditation. Why does the righteous man hate lying? First, but without any specific order – the righteous man hates lying because he is righteous. Solomon is not talking about the child who is still intrenched in his all consuming self-centeredness. This is not the criminal avoiding the law, or the spy trying to carry out his nefarious assignment. This...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13

  As we proceed deeper into this book, we find more verses bearing themes we’ve already addressed. Common subjects are expressed in slightly different ways; some of them are more profound or provoking than their earlier cousins. For the most part there isn’t any need but to read them and continue forward. I will try to stop at each major subject, but I can’t promise complete success. Every week I read the chapter before us, asking the Lord for direction, and usually He highlights a verse or two, and I proceed from there. And yesterday, it was verse 9 which seemed to rise to the surface in my mind. “The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.” This is not one of those outstanding scriptures which we embroider onto silk, frame and nail on the wall over the picture of grandma and grandad. But it seems to me to be a sort of hinge which might be used to open some other doors. This is one of those special hinges which can swing in either direction. If we are going one way we push on it, and it opens into the sun light. But when we are going from the sunshine into the darkness, we still push on it because it swings in both directions. And either in the sunshine or the darkness, we find related scriptures. But first, consider the verse itself. “The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.” The Hebrew words “light” and “lamp” are different – not related linguistically...