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Sunday, October 8, 2017

PROVERBS 6:9-11




"How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
'A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest'--
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man."



I married an industrious man, one who is a hard-worker.  In the last many years, he worked two full-time jobs to provide for his family.  We had felt the compelling urge of the necessity of buying our own home instead of continuing to live in a parsonage.  God blessed.  Now in retirement, we still have a roof over our heads and the $200 a month retirement for twenty-five years of service as a pastor in our previous denomination.  Whoopie!  It's a good thing he took it upon himself to provide a little more than that.  Now in retirement, sleep may elude him as he is so used to get-up-and-get-going (while I am still sleeping).  His relished early mornings are still dedicated to studying the Word in Greek and Hebrew and looks for ways to serve.  


Then there is me.  He runs circles around me.  I am definitely the tortoise instead of the hare.  Instead of just sleeping, I read and read and read.  Please tell me these verses don't apply to that.  It would take an armed man to take my books away from me! 

When filling out paperwork for my upcoming surgery, I again had to fill out the blanks that ask my employment and hand them over to someone who is gainfully employed.  Once again I write, "housewife."  That is an archaic  foreign language to most of our world which implies laziness.  It is not the place to write about my autoimmune-limited lifestyle or to explain what keeps us occupied. Imagine us in our sixties, still having a teenager at home: that is like riding herd on a cat; even with the both of us, at times it's a little exhausting.  Instead of working myself to the nubbins to take care of him, my job is to round him up and teach him to do life-tasks that will propel him to independence.  Often it would be easier to do it myself instead of being his supervisor.  


Matthew Henry writes, "Diligence in business is every man's wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others or a scandal to the church.  The ants are more diligent than slothful men.  We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects and be shamed by them.  Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people.  Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveler; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted.  All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls.  How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness !...shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?


Gil's Exposition of the Entire Bible says, "It is always high time for the sinner to awake out of sleep, and arise from the dead; and for the drowsy saint to arise out of his lethargy."



Me immortalized!


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Saturday, October 7, 2017

PROVERBS 6:6-8


"Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which having no chief, officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest."


Proverbs 6:30:24-25

"Four things are small on earth
(ants, conies, locusts, lizards),
But they are exceedingly wise:
The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer..."


If you've observed an ant, they at times are the most determined to breach the thresholds in order to have access to that crumb that calls their name.  Ants are not my worst nightmare, but at times their presence is not appreciated.  Have you fought the ant wars, an invasion?  When the rain begins, they will be knocking at my door desiring to come in and feast.  Yet, the proverb tells us to observe her ways.  Imagine the author of the proverb sitting on his throne watching an ant carrying a crumb upon her back in a steady march like a soldier in a conquering army.



It is a reminder to not be a sluggard.  Okay, guilty as charged.  I operate on a slow perk and am blessed to have a partner in this life who delights in serving and spoiling me.  While I have been typing away, he has swept the floors, and cleaned out the fireplace to make it ready for the fall.  Yesterday, he made a mean pot of beans (slow-cooked with onions, chopped tomatoes, green chilies, and bacon) and served it along with cornbread.  O, the joys of retirement!  He's a keeper.  


Another reminder to sluggards...

"if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.
For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, 
doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.  Now such persons we command
and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread."
(II Thessalonians 3:10-12)


I don't know about your house, but when a child comes home from school,
one of the first things that is said is, "I'm hungry!  When will dinner be ready?"
And yes, we have quoted this verse to him as a nudge to get his chores done.
We live in a hunger-driven world.  It is an unrelenting motivation to get thee to  the kitchen!


The only harvest we will have this year will be one single, lonely tomato grown on a tree-like vine,  pomegranates bowing down the limbs of the tree and with perhaps a handful of lemons or oranges as the year winds down.   Yet, this time of year is ripe with the image of a harvest.  





It's about preparing food.  One of our favorite fall dishes is the creamy potato soup (red potatoes, celery,  onions slow cooked in a crock pot then topped with cream and grated cheese, sauted chopped ham, sprinkled with chopped green onions).  There is nothing like the crisp bite of an apple, sometimes brought to the table as a salad (chopped apples, walnuts or pecans, cran-raisons,  chopped celery, a touch of mayo dressing).  Another favorite is pea salad (a layer of chopped lettuce, frozen organic petite peas, chopped red onions, spread of a mixture of sour cream and mayo, sprinkled with crumbled bacon).  But an absolute favorite is the last of the harvest of okra sliced and coated with cornmeal and fried).  Need I go on?  


Be like an ant.  Prepare your food.  Gather ye harvest while ye may.







Friday, October 6, 2017

PROVERBS 6:1-5




"My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given (clapped your palms) a pledge for a stranger,
If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand (palm) of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to our eyelids;
Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler."


"Snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth."

Open mouth, put in foot.

Your word is your bond.
Need wiggle room?
Do this then:
humble yourself,
importune, beg your neighbor,
Do not sleep, nor slumber.
Deliver yourself.


I think we've all been there before at sometime in our lives.  That's why Solomon gives this advice.
Adam Clarke says, "neighbor; i.e. any person...Striking or shaking hands when the mouth had once made the promise, was considered the ratification of the engagement: and thus the man became snared with the words of his mouth...Continue to press him for whom thou art become surety, to pay his creditor; give him no rest till he do it, else thou mayest fully expect to be left to pay the debt...If thou art got into the snare, get out if thou possibly canst; make every struggle and exertion (as the antelope taken in the net, and the bird taken in the snare would) in order to get free from thy captivity."

I ask myself, in what way do we get in this fix?  Have we ask for a loan without thinking it significant enough to pay back?  Have we borrowed something without bothering to return it?  These are good enough reasons to ruin friendships and neighborliness or family ties.  Are you a giver or a taker?  Have you offered to do something for someone, then neglected to follow through?  Who is your neighbor?


Let me take this to what is probably beyond what is meant, but is still meaningful.  Have you accepted something from the hand of God, have promised to be faithful yet have not kept your word?  Humble yourself.  Untangle yourself.  Do not sleep, but take care of your debt immediately. Pray.  Then let your words be few and your actions the measure of your bond.  


God is the One who is always faithful.  He keeps His word.  Didn't Jesus give the parable of the neighbor who opened the door because of the one who was knocking incessantly?  "In Luke 11:5-8, "Then He said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend, and goest to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'  I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.'"  That is an example of how to not fail in prayer, but to continue to persist asking before the throne.  


Yet, then again, He gave another parable about knocking when it was too late.  In Luke 13:24-28, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from...I tell, you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me all you evildoers.' In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth..."


But take it to heart, Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."



Thursday, October 5, 2017

PROVERBS 5:21-23

"For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He watches all his paths.
His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
He will die for lack of instruction,
Ad in the greatness of his folly he will go astray."

God sees, God knows, God cares.  But there is a warning in Hebrews 4:13,


"And there is no creature hidden from His sight,
but all things are open and laid bare
to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."


We just think we can cover up with fig leaves and hide in the bushes from God.  Nope.  Didn't work for Adam and Eve and won't work for us.  So, many go into denial: deny God is, deny God sees, deny we are accountable to "Him with whom we have to do."  If you feel hemmed in at times, maybe it is because God sees what is ahead in the path you are on and desires to lead you in another safer direction.  Don't get your hackles up thinking you know better than God.  Go down the right road.  


Adam Clarke says, "Most people who follow unlawful pleasures, think they can give them up whenever they please: but sin repeated becomes customary; custom soon engenders habit and habit in the end assumes the form of necessity; the man becomes bound with his own cords, and so is led captive by the devil at his own will."





He goes on to say about, "He shall die without instruction," that "In the line of my duty, I have been often called to attend the death-bed of such persons, where groans and shrieks were incessant through the jaculating pains in their bones and flesh.  And how have I hated instruction, and despised the voice of my teachers, in that terrific time is the unavailing cry.  Reader, whosoever thou art, lay these things to heart.  Do not enter into their sin: once entered, thy return is nearly hopeless...This is most likely (to die without instruction), and it is a general case; but even these may repent and live."

As a pastor who has worked with drug addicts and alcoholics, my husband ever so often gets the phone call from those inebriated ones who want to cry upon his shoulder and blame God for their condition or the consequences of their actions.  However, we live by the choices we make.  Call to Jesus in repentance, not sorrow for the consequences of your choices, but sorrow for the sin that breaks the heart of God.  Only He can break those chains that bind you in slavery to sin.




From the youngest age, the first game babies learn is peek-a-boo.  It must be engrained in us that we think that if we cover our eyes, no one can see us.  However ever since the age of accountability, we are only fooling ourselves. 




Playing peek-a-boo with God is not fun and games.  This not being child-like, it is being childish.  Time to grow up and accept accountability.  There's no pointing fingers, no blame game.  You know, when you point elsewhere, the rest of the fingers point right back straight at you.






Wednesday, October 4, 2017

PROVERBS 5:15-20


"Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
BE exhilarated always with her love.
For why should you, my son,
be exhilarated with an adulteress
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?"


This is romantic poetry by the author of the Song of Solomon.  Sadly, he is writing, do-as-I-say, not-do-as-I-do.  Learn by his bad example.  The man was obsessed not just with his multitude of wives, but with his harem of concubines.  I would think he knows not just the exhilaration of an adulteress and the embrace of the bosom of a foreigner, but that he knew looking back the regret of his springs being dispersed abroad poured out in the dirt of the street. 




After having become familiar with these words of Scripture, it is the mental picture I get when someone has poured out the valuable spring of living water on the street.  As a person with
Sjogrens, an autoimmune issue that causes dry mouth as well as other more serious symptoms, I  love cool water to drink and feel desperate if I don't have it at hand.  I can't take a bite to eat without it near me.  It is on my nightstand because sometimes it is hard to do something as simple as swallowing. Thus, I can't imagine how so much of the world does not have clean well water.   So, this picture of fresh well water thoughtlessly wasted strikes a chord with me of how precious this truly is.  Once it is poured out, there's not much hope getting it back.


The image is of someone throwing it away as if it was not something to cherish.  In early times, people would just call out before dumping their dirty dishwater and waste water out their windows above as those below jumped out of the way.  The streets stank from the sewage.  Pigs in the streets were the garbage collectors.  Rats were rampant.  Not a pretty picture.  The unfaithful spouse has heartlessly dumped it out without care for who else would be harmed.  


Yet, it is beautiful advice when he urges his son to "Drink water from his own cistern and fresh water from his own well...Let them be yours alone."  Be possessive.  Be protective.  It is not accidental, but purposeful, a choice.  This is a promise of life-giving water, a symbol of the Springs of Living Water Christ promised the woman at the well flowing from the throne of God.  



Saturday, September 30, 2017

PROVERBSS 3-14


"For the lips of an adulteress (strange woman) drip honey
And smoother than oil is her speech;
But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death,
Her steps take hold of Sheol.
She does not ponder the path of life;
Her ways are unstable, 
she does not know it.
Now then, my sons, listen to me
And do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her
And do not go near the door of her house,
Or you will give your vigor to others
And your years to the cruel one;
And strangers will be filled with your strength
And your hard-earned goods will 
go to the house of an alien;
And you groan at your final end,
When your flesh and body are consumed;
And you say, 'How I have hated instruction!
And my heart spurned reproof!
I have not listened to the voice of my teachers,
Nor inclined my ear to my instructors!
I was almost in utter ruin
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.
I was almost in utter ruin
In the midst of the assembly and congregation."



It is interesting that I come to this passage the week that Hugh Hefner has died.  Hollywood is moaning in grief and putting him up on a pedestal.  However, no one else has objectified women, has opened up the floodgates to glorifying prostitution as much as this man.  His reward, not his wrinkled old hide, is flaming hot!  Think of all the women he did harm to by putting her feet on a path to death of all that is good, clear down to the gates of hell.  She doesn't ponder the path to life; her ways are unstable, and she doesn't even know it.  Who profited?  Hugh Hefner, but only in a temporal, fleeting way.  He did not take any of his riches to the grave.


Not many young men were unexposed to his exploitation of women.  Even our little boys found magazines just over the fence in the field and were discovered looking at them at a very tender age; they were barely in school.  The smog of smut is pervasive in our society.  Whether finding a grandfather's or father's stash or sharing a buddy's contraband, it was easy to get.  Compound that objectification with crimes against women feeding rape and sex trafficking.  One thing always leads to another.  However, with the porn industry and every gadget offering access to the internet, it is almost impossible to oversee their use to keep innocent eyes protected.

In a more personal note, I met a woman who was almost thrilled to have a syphilis test this week. Why? It has been years since she had been married to a professing "Christian" who visited prostitutes on a regular basis.  However, all these many years later of fighting ill-health, after being treated by all kinds of doctors and specialists with one diagnosis after another, she came across the symptoms of syphilis.  It matches all her varied illnesses that confounded all her physicians.  So, since she had the likelihood of being exposed to the disease, she is waiting for the test results to come back.  It is treatable, to a great degree.  Sometimes we forget that not only the adulterer, but the innocent spouse also is left groaning with a flesh and body consumed.  I need not list here all the diseases that they could be exposed to.  Have you seen the pictures of treatment centers the military operated during war for the soldiers treated for syphilis?  The means by which they were exposed were not addressed, only the disease itself.  Sometimes it was winked at or encouraged for men to visit prostitutes in order to momentarily forget the terrible face of war.  


Excuse the language, but this is a picture of society today.
Oh, dear one, you are so much more valued by your Creator.


Sadly, adultery is so common place, prostitutes are not necessarily needed, only the "strange woman."  Yes, it takes two to tango, but women's bodies are abused the most.  Sex outside of marriage is so commonplace that it is hardly noticed any more, regardless of the devastation done to the innocent spouse and children.  Throw in porn and deviate behavior that is celebrated in society ,and it is out of control.  

But the good news is...



Friday, September 29, 2017

PROVERBS 5:1-2

"My son, give attention to my wisdom,
Incline your ear to my understanding;
That you may observe discretion
And your lips may reserve knowledge."


Give attention to my wisdom...
to my understanding.


It may seem that Solomon is unapologetically saying listen to me, give attention to me, as a father to son.  Yet it is wisdom speaking.  Do you understanding it?  If so, you will observe discretion, and have lips that reserve knowledge.  



In our divisive age, we are surrounded by news, real or fake.  It takes discernment to find truth.  It takes wisdom to get the right understanding.  Not everything is what it appears on the surface.  I give you an illustration.  After living out in the orchards, we know what a fresh peach tastes like.  It's enough to make you salivate just thinking about it.  However, unless we go to the Farmer's Market, what we buy at the grocery store is not even close.  It may look like a peach, smell a wee bit like a peach, but when squeezed, it can't produce a drop of peach deliciousness.  It makes me think of a mealy-mouthed person, a term from a pest that destroys a crop.  It means what comes out of their mouth is devious, not straight forward.  A bite of a mealy peach is like mush, without texture or taste.  

Yep.  That's an illustration of the kind of information we are surrounded with.  The question is, what will be our understanding or observation?  What will be on our lips or reserved, better left unsaid?  Christ, wisdom Himself, warned us not to cast our pearls before swine.  I don't think he was speaking literally of hogs wallowing in their pens.  Hmm.  We need discretion and lip control.
  




"That you may keep discretion and your lips may guard knowledge."
(English Standard Version)


The Pulpit Commentary says that the Hebrew means "to guard reflection."  The Vulgate translates it to mean, "That thou mayest guard thy thoughts or reflection."  This means, "Nothing shall pass them which does not proceed from the knowledge of God. (Delitzch) 




Gill's Commentary says, "That thy lips may keep knowledge; may be able to speak of things worthy to be known, and communicate the knowledge of them to others; by which means useful knowledge will be kept and preserved, and be continued in successive ages; even the knowledge of God and of Christ, and of the Gospel and its doctrines; and which will be a means of preserving men, as from false doctrines and error, and heresy, so from profaneness and immorality; and particularly from the adulterous woman, next described."





This kind of guarding of the lips or of reflection means there must be something in there to guard.  So the question is, what are we feeding our souls?  Is it sweet perfection or mealy?  What fills our heart and minds?  Has it ripened in the garden of God?  Is it worth passing on?